Emergencies and Homeopathy
Many people first get introduced to homeopathy during an injury or in an emergency. They are amazed to see how quickly a doze of Arnica (Mountain Daisy) can relieve the pain from a bruise or the complications of a concussion. The near instant relief from pain when, after striking your thumb with a hammer you take some Hypericum (St. John’s Wart, often indicated for injuries to highly innervated areas such as eyes and fingertips) becomes an experience not soon forgotten. In some cases of teething, a parent can experience near-instant blissful relief and a good night’s sleep when a potentized (homeopathically prepared) dose of Chamomile is given to their shrieking baby.
I remember how my now adult son responded as a baby when his normally placid gentle mood turned into shrieking rage during a painful teething episode. He fell asleep within 30 seconds of the parents’ best friend, Chamomile! Or the time when a high, raging fever, where the face was flushed red and hot to touch, was quickly relieved by a homeopathic preparation of Belladonna (Deadly nightshade).
The flip side to the story is how safe homeopathic medicines can be. I remember the time when my children got into the medicine cabinet and devoured the sugar pellet contents of several bottles of homeopathic medicine. The result was harmless, other than the hyper-ness commonly experienced after a high doze of sugar (homeopathic medicines come in either liquid or sugar pellet format). Though harmless is hard to believe, given that homeopathic medicines can have such dramatic results!
Homeopathy is based on what is called the Law of Similars, according to which a substance known to produce side effects in healthy volunteers will cure symptoms similar to those side effects in the sick. One of the side effects of Arnica is bruising; of Hypericum is pain in nerves; of Chamomile is rage from pain; and of Belladonna is a high burning fever, with redness and dry heat.
Not every child who is teething will respond to Chamomile. Some ‘teethers’ are more clingy, or weepy, or anxious in nature than the typically enraged-from-pain chamomile type! Likewise, not everyone who suffers from a fever will respond to Belladonna, since there are those who look pale and feel chilly, or restless, or grumpy, or lethargic during a fever, none of which are necessarily characteristic symptoms of Belladonna. It’s how a person experiences, exhibits, and behaves during a condition that will determine what may be homeopathically medicinal to them.
One of the hallmarks of homeopathy is individualization, tailoring a treatment to the individual at hand. Before we can prescribe a substance which is homeopathic to a sick person, we need to understand how they differ from other people who might have the “same” condition.
The following cases from my practice illustrate the powers of healing that the homeopathic approach can unleash.
A case of hives:
A three year old girl was brought by her parents. She had had antibiotics given to her 24 hours earlier, after a week-long cough. That evening, she had some slightly red discoloration all over her skin, but went to bed without much problem. By the following morning however, she woke up in distress. Her skin had turned bright red, was hot to touch, and she was scratching herself savagely. By the time she was brought to me, her face was not only bright red, but swollen beyond recognition. She was screaming, and could not be comforted no matter what the parents did for her.
It took me an instant to realize what I needed to give her. According to the Law of Similars, she needed something that could produce the following in healthy volunteers:
Skin redness and swelling.
What do you think she needed? According to the principle of Similars, she needed Apis, a homeopathic preparation of the honey bee! Makes sense, since a bee sting can produce bright red swelling, heat, itching and burning.
Within 30 seconds of taking the medicine, she had stopped crying. By 2 minutes, she was playing on the floor, unconcerned about the tears that still soaked her face. By 5 minutes, not a trace remained of her swelling or redness. Best of all, the cough she had had for the past week never came back.
A Case of Sudden Absence of Breathing:
Several years ago, on the evening of Halloween, I received an emergency phone call from a colleague of mine. He had taken his 9 and 6 year old daughters out Trick or Treating. They had collected quite the stash, and the older one had then overindulged her sweet tooth. A half hour before the phone call, she had complained of feeling very nauseous. Just before my colleague called, his younger daughter had come running, to tell her daddy that her sister wasn’t breathing. My colleague found her lying on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. She was pale, and though there was a pulse, there was no sign of breathing.
My colleague dialed 911. While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, he had performed CPR. While on the way to the hospital, he called me on his cell phone. He had his emergency homeopathic kit on him, but didn’t have any of the books we homeopathic physicians normally use to arrive at a prescription.
What to do? I needed to figure out what might be indicated for the following:
Ailments from overeating
Nausea from overeating sweets.
The syrup of Ipecac is an extremely nausea-inducing substance which is sometimes given in hospitals as an emetic, an agent to induce vomiting in cases of food poisoning. People who need this substance homeopathically are often known as ‘gourmands’, ones who are excessively fond of eating and drinking. Nausea from overindulging is not uncommon. Breathing problems are, though not unheard of, the Vegus nerve being shared in common by the stomach and the diaphragm.
One doze of a homeopathic preparation of Ipecac snapped her right out of her crisis. My colleague administered it while the nurses weren’t looking. When the doctor entered the ER room, he found a young girl still pale, but sitting up, looking surprised by all the fuss around her. The doctor got upset, lamenting there were many serious cases waiting, and that he was not impressed by what seemed to him a prank. My colleague was hard-pressed to explain that he was a homeopathic physician (A what? Homeopathy is not well known in North America, though it is quite common and well respected in Europe. Over 12,000 MD’s specialize in homeopathic medicine in France alone, and the personal physicians to the last 5 generations of British Royalty have been homeopathic physicians.), and that this had indeed been an emergency until the right medicine had been administered just moments earlier.
A Case of Crushed Toes:
While on my way out the door for an appointment, my neighbor called out to me from his porch, “Hey Doc, have you got anything for a toe wound?” I looked at his bare foot. His toe was crushed and bleeding, his 2 year old son having dropped a 2 liter can of tomatoes on it. His face was pale from the pain, and he was frantically sucking on his cigarette, preferring it to pain killers.
I ran back up to my apartment, took out a small bottle of Hypericum, brought it back with instructions, and asked him to report to me in a few hours, on my return. When I got back, he was all smiles. I took a look. The toe looked ugly and swollen, as to be expected. The bleeding had all dried up by now. What was less expected by my neighbor, though no surprise to me, was that the toe felt only mildly painful. “At this rate of healing, I should be able to play baseball in two days.” He was joking, yet two days later, he did play baseball, with not a trace of limping!
Case of the Wounded Kidney:
I belong to a musical band, Samba Ottawa. During practice, I notice that one of my more enthusiastic musical partners was sitting and not participating. On approaching her, I found out she had had a bike accident, where she took a severe fall. One of her kidneys had been badly bruised, and though she no longer had blood in the urine, she was still in considerable pain, despite heavy doses of pain-killer medication. I happen to carry Arnica (Mountain Daisy) wherever I go. She accepted to take my little bottle home and take some that night. I got a call from her a day later, asking if my medicine could have worked so quickly. The pain, which had been there the whole week, had disappeared overnight, and has not returned since.
They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure. Our country is facing a health care crisis, both in health care costs, long waiting lists, and a shortage of doctors. What we really need is to reclaim homeopathic medicine into our culture, recognizing the potential contribution it offers our health care system. Every school, ER, and ambulance could incorporate a few key homeopathic medicines in their first aid kits. Attendants could be trained in at least a rudimentary understanding of how to use the homeopathic medicines at hand. We also need to integrate homeopathic, naturopathic and chiropractic doctors into our front lines of medicine, recognizing their role as primary care providers, and helping the public access their expertise both in emergencies and in long-term care. It would save us a fortune in $, pain, and long-term complications.
I think that's it for now. Lots, he, but good!