2008-02-15 / Community

Health & Harmony

Coughs, etc.
By Dr. Nancy Gahles

Rockaway people are feeling the winter colds and coughs as a lingering problem. The epidemic began about a month ago with symptoms of head cold, sinus pain and congestion, ear pain, throat pain, hoarseness and cough. Oh, that cough! That unrelenting cough! That cough that racks one around until their back and neck hurt and their muscles ache. Although most of my patients know that I am also a homeopath, they usually come to me for their chiropractic care at first. The musculoskeletal system is affected in viral syndromes and manifests as aching pain, either in the muscles or the joints. This coupled with the drop in temperatures and lack of sunlight is a recipe for pain, and demands management in several areas.

Studies have shown that regular chiropractic care can increase the response of your immune system. This results in less frequency and severity of viral syndromes if, indeed, at all. Should you contract a cough that does not remit, then a chiropractic adjustment along with cranial therapy and massage of the neck, shoulders and scapular areas often leads to resolution.

Given the reality that we are all under undue stress, the fact of the matter is that we do not get enough rest. Assuredly, we do not get enough sleep and that definitely lowers resistance. We certainly don't get enough rest. Do we even know what rest means? Rest is the period of time that one takes to depart from usual circumstances and to clear the mind. One needs to do this periodically so that the system can reset itself. Rest facilitates healing. The cry that there is no time is true only if you believe it. One merely has to say yes to make it happen. Rest can occur in one minute or in 20 minutes. The amount of mindfulness that you give to the empty space you create is equal to the amount of rest obtained. Isn't that a wonderful formula? You can create your own restfulness. Consequently, you can create your own health. Revolutionary? I think not. It's been said and done before. Just follow the masters. Remove yourself from your everyday duties at least once a day for no less than 10 minutes and no more than 20 minutes. Sit or lie quietly. Breathe deeply and fully. Empty your mind. Repeat a word, a prayer or a sound to maintain focus. If you get distracted, simply return to your breathing. Commit to this practice and watch the healing unfold.

The mystery of life being what it is, despite our best efforts we may become susceptible to some issue and there it will be in our tissues. Should this occur, there are solutions ranging from least intervention to most intervention. The recent recall of most over-the-counter cold and cough medicines has left the consumer in a quandary as to what to do. I still hear people say that they take them anyway, because they don't know what else to do. Certainly the onus is on the primary care physician to dispense information about alternative therapies that are safe and effective. Unfortunately, I haven't seen that happening. So, after the obvious stress reducing strategies outlined above, I also recommend hydration. Dryness of the mucous membranes is a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses to thrive. Hydration means drinking 8-16 ounces of water daily. Refrain from dehydrating drinks like soda, caffeine and alcohol, with the exception of green tea.

According to JAMA, December 5, 2007, a study from the University of Southhampton in England reported that antibiotics were of no use in treating most sinus infections. This paper compared amoxicillin, a steroid spray and placebos as treatment options for 240 adults with sinusitis. There was basically no difference in the time it took for the infections to clear up regardless of which treatment was used. Referring back to cranial therapy and chiropractic care, this is a treatment that is very effective in clearing sinuses and preventing the infection that follows stagnant congestion. Avery effective homeopathic remedy for sinusitis is Kali Bichromicum. This remedy can safely be used for self care in potencies from 6c-30c, especially if the sensation is that the nose is completely blocked and when there is thick, ropy mucous that is difficult to clear. A single dose of 30c three times in one day is generally the rule of thumb to begin with. If there is no relief, then I suggest you consult with a Certified Classical Homeopath (www.nationalcenterfor homeopathy.org).

The combination herbal blend by Nature's Way, Echinacea, Elderberry and Goldenseal is likewise very effective in decongestion of all mucous membranes and effective against bacteria and viruses. I recommend 3 capsules morning and night at the first sign of "coming down with something". Adding Sambucol to your regimen at this time is also a good strategy. The powerful anti-inflammatories that I use are quercetin and turmeric in 500mg., 3 times per day.

"Researchers from Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine recently did a comparison between children's cough preparations. Parents evaluated treatment effectiveness on a seven point scale. The medications were randomly assigned to the families and consisted of either a honey-flavored medicine that contained dextromethorphan, similar sized doses of just honey or nothing at all. The honey treatment consistently scored better on the evaluations than either the medicine or no treatment. Interestingly, a number of pediatricians interviewed after reading the study (in light of recent warnings that cough and cold medicines should be avoided in small children) said that they would recommend honey 'if their patients were seeking alternative treatment.' The researchers warned that honey should not be given to infants in their first year because of a rare risk of botulism." - (Dynamic Chiropractic, Jan 29,2008 by Dr. Brian Sutton).

In infants under one year of age, I recommend consulting a chiropractor and a Certified Classical Homeopath for the best in safe and effective treatment where there is none available from your medical doctor. I also recommend raw honey, which is unpasteurized and rich in enzymes. Drop a teaspoonful into hot tea with ginger and lemon and watch that sore throat melt away, soothing the cough. Head congestion, too!

Dr. Caterina Bucca of the University of Turin, Italy, in researching why women appear to suffer from chronic, unexplained coughs more than men, discovered that iron deficiency was responsible in many of the research subjects. Symptoms of throat inflammation, redness, swelling and vocal cord sensitivity all were relieved after 2 months of iron supplementation. A proper blood work-up is necessary to determine if this is your issue. Please work in conjunction with your healthcare provider as a conscious consumer and partner in your health care. On another note, I have also seen chronic coughs in women who are caretakers of a sick or dying loved one. In some instances, the homeopathic remedy Ignatia is very effective for relief of the cough and the lingering grief.

Lingering colds, coughs or chest congestion must be checked out with a medical doctor to rule out serious pathology. Colds and coughs are not generally serious pathology, and once you become familiar with your body as to when and how it reacts, you can begin to be comfortable in trying self care techniques to discover what works best for you. Whenever your doctor says, "It's a virus, there is nothing to do for it," that is the time to get started!

Studies abound lately on the benefits of Vitamin D3, and no wonder it has a large presence in the winter. It is called the sunshine vitamin because we absorb it into our skin when we are exposed to sunlight. During the winter months exposure is decreased and all manner of symptoms are associated with this. Studies are showing its effectiveness in doses from 1,000 IU's per day to 10,000IU for adults. Children from 4-10 years of age generally need 400-800 IU's per day.

A blood test will show what amount is needed for you, as each person's requirements are different.

Take heart, my friends, spring is just around the corner! Live well, laugh often, love much and watch the healing take place! May The Blessings Be!

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