So here I am again, with the most boring topic in the world: Beating the Flu. And I'm not just going to sit around with my heaps of snotty tissues and THINK about it, either: Beating the Flu is a MISSION, and hopefully it'll benefit someone out there as well, if we can ALLLLLL band together and share our weapons against viruses.
I took Chas to the Doctor last week, because he had one of those coughs that the more you cough, the more you want to cough. We drilled the very nice Doctor on how we could avoid these Winter Flus that have laid us low. She sighed: "Healthy diet, fresh air, wash your hands... really, once you've had a few you should build up resistance. The Common Cold is a fact of life here, unfortunately." Well, we HAVE a healthy diet and Bournemouth's air is pretty fresh, so it's time to expand our arsenal. I'm becoming a hand-washing nag. GO WASH YOUR HANDS!
(Updated: One year on, and we don't seem to get colds any more. KNOCK ON WOOD! I guess we're resistant now. Exercise, fresh air, healthy food and lots of hugs do the trick!)
Yesterday, I got some homeopathic remedies from Boots: Aconite for the first signs of a sore throat, and sulphur and pulsatilla for the cough I have now (I searched my symptoms online, so the remedies may not be at all right.) I slept like a log last night. When I got up this morning, I coughed up a whole bucket o' green slime, yes sireeee. You really needed to know that, didn't you?
Homeopathy is something I got into when the boys were little, when Chas and Sam got a series of ear infections, which were treated with antibiotics. Finally, after the fourth antibiotics session, the wonderful Dr. Bratt suggested putting tubes into their ears, and I asked him if I could try a homeopathic remedy first, as I'd heard so many good things about it. He said, 'Sure, why not?'
I gave them 'BHI Ear' from Dr. Ramnarine's office at the Ishtara Centre on Rodney Road, Chaguanas (His number's in the book, Trinis. Email ramnarine_harry at yahoo dot com). And they never had another ear infection, ever. We have since had amazing results beating allergies and asthma with homeopathy.
Dr. Harry Ramnarine (A 'real' doctor who has studied a wide range of medicines and is VERY interesting to talk with) is booked solid for months, but if you go to the office with a diagnosis from your own doctor and the exact symptoms, and talk to Dr. Ramnarine's staff, he can whip you up a remedy or they will give you something pre-packaged, and that saves time and money. In the years since the earaches, I've used homeopathy many times and I'm amazed that it works. How does it work? I really don't know. It sounds like hocus-pocus. Dr. Ramnarine tried to explain it to me one day, and I ended up saying, "So... if we all just knew which tree to hug, or which bit of rock to lie down on, we could be cured intantly!" He laughed, "YES!" as if I finally understood, which I don't... or maybe I do. I don't suppose it matters whether I understand or not, as long as the remedies work. Which for us, they do.
Of course, everyone is different. Many people find that homeopathy doesn't work for them. I noticed that the more we use homeopathic remedies instead of conventional remedies, the quicker they work. Perhaps it takes the body a while to adjust.
While we're talking about alternative medicine, I'd like to mention the lovely and wise Stephen Alibocus, in San Fernando (Trinis: Number also in the book: You leave a message, and he will get back to you.) Steven is a real healer, a magician with back problems, pinched nerves, fatigue, arthritis, aches, pains, slipped discs and misaligned chakras. He uses suction cups and Ayurvedic medicine.
Multi-Symptom Drugs like 'comptrex' et al make me come out in a rash, so I totally avoid them. If the I or the kids are feverish I give them Panadol and that's about it. Sean swears by the Multi-Symptom stuff, and it seems to work for him.
Then there are "Herbal" cures. Echinacea? Seems to make me sicker. Many drugs are extracted from herbs, and I worry when people assume that herbs are 'safer' and 'more natural'. So what if they're more natural? This does not make them safer. Be careful with herbs, people! Having said that, I like herbal teas, especially when I have a cough. The warmth and added honey go down a treat. I just use whatever is yummy, assuming that my body will crave what's good. Again, many people swear by herbal remedies, so they might be perfect for YOU.
An interesting Old Wives' Remedy: Rub feet with Vicks, put some warm socks on and sleep like a baby. This used to work like a dream for all of us, and still seems to help the boys. At the first sign of an itchy throat, work Vicks into feet really well, massaging all pressure points. You may recite Edward Lear, or not, at this point.
CHICKEN SOUP is good stuff: Make a broth with chicken or turkey bones (Or a thigh or something, whatever you've got. We keep the carcass when we do a roast bird, and freeze it for making soup.) Boil a few split peas or lentils in the broth, for added zinc which helps fight infection.
Strain the bones out of the 'broth' after about an hour or more with a colander or slotted spoon. It's not a nice clear broth at all, but it's full of goodness so don't complain. The split peas should be dissolved by now.
In a separate pan, saute lots of garlic (antibacterial), ginger (minced fine), onions... throw in some chillies too, to clear your sinus. Add carrots, and anything else you are craving. Noodles are nice, but many people find that wheat products make them more mucusy. Add the 'broth' and whatever else takes your fancy and cook for a while. Eat hot.
MUCUS! Don't you just love talking about mucus?!
Vitamins: Do vitamins work? Many studies say that Vitamin C is great stuff, so I'm taking it. I'm also taking Omega 3-6-9, Brewer's Yeast tablets, and assorted other multi-things. Carefully, so as not to overdose on anything. I don't really think the vitamins will make that much difference, because we eat really well and LOVE greens, whole grains, and fruit and beans. But I'm taking 'em anyway, for now.
Detox? Hmmm. If I don't feel better soon, I'll try this. See above, healthy diet anyway. Have stopped coffee and wine, alas. Also wheat and dairy. (Updated: Eliminating stuff made no difference. Am back to eating and drinking whatever I want, HA!)
Dark Chocolate! Theobromine has been shown to be an effective remedy for persistent coughs. YAY! Gotta up my intake of Green and Black's 70% Choc.
Exercise: This one's coming soon. As soon as I can breathe, that is! I'll be hitting the gym in an effort to raise my overall resistance and lose these love-handles as well. Today I'll do some gentle yoga, and simmer some Olbas Oil nearby. I always feel healthier when I'm fit.
Has anyone tried Acupuncture for increasing immunity to colds? I went to a certified acupuncturist, 'Dr. John', on Holdenhurst Road here in Bournemouth, when I injured my elbow (Overdoing it with the extreme heavy lifting and pulling when moving in!) I was surprised at how quickly it healed after two acupuncture sessions - reading online it sounded like I wouldn't be able to use my arm for months!
Come on, my friends... many of you live in wet and wintry places. What works for you? How do you avoid the Common Cold? How do you kick it quickly? How do you keep those coughs from settling in and inviting their mucusy friends? It's a fact that when we are exposed to cold and flu germs, some of us get sick and some don't. Let's be the ones that don't!