Winter Blues Getting You Down?

Originally published Jul 01 2018 on www.holistia.com.au

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I’m not sure how it is at your place, but where we are (and hearing from clients and friends) there are some NASTY bugs going around at the moment!  And winter has barely begun! 

I’ve written before about some general tips on winter wellness but this month I’m going to delve a little more into specific remedies that I usually have at home for my own family (and like to use this time of the year).

Some of these are available over the counter as retail products, but some may require a consultation and prescription. 

The good news is that I do offer Express Consultations (15 mins) for acute issues like colds and bugs – so if you or your family get sick then please do call the clinic and book one in.  It’s only $35 for the consultation and will allow me to prescribe you what you require to help you get over these awful bugs a little quicker (we hope!).  If you can’t get in, then you can always ask at your local health food store or pharmacy about what they might have that is similar/equivalent.

1. Zinc & C
Zinc is always my number one go to for winter colds, and I use/prescribe a product that contains vitamin C in it as well.  The one I prefer is a practitioner product, meaning it does require a consult to prescribe it, however there are many retail brands that offer something similar.  BioCeuticals have a range that you can get by asking at a chemist/health food store, including a product called Armaforce which a lot of people now know about and use, and the kids version Armaforce Junior. Ethical Nutrients also do a product with Zinc & C in it.  If your family is prone to catching all the bugs, then it’s a good idea to take it at the recommended maintenance dose throughout winter as a preventative and then bump up to acute dosing when needed.

2. Vitamin D
If you get sick a lot, then speak to your GP about it and ask them to check your Vitamin D levels!  Vitamin D is ESSENTIAL for good immune function, and if it turns out you’re low it’s a simple fix to get it sorted.  Be mindful that there are “normal” levels (which are usually defined as within the reference range of the tests) and optimal levels.  It’s a good idea to chat with the GP about this, because the results might say your levels are normal, but they might be on the lower end of the scale, meaning you could still do with having them bumped up a bit more.

3. Probiotics
Yep, another one which keeps coming up.  There are a number of different types of probiotics that are specific for different conditions, and immune health is a key one.  As above, if you are someone who is prone to getting sick then I would suggest taking a probiotic which is specific for immune health all winter.  Retail brands that would be worth looking at are again BioCeuticals & Ethical Nutrients, though I prefer the practitioner brand that I use both at home and in clinic.

4. Tissue Salts/Celloids
Tissue salts & celloids can be really helpful to use as soon as you start to get a sniffle, cough or fever.  Tissue salts can be purchased at health food stores – the brand to grab is Scheussler’s.  The ones you will want to look for specific for winter colds are ferr phos (fever or inflammation), kali mur (for congestion or clear mucus) and kali sulph (for mucus that is yellow or greeny in colour).

Celloids are a practitioner only product but work in a similar way – I tend to use celloids more at home as I find they work brilliantly for the whole family.  I do also make up custom liquid tissue salts formulas for my kids and my clients.   These can be helpful for younger kids as liquids in a dropper are easier to just add to water or squirt in the mouth with a dropper.

5. Homeopathics
These are also generally available from health food stores, and the brand I stock/recommend are the Owen Homeopathics brand.  I always have these on hand in the home too to help try and kick the body into healing!  The remedies most commonly used through winter are as follows:

Aconite – This is a great remedy to always have in the home as it’s useful for pretty much any symptom that comes on very suddenly and seemingly out of the blue.  This could include a sudden fever, croup colds or coughs that come on suddenly after exposure to dry cold wind, exposure to temperature extremes.

Ant tart – Coarse, loose & rattling cough that feels suffocating with shortness of breath.  The chest feels like it is full of mucous that doesn’t seem to come up.  Worse early morning (3-4am).

Belladonnna – For use during the first stage of the inflammatory process, when the skin feels hot and red and the face is flushed.  Usually the symptoms come up suddenly.  Also can be used for intense tearing pain in the middle/external ear, a dry tickling cough or inflamed tonsils.

Bryonia – For a dry, hacking, painful coughs.  Tough mucous in the throat that only loosens after much hacking.

Euphrasia – Nose blocked up in the evening but can be watery during the day.  Sinus headache due to congestion, and a hacking cough that usually only occurs during the day and hoarseness of the voice.

Nux Vomica – Runny nose during the day which gets blocked up at night.  Cold weather causes the nose to get stuffed up and possibly alternating between nostrils.  Itching in the ears and tickly nose which triggers sneezing.  Dry, tight, hacking cough with gagging.  Tendency to feel chilly/shivers if uncovered, wants to stay wrapped up & warm.

6. Herbal Medicines
I like to prescribe custom herbal liquid formulas, so that I can ensure that the herbs chosen are specific to your symptoms or health complaint.  Herbal medicine is one of my major tools at home for my family! However if you are after an of-the-shelf brand, you really can’t go past the Kiwiherb range.  I always have their De-Stuff for Kids in the home, and use it regularly throughout the winter for both my kids.  They also do an immune range for adults which you can buy online.  BioCeuticals Armaforce gets another special mention here, due to the virus fighting herbs in the product - and they have recently created products for pregnancy and children as well.

Now it goes without saying that this information is not medical advice and does not replace the advice of your GP.  However they are very handy to have in the home at the onset of cold & cough symptoms, and they are a great complement to support your healing in conjunction with your health care professional’s advice.