An acute, highly communicable bacterial disease, characterizedby a paroxysmal or spasmodic cough that usually ends in a prolonged, high-pitched, crowing inspiration (the whoop).
Bordetella pertussis, the bacteria that causes pertussis, is contacted by it breathing in after it has been coughed or sneezed out by an infected person, especially during the catarrhal and early paroxysmal stages. Individuals are not infectious after the third week of the paroxysmal coughing. The incubation period averages 7 to 14 days. B. pertussis invades the respiratory mucosa causing increased secretion of mucus, initially thin and later viscid and not easily moved. The disease lasts about 6 weeks and has 3 clear stages:
- Catarrhal stage. Starts slowly with sneezing, free flowing tears and other signs of the common cold. Anorexia, listlessness and a troublesome, hacking nocturnal cough that gradually becomes diurnal. There is rarely a fever in this stage.
- Paroxysmal stage. Develops after 10-14 days. There are 5 to 15 rapidly consecutive coughs followed by the characteristic whoop, a hurried, deep inspiration. After a few normal breaths another paroxysm may begin. Large quantities of thick viscid mucus may be expelled during the paroxysms. Vomiting following the paroxysms is characteristic.
- Convalescent stage. Usually begins within 4 weeks with the paroxysms becoming less frequent, and the patient looking and feeling better.
Long term immune support is essential following such an infection. In addition will be support of the respiratory system and even the cardio-vascular system.
The European herbal tradition proposes a number of herbs as possible specific remedies. However, they are not dramatically effective and do not replace the need for appropriate anti-biotic treatment, rather they support it. These herbs include both anti-microbial and anti-spasmodic remedies:
Drosera rotundifolia (Sundew)
Thymus vulgaris (Thyme)
Pinguicula vulgaris (Butterbur)
Prunus serotina (Wild Cherry Bark)
Eryngium planum (Sea Holly)
One possible prescription: For Pertussis or other paroxysmal coughs:
Thymus vulgaris1 teaspoonful to a cup of boiling water. Infuse for 20 minutes. 1 cup several times daily. Hot infusions are valuable in that they replace lost fluids and promote diaphoresis.
Pimpinella anisum — — — equal parts to 100.0g