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I might start sounding like a broken record about how much I love the three remedies I am going to share. Probably because when I found these three remedies to ease my son’s croupy cough, they were the stones that paved the road of homeopathy love ūüôā ¬†Seriously, I had dithered around in some homeopathic remedies, and we saw a homeopath, but when I figured out this little trio for LC’s bouts of barking coughs it was like striking gold.

I didn’t even know what croup was before I had children, and not all children are susceptible to it. But those that are, tend to get it more than once. It is easy to recognize- a harsh, barking cough that sounds like a seal barking. It’s a viral infection, and the inflammation causes a swelling of the throat which narrows the air passage. Croup can impede breathing, but except in severe cases it isn’t an emergency.

(It is important to be aware of epiglottitis, a life threatening bacterial infection that causes the epiglottis to swell. If the child is having difficulty breathing with shallow, rapid breath with stridor (wheezing), and drooling, it may be an emergency situation. It’s rare, but it’s good to know the signs.)

Croup tends to attack at night, and that will be your first sign for this initial remedy.

Aconitum napellus 

I write about aconite a lot, because it is so essential especially for young children. ¬†The mental/emotional indications for aconite are fright and shock. But physically, when you hear that dry, barking seal cough out of nowhere in the middle of the night, after midnight, aconite should be the first remedy you think of. There may be a high, dry fever, but fevers aren’t common with croup. Just the presence of the cough is enough to indicate giving the remedy.

Aconite is pre-gunk and post- wind.


Pre-gunk is no goopy yellow snot, or congestion in the chest. There may be a clear, thin runny nose, but anything beyond that likely indicates a different remedy.  Remember that this remedy is for quick, acute conditions that come on fast. Conditions that have a chance to settle in pass out of that category pretty quick.

Post-wind means that you will often hear this cough come on after being outside, in a cold, dry wind. Out hiking, playing in the yard into dusk, sledding on breezy winter days. When you hear the cough later that night, it’s probably not viral croup you’re dealing with, but the result of that wind drying out air passages. Aconite often makes quick work of those situations.

Other indications for aconite include that first, tightening of the throat that indicates you might be coming down with something. Again, no swollen glands, no gunk- just that hint of pain and difficulty swallowing. Children will often present with one bright red cheek, while the other remains pale.

Spongia tosta

As its name indicates, spongia tosta is made from dry, toasted sea sponge. From an iodine-rich environment, spongia is indicated for conditions of the thyroid, glands, and respiratory system. As its name implies (‘tosta’) you think of spongia when the cough is dry- both for croup but also allergies, asthma, and other respiratory conditions.

Homeopathic remedies are often time-sensitive. ¬†The time stamps come from provings (the process of discovering a new remedy) and cured cases. The way I use time-windows is that when that particular condition and time are marked in a case, I use them in guiding my choice. But if not, I don’t throw out the remedy if the other symptoms agree. In this case,¬†spongia is indicated for a dry, barking, croupy cough before midnight. If you can remember in the middle of the night, that spongia is before midnight and aconite is after, then use them accordingly. But you won’t mess anything up by using the the other way around, you just might not see the kind of drastic improvement I would expect when the remedy is spot-on.

Other symptoms indicating spongia: 

nose may either run freely, or alternate stuffed up/running

– a sense of fear and anxiety with the cough and breathing

– the cough is better lying flat, and after a warm drinks, or eating, which palliate the dry throat

– glands may be swollen. Patient may be quite thirsty and hungry.

– sore, painful chest

– worse sleeping/waking from sleep.

In general, spongia follows aconite as it is a more advanced condition. If you miss the aconite window, go straight to spongia if the conditions agree.

Homeopathy speeds up time. It’s true. Most of us want our lives to slow down, but not when it comes to being sick. The sooner it’s over, the better. So let’s say you have a child that gets croup. Without appropriate remedies, he/she may be a week to two weeks dealing with the acute and secondary phases. With remedies? I’ve had cases resolve from overnight (getting that aconite in) to three or four days. Depending on the strength of the vital force, the depth of the illness, and the accuracy of the remedy, there’s a continuum of having the symptoms knocked right out, to still running the course of the illness but in less time.

This brings us to our last remedy.

Antimonium tartaricum

This remedy is not for dry coughs, but the total opposite- wet, wet, goopy ones.

One of the jobs of the immune system is to isolate and dispose of pathogens. It happens in stool, sweat, urine, mucous, and pus. Mucous helps to trap pathogens and foreign substances from entering the body, and when there’s an immune response, the production increases.

I observed my son shift from that dry, barking cough to a wet, wet cough after using spongia. Why? The remedy helped to move the cough from a dry, inflammatory cough to a productive one, enabling resolution. I still give a remedy, because although it’s wet and productive, I want to assist the body in resolving the illness and there is still an infection present. Most parents feel better when they hear that productive cough, and the child has turned the corner at that point- the energy and appetite are back, etc… it’s just that darned cough!

There are lots of remedies for loose, productive coughs. But I have found that antimonium tart really follows these croup remedies well.

Antimonium tart is often indicated for advanced respiratory conditions, and a weakened state. But with children, you may not find such weakness, especially if you have treated the dry cough homeopathically.  When the most characteristic symptom of the cough is very loose, rattling, and wet sounding then I move right in with the ant. tart.  The child might have to swallow the mucous and end up complaining of an upset tummy. The cough is ameliorated by sitting upright, rather than lying and the mucous tends to be thick yellow, or white. They may be irritable and grumpy.

Certainly, you can use antimonium tart anytime you encounter a cough that meets this description.

By presenting these three remedies, I hope to impart the concept of a progression of illness. Parents often have questions about why the sore throat was relieved, but now there’s a cough. Or, the cough at night is better, but there is still coughing during the day, etc… It is very common to use 2-3 remedies to support the body in moving through whatever is ailing it- again, homeopathy speeds up time. A two-week illness turns into one week. One week shortens to a couple of days. There is always variation depending on the strength of the person/illness and accuracy of prescribing. The important take-home is ¬†that just because you didn’t hit a home-run, doesn’t mean you don’t round the bases ūüôā