As we rejoice (sometimes secretly) that the kids are back to school, this time of the year can also be an anxious time for parents who begin to anticipate the onslaught of coughs, colds, tummy bugs, lice, and other ailments that plague school age children. Caring for sick children can be very upsetting, exhausting and stressful, particularly for working parents trying to take time off or arrange for care by family members.
A holistic view is that common coughs and colds can provide an opportunity for children (and adults) to build and strengthen their immunities, especially when they last about a week and do not develop into a secondary infection such as an ear, sinus or chest infection. These ‘healthy’ colds may be a nuisance but they are considered (again in holistic philosophy) ‘healthy’ in that they come and go briefly and should only come on once or twice a year, although with school age children that may be four or five times a year.
When colds last longer and develop into infections (ear, nose, throat or chest) then the immune system is struggling and needs support. This is where complementary medicine can help by providing a constitutional boost to strengthen the overall immune system. To the professional Homeopath, these prescriptions are more comprehensive in that the remedy ‘matches’ the individual’s temperament, appetite and thirst patterns, sensitivities to the environment (heat, cold, draft, etc), and sleep patterns. Patients often report that after constitutional treatment they are stronger and more resilient, even when coughs and colds are going around the house or office.
Because the remedies are derived from highly diluted natural sources (plants, animals, minerals) there are no side effects and they are safe for pregnant women, children and babies. Prescribing for babies and small children is often based on observations of complexion, tongue and eyes, body temperature, sleep and feeding patterns as well as the pregnancy and birth experiences of the mother. In these cases a constitutional boost is needed because of an inherited susceptibility to allergies, illnesses that run in the family, and/or some birth trauma, among others. My son was born inhaling meconium, and needed medical intervention. As a result he had a chronic cough that lasted years, which conventional medicine and treatments couldn’t resolve. It was homeopathy that addressed the early trauma to his respiratory system and cleared his cough once and for all!
Homeopathy can also treat acute conditions from sinus infections to coughs and stomach aches. These prescriptions are different in that the symptoms are drawn with detail to give the body the support it needs to be able to heal and recover. In the case of a stomach ache, the details of nausea, vomiting, bowel movements, and any condition that gives the person any relief (sipping water, fresh air, eating any particular food, etc) are all taken during the consultation. The goal is to identify a remedy that will help the digestive tract to come through the ailment as quickly as possible, while also alleviating pain and discomfort.
For common school age complaints such as lice, worms, and parasites, homeopathic remedies can help children cope with the discomfort and help to reduce the likelihood of recurrence. When children are repeatedly getting these parasites, then a constitutional remedy will help address the susceptibility so that they don’t catch them again…and again…and again.
On that note, best wishes for the upcoming school year…