It's begun. The descent into winter is officially in progress. Friends are coughing, clients are calling, and my child was so pained by a raw sore throat this week, I wanted to cry along with her. It's only going to get colder and drier, the inside air staler. How are you going to stay healthy this winter?
The good news?
Coughs, colds and flu are crazy responsive to natural treatment. Because natural medicine just stimulates the immune response, you don't have to worry about drowsiness, fogginess or - in some codeine-heavy products - accidental overdose and addiction. When we consider the physical and mental symptoms and individualize care to the whole person, the response can be swift and almost too natural. More on that later.
Sometimes there is very little that conventional medicine can offer for the most nagging and limiting winter ickiness. Homeopathy offers cheaper, gentler and more lasting treatment with little to no sides effects. Diet, sleep and smart supplementation - like vitamin D and probiotics - can keep your immune system in top form. Limiting sugar and dairy intake can help you recover faster, and anti-bacterial soap might actually leave you more susceptible to illness.
It's not a matter of if, but when...especially if you have children in the house. Here is a survey of some natural winter health resources for cold, flu, cough and sore throat, plus a few things you might want to add to your diet and regimen.
Remedies for a sore throat...
Sore throats are miserable, whether you are a parent soothing a sick child, or suffering yourself. The cruel reality could mean both of you are sick at the same time. Two family members may experience a sore throat in completely different ways. Earlier this month, I explored several remedies that can help with throat pain, even strep. Here are some homeopathic remedies to consider for all the varied flavors of throat pain.
...and the cough that comes along with it
There's one particular cough that I keep hearing. It's deep and both looks and sounds painful. And, oh, it lingers. I remember a similar cough outbreak last year, around this same change of seasons time. Mostly I remember feeling all cocky about how I dodged it. It got me eventually, on a second pass. And it lasted 5 weeks.
So when the hacking started this fall, I was determined to find a good remedy [or a few] to keep in mind. And because I know how sleep lost to a nightly hack fest sucks, here are a bunch of cough remedies.
Support your immunity
But what if all this alt-complementary-shake-and-stir medicine just isn't your bag? There are still things you can do to manage good health. A few minutes of pantry and medicine cabinet preparation and you’ll be all set. Diet, a minimal supplementation regimen and stress management are key for prevention.
Just remember, it's all about susceptibility. The holidays are coming up fast. Overscheduling, lack of sleep and emotional overextension are serious stressors...so knock it off, already. Take some deep breaths, or a brisk walk outside. Go to bed when your kids do a few nights a week. Skip screen time right before bed. There are so many little things you can let fall away from a frenetic schedule. Not only will you not miss them, you'll be healthier for it.
Respect your innate power to heal
So what of this 'almost too natural' problem I mentioned earlier. It's the beauty of natural medicine, and the frustration of practioners trying to explain it.
Homeopathy interrupts the momentum of the illness, and your own body takes over and does the work. Think of it like flipping a light switch. The remedy is the action of flipping the switch from off to on. The electric current that results in light is your body's immune system moving toward health.
The effects of homeopathic remedies are sometimes maddeningly imperceptible. Clients may think that nothing happened, really, they just start feeling better. Skeptics have a field day with this, all 'it's nothing but the placebo effect!'
An aside? When I have used remedies for acute illness I, too, marvel that I just start feeling better. Even after years of education, I often wonder if it was the remedy at all, or if I suddenly recovered. But after being been stuck for days in a nasty sickie rut, adding a remedy, then I suddenly bounce back? Guess what. It was the remedy.
Homeopathy acted so gently, and in perfect rhythm with my own body, that I did not even notice. It's different from a cough suppressant or nasal decongestant, where you *feel* it working...and have to keep on taking it to maintain the results.
Repeating a remedy is might be necessary, until your body gets the message to start recovery. But once it takes hold, you may sit up in bed and go, wow, ok. That's over. Where's breakfast?
Know when to call
If you do fall ill and just can't shake it, make three phone calls. Call off work, and get back in bed. Call your doctor and make an appointment. Call your homeopath and ask for an acute appointment.
Odds are you might have to wait for an appointment with your physician. Describing your symptoms to a homeopath will take about 30 minutes. She will to choose a remedy for you based on your specific set of symptoms, and get you on treatment fast. Best case? You recover before your doctor's visit. Plus, your immune system got a workout, which will keep you healthier and less susceptible through the rest of the season.
Have any remedies you swear by this time of year? Share them in the comments.