Alternative medicine has an extraordinary number of remedies for dealing with those illnesses that come out in winter months.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):
To help overcome any sadness this winter, try extending the light exposure on winter days. If you work indoors, use fluorescent full-spectrum 'vitalite' (or similar) lighting of about 2500 lux. This should have the desired influence on your pineal gland (Am J Psych, 1985; 142:163-70).
Colds and Influenzas:
Studies have shown that garlic (Allium sativum) is not only an antiviral agent, but also has an effective antibiotic effect against Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and Mycobacterium, and does not disturb your friendly bowel flora (Ind J Exp Biol, 1977; 15: 466-8). Two large-scale trials in France have proved that L.52 is very successful in treating colds and flu. L.52 is a homoeopathic combination (Eupatorium perf 3DH, Aconitum nap 4DH, Bryonia alba 3DH, Arnica 4DH, Gelsemium 6DH, China 4DH, Belladonna 4DH, Drosera 3DH and Senega 3DH), taken in drops.
Cholesterol Control and Weight:
The festive season can radically alter our eating habits. To alleviate some of these ill effects, try ginger (Zingiber officinale). This has a cholesterol-lowering action (in blood and liver); heart-toning effects (for lower blood pressure); and an ability to improve bowel motion (and therefore, your weight). (Ind J Nutr Diet, 1984; 21: 433-6).
Hibernal Rheumatic Aches and Pains:
Studies show an ancient Indian recipe works wonders. Turmeric (Curcuma longa), also known as Indian saffron, is the major ingredient of curry powder and is present in prepared mustards. It has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine, both topically as turmeric poultices, and internally in the treatment of sprains and inflammation. The volatile oil in turmeric has an anti-
inflammatory action comparable to cortisone and phenylbutazone. Even more potent in acute (but less so in chronic) inflammation is a constituent of turmeric called curcumin - again as effective as cortisone or phenylbutazone. Unlike these last two drugs, curcumin displays no toxicity at standard dosage levels, which is between 400 and 600 mg three times daily. Based on the evidence, turmeric should be consumed liberally in your diet. If you are prescribed curcumin-bromelain combinations, these are best taken on an empty stomach (hours before meals, or between meals). Please consult your naturopathic physician or medical herbalist before embarking on such a regime (Ind J Med Red, 1971; 60:138-42).
An effective remedy against chilblains is Tamus communis in mother tincture form as a cream (by Nelson's). Apply sparingly twice daily (J. H. Clarke, A Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica in 3 vols, Health Science Press,1977, p 1364).
When there is arterial contraction brought on by cold, then cyanosis (dark purplish skin discoloration) can follow, indicating insufficient oxygenation of the blood. Gingko biloba extract has brought about improved blood flow in sufferers of Raynaud's syndrome. Moreover, the evidence has shown that Gingko biloba is beneficial in other peripheral vascular diseases such as in diabetics, in cyanosis (a bluish discoloration of the skin or mucous membrane due to excessive amounts of reduced haemoglobin), and in post-phlebitis (following inflammation of a vein) syndrome (Arzneim Forsch, 1984; 34: 716-21).
Harald Gaier is a registered naturopath, homoeopath, and osteopath.