Disclaimer: It is important to note that our daughter has not been tested for H1N1. Our M.D., based on our verbal account of her symptoms and an H1N1 case he experienced, believes that she had H1N1. We plan to test her to verify this.
I share her emotional history because I believe it is applicable. Perhaps I need to tell the story. She is my daughter, not my client. And to write a case report seems insensitive. I also feel that, if she had not been my daughter, perhaps there are things I would have done differently. But what we did was in good faith. And no one else in our family, including our 4 year old, contracted the illness.
As an herbalist and aromatherapist, I was not about to be scared by a flu. And when our daughter began having symptoms of flu, I didn’t panic. Neither did my husband. We weren’t worried. We had skills and tools. And besides, our children had already taught us a lot about resilience.
But as we all know, you can practice for the earthquake, but you never know where the earth will crack, or which way the buildings will fall. And until you are dealing with someone who is very ill, all the skills, plans and studies in the world are mere tools for support, not end all be all answers.
Our daughter, Chaya, age 6, had had a tough year. A dear little friend of hers from our former hometown of Silver City, NM had died of cancer. And our family was a big part of his process, as he and his mother had lived with us through his bone marrow transplant. Grieving from the loss, she contracted a severe upper respiratory infection, which moved to be a lower respiratory infection. I treated her with Sambucol because she liked it, and it worked well. I also used yarrow, ginger and Echinacea root, and essential oil formulas, which will soon follow.
A month later, she came home from school a bit out of sorts, and by bedtime had a fever. Within 24 hours, her cough was horrible, she was vomiting, had diarrhea, and a fever of 104.8. The body aches, head aches, chills and lack of ability to stand soon followed.
Without judgment of what it was, we proceeded to do what we could to ease symptoms and get her through, with the thought that it could be H1N1. We do live in Wisconsin, after all, a place that has the second highest rate of flu contraction. Here is a list of how we dealt with the illness with herbs, homeopathics, and aromatherapy. None of it is truly proven effective against the virus.
1. Vomiting and upset stomach were severe in the beginning. Little was tolerated, so I did little. To prevent dehydration, and work with the fever, boneset, yarrow tea with raw honey by the tablespoon full every 20 min., as tolerated. Also used tablespoons full of Emergen-C as often as possible as tolerated. There are many things one could reach for here. But I chose what worked with her system. Elderberry and other herbs were not tolerated at this point. She would throw them up. All children and adults are different. Use what works, and is applicable.
2. Intestinal cramps were tricky: magnesium homeopathics helped, and were tolerated. By day 2 added weak dilution of Motherwort tincture; was excellent for the cramping in small doses, and helped with the cough.
3. No vomiting by day 3. Was able to take strong water decoction of elderberry, and licorice root with a bit on honey.
4. Day 4 added weak water decoction of ginger.
5. She was able to take the Sambucal in small doses at this point, but not consistently. Peppermint tea well tolerated.
Aromatherapy and Her Cough
The cough was a difficult issue, for I could use few internal herbs in the beginning. But this is where aromatherapy comes in. I rubbed on her feet (a key component) and chest an essential oil salve of rosemary, ginger, eucalyptus citridora, eucalyptus globulus, lavender, clove and thyme. The base was arnica and jojoba oil. The essential oils were specific, but the base was not. It was just what I had.
Treat through the feet: The veins in the feet run directly to the heart and respiratory tract, and without foot rubs her cough was unmanageable.
In a cold water humidifier at night, I added cinnamon, eucalyptus globulus, lavender, spikenard, and thyme. My goal was to get her to sleep, but also use oils that inhibit lower respiratory bacterial and viral infections. Thyme and cinnamon are specific antagonists to pneumonia and bronchitis. Lavender and spikenard are anti-spasmodics. Another great anti-spasmodic is sweet marjoram, but I was out of that.
By day 6 our daughter was able to ride in the car. We went out to improve mood, and spent a lot of time telling stories hanging out in the back of the Subaru at the prairie preserves. She was still quite ill, but was able to nibble avocado sushi.
The high fever, reaching 105 at times, lasted for 3 days. We were able to manage it to 101-102, but it didn’t get much lower then that until day 4. Along with the herbs yarrow and boneset. On night 2 I gave her a 1/4 dose of childeren’s Advil to give us a little break from the fever. It still only managed it to 101.
Day 3 we did lemon socks, which helped sweat the fever down. Take 1 lemon, juice it, add to lukewarm water. Soak cotton socks in the water, and put them on the feet. Cover the feet with wool socks, covering the body to keep warm, allow the socks to remain on for 20 min.
To prevent the rest of us from getting the flu, I made pots of ginger tea with honey, and our 4 year old took elderberry tincture. We washed our hands religiously; blankets, toys, and books were sprayed with a ½ vinegar ½ water solution as well as an aromatherapy spray made with the same oils used in the humidifier, with the addition of , vetiver and frankincense, in a base of distilled water and witch hazel. The dilution of this hand and air spray was 10% essential oil to 1/2 distilled water 1/2 witch hazel base.
To assist her body in recovering, we have used burdock root as a food, dandelion root and ginger root tea with a bit of honey, St. Johns Wort tincture, and a drop of schisandra tincture here or there. It has been about 4 weeks now, and she is doing well.