Question: It seems that near the end of summer I get a tickly cough with a bit of a wheeze. I don’t think I am sick and I don’t have asthma. Sometimes it fades a bit then it seems to flare up again. Any ideas what causes this and how I can get rid of it?
Answer: I would start to pinpoint what is common to that time of year in terms of your habits and the weather. Certain foods are more likely to trigger this such as wheat and dairy proteins. So reflect whether you are eating more of these foods.
Sulfites in beer, wine, and dried fruit can be very irritating and the sugar in them, and from other sources, can feed an underlying fungal infection, especially in a cumulative sense after a summer of indulging.
Sulfite sensitivity is sometimes an indication of B12 deficiency.
You said there are no other symptoms but I would prod and ask if your ears feel plugged. Is your scalp or skin itchy? Do you have a slight postnasal drip, which can cause a cough and be worse lying down? Heat and rain create ideal conditions for mold growth in the environment, so noticing if you are worse on damp or rainy days could reflect mold reactivity from your environment and/or fungal overgrowth in part of your respiratory tract.
As weather cools, your immune system will be challenged with new organisms. So it is good to tackle this now, so you don’t get a cold on top of what you have.
Vitamin D supplementation is recommended for most people. Vitamin A, B6, B12, C, iron, zinc, and EPA from Omega 3 intake can all affect immune function in terms of allergies and defending against pathogenic organisms like fungi (includes yeast and mold), viruses, and bacteria. Your thyroid gland needs to adjust its activity with a change of season working hard to regulate body temperature and maintain optimal immune function.
When thyroid function is underactive, which may be reflected by a low armpit temperature of 36.5C or less, you may experience weaker immunity and more allergies.
Iodine deficiency is very commonplace in my experience. Try painting a dime size patch of iodine on your abdomen and if it is still there in 24 hours you have enough iodine for thyroid function.
However, most will find it disappears well before 24 hours. The best food sources of iodine are dulse and shellfish. Kelp tablets and professional strength iodine supplements are often prescribed by NDs.
Question: I am one of those people who seem more bothered by shorter days and colder weather. Fall can be beautiful, just wondering if there is something that would help my energy and mood before they go downhill?
Answer: Fall is nice because it is associated with structure and routine. Try avoiding any refined sugar, alcohol, flour and dairy for two weeks and see how you feel.
Start exercising today to get those natural endorphins flowing. Supplement with vitamin D 2000iu in an oil form with a meal, as vitamin D deficiency is correlated with SAD or seasonal affective disorder. B compound vitamin and magnesium are key energy and brain nutrients. Cooler weather can tax an already sluggish thyroid gland, as well.
Kali Simmonds, ND is a doctor of naturopathic medicine who practises in Charlottetown. The information provided is not intended to diagnose or substitute the advice of your healthcare professional. Please consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes. She welcomes questions for this column, which is published every second Tuesday in The Guardian. She can be reached by mail at 34 Queen St., Charlottetown, C1A 4A3 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org