During November to March, the height of the flu season, numerous children and adults will come down the characteristic muscle aches, fever, and exhaustion. Increasingly, parents are looking to avoid mercury-based flu vaccines, and many turn to homeopathy instead. Because homeopathic remedies are prescribed to the specific set of symptoms rather than a broadly labeled condition, you do not need to worry about whether you are confusing cold or flu: homeopathy will treat the symptoms as they present.
General Prevention and Home Treatments During the Flu Season
Although the flu can’t always be avoided, the following measures can aid in preventing and treating symptoms:
• Get plenty of rest. During the holiday season this can be more difficult, but lack of sleep makes us vulnerable to getting sick. During illness, avoid radio, television, and videos, as they are over stimulating.
• Dress warmly in layers, and cover the feet. “Warmth supports all healing. Loss of warmth often leads to illness,” write the Wellness Nurses of the Los Angeles Alliance for Childhood. They continue, “The addition of warmth maintains health in a well person, and supports healing in a sick one.” Both children and adults should wear thin layers of natural fabrics especially in the cooler months. In the colder climates, hats should be worn outside.
• Encourage healthy fluids, preferably room temperature to warm. Avoid cold drinks which require the body to spend energy to warm it up inside. Give herb tea, vegetable broths, and unsweetened (diluted) juice. The broths and teas especially help thin the mucous and clear the body. Ginger tea (heat several slices of fresh ginger in three cups of water for ten minutes) or a natural cold and flu tonic (2-5 T apple cider vinegar, 1 cup of hot water, 1-2 T honey, maple syrup or unrefined sweetener, dash of cayenne pepper to taste) can be soothing and therapeutic.
• During illness it is not uncommon for your child to lose her appetite. If your child does not want to eat, don’t force it. During acute illnesses, your child’s immune system and body is occupied more with fighting the bug and eliminating toxins. For this reason, liquid diet is more important, so the body does not have to expend energy digesting food, especially protein (meat, fish, legumes, nuts, eggs, and dairy). In addition to avoiding protein, it is best to steer clear of sweets and dairy. Refined sugar compromises the immune system and dairy thickens mucus secretion. When introducing solids, begin with lightly steamed vegetables, grains, healthy crackers, and fruit.
• Garlic is an antibacterial – eat plenty of it.
• Wash hands frequently to minimize spread of germs.
• Avoid swimming during autumn and winter, especially for susceptible children and adults.
• Winter Tonic is a homeopathic remedy that has been used in Europe for years during the flu season to prevent flu symptoms. Every year the World Health Organization predicts which flu viruses are most likely to infect and cause flu symptoms. Based on this information, the homeopathic solution is reformulated year to year to help prepare the body during the flu season. This is the same virus that is used by the flu shot companies, however, the homeopathic preparation is natural, easy to use, and contains no mercury! Many of the families in my practice use it during the flu season as a preventative with good results.
• Briar Rose is a gemmotherapy herb that is useful for many conditions in children, especially infections of the ear, nose and throat. I use it two to three times a week during the flu season as a preventative, and twice a day while sick. It can be used in conjunction with homeopathy and all other medicines.
• Black Currant, also gemmotherapy, is an excellent remedy for strengthening the constitution during the winter months, especially for adults. It stimulates the adrenals and is good for stress and fatigue. Also for adults, Common Birch targets the cleansing of the liver and other organ systems. It is known as the universal drainer and is an excellent general remedy for strengthening the immune system.
• Avoid swimming in fall and winter, especially for susceptible children and adults.
• Echinacea (for children) can also be taken by nursing mothers to help boost the immune system. Echinacea can be taken for prevention purposes during the winter season two weeks on and two weeks off, or at the first sign of an illness.
• Vitamin C for children is good for strengthening of the immune system.
• Anise and Mullein, in tea form, are both natural expectorants.
• Elderberry flower tea is known for its natural antiviral properties and immune system support against the cold and flu.
• Lavender, in essential oil form, is known for its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Packaged commercially for children, lavender aromatherapy bath can help soothe coughs, sore muscles, and calm the nerves.
• Breastmilk can be used to treat stuffy nose and red eyes. It has antibacterial properties and can be squirted directly in the eye or nose. A few drops of expressed breastmilk can be placed in the affected area with a dropper.
• Bring out the hot water bottle for aches, chills, and general comfort. The Wellness Nurses suggest filling a hot water bottle half way with hot water. Carefully press any remaining air out, keep the bottle flat and light and cover it in thick flannel to protect the skin from burns. A hot water bottle is meant to be soothing and warming. It should not be too hot to the touch. If hands and feet are cooler than the belly, warm them first. If your child’s face is flushed, use the bottle at the feet. For chest congestion, place it by the chest. Use as needed during illness.
• Keep your child home if he or she is ill.
• Mullein oil and garlic ear drops for earaches.
• Applications and compresses:
o Lemon compress for fever
o Potatoes poultices around throat and chest are an excellent source for moist heat and retain temperature longer than a hot water bottle.
Potato is useful for headaches, neckache, muscle pain, and chilliness.
• During an acute illness like the flu, your child will often be very precise in what gives him or her relief. Satisfy your child's cravings - within reason. You may hear, "I want a popsicle, “Don't leave me alone,” or "I'm not hungry," According to Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, father of homeopathy, "Acutely ill patients rarely crave things that obstruct their cure."
The following is a list of commonly used remedies for children and adults during the flu season. When prescribing, be sure to note your child’s symptoms before reaching for a remedy. Subtle differences in behavior can lead you to the correct remedy.
Remedies for the Flu
• Oscillococcinum is useful for all types of flu, especially in the earlier stages. Many of my patients claim that Oscillo greatly shortened the duration of the flu. It can be used for both children and adults.
• Bryonia alba flu symptoms are characterized by muscles aches that hurt with movement and dryness of the throat and mouth, accompanied with an intense thirst for cold drinks. The child is cranky and likely to say, “Don’t touch me.”
• Eupatorium perfoliatum is excellent for flu symptoms with a deep ache in the bones, as if the “bones are broken.” It hurts to move, including moving the eyeballs.
• Ferrum phosphoricum is indicated for early flu symptoms with high fever and weakness. The cheeks are flushed and there can be headache, sensitivity to light, and bloody nose with the fever. The child who responds to Ferrum phos can have complaints that are worse on the right side, worse from being touched, and worse from four to six in the morning. They feel better with cold applications. Often there are no other specific local symptoms.
• Gelsemium sempervirens is for the classic flu symptoms of dizziness, weakness, and fatigue. The Gelsemium patient is not thirsty and wants to lie down and be left alone. The body feels heavy, any motion is an effort, and even the eyelids droop.
• A child who would benefit from Rhus toxicodenron (Rhus tox) has different symptom picture than Bryonia. Rhus tox is also good for muscle aches with stiffness, but the child is restless and fidgety.