Coughs, colds and viral infections are an unfortunate fact of life during winter, particularly if you have school aged children. Over the counter cough and cold remedies are not only ineffective but, they can also be dangerous. The medicines aimed at children contain high levels of artificial sweeteners, colours, syrups and some dangerous chemicals. These medicines are usually labelled for use in children over the age of 6 years however, they have never actually been tested for use in children and there is no evidence to suggest that they work in older children either.
Some children who have existing medical conditions or allergies are unable to take this type of medication as it could be detrimental to an already fragile state. I have never given my children any of these types of medication, instead opting for alternatives such as good diet, homeopathy, herbal tinctures and common ingredients such as honey and ginger.
These are still being given out routinely like sweets by doctors and demanded by parents for nothing more than a really bad cold. These infections are viral and therefore will not be even mildly affected or improved by antibiotics which are for bacterial infections. Not only will it not improve the infection, it will also rob the gut of it’s important good bacteria which also impacts on the immune system, weakening it even further. At the first sign of any cough, cold or sniffle, I start a 10 day course of Echinacea & Goldenseal to boost the immune system. Echinacea works well on it’s own but I find that it is turbo boosted by Goldenseal. If you are treating a child, make sure you buy children’s tincture and follow the dosage correctly.
A useful way to get a child to take Echinacea & honey is to make a warm drink with a spoon of honey and then add the drops and get the child to sip it. You could also add some of their favourite juice.
I first used ginger after a harrowing night in hospital with my son. He had woken up in the morning unable to breathe properly and nothing I did seemed to work so, I took him to the clinic who sent us to hospital. He spent a good few hours on a nebuliser as his cold had very suddenly turned into bronchitis (poor thing has inherited my weak chest). The nebuliser improved his condition and within a few days his breathing was normal again however, the following weekend he woke up in the same state. Having done some research during the week, I went and bought some supplies to make the following conconction. Grate 1 inch of ginger into a pan, add 2 squashed cloves of garlic and squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon and then throw the rinds in too. Add 3 cups of water and bring to the boil then turn down to simmer for about 10 mins. Put a good tablespoon of honey in a cup and then strain some of the hot ginger brew into the cup and stir to make a runny syrup. I gave him a teaspoon of this mixture every hour and by the evening he was breathing perfectly with no wheezing and there was no return. I’ve since used this concoction myself for a chest infection and it improved my condition considerably. You could also infuse just the ginger in water if the patient can’t tolerate the garlic, and you can add ginger to soups or even make fresh ginger biscuits (substituting the sugar for honey of course). Ginger is great for any respiratory infection and therefore is also good for coughs.
Honey is one of nature’s greatest remedies and is an effective cough syrup on it’s own. Many a time I have given my boys a spoon of honey to soothe a nasty coughing fit. You can also add a pinch of cinnamon powder to it which has also been used for centuries for numerous conditions (it has been shown to lower blood sugar level so is very beneficial for diabetics) including colds, as have cloves.
There are many useful homeopathic remedies for coughs, colds and flu and I couldn’t possibly list them all here but, I will cover the ones I have used the most. There are some very good books for the beginner for prescribing for acute conditions; Everyday Homeopathy by Dr. David Gemmell and Homeopathic Remedies by Asa Hershoff. With one of these books and a homeopathic kit (Helios & Ainsworths both do excellent kits in a sturdy little case that you can carry around with you and any homeopathic pharmacy or supplier should have them) you should be able to treat most of the common ailments that befall you and your family.
This is a very useful remedy in the early stages of colds and fevers or those that come on very suddenly. Possibly caused by cold or dry winds and characterised by extreme restlessness and fear with clear discharges.
Loose, rattling, gasping cough followed by vomiting or sleep. Chest seems full of mucous but nothing is raised. Has to sit up or bend backwards to cough and is worse from eating.
Also known as homeopathic Calpol. Useful in fevers where they are burning, red and hot with glassy eyes and enlarged pupils. They may be angry, delirious and have visions. Thirsty, and may crave lemonade. Barking, tickling, short, dry cough which is worse at night.
Dryness of all mucous membranes. Very thirsty for large amounts. Dry, painful cough. Worse for any movement, from being indoors or walking into a warm room.
Spasmodic cough that sounds like whooping cough, worse evenings and after midnight. Coughing fits may be followed by vomiting and patient can hardly breathe. Deep barking or choking coughs made worse by talking.
This is the No 1 remedy for Flu, especially for shivering up and down the spine. Patient trembles and has aching, heavy muscles, especilally of the head and eyes, even the eyelids droop. Does not want to move and wants to be quiet and not spoken to.
The symptoms and the patient are changeable. Moody, tearful and want company. Children are clingy and whine. Not very thirsty and worse for being in a stuffy room. Mood improves when they go into the fresh air. Discharges are thick and yellow, yellow-green.
I’ve found this a useful remedy for a continual dry tickling or barking cough.
Dry, barking, croupy, foghorn coughs. Asthmatic or wheezy coughs which are better for eating or drinking especially warm food or drink.
There are a huge amount of natural remedies which can be made from items you would normally buy from the supermarket. Don’t be put off if your child doesn’t like one of the suggestions that I have given. Just do an internet search for natural cold remedies to find something that they may find more appealing or palatable. I’ve found with my boys that given the choice, they would rather swallow one of my brews than visit the doctor to be prodded and poked. I always know if my sons start to feel under the weather as despite it’s not exactly pleasant taste, they ask for my ginger mix and some bone broth. Our visits to the doctor are few and far between and normally only in an extreme emergency. 3 visits in 12 years can’t be bad!!