2008-11-21 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

Flu Season
By Dr. Nancy Gahles

Flu season is upon us. The onset of cold, windy weather has brought out a symptom picture that many people are experiencing this year. In medical circles this is often called an

DR. NANCY GAHLES DR. NANCY GAHLES epidemic. That means that a lot of people are suffering from the same symptoms. In the world of homeopathic medicine, we look for a remedy that matches these symptoms. This is called a genus epidemicus. The picture that I have been observing is one in which the person first feels he or she has a stomach virus. Nausea, especially from the smell of food or cooking; stomach pain not relieved until vomiting; vomiting of

bile-like liquid (often quite a lot). An important characteristic is that the vomiting is preceded by thirst, especially for cold water. A keynote is that you feel very cold with chilly shivering but crave cold drinks or ice cream.

One immediately says that she or he has a stomach virus and thinks that it will go away in a day or two. In the cases I have seen lately, this scenario progresses to another state. The vomiting subsides and the state that appears is one in which the back and muscles ache severely. You feel as if your bones are breaking. There is a hoarseness with a cough that hurts so much that you find yourself holding your chest with your hands. There is a fever with great weakness and prostration.

This flu needs a homeopathic remedy called Eupatorium Perfoliatum. You can order this in a 30c potency from Washington Homeopathics at www. homeopathyworks.com. I suggest that you always have this remedy on hand, as this type of flu is especially nasty and, if not treated immediately, can turn into pneumonia. After the first signs of illness and if the symptoms begin to progress, please consult with your primary care physician immediately.

Pneumonia often goes undetected at first glance because you think that it is a cough and it will go away. Remember that homeopathic remedies are a part of integrative medicine and can be used together with conventional (allopathic) medicines for faster, more effective relief.

Preventing the flu is the best approach. Now is the time to add whole, fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. Reduce consumption of meats, sugars and processed foods.

At the first sign of post nasal drip, runny nose or clearing of the throat you can start with a proactive regimen. Begin the day with an 8 oz. glass of hot water, 3 slices fresh ginger root and a half of a lemon.

You can also add a pinch of cayenne pepper. Have a bowl of fresh fruit with plain or vanilla yogurt, 2 tbs. of ground flax seed and a handful of walnuts. Apples contain a powerful anti-inflammatory substance called quercetin and pineapples have enzymes that digest the inflammatory proteins so include these in your breakfast dish.

I also like organic wild blueberries for their antioxidant properties. You can buy these in the frozen food section of Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. Acidophilus, a probiotic that creates a healthy intestinal environment, is an ingredient in yogurt. If you think you need an extra boost, take an additional probiotic supplement. Always use a probiotic supplement if you take a course of antibiotics.

Throughout the day choose from garden salads with easily digestible proteins like chicken, fish or eggs and legumes such as lentils and chick peas. Use olive oil and apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon as your dressing with a piece of fresh garlic. Hearty vegetable or chicken soup is an excellent choice, too. Dinner should consist of a lean protein, whole grains and vegetables. Hydration is key, so drink throughout the day. I like to put a pack of Emergen C into my water bottle 1-2 times a day.

Dress for the weather! Becoming chilled is a major factor in becoming ill. Wear a hat, scarf and gloves. Wrap your scarf over your nose and mouth in windy weather or when traveling on a crowded subway with other potentially sick people.

Wash your hands! Frequently.

Research shows that soap and water, not antibacterial liquids, were most effective in reducing hospital borne diseases.

At the first sign of "coming down with something" take to your bed. Rest is healing and restorative. I suggest you take Nature's Herbs Echinacea, Elderberry and Goldenseal 3 capsules before bed and once in the morning and thereafter as needed. Find these in Vitamin Shop or online at LuckyVitamin.com or Vitacost.com.

Warm Herbal Relief is a tea made by Nutrition Now that I recommend to use in combination with the capsules at night. Often, you will awake with no signs of illness.

The flu is caused by an avian virus, that is, one carried by birds and ducks. The flu vaccine is made each year from one of these strains. Last year, 2007, the flu vaccine was 44 percent effective. If you want more protection, you can try Oscillicoccinum, by Boiron. This is a homeopathically prepared remedy using the duck virus that has been shown to be effective in all types of influenza particularly in the early stages of rhinitis, otitis and muscular aches. It is well known as a preventive if you have been exposed to or work in an environment with sick people or if you are prone to influenza. This remedy can be found in health food stores or in Duane Reade and CVS.

Lastly, be considerate of others. Epidemics are brought about by people who spread the disease by going into work or school or public places when they are coughing or sneezing. Stay home at the earliest sign of sickness and follow the prescribed regimen. Do not wait until you are deathly ill to take care of yourself. Recovery from a serious bout of influenza can take 10- 14 days at least. Prevention may require 1-2 days off from work. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure as the maxim goes! And if you are not sure what to do or what the symptoms are telling you, e-mail me at askDrNancy@aol.com.

May The Blessings Be!

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