The 3 downsides to using cough and cold medicines and what to do instead

Happy New Year my dear readers!

To kick off the year holistically, I'd like to begin challenging the hard stuff. 

Using easily available medications might seem innocuous and harmless once in a while, but think again.  What are we really doing here?  Are we working with or against your body?

As a holistically minded physician, I'm a believer in working with, not against the body.

Here's my take on such drugs whose main purpose is merely to suppress symptoms that are too troublesome for us to accept.

Photo by FotografiaBasica/iStock / Getty Images

The problem lies with our lifestyle expectations, and life on the fast pace.  We no longer have the community's patience towards our own needs.  We also treat ourselves harshly, as a result of others' (and our own) expectations of our bodies and minds.  

Lets get down to the three downsides.

Suppressing symptoms jeopardises recovery

Stopping mucus, and sneezing with antihistamines and decongestants, we impede the body’s natural mechanism to physically wash out germs.  While this is convenient and we can get through the day not even realising we have a cold when we actually have one, this brings in the risk of chronic infection.

Drugs that stop us from washing germs out with mucus fights against the body’s own mechanisms for self cleaning.  The body has to work harder and in more imaginative ways to clear infections.  

In the case of infants and young children, cough medicines can impair their ability to clear phlegm and lead to a worse congestion

The body requires a fever to fight infection

Yes, a certain level of fever is actually good for you.  It has been shown that an important type of immune calls, the T-cells that fight viruses and cancer, require a higher temperature to be effective.  

It is only dangerously high temperatures that need controlling, with a health professional.  

Drugs are foreign substances that may not be removed efficiently from the body.

Yes, this is a reminder that nothing about drugs are natural, and while there is a role for them in a spectrum of care that is offered to the patient, we must know its limitations.  

Drugs invariable tax the liver to metabolise and clear them out of the body.  Many a time, metabolites do not clear out completely.  This is in the case of synthetic hormones, and certainly for paracetamol (acetaminophen).

There have been cases of fatal liver failure associated with ingesting as little as 10 paracetamol pills.

There you have it!

The three reasons why we should think twice before reaching to drugs in order not to face the consequences of being ill.

Being ill is a part of life, especially for children, where it is normal to catch a virus or cold once a month, in order to build up their immune system towards better resistance.  Lack of this natural immune stimulation leads to a skew of the immune cells towards autoimmunity, which is another topic altogether.

The holistic approach to illnesses

While a balanced viewpoint must be kept, and drugs may need to be used in certain situations, having a holistic approach has the long term effect of working with your body not against it, in the long run. 

Herbs or nutrients may be used, complimentary therapies that address the Qi and energy systems, and healing touch, sound, art, and access to the spirit and soul.

What is the meaning of this illness for you? 

Simply waving it off with over the counter medications and "Keeping calm and carrying on" may miss an opportunity to investigate a nutrient deficiency, or even a lifestyle habit which may be causing the low immunity. 

If there is an immunity issue, we must address the reasons underlying that.  

This generation is so used to numbing and carrying on, and it is to the detriment of our spirits that we approach life this way.

To discuss your needs in greater depth do book a consult today!

How BRAND’S® Essence of Chicken boosts lactation.

Don’t you wish we knew more about the ever famous BRAND’S® Essence of Chicken?  

It’s marketed as a health product, yet is a food substance, comes in a tiny bottle, and seems to be something that only our grandmothers and mothers have been pushing during exam time, pregnancy and lactation, when cartons of it magically appear in my pantry.  

Did it really push my exam grades up?  Did it help me break that track and field national record?  

More importantly, did it contribute to my unstoppable milk supply during breastfeeding and to my quick recovery of strength after delivery?

Well, I’m a fan.  

As an integrative medicine doctor I have a clinical and academic interest in micronutrients, macronutrients as well as the energetic effects of food on the body.  

And as a mummy, as many of you are, I have a natural interest in nourishing my kids and myself to be able to be my best for them.  

These two reasons push me to dig deep into the science and history behind traditional nourishing foods, and it is my pleasure to share this information with all of you who have your own families to care for.

I have found BRAND’S® Essence of Chicken to be useful in my healing plans, and even more so in my specialty areas of keeping mummies well and thriving during the perinatal period (trying to conceive, pregnancy, delivery and lactation).   

Thanks to a growing library of scientific research, we certainly know a few more facts about it now.  

Let’s dive in!

The origins of Brand’s Essence of Chicken

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Many think it has origins in Asia as this is where it really thrived as a health product but really it originated in the United Kingdom.  

This concoction was created by Royal Chef, Mr Henderson William Brand to restore the health of King George IV who ruled in the early 19th century.  

It was made to be a broth that was easily digested that would nourish the body.  This is effective when illness has set in and appetite is not great. 

We could cook this ourselves and there are recipes available online, but truth be told, the convenience really helps, as not many of us employ royal chefs in our household.  

How is BRAND’S® Essence of Chicken made?

The chickens are kept in a hygienic enclosed area, given the basic space to roam and stretch its wings.  The essence is stated free of antibiotic residue and added hormones, and is certified halal.

The chickens are kept in a hygienic enclosed area, given the basic space to roam and stretch its wings.

The essence is stated free of antibiotic residue and the added hormones is certified halal.

BRAND’S® Essence of Chicken is produced via a water extraction process from chicken meat for several hours under high-temperature, followed by centrifugation to remove fat and cholesterol, vacuum concentration, and sterilization by high temperature and pressure before bottling.

A little caramel is added for colour and no preservatives are used.

Image by  Sassy Mama

Image by Sassy Mama

Because of this extraction process, the amino and proteins extracted from the chicken have been shown to be up to four times as concentrated when compared to a homemade chicken soup.

I personally enjoy making a homemade chicken soup and then pouring a bottle of chicken essence into it to boost its nutritional value for my family.  

Other more convenient ways are to simply drink it as a warm or cool shot of aminos.

What are the nutritional ingredients in BRAND’S® Essence of Chicken?

The key ingredients in a 68ml bottle of BRAND’S® Essence of Chicken is a unique composition of a total of 6 grams of protein in the form of free form, easily digestible peptides and essential amino acids.

In terms of total amino acid content, the three most abundant amino acids in BRAND’S® Essence of Chicken are glutamic acid (917mg/100g), glycine (773mg/100g) and arginine (581mg/100g).

It also contains di-peptides β-alanyl-L-histidine (carnosine) and β-alanyl-3-methyl-L-histidine(anserine).

There is no fat, cholesterol, and is low in sodium.

Peptides like carnosine and anserine have anti-oxidant and brain-protective effects while amino acids like glutamine, arginine, histidine, tyrosine and branched chain amino acids are building blocks of proteins and play a crucial role in regulating key metabolic pathways.

Not many people know about the uses of amino acids, apart from it’s use as a protein in body building, but used in a holistic regime aminos can therapeutically boost key neurotransmitter production, and aid in gut healing.  

Specific to lactation it provides the key raw materials in the manufacture of what makes a good quality colostrum, full of immune factors.

TCM perspective

According to the four natures and five flavours, chicken is warming and sweet (tonifying).  It warms the speed and stomach systems, and tonifies Qi. This makes it a good nourishing essence, perfect for new mums who have given their all to their babies during pregnancy, and through breastfeeding.

Two key breastfeeding studies

Milk content:


Consuming BRAND’® Essence of Chicken regularly resulted in having higher concentration levels of Lactoferrin, Epidermal Growth Factor and Transforming Growth Factor which enhances the quality of breast milk.

Lactoferrin, Epidermal Growth Factor and Transforming Growth Factor are essential for the development and immunity for babies

Milk volume:

BRAND’S® Essence of Chicken has also been found to be superior to the prevailing lactation soup recipe, in increasing volume of breastmilk.  

Therefore to target lactation, I would start drinking BRAND’S® Essence of Chicken three times daily from week 37, where milk is already beginning to form in the body, and continue its use post delivery, in combination with nourishing confinement food.

This will result in large volumes of highly nutritious milk.  


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