The cold, wet factor is back in Vancouver with a vengeance and along with it comes colds, coughs and croup. As a parent, I’m grateful for the quick relief remedies often provide and these work so well that I’ve converted many a parent on homeopathy’s benefits just because of how well it works for croup alone!
What is Croup anyway?
One of the most frightening respiratory infections for parents and children alike, croup causes a barking cough and wheezing due to an inflammation and swelling of the vocal chords. Because it typically develops without warning sometime after the child falls asleep, it can be quite shocking when he or she wakes up with a frightening seal’s bark of a cough and struggles to catch her or his breath. If this happens to your child, remember to stay calm above all else.
If you don’t have remedies on hand, you may have heard of this trick: turn on a hot shower and allow your child to breathe the steam in the bathroom. While this may help in the moment, be sure to try out the remedies below anyway. Not only do they put an end to the attack within minutes, but also they also help prevent attacks recurring the next night and the night after that, which is a common problem for many kids.
If you’re at all familiar with homeopathy, you’ll remember that homeopaths treat the person, not the illness, so depending on the symptoms you may need one of three remedies: Aconite, Spongia and Hepar sulph.
Aconite is your first choice. Aconite works for those attacks that appear out of the blue with no forewarning. Typically the croup comes on before midnight and is scary enough to frighten both the child and the parent! Many children won’t need any additional remedies after a dose of Aconite. If you don’t have this remedy on hand however, don’t bother giving it the next day. Aconite works best in the first few hours of inflammation, so if you’ve missed that window, move on to the second choice remedy: Spongia.
Spongia is the second remedy and you can go ahead and give it if you find that 15 minutes later, the child is not much better. Spongia is a great cough medicine, for that dry barking cough, which sounds almost like a saw going through wood or a dry seal’s bark–so typical in croup. It is the second remedy to be given after Aconite or use it first if there was already a dry cough developing.
Hepar sulph is the third choice remedy and may be indicated towards morning or a day or two if the cough turns loose and rattling. Hepar sulph is a great cough remedy which is useful later on, not usually the first day.
Since the 30c potency is most popular and easy to purchase, I would recommend giving 3-5 pills in the moment, repeating every 15 minutes if necessary or every time the child awakens. In homeopathy, less is better, so stop as symptoms improve. In my experience, one or two doses should do it, starting with Aconite and following up with Spongia if necessary. I would only give Hepar sulph in unusual cases where the cough recurs a little later again with that loose, rattling sound. The use of these remedies for croup has an incredible history. It was over 150 years ago that Dr Boenninghausen, a German physician and homeopath, treated over 400 cases with these three remedies alone. In his vast experience with croup, he discovered that less than 1 in 100 children ever needed all three remedies.
Some children do have a susceptibility to croup, meaning that each time the child gets a cold, he or she develops croup. If so, constitutional remedies will help prevent the recurrence, but require the expert advice of a homeopath. For more information on homeopathy and constitutional treatment, check out the Treatment FAQ page under Homeopathy on my website at www.vancouverhomeopath.com.
Finally, for those who would like to buy a good book on homeopathy for remedies at home, there are many on the market. My personal favorites are by Panos and Heimlich: Homeopathic Medicine at Home for its charts and stories. If you’re looking for something on just kids, I also like the book Homeopathy for Children by Feldman and Pinto for it’s practical, easy to use style.