Using Traditional Chinese Medicine with Homeopathy for Colds
The article below is a small gift of information to help you make wise decisions to keep you and your family healthy in the winter months, and to present you with alternatives to Western treatment for the flu, including the flu shot. Uppermost in many people’s mind as winter approaches is how to stay healthy with the coming of the flu season, particularly with the fears over the H1N1 virus. As I have been adding on the years, I am coming to a point where I can embrace a broader and more inclusive approach to health, in which I can see what other methods of healing aside from homeopathy have to offer us in staying healthy. In this article, I will tell you about some homeopathic acute and flu remedies and about a few herbal formulas from Traditional Chinese Medicine for cold and flu treatment.
I have been fortunate to have had some wonderful experiences with my family and clients working with Chinese herbs in conjunction with homeopathy. I have also seen how well homeopathy and Chinese herbal medicine work together, and have started to understand when to use one approach vs. the other. There are other great systems of medicine, such as Ayurveda and Western herbalism available, but my experiences with these are even less than my experience with Chinese medicine. If I am blessed with a long life, I hope to gain deeper knowledge about all of these healing modalities. As it is, I have about a quarter of a century of experience with homeopathy, and even with this I have but scratched the surface of the knowledge that there is to be had in this field.
Coming back to the subject at hand: what to do to prevent and treat flus with homeopathy and Chinese medicine, I would like to tell you a little bit about a few homeopathic flu remedies and about a few formulations from Traditional Chinese medicine that can help you and your family this flu season. As I am not an expert on Chinese medicine, nor licensed to practice it, I would be happy to refer you to practitioners that I know in this field.
HOMEOPATHY FOR FLU TREATMENT
Flu as Exacerbation of Chronic Symptoms
I will start with homeopathy and describe my approach to flu treatment. As homeopaths we are taught that when a person develops an acute illness, one of two things can be going on: First, this may be an exacerbation of their chronic complaints. If this is the case, generally speaking, the chronic symptoms may persist during the acute illness, but with the cold or flu symptoms added on. In this case, what often helps the patient is a repetition of their constitutional remedy. We are warned, however, not to administer the remedy at the onset of the illness, but at the end, because the flu symptoms can be aggravated initially. From my experience, yes, this does happen, and sometimes it doesn’t happen. What I have seen is that there often is an increase in symptoms for a number of hours, followed by a rapid improvement in symptoms, and also in the chronic health situation as well.
The second thing that can happen is that the acute illness is what we call a “pure” acute. In this case the chronic symptoms of the patient are suspended. For example if they suffer from chronic back problems or chronic bad temper, all of a sudden these symptoms are much better and they are a joy to be around. The chronic symptoms are replaced by a new set of symptoms, which are the symptoms of the cold or flu. When this happens the patient usually needs an acute or typhoid miasm remedy. (This will be the subject of another newsletter).
Acute Miasm Remedies
How does one know which acute remedy the patient needs? The acute miasm remedies are characterized by a sudden onset of symptoms. They were feeling fine and now they are terrible. This type of illness usually happens to healthy children. They come down suddenly, violently and dramatically with the illness. Two of the most commonly used acute miasm remedies are Belladonna and Aconite.
Belladonna is characterized by a sudden onset of fever, high temperature, redness of the face, dilated pupils and the patient is hot to the touch. This remedy also has a 3 p.m. aggravation time, a desire for lemons or lemonade and excited mental activity, which can include hallucinations. The symptoms come on suddenly, acutely and violently, and the patient can also be violent, with a desire to kick, bite or strike. They are aggravated by the jar of the bed. They can have throbbing right-sided headaches, and pulsating carotids.
Aconite is characterized by tremendous restlessness and fear of death. They can have panic attacks and unaccountable fears. Tossing in turning in bed is one of the big signs of the need for this remedy. The pains are terrible and drive him crazy. The face is red, hot, and flushed, or they can have one cheek red, the other flushed (like Chamomilla). The parts can feel numb, tingle and burn. They are worse at night. This illness can often come on after a frightful experience.
Another important thing to be said when selecting an acute remedy for a person is to keep in mind the relationship of remedies. For example:
Calcarea carbonica will often go to Belladonna, Pulsatilla or Rhus tox in acute illnesses.
Natrum muriaticum people often go to Bryonia or Apis in acute illnesses.
Sulphur people often go to Nux vomica or Arsenicum album in acute illnesses.
Sepia often goes to Nux vomica in acute illnesses.
Some constitutional remedies are also excellent flu remedies, such as Rhus tox, Nux vomica, Arsenicum album, and Pulsatilla. In this case, repeating the constitutional remedy during the flu can lead to very good results.
We have some excellent “flu” remedies in homeopathy. They are excellent for the flu because their symptoms match flu symptoms very well. The main flu remedies are:
Gelsemium: This remedy is a great remedy for anticipatory anxiety, and for people who are really having a hard time recovering from a flu. They have never felt well since a bout of influenza. The symptoms calling for it are a great feeling of weakness and of heaviness in the lower limbs. They are so weak that they can tremble from weakness. They feel dull, drowsy and dizzy. They are usually thirstless, with profuse urination and their face looks flushed, or dark red. They have heavy droopy eyes. They can have a headache that begins in the back of the neck, extends over the head, with pulsating pains in the forehead and eyeballs.
Bryonia alba: One of the big symptoms calling for Bryonia is irritability. The patient often wants to be left alone. He is worse from movement, so he prefers to lie still. He is also worse from pressure and lying on the affected parts. This patient is usually thirsty for large quantities of cold water. He also feels better from perspiration and wet weather. They have to hold their head or chest during cough, due to the aggravation from the coughing motion. The mucous membranes are excessively dry. They are often worried about business or finances.
Eupatorium perfoliatum: The symptom that will usually guide you to Eupatorium perfoliatum is the bone pains. The patient has an aching in the bones, with a feeling as though they are broken, aching or bruised. They have to move constantly to relieve the soreness. This is in contrast to Bryonia, which needs to lie still. Another difference between the two remedies is that Eupatorium perfoliatum has scanty perspiration, while Bryonia has profuse perspiration. They can have an intense backache, as if it is broken. Like Bryonia, they also have to hold the chest when coughing and are thirsty.
This is a very good remedy for flus and other febrile illnesses characterized by bone pains.
One way to help determine, which of these flu remedies to prescribe, is simply to ask, what is the worse thing about this flu for you? If they say the weakness, prescribe Gelsemium, if they say the bone pains prescribe Eupatorium perf; if they say the aches and pains in the body that are worse on motion prescribe Bryonia.
Sore throats and asthma
What if your cold or flu has other remarkable features, such as a sore throat or asthma and breathing difficulties? In the case of a flu with a strong sore throat component, other remedies such as Mercurius and its salts, Lachesis muta, Lac-caninum and Phytolacca come to mind? If the asthma component is very high remedies like Arsenicum album, Ipecacuanha and Antimonium crudum and tartaricum come to mind.
As you can see homeopathy is vast, and this is just a very brief summary of what it has to offer in the flu season to those who want to stay healthy and are looking for alternatives to taking the flu shot.
PREVENTIVE MEASURES IN HOMEOPATHY
There are various remedies in homeopathy and Chinese medicine that can be used as preventive measures and at the first sign of a cold. Different homeopaths have different suggestions in this regard:
J.H. Clarke, the author of Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica, recommended his patients to take Arsenicum 30C whenever a cold appears in the family, as well as influenzinum 30C every hour or two. (I would not do this for more than one to day days). I would not recommend this if a person is on constitutional treatment and doing well on a remedy, but for people who are highly susceptible to flus they can consider it.
Influenzinum is a remedy formulated anew every year, just like the flu vaccine, which is supposed to contain flu strains that people in laboratory’s believe are mostly likely to be prevalent that year. The influenzinum the homeopaths use is usually made to match the flu shot for that year. Which flu shot will be prevalent that year is just an educated guess, but this poses fewer risks than the flu shot, because it is administered in miniscule homeopathic dynamized doses and does not contain the preservatives that the flu shots contain. (There must be studies comparing the efficacy of Influenzinum with the flu shot, but I don’t know about them).
Winter Tonic by Celletech
Recently I received an e-mail from Melissa Burch CCH, a homeopath practicing in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She mentioned a product called Winter tonic put out by a company called Celletech. This is a homeopathic remedy made with all of the flu strains since 1919, including this year’s strains. She recommends taking this in the 6C strength once a week as a preventive, and four times a day if you actually get the flu. I do not have personal experience with this product, but if you wish to try it you can order it by going to www.celletech.com or calling 800-888-4066. I would only consider this if you are not currently on homeopathic constitutional treatment and are looking for ways to protect yourself from the flu.
Oscillococcinum is a homeopathic remedy in the 200C strength made from the heart and liver of a duck. Taken at the first sign of a cold, it can work very well to nip your cold symptoms in the bud. If you are not on a homeopathic constitutional remedy already, it is fine to take this remedy at the onset of cold symptoms. In many people it works miraculously. If you are on a constitutional remedy there is a risk that this remedy will interfere with it. The other potential downside of this remedy is that if it does not stop the cold immediately, it can make it more difficult to determine the homeopathic remedy that you need for your flu as it can mask some of your symptoms.
TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE HERBAL FORMULATIONS FOR
COLDS AND FLUS
The herbal formulas I will be telling you about below were formulated by Efrem Korngold, LAc., O.M.D. and Harriet Beinfield, LAc. pioneers of Chinese Medicine in the United States. These herbal formulas are prepared by Kan Herb Company and are available only by prescription. These herbal formulas are much more expensive than homeopathic remedies, but they work very well and can be an excellent adjunct to homeopathic treatment in keeping you healthy. I will list the formulas available for colds, flus and asthma, sore throats, and so forth in alphabetical order. The information I am giving you comes from “Chinese Medicine Works Clinical Handbook,” by Harriet Beinfield, L.Ac. and Efrem Korngold, LAc., O.M.D.
Bug Beater. This is for the early and developing stage of colds and flus with feverishness.
Chest Relief. In the second stage of the cold when the mucous has descended into the lungs, this remedy can help with the cough and to loosen and expel the phlegm. The remedy also helps soothe the throat and chest. It helps with bronchitis symptoms and laryngitis.
Chill Chaser. This remedy is good for the initial stage of a cold or flu with chills and muscle soreness brought on by sudden changes in the weather. The guiding symptoms are chills, headache, muscle ache or tenderness of the skin.
Deep Breath. This formula helps with the treatment of chronic asthma and wheezing. “Deep Breath strengthens the Lungs and Kidneys to resolve the underlying weakness that makes an individual vulnerable to acute asthmatic episodes characterized by wheezing, fatigue, shortness of breath and coughing.” (from Chinese Medicine Works Clinical Handbook, by Beinfield and Korngold).
Enviroshield. This herbal formula helps people with all manner of environmental sensitivities from allergies to pollen, sensitivities to perfumes, dust, smoke, and chemicals. Enviroshield can also help people with food sensitivities and IBS. It helps to fortify, detoxify and protect all barrier membranes or the body, such as the skin, respiratory organs and the gut. It helps with hayfever and allergic asthma and hives.
Gan Mao Ling. This is a very well known herbal formula for flus that you can purchase anywhere Chinese herbs are sold. This formula can be taken at the first sign of a cold or flu and during the course of the flu to help alleviate symptoms. The ingredients in Gan Mao Ling and Zhong Gan Ling, which is for a more advanced stage of the flu are contained within many of the other herbal formulas put out by Kan Herb Company that I am listing here.
Head Clear. This formula is very good for chronic congestion to the head, sinuses, or lungs. “It is appropriate for any type of congestion in the head, whether a sinus headache, allergic rhinitis, itchy or irritated eyes, otitis, toothache, or the stuffiness from a cold or flu.” It helps with the chronic effects of congestion, such as fatigue and susceptibility to colds, and sensitivity to environmental influences.
Open Air. This formula has perilla seeds as the active ingredient. It relieves acute asthma symptoms, such as chest tightness, shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing and dissolves and expels phlegm. (Compare with homeopathic Arsenicum album and Ipecacuanha).
Phlogisticlean. This formula helps with swelling of the lymphatic glands, thyroid enlargement. The clinical indications are “swelling, pain, inflammation and suppuration of organs and tissues of the neck and head including lymphadenitis, thyroiditis, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis, sinusitis, otitis, conjunctivitis blepharitis, conjunctivitis and dermatitis.”
Pipe Cleaner. This formula reverses the inflammatory process of allergic bronchitis, helping to alleviate congestion, wheezing and cough. The clinical indications are: “Wheezing, cough, an dyspnea. Sticky or thick yellow-green phlegm that is difficult to expectorate. Slight to moderate fever (less than 102 F). Dry throat or thirst. Stubborn and persistent viral bacterial, or allergic bronchitis with or without asthmatic symptoms.
Windbreaker. This is a wonderful formula that is designed for children, but good for everyone. Taken at the first sign of a cold, it will nip the cold symptoms in the bud 80 to 90% of the time. This can also be used preventatively “to offer protection from exposure ot allergens or the weather…The goal is to quickly eliminate the primary pathogenic agents of Wind and heat, unblock the upper orifices, and reduce the inflammatory symptoms of fever, ear ache, sore throat, rhinitis, conjunctivitis and rash.”
How does one decide between Chinese herbal formulas and Homeopathy? From my limited experience with Traditional Chinese herbs, but my large experience with homeopathy, I can tell you how I would work with these.
I consider the first line and best line of defense to be to consult your homeopath to find out what your constitutional remedy is. Most people only need to take this remedy once a year or even less often. When the remedy is well selected it helps to maintain health on all levels for an extended period of time. By health, I mean health on all levels: mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual.
If you do catch a cold or your immune system does get overwhelmed this will most likely be the remedy you will need to restore yourself to balance. Sometimes it is not easy to determine what the constitutional remedy is, and sometimes people need a series of remedies, or the remedy they need changes as different disease layer are addressed. If despite homeopathic treatment symptoms persist, then I would look to Traditional Chinese herbs to help manage symptoms and bring relief.
In homeopathic constitutional care with single dose remedies, the remedies are repeated at very infrequent intervals, so in the interim period, if symptoms arise, or the person catches a cold, but it seems early to repeat the constitutional remedy, then the herbal formulas I have listed above can come in handy.
If you do become ill please consult your homeopath, doctor or acupuncturist for help. I have written other newsletters about supplements to take to help strengthen the immune system, so I will not write about these at this time.
I hope this article will help you and your family maintain health in the new year. To leave you on a beautiful note, I will copy St. Francis’ prayer, which I found in a book called “Love Never Faileth,” by Eknath Easwaran.
St. Francis’ Prayer
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love:
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.
In the spirit of friendship,
Deborah Olenev CCH RSHom (NA)