Thursday, September 1, 2011

August/September 2011


 Last month's Home Remedy Kit included a tip for using Ledum for bites and stings. I received the following email from my friend T.W:

[My son] was stung badly last night by several hornets.  In my panic (he was screaming bloody madness and [my husband] is allergic to bees....) I reached for the ledum.  He was fine in 20 minutes.  I did also slip him some arnica that ok to double dose?  No swelling or sting  marks.  Also, I *love* your newsletter.   I will print them and keep them in my remedy kit.   THANK YOU!!! Love T

To answer the question- is it OK to double dose arnica and ledum? In this case, I would say- not a problem. These remedies do not interfere with each other (some do), and there were indications for each.  
We give one remedy at a time so that we can assess the action: is it working? what's happening?  
Giving more than one makes a muddy picture. But in this case, it was a clear cause and again, there were indicative symptoms for both remedies.  Next time, try one remedy at a time. If you don't get the desired response, move on to the next. 

A Myth and Missed-connections
I end up talking about Homeopathy a lot. It comes up because people know I practice and want some advice on a remedy, or because I'm asked, "so, what do you do?" If they don't know what Homeopathy is, an interesting conversation ensues :)

I learn a lot about what people know, and don't know about this modality. This month's issue is focused on clearing up a dominant myth, and the subsequent missed-connections that can happen when taking a remedy.  

Even if you have a good grasp of the basics of homeopathy, you might learn something new or how to better answer someone's question. Each one Teach one. 

 "Homeopathy doesn't work for me"

This I heard from someone at a party I recently attended. I think it's probably a common assumption when someone has tried remedies, but hasn't experienced the results they wanted.

First, I want to clean up this statement to one that is more true:
I tried a remedy that didn't work.  

Homeopathy is not subjective; it affects the vital force, and everyone has a vital force. If someone has tried a variety of remedies with no positive reaction, then it could be due to one of the following "missed-connections":  

1. It's the wrong remedy.  
Sorry to start with something obvious, but there are *thousands* of remedies. The 60 or so that you can get at the store are a mere fraction of the possibilities.  

2. Don't diagnose from the remedy label.  
It's wonderful that we can get dozens of remedies in the store, but I fear that the 2-3 symptoms listed on the side of the vials are rarely helpful. The remedies that are offered over the counter are what we call "polycrests," that is, they have been proven to be effective for symptoms throughout several body systems (digestive, respiratory, mental/emotional, etc...). Additionally, they are some of the original remedies proven when homeopathy was first established. What that means is we have extensive knowledge of their healing capacity. It also means that the 3 symptoms listed on the vial are only a few of the most prominent symptoms out of the hundreds that particular remedy can affect.  

Imagine that you are feeling like you are coming down with the flu. Tired, achey, sore throat. At least 6 different available remedies may list those symptoms. The key to the right remedy, however, is in the details- what kind of sore throat, what makes you feel better, the quality of your body aches. These details are not listed on the vial.  There is nothing more frustrating than feeling ill, needing some relief and not finding the right remedy. I know- I've done it!   

To accurately discern what remedy is most likely to affect your symptoms, selections should be made using a repertory and materia medica, designed for home use. It is out of the scope of this newsletter to instruct the use of these books, but a repertory and materia medica are the back bone of homeopathic prescribing. There are several excellent choices written for the home. I have listed recommendations at the end of the newsletter. 

3. The condition you are treating is not acute  
Armed with a repertory and materia medica, you can really work wonders in your home. I was a convert to homeopathy when I witnessed the miracle of spongia tosta on my son's croupy cough. I got the point where I could move him through what was normally a 2 week affair, to a long weekend at the most.  

Coughs, colds, flus, basic first aid events (burns, sprains, cuts, etc...)  these are situations that have easily recognizable symptoms, and most importantly, are not chronic or deep in the mental/emotional sphere. As soon as you are familiar with a couple dozen remedies, your success in treating these acute conditions will build.  

Asthma, allergies, chronic headaches or digestive upsets, fatigue, skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis... conditions such as these necessitate a full case taken by a qualified homeopath. The symptoms do not come up overnight, and it takes careful study of the full person to determine the appropriate remedy.  

While of course you may choose a remedy that will palliate chronic symptoms, the likelihood of a complete cure is small. Thus, it can be frustrating to continue taking remedies that seem not to work.  

4. Antidoting
 Antidoting- or cancelling the effect of a remedy- is a often a culprit of failed results.  Many homeopaths caution their patients against substances such as coffee (and decaf), mint, camphor (the universal antidote), and eucalyptus as these have been shown to affect the action of remedies. Others will often recommend a re-dose after dental work or x-rays as well.  

If you are treating yourself, or your family, these substances may be interfering if you are not advising against them.  

5. Potency
Remedies that are available in the store come in a potency of 30c, or less. Sometimes, arnica is available in a 200c.  
The higher the potency, the stronger the remedy.  
30c is often enough to stimulate a response, but in highly vital individuals or with forceful symptoms- trauma or high fevers, for example, a 30c may not be enough to provoke a noticeable response.  

If you are a current patient of a homeopath, call him or her for advice if you suspect this is the issue for an acute case. 

Recommended homeopathic repertories and materia medicas for home use (both are available at

miranda castro book
Miranda Castro is an excellent and well regarded British Homeopath. The Complete Homeopathy Handbook was my first book, so I am partial to it, but I think it has everything one needs to dig in: a comprehensive history and informational section, and clear instructions for using the included repertory and materia medica.  

dana ullman book Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicines by Dana Ullman is a great resource for homeopathic information. This book is an even easier entry than the Miranda Castro book, as it is not separated into distinct repertory/materia medica. Instead the most widely used, available remedies are grouped in chapters such as: Coughs, Headaches, Menstrual Issues, etc... 

And of course, where would we be without the Interwebs? While I don't recommend looking up remedies online so much (too much information that can be overwhelming and not useful for home prescribing), these websites are fantastic for learning more:  

 Home Remedy Kit
Home Remedy Kit
The start of school and change of seasons can throw us a curve. You might catch a sore throat early with one of these 2 remedies:
(monkshood) belongs in everyone's medicine cabinet. It's the primary remedy for shock and fright (think car accidents, shocking bad news, etc...) And it's invaluable for early stages of a cold with these key symptoms:

1. Exposure to cold, dry wind. Those days when the kids are out after dusk, the wind is up and they weren't *quite* bundled up? If they start complaining of sore throat, or develop a dry fever in the night- aconite is the first to try.
The sore throat will feel tight and sharp.
2. Dry cough that comes on before midnight. Yes, the time does make a difference!
3. If there is already a runny nose or swollen glands, aconite won't be effective. It is a first stage remedy, pre-infection.

Hepar Sulphuricum 
a chemical compound developed by Hahnemann himself, hepar s. is for those sore throats that come on with swollen glands, when your throat feels thick and its hard to swallow. It can also feel like a splinter in the side of the throat.
The patient is chilly, and especially irritable. They are sensitive to the touch- their pains feel unbearable. There can also be a croupy cough.

For both of these remedies- start with 1 dose (5-6 pellets) of 30c. Remember to "knock on the door" and repeat if there's no answer, but try a different remedy if there's no improvement after the 2nd dose.

July 2011

Signs and Symptoms

The Vital Force speaks to us through our physical body. Through aches and pains, the colds we just can't seem to shake, or the slow development of a chronic illness- our Vital Force calls us to pay attention. Most of us take instant notice of pain, discomfort, or changes in our physical state. These physical sensations carry a deeper message: that our Vital Force is out of alignment.

 Every sign and symptom your body produces is significant in homeopathy; they are your unique expression. Some indicate your inherent susceptibilities, others indicate where life experiences have left their mark. Many people are surprised at the level of detail and description asked by a homeopath. But like tracking an animal through the woods, every mark reveals information about its owner. Likewise, every remedy has distinct markers that indicate how it will be curative.

 No sensation, passing illness, old condition, or infection is insignificant.

 If you are in the habit of just "living with" your body's signals, or viewing all colds and flus as equal, bring a little curiosity to your observations:

  • What makes your symptoms better or worse?
  • Note the quality of pain, food cravings and aversions, and tolerances to temperature.
  • What about your condition is *different* that your normal state?
  • What is your mental state? irritable, whiny, quiet, restless...
 These are just a few details that will give important information to your homeopath when you need a remedy; or for yourself when deciding on a remedy at home.

Acute Illness

Acute conditions are short lived, and are the vital force's response to an impingement on the system.  From a homeopathic perspective, the acute symptoms you experience indicate a healthy vital force
that has the ability to respond and re-align itself. If you have a strong vital force, you can produce a fever, make a productive cough, or keep an allergic reaction on the surface of your body in the form of a rash. The healthier you are, the more acute your illnesses will be.

Wait a minute... you might be thinking... when I'm getting cold after cold in the winter, i do NOT feel healthy.

True enough-  if you are going from cold to flu to cold, then your Vital Force is healthy enough to mount an effort, but it's struggling to keep you in balance and is *not* strong enough to throw off the dis-ease for good. This is especially true if symptoms have been suppressed using decongestants, cough suppressants, or topical steroid cream.  When symptoms are suppressed the energy is driven inward (as opposed to out of the system) and can result in stronger, more serious issues.

Consider forest-fire management. A healthy forest system burns regularly. This kind of clearing is necessary, and the end result is a healthier, more vibrant forest. For years, our state and federal forest management systems have suppressed fire. The result, when fires do burn, are bigger, stronger, and more destructive.


When you take a dose of a remedy, remember that you are affecting the vital force, not the physical body. Any physical effects you feel- curative or the revelation of new symptoms-  are your body's response to your vital force realigning itself. That being said, it makes sense that most remedies are prescribed in 1 or 2 doses. It's like knocking on a door- if someone answers, a visit begins. You don't keep knocking on the door :) If no one answers, then you come back later; in other words, you got the wrong remedy/wrong door.

To consider:
In an acute illness/accident, if you have chosen the correct remedy, expect to see results within hours- minutes, if it is a fast acting/moving condition.

For example if your child goes from fine to fever in the span of an hour, and you recognize the red face and glassy eyes of
Belladonna; you would expect to see a response as rapidly as the condition developed.
  • If there is *no* response, re-dose (ie- knock one more time). If there is still no response, try a different remedy.  
  • If there is a positive response, wait. If a relapse occurs, give another dose. wait.   
  • It is not uncommon to try a few different remedies until you get the right one.  
  • and if you have the right one, you'll know! You or your patient will be noticeably improved and will only need re-dosing if the patient slips back into their original symptoms.  
Understanding how homeopathic dosing works is tricky for all of us. Although you cannot "overdose" on energy medicine in the sense that you can overdose with allopathic drugs, you *can* stimulate your vital force such that the effect is not the rapid and gentle cure it is intended to be.  

Overall, dosing is an integral part of why homeopathy is an Art, as well as a Science. The vital force is a dynamic energy, as is the remedy. While there are some basic guidelines, the Homeopath is always assessing the nuances of the interaction to facilitate the most rapid, yet gentle cure possible.   

Home Remedy Kit

There is relief for stubbed and toes and biting insects

Ledum: homeopathically prepared Rosemary is essential for any kind of puncture wound- be it by insect, needle, or nail. It is prudent to have on hand if you come in contact with ticks, as it is one of the primary remedies for treating Lyme disease- which of course starts with a puncture/bite by a tick. Give one dose of 30c following a tick bite. If Lyme symptoms develop, a full case must be taken by a Homeopath.

General characteristics calling for Ledum include:  
  • part is better from cold applications/bathing
  • sore joints/rhuematism worse from heat, better cold
  • sprains with swelling/bruising
  • bites/stings with swelling and inflammation
St. John's Wort; excellent for injuries to nerves: fingertips, toes, tongue, teeth, etc... A first remedy when there is concern of tetanus following a wound. Pains are shooting, and sharp. Pain following dental procedures, and injuries of the spine.


June 2011

This June, I will complete 3 years of professional Homeopathic Studies with Nancy Frederick and the Baylight School of Homeopathy. WOW. There aren't words to express the impact of this experience on so many different levels. Although I have already set my sights on further education, I am ready to step out into the community and offer my services as a homeopath!

This first newsletter is dedicated to introducing some foundational concepts in homeopathic philosophy: our susceptibility and vital force 
I hope that my take on these essential ideas broadens your own light of understanding.

The Vital Force
The vital force is our intrinsic energy... that which keeps us in balance and in health- physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In Chinese medicine, the same idea is expressed as chi;
in Ayurvedic (Indian) philosophy, it is known as prana.

When discussing health in terms of allopathic medicine, we mostly refer to our immune system as the gatekeeper of health. And yet, 'immune system' refers to the action of T-cells, phagocytes, and other biological elements that fight microorganisms and maintain homeostasis in the physical body It does not encompass the full range of dynamic processes that work together to maintain our health. True health is not only the absence of physical symptoms; it is a state of being- joyful, creative, and free. 

 Have ever found yourself falling ill after some big life event, like a break-up, a week of working around the clock, or upon hearing shocking news? Then you have experienced that our health and vitality is contingent on more than simply the presence or absence of bacteria and viruses.

If our vital force is what keeps us bouncing back, then it is our susceptibility that strikes us out.
Your cousin Joe and his wife run marathons together, but somehow he still gets the flu at least once a year and she gets through with barely a head cold. Consider the person who thrives under pressure vs. the one who breaks down. The kid down the street has broken 3 bones in 5 years. What's up with that?!
Our susceptibilities are expressed in the way we fall ill, get hurt, and/or stumble into the same life experiences over and over.

Susceptibilities can run in families and might be labeled as 'genetic' in the biological sense, but they are also completely individual- like our fingerprints. Most of us are acutely aware of our susceptibilities, and yet we just live with them. Discovering an individual's susceptibility is the detective work of the homeopath- they are the clues that lead us to the remedy.

 The Pitcher, the Ball and the Batter
It is all very well to talk vital force and susceptibility, but the beauty of these concepts is in their relationship to each other.

Imagine 2 players- a pitcher, and a batter. LIFE is your pitcher- it keeps throwing balls, one after another, at the batter, or, VITAL FORCE. Your vital force valiantly hits at these balls, the best it can. In perfect shape, it can hit every one: the fast balls, the curve balls, the splitter... Would that we were all in perfect shape and could smack them all, right out of the park! Alas, this is where SUSCEPTIBILITY comes in. Perhaps your susceptibility is curve balls, fork balls, the slurve, and the change-up will get you every time. Your Vital Force meets every one as best it can, and sometimes gets a decent hit in, but more often than not, can't hit them right on. Do you know the feeling of struggle? It zaps your energy, it's harder to connect with your inherent joy, and a basic cold can keep you down for weeks.

Life is not going to stop throwing balls at you. You cannot change the balls that are thrown at you. You *can* strengthen your Vital Force.

So... where does Homeopathy fit?   A homeopathic remedy works at the source level- your vital force. How and why? My newsletters will answer this question in many ways, because while homeopathy is an elegant, simple concept, it is also a different paradigm than conventional medicine, and as such, can be difficult to grasp in its entirety. So- keep subscribing- and learn.     

Your Home Remedy Kit - What to have on hand for Summer! 
 arnica montana: The poster child of homeopathy, arnica montana is the most recognized remedy and likely the most widely used. Pick it up in a 30c potency and use for bruises, muscular and body pain associated with over-exertion or accidents, such as sprains or strains. Especially important for head injuries or suspected head injuries! Caution: although they both start with "A," arnica should not be used like Advil, or other over the counter pain meds. In other words- use for those injuries, left untreated, that could be limiting or are not healing as they should

Apis mellifica: potentized honey-bee poison, apis is a go-to remedy for insect stings and other inflammations that present as: hot, red, and swollen with stinging pain and itching. Patient might be shrieking/hysterical from the sensations. A dose (5-6 pellets) or 2 in a 30c potency should help alleviate symptoms.