Flu: Alternative Treatments and Prevention Flu: Alternative Treatments and Prevention

Children’s Flus
excerpt from Flu: Alternative Treatments and Prevention
Randall Neustaedter OMD

Some special issues apply to children with the flu. First, children can develop high fevers with much less severe accompanying symptoms than adults. A child with a 104º (40º C) temperature is miserable, but can also quickly rally. An adult with this level of fever feels as if he will die. Second, because children have easily weakened digestive functions, they tend to develop more digestive symptoms than adults. They often have vomiting and diarrhea with the flu, sometimes as one of the first few symptoms of illness. Third, children go through stages of the flu fairly quickly and the treatment regimen may need to change frequently during the course of the illness to match the symptom picture. This applies especially to homeopathic medicines. A medicine that fits the picture on day one may transition to a new medicine on day two and again on day four.

Homeopathic medicines are equally and completely safe for newborns, infants, and older children. Dosage is typically one or two pellets of sugar pills that have been prepared by a homeopathic pharmacy. Infants can hold the pellets in their cheeks and they will dissolve. Older children can chew them. Alternatively, parents can crush the pellets and dissolve them in water then give a half or whole teaspoon as a dose.

Children younger than two-years-old are more likely to develop serious complications of the flu than older children or adults if they are treated with conventional medical approaches. In one study children under two were 12 times as likely to be hospitalized with respiratory disease during the flu season compared to children over five years of age (Izurieta, 2000). In a second study children under one suffered significantly more complications of heart and lung problems compared to older children and adults (Neuzil, 2000). These alarming statistics from conventional medicine should encourage all parents to seek alternative care for their children who encounter the flu.

Homeopathic Treatment of Flu

First stage of flu

One of three medicines will usually be indicated for the first stage of flu symptoms in children: Belladonna, Gelsemium, or Arsenicum.

Belladonna is characterized by fever without other significant symptoms except lots of heat and a headache. Usually by the time other symptoms arise a different homeopathic medicine is indicated. Children who need Belladonna are usually quite tired and seem dull, glassy eyed, and lethargic. They tend to have red, flushed faces and sometimes will also have cool hands and feet.

Children needing Gelsemium are achy, chilly, and not very thirsty. Children want to be covered, they may moan with the aching muscles, and they are decidedly sluggish and tired. The most characteristic symptom of Gelsemium is the lethargy. Children may seem like limp noodles, draping themselves over a parent’s shoulder, or lying limp in someone’s arms. Their eyelids seem heavy and they are sleepy, lacking the energy to even develop a lusty cry. Gelsemium is by far the most commonly indicated medicine in children’s flu symptoms.

Arsenicum is indicated when the flu begins with digestive disturbance. Children may wake up in the middle of the night and begin the illness with vomiting. They soon also develop diarrhea. In general if the first symptom is vomiting, then give Arsenicum. Children who need this medicine may also be anxious, chilly, and thirsty for small sips of water. These symptoms may confirm the accuracy of the Arsenicum prescription, but it is not necessary for children to fit this classic Arsenicum picture to begin using this medicine at the onset of a flu with digestive symptoms.

Second stage of flu

Usually the later stage of the flu in children is characterized by nasal congestion, headache, and cough. Bryonia is the most commonly indicated medicine. Children who need Bryonia have a headache and body aches that are decidedly worse from moving. They want to lie down and remain still, complaining more if they are moved. They are thirsty and warm. These children want to be uncovered and complain more if the room is warm. They want windows open and fresh air. They are irritable and older children want to be left alone. They soon develop congestion and a dry cough, which may be painful because their muscle aches are worse from moving.

If respiratory congestion is the primary symptom then change the medicine to Pulsatilla or Kali-bichromicum.

The Pulsatilla stage has clear or thicker yellow mucus from the nose. The eyes may have some discharge as well. The child wants to move, feels better from motion or being carried and rocked. Children who need Pulsatilla are warm, thirstless, and clingy. They want to be held, they cry or whine easily, and seem very dependent. They do not want to be left alone.

Kali-bichromicum is indicated when the nasal discharge or the mucus produced when coughing is thick and green. These children may have a loose cough, sinus pressure, and night waking from the cough and congestion.

Croup is a fairly common complication of flu in children. Croup is characterized by high pitched breathing and a barking cough like a seal. The characteristic symptoms are caused by swelling of the throat and larynx.

If symptoms occur suddenly in the night with difficult breathing and fear, then give Aconitum and take your child into the bathroom with the hot shower running. The steam will usually relieve the alarming symptoms. If the barking cough persists, then give Hepar-sulphur. If the cough later turns loose, with some rattling breathing and hoarseness then switch the medicine to Spongia-tosta.

When diarrhea persists as a predominant symptom of the flu in children the three most commonly indicated medicines are Podophyllum, Mercurius, and Veratrum album.

Podophyllum diarrhea is copious, filling up the diaper and running down the legs. Parents wonder where all of this stool comes from. The stool has a foul, offensive odor. Bowel movements may be gushing, and stools are sometimes frothy.

Mercurius (either Mercurius-solubilis or Mercurius-vivus) fits diarrhea that burns the skin causing a rash. The stool is watery, it may be greenish and contain mucus like raw egg whites or it may be streaked with blood. All of these stool characteristics indicate a very inflamed intestinal tract. Mercurius stools are always offensive and acrid, causing redness and pain around the anus. Children who need Mercurius are often sweaty and chilly, though they may also feel hot at other times.

Veratrum symptoms tend to be even more severe. Children are cold and shivering, with cold sweats. They also have a nearly unquenchable thirst for cold drinks. The diarrhea is exhausting and painful with abdominal cramping, and these children look quite sick and lethargic.

Herbs

Echinacea: Non-alcoholic, glycerin preparations of the herb echinacea are prepared specifically for children. Some of them also contain vitamin C. Mix the echinacea with juice or water. Most health food stores stock echinacea preparations. Avoid products that contain other herbs or fillers. Echinacea stimulates the body to produce more white blood cells that fight invasion by viruses or bacteria. Echinacea is not appropriate for allergic symptoms, and should not be used over an extended period of time. Stop when the flu symptoms improve, or after five days.

Directions: Mix with juice or give it straight.

Dosage: Babies under one year: 10 drops three times per day
Children over one year: 20 drops three times per day

Windbreaker (Chinese Modular Solutions): This is a Chinese herbal formula designed for children and available only through health care practitioners. Yin chiao junior (Health Concerns) is a comparable formula. It stimulates a healing reaction in the body, dispels invasion of cold, and relieves mucus production and congestion. Use it at the onset of flu symptoms and continue as long as congestion persists. Shake the bottle before each use. This formula contains alcohol.

Directions: Mix the drops in a small amount of steaming hot water to evaporate the alcohol, then mix this solution with juice.

Dosage: Babies under one year: 10 drops three times per day
Children over one year: 20 drops three times per day

Vitamin C

Give babies 500 mg vitamin C in powder form, children one to three years old 1,000 mg in powder or chewable tablets, and children older than three years 2,000 mg per day in divided doses.

References:

Izurieta HS, et al. Influenza and the rates of hospitalization for respiratory disease among infants and young children. New England Journal of Medicine 2000 Jan 27; 342(4):232-9.

Neuzil KM, et al. The effect of influenza on hospitalizations, outpatient visits, and courses of antibiotics in children. New England Journal of Medicine 2000 Jan 27; 342(4):225-31.

  • Other books from CureGuide:
  • The Holistic Baby Guide: Alternative Care for Common Health Problems
  • The Vaccine Guide: Risks and Benefits for Children and Adults
  • Child Health Guide: Holistic Pediatrics for Parents
  • Flu: Alternative Treatments and Prevention