Paul Herscu ND, MPH
Well, this is turning out to be an extremely busy winter season! There are several influenza-like-illnesses, as well as influenza, currently raging through the US and Europe. This is just a short update, building on many previous pieces written on this topic. I write here with an assumption that you understand the topic of the genus epidemicus (see Herscu Letters #33-38 to review the topic of the genus epidemicus,) the difference between acute and chronic prescribing at any given time in your patient, and of course that you know how to keep your patients safe.
Currently, there are several common presentations:
1. Phosphoric acid: The prominent feature here is the extreme weakness, physically. While many times in past years this kind of weakness responded well to Gelsemium, if it does not do so this time, consider Phos-ac. This is especially accompanied with a sort of ‘flatness’ of emotions, where the person stops caring about most things, a deep and pervasive apathy.
2. Bryonia (or Spongia?): The prominent feature here with Bryonia is a rapidly developed severe and intense cough, which may lead to bronchitis or even pneumonia. One similar remedy also showing up this year is Spongia. The keynote of the cough in Spongia is the patient is triggered by an irritation in the suprasternal notch aggravated by stretching the neck, up and back, as if looking upwards.
3. Cocculus indicus: The prominent feature here is an upper respiratory tract infection accompanied by a persistent low level vertigo. The patient does not feel steady on their feet.
4. Belladonna: While this remedy is a well known remedy, at this time it is missed because of its presentation. The prominent feature here is an intense, sudden, extreme attack of vertigo, leading to nausea and vomiting. The vertigo is worse motion, especially leaning forward, stooping. It is accompanied by a very mild headache, and slightly warm head compared to cool extremities. But the driving symptom, the most extreme symptom, is the intense and sudden vertigo.
5. Mercurius: The prominent feature here is a more common non-descript respiratory tract infection. If you don’t have any other clear remedy and you decide they need one, it might be that they need this remedy. While the symptoms of this remedy are typically very clear and well known, those keynotes seem to be missing this season. No perspiration, salivation, tremulousness, etc. If you have an ever increasingly bad infection, with whitish, greenish mucus and you are in a quandary about what to give, consider this remedy. Interestingly, after giving the remedy, as they improve, they will begin to perspire.