Has a patient ever canceled a scheduled appointment with you due to an illness? It is ironic to consider deeming oneself too sick to see the doctor, but acute illness can be a cause of patient cancellations, especially if your practice is focused towards preventative medicine or holistic healthcare. We often stress the importance of finding and treating the root cause of illness, and many acute illnesses ranging from colds to sore throats and sinus infections are often themselves symptoms of a more chronic underlying issue. There are, for instance, well known links between esophageal reflux and sinus infections, intestinal permeability and swollen tonsils, and of course psychological stress influencing the frequency of upper respiratory infections.
Because alternative medicine emphasizes prevention and a holistic approach, people are often less likely to consult an alternative health provider during an acute bout of illness, especially one that presents with intense symptoms, even if they have been seeing a holistic provider for help with a chronic condition (especially one that has already failed to respond to conventional treatments). It is a common lament among homeopaths that patients often seek conventional care to suppress an acute illness, and then seek homeopathy to address the chronic effects of suppressing it, which are often more debilitating and difficult to treat. While alternative medicine is popularly sought for a number of stubborn, chronic conditions, many of these same patients will still resort to conventional care for an acute illness. There are several possible reasons for this, some of which are explored below.
- There is a common misperception that natural treatments are always weaker than conventional drugs. This goes hand-in-hand with another common misconception, that natural treatments are always safer. There are a number of extremely dangerous medicinal herbs that would be considered far more toxic than most pharmaceuticals. A great example would be foxglove, a natural source of digitalis that is far more dangerous to use than its synthetic pharmaceutical preparation. Because digitalis must be dosed very precisely, the natural variation in herb’s digitalis content makes it so risky as to be almost unusable. But because natural treatments are expected to be “safer,” it is also thought they must therefore be “weaker,” and there lies a fallacious notion that symptoms are less likely to respond to natural treatment as they become more severe. The symptoms of scurvy for example, which are systemic, debilitating, and life-threatening, will respond readily to vitamin C yet it is extremely difficult to find a reliable natural treatment option for tension headaches.
- During acute illness, immune cells release inflammatory cytokines and these can alter behavior in interesting ways. Interleukin-1b is released by leukocytes to mobilize the body’s defense against potential infection, and it has also been shown to promote anxiety and enhance fear-based learning through its effects on the brain. There is now a theory that uncontrolled inflammation due to this cytokine may even be involved in PTSD. When patients with relatively mild symptoms present convinced beyond a doubt that they are dying of some horrible illness, doctors are quick to blame the internet and its relative accessibility of medical advice while in truth, it is more likely that cytokine interactions are making such patients irrational. This enhanced fear response might also explain why patients who are normally open to exploring alternative treatments will tend to fall back on regular, established routines during times of duress. This is not to imply that conventional medical treatment is necessarily irrational, but simply that an increased fear sensitivity tends to promote more conservative behavior. For the same reason, patients who are well-accustomed to using folk treatments are often unreasonably frightened and unwilling to see a modern doctor when they become ill.
- There are fewer over-the-counter natural treatments available. Most people who become acutely ill will seek treatment for the purpose of symptom relief, whether or not such treatment actually addresses the disease itself. Codeine, for instance, is an opiate-like central nervous system depressant that is sold as the active ingredient in many over-the-counter cough medicines. Through its interaction with opiate receptors, it works by sedating and temporarily suppressing the cough reflex center of the brain, while doing nothing to support the immune system, promote healing, or shorten the illness itself that is causing the body to cough. The advantage of natural treatments is they can effectively relieve symptoms while supporting the body’s self-healing functions, as opposed to suppressing or disabling them. While there are plenty of natural treatments available to relieve symptoms of common illnesses, it remains a problem that many are not accessible to patients as over-the-counter products. Unlike conventional pharmaceutical drugs, there are strict rules which limit the marketing of natural treatments for symptom relief, and so most patients require a qualified healthcare practitioner to guide them in choosing the right products.
This last point becomes a problem when patients are too sick to come in for an office visit with their holistic provider, either because they don’t feel well enough to travel or due to fear of infecting others. In the past, doctors made house calls and presently, telehealth is helping to solve this issue, though telehealth still comes with many disadvantages and not everyone has a practice that is set up to do it. When treating patients who know they are frequently susceptible to certain complaints, one solution is to recommend and dispense products in advance that can be kept on hand by patients until acute illness strikes. It is a belief among homeopaths that most “acute” illnesses are not actually true acutes, but rather regularly flaring manifestations of a chronic, constitutional illness, and this is borne out by the fact that most people know they tend to get certain symptoms every spring, autumn, winter, etc. Homeopathic products are among the best natural options for acute symptom relief, due to their safety, speed of action, and unique ability to relieve the symptoms of illness without suppressing them.
The below include our most recommended homeopathic products to provide general acute symptom relief. (Please note that these claims are all based on traditional homeopathic practice, and not accepted medical evidence. Any claims that homeopathic products can relieve symptoms have not been reviewed by the FDA).
Cold HP™: this is an excellent product to recommend at the onset of nose and throat symptoms. It contains remedies like Acontium napellus, indicated for sudden onset symptoms, and Ferrum Phosphoricum, indicated to relieve nondescript symptoms early in the course of an illness.
Flu HP™: this product is best when the symptoms include fatigue, soreness, and general malaise. It contains some deeper-acting remedies like Gelsemium sempervirens, which works well to relieve tiredness and headaches, and Baptisia tinctoria, which can help clear brain fog.
Sinus HP™: if sinus congestion is a predominant symptom, then Sinus HP™ is more likely to help thin mucus and relieve pressure. Its ingredients include Kali Bichromicum and Hydrastis canadensis, two of the best homeopathic remedies to address mucus congestion.
V HP™: in contrast to the above remedies, this product has been formulated specifically for recurrent symptoms and is great for patients to keep on hand if they tend to suffer frequent or annual bouts of illness. It combines remedies like Belladonna for acute symptoms with remedies like Arsenicum Album to provide chronic immune support.
Breath HP™: if symptoms settle in the chest, Breath HP™ is best indicated to relieve symptoms like fatigue and productive cough. Remedies like Bryonia can help soothe a painful cough, and Antimonium Tartaricum can help expectorate stubborn mucus.
Lymphastat B™: if an irritated throat is the main concern, Lymphastat B™ may provide more effective acute symptom relief. It combines the most reliable acute symptom remedies with Lachesis and Phytolacca, which act specifically on the throat.
Lymphastat V™: this remedy should be considered whenever the acute symptoms include a rash. Immune support remedies like Rhus tox and Lomatium dissectum can support the skin, especially in acute illness.
For additional information, including specific immune support protocols, you can download our Guide to Immune and Respiratory Health from Energiquepro.com, found under our educational portal here. Or, you can contact our Customer Service Representatives at 800-869-8078 or Inquiry@EnergiquePro.com to request a paper copy.