2007-12-07 / Community

Health & Harmony

Colds/Cough Medicine Recall
By Dr. Nancy Gahles

DR. NANCY GAHLES DR. NANCY GAHLES The recent recall of over-the-counter cold and cough medicines for children has left parents in a quandary about what to do. It is unnerving, to say the least, when you have a sick child and are told that "it's a virus and there is nothing to do for it."

History is replete with "old wives' tales," the stuff of which many "new cures" are made. Most treatments for the common cold are borne of common sense. For instance, wash your hands frequently under running water, with soap, for at least 60 seconds in order to limit your exposure to the viruses that are transmitted by hand contact. It was remarkable to me that this was one of the preventions that came out of the MRSA scare. In fact, the hand washing theory dates back to 1847, when Dr. Ignatz Semmelweiss, a physician in Vienna, discovered that fatal infections in childbirth were spread among patients by doctors who failed to wash their hands between examinations.

An ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure, according to Ben Franklin, rings as true today as it did in his time. Keeping well hydrated by drinking lots of fluids is one way to prevent the cold virus from viewing you as the perfect host organism. It is especially important to do so when you are in poorly ventilated rooms for a long period of time, or in spaces that are overheated and dry. I suggest that one also use a saline nasal spray to keep the mucous membranes moist and a humidifier in your bedroom at night.

The one caveat that I always tout is the one that is most obvious. That is, dress for the weather. When it is cold and windy, wear a hat. The body loses most heat from the head and a chilled body is susceptible to catching a cold. If your child is susceptible to ear infections the hat should cover the ears. Windy days tell us to keep the head and neck covered. Wear warm gloves and socks. Keeping the extremities warm decreases the likelihood of becoming chilled.

We all know the drill about eating whole, fresh foods in order to stay well. In the winter, it is also best to eat root vegetables. These are denser in nature and calories and provide the nutrients that are right for our bodies during this season. Excess sugar and simple carbohydrates tax the system and leave us vulnerable. It is best to choose from whole grains, legumes and the dark, leafy green vegetables for sustenance. We may need to add a few extra calories in the winter, as two to three extra pounds will add a dimension of warmth to our body and insulate us against the shivering factor.

Of course, the best prevention for a cold is not to expose yourself to others with a cold. It is a pet peeve of mine that people go to work sick and worse, send their children to school sick. A cold is contagious. I feel that it is socially responsible to stay at home when you have a contagious illness. Additionally, one of the treatments for a cold is rest. When we expect the body to mobilize its immune system to cure an imbalance, we need to allow it time and space to do that. We can hardly expect to get well when we are going to school, working, traveling back and forth, and then carrying out assignments afterwards. I marvel when I hear statements like "I just can't seem to shake this cold," coming from a person who has not taken any down time while sick.

So, if perchance, one does everything right and still gets sick, there are some proactive treatments that will alleviate your suffering and cut the duration in half. At the first sign of fatigue (the first prodromal signal that one is getting ill), take a couple of pellets (1 dose) of oscillococcinum by Boiron, available in most health food stores. This is a safe, effective, over-thecounter remedy for colds and flu used widely in France, that has research to support its efficacy. Usually, one takes one dose every hour or so, until symptoms are relieved. If after 24 hours there is no improvement, one must select another homeopathic remedy that matches the exact symptoms and peculiarities of the illness. For this, you may need to consult a qualified certified classical homeopath. You can find a practitioner at www.nationalcenterforhomeopathy. org.

Forewarned is forearmed, and so I recommend that every household be equipped with a basic homeopathy kit and a book on how to use it for first aid, emergencies and common, self-limiting illnesses. Cindy Crawford recently appeared on the Oprah show, brandishing her homeopathic kit and book, telling the audience that she is the doctor in her home and would never go anywhere without these items. These can be ordered online from Washington Homeopathics at www.home op athyworks.com. For further consultation or for information on how to start a study group, you can contact me at askDrNancy@ aol.com. Another over-the-counter medicine that works very well to relieve the congestion and inflammation of colds is Sambucol, an elderberry syrup that has research to support its use in uncomplicated colds. Sambucol is available at health food stores like Vitamin Shop and at Belle Harbor Chemists, on Beach 129 Street.

Echinacea is known for its antiviral properties and can be consumed as a capsule, in tincture form, or in a tea. The tea that kids love and that I recommend is Warm Herbal Relief by Nutrition Now. Trader Joe's carries this product or it can be ordered online from Nutrition Now.

Zinc lozenges have the benefit of decreasing the life of a virus by half, so

suggest one containing 30 milligrams of zinc. The Vitamin Shop brand also contains echinacea and other ingredients that give quick relief.

Recent studies have shown that regular chiropractic adjustments increase immunity and can help with both prevention and recovery from a cold or flu.

Research from Harvard Medical School's affiliated researchers at Mind/Body Medical Institute shows that the relaxation response achieved by deep breathing and meditation is curative for many chronic diseases and increases resiliency to prevent and recover from others.

All things considered, it is most important to take the time to tune into your inner wisdom, listen to it and nurture yourself. We are in it for the long haul so we may as well make it as pleasant a ride as possible.

May The Blessings Be!

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