Colds and Flu  

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Finding a good herbalist

Most of what's written in this article is entirely suitable for a person to work through themselves but, especially if things are quite bad, or you just know that you need further help, then there may be a great deal of benefit to you to go to whatever lengths necessary to find a good herbalist or truly holistic practitioner to guide you on to a safe and strong treatment program. There's a short write-up to suggest how you might go about finding such a person here

When to fight it, when to accept it

My dear old Gran, who passed away just before her 105th birthday in 2008, used to say “you can treat a cold and get better in 7 days or do nothing and get better in a week!”

Despite what myriads of marketers would have you believe, there really is no cure for the common cold, at least not yet... and as truly miserable as these viruses can make us feel, with a few key caveats about to be discussed, maybe that's actually not such a bad thing...

Many people who work in holistic health have wondered what might happen to all the people who would never otherwise take any kind of break from their high-intensity lives when we do finally get a cure for the common cold. All of us in this work have met more than a few people with serious diseases relating to their immune health who say something in their first appointment along the lines of 'I can't understand how this could have happened to me, I've never been sick a day in my life!'

This is a really important point; please don't skip over it just to see whatever this page has to offer short of a cure for the common cold. We run a big risk if we put ourselves above nature and evolution to always keep on going with drugs and/or willpower. Our immune system is like an army that needs to regularly fight against something or it can be unprepared for much worse threats to our health than a cold or flu.

If you get 3 or less colds or no more than one flu a year and you are over the worst of the symptoms within the first 48 hours, and your energy levels are fairly well recovered by the end of a week then please, read no further, just get some rest, keep up your fluids, and consider your immune health to be in good shape and certain to be better protecting you in the future from much worse illnesses for having had to fight the occasional battle on your behalf!

However, if you are someone who still suffers from unrelenting symptoms by day 3 or later, or if it takes you over a week to get well, or if you are reading this article for a young person in your care who you know has been getting much sicker than is normal, then certainly read on because this article has much to offer two groups of people:

1) adults repeatedly getting ill, staying sick, and taking more than a week to recover
2) children needing help building immunity and getting through illness more naturally

Adults

Sweating Therapy

Diaphoresis, or sweating therapy, works by fighting fire with fire by using the ancient mechanism of the therapeutic fever to your immune system's advantage.

In a nutshell, it involves making you have a big sweat-out by using a very hot bath and then blanketing up and drinking a special cup of herbal tea. Sweating therapy is hot, sweaty, and quite unpleasant in parts, but it works. Detailed instructions on exactly how to do it are written up here.

Immune herbs

If you are getting sick too often and/or you are taking too long to recover, then you must strengthen your immune system. In this regard, you will get no better help than what is available from Nature with the immune tonics.

These include such potent and proven medicines as Astragalus root, written up in detail here, Echinacea root, more here, Elder berries & flowers, more here, and the mushroom medicines Reishi, here and Cordyceps here.

As well as using one or more of the herbs mentioned above, you may need to think about your overall immune health in a holistic manner, this is the subject of the article here.

Throat invasions

Many people who get recurrent colds or flu have a kind of 'open door' in their throats whereby this is where the invasion always begins and they may also often feel some lingering symptoms in their throats warning them that trouble is never that far away.

If this is you then use a dual approach of taking a special herbal throat formula in the form of a gargle as written up here as well as obtaining a probiotic throat bacteria to help repopulate your throat with good bugs to prevent re-infection with bad bugs.,

As it happens it was a New Zealand company that first pioneered using probiotic bacteria for the mouth and throat and you can read more about them and their products by entering the name Blis K12 into your search engine. Note that I have zero financial interest in this company and Blis products are readily available in many different parts of the world.

Nasal invasions

The other most common point of entry for people who are frequently getting upper respiratory tract infections are the nasal passageways and it has been shown
that many such individuals have chronic fungal or staphylococcal infections in these areas.

If this is the case then again there are two steps that should make a world of difference if used daily for long enough to turn things around. The first is steam cleaning the sinus passageways as described in detail here.

The second is to use a nasal douche with saline water. If you put into your search engine something like 'nose-pipes' or 'neti-pots' you should see that these are readily available and easy to use, as odd as the whole concept may first seem!


Echinacea angustifolia

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Children

I have far too often met children who are more sick than they're well. It's exhausting for everyone, terrible for the growth and development of the child, and the successful treatment of such a problem must be given the greatest importance.

Children are not born with any kind of immune system whatsoever. They have no ready-made white blood cells but rather the baby initially borrows their mother's defences and then gradually develops their own immunity through exposure to the world with its myriad micro-organisms and immune challenges.

The only way for a child to develop a strong and healthy immune system is to eventually learn how to fight its own battles and win and so it is not inherently bad for a child to get sick so long as they recover fast and well.

Where we have a serious problem is when the child is getting sick again and again but their immune systems are not developing strongly enough to quickly and convincingly win those essential battles.

Food Allergy or Intolerance

One of the biggest obstacles for many children in developing a strong immunity is the presence of undiagnosed food allergies or intolerances and this is a much more common issue than people realise. The main problem it creates is how it takes away the energy and resources of the immune system to deal with perceived threats from foods rather than real threats from infections.

So how do you know if it is a problem in the first place? If the child has any eczema or asthma then it is highly likely, even almost certain, that food allergies or intolerances are playing a key role. There are other tell-tale signs that should make you at least consider the possibility including getting a lot of sore stomachs or upset bowels, dark rings under the eyes or cracks at the corners of the mouth.

The whole subject of food allergies and intolerances is rife with myths and misconceptions and its diagnosis and treatment must be undertaken with great care. If you think this may be a core issue for your child, carefully read the article here.

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Fear of Fever

Perhaps the biggest obstacle of all to the most children in the modern world is the fear of fever that has taken a hold in modern society's collective thinking.

Fever never used to be feared like it is nowadays and in fact the old cultures of medicine saw it as a necessary rite of passage for the body to throw off the 'evil spirits' of contagion, which was actually not an altogether bad way to symbolically understand the concept of invading micro-organisms pre-the microscope era.

In all the old traditions of medicine, as discussed at the top of the page under 'sweating therapy', they would frequently help a person break out of a stuck sickness by bringing a fever on!

Fevers are our body’s way of activating our immune systems. It is very rare that they should be suppressed when they usually need to be supported and encouraged!

When the immune system recognises there is an invasion from a pathogen, one of the main methods it has to activate and mobilise its immune 'army' is to cause the body temperature to rapidly rise.

This is called the 'fever mechanism' and it is no accident or side effect. Rather it is an intricately evolved, powerful method of defence to help our immune systems win their battles.

Each small increase in temperature results in a massive increase in white blood cell production and, at the same time, the existing immune cell 'troops' become increasingly agitated, activated and aggressive towards the invading organisms.

Nearly all parents in our society are encouraged by society and instructed by their doctors to give fever-reducing drugs such as paracetamol or ibuprofen (marketed under different names and in various syrups etc.) to a child who is even beginning to run a high temperature. These drugs most certainly make the child more comfortable right now but they also turn off the fever mechanism and greatly dial down the immune system response...

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The Healing Crisis

In my own practice, I pretty much always give immune tonics to children in these situations, usually some combination of Echinacea, Astragalus, Elder berry, Licorice root all mixed together with whatever else they might need, e.g. a liver and blood tonic such as Dandelion root.

The children respond wonderfully well and quickly to immune herbs, but I usually warn the parent that, for their child to get truly well, they will eventually need to get sick again but that if they can fight and win their battle naturally, without fever-lowering drugs, that this will usually be the key turning point to breaking their cycle of sickness. In fact, there is often a rather dramatic improvement in the health, behaviour and development of the whole child at this point.

I have seen this marvellous healing process happen so many times with so many children that I have developed a great faith in it but I also see that it takes a lot of courage for the parents for whom this is all new and completely against the mainstream advice they have previously received. It is also 10 times harder because they will see their dear child suffer somewhat more, at least at first, than they would if they just gave them the drugs. None of this is an easy prospect by any stretch of the imagination!

All that said, if you are still persuaded to try this approach then the following is as clear a description as I can make of the 'how to'. Which, whilst you need to know how to use a thermometer, is otherwise very straightforward; keep your child rested and well-watered and then use and trust the numbers to know how to best help them work through the process as painlessly and quickly as possible.

Use a thermometer

Our normal body temperature is around 37 degrees Celsius or 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. A safe and effective raised temperature to help the immune system fight an infection sits up at around 39 degrees Celsius or 102.2 Fahrenheit.

If your child gets to 39 degrees and hovers around that point for a while then things will usually get better very quickly indeed, i.e. over-night. If the temperature goes down but then has to go back up more than once then don't worry, this is perfectly normal and you should try to sit tight with it. Their immune system is flexing its muscles and each time the temperature rises you can be certain the army is both growing in numbers as well as fighting very hard indeed to win its own battles.  

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A child may also safely get up closer to 40 degrees Celsius; 104 degrees Fahrenheit, however they will be feeling very uncomfortable at this level and will benefit from being cooled down with cool, wet cloths to the back of their neck &/or their forehead.

If you want to lower the temperature further or faster, then put a cold, wet flannel on their feet as this will usually take their temperature down by half a degree or more in as little as a minute or two.

The safe maximum level for a fever is 41 degrees Celsius or 105.8 Fahrenheit. Children hardly ever get that high with colds, flus, ear infections etc. but again if it is getting above 40 degrees it is wise to ease their discomfort by helping them cool off naturally, with cold, wet flannels to their neck and/or feet.

Febrile Convulsions

If you talk about any of this with most doctors from conventional medicine they are likely to bring out the ‘febrile convulsions’ argument. This is usually extremely effective at scaring any would-be natural parents out of allowing nature to run its course; but they are completely wrong, and out of date.

Febrile convulsions do affect a small percentage of all children but if a child is genetically prone to febrile convulsions then they will get them with any quick rise of temperature, whether it goes up a little or a lot.

Most importantly, febrile convulsions are not actually dangerous, they just look really scary. If you are at all unsure of what I am saying, then Google this for yourself and get all the evidence you need to understand that this is not just my opinion...

Looking Forwards

Children who go through this natural process of getting sick and getting better without stopping the natural process quickly start developing their own healthy immunity and getting out of the stuck groove of repeated infections.

I know it seems tough to make a child go through all this discomfort when a Panadol would make it all go away so much faster, and I also know that the first time going through this is the hardest but I hope I have persuaded you to think it through. Then, if and when needed, you can find out the truth of it for yourselves. Almost all children can eventually develop a healthy immune system but they do it through Nature, not drugs.

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you without seeing you in my clinic.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!

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© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd