Dr. Brenda Gill on Treating Coughs

Dr. Brenda Gill
By Dr. Brenda Gill
February 13th, 2015

Treating Dry Coughs / Whooping cough / Pertussis:

This is the time of year when I start seeing many folks in, young and old, for those upper respiratory infections accompanied by dry coughs.  I will go through the basic steps I use to eliminate the infection quickly and efficiently.

The first step is 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, broccoli, brussel sprouts, spinach, kale, swiss chard, collards, plums, grapes and frozen berries. 

·         Whole grains which provide selenium, zinc, calcium, magnesium and potassium.  These can be quinoa, barley, brown rice, millet, amaranth or teff. 

·         Cold, fast swimming fish that give us the omega 3 fatty acids, 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, chia, hemp and pumpkin seeds.  These provide selenium, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium, boron and many other trace minerals that strengthen the immune system.  They are also anti-inflammatory.

The second step, is using herbs

When using herbs, it is most effective if you take ½ tsp of a tincture in water or juice every 2 hrs or 3 tsp total in your drinking water or herbal tea for the first and/or second day and that usually takes care of the cough or cold.  The herbs that are useful are nettles, calendula, echinacea, ginger, garlic, reishi mushroom, milk vetch, oregon grape, myrrh, coltsfoot, gum weed, mullein, slippery elm, Old Man’s beard, licorice and marshmallow root.  You can buy different combinations of these herbs pre-mixed here at the office.  

The third step is using supplements

I always recommend folks be at maximum Vitamin C (from a non-citrus source) to make sure the immune system has all the raw materials it needs to function superbly.  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.

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 for breakfast.  Lunch could be left-over stir-fried veggies with a can of wild salmon or chicken breast.  Dinner should be steamed veggies with a protein that is easily broken down, such as fish, chicken or eggs with a whole grain such as brown rice or quinoa.  

The fifth step is to drink enough soothing fluids.

Drink at least ½ your weight in ounces, so, if you are 150 pds, you should be drinking 7-8 glasses of water or herbal tea per day.  Try ginger (Take 1 oz. grated or ½ oz dried, pour boiled water over and let steep) and sip throughout the day.  Another favourite that helps to coat the throat to stop the irritation is Traditionals Throat Remedy and Cold Remedy teas.  These can be mixed together or on their own.  Drink these all day long to de-sensitize the bronchi and alleviate that dry cough.

The sixth step is physical treatments. 

I use a variety of simple treatments.  These include steam inhalation with eucalyptus, tea tree, oregano or thyme oils for 5 minutes 3/d, hot baths to mount a temperature to kill off the virus or bacteria or mustard/onion plasters to break up the phlegm.  They are a great way to relieve those annoying coughs, especially before bed to prevent waking at night. 

The seventh step is constantly bathing and soothing the throat

This prevents the reflex from taking hold that 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 give you control of those annoying persistent dry coughs.

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

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