Treating Colds and Flu at home

There is a lot of discussion about circulating viruses at the moment and quite a bit of uncertainty about whether people know how to treat these symptoms at home. To make it easier I presented and recorded a webinar on Treating Cold and Flu symptoms and have recorded it. The presentation and the recording can be downloaded here. In addition I have summarised my suggested homeoapthic treatment for these symptoms below so that all the information is handy.

Treating Colds and Flu symptoms webinar

Homeopathically there are some excellent options for managing cold and flu and fevers and I have summarised the type of symptoms you would see in a patient who needs this remedy for a few of my favourites below.

Aconite

First remedy to consider where the onset is very sudden and in particular after exposure to cold dry weather.  Person who needs Aconite is usually extremely anxious, fearful and/or restless.

Violent onset of bursting headache in forehead with burning, tingling and numbness in the nose.  Worse for warm room, cold, dry weather. Better for lying down or open air.

Belladonna

Sudden onset of intense, bursting head pain with hot, red flushed face. Restless, delirious, desire to escape, may strike or bite. Throbbing in the temples worse for  motion of eyes, light, noise, touch, jarring. Better for lying, pressure, bending head back, wrapping up head warmly.

Good remedy for middle ear infection with bright red face and sudden onset of ear pain.

Also good for right sided sore throats which are quite red.

Bryonia

Dry cough which is worse for movement and causes pain in the chest.Constipation with large dry stool.

Pressing or bursting in temples and forehead like a crushing weight worse for motion, stooping, moving eyes. Better for pressure, rest, closing eyes and warmth.

Irritable, thirsty, wants to get back to work.

Ferrum Phos

Often used for fever where there are few other symptoms, typically slow progression.

Gelsemium

Tired exhausting flu. Generally dizzy, drowsy, droopy or dull. Thinking is an effort. Chills or dull pain up and down the spine. Wants to sleep or lie down. Little thirst.

May be accompanied by diarrhea.

Hepar Sulph

Sensitive and irritable. Sore throats with a feeling like something is stuck in it, like a splinter. Swollen tonsils and glands often with pus.  Sharp pain on swallowing. Discharges smell sour. Worse for drafts and touch. Good to use if you don’t get to the Aconite early enough and it comes on after being out in the cold.

Pulsatilla

Well developed colds with yellow or green mucus. Symptoms change constantly and person is easily upset and wants people around them Cough can be dry at night but loose in the morning. Worse for heat. Desires rich and creamy foods.

For stomach symptoms the following remedies may be helpful.

Arsenicum

First remedy to think of for food poisoning or stomach flu. May not be able to bear the sight, smell or thought of food. Worse at midnight to 2am. Generally chilly and desiring frequent cold drinks. Patient may be very anxious and better for warm applications.

Lycopodium

Patient is full of gas with flatulence and belching. Weak digestion and may be satiated after a little food.  Can’t stand anything around  the waist. Usually worse between 4-8pm.

img_0047Mag Phos

Colic in children. Abdominal cramping better for warmth and pressure, often quite gassy and better for bending over.

Nux Vomica

Hangover remedy. Over indulgence in food and alcohol. Constipated or with heartburn made worse by spicy food. Grumpy irritable and workaholic people.

Better for rest or discharges.

Podophyllum

Good remedy for Bali Belly with explosive diarrhea. Also for constipation alternating with diarrhea. Worse for acid fruits or milk. Sour smelling vomit.

Thirst for large quantities of water.

Christine Pope is based at Elemental Health, St Ives and runs regular workshops to teach people how to use natural medicine for treating common health complaints. If you need more information you can make an appointment on (02) 80840081 or online at http://elementalhealth.net.au .

Flavour your food with Therapeutic Herbs

Traditionally many herbs were used to flavour foods or to assist with digestion of those foods. In some instances the flavours are used to enhance the meal and in other cases they were added to alcohol and provided as an aperitif.

There are a significant number of herbs which flavour foods and are commonly used in cooking. Ideally use fresh herbs to really maximise the the nutritional content.

Ginger is a rhizome which can be used sliced, grated or dried. It is useful for stimulating digestion in terms of improving peristalsis, which is the regular muscular movement of the bowels. It is also beneficial for people who suffer from nausea and is often suggested as a tea in the early stages of pregnancy. Ginger can be used as a base for a simple stir fry of vegetables or added as part of a spice mix in Asian dishes.

Garlic is a bulb and is high in both sulphur and allicin, a potent anti-microbial. Garlic is reknown for its impact on the immune system and regular consumption can really support immune function. Many years ago on a camping trip around Thailand we were consuming the equivilant of 5-6 cloves daily. One member of our group had a bad cold but nobody else seemed to acquire it given the substantial consumption of garlic.

Garlic also has value in assisting in the reduction of cholesterol and it is useful for liver function sparing glutathione.

Both ginger and garlic can be used therapeutically in teas with more information in this recent blog Herbal teas for hydration .

Peppermint is usually considered a digestive herb due to the therapeutic properties of its essential oils. Most peppermint leaves consist of up to 2.5% essential oils. Those oils have specific uses in Irritable Bowel symptoms as they are antispasmodic and carminative. That is they relieve symptoms of cramping as well as being useful to alleviate bloating and gas. Mint goes well in salads, particularly flavours such as watermelon and strawberry.

Cinnamon is a bark which has a range of digestive actions. It was often used due to its antifungal actions to preserve baked goods but also has value in its ability to assist in the management of blood glucose and improve insulin sensitivity. Cinnamon is also a carminative which assists in reducing muscle contractions and relieves flatulence, thereby improving the appetite. The smell of cinnamon in cooking is particularly evocative. Cinnamon pairs well with many digestive herbs and spices. An easy way to introduce it in food is to sprinkle ground cinnamon on pumpkin whilst baking.

Rosemary like any digestive herb has a high essential oil content and it is considered useful for colic and period pain due to its antispasmodic actions. The flavour of any meat is usually improved by adding a combination of lemon juice, rosemary, garlic and rock salt. It pairs particularly well with chicken and lamb and is a good source of iron, calcium and B6. Rosemary is one of the few herbs that we manage to grow successfully and so I find a wide number of uses for it in cooking but also in adding as a dried herb to bath salts.

Have you managed to successfully grow herbs and use them in your cooking ? Please post in the comments if you have any tips as in the past I have managed to kill peppermint in the garden!

Herbal teas for hydration

Most people know they need to be drinking adequate amounts of water however it can get difficult to keep levels up particularly in Winter when it is cold. Herbal teas can be a good way to keep up hydration and enjoy a warm drink at the same time.

First up did you know that white, oolong, green tea and black teas are all in the green tea family, the difference is in the degree of fermentation. Black tea is fermented and has a higher amount of caffeine as a result, but all of this family have a high level of polyphenols. Fermentation increases the caffeine content so black tea has about 48mg per cup whereas green tea has around 28mg. Given the caffeine content these teas are a better option for the morning when you need a quick energy boost. Green tea blends well with other flavours and some good options can be green tea with lime. If you do have trouble sleeping its usually best to avoid green or black tea later in the day.

Green tea is high in polyphenols and specifically epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has shown to be beneficial for assisting with inflammation and chronic diseases. Wherever possible try and use an organic green tea if you are drinking it for its health benefits.

A number of teas can provide digestive benefits and this includes options such as peppermint and ginger. Ginger is particularly known for anti-nausea effects whereas peppermint is a useful digestive as the menthol helps relax the stomach and may assist if you are prone to bloating. Peppermint doesn’t contain caffeine so its a good choice later in the day and can be made at home by crushing and steeping peppermint leaves in hot water.

Ginger tea can be made by simply slicing up fresh ginger and steeping it for five to ten minutes or by using dried ginger root. Ginger has been clinically researched for post chemotherapy nausea and reduced symptoms by about 40% which is considered clinically significant. (1) It is also known for its assistance with morning sickness.

Ginger is also useful as a mild circulatory stimulant, boosting blood flow and can be a useful addition to a tea blend to help improve absorption of the other ingredients.

For those who have trouble sleeping two useful options are passionflower and chamomile. Passionflower is believed to increase GABA, a neurotransmitter which is calming and may reduce anxiety. (2)Chamomile is a gentle nervine in that it is calming and it may also have a beneficial impact on blood sugar levels as it lowers blood glucose levels. (3) Many people find that they get to sleep easier and have better quality sleep with chamomile tea later in the evening.

It can be fun to try different herbal teas and even make up your own combinations. One of my current favourites is white tea with rose petals. It has a softer flavour than green tea and the rose petals give it a lovely colour and a dose of Vitamin C. For those who would like to try some new tea options some of my favourite online sources for herbal teas are Austral Herbs for the individual components or Mrs Oldbucks in Berrima for a range of pre made teas and individual components.

Regardless of which teas you try make sure its leaf tea as much as possible. There are concerns about micro plastics being used in many tea bags which really isn’t something you want to include in your diet. The major reason to use leaf tea however is it simply gives a better flavour.

Christine Pope is a Naturopath and Nutritionist who works at Elemental Health St Ives and is available online and in person for appointments if you want to improve your health. Her preference is for black tea in the morning, prana chai at lunch and green tea or chamomile later in the day.

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4818021/

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2941540/

(3) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25176245/

Natural medicine for sore throats

My kids have always been a little worried when they were first getting sick, except when they had a sore throat as they would be excited as they could have honey! Good quality Manuka honey that is usually combined with a lemon and garlic tea.

The first symptom that many people notice with a cold or flu is often a sore throat. A niggling or slight scratchiness initially and then within a few hours it has developed into a sore throat. Depending on the symptoms its usually a good idea to provide gentle immune system support and some appropriate homeopathic remedies. Three options are useful for supporting the immune system manuka honey, elderberry and lemon and garlic tea.

Sore throats are often a precursor to a cold or flu so supporting the immune system with Elderberry is ideal. A good over the counter option for Elderberry is the product Sambucol which comes in capsules or lozenges. The advantage of a lozenge is that it provides a way of topically treating the sore throat. This option also tastes a lot better than most which helps if you are treating children.

For sore throats where there is also congestion or a cough its usually helpful to add a good quality tea combined with manuka honey. To make lemon and ginger tea boil up 5 cloves of garlic with a quartered organic lemon in about 1L of water. Bring to the boil an then reduce to simmering on the stove for 20 minutes. Keep the lid on as this ensures that the limonene essentials oils are retained in the tea. One to two cups a day with a teaspoon of good quality Manuka honey will help with symptoms and recovery.

Homeopathic medicine is a useful way to support recovery from a sore throat. Its usual to match the symptoms of the sore throat to the homeopathic remedy. First up look at the location of the sore throat, is it on the left or right side. Then look at the type of pain associated with the sore throat, is it dry, sore, stabbing or burning ? Check to see if anything makes it better or worse (this is what we call the modalities), this could be that its better for cold or warm drinks for example. It could be a little different in that they are better for covering the throat. Then look at any other symptoms that are occurring at the same time and see if they have a similar patter.

Two remedies that focus on the side on which the sore throat starts are Lachesis and Lycopodium, Lachesis tends to start on the left side and usually is associated with burning pain in the throat. Lachesis is also known for people who may have a sore throat but can still talk incessantly. People who need Lachesis often find drinking doesn’t help but eating my provide relief. Lycopodium tends to start on the right side or is worse on the right side and the pain is usually better for warm drinks.

Hepar Sulph is often useful where the pain extends to the ears and the sore throat comes on after a cold or after getting chilled.

Where the throat is more infected and glands are swollen you should consider Mercurius Solubulus (Merc Sol). When this remedy is indicated there may be excessive saliva such that the pillow is drenched in the morning as well as bad breath. The sensation in the throat could be dry or burning pain. This remedy can be of significant benefit in the acute phases of glandular fever.

For more information on managing the symptoms of acute illnesses see the recent blogs Treating colds and flus naturally , Stomach Aches and Pains and Natural Medicine First Aid .

Christine is a practicing Naturopath and Nutritionist based at Elemental Health, St Ives and can be contacted on 02 8084 0081.

A tea lovers guide to the Blue Mountains

Whilst the options for holidays restricted to NSW at the moment it seemed timely to put together an update on tea friendly venues in the Blue Mountains (that also provide gluten free options). It is very disappointing to go to a cafe or restaurant that offers expresso coffee from freshly ground beans and then be offered hot water with a tea bag rather than leaf tea, so here are the best options for the tea lovers!!

One of my favourite spots is the Megalong Valley Tearooms. It’s fairly easy to access from Blackheath and it’s a lovely drive down into the valley. Better still you can do sections of the Six Foot Track to build an appetite or walk off an excess of scones!!

Megalong Valley Tearooms have a wide range of traditional and herbal leaf teas as well as good gluten free options and a veggie hash which is usually served with an egg but without it makes a good vegan meal too. They had expanded the farmers platter to include their homemade soups and the Cauliflower leek and fennel was excellent. The accompanying vintage cheddar pickles and corned beef made for a hearty lunch. My top tea pick is the Billy Tea which includes eucalyptus leaf.

Medlow Bath has two options now. The high tea at the Hydro Majestic is well worth a trip particularly if you order the white tea with rolled pearls which unfold in the glass teapot. Bookings can be made online and they can accommodate gluten and dairy free requests.

Another option is a cafe called Tournament which has a range of options for gluten free and vegetarians. The menu includes an Ethiopian spiced bean stew as well as daily specials like the lentil pie with polenta pictured above. Impressively they also made their own gluten free bread with spiced loaf. My daughter was still in the mood for breakfast and had the poached eggs with sides of roasted potatoes and bacon. Teas included a lovely refreshing berry mix as well as the usual options.

On the other side of the mountains we also found a little gem called The Lithgow Tin Shed . At the top of Lithgow near the train station it offered a full range of teas including chamomile, lemongrass and ginger as well as green and peppermint teas. The menu incorporated a lot of fresh local produce which is also sold in the cafe. The three salads on offer were noodle, root vegetables with goat curd and rocket and pear. The options included adding poached chicken, confit duck or local cured salmon. Both the salads we tried were delicious and the noodle salad with chicken was very filling.

One note for anyone travelling at the moment is that if you really want to eat somewhere make sure you book in advance. Currently with COVID-19 restrictions many cafe’s are limited to the number of people they can accommodate, often at half their pre COVID capacity.

Christine Pope is a naturopath and nutritionist based at Elemental Health St Ives and is looking forward to finding good tea options around NSW in the coming months. Appointments can be made on 02 8084 0081 or online.