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This Flu

by Dr. Randy

Father Checking Son's Forehead for Fever ca. 2003

You may not have seen it yet, but it’s here. This year’s flu can be severe. This flu starts out with a severe sore throat (sometimes with bleeding) and fever with shaking chills. Other symptoms include cough, diarrhea, headache and severe body pain. There are milder versions that only include a few of these symptoms, sometimes just a cough and low grade fever. However, the adage holds true that if you think you’re going to die, it’s the flu. In general, young people with a strong and reactive immune system tend to have the more violent symptoms.

The treatment requires a change of homeopathic remedies depending on the stage of the illness. For example, it can start with a Mercurius-type cutting throat pain followed by a Bryonia-type flu with a bad headache, dry racking cough and body pains, and then turn into a Kali-bichromicum pattern of congested cough and sinus pressure.

Other measures for managing the flu include elderberry extract and a Gan Mao Ling Chinese herbal formula. Some typical formula models include Wellness Formula by Source Naturals and Cold Away by Health Concerns. These fit the first stage of the illness. At later stages, different herbal formulas for congestion and cough will be appropriate.

I usually communicate with patients on a daily basis to manage these different stages, and instead of a few weeks of protracted illness, the symptoms can resolve in 5-6 days. In any case, it’s no fun for people going through the illness.

Family members and anyone exposed to the flu can take preventives to stave off symptoms. These may include a medicinal mushroom formula to bolster immune function, colostrum or a cold-processed whey protein powder, and elderberry. If there is known exposure to the flu then the homeopathic remedy Influenzinum can be protective. And taking Wellness Formula or an equivalent anti-viral treatment can work to fight off the viral attack. Of course, everyone should be taking vitamin D in the winter to maintain a resilient and active immune system. The vitamin D dose for children is 1,000 IU per 10 pounds of body weight up to 5,000 IU. Adults can take 5,000-10,000 IU per day.

Drink fluids, stay warm, eat soups and stews in the winter. Get some exercise, meditate, do yoga. Take care of yourself this flu season and hopefully you will stay well.

Resolutions

by Dr. Randy

winter

Like me, you may be contemplating your resolutions and resolve at this time of year. I urge you to consider those things you value most. This will begin, no doubt, with those you hold most dear, and hopefully expand to others. In this precarious world we are all interdependent. Although our success and livelihood depends upon our own efforts, our happiness and fulfillment comes from our involvement with others.  Consider your causes, your aspirations, and the fleeting nature of our lives. Try to reach beyond the petty concerns of disagreements and conflict. Hold things lightly and with humor.

You may want to begin the year by wishing everyone well. It is a time to wish for happiness, peace, safety, and health.

Many factors for these wishes are out of our hands. Acceptance of the flow of life is the best, and only, reasonable course. We can, however, do everything in our power to promote ease through the year, and through turbulent times.

We can do things to promote health. Bolster your immune system, take antioxidants, and eat a clean diet with fruits, vegetables, and protein sources. Maintain strength with regular exercise to prevent injuries. This is a simple program within everyone’s reach.

We can promote goodwill and peace in the world though many causes and our own intentions. The world needs our good wishes.

I wish you all a year of happiness, health, and a mind at ease. May your projects succeed and your life purpose be fulfilled.

A Holiday Message

by Dr. Randy

dog-at-fireplace

What a wonderful time of year. Family, warm fires, holiday cheer, and happy children content with the few gifts they receive. Does this sound like your house? If not, then you may need to change your expectations. Or have no expectations and enjoy whatever you have. Above all go slowly and go lightly. Practice ease. These are turbulent times with the potential for disappointment and dismay. It is a time for reconsidering our goals and behavior and what we value in our lives. Rushing for last minute shopping in the crowds, and getting all those remaining items on your list may not really be necessary. Consider the spirit of generosity and the rewards of simply giving. Consider the importance of relationship and not material possessions. The holiday season is a good time for reflection and simple comforts. Think of those cultures free of the holiday madness. Enjoy daily small pleasures and the people you love. Be at peace. Stay warm. Have a holiday season free of stress. Stay healthy, and if colds occur, then take them in stride. Keep that elderberry on hand. And be of good cheer.

Happy Holidays.

Coughs

by Dr. Randy

Little girl with the flu - isolated

Coughs

During the winter, coughs abound. Cold rainy weather and winter snows tend to irritate the airways. This stress makes people more susceptible to viruses. Then the viral illness dries and irritates the throat and branches of the bronchial tree, triggering inflammation and coughing.

Coughs are usually worse at night because the body’s production of the anti-inflammatory hormone (cortisol) is at its lowest point at night, and then inflammation in the airway kicks in then. Once there is this propensity for the airway to develop irritation and inflammation it tends to recur with the stress of cold air, heaters, and winter viruses. So it comes back year to year.

Anything that fortifies the immune system will help to prevent viral illnesses (colds, sore throats, and coughs). Vitamin D3 is an essential supplement in the darker winter months. A child’s dose is 1,000 IU per 10 lbs of body weight up to 5,000 IU. The adult dose is 5,000-10,000 IU. Taking a D3 supplement that contains vitamin K will help absorption. Other immune system activators include medicinal mushrooms, astragalus, colostrum, whey protein, probiotics, and arabinogalactan. Vitamin C is important. And elderberry (Sambucus) is a potent antiviral, and it’s not a bad idea to take it preventively in the winter, but especially at the onset of any cold symptoms.

What to do
Stay warm. Eat warm foods (soups, stews, and warm drinks). Cold foods tend to make coughs worse.

Many homeopathic remedies can be helpful in coughs.

Bryonia for dry coughs accompanied by headaches, body aches, and aggravation of symptoms from any motion. It is especially useful if the person feels warm, thirsty, and wants cold air.

Rumex for spasmodic coughs that are worse lying down and worse from cold air.

Ipecacuanha treats loose coughs with congestion in the chest and gagging or vomiting with cough.

Drosera fits barking coughs (like a seal) that occur during the night.

Kali-carbonicum for dry coughs at 2:00 or 3:00 AM. These people want to sit up to relieve the cough and keep the windows open for fresh air.

Categories of Supplements

by Dr. Randy

woman-taking-vitamin

There are so many types of nutritional supplements, and so much information and promotion, that it’s often difficult to know what supplements are appropriate. Taking a general multivitamin is no longer considered adequate. And the number of specific supplements available is overwhelming. I have suggested a program in other articles, but in this article I would like to just categorize the different types of supplements that are helpful to take in different situations.

Universal supplements

There are a few supplements that are a good idea for everyone to take, including babies, young children, and adults.

Vitamin D: Virtually everyone is deficient in vitamin D because of inadequate sun exposure for most of the year. Everyone should be taking vitamin D and have a target blood level of 50-100 ng/mL. It usually takes 5,000-10,000 IU/day to bring up your level this high.

Omega 3 fats: The typical sources for these beneficial fats are fish oil and flax seed oil. They support brain function and prevent inflammation. A typical adult dose is about 1,500 mg of EPA.

Probiotics: Healthy immune function and digestive health depend on a healthy digestive tract lining and the right balance of intestinal bacteria. A broad spectrum probiotic with at least 20 billion CFU is a good idea.

Antioxidants

As we age our bodies produce less antioxidants that prevent inflammation and tissue damage. Taking some antioxidants after age 50 is a good idea. And taking the most potent antioxidants gives you more bang for your buck. Some of the best antioxidants are N-acetyl-cysteine (the building block of your body’s own production of glutathione), resveratrol, astaxanthin, CoQ10,  and alpha lipoic acid.

Immune system support

Anyone struggling with low resistance to infections or autoimmune disease could benefit from taking adaptogens that balance immune function. The best product for this purpose is a medicinal mushroom formula containing reishi, shitaki, cordyceps, and others. Astragalus is an herb that serves this function, and often these formulas will include astragalus as well.

Multivitamins

Although it is most beneficial to get vitamins from fruits and vegetables, taking a high quality multivitamin can provide insurance that you’re getting what you need. If vitamins are natural and food sources they will generally be better absorbed.

Treatment

There are many supplements that can treat specific imbalances in the respiratory tract, digestive system, brain function and cognition, mood disorders, and other health problems. These include amino acids, specific herbs, and vitamins/minerals. A trained nutritionist/herbalist can provide prescriptions for your unique set of symptoms and imbalance.

Our stressful lives often result in energetic deficiency states, including adrenal insufficiency and other hormone deficits (thyroid, sex hormones, or neurotransmitters). Tonification treatment with specific herbs and supplements can bolster the underlying deficiency and help reestablish healthy function of glands that contribute

Inflammation is often a major factor in the pathology of chronic disease including heart disease, arthritis, organ degeneration, diminished brain function, and cancer. An anti-inflammatory nutritional support program is essential in controlling these disease processes.