Observant parents can usually tell when their child is coming down with a flu or cold. Signs like poor appetite or restless sleep, an overly clingy or irritable temperament, paleness of the face, red ears or lips, or tiredness are many times the herald of the earliest stages of illness. The right homeopathic remedy given at this time can catch an illness earl and chase it away, foregoing the cold or flu and its complications.
I think that for most families, if each member had just one or two uncomplicated colds, of one to five days duration per year, then they could proclaim perfect health. I see this as a reachable goal for many, and homeopathy can be a major tool in a family’s success. Just a short cold or flu, without complications like ear infection, sinus infection, and bronchitis, should be the extent of our susceptibility if we are using homeopathy and its skilled practitioners wisely.
Since homeopathic remedies are free of side effects, parents should feel free to treat the earliest symptoms that they observe in their child and expect to prevent a flu or cold from developing into a full-blown illness. In my home, and as I teach in introductory homeopathic courses, rarely do I need more than three remedies if I start at the first sign of a flu or cold. These three remedies are, Aconite, Oscillococcinum, and ferrum phosphoricum.
One of homeopathy’s more versatile and quick acting remedies is Aconite. This remedy fits the picture of a usually robust, healthy child who comes in from a day of playing outside in brisk, windy weather and suddenly begins to come down with fever and rosy, dry skin, thirst, watery discharge from the nose, sneezing, and chilliness. Keynotes are: sudden onset, exposure to cold or wind, and early stage of acute illness (first 24 hours).
Aconite is the first remedy needed for most children with croup- the barking cough that awakens a house around midnight with its frightening seal-like sound. Aconite has a middle of the night signature time of aggravation, which will help you know if it is needed. When Aconite is given during this early stage of acute illness the child will recover her balance quickly and many times be back to normal by morning.
How do you know how often to repeat a remedy in this early stage when illness is just presenting itself? Try to match the frequency of repetition to intensity of the symptoms. Repeat an acute remedy like Aconite or Belladonna every 10 to 15 minutes if a fever is actively rising. Low potencies (3X, 6X, and 12X) need more frequent repetition than middle potencies (30C). Go above 30C only if a 30C potency helps but doesn’t last due to the intensity of the symptoms. In an acute situation, expect to see some improvement after a few hours- otherwise switch remedies.
If you catch symptoms so early tat the similar remedy balances the vital force without any further progression then sometimes just one dose is needed, and then just a watchful eye to be ready for any reappearance of symptoms.
Oscillococcinum and “Flu Solution” are brand names for Anas barbariae hepatis et cordis extractum in the 200C potency, a remedy you won’t find in material medica, but an invaluable product to have on hand for its flu fighting power. Another interesting “like cures like” or “same cures same” idea, this substance is poetized from the liver and heart of a duck, which spreads viruses but is immune to them itself. Really all you need to know to use Oscillococcinum is that you have early signs of flu. Colds are flu’s, so use it at the first sniffle, scratchy throat or ache. What you’ll often find is that not only do you not get sick at all but also that you are getting sick less often than you used to.
Administer one dose of the remedy at the first sign of flu, and six to eight hours later reevaluate the health situation. If you still have any cold or flu symptoms take two or more doses. Since it’s a 200C potency product (i.e. relatively high potency), you will rarely need more than three doses. I find that it successfully routs a flu bug a good percentage of the time. If symptoms are continuing to mount or you are no better go ahead and choose a regular remedy for flu like Gelsnium, Arsenicum or Rhus toxicodendron, based on symptoms. Oscillococcinum sometimes gives us a break from what some may feel is the daunting task of choosing the similar remedy.
The relative newcomer to this 200-year-old homeopathic armamentarium (Oscillococcinum has been around since the 1930’s) is a well marketed remedy, unique in its presence on supermarket and drug store flu product shelves and not just in health food stores. (Remember that a dose of homeopathic remedy is always a small amount of sugar granules. More than a pea-sized amount is not necessary for a remedy to reach your vital force.) I recommend keeping your home stocked with this flu preventive.
Ferrum phosphoricum is another great early stage acute respiratory flu and cold remedy. Boericke’s Materia Medica sums this remedy up well by saying that it is “the remedy for all febrile disturbances and inflammations before exudation sets in: especially for catarrhal affections of the respiratory tract.” Use it at your child’s first complaint of burning or scratchy throat, or when fever is just starting- but is not high enough to indicate a need for Belladonna. Ferrum phos shines as the first remedy in earache- When there is just inflammation. If you have a home otoscope instrument and looked at the eardrum you would most likely see red blood vessels starting to stand out or general redness of the membrane without fluid or mucus. I suggest frequent, even hourly doses of Ferrum Phos 12C or 30C to start, and then phase out the doses when there are no indications for the remedy.
If you are super early in catching these symptoms coming on, you may have few indications or modalities on which to choose a remedy but, in each situation- the start of a sore throat, start of a fever, and start of an earache- what you can be sure of is that there is inflammation. The ailment may never progress on past its Ferrum phos stage after you’ve given a few doses. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for? – the comfort that our vital force can be quickly and gently and effectively stimulated to balance?
Recurrent colds and a tendency toward the complications of colds and flu’s are indication that your child would benefit from a constitutional remedy decided upon with your homeopathic practitioner. At my house we rarely need a remedy, beyond these three early stage cold and flu remedies, because they seem to catch illness early and chase them away.