A bit of all-too-familiar scratchiness. And before you know it, a wayward virus is roaring through your body. Where is that long-awaited cure?
Flu symptoms run the gamut from chills, sore throat, and muscle pain to fever, headache, and nausea. Less serious, but no less tedious, colds generally last a week or two, with symptoms that include runny nose, sneezing, cough, congestion, and sore throat. While there’s rarely a high fever or fatigue with a cold, that’s slim consolation. It hurts just to think about it all.
As ruthless as colds and flu can be, there’s a healing option as gentle as a soft hand on a fevered brow. Homeopathy has been around for a couple hundred years and harnesses the principle of “like cures like.” In other words, rather than suppressing symptoms, homeopathy treats the patient by stimulating the body’s own healing resources with microdoses of natural substances.
For fighting colds or flu, the following remedies rise to the challenge in the form of tiny pills that dissolve under the tongue. To choose the right remedy, match symptoms to those in the accompanying chart. Some homeopathic remedies do double duty for colds and flu; others are more specific.
- Aconite Symptoms come on quickly after exposure to cold air and include thirst, restlessness, and a red face. For flu, use at the first sign of illness. Aconite can work in 24 hours.
- Belladonna Cold symptoms appear rapidly and may be accompanied by high fever and sore, red throat. Light and noise worsen symptoms. With flu, there’s also a throbbing headache.
- Ferrum phosphoricum Slow onset of illness and vague, nonspecific symptoms are characteristic. The patient feels sicker from 4 to 6 a.m. Lying down and applying cold improve symptoms.
- Nux vomica Nose runs during the day but is blocked at night, and the patient is chilled when uncovered. There is heightened sensitivity to light, noise, and smells, and wakefulness between 3 and 5 a.m.
- Oscillococcinum A useful remedy, Oscillo treats general flu symptoms and is best used within the first 24 hours.
- Pulsatilla Lots of thick, yellow mucus accompanies with cold or flu and a wet cough in the morning and dry cough at night. Sitting up and fresh air help; there’s no thirst.
- Rhus tox The patient is chilly and restless, changes position frequently, and has stiff muscles. He feels better after moving, and although thirsty, feels worse after a cold drink.
Though tiny, these homeopathic remedies can make a big difference come cold and flu season. Homeopathic remedies are nontoxic and when administered correctly can be used safely with all ages. Most are available over the counter and have no known contraindications or interactions with conventional medicines. All are excellent treatments to keep handy in your home medical arsenal. Or stow a few in your pocket during cold and flu season—they’re small and easily portable. Certainly nothing to sneeze at.
Homeopathy: An A to Z Home Handbook by Alan V. Schmukler ($17.95, Llewellyn Publications, 2006)
“Colds” by Mayo Clinic staff, www.mayoclinic.com
“Influenza,” US Centers for Disease Control, www.cdc.gov