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Winter Coughs and Influenza – a Homeopathic Approach

by June Sayer(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 203 - February 2013

I trust that all of you reading this article will have enjoyed the Christmas and New Year festivities. However, I do know that at this time of year with the unpredictable changes that we experience with the weather, people tend to succumb to a variety of upper respiratory tract ailments and possibly ‘flu.

winter coughs
Yellow Jasmine

Whilst viruses, bacteria or fungi are known to be the cause of respiratory tract infections, the most frequent offenders are viruses. The word virus is derived from the Latin word meaning ‘slimy liquid’ or ‘poison’.  Smaller than any other microorganism, viruses contain genetic material, i.e. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) or RNA (ribonucleic acid) and protein. A virus cannot reproduce or carry out any metabolic processes independently and therefore needs to find a live host cell of either a human, plant, or animal in which it can live and reproduce. When it has found its host the virus then uses the cellular energy of the host cell for survival, inserts its genetic material into the host cell and takes over its function. Once this is done the newly infected cell continues its process of its reproduction and the virus spreads through direct contact; coughing, sneezing, exchange of saliva or sexual contact. Some viruses are spread through contaminated food or water or carried by an insect such as a mosquito.

The common cold and influenza are two types of viruses that affect human beings; when the immune system detects a virus it responds by producing specific antibodies to render the viruses non-infectious so that other cells can survive the onslaught of the infection. The body’s T cells (white blood cells that mature in the thymus) are important to the function of the immune system because they are like a group of soldiers whose role is to produce substances that stimulate the immune response by seeking out and destroying the ‘invaders’.

The influenza virus belongs to the orthomyxovirus group of viruses and is associated with both A and B groups. The B group is generally of a more localized nature and the symptoms are milder and the A group is associated with worldwide pandemics. You will be familiar with the symptoms of ‘flu. It has an incubation period of between 1-3 days, starts suddenly with a fever, shivering and aching in the limbs, headache, sore throat and a dry cough. Sometimes the cough can linger on for a few weeks and it has been noted that ‘flu viruses can cause a period of debility. If this debility continues, depression may set in and take a further period of time to clear, weeks or even months and it is then termed post-viral syndrome.

During the proving of the homeopathic remedy Gelsemium made from the plant Yellow Jasmine, many features associated with the ‘flu virus were identified. The action of the remedy centres itself on the muscles and motor nerves causing aching, tiredness, headaches, weakness and soreness. The person requiring this remedy feels dizzy, drowsy, mentally apathetic and dull and experiences trembling. There is a wish to be in quiet surroundings and to be left alone and any disturbances cause them to become easily irritated.

Chills run up and down the spine, their eyelids feel heavy and droopy, the face looks flushed and they complain that their head feels dull and heavy; they describe their headache as if there is a band around the occiput with pain in the temples. The nose itches and tingles and the discharges are thin, acrid and watery. The pain in the throat extends to the ear and it is difficult for them to swallow food. Dizziness and blurred vision are also part of the picture. Whilst they feel very drowsy they find they cannot get off to sleep and when they do, there is a tendency to ‘jump’ as they fall asleep. The chest feels sore and the cough is dry accompanied by a runny nose.

Now I would like to give you some insight into the remedy Hepar Sulphuris. Before Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy put Hepar Sulphuris (Calcium Sulphide) into the homeopathic materia medica the old alchemists used Sulfuret of Lime as an external remedy for itch, rheumatism and gout amongst other things.

Hepar Sulphuris’ action is centred round the mucous membranes; a person who could benefit from using this remedy would be experiencing a loose cough with thick yellow sputum and a loss of voice. The cough is dry and hoarse, croup like and choking and is made worse when any part of the body is cold or uncovered or from eating cold food. The throat is sore with a sensation that a plug sits in the throat pit when swallowing, or it feels like a splinter and the pain extends to the ear. Sweating day and night without any relief is a feature of this remedy and they are mentally hypersensitive.

Homeopaths also use remedies known as nosodes and one in particular that has been beneficial in the treatment of ‘flu is known as Influenzinum. The person requiring this remedy would be suffering with all the symptoms of ‘flu including catarrh, chronic fatigue, dry painful cough, nasal congestion, sinusitis and laryngitis, heavy eyelids, and generalized stiffness of the limbs.

The past few weeks have seen an increase in the amount of times these remedies have had to be used. A female client of mine aged 40 contacted me describing her symptoms as headache with lassitude, hoarseness and a chesty cough and her body aching and the need to sleep all the time. Prior to contacting me, she had been taking conventional medicines and she explained that her symptoms had not been eased, but had only made her feel even sleepier than before. Naturally when the body meets an infection and sets its immune defences into action, sleep can be a natural healer and we should acknowledge the fact that responding to the need to rest and sleep will help the body speed up its healing process.

She was advised to take Hepar Sulphuris 30c to be taken three times a day for five days and then report back. She contacted me to let me know that the ‘flu symptoms had eased, the cough had improved and that she was feeling so much better in herself.

The mother of another of my clients contacted me to say that her daughter had been coughing, was very tired with no energy, extremely sensitive and that her ear was hurting and that she had lost her appetite. Upon discussing the symptoms further, I discovered that this child was exhibiting symptoms of the remedy Hepar Sulphuris. Once again this remedy given in 30c potency three times a day for just two days eased her suffering, her appetite returned, as did her energy.

The symptoms of a 66 year-old gentleman began quite suddenly. He complained of tenderness around the chest area, lots of sneezing, shivering, a dry cough, drowsiness and slight dizziness. His treatment began with the remedy Gelsemium 30c for two days, then as the lethargy symptoms became more noticeable, and the cough became dry and hard, Influenzinum 30c was prescribed for one day, followed by Hepar Sulphuris. After a few days the gentleman recovered his joie-de-vivre.

Of course with any ‘flu or cough symptoms one should remember to respect the body and allow it time to fully recover before undertaking any strenuous activities.

I hope that this information serves to give you more insight into how homeopathic remedies can be used for any age providing the symptom picture fits that which is presented by the person requiring same and how homeopaths are trained to use remedies that treat ‘like with like’ to alleviate their suffering and put the person on the road to recovery.

I also advise people to drink plenty of water so as not to become dehydrated when they have been sweating, drink honey and lemon to sooth the cough and sore throat, and to take some Vitamin C since Vitamin C helps to inactivate viruses. They should also eat a light diet so that the body can get on with the work of fighting off the infection and not have quite so much work to do with the digestive system and, of course, get plenty of rest.


Wishing you all a happy, healthy New Year.


Dunne, Lavon J, Nutrition Almanac, 3rd Edition.

Kumar, Parveen J and Clark, Michael L, Clinical Medicine 2nd Edition.

Murphy,Robin ND, Nature’s Materia Medica 3rd Edition.


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About June Sayer

June Sayer DHom (Med) MARH MRHom DNTh DIridol Homeopath Nutritionist Reiki Master/Teacher became fascinated by homeopathy after seeking treatment for her children and herself some 23 years ago; this dramatic change in their overall health led her to train as a homoeopathic practitioner. She qualified from the Hahnemann College in 1992 and has been in practice since that date. She is one of the founding directors of the Alliance of Registered Homeopaths and has a practice in Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex where she enjoys training individuals in the art and practice of homoeopathy. She may be contacted on Tel: 01621 730664;   


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