Naturopathic treatment of respiratory infections
Infections involving the lung (or any other tissue, for that matter) are well treated by naturopathic principles and therapies. Numerous factors play into the individual infectious process that each person experiences; the attributes of the illness, when properly addressed, are often the most important targets of treatment. In fact, naturopathic treatment of lung conditions is highly successful at preventing an illness from progressing deeper and at halting the chronic nature that so many respiratory infections often have. Despite this, treatment of lung infections (bronchitis or pneumonia) directly with antimicrobial and/or lung-specific herbs can be quite beneficial alone even when applied in lieu of true naturopathic approach. Commonly referred to as "green allopathy," this involves treating an illness solely with antimicrobial herbs or other nutrients in lieu of antibiotics while disregarding the individual aspects of illness. When not properly addressed, illnesses have the tendency to reemerge when not completely and correctly treated. As an example, many people experience an evolution of one illness over several months' time, typically in winter. It usually starts with a sore throat, travels up to the nose, then down into the lungs, where it masquerades as different illnesses with varying symptomology. Any practitioner in general practice reading this will be quite familiar with this scenario. As for the unlucky patient, they may be treated in varying ways that miss the complete illness picture, leaving them susceptible to various incarnations of the same illness and thus more inefficient treatment.
The situation leading to a chronic respiratory illness often begins the same for the majority of people: the cool season has begun, days are shorter, darker, and time seems even more compressed leading to increased stress. People are indoor much more, and even diets may change, with decreased amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables of summer. Add the hurry and stress of the holidays (combined with the great desserts!) and the situation for illness is perfect. The first wave starts in the early months of winter and then becomes firmly established after improper treatment. As a practitioner, observing this pattern is interesting when listening to patients who relay stories of their treatment, especially those who have received several courses of antibiotics for their respiratory infections, even though most antibiotic prescriptions for respiratory infections are inappropriate. (1)
Treatment of respiratory infections begins with assessing the patient's susceptibility to such illnesses; predisposing factors such as smoking or chronic lung disease (asthma, emphysema, etc.) are of course, main contributors to lung illness. A complete illness history and a health history are important parts of the puzzle as well; a person's general tendency toward lung infections weighs heavily in the symptom picture. The person's dietary, sleep, work, exercise and life stress patterns all play a role in susceptibility. Discerning the quality of each aspect assists the practitioner in developing the treatment plan. Regardless, when ill, a person must obtain more sleep, work less, reduce stress and bolster their diets.
In addition to these lifestyle adjustments, treatment with nutrients, botanicals and...