Cold and flu season is upon us. For some people, it is mistakenly assumed that getting sick this time of year is inevitable. After all, aren’t we at the mercy of every bug or virus we are exposed to? But did you know that you can take homeopathic remedies to shorten the duration of a cough or flu, or to even prevent it from happening in the first place? Maintaining a strong immune system, through healthy diet, lifestyle and supplements, is also an important piece of the puzzle. Here are some common remedies that will help you sail through cold and flu season:
- Aconite: This remedy is particularly effective at the first stages of a cold. Symptoms usually come on after exposure to cold, dry winds. There can be violent sneezing, and a runny nose with stuffiness. Stuffiness may feel better in open air, and worse with talking. There may be a discharge from the nose that feels like warm water dripping, which may be worse in the morning. If there is a cough, it can feel like a tickle in the larynx, and it may be short and dry and worse at night. Some of the key symptoms include anxiety, fear (even of death), thirst and initial stages of colds.
- Belladonna: Like Aconite, this remedy has the same keynote of sudden onset of symptoms with dry, burning heat of the face. There is thirst, and perspiration on the head and neck, which can be sour smelling. The entire body can feel cold and nothing will relieve the chilliness, but the face is red. However, if the skin is touched it is often so hot that the heat will linger for some time after. There is also great thirst. Key symptoms include a flushed face with redness, dry but extreme heat of face, pupils dilated and glassy, restless and anxious or dull and incoherent.
- Allium cepa: Indications for this remedy are obvious. You’ll see clear, watery discharge which irritates the nostrils and upper lip. Think about the same symptoms you get when chopping an onion (in fact, this remedy is derived from the red onion!). Other symptoms might include frequent sneezing and tickling and burning in larynx causing a dry, painful cough. There can also be a lot of thirst. Key symptoms for this remedy include bland, watery discharge from eyes, burning discharge from nose, sneezing and it is worse in the morning.
- Antimonium tart: This remedy is indicated if you hear mucous rattling in the chest. Antimonium tart is usually used in the later stages of a cough, or even pneumonia. The skin can be pale or even bluish. Key symptoms include rattling mucous audible on coughing, slow onset, late stage of illness, weakness and exhaustion.
- Arsenicum: With this remedy, there is prostration with a great deal of restlessness. There can be violent sneezing with great dryness in the nostrils. As well, there can be fluent coryza with a stopped nose, and burning in the nostrils. There can be a sensation of dryness and burning in the larynx, and a very dry cough, mostly in the evening after lying down, or at night. Some key symptoms for this remedy include burning pain, restlessness, thirsty for small sips, critical, faultfinding and fastidious.
- Euphrasia: This remedy is helpful when cold symptoms are relating to the eyes. There will be an aching, gnawing sensation in the eyes with inflammation and redness. They eyes may smart and feel as if there is sand in them, and it is worse with bright light. There can also be a loose cough, which is worse during the day, better at night and from eating and lying down. Key symptoms include burning discharge from the eyes, worse with wind, redness sensation of sand in eyes, bland discharge from the nose.
- Ipecac: This remedy is indicated when the cold symptoms spread down from the head into the chest very quickly, and the cough feels suffocating. The cough is wet and the lungs are rattling and sound full of mucous. There can be fits of coughing ending in retching, gagging or vomiting. While the cough is similar to Antimonium tart, the Ant-t cough is much more debilitated and weak. Key symptoms include wet cough coming in spasms ending in vomiting, worse in warm room, irritable, sudden onset often followed by head cold.
- Kali bichromium: The first thing to think of with this remedy is its action on the nasal passages. The nose can be painfully dry, with a burning sensation and stopped up, with a painful pressure in the nasal bones, extending into the frontal sinuses (that is better with pressure). Symptoms are worse in warm air and much better in cool air. There can also be sneezing in the mornings, with fluent coryza that is worse in the evening or in open air, and obstructed in the morning. Like Allium Cepa, the discharge can be excoriating, burning the nose and lips. There can also be a loss of smell, and speech can sound nasally. There will be heaviness of the upper eyelids on waking (which may be stuck together with yellow matter), and the eyelids can be dry, burning, itchy, inflamed and swollen. Key symptoms include thick, gluey, stringy, yellow to green nasal discharges and worse from cold and hot weather.
- Natrum Muriaticum: Indications for this remedy include a great deal of sneezing, itching and sometimes burning in the eyes. The eyes can be inflamed, teary (especially in the morning when the tearing can be corrosive), and there can be a sensation of sand under the eyelids. The eyelids can be red or ulcerated. There will be a loss of smell or taste, with obstruction and dryness of the nose. Discharge can have the consistency of egg white. Symptoms can become worse when exposed to open air or wind and there can be paroxyms of sneezing. There can be numbness and insensibility of one side of the nose, and burning on the inside of the nose with scabs inside. There is a loss of smell and taste. Key symptoms include symptoms often coming on following grief, colds that start with sneezing, loss of smell or taste, dryness of skin and mucous membranes and cracked lips and/or corners of the mouth.
- Influenzinum: This remedy is made from the influenza virus. It can be used for any flu-like symptoms (e.g. muscle aches and pains, fever, sore throat, cough, etc.) to shorten duration. It can also be used prophylactically to prevent the flu.
- Anas barbarae, or Oscillococcinum: This remedy is made from the liver of a duck. Perhaps that why it’s likened to chicken soup for its benefits in the treatment of influenza, especially in the earlier stages. Symptoms include a bursting headache with muscle aches, anxiety, paleness, chilliness, and sensitivity to any changes in temperature or weather. There may be discharges from the eyes and nose, with bronchial congestion, and ear pain. When taken in the early stages of the flu, it is often possible to abort or shorten its course.
- Bryonia: This remedy has as its main keynote an extreme sensitivity to movement of any kind. This might show up as aversion to moving in bed or pain on movement. It can also carry over into the dread of company. There is extreme irritability, so you can liken the mental state of this remedy to a bear being stirred out of hibernation. Even raising the head from the pillow will cause faintness, nausea and sometimes vomiting. The patient will want to lie still, may have a headache, and eating and talking will make symptoms worse. The mouth can be very dry and the tongue coated white down the middle, while it is clean on the sides. With the intermittent fever there is a chill mixed with heat, and during the chill the head is hot, the cheeks deep red, and there is a thirst for large quantities of water. The mucous membranes are dry, so any cough will be dry, hacking and painful. Key symptoms include worse with movement, grouchy, irritable, worse with company, dryness of mucous membranes, worse with warmth/warm rooms, better with cool rooms/open air.
- Gelsemium: The patient who needs Gelsemium will exhibit classic symptoms of the flu. They will have extreme weakness and achiness, even to the point that the limbs tremble. They may be dizzy and find thought difficult. Their head will be heavy, with dull and bruised pain. The eyelids might droop and one can look and feel drowsy, and their pupils may be dilated. There can also be the symptoms of a stuffy nose with an inflamed throat as well as sensitivity to the slightest change in weather and temperature. The mouth can feel very dry, yet there is no thirst and a need to swallow frequently. The tongue can also have a yellowish-white coating. Chills that run up and down the spine are common with this remedy, and although motion is not painful there is a need to lie still due to an overwhelming weakness. Key symptoms include drowsiness, droopiness, dullness, weakness, dry and yet not thirsty, and chilly.
All of these remedies can be extremely effective for cold and flu symptoms, but it is important to also support the immune system with Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, plenty of fluids and rest. Avoiding sugar and refined foods (e.g. white flour, pasta, bread) is also important, as these foods can suppress immune function. Fermented foods are also important to support proper gut function and, by extension, a healthy immune system. In my next blog post, I will discuss the importance of gut function, not only for improving immune function but also for better mood, digestion, and so much more. Until then, wishing you good health throughout the cold and flu season!
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