With my children battling colds right now, I am reflecting on the value of naturopathic medicine for my family. Many parents ask about a natural home remedy kit. The best kits combine healthy eating tips, hydrotherapy, homeopathic remedies, and vitamins and herbs.
The two most powerful remedies for cold and flu are a healthy diet and hydrotherapy.
I briefly discussed this in my previous newsletter on fever. I only wish to reiterate how important it is to stay off of sugar, along with the usual advice about eating fresh whole foods, organic where possible, and lots of fruits and veggies. According to studies at Loma Linda University in both 1964 and 1973, sugar paralyzes white blood cells for 2 hours (Appleton, p.52). Since white blood cells are critical to fighting infections, the last thing you want to do is place them on hold in your child’s body.
Hydrotherapy is the use of water therapy at different temperatures.
- The wet sock treatment is great in particular for coughs and to help them sleep better at night.
- A hyperthermia bath for a low grade to moderate fever.
Please find attached the handouts I give to my patients as they list detailed instructions.
On top of a good diet and hydrotherapy, I also like to use a selection of remedies.
I prefer using professional products, available at our dispensary. A homeopathic line from Belgium called Unda makes numbered compounds. Numbers 2, 15, and 37 are for all types of infections. I have used them successfully for colds, fevers, ear infections and conjunctivitis (pink eye).
I use 30C potency, which is available in some health food stores or online. Dosing can vary, but as a general guideline I recommend 4 to 5 pellets under the tongue, 3 to 5 times per day for an acute infection.
Coughs: Although coughs vary in breadth and scope, the main remedies I have on hand are:
- Drosera –for spasmodic coughs that hurt the chest, where the child holds his/her chest because of the pain
- Bryonia – for painful dry coughs that seems to be worse with movement or eating
- Spongia – for barking coughs, typically croupy coughs
- Coccus cacti –for coughs that end with gagging or vomiting
- Antimonium tart – for mucous-filled rattling chest coughs
Ear infections: The four main homeopathic remedies I use for ear infections are:
- Chamomilla: when child is screaming in pain ( I literally had a parent call me and I could hear the screaming in the background – I knew to give chamomilla immediately)
- Belladonna: when the doctor says the eardrum looks bulging and red
- Hepar sulph: when there seems to be pus or fluid
- Aconite: for ear infections that come on suddenly, especially after exposure to wind
Runny nose and/or eyes: The three main homeopathic remedies I use are:
- Allium cepa – when the nasal discharge is irritating and children have irritation around the nose from the discharge
- Kali bichromium – when the discharge is ropey thick
- Euphrasia – eyebright, for any eye condition- runny eyes or conjunctivitis
Herbal Tinctures and Vitamins
Echinacea: For children I use high quality Echinacea, as a tincture prepared from the root. Studies done as a tea with the leaves have been ineffective. I like to mix a tincture of half Echinacea in an alcohol base with a half Echinacea in a glycerin base. The glycerin is sweet and makes it palatable for children.
Vitamin C This old favourite continues to be a powerful combatant in the fight against cold and flu. There are many products now available that combine Echinacea and Vitamin C in a chewable form. Be sure to check the ingredient lists for unnecessary fillers and added sugar (fructose is preferable).
- Respiguard tincture, made by Wise Woman Herbals, contains a variety of herbs for coughs and for lungs. Golden C tincture contains an antibacterial herb called goldenseal with vitamin C, if I am concerned about bacterial infections.
- Nin Jiom is a Chinese formula cough syrup available at many drug stores
- Tussilago is one of my other favorite herbal cough tinctures, which is a bonus to have in the medicine chest.
- Garlic mullein oil, which is simply oil infused with garlic and mullein. Two to three drops in each ear at bedtime will usually clear the infection.
- Echinacea and Vitamin C
- The wet sock treatment (hydrotherapy, see handout)
- Of course, children’s Tylenol is helpful for pain relief as well
While I like to have these remedies on hand in case your child cries of ear pain at 10pm, it is still advisable to see a doctor to make sure it is not turning into a more serious infection, such as mastoiditis.
For fevers, see my previous article in the last newsletter. There is lots of press on vitamin D and the immune system. For prevention, vitamin D at 800-1000IU for children a day throughout the flu season can help to lower rates of infections.
Last but not least, a home remedy kit wouldn’t be complete without good old homeopathic Arnica 30C and traumeel cream (made by a company called Heel) for bumps and bruises. We call traumeel cream “boo boo cream”, and my children always feel better after applying boo boo cream. Homeopathic Arnica 30C, 3-4 pellets is always useful for bruises and any minor head injury.
For more information or to purchase a home remedy kit, contact us at 604 737 0012.