ECHINACEA, vitamin C, probiotics: these are the popular ‘kids on the block’ supplements when it comes to infections. Most of you will have them in your medicine cupboard, next to the ibuprofen, even if you ‘don’t believe in naturopathy’. While naturopaths have always used herbs, food and nutrients to prevent or treat acute infections, I think the place naturopathy really shines is in post-viral symptoms. These are the symptoms that linger after the infection has been said to be resolved and keep you feeling ‘just a bit off’ to ‘quite unwell’, despite there being no medical reason. The cough you still have a month after that cold, the low energy reserve three years after glandular fever was diagnosed, the recurrent thrush or IBS you developed after that parasite you picked up in Asia (stool sample all clear by the way!), the tinnitus you developed after your last ear infection... Herbs and the naturopathic paradigm are outstanding when it comes to convalescence and implementing a complete recovery in a depleted system. Our supplements are often aimed at supporting the organ or system that is faulting, rather than just killing off the infecting organism. This is why I always say that naturopathy and medical management can be used in conjunction with each other. Let’s use the example of a stubborn sinus infection. Antibiotics might kill the bacterial infection, but 3 weeks later you still have fatigue, sinus pain and mucous. A naturopath will use ‘alterative’ herbs to drain and detox the glands, ‘trophorestoratives and astringents’ to tone the inflamed mucous membranes, diet to reduce the inflammatory load and mucous production, and probiotics and immune adaptogens to improve the resistance to another infection. So, it is not just about killing off an infection, but about making the whole environment stronger and less susceptible to recurrent infection. Having said that, the response of herbal medicine in active infection, especially in children, can be powerful. Conjunctivitis, vulvinitis, otitis, glandular fever, sinusitis, laryngitis, coughs, tonsillitis, and UTIs can all respond well to naturopathic care when a trained practitioner is involved.
◆ NOT 100 PER CENT: Naturopathic medicine can help on your way to feeling your best again after battling an infection.