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.

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