Preventing dry coughs, whooping coughs

How to best and quickly eliminate dry coughs in the winter time.

This is the time of year when I start seeing many folks in, young and old, for those viral upper respiratory infections with resultant irritating dry coughs.

I will go through the basic steps I use to eliminate the infection quickly and efficiently:

1. The first step is, as always, what you are eating. It is important to start including immune boosting foods in your everyday eating. These include:

• Bright coloured fruits and vegetables, since they provide beta carotene, Vitamin C, sulfur compounds and flavinoids. These include red peppers, carrots, squash, beets, tomatoes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, spinach, kale, swiss chard, plums, grapes and frozen berries.

• Whole grains which provide selenium, zinc, calcium, magnesium and potassium. These can be quinoa, barley, brown rice, millet, oats or rye.

• Cold, fast swimming fish to give us the omega 3 fatty acids and DHA and EPA, which are all anti-inflammatory. Examples are wild salmon, halibut, sardines and herring.

• Algaes, such as chlorella and spirulina. They provide many trace nutrients and minimize the load on the immune system.

• Beans and legumes, such as black, kidney, aduki, mung, pinto, garbanzo beans or lentils. These supply fibre to remove toxins from the system as well as calcium, magnesium and zinc.

• Almonds, sunflower, sesame, flax, hemp and pumpkin seeds provide selenium, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium, boron and many other trace minerals that strengthen the immune system. They are also anti-inflammatory.

2. The second step is using herbs. When using herbs, it is most effective if you take one teaspoon of a tincture every two hours for the first and second day, and that usually takes care of the cough. The herbs that are useful are a combination of: nettles, calendula, echinacea, ginger, garlic, reishi mushroom, milk vetch, oregon grape, myrrh, coltsfoot, gum weed, mullein, slippery elm, licorice and marshmallow root.

3. The third step is using supplements. I always recommend folks be at maximum Vitamin C (from a neutral base such as organic corn, tapioca or berry) to make sure the immune system has all the raw materials it needs to function. Vitamin B complex is also important to minimize stressors on the system, since stressors suppress the immune system’s ability to function. Zinc and selenium are trace minerals that help maximize immune function, as are beta carotene and vitamin A.

4. The fourth step is to keep foods simple. For a few days try to have simple oatmeal or whole grain hot cereal with some berries. To drink, try ginger (1 oz. grated or ½ oz dried), three cups apple juice and boil for five minutes and sip throughout the day. Another favourite is Traditionals Throat Remedy and Cold Remedy teas. These help coat the throat, so, preventing that annoying tickle. These can be mixed together and can alternate with the ginger drink.

5. The fifth step is physical treatments. I use a variety of simple treatments. These include steam inhalation with tea tree/oregano/eucalyptus or thyme oils for five minutes three times a day, hot baths to mount a temperature to kill off the virus or bacteria, or mustard/onion plasters. They are a great way to relieve an annoying cough, especially before bed to prevent waking at night.

6. The sixth step is constantly bathing and soothing the throat. This prevents the reflex taking hold which causes the cough. I use Thayers Slippery Elm Lozenges that can be bought at any health food store. They constantly coat the throat so it doesn’t get irritated. You can also use a soothing herbal cough syrup.

These should all give you control of those annoying dry coughs. Check out Facebook at Dr. Brenda Gill for other ideas.

For any cough that persists more than 2-3 days, please call for an evaluation appointment with: Dr.Brenda Gill –250-352-3150 or 250-362-5035.