With the return of cold and flu season, I wanted to share with you one remedy that's most often indicated for flu symptoms: Gelsemium sempervirens. While it certainly isn't the only homeopathic flu remedy, I find that Gelsemium is a good match for many cases of flu. It is my go-to remedy whenever my kids get the flu, and has worked well for many of my homeopathic clients, too.
When used properly, homeopathic treatment of flu will result in much milder symptoms and a more rapid healing process. It's always amazing to see how quickly Gelsemium will get my kids out of their lethargic, dull state and instead ready to eat and interact more. Homeopathic remedies are natural, safe for children and adults (including pregnant and breastfeeding mothers), and have no side effects. Win-Win!!
How to Know When to Try Gelsemium
Just as with other ailments, selection of the appropriate homeopathic remedy for flu requires observation to see what signs and symptoms the person is experiencing. So, what are the specific flu signs and symptoms that point to Gelsemium? As in most cases of flu, there can be headache, fever, sore throat, cough, etc. Those general, non-specific symptoms aren't particularly helpful in selecting the right homeopathic remedy.
So how do you know when it is a Gelsemium flu specifically? One easy way to remember when to use Gelsemium is to look for the 4 D's: Dull, Drowsy, Dizzy, Droopy. When 3 or more of these symptoms are present, there's a good likelihood that Gelsemium will help. Let's dig further into what this looks like:
Dull - This refers to the overall mental state. The person feels mentally dull and weary. Thinking is difficult.
Drowsy - The person is quite sleepy, and may take multiple naps throughout the day.
Dizzy - The person feels dizziness specifically when sitting up from lying down, or when trying to get up and walk. The person may feel as if he/she is going to fall over when trying to walk.
Droopy - The person may have a sensation of heaviness in the head or eyes. Their eyelids may look droopy.
How Gelsemium Usually Presents in a Child
Here is a summary of how I typically see Gelsemium presenting in a child: the flu often starts with a sore throat. Once the symptoms settle in, the child lays quietly, not talking or doing anything. They may generally want to be left alone, and may be averse to noise or light. These children are super lethargic, and they may sleep a lot. There is little or no appetite or thirst. Their eyelids look heavy/droopy. When they try to get up or walk, they feel dizzy or like they are going to fall down.
These children tend to feel best after sleeping, getting gradually worse in the afternoon and evening. They will often wake from a nap with a high fever. Sleep may bring on night terrors or nightmares while ill.
More Indications for Gelsemium
Some more indications for Gelsemium include the following. Remember that no one will exhibit every single symptom associated with a specific remedy, so don't rule out a remedy just because some of these symptoms aren't present. Rather, try to see if the symptoms that are present are represented here.
Dull, drowsy, dizzy, droopy
Anxious, especially in dark
Quiet and may want to be left alone
May be averse to noise or bright light
Illness comes on slowly, not suddenly
Trembling, in single parts or overall
Sore throat, with pain on swallowing, which may include sensation of lump in throat and/or difficulty swallowing
Headache, which may be spread into neck and/or may be throbbing
Fever, which may include hot, flushed face
Hot and/or cold chills
Dry cough or spasmodic cough, which may be croupy
Sensation of paralysis, in single parts or overall
Aching soreness in muscles
Poor appetite and/or thirst
Movement feels difficult and fatiguing
Sleep may lead to night terrors, delirium, or nightmares
Worse from being in a hot room or direct sunlight
Better from lying quietly
Potency and Dosing Guidelines
30c potency is a good general-purpose potency for most people. If there is no obvious improvement within 2-3 doses, stop using the remedy as it is probably not the right one. Correct dosing is just as important as remedy selection, and can make a huge difference in the results. Please read my article about homeopathic dosing to better understand how often to give doses to increase the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies.
Although Gelsemium often works well for the early days of flu when the prominent symptoms are fever, sore throat, lethargy, and/or aches, it is common that a different remedy will be of benefit if the symptoms later shift into a prominent cough.
Sometimes Gelsemium works to complete the healing of the cough, but more often another remedy is needed, such as Phosphorus for a painful chest cough, Spongia tosta or Rumex crispus for a barking cough, Arsenicum album for a wheezing dry cough, or Sulphur for a wet cough with breathing troubles and/or a cough that lingers long after all other symptoms have dissipated. If you use Gelsemium, make sure to watch to see if it continues to work well, and discontinue it when you no longer see improvement from its use.
Other Options When Gelsemium Isn't Indicated
When the flu symptoms don't point to Gelsemium, there are other remedies that will work better. For instance, flus with deep bone pains often respond well to Eupatorium perfoliatum, and flus with intense achiness and restlessness tend to respond well to Rhus toxicodendron or Pyrogenium. There is more info about various flu remedies here, here, and here.
I am not a doctor or licensed healthcare professional. I am a homeopathic practitioner whose services are considered complementary and alternative by the state of New Mexico. The uses of homeopathic remedies described herein are provided for educational use only.
Boericke, W. (2004) Pocket Manual of Homoeopathic Materia and Repertory. Paharganj, New Delhi, India: B. Jain Publishers (P) LTD.
Gibson, D. G. (1987) Studies of Homoeopathic Remedies. Beaconsfield, Bucks, England: Beaconsfield Publishers LTD.
Borland, D. M. (1950) Influenzas. Paharganj, New Delhi, India: B. Jain Publishers (P) LTD.
Santwani, M. T. (1990) Common Ailments of Children and Their Homoeopathic Management. Paharganj, New Delhi, India: B. Jain Publishers PVT LTD.
Ullman, D. (1992) Homeopathic Medicine for Children and Infants. New York, New York: Penguin Putnam Inc.
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