Colds and Flu

It’s that time of year, once again. The days are shorter. We spend less time in sunshine and out in the fresh air. The kids are in school and bring home an array of different colds and respiratory ailments.  Pharmacies, physicians, and hospitals, push us to get the flu shot, despite it’s lack of effectiveness most years and it’s potential for serious side-effects.

A strong immune system is the best defense we have.  There are ways to naturally boost that system and stay healthy.  At the very least, shorten the length of time an illness hangs around if we do fall sick.

Being a homeopath, I reach for the remedies, but I also incorporate other immune strengtheners.

Lifestyle:  Eat healthy, get plenty of sleep, exercise and find a way that works for you to reduce stress.  Drink plenty of water.  Include a good multivitamin/mineral supplement in your daily routine.

Vitamin D:  It’s been studied that most Americans are deficient in Vitamin D.  It’s also been proven that Vitamin D can both help ward off sicknesses like the flu and help you recover from the flu.

Vitamin C:  Start taking it now!  Double up the dose if you get the flu.

Essential Oils:  I generally pull out our essential oils once a cold sets in (aside from diffusing them nearly all year long).  At home we use Thieves from Young Living for colds and illness more than any other oil.  I will us it in the diffuser to kill germs in the air.  For application, we will rub a couple of drops on the bottom of our feet and cover with socks.  If you do this, you need to be sure to let your feet get nice and warm (enough to sweat out the toxins that the oils will help draw out).  It can substantially assist in shortening the length of a cold.  For respiratory illness we will diffuse Rosemary or RC.

Homeopathy:  During the 1918 flu (of which is claimed H1N1 was derived) there were Homeopathic hospitals in the US as well as conventional hospitals.  Homeopathic hospitals saw only a 1% mortality rate for the treatment of the flu.  The conventional hospitals, 30%.   I’ve seen what Homeopathy can do when it comes to the flu (and colds).  It works.

Homeopathy For Prevention

Oscillococcinum: Can be taken for the prevention of the flu or at the very first sign of getting sick.

Influenzinum: Most Homeopathic pharmacies and some local health food stores carry this remedy. It is the best remedy I’ve found to prevent the flu.  Washington Homeopathics is where I order ours.

Aconite: This is one of our favorite remedies. It should be taken at the first sign of a flu. It works when the onset is very sudden and should be taken within the first few hours of feeling sick, even if no clear symptoms are present.

Ferrum Phos: This remedy can be thought of as a back up for Aconite. If you miss taking Aconite within the first few hours of feeling ill, go to Ferrum Phos.

When you know you have the flu (or a cold)

Arsenicum: There may be a fever with great chilliness. Profuse and acrid discharge may present from the nose and/or eyes. There may be some thirst but for small, frequent sips. A person who needs this remedy will be worse from getting cold and will feel better with warmth (unless there is a headache present). There may also be irritability and anxiousness.

Baptisia: Someone who needs this remedy will have a sudden onset of symptoms. There is generally a high fever with profuse sweating. The body may feel sore and bruised either all over or in small spots around the body. A person who requires this remedy may look dull and flushed and there is usually a great thirst. Vomiting and diarrhea may be present but not always.

Bryonia: This flu will present itself with a slow onset of symptoms. A person who fits this remedy will be very hot and very dry, which may cause a great thirst for cold water in large quantities but at infrequent intervals. The body will ache all over. There may be a painful cough that causes a headache. Someone who needs this remedy will not want to move and the headache or body aches will feel better with pressure. In general this remedy will present for someone who wants to be left alone and wants to lay completely still.

Eupatorium Perfoliatum: The fever for this remedy will present with the person shivering, who may have chills running up their back. The body will ache so badly that the person feels as if their bones are broken. There may be a bursting headache, so bad that even the eyeballs feel sore. There is a thirst for cold drinks and a desire to lay as still as possible.

Gelsemium: This is the number one flu remedy. The onset of this flu is slow. Fever will present with heat that alternates with chills. There is usually no sweating with this fever and chills may run up and down the spine. Body will ache all over. Muscles may feel very heavy and weak, even the eye lids will feel heavy. There is generally no thirst. The three key words for this remedy are “droopy”, “drowsy” and “dull”.

Mercurius Solubilis: The fever for this remedy will present with a ‘creeping chilliness’. There may be acrid, smelly, yellow/green mucus discharge from the nose. There may be an intense thirst and a constant hunger. A person who needs this remedy will feel worse from temperature changes and feels better with a constant temperature and lots of rest.

Nux Vomica: Someone who requires this remedy will have a fever with chilliness and may get the shivers after drinking. The limbs and back will ache. There may be a stuffy, stopped up nose that is worse at night. There is a thirst for hot drinks, such as tea. A person needing this remedy will feel better with cold and worse with warmth. This remedy is also indicated when there is a great irritability.

Pyrogen: This fever will present with creeping chills and a ‘thumping heart’. It may also present with a rapid heart rate if the fever is low. There will be severe pain in the limbs and back. The pain may feel as if the person has been beaten and bruised. There is usually a headache present and no thirst. Someone who requires this remedy will be very restless, both with the aching body and the chills.

Rhus Tox: The fever for this remedy will present with chilliness. The pain will be centered more around the joints and bones. There may be a red discoloration at the tip of the tongue and there is a general thirst. The person who needs this remedy will feel better with gentle motion and warmth and may be very restless.

After a cold or flu

China: This remedy is for those who have a difficult time recovering from the flu. There is a great physical weakness and may be a lot of sweating.

Kali Phos: Depression (mild) after the flu.

Gelsemium: This remedy is indicated if the weakness and heaviness will not go away after the flu.

Influenzinum: This remedy is for someone who has never felt well since having the flu. There is a feeling that the person has never recovered.

Be well and stay healthy!

Heidi

Echinacea Tincture

It’s fall here in Northern Michigan.  The flowers in our garden are fading, the squash is ready to harvest and the Echinacea is ready to be dug up and preserved.

As many of you know, Echinacea is an immune supporter.  It can assist your body in warding off colds and flus and can help in recovery if you do come down with an illness.

We have Echinacea all over our little stretch of the woods and this is the time of year we harvest the roots for tincture.

It is best to harvest the plants when the flowers begin to die off and the stems begin to brown.  The nutrients of the plant begin to receded back down into the roots, making them more potent.

echinacea

To harvest, you only need a few sections of the plant.  A little goes a long way.  Echinacea spreads wonderfully, so using a few plants for their roots shouldn’t deplete your supply, as long as you leave some plants in the ground.  Our garden started out with only 2 plants and now we have close to 50.  Each fall I will gently dig up 3 or 4 for their roots.

  • After you dig up the plants, you can cut off the stem.  You will only use the roots.
  • Gently wash the roots.  I run them under warm water and use a toothbrush to remove the dirt.  Be sure to take the time to remove all of the dirt from the roots.
  • Once all of the dirt is removed and the roots are clean, use a sharp knife to cut the root into small pieces.
  • Fill an amber glass dropper bottle (I use a 4 oz. bottle) 1/4 to 1/2 full with the root.
  • Pour 100 proof vodka into the dropper bottle until full.
  • Let the tincture sit for at least one month in a cool, dry place before using.  Shake the bottle daily during this time.
  • If you choose, you can strain the root out using a funnel and cheesecloth, putting the liquid into a new, clean dropper bottle.
  • To use, put a few drops directly under your tongue daily during cold and flu season.  You can use up to 3 times a day when sick.  You can also add a couple of drops to a cup of hot tea or juice.

If you are opposed to the alcohol content within the tincture you can also dry the roots instead of steeping them in alcohol.  Use a standard or solar dehydrator to dry them.  (We got our dehydrator from www.dryit.com and we love it.  You can also build your own.)  Store the roots, once dried, in an air tight container, such as a mason jar.  To use, steep a few small pieces of the root into some hot tea.  I usually crush them a little too.  I do this for our kids when they have a cold and usually add a little fresh ginger and honey.

Most of what we grow in our garden is either edible or medicinal and out of all of the plants we grow, Echinacea is one of our favorites.

Gastroenteritis Fun…or not so much

A couple of weeks ago we were plagued with a bout of gastroenteritis around our household, not to mention a few other friends and family members close by.  It’s not fun and despite the fact that we eat healthy, sleep well and take care of ourselves, there are times we come down with illnesses.  Thankfully, there are Homeopathic remedies to come to our aid and can help heal and shorten the length of the illness.

Following are a few of the most widely used remedies for gastroenteritis.  My hope is that you will never need them for this reason but if there comes a time, as we’ve all had at one point or another in our lives, one of these may help you to obtain a quick and speedy recovery.  The symptoms included may not be pretty, but gastro illnesses usually aren’t so here we go:

  • Aloe – Diarrhea with a sudden urge.  Possible involuntary stool with flatus.  Mucus and/or blood may be present.
  • Arsenicum Album – Extreme stomach pains that are worse with milk or dairy products.  Food poisoning (of any kind).  Acrid diarrhea with watery stool.
  • Bismuth – Severe cramping, pain or burning in the stomach.  Great thirst for cold water.  Profuse diarrhea.  In addition, the person who would need this remedy desires company during their illness and may have a great fear of death.
  • Bryonia – Gastroenteritis that is worse with any movement.  The person needing this remedy also may just want everyone to leave them alone.  Hides in dark room and wishes not to be bothered.
  • Croton Tiglium – Abdominal rumbling with sudden diarrhea.  Incredibly urgent diarrhea.  Diarrhea that comes immediately after eating or drinking.
  • Gambogia – Diarrhea and vomiting together.  Sudden urge for stool.  Burning or stitching pains before diarrhea.  Exhaustion after diarrhea.  Stool may contain blood.
  • Mercurius – Constant urge for stool.  Straining that is undiminished after passing stool.  May be bloody and mucus filled.  Stool feels hot.
  • Nux Vomica – Diarrhea after drinking too much alcohol.
  • Petroleum – Ravenous appetite during diarrhea or after stool.  Diarrhea in the daytime only.  Cramping before stool.
  • Phos Ac – Painless diarrhea.  Odorless.  Involuntary.  Profuse.  Cases of collapse after long bouts of diarrhea.
  • Podo – Profuse diarrhea.  Worse at 4am, in the mornings and in the evenings.  Worse with drinking, eating and heat.  Very watery.  Abdomen gurgles.

If you are ever unfortunate enough to have a case of gastroenteritis, the above remedies can aid in your recovery when correctly chosen.  If you are unsure of which remedy is right for you, consult a certified Homeopathic practitioner for assistance.  The above remedies can be taken in a 30C dose.  3 doses per day for 3 days.  Stop taking the remedy when symptoms improve.

If your condition lasts for more than 3 days, is more severe or immediately life-threatening seek medical attention from a certified Homeopath, a licensed medical doctor and/or head to the emergency room, as you may have something other than a bacterial or viral infection.