By Janet Levatin, MD, holistic pediatrician
What do you do when you or your child has a cold or gets a “boo-boo?” Do you turn to pharma-produced products, such as antihistamines, ibuprofen and triple antibiotic cream? There is a better, more natural approach that employs herbs, vitamins, and homeopathic products. If you build a collection of these types of products, when the next acute illness or minor emergency occurs, you will be prepared to handle it holistically.
For minor traumas that do not cause broken skin (such as a laceration or abrasion), I love to use a topical homeopathic cream such as Traumeel or Topricin. If applied right after a bump occurs, it will prevent bruises from forming or will help them be less severe and resolve more quickly. These creams can also be used on sore muscles after over-exertion, or on minor strains and sprains. If a more significant trauma occurs that causes bleeding, bruising or concussion, homeopathic Arnica montana 30C or 30X can be taken orally while any necessary medical care is being sought.
Minor burns and abrasions
My favorite herb is calendula because it is so healing to skin and sensitive tissues, and is great for treating those inevitable minor scrapes and burns that seem to be part of life. Calendula is very soothing, making it perfect for using on children. It does not sting when it is in a bland (non-alcohol-containing) base. I always keep calendula oil (olive oil base) on hand, as well as calendula-containing herbal salve, which may also contain other healing herbs, in an olive oil-beeswax base. I do my best to avoid petroleum-containing products such as topical antibiotic creams; I have found that in most cases the herbal products work just as well, if not better.
For those times when a skin “boo-boo” needs to be dried out instead of moisturized, I use calendula tincture (alcohol base) diluted with equal parts water as a compress.
Colloidal silver gel or liquid (or silver hydrosol) is also great for treating minor skin infections. It has an antibacterial effect, and is also bland and does not sting when applied.
Colds and “flu”
When I feel a cold coming on, I take an enhanced dose of vitamin D. While a conservative daily dose of vitamin D is about 35 units per pound of body weight, it is safe to take about 100 units per pound daily for 3-5 days. This helps the body produce its own antimicrobial peptides (natural antibiotics) and boosts resistance to infection. It also dampens the inflammatory response to infective agents, which is what actually makes us feels sick. For signs of influenza (specifically fever, chills, and body aches), homeopathic Oscillococcinum, available at most health food stores and pharmacies, if taken right away, will often sidetrack the illness quickly and efficiently. Homeopathic Influenzinum or homeopathic combination remedies can also effectively help nip a flu in the bud.
I recommend that all people, especially parents, keep a homeopathic remedy kit at home, as it can be used to safely, effectively, and easily treat many situations that arise, such as coughs, vomiting, diarrhea, minor injuries and minor burns. A good homeopathic kit will contain from 35 to 50 homeopathic remedies in either the 30C or 30X potency. While you will not use all the remedies right away, it is an excellent strategy to have them on hand for those acute situations that inevitably develop in the evening or weekend. You can keep such a kit on hand for many years, and use the remedies as needed.
I love homeopathy because it assists the body in healing and balancing itself. Since the remedies are diluted during manufacturing, they are non-toxic and completely safe to give to infants, children, and pregnant and nursing mothers (with the proper indications, of course). Homeopathic remedies are easy to administer and have no interactions with other forms of treatment, including conventional OTC and prescribed medications.
Building a holistic first aid kit empowers individuals and families to begin taking charge of their own health and trusting their instincts when it comes to assisting the self-healing mechanism that resides within all of us.
(The advice is intended to treat minor, self-limited situations, and should not be considered a substitute for necessary medical evaluation and treatment).