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!

What is Integrative and Functional Medicine?

What is Integrative Medicine?

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Integrative medicine is healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person (body, mind, and spirit), including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative

What is Functional Medicine?

Functional Medicine is a systems biology–based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. Each symptom or differential diagnosis may be one of many contributing to an individual’s illness.

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As the graphic illustrates, a diagnosis can be the result of more than one cause. For example, depression can be caused by many different factors, including inflammation. Likewise, a cause such as inflammation may lead to a number of different diagnoses, including depression. The precise manifestation of each cause depends on the individual’s genes, environment, and lifestyle, and only treatments that address the right cause will have lasting benefit beyond symptom suppression. [IFM]

The role of Functional Medicine

Integrative medicine is a comprehensive healing based framework that uses Functional Medicine where appropriate.  

This provides a very cost effective style of consult for the patient, offering the best outcomes for each healthcare buck spent.  

This is well suited for the person who is seeking a more permanent state of healing and mental wellness.  

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So, there are as many definitions of Integrative Medicine as there are practitioners, and the bottom line is as long as your practitioner integrates their skills and expertise in a way that is suitable for you, you got the right fit!

While as a fully qualified Family Medicine Doctor I am able to prescribe pharmaceuticals and write specialist referrals as necessary, the aim is to be as holistic and as natural as possible in the approach.  

This is the ultimate bespoke and personalised style of medicine and no two people get the same treatment regime, even though their diagnoses might be the same.

Book a consult with Dr Kam now to start your healing journey.