Tags: sore throat
A Strategy for Boosting Wellness
One of the most important principles of traditional healing is also very easy to remember: A man with a small illness lives a long life.
It’s worth thinking about if you’re going to use a wholistic approach for illness, because without understanding it you can’t choose the right remedy. So, what does the saying reveal? A “small illness” is an acute condition, something that might be subtle, like a mild headache or a scratchy throat.
Instead of thinking of a headache or sore throat as a “symptom” that should be eliminated as quickly as possible, it can be seen as the body’s appropriate response to an acute condition. Our immune system usually meets such challenges without our noticing it, through the defense mechanisms of the skin’s acid mantle, the barrier of fine hairs in the nose, the inner temperature of 98 degrees, and the digestive acids in the stomach. When we become aware of the response to external pathogens, however, it means there is a struggle taking place. At that point, if you help the body overcome the struggle you may avoid a progression of disease. And subsequently live a “long life”.
Simple Ways to Be Involved
A sore throat is a good example of how to create a strategy. Simple remedies can be effective when used with a "small illness", i.e. the very first sign of conflict. When I've used them with my family, we usually get positive results, but also the satisfaction of feeling involved and the pleasure of engaging with beautiful ingredients.
Acute conditions often begin in the head, where openings to the outside world make us vulnerable. The body’s protective energy rises strongly to the top of the body for that reason. A “sore” throat brings attention to a struggle taking place between the body’s immune response and the pathogen. The strategy is to bring more healing energy to the area through external and internal methods, to push the pathogen out.
- Apply heat
Heat will increase blood flow, which brings the infection fighting properties of white blood cells and other factors to the area. Heat can be as simple as a hot shower on the back. For more sustained heat, we use a warm water bottle applied to the back of the neck for 15 minutes at a time. Though less penetrating than water, a microwaved pad can also be used. We never use an electric heating pad for anything.
No water bottle or heating pad? Rub your hands together briskly to warm them, then just place them on the back of the neck or gently rub up and down (no pressure, just a superficial touch). When the area gets pink it indicates increased blood flow to the area.
During any illness, the warmth of loving interactions will have a healing influence.
Gargling with antimicrobial substances can kill virus in the nose and throat. A gargle we learned from a nurse we had turned to when we were on vacation and needed quick help for our daughter with a severe sore throat has worked beautifully over the years. We put a capful of peroxide in a half a glass of warm water; then a ¼ teaspoon of salt in another half glass of warm water. Alternate between the two different solutions, repeating it three times.
- Onion syrup
A cough syrup I learned from herbal medicine teacher Jeffrey Yuen couldn’t be simpler. Peel and slice an onion, then layer it with sugar in a bowl or jar. Cover it and let it sit overnight. The sugar will extract the onion essence and turn into a clear syrup. Strain and refrigerate. Take by the spoonful as needed.
Raw onion contains many sulfur compounds, antioxidants and vitamin C, though as a common dietary ingredient it has not been studied extensively by science.
- Vinegar of the Four Thieves
The New York Times provided this recipe in June 1995, when it shared the story of four thieves who had escaped the plague of 1649 in Marseilles despite having touched items presumably contaminated. The recipe suggested a handful of lavender, rosemary, sage, wormwood, rue, and mint,plus a clove of garlic, steeped in apple cider vinegar. Strain after a week or so.
Rosemary is a powerful herb that supposedly was used to disinfect hospital wards in the past. Lavender bio-regulates energy and is relaxing, an important consideration in stressful times. It's pretty difficult to get wormwood and rue, but the rest of the ingredients can be found in supermarkets. Initially I used this vinegar for its tastiness in summer salad dressings. These days I am taking a spoonful once or twice a day, usually in a glass of water with honey, what some people call a “shrub”.
- Inner Application: Imagery
Imagery also can guide energy within the body, creating measurable physiological changes. Three slow, mindful exhalations, counting from three to one, helps to regulate the body and calm the mind. These days I’m also using imagery created by my mentor, Catherine Shainberg, whose exercises can be found here. Read the text, then do the exercise with eyes closed. Or have someone act as a guide and read the exercise to you. Audio exercises are also available on her website.
Connect to each other and to natural laws
These strategies to boost wellness seem simple and that’s why I love them: they are easy, free, and helpful. There are many methods, across cultures, that are based on universal laws of the body. Observed and collected by caregivers through the ages, a working knowledge of these laws can still be useful to families today. Ancient protocols, created from innate wisdom, can help us focus our gesture of care as we face something we have not experienced before.
 NY Times Sunday June 25, 1995, Section 4, page 7