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Oscillo for flu and other interesting remedies

October 31, 2011

Flu season has arrived! For our family, that means it’s time to check the supply of Oscillococcinum in our medicine closet. Thanks to a family member who’s allergic to many drugs, we’ve learned some safe, amazingly effective alternatives to prescription drugs.  My all-time favorites are Oscillo for the “achy-breaky flu” (you know, the type flu that even flattens moms!) and D-Mannose for bladder infections.

Here are some maladies and remedies:

Flu: Oscillococinum, a homeopathic remedy popular in Europe and elsewhere, reportedly helps most people overcome the achy breaky flu quickly IF taken the first two days. It works like magic for me (I don’t take flu shots), and I’ve seen people go from bedridden and despondent to smiling and working (doing office work, not digging ditches!) in just a couple of hours after taking a dose. Note: It’s important to take all three doses. Oscillococinum is available at health food stores and many regular drug stores.

Sore throats: Throat Spray (such a creative name) from Energique Homeopathic was recommended by our chiro. He claims it kills strep. It tastes yukky enough to kill all sorts of things and no one in our family has had strep since we started using it, but I can’t verify his claim. Some people also swear that gargling a mixture of half water and half 3% hydrogen peroxide kills strep. A discussion of all the possible homeopathic remedies for sore throats and colds is beyond the scope of this blog post, but Apis is amazing for the sore throat that feels like you have a splinter in your throat.

Colds: Lots of extra Vitamin D, rest and lots of chicken broth are our first attack for the common cold. (Research has shown that Grandma was right about chicken soup.) I use a neti pot (and salt water) to clear out sinuses, but I do not use the salt/eucalyptus packets sold in pharmacies because too many people are allergic to eucalyptus. In theory, I think otherwise a cold should run its course. However, sometimes, such as when we HAVE to be the strong, healthy ones caring for family members or friends who are ill and fragile, we use Zicam homeopathic cold remedy or Cold Calm homeopathic cold remedy, and that seems to at least keep the sinuses draining and keep us from sneezing all over the patients. We no longer use Zicam nose swabs because of reports that some users lost their sense of smell temporarily.

Bladder infections: D-Mannose, the sugar from cranberries is far more effective than drinking gallons of unsweetened, sour, yukky cranberry juice (and having to stay close to the potty). I am an expert on this topic, having tried both methods many times. An MD told me to take a dose of D-Mannose every half hour until the symptoms subside and then follow the instructions on the bottle. Apparently D-Mannose makes the bacteria slick so that they can’t cling to the bladder walls. Some people who are prone to bladder infections take a dose daily as a preventive. D-Mannose is available at health food stores or online. Caution: Bladder infections are nothing to fool around with. If the symptoms don’t subside, see a doctor.

Dry eyes: Swallowing a few Omega-3s daily has led to a real success story for a family member who used to get eye infections frequently from a bumpy cornea. The eye doctor prescribed eye drops for lubrication and antibiotic salve for the infections. But once Member started taking Omega 3 daily, her eyes were more lubricated and she doesn’t even need eye drops or antibiotic salve. After she made this discovery by accident, Harvard and others published their findings on the same topic! Omega 3 is widely available.

Chemical sensitivities: Selenium is a mineral (and antioxidant) that helps lessen reactions to chemicals on a temporary basis. An MD who specializes in chemical sensitivities recommended our friend take 100 to 200 mcg every day and said it would take four days to notice a difference. Sure enough, the fourth day, our friend could stay in a bad indoor environment twice as long. Caution: Selenium is fat soluble, which means it builds up, so I wouldn’t take a large dose every day forever. Some multivitamins already have a lot of selenium in them, so check your multi before taking additional selenium.

Pain, bruising, achy muscles, head injury: Arnica, the most widely known homeopathic remedy, is great to have around for overuse of muscles, head injuries, etc. We have both the tablets and the gel. One time my middle-aged cousin played too much volleyball with the twenty somethings and couldn’t reach his hand to his face the next morning to shave. A dose of Arnica worked its magic. My oral surgeon is a believer in Arnica for pain relief. I just used Arnica gel on my shoulder and took several doses of Arnica to prevent muscle spasms Saturday after spending hours on yard work. I’m in good company: England’s queen mother carried Arnica in her purse. Prince Charles probably carries it in his murse.

Depression and anxiety: For short-term, situational or moderate anxiety or depression, we know folks who have had good luck with St. John’s Wort (an herb), 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan, an amino acid precursor to serotonin) and GABA (Gamma-Amino Butyric acid, an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter). See Daniel Amen’s book, Healing Anxiety and Depression, for a self-test and more info on diet, exercise, supplements like these and traditional meds. Traditional MDs have approved all of these for specific patients whom we know. Don’t mix these with prescription antidepressants or other prescription drugs without checking with your doctor or pharmacist. Note: Some people feel a bit spacey on St. John’s Wort.

Mosquito bites: Ledum palustra homeopathic tablets and salve are popular with a family member who used to get huge inflamed and infected bites.

I notice that several remedies on this list are homeopathics. Our homeopathic doctors have told us to take a remedy every 15 minutes until symptoms subside, then to take it every few hours. (If it’s the wrong remedy, it won’t work.) I suggest caution when using homeopathic remedies other than well-known ones such as these. They aren’t totally “safe” if misused.  I am not a fan of herbal remedies because I don’t know as much about them, and they aren’t safe just because they’re natural; plus they can interfere with prescription drugs.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical practitioner and this list of remedies is not meant to be medical advice.

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