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Naturopathic treatments for colds and coughs

 

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This has been a particularly rough year for colds – both stubborn and severe. Finding ways to kick those infections naturally, without antibiotics (which are only effective for bacterial, not viral infections anyway) seems to be on everyone’s minds these days. And if getting well faster means fewer holiday days wasted, less lethargic grumpy kids (and parents), and more play time for everyone, who wouldn’t be motivated!

Here’s my top six:

  1. Steam inhalations with essential oils
    • Steam inhalations help to open up the nasal passages to dislodge and drain mucus from the sinuses, while allowing for local anti-microbial action of the essential oils themselves when you breath in the steam, making it my personal favourite for colds and respiratory tract infections
    • To make a steam inhalation:
      • place a few drops of your favourite anti-microbial essential oils in a pot or glass bowl (I really like eucalyptus, thyme, lavender, peppermint and pine)
      • pour boiling water into the pot or bowl and lean over the bowl
      • cover your head with a towel or pillow case and inhale the steam/oils for as long as you can tolerate (much nose-blowing and coughing up of phlegm ensues!)
      • note: our kids cannot tolerate the initial steam – we take the first few minutes, and then they will inhale the left-over steam, or we will make a tent in the living room, and bring the kettle in there (carefully!) – with a flashlight and some good books they will breathe it in without really noticing : )
  2. Cold wet sock treatments
    • coldsocks_terralifeThis home remedy is surprisingly effective and gets rave reviews from parents. Basically the treatment works by increasing blood/lymphatic flow, thereby stimulating the immune system and decreasing congestion
    • Our kids originally did not like the cold socks, though now ask for them immediately when they start to get sick! They think it’s fun, and they’ve seen the results time and again.
    • To make a cold wet sock treatment:
      • lather bottoms of feet with chest rub
      • soak a pair of cotton socks in very cold water, wring them out, and put them on
      • put on a pair of thick wool socks on top of the cold socks
      • go to sleep, wake up with dry socks – repeat nightly as needed : )
      • as you sleep, the body will pump blood to the feet to warm them up, then once they are too hot, will send blood away to cool them off, and so on, up-regulating the circulatory system throughout the night! The result in the morning: activated immune system and clearer breathing
  3. Nutrition and lifestyle
    • Healthy and light diet: focus on easily digestible foods (soups are fantastic) so your body can focus on boosting your immune system, instead of digesting complex foods
    • Stay away from sugar and dairy: sugar literally suppresses your immune system, and should be avoided entirely while sick, dairy promotes mucus production and should also be avoided
    • Plenty of rest!: take the day off, sleep-in, get a massage – a little self-care goes a long way in avoiding a protracted illness
    • Supplements to consider: Vitamin C throughout the day, high-dose multi-strain probiotics, zinc, Vitamin A and Vitamin D (consult your ND for appropriate dosing and formats for your family)
  4. Herbal medicine
    • Which herbal remedies are best for you will depending on your (or your child’s) age, and whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding – again consult your ND to find the right herbs for you, and the right dosing (tincture, glycerine or tea)
    • echin_terralifeA few of my favourites (there are many to choose from!) include:
      • echinacea: at the onset of a cold
      • elderberry: to prevent colds and flu
      • astragalus: to provide deep immune support for those who frequently get sick
      • garlic, cloves and thyme: kitchen anti-microbials
      • lomatium and goldenseal: potent anti-microbials
  5. Homeopathic medicine
    • Choosing the right homeopathic medicine, and dosing it properly, requires expertise and should be done in consultation with your ND or homeopath
    • A few of my favourites (and very simplified explanations for each) include:
      • homeo_terralifeaconite: early stages of a cold, that develops after exposure to cold dry weather
      • allium cepa: burning nasal discharge (raw nose), profuse (non-burning) tearing from the eyes
      • arsenicum: burning nasal and eye discharge, restless, anxious
      • belladonna: sudden, congestive headache, pounding, sudden high fever
      • euphrasia: bland nasal discharge, burning tears (red, swollen eyelids), pink eye/discharge
      • gelsemium: congestion with body aches and fatigue, dull heavy head (flu symptoms)
      • oscillococcinum: for flu-like symptoms
      • pulsatilla: green-yellow nasal discharge, worse lying down, better when go outside, crave affection
  6. Acupuncture
    • acu_terralifeWhile acupuncture is not an option for children, it works wonders for adults with colds and sinus infections – whether with local points to help drain mucus, or as a more systemic treatment to boost the immune system, decrease phlegm, and expel viruses
    • Acupuncture can be done with a licensed acupuncturist or ND

 

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