Stay well this winter

Well here we are, once again, with winter looming and the threat of flu in the air. It seems that everyone is coming down with it, so it’s time to start looking at your health and taking precautions to boost your immune system.

First take care of the basics

Even though schools, daycare centers, and business offices can be less than ideal environments for maintaining upper respiratory health, the following suggestions help you stay proactive:

  • Exercise boosts the immune system. Moderation is key, however, as overly strenuous activity like running a marathon can actually compromise immunity.
  • Sleep – Aim for a full eight hours each and every night.The body uses this critical downtime to make all kinds of immune system chemicals.
  • Cleanliness – Wash your hands often. Carry a mini travel-size hand sanitizer with you in your car or bag
  • Hydration – Water keeps your mucous membranes moist and healthy. Drink plenty of bottled water and use a vaporizer in your bedroom if the air is dry.
  • Stress – Quickly depresses the immune system. Learn to manage stress in personally effective ways. Some people meditate, others take long walks, while still others soak in a hot tub sprinkled with essential oil of lavender. Find the activity that helps you cope with the ups and downs of daily living.
  • Fresh Air – Try to get some fresh air and sunshine each day far from any pollution like car exhaust. It goes without saying to avoid tobacco and second hand smoke as much as humanly possible.
  • Diet – Simply stated, stay away from sugar! A spoonful of sugar may make the medicine go down, but you might not even need it if you refrain from sugar, a sure immunity buster. Instead load up on lots of fresh, juicy fruits and vegetables.

 Immune Boosters

With the basics out of the way, we can focus on the immune system. My all-time favourites for increasing immune activity are Echinacea and Vitamin C. Get yourself a really good quality Echinacea tincture or tablets. If you’re taking the tincture, take 30 drops twice times a day to prevent flu and increase this dose to up to 50 drops 4 times a day if you start showing signs of flu. After you have taken the tincture, the back of your tongue should feel numb or tingly. This feeling will soon pass, but you know you are using a good quality product. If taking the tablets, follow the directions on the bottle. Good quality Vitamin C supplements are excellent antioxidants and fight viruses directly so daily intake of 1000mg will ward off the flu. If you get diarrhoea, change to a different brand or decrease the dose. I will often increase the dose to 1000mg several times a day at the start of flu.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Homoeopaths can give you remedies to prevent flu. Most of these contain Influenzinum, the homoeopathically potentised form of the current flu vaccine (remember these change every year with the different strains, so last year’s remedy won’t work as well as the current one). The theory here is that the very diluted vaccine will stimulate the vital force, or immune system, to recognize and react swiftly to one of these viruses entering the body, thus conferring specific immunity. Influenzinum may be given on its own or combined with immune strengthening remedies. One of the most common is Anas Barbarie or Oscillococcinum. This remedy confers general immunity to flu-like illnesses and can also be given at the onset of flu symptoms in order to help avert a full-blown illness. Unless otherwise directed, take the prevention remedies once or twice a week. As with all homeopathic remedies, take 15 minutes before or after food, and away from strong tastes such as toothpaste.

Treatment

If you do get the flu, try to select the homoeopathic remedy that most closely resembles your symptoms. Remember that homoeopathy is specific to your symptoms, so different people need different remedies. Here is a list of the most common flu remedies:

· Aconite (monkshood): This remedy is primarily useful during the first 24 hours of flu. It is helpful when a fever begins after exposure to cold or cold, dry winds. Chilliness and a cold sweat may also be experienced. A barking cough develops, with a burning sore throat, and a bitter taste that lingers in the mouth

· Gelsemium (yellow jasmine): When fatigue and a generalized heavy, weak feeling pervades the person, even leading to trembling of individual parts and to having heavy, half-open eyelids, this remedy should be considered. These people tend to have little or no thirst, can experience chills up and down their spine, and have a headache in the back part of their head.

· Bryonia (white bryony): People who have marked body aches during the flu that are aggravated by anyGenerally, these people also have a headache in the front part of their head which is also aggravated by motion. They have dry, even chapped lips, a dry cough, and a great thirst for cold water. They are warm, and are averse to warm rooms. People with the flu who are very irritable and insist upon being left alone tend to benefit from this remedy. type of motion suggest the need for this remedy.

· Eupatorium perfoliatum (boneset): People with the flu who experience aches in the muscles and pains in the bones and/or in their eyes often benefit from this remedy. Another characteristic symptom of people who need this remedy is chills that occur in the morning, especially 7-9am. These people desire cold drinks, even during a chill and even though it may elicit a chill response. They feel better lying on whatever part of their body is aching.

· Arsenicum album (arsenic): This is an important medicine for people with the stomach flu who experience nausea and vomiting along with a fever. These people are sensitive to and worse for exposure to cold. They experience a great thirst, but only for sips of water at a time. They feel restless and anxious, usually worrying if they might actually be sicker than they are, and they may seek several professionals’ opinion on their condition. They feel better with company around, and they feel the worse at or near midnight.

I suggest taking the indicated remedy every two hours whilst symptoms are acute and decrease the frequency as you get better. Generally, if you are buying remedies over the counter, buy them in the 30CH potency, as these are appropriate for most conditions.

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Meet Dr Mom

imag0029I have always had an interest in natural medicine, and after seeing wonderful results that family members were getting from a homoeopath, I decided that this was what I wanted to study. I had already studied aromatherapy and reflexology but when I started studying homoeopathy, it was a truly enlightening experience. I began to understand and respect the innate wisdom of the body and our own inborn healing capacity. I graduated from the Durban University of Technology with a masters degree in Homoeopathy. In my practice, I have always had a natural affinity for my women and children patients (not that I don’t treat men!). I love treating children because they are so responsive to the medicine and often  results can be seen in a matter of hours. Parents always comment that it is so easy for them to administer the medicines because most of them taste like sugar.

In 2007, a friend of mine had a very traumatic birth experience at a government hospital, and I was there to support her through it. I was appalled by her experience – I have had 3 home births, and each birth was beautiful and empowering. At each birth, I had the assistance of a doula, and after each birth I felt such gratitude for her support that I wanted to do the doula training myself; but starting a course when you have a newborn baby is just not the right time, so I had put it off. My friend’s experience was the push I needed to get going and finally do the course. I completed ten training births before I began practicing on my own and have now attended many, many births. Each one, however, is a unique and beautiful experience. I feel greatly honoured to witness the miracle of birth and to support this process on such a regular basis.

I am very passionate about my work and attend regular workshops and conferences to improve my knowledge and learn new tricks to help my patients. I am blessed to do something that I truly love, and to make a difference in peoples’ lives.