2008-04-25 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

Those Bloomin' Trees
By Dr. Nancy Gahles

DR. NANCY GAHLES DR. NANCY GAHLES April, as I often tell my family, is the best month of the year. After a long, dark, cold winter, I become elated at the prospect of spring. Of course, it being my birthday month adds an element of glee for me.

As the blossoms appear on the trees, I watch in awe as Mother Nature works her magic, slowly unfurling those buds to release the pollens that will create the summer gardens.

As an Earth Mother, I watch in anticipation as the pollens fly around, visibly, and attach themselves to my son. He is so susceptible to the windy, airborne particles of spring. My love/hate relationship with this season grows as I hear the little cough that signals the onset of reactive airway disease.

By the end of March each year, I begin my diatribe on taking fish oils, Echinacea, and Quercetin NOW so that we can prevent the eventual attacks of allergies.

I even go so far as to lay out the pills on his computer desk… only to return in the midday and find them sitting there. On his return from school I dutifully reiterate all the eventualities that will occur if he doesn't prepare by taking his vitamins. "OK, Mom, I KNOW."

And so it goes as April begins, the flowers open and blow their pollens through the air along with my words of wisdom.

"Small leaks sink big ships," is a saying my husband is fond of. Here I go echoing that phrase to my son as he goes out without a hat and stays up later than I think is prudent. "You will run your immune system down if you don't get enough sleep." "OK, Mom, I KNOW."

This week we were walking through NYC on a tour of the NYU campus. The wind was blowing and particulate matter was everywhere. As we were walking, that little cough began. That harbinger of bad news. I could hear that cough through a crowd at Yankee Stadium.

Anticipation looms large.

I begin scanning my memory banks for the remedies I gave him last year. I listen intently to the quality of the cough.

I search his face for other characteristic signs. Red eyes? Negative. Nose dripping? Negative. Just that little, dry cough. And my son casually carrying his inhaler, ready for use.

As soon as we arrive home I ask him to shower immediately to remove all the pollen from his hair and body. He tells me that he is tired and goes to lie down in bed. I begin preparation for the long journey into night as I know too well the sequence that is about to occur.

My son's symptoms always progress slowly until after midnight when the fever peaks, respiration is difficult and I am alone, in the middle of the night with a sick child.

These are the conditions which prompted me to seek out self care treatment modalities, one of which was homeopathy. There is nothing more heinous than being a mother in the middle of the night with a sick child and no armamentarium and the prospect of a trip to the emergency room as your only option.

In order to select an appropriate remedy, there must be a symptom complex that you can look up (repertorize)

in books called the Homeopathic Materia Medica.

The single cause for my anticipatory anxiety is that generally, a condition in its early stages may have only one or very few characterizing symptoms, thus making it difficult to impossible to select a good remedy for the case. That little dry cough can be characteristic of over 1,000 remedies so I must wait until the picture develops more clearly. That translates into watching your child become sicker and striking at just the right moment with the remedy that will alleviate his suffering. Daunting? Always!

I did make him an herbal tea with raw honey. I brought it to him as he was lying in bed shivering. AH! A symptom! "Bring me a blanket, please." Remedy selections running through my mind, I scurried to bring him a comforter. As the fever came on, that little dry cough crept in more repetitively. As the evening progressed tonight, the cough became a continual, incessant, exhausting one. I kept the rhythm of the cough timed to my typing on the computer searching for a compatible remedy with only that cough as a symptom as the fever was slowly diminishing.

Given that it was springtime, pollen was the causative agent, wind was the precipitating factor and the onset was sudden with a chill and fever, I selected an acute remedy called Aconite. The mind/emotion etiology of Aconite symptoms can be fear, fright, bad news or some shocking event. I took into account that trip to the admissions office at NYU, a fairly overwhelming university with high standards for admission, and gave my son a dose of Aconite. 2:40 a.m. now. I sit back in bed and listen to the cough. Slowly it begins to disappear. 2:50 a.m., no cough. I lie in bed… waiting. 3 a.m., I go into his room. He gives me the thumbs up sign. "I can't believe how fast that worked!" he exclaims.

Here we are two days later and he has no sign of the cough. It is always amazing to me the way in which a simple, safe and effective therapy can be a boon to a mother and child. Especially in the middle of the night. I don't feel alone and scared when I have my repertory and material medica at hand. And God on my side, guiding my selection of remedies. You can learn this method, too. Certainly, it is not meant to replace medical advice or treatment. Simple, self-limiting conditions for which one might use over the counter preparations respond well, however.

You may contact me at askDrNancy @aol.com for further information.

May The Blessings Be!

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