Monday, January 7, 2008

The Forgotten Art of Convalenscence



These days a dose of flu means a couple of days on the sofa feeling terrible, consuming as much lemsip max strength, boiled sugar cough sweets and as many other compatible painkillers as possible without sustaining permanent liver damage. After which time one is expected to get up and resume normal business whilst coughing alarmingly at anyone who comes near and looking a little bit sweaty and gothic.

In times past a dose of flu was potentially fatal and as such was regarded with proper respect by anyone unfortunate to contract it. Fevers were treated by sponging, caution was taken not to chill the patient with drafts and yet provide enough fresh air to the sick room, no food was taken whilst the fever was raging and nourishing broths were drunk during the long period of recovery.

The long period of recovery….

We modern souls have forgotten that a potent virus completely saps a person's strength, joy and ability to cope with the ordinary demands of everyday life. We need a period of cosseting following an assault on the system and yet we generally don't allow ourselves the time needed for recovery or restock our reserves in order to fight off the next virus we come into contact with.

So if you have been suffering over Christmas and find yourself feeling just a little flat and unable to return to your former bouncing self; you may just need a little cosseting to recover your spark.

This cosseting can be self administered, so don't think I'm asking you to check in to a sanatorium, far from it. A few home remedies and well chosen herbs can set you right again.

Food and Drink:
Think clean, wholefood and leafy. Broths and soups are easily digested and comforting. That whole chicken soup thing - that ain't a myth you know! Add some ginger, a little chili and garlic to beef up their anti-microbal and mucous beating qualities. Stuff a handful of leaves into your mouth even if you can't face a meal; watercress is full of vitamin C and any dark leaf is packed with chlorophyll and folic acid.
Avoid dairy, refined sugar and alcohol as much as possible until your energy is back and your chest recovered. These will only produce extra mucous and sap your precious energy.

Herbs:
I'm not a herbalist and most of them taste foul and should be treated with care, by a qualified professional. However, herb teas and essential oils can be great for lifting your mood and shifting you in the right direction.

Teas:
Lemon balm is anti-depressant, thyme strengthens the lungs, lemon verbena is uplifting, ginger, mint and cinnamon are warming, adding a splash of rosewater is comforting, uplifting and warming too. Liquorice tea is great if you find yourself craving sugar and experiencing energy slumps, it also supports the lungs. Chamomile, orange blossom, rose petals and verbena make a delicious and comforting night time tea that will help you drift off and make the most of your beauty sleep.

Essential oils:
A steam inhalation is a great way to open up your chest and encourage healing. Use one or to drops of any of the following: eucalyptus is expectorant and anti-microbal, sandalwood or fennel are expectorants (help coughs become productive), thyme is good where there are signs of infection. A drop of clary sage essential oil in a teaspoon of vegetable oil can be massaged into the neck and shoulders to encourage a good night's sleep.

Homeopathic remedies:
Of course this is more my thing! Tissue salts are a great way to nourish the body after a virus. New Era make a combination (Combination B, for nervous exhaustion) that works really well in my experience, comprising; calc-phos 6x, ferrum-phos 6x and kali-phos 6x. This is a great catch all remedy for convalescence where you have got ill because you burnt out or were rushing around, as many of us do before Christmas. It supports the lungs, helps iron levels return to normal and sooths and supports the nerves.

Another great remedy is Phos-ac. People needing this will feel burnt out completely and just can't be bothered to do anything. They might be craving juice, juicy fruits and refreshing things like sorbet or ice-cream; or they may just be too darned wiped out to crave a thing. These people are generally bubbly and lively when well, so the difference can be a bit of a shock. Try a 30c and take it 3 times daily for about a week or until improvement. Stop taking the remedy when you can see a definate improvement and only resume taking it if there is a relapse. Don't take for more than 10 days without consulting a professional.

Remember, if you are worried about your condition, if it seems to be worsening or simply not improving or if you experience new symptoms - go see your doctor, homeopath or similar and get some qualified help.

Hope you feel better soon! Remember to take it easy, you're not a robot you know, you're just someone who needs a little TLC.