Sonam Kushner, CCH, HMC, professional homeopath

HOMEOPATHY FOR THE FLU

These days there is much in the media regarding the flu. With the added risk of air travel making the possibility of a quick spread of the avian flu from the East a strong reality, perhaps even to “pandemic potential”, if the latest WHO warnings are to be heeded, people are in a state of anxiety about coming down with the flu. If the prospect of a flu shot does not appeal, and over the counter flu therapies leave you feeling jittery, homeopathy offers a natural and helpful alternative. As homeopathy views each person as an individual, and therefore everyone’s flu symptoms as individual, here are brief descriptions of a few remedies for different manifestations of the flu. When homeopathy is used successfully, instead of being laid up for a week or more, one can not only get over the flu in a few days, but also regain ones energy much faster in the aftermath. Handy tip — it would be a good idea to purchase these remedies ahead of time, so that you have them on hand at home when the flu strikes and you can barely crawl out of bed.

ACONITE:

This remedy is to be thought of when flu symptoms come on suddenly. After being exposed to cold, dry and windy weather, sneezing with watery discharge will begin soon after. A high fever may follow, with a hot, dry flushed face, red eyes, and restlessness with shaking chills. There may be sharp pains in the face, chest and bones. Whatever the symptoms, there will be anxiety and intolerable pain and the night, especially around midnight, will be the worst time. If a cough develops, it will be dry, barking and croupy. Everything may taste bitter, except for water. Aconite is most effective when taken at the start of an illness, rather than when the flu is established.

ARNICA:

A person who needs Arnica will complain that their body feels bruised or as if beaten. The parts that they lie on will feel bruised, so that they will move constantly, looking for a soft spot. They will say that the bed feels too hard. They will feel tired all the time and have a need to lie with the head low. They may have a hot red face and cold extremities. They will say, “leave me alone, I’m alright”, when it is quite obvious that they are not!

ARSENICUM ALBUM:

A marked characteristic of almost anyone who needs this remedy will be profound prostration. They will be weak, yet restless and although exhausted when sick, they will nevertheless be fussy and anxious. They are the ones who will tidy up before a visitor comes even though they feel terrible. They may be convinced that they are dying and so afraid of being left alone. They will be very chilly, and will want the blankets piled up to keep warm. The eyes and nose stream with watery, acrid discharges. Fevers are worse from midnight to 2 or 3 am, and are accompanied by extreme chilliness and a thirst for frequent small sips of warm drinks.

BAPTISIA TINCTORIA:

Baptisia resembles both Arnica and an extreme Gelsemium state in flu. They will complain that the bed hurts them, but they will be restless, trying to find a comfortable position. They will have intense aching pains all over, any part they touch will be painful and tender. They may also have acute pains in their joints, a feeling as if they were sprained or had been bruised. With Baptisia, the person is suddenly very ill, and the mind is quickly overcome, producing a state of confusion and indifference to everything. They will try and find the energy to talk, but will sink back rapidly into the pillows. They can fall asleep half way through a sentence. Any discharges will be putrid and offensive. They will have a headache and pain on moving the eyes. Any movement is very painful. They will have a constant desire for water.

BYRONIA ALBA:

With this remedy, the onset is usually slow. A person who needs Bryonia will often be hot and cross and much worse for any movement. They will also be dry and thirsty, desiring large quantities to drink. They will be very irritable with a desire to lie absolutely still. Light and movement will hurt their eyes. They will have aches in the joints and muscles, and much heat, especially around the head. The head may throb and feel full to bursting. They can despair of every getting well again. If a cough develops, it will be dry, hard and painful, they will feel they have to hold the chest. They will be worse from over-heating, or being in a warm, stuffy room.

EUPATORIUM PERFOLIATUM:

Flus with high fevers, flushing and chills. They will complain of tremendous aching, “as if the bones are broken”. Their head will be so heavy that they have to lift it from the pillow with their hands. Paradoxically, with the chilliness, they will have a great thirst for cold drinks and food, even ice cream.

GELSEMIUM SEMPERVIRENS:

This is perhaps the most famous of all flu remedies. In the flu epidemic of 1918-1919, Gelsemium, Bryonia and Eupatorium were the chief remedies used (The Homeopathic Treatment of Influenza, Sandra J. Perko, Ph.D., C.C.N.) Here we find the typical flu-like symptoms, aching limbs, weakness, tiredness, drowsiness, soreness and a sense of heaviness. The chills have a gradual onset, especially up and down the spine. They can feel so chilly that they shake and can need to be held to steady their trembling. They will want to lie quietly alone, perhaps propped up with pillows, and no eating or drinking very much. They may feel alternately hot and cold, or have a hot head and cold limbs. If there is a headache, it will feel like a band around the head, or as if the head is dull and heavy. Their eyes will be heavy and drooping. They are likely to want to stay in bed, but if they do get up they might feel so weak that they totter around, perhaps suffering from dizziness or blurred vision and nausea. Symptoms can begin after a short spell of warm weather, and take a few days to develop. Fatigue and severe muscle weakness are the strongest features. This is also a remedy needed for someone who has never been well since the flu.

MERCURIUS VIVUS:

Flus where profuse sweating is predominate. They may also have mouth ulcers and sore throats. They can complain of a metallic taste in the mouth. Their chills may be worse in the evening and night, and will creep from the sore throat to other parts of the body. There will be foul smells from any discharges, and the person will be peevish and dissatisfied. There is great debility and weakness. They crave bread and butter.

RHUS TOXICODENDRON:

Another irritable remedy! Rhus Tox is useful for flus that start after a period of unusual physical exertions. They will get sick from being chilled after being overheated, or from cold, damp weather. Then the fever and chills begin, muscle and back aches and pains in the joints. Stiffness, in the morning on waking, which becomes better on moving, is a notable symptom. Restlessness, especially at night, is common. They will move constantly in sleep, unable to find a comfortable position. They will crave cold milk.

Using remedies

The numbers after the remedy name tells you their strength, and is called the “potency”. One dose (a couple of pellets) of a remedy in a 30C potency, taken every two hours for two or three doses should see an improvement. If you are not better, then the remedy chosen was incorrect and you may want to move onto another better indicated remedy. Bear in mind that in an acute situation, symptoms can change rapidly. If you are not getting better with self-administered remedies, then it may be a good idea to consult with a professional homeopath. It can be hard to treat yourself, and even harder to treat members of your family! Once again, if you are already under the care of a homeopath and catch the flu, and they are already familiar with your mental/emotional and physical make-up, they will be able to swiftly make the “acute” remedy connection that is needed. If one’s vital force is already stronger from good constitutional care, then one will be less vulnerable to catching any of the flu viruses.

Suggestions for boostering immunity

* Vitamin C, 1000 mg, 3 x day
* Beta carotene, 25,00IU, 1 x day
* Zinc, 15 mg a day
* Vitamin E, 400IU a day
* Echinacea and Goldenseal in tincture form.

Use lots of garlic when cooking, or take in capsule form, 1- 2 x 3 day. Make sure to get plenty of rest. Do not go back to school or work until you are fully recovered. Drink enough water and reduce intake of refined sugar, a component of most commercially available soda, candy and baked goods. If you have difficulty with this, try visiting your local health food store or organic farmers’ market for the same items made with natural sweeteners and non-hydrogenated oils. Increase the use of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Remember to wash hands often, especially after using public transport and before eating!

Rooibos is a delicious and comforting alternative to regular tea when one is sick. This is a naturally de-caffeinated “tea”, which comes from a bush in South Africa. It is also high in Vitamin C, and has anti-oxidant properties. Many different blends of Rooibos infusions can be found at the T Salon- tsalon.com and at SerendipiTea- www.serendipitea.com.