Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Is Gratitude Holding You Back?

Gratitude is everywhere. In the last decade, it seems like gratitude has taken over, oozed out of the churches and into the NewAge and is now squarely in mainstream commodified culture. 'Gratitude' is on mugs and t-shirts, the focus on weekend workshops and transformation exercises. It's the panacea for all that is wrong with your life. Just be grateful.

Gratitude is a powerful emotion, and indeed, a life changer. It can shift perspective, real fast. Every traveled to a country where your heartbreaks from the poverty? Instant reality check.
And when we hone in on people in our life for whom we are grateful, the emotions can be overwhelming, as beautifully shown in this Upworthy video.

But, I have seen in some of my clients a place where gratitude becomes a crutch, or fosters guilt for wanting something different in your life, for believing that things could be better or that you even *want* them to be better! Let alone that you are worthy of having what you desire vs. being grateful and settling for what you have.

What are the signs that gratitude might be holding you back?

1. You are unhappy or frustrated with something in your life, and every time you talk about it, you hear yourself saying, "I know I should be grateful, BUT...."

2. You beat yourself up over the fact that you *do not* feel grateful, or have an 'attitude of gratitude.'

3. Gratitude is icing... over a cake of more complex emotions that you aren't addressing. (For example, you love your partner but there are issues. Instead of addressing them in an authentic way, you keep focused on just having gratitude that you have someone.)

4. When friends or family want to talk to you about something troubling in their life, you tell them just to be grateful and feel annoyed.

5. You don't feel any emotional connection to your gratitude.

All of these dance around a similar theme- and that is leaning on gratitude as a way of avoiding something bigger. Another phrase I like is 'spiritual bypassing' which I did not coin, but comes from a book of the same title. "Spiritual bypassing" is essentially using spirituality and euphemisms (it's all good! just be blessed! have gratitude!) for avoiding what is real, and true. Especially the painful stuff.

There is no question that there is always something to be grateful for, and many of us obsess over problems that might be considered 'trifles.' Understanding where we might be getting wrapped/worked up in issues that really aren't that big of a deal can subconsciously push us into a guilt-gratitude complex. As in, knowing you are obsessing superficially, and then throwing a bandaid of gratitude on top to balance it out.
But again, underneath it all are often deeper issues or real problems to be dealt with such as unhappiness in a marriage, job, or other relationship. Unresolved trauma. Health problems related to lifestyle decisions such as diet, lack of exercise, and taking proactive steps to be healthy. Inauthentic gratitude does not solve these problems.

There is a way out of this maze.

1. It starts will making some space, and stopping excuses. Including gratitude. Finding time to get quiet, simplify your life, find alone time- you can't figure out what's really going on unless you give it the space to reveal itself.

2. Start a *true* gratitude practice. It can be a journal where you take a moment to get centered and write down one thing a day you are grateful for. Or, say a simple grace at dinner. The key is to, again, create the space, and allow an authentic feeling of gratitude to bubble up rather than just saying it off the cuff. Gratitude is not blasé. It's powerful. It should be treated as such.

3. Acknowledge that you can both be grateful for what you have *and* that you deserve all that you desire. It is OK to want more/different/better/smaller... it is creating discomfort in you for a reason. Find out why, then do something about it.

4. According to Brene Brown, people who live whole-heartedly take risks. They allow themselves to be vulnerable. They put themselves out there. I think living whole-heartedly is living from a place of true gratitude. When we have deep gratitude for this life, we take chances, we speak our minds, we make changes because... we are alive. And we are grateful for it.

5. Thanks-giving. It's an action. Turn your gratitude into works of service and helping others.

I'd love to hear about *your* gratitude practice, and maybe how it shows up in your life.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tiny Space- Big Pain! Homeopathy for Ear Infections Part One

Have you ever heard the story about how someone learned how to prepare a certain kind of roast by cutting the ends off? Then when someone asked her why, she said- I don't know, that's what my mom did. And then that's what the grandma did. And when she finally asked the grandma why, she said, "because I didn't have a pan big enough to fit the roast."

The point of the story being, we do what we know, even when we don't know why. Even when it doesn't make sense.

It isn't an exact fit (kind of like the roast) but the same is true for what parents expect and are told about ear infections. That they are just part of childhood, all kids get them. They grow out of them.
Ear infections are getting passed off the way ADD and ADHD diagnosis' are glossed over- we are so used to them that we don't stop and say, but why?  We just treat them on the surface, and move on.

In the process of protecting and ridding the body of pathogens, the immune system isolates, encapsulates, and discharges material. One of the primary ways this happens is through mucous and pus, and the pathways are lungs, nose, and- you guessed it!- the ears. This is true for routine colds that can go to the ears if the child is susceptible and the body is not able to keep it at a more superficial level, i.e. just a runny nose. Is is also true for when the body needs to deal with foreign matter from vaccinations. Of course, when the doc rushes in with antibiotics for an ear infection then the immune system is suppressed.
Suppression is temporary- the infection will come back, because the job was not done. Or, if it is continually shut down then the body will find another way and after suppression, it will be deeper in the body and can be more serious.
There is a huge fear of a ruptured membrane, but ironically, proactively rupturing the membrane is also done to relieve pain- the pressure is often excruciating. The ear drum will heal; a natural and spontaneous rupture is OK and should have no long term effects. Also, a natural skin break heals better and stronger than a straight cut (think episiotomy!).

Ear infections are not any kind of natural rite of childhood. Not all children get them. And tubes and antibiotics are not the only treatment for them.  Oh- and they hurt like craaaazzzzzy!!!

*Of course* you want to treat them! Your kid is crying and whining and clingy and in pain! The parent is exhausted, nerves frayed, worried for the child, and sad because her ear/s hurt so bad.

Treating ear infections with homeopathy is best done in a two prong approach- have the child treated constitutionally (which means, a nice long intake where he or she is given a remedy that is individual to her and her behavior, patterns of illness, family history, etc...), and then acutely, if necessary, when an infection comes about.
Why?
Because as I said above, not all children get ear infections. This is an expression of the child's susceptibility (for example, another child may not get ear infections, but gets bronchitis every winter).  By giving the child a constitutional remedy, his or her vital force (the unique energy inside all of us) is 'tuned and strengthened' so to speak. She will be less likely to get an ear infection, will get them less frequently and they won't be as serious.

Acute treatment- for when an infection develops- will support the immune system. An appropriate remedy can help shorten the duration of the illness, soothe the pain, and assist the body to get the job done.

I can't treat a child constitutionally through my blog- if only I could! But I can offer up these remedies that you can have on hand. Remember that every child is unique, and these are only a few of the *many* remedies that have an affinity for otitis media (ear infections)...but they are often, and well indicated.


Choosing a remedy: 
Homeopathic prescribing is based in the law that 'like cures like'- that is a substance that can cause an illness in a healthy person, can cure someone who has those symptoms naturally. You are matching the 'remedy picture' with what you observe about the patient. Homeopathy treats the whole person, because it's not just the ears that are sick. When choosing a remedy, you make note of the mental/emotional state, what makes the particular symptoms better or worse (heat, cold, fresh air, etc...), and the general symptoms- is the person chilly or hot? thirsty or not? restless or tired?

You will notice that some of these remedies have an affinity for one side or the other. You may have noticed that your child only gets infections in the left, or right, ear. This is not a fluke! It is an important characteristic to note and prescribe on.

Chamomila (chamomile) 
Particularly indicated for young children, the child is *very sensitive* to the pain. He does not want it to be touched, or examined, or maybe even looked at! He is angry and fretful, but demanding. He may want to be carried and will often reject things he has asked for, or arch his back when crying and upset.  Gentle motion and being wrapped up may slightly soothe. Physically, you may notice that one cheek is pale, while the other is red. A hot pack or warm cloth may soothe the ear. All symptoms may be worse from 9-10am, or 9-10pm, and this remedy is often indicated with teething or diarrhea as well, which may come together.

Mercurius solubilis (mercury. remember- it's only an energetic dose!)
Mercury is indicated for ear infections that tend to be right sided, but if the other symptoms agree, don't hesitate to give for both or the other side. It often comes with a very sore throat, with pain that radiates up to the ear- again typically right sided. The ear ache may be preceded by a typical cold with thick, yellow discharge from the nose. Likewise, there may be thick yellow, or even green discharge from the ear. It may smell offensive, and make it difficult for the child to hear. Symptoms are worse at night, and in the heat. This patient prefers cold applications to the ear, may be sweaty and have excess saliva, and/or bad breath. Mercurius patients can be 'up and down' like the mercury in a thermometer- sensitive to environmental changes, or moody.

Pulsatilla (windflower) 
Pulsatilla can be such a relief for little ones suffering who need this remedy. The tip offs for thinking of pulsatilla are yellow discharge and weepy. This is a patient who is tearful and sensitive and wants much comfort and attention. The left ear is most often affected, but it can spread to both ears and it comes about with a cold, typically. Heat and nighttime will aggravate the symptoms; this child wants cool air and will be much better in the fresh air (notice- are you opening a window for her? does she seem easier going and less fussy if you go outside?). Discharges are yellow and thick, and it can be hard to grasp any firm modalities- at times they seem fine, and other times weepy and sick. Many children benefit from pulsatilla constitutionally, and it can help both with acute and chronic ear infections, as well as when you see these symptoms in teething, or gastric disturbances.

Silica 
Silica is a deep remedy and can really make a difference for children who need this constitutionally as well. Silica helps to push things out that are stuck, and so when there is an infection with thick discharge and hearing loss, this remedy will help move things along. The child may be sticking his finger into his ear and might complain about popping or cracking noises. Silica will help relieve the pain of a ruptured drum and assist healing from suppuration. The ears feel better from being warm and wrapped up- cold, drafts, wind, and blowing the nose all aggravate. In general, a child who needs silica will be the one who catches every cold and is often chilly. They 'lack grit,' and tend to tire easily. not want to go outside, and take a long time to heal from wounds.

Aconite (monkshood) 
For instant, stabbing pain in the ear, particularly when coming in after a day out in the cold, or wind. The ear pain will come before any inflammation- maybe just a thin, clear runny nose. Cheeks can be bright red, or one red one pale. It may come about in the night, tends to be more in the left ear. Also for high dry fevers and croup, under similar circumstances.

Belladonna (nightshade) 
Belladonna is always a consideration for sudden conditions that come with pulsing, throbbing pain. Ear will appear bright red and inflamed. More often indicated for right sided pain, but may start on the right and move to the left.  It's worse around 3pm or 3am, and generally aggravated at night. Belladonna is typically indicated in robust, vital children, as opposed to silica (above).

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To save you from remedy overload, I will continue with a few more remedies in a second post. If you are caught in the ear infection-antibiotic round-a-bout, keep these remedies on hand. Helping your child to overcome an ear infection naturally is a BIG WIN for the immune system. When the body is able to complete its efforts, it reinforces its own abilities, setting it up to handle whatever comes next.

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All of these remedies are available at natural food stores, or online. You can follow the directions on the tube, or my typical instructions for an acute: dissolve 2-3 pellets in a small glass of water, and give two doses (teaspoons) within an hour. Then observe. If symptoms improve, re-dose if the symptoms worsen again or improvement stalls out. If you haven't seen improvement after 3-4 doses, then reconsider your choice. Sometimes if you get a remedy that is close, but not right on, the symptoms will shift a little bit and what you need to pay attention to will be accentuated and guide you to a more appropriate choice. For example, maybe you give Aconite - but there's no relief (which I would expect fairly quickly with an aconite condition). Your child's face seems to become more more flushed and his energy builds and you notice that he starts to complain about his right ear, which is now flushed on the outside as well. He is excitable. This makes you think of belladonna, which brings relief.

Good luck! And let me know how it goes :)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tylenol for fever? Not worth the risk. 5 Homeopathic Remedies for Natural Fever Support

I've been excited to write this post for a couple of weeks- ever since I heard that the public radio show, "This American Life" dedicated their hour to a report on the risks of Tylenol. The investigative report was initially carried out over several months by reporters at ProPublica-  the risks of Tylenol, coupled with the bureaucracy of the FDA and the machine that regulates drugs, labeling, and oversight in this country. It is inefficient, shady, and when you are talking about people- and children- dying as a result. Well, I would say dangerously ineffective. 

I encourage you to listen to the full report here: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/505/use-only-as-directed

If you are not a regular, or even a semi-regular listener to TAL (This American Life) then you are in for a treat. It's one of the best ways to pass a long car ride, while cooking dinner... maybe not before bed though :) There is also a transcript, but the show is way better.

For the sake of context for the article, let me sum up:

- Tylenol contains acetaminophen, and is a pain-reliever and fever reducer, introduced in the '50s. It was a big deal and was basically kind of a wonder-kid of OTC drugs.


-Acetaminophen is toxic to the liver, and there is a *very narrow* range under which it starts to cause
serious problems- much more so than other over the counter drugs.  As little as 25% above the maximum daily dose can cause liver damage, and is even more serious in those with standing liver problems, and combined with alcohol.


-  "Each year, on average, over 150 people died of accidental overdose, 78,000 people land in the emergency room, 33,000 people are hospitalized... this is all based on data from the federal government. McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the maker of Tylenol... disputes that its product is the deadliest over-the-counter pain medication." ...from the transcript of This American Life

-Tylenol is touted as "The safest pain reliever you can buy" and "the pain reliever hospitals use most." See above. 

- One of the biggest issues with Tylenol has been labeling, and there is a long and winding story spanning decades when recommendations were made by federal committees to be more explicit and clear on the labels about the potential dangers of taking more that the recommended dose, etc... The company fought the recommendations and little action was taken.

-Children's labeling has been a significant problem and one that the company actually attempted to be proactive about.  What follows is one family's heartbreaking story of how poor labeling and dosing recommendations were fatal in the case of their 11-month old daughter. Again, from the transcript: 


For the longest time, Infants' Tylenol was three times stronger, three times more concentrated, than Children's Tylenol, the rationale being that it's harder to make a very young child, and especially a baby, swallow medicine. So if you make the medicine stronger, the parents will have an easier time of it. [emphasis mine]. Makes sense on one level.
... Confusingly, he says, there aren't any dosing instructions for children under two on either product. All it says on the box is, "Ask a doctor." And for years, McNeil has been urging the FDA to change that. 
Who is calling the doctor at 2am when their child is hot and feverish? Not me, and not most parents. I could go on and on about the report, but it's best you listen for yourself. 
I want to make it clear that everything that follows is my own opinion and experience. I am not diagnosing and it should not be used as medical advice. There- that's my disclaimer! Oh, and also, TAL did not recommend *anything* in place of Tylenol or endorse any alternatives. 
So what's a parent to do? 

Take the 'fever' out of Fevers

One of the best things you can do is to educate yourself about the role of fevers in the immune system- what the body is trying to do, when it is on track, and when it's cause for concern. We need to relax our own 'fever' over fevers. 

The fever is a vital and important part of the immune response. It is the precursor to antibody development, it raises the body temperature to kill off bacteria, the 'breaking' of the fever allows the body to sweat out toxins and cool naturally. It takes a significant amount of effort to mount a fever and so it is the mark of a strong vital force. 
A fever is a child's best defense and an initial response to forces that disrupt their balance- this can be encountering a bacteria or virus, but it can also come about as the result of being out in inclement weather (too chilled, too hot, too wet), or a big emotional response like grief or shame. Children are not rational thinkers like adults, they don't work through issues with peers and authority in the same way an adult does. They feel everything and they process things on a physical level. It is not uncommon for a child to get sick or have a fever after a fight with a friend. 

Put the thermometer down! Watch your child. A fever is concerning when the child is listless, not able to keep down any liquids, or under the age of 3 months. 
The important thing is to keep your child hydrated and support his or her immune system in doing its job. Often as parents, we are most disturbed by illness than our children are. I talk to parents who report to me that their child has a fever 'but he is playing fine' - the issue is the parent, not the child! 

Suppressing a fever can lead to secondary issues down the line. Once a fever has begun, the immune system is starting a process, to stop it midstream is like bumping into dead end in a maze; it's just going to keep trying. 

Homeopathic Remedies for Support 
Homeopathic remedies are gentle support that don't suppress, but help the body do what it is already trying to do- which is to rebalance the system. It is based on the natural law that 'like cures like.' So, a substance that would cause illness in a healthy person, can cure a sick person who naturally has those same symptoms when given in a highly diluted, potentized dose.  Think of onion- it makes your eyes water and nose run. When prepared homeopathically, allium cepa (red onion) can help relieve watery, itchy eyes and a burning, runny nose. 

Homeopathy does not suppress, remedies are made from single, natural ingredients, they have never been recalled, have no toxic side effects, and they have been highly effective at treating contagious and infectious illness for over 200 years. 

Best Remedies to have On Hand for Fever: 

Aconite (monkshood) 
As you can tell, mine is well used! 
Again! yup! Give aconitum napellus for a high, dry, fever. The child may have a flushed red face, or one cheek red and the other pale. The child may be restless, or have some anxiety- or not. Fevers that come about after playing outside in the cold, or out on a windy day are especially indicated for Aconite. Also for a fever/illness that comes about after a shock, or fright. The fever can alternate with chills. 
The parent will feel: a little concerned, want to check the temperature and stay close by. 

Belladonna (nightshade) 
A primo remedy for children's fevers, the keynotes are pulsation, congestion, and inflammation. What that means is a sense of throbbing- you might see the blood pumping or the heartbeat right in the artery under the skin. A very flushed, red face and possibly dilated pupils. The child may be scared, have nightmares, or be a bit delirious in the fever. These fevers can come on fast and be accompanied by a very painful, red throat and/or headache. Restlessness, and might be worse around 3pm (kid comes home from school and spikes a fever!) or 3am. The head can feel hot and burning, while the rest of the body feels cool. Belladonna is a remedy that might require more frequent re-dosing as you have to meet the force of the symptoms- which is great- with equality in the remedy.  

The parent will feel quite concerned about the high fever and want to check frequently. 

Bryonia (wild hops) 
The opposite of belladonna, Bryonia is for fevers and conditions that come on slowly. A low grade fever may develop over the course of several hours, or even a whole day. You may realize that by the time the fever develops that the child has been low energy and cranky for a few days. We call this the 'grumpy bear' remedy, because the metal state is touchy and grouchy. She often wants to just lie down and be alone, doesn't really care about having company, and doesn't want to move.  She may be thirsty and drink great quantities of water- a whole glass in one go is not unusual. There is a dryness to a condition that needs this remedy- in the cough especially and it hurts to cough

The parent will be less concerned about the fever, more about the cough and the child's desire just to be still, and grumpy. 

Chamomila (chamomile) 
Chamomila is such a great children's remedy. I have given this to my son when he was ill, with the one bright red cheek and the other pale and literally watched the color equalize on his face. The key characteristic with this remedy is anger, whining, and peevishness. This is the child that asks for something and then throws it away. They want to be carried constantly. The fever is more moderate and comes with this agitated mental state. It can often accompany teething, or an upset stomach. 
This is the child who kicks his legs and stiffens up when you try to carry him, but freak out in anger when you put him down. This is an important remedy!! Chamomila will bring back some mental and emotional balance

The parent will be struggling to stay patient and helpful, because the child's behavior is much more of an issue than the physical symptoms. 

Ferrum phosphoricum (phosphate of iron) 
Ferrum phos. is considered the bridge between aconite, belladonna and some of the more low energy down-and-out flu remedies. The fever is not quite so high, there is not the same suddenness, bounding pulse, anxiety or fear. Instead, there is more of a mid-level fever and fatigue. They may be red-faced, but overall, the symptoms are kind of vague. Just malaise, congestion, low grade fever, throbbing headache. If there is no big symptom that stands out for you: anxiety, suddenness, anger, grumpiness and thirst... then this is the remedy to consider. You aren't super worried about them, you just want to help them along. 

The parent will have mild concerns and want to help ease things along, but no big alarm bells. 



Dosing: 
You can follow the recommendations on the tube if you buy it in the store. In general, I put a few pellets in a glass of water and then give two teaspoons within one hour. Then I wait and watch. I tend to be impatient and if I don't see any shift within 2 hours, I give another dose (a teaspoon again, but stir the water in the glass 8-10x before). If I am unsure, I may give one more dose within 2 hours. If there is no change, then i start thinking about another remedy. If I do see a shift, then I only re-dose when I think the progress is slowing down, or symptoms are returning. 

It's not unusual to have some symptoms relieved, but others remain. It just means that the remedy was partially correct. You can continue by looking for a remedy to match the remaining symptoms- like a cough, or congestion if the fever was relieved. Or, you can use other naturopathic methods to support the body as it finishes its job. As always, rest and hydration are key. 





Monday, October 21, 2013

Belly-aches, Overindulgence, Sugar-Highs, O My! Homeopathic Remedies for Halloween

Ah, Halloween. I love it- the dressing up, the people who go all out and transform their homes, the lore behind it- that the veil between this world and the unseen is the thinnest- and yes, I love the treats. And with most good American holidays there is always a healthy dose of overindulgence, staying up late, excitement, and expectation. These are the hallmarks of a holiday (and spending money, of course).
But you know, there is another aspect to all of these and that is, each of them presents an opportunity to use a homeopathic remedy :)

If homeopathic remedies help our bodies to maintain balance and homeostasis, to resist forces and energy that may overwhelm the vital force, what better holiday to keep a few choice remedies on hand, than Halloween?

Without further ado-


Nux Vomica
Nux vomica is the iconic Halloween remedy, in the same way that a witch adorns probably 90% of decorations and halloween imagery.

With an affinity for the nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract, and symptoms arising from over-indulgence and late nights, it's the trick to counter the treats :)

Let's do a little side-by-side comparison:

Symptoms:                                                                   Child: 
- nausea after eating                                                     - complains of bellyaches after class party
- bloating and tenderness                                             - says his belly hurts, and he hasn't pooped
- burping and gassy                                                          and he *can't* poop even though he's
- cutting belly ache                                                           tried!
- constipation, no desire to go                                      - vomiting after eating too much candy/treats
- chilly                                                                          - might describe belly as 'full' or a cutting
- mean-tempered, irritable,                                                  pain
- easily excited and angered                                          - falls apart after trick or treating, or a party
- oversensitive to stimulation                                         - grumpy and irritable at things she usually
- headache accompanied by gastro troubles                        loves
- hangover                                                                     - short tempered, exhausted, and grouchy the
                                                                                            morning after.

In short, when you see any combination of grumpiness and irritability and tummy troubles, think Nux Vomica. 

Aconite
You might notice (if you are a regular reader, which I hope you are :) that I trot out Aconite a lot. It's such an indispensable remedy for acute situations and children, that I can't emphasize it enough. And, it's important for those using homeopathy in the home to start to see the same remedy in multiple situations to get a feel for the full-range of a remedy, rather than associating with just one condition. Because, if they symptom fits, use the remedy. It doesn't matter if you read about it in a post about Halloween, or croup.

There are a lot of remedies to address fear, and all of its nuance- of what? when? since when?  
Aconite will serve greatly for a child gets gets a quick fright or shock on Halloween- touring a haunted house with all the requisite surprises, seeing a particularly scary costume, or being out after dark.  A nightmare on Halloween evening, or begging you not to leave them in the dark after seemingly having fun all night? Definitely try a dose of Aconite. 

Remember that Aconite is for the most part a remedy for very acute, in-the-moment situations and persistent nightmares, fear, and anxiety can be treated with a range of remedies.

Phosphoros
Phospohros is a great remedy for sensitive, open children who take everything in. They might be ghosts and spirits and a general fear of the dark. They are impressionable because of their openness. I imagine a young child with wide open eyes talking about a ghost story someone told her, or that the closet down the hall is definitely haunted.
fearful in a general way of what's around the corner? what is that noise? talk about

A child who needs Phosphoros may just seem overwhelmed by all that surrounds her on Halloween, and wants company and is a little bit weepy. Instead of the irritability and grouchiness of Nux Vomica there's a restlessness, a weariness... as if their "light" has been dimmed. They might seem "off" or low spirited after all the festivities and stimulation of Halloween.

As a contrast, I also think of phosphoros for the spaciness after flying and traveling, feeling drained after being at a party (especially one where you've been socializing non-stop), or fear and fright from thunderstorms.

Coffea
Both the night before, and the night of Halloween can be marked by excitability and sleeplessness!

Coffea is, of course, coffee, and so you can imagine the kind of sleeplessness it treats nicely: restlessness, wide awake, lots of ideas, a desire to talk and play and be up and about. The kids want to stay up counting and sorting the candy, lying in bed going over the details of the evening.

A single dose of Coffea 30c may be enough to do it,  but I will often give (or take, for those nights when I'm the one tossing and turning!) two doses about 15 minutes apart.

For dosing in general, give two doses within an hour and wait and watch. As symptoms improve, hold back and only re-dose if needed. If there's no improvement after three doses, then consider another remedy or consult a practitioner if you feel it's necessary.

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Of course, these are just four of the thousands of remedies that can meet the individual symptoms we experience in our own unique way. Homeopathic remedies gently support the body and can help make events like Halloween easier on the system for those who are susceptible to the energy of the evening.

Stay safe, have fun, and Happy Halloween!



(See you next week for a post you won't want to miss... coming on the heels of This American Life's amazing show on Tylenol: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/505/use-only-as-directed  I will be writing about treating a fever *naturally* and for all ages, with safe, non-toxic, recall free homeopathic remedies!)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Croup, no more! Three Essential Homeopathic Remedies

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 :)  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.
What??
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 :)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

When a Pleasure Cruise is Anything But- Homeopathy for Motion Sickness and Nausea




I live on the coast of Maine and the sight of boats on the harbor and off shore is so alluring. I love sailing and boating, though I don't do it nearly as much as I would like to.






Not all of us step gleefully onto a boat. Sea-sickness can get the best of us. And maybe you or someone you know can't ride in the backseat on any road trip, and forget the thrills of a roller coaster, or ferris wheel. Vomit central!


I bet you can guess what I'm going to say- homeopathy can help! Yes, it's true. It can :) There are a handful of acute remedies for nausea and motion sickness that will help mitigate the effects if the case fits. I can't promise that by using these remedies you will be able to ride the Tilt-a-Whirl without turning green. However, the remedies can certainly help you recover more quickly and may avert you losing your $8.00 french fries...

Cocculus: 
Nausea and motion sickness, often accompanied by vertigo or dizziness. True vertigo is a sense of one's environment spinning around him. You can imagine this sensation after disembarking from a boat, or a particularly spinny ride at the amusement park.

The vertigo is worse sitting, or lying and can be either while in motion on a car, plane, boat etc... or can be a symptom that lingers after. Nausea is also worse from thought or smell of food. There may be a headache from riding as well.

Cocculus is also thought of when symptoms of vertigo, nausea, or headache come about after loss of sleep. Think of staying up nights with a child who is ill, keeping vigil for a loved one, or working late nights and up early mornings.

Overall, cocculus symptoms may be a bit lighter, less 'sick' feeling and more dizzy and mildly nauseous than the next two remedies.

Tabacum: 
Tabacum is for intense nausea from travel sickness: sea, road, or air.   It may be accompanied by a headache, with or without vomiting. Do you know that sinking feeling in your stomach, with a cold clammy sweat? ugh- worst feeling in the world! Tabacum may relieve it.

Any relief comes from being out in the open air and cold applications. One strange, rare, and peculiar symptom is the desire to uncover their abdomen. Think of the little kid who feels nauseous and insists on having his belly exposed. Can you picture that?

Petroleum: 
Yes, this is the remedy made from crude oil. If you can imagine that chemical sick-feeling, then you have a good sense of the nausea that may call for this remedy. It's another option to think about if tabacum doesn't do the trick.

The person feels nauseous riding in a train, car, or airplane. The person who needs petroleum has a sense of inner coldness, and there may be violent vomiting or intense nausea without vomiting. The patient feels better in the open air, staying warm, with their head high (sitting up, as opposed to lying). The better warmth is a good way to differentiate whether to give petroleum or tabacum, as tabacum conditions prefer cold.

Petroleum is a remedy that is used constitutionally for chronic eczema, so this may be a first one to try on someone who has that condition and *also* experiences motion sickness.

Can petroleum be useful for morning sickness in pregnancy? Absolutely!

Homeopathic remedies are indicated by symptoms. When you encounter nausea that fits any of the above remedy pictures, give the remedy a try, even if it didn't originate from motion sickness. 


Allopathic practitioners often try a similar thing with pharmaceuticals, using drugs other than for intended purposes. Unfortunately, this is a dangerous practice as drugs are created in a *completely* opposite manner. Pharmaceutical drugs are designed and tested for very specific conditions, whereas homeopathic remedies are simply natural substances that have been proven to affect (positively) a range of symptoms. This strays into a topic that deserves it's own blog post! So I will leave it at that and keep you curious for more ;)

On that note, remember that if you try a remedy I have suggested here and you don't see results, it is because your patient (or you!) need a different remedy. It would be too much and overwhelming to list 5-10 remedies here. Consider getting a home prescribers guide if you want to know more.

Enjoy these last weeks of summer! I am guest blogging next week on http://www.momnivores-dilemma.com/  about remedies to help those first day and week of school jitters! Check it out- Nicolette is a great supporter of homeopathy and writes about her experiences with her family, autism, and healing.

Monday, July 29, 2013

How I Used Homeopathy on my Summer Vacation

My family and I spent last week on a remote lake in northern Maine. We drove an hour on gravel logging roads to a beautiful, mountain ringed lake where the Appalachian Trail hugs the western shore. It was magical and I got more sleep that I have in years. Seriously. Years.


Of course, I brought along my home remedy kit, as I usually do, when we leave home for any extended amount of time (24 hours). Good thing I did! We dipped into it several times. I thought I would share about what remedies I used over the course of the week. I like to write about how I use homeopathy in my own home, with my children, husband, and myself. It was as a mother that I discovered homeopathy and got hooked on its quick, undeniable results. By sharing how I use it in our day to day lives, I hope to make this modality come alive and more accessible to all.

Day 2: Injury with saw! 

My kids both received whittling knives for their birthdays this year, and they are comfortable with many tools. My daughter was using a pruning saw to cut a thin branch when the saw slipped and cut her left index finger- right over the knuckle.

My husband attended to her quickly, instructed her to allow the cut to bleed for a bit and then bandaged it up. He pulled me aside to inform me that a knuckle cut was a mandatory evacuation situation in the backcountry. Because it's over a joint, the potential for knicking a tendon is high, as is the challenge of keeping the cut closed for cleanliness and healing over the joint. Ugh. Evac= emergency room.

(Note- both my husband and I have been certified Wilderness First Responders, but he is by far the bigger first-aid geek of the two of us. I won't go into detail, but let me just say: CUSTOM FIRST AID KIT.)

I was not super worried about her finger, to be honest, but I knew that we should heed that conservative  guideline. I immediately give her a dose of Hypericum 30c. 

Hypericum was indicated for a couple of reasons. Foremost in my mind was the tetanus issue. I knew the hospital would want to give her a booster as it's been well over 5 years since she had her one (and only) tetanus shot. Hypericum is a remedy for nerves and puncture wounds, and is a specific for tetanus. I wasn't really worried about her contracting tetanus, but as a measure of precaution, I wanted to give a dose. Hypericum is also a wound remedy, so it fit the symptom picture anyway. Any cuts or injuries to the ends of digits (think whacking fingertips with a hammer... pounding tent stakes?) is a call for hypericum.

We made the trip to town to the small little hospital where they were fantastic, barely batted an eye when I told them we were not up to date on vaccines because we don't use them, and said not a word when I declined the tetanus booster. Our pocketbook was gouged for a little super-glue and bandaging materials, as well as the affirmation that she did not cut the tendon.

I also followed up with daily doses of calendula 30c to help with healing the skin tissue.

Day 3: Weak Ankles! 
We did a beautiful five-mile loop hike to some upper lakes and "peaks." My daughter didn't have great footwear and was complaining her ankles hurt. She's grumbled about this before, and I haven't done too much about it, to be honest. But it kept coming up and I figured her minimalist shoes weren't helping matters. When we rolled into camp that evening, I gave her a dose of Calcarea carbonica 30c. 


This isn't exactly an acute prescription, but calc carb is a good remedy for weakness after injury and covers chronic weak ankles. So do many other remedies, but my intention wasn't to treat her for any deep constitutional level. I'll mention this to our homeopath who treats us constitutionally and it may play a part in the next constitutional remedy chosen for her. But I knew it wouldn't hurt and may help her feel stronger on her feet the rest of the week.

In fact, she never mentioned her ankles again (we also didn't do any more serious hiking- full disclosure.)

Day 4: Hornet Stings! 
Rain Day!
My husband was the appointed fire-man and always had his eye out for good down limbs that looked dry. He came back from one excursion with a sting from a hornet, whose nest he disturbed while sawing a down tree. The hornet nailed him right on the temple. Remedy? Ledum 200c. It never swelled up and was less sore by the hour. Within 36 hours, he said it was symptom-free.

Burn! 
Dear daughter grabbed for the top of the propane lantern without realizing that it was hot metal. Got a burn on her thumb tip that blistered and turned white. Gave her two doses of Cantharis 30c. Although it continued to bother her for the remainder of the evening, it was "totally fine" the next day. Most burns will be tender and slightly painful for several days after the initial incident.

Day 5: More Hornet Stings! 
Paddling to a far shore, a hornet came along for the ride and stung my daughter on her inner right bicep. She wins the prize for most remedies in a week! I had my top three trusty remedies right in my pack and gave her ledum 200c as well. Her arm has continued to be itchy, though it never swelled up. We've tried both urtica urens and apis 30c for the itching. They both seemed to help immediately, though she mentions it at least once a day. I've given up at this point- it's not swollen or red and she hardly seems to be suffering.
my feet.

Day 7: Dog on a leash + mud= minor head injury! 
On the long slog home, we stopped off at a park to give everyone a stretch. My husband was walking the dog and she got excited about something and pulled, he slipped in mud, and down he went, smacking his head on the ground. Forehead pounding and a headache set it. Arnica, 200c! Never heard another word about it.

Did we need the remedies? 

Could we have gotten through the week without the remedies? We could have, but I'm sure glad we had them. I don't get overly nervous about things like tetanus, but I felt much, much better that I had a remedy to give. The hornet stings would have healed much slower, and especially out on the canoe, having the remedy to give immediately was a life-saver. With 4 people and a dog in a small boat, one kid being hysterical does not a smooth-crossing make. Although my girl is 10 now and (slightly) less prone to major upsets, it would have been way more trying.

Our week was pretty typical of living outdoors for a week, I think. What we didn't have to deal with were tummy aches, illness, or major trauma. Any of these can happen on a camping trip, and can shut the whole thing down. Knowing even just a handful of first-aid remedies can keep the vacation rolling and smiles coming :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Village Green Network, Ads, and

In an effort to reach a greater audience and also bring in some information on natural, holistic living that is not my specialty (wholefoods cooking, natural household products, etc...) I have joined the Village Green Network.   VGN is a group of bloggers focused on natural, green living who support each other by guest posting on each other's blogs, sharing posts and more. It helps each blogger to grow their audience and spread the ideas of natural, green living.

To that end, you will be seeing links and posts to other bloggers regularly. Mostly I will be choosing posts that align with what I am already writing about, or topics I think will interest my readers. Feel feel free to leave a comment about topics you'd like to read about.

The other piece about being a part of VGN are the banner ads that appear on the margins of a page. It's part of what keeps the network afloat financially, for those who work behind the scenes. Currently, they are working on a paid opt-out option for those of us who would prefer NOT to run the ads. I prefer not to have ads, and if I can pay the fee, I will do so to keep my blog ad-free. But if the fee is not affordable for me, I may run the ads for awhile. Please note that I cannot choose the ads that appear on my page. Mostly, they will follow YOU- so wherever you have been trolling online, the ads will follow. They may be for products and services are completely counter to what I advocate as a homeopath. I can't really help that, unfortunately :( But it may be a sacrifice I need to make in order to get homeopathy into more homes.

Thank you, and I hope you enjoy the new information that will be coming by. I picked some fun posts to share next week!

(Not) Fun in the Sun: Heat stroke and Exhaustion

As a college student, one of my part-time jobs was leading backcountry trips throughout California. (Shabby, I know :) We were required to hold an WFR certificate- Wilderness First Responder.
Built on front country protocols with backcountry ingenuity, we learned how to splint potential fractures and breaks with sticks, hiking poles or skis.. to improvise slings with t-shirts and many other MacGyver-eque techniques. It was kind of awesome. And intense. Even though I always felt a bit more prepared, I desperately hoped I wound never have to use my skills. I mean, it was great to know how to make a couple of skis and backpacks into a litter, but what could you really do? Not much but apply pressure, and get to the road. (And this was pre-cell phone days.)

When I started using homeopathy, I quickly realized how much some basic remedy knowledge and a homeopathic first-aid kit would have been a game-changer in the field. Pain? Got it. Hemmorhage? Got it. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke? Got it. Pair your first responder technical skills with a well-prescribed remedy and lives are saved and patient comfort and healing is in motion.

If you're a backpacker or avid outdoor enthusiast, then pay special attention to these first aid posts. This one inparticular can seriously save a life. Heat exhaustion possibly leading to heat stroke is nothing to mess around with or ignore. But also, if you are a mom or dad taking kids to the beach, or out on the boat, these conditions can sneak up on you.

Heat exhaustion
The pre-cursor to a heat stroke look for:

      •  heavy sweating
      • red face
      • disorientation, dizziness or vertigo
      • muscle cramping
      • headache
      • nausea
      • rapid, weak pulse 
At this stage, you can intervene and most likely avoid escalation of symptoms. Move the individual to a cool place, in the shade and start administering fluids slowly. Make sure they don't guzzle. Slow, easy sips will help to rehydrate. Also, fan and cool slowly by misting or applying cool applications. But watch for temperature swings- it is easy to go from overheated to chilled. 

Remedies: 

Belladonna for a head that feels hot while the rest of the body may be cool. A pounding, throbbing headache especially one that comes on suddenly. Headache may also be restricted to the right side only. The patient may crave lemonade or ask for other sour drinks. Any movement is makes symptoms worse. Belladonna is the go-to remedy for suddeness, redness, and inflammation.

Carbo vegetabilis: fainting and exhaustion from heat. Collapse. Nausea and possibly a cold, clammy sweat. Diarrhea after prolonged exposure to sun and heat. Helps anyone recover after a significant loss of fluids ie; vomiting, sweating, or diarrhea. 

Cuprum metallicum: specific for muscle cramps after exertion and from heat exhaustion. Think of kids after pre-season practices or sports camps. Exhaustion and prostration may be evident as well. 

Gelsemium: weakness, dizziness, nausea, and exhaustion. Desire to close eyes and go to sleep. Face is flushed and there may be a headache, worse in the occiput (nape of neck/back of head). Gelsemium is also a prime flu remedy- chills, weakness, exhaustion. So if you see symptoms that make you think of that state, gelsemium may be a good choice.

Tip: Just copy these remedy indications onto a sticky or notepage and stick them in your kit. Don't worry about memorizing- just carry your kit with you and you'll have your notes for when you need them. 

Heat Stroke
This condition is serious as it can lead to seizures, loss of consciousness, and brain trauma due to the body's core temperature rising above 105. If appropriate measures are taken when symptoms of heat
exhaustion are seen, then it is unlikely that a heat stroke will occur. But in populations at risk- for example the very young or the elderly, it can be a sudden event. Of course, there are folks who have an underlying susceptibility as well and it just happens. Seek emergency care, but if you have a kit administering a remedy can help lessen the effects and speed recovery. 

Symptoms to look out for: 
  • sudden headache
  • dizziness, vertigo
  • absence of sweating
  • red, hot, dry skin
  • nausea and vomiting
  • disorientation, discombobulated behavior 
  • staggering
  • seizures
  • unconsciousness
Immediate response: 
Move the individual to a shady place and begin to fan and cool gently. You can mist or drip water over them. Submerging is OK if there is a shallow water option, but the water should be lukewarm. Too cold can send a person into shock. Hydrate slowly- in sips- with mild temperature water. Call 911. 

Remedies

Aconite: sudden heatstroke, comes one with great intensity especially after falling asleep in the sun. Face is red, headache is sudden and throbbing. Pupils may be constricted, with photophobia- or aversion to light. 

Glonoinum: extreme intense headache- as if the top were to blow off. Face is red and flushed and you may even notice a throbbing of the carotid arteries. Headache is the key symptom, though it may be accompanied by vertigo and dizziness. Skin is hot, dry, and red. 

Natrum carbonicum:  can be used acutely for head stroke as well as the after effects- such as with head trauma. There is confusion and vertigo, severe headache, possibly recurring long after. Weakness from being in the sun. Natrum sulphuricum can also be used post heat stroke for 'never well since,' and is also indicated for head trauma. 

Veratrum album: nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea accompanied by extreme chills and cold, clammy sweat. Collapse. Restlessness. Manic behavior- as in raving or talking nonsense.

(Remedy indications adapted from Roger Morrison's Desktop Guide)

Dosing directions: 
For acute and potentially time sensitive conditions such as heat stroke, give two dose of 30c (2 pellets) within 10 or 15 minutes. If you don't see any response, give one more dose. If you still haven't seen any response, consider another remedy.

Remember:
"Response" can mean everything from a total resolution of the condition, to a slight reversal of symptoms. If you only see a mild improvement, then continue to redose the remedy as needed. That is, give another dose if symptoms plateau or get worse. But if you are administering cooling measures as well as a remedy that the patient is responding to, it is unlikely you will see a reversal. So once you see some equilibrium established, the headache subside, temperature regulate then there is no need to continue giving the remedy. 


Friday, July 5, 2013

(Don't) Feel the Burn: Remedies for Sun, Material and Chemical Damage

On the East Coast this last week (or maybe two? the days have drizzled together) we've been inundated with rain and clouds. The sunscreen sits lonely on the shelf.

(A side bar about sunscreen. Did you know that you need to choose your sun protection with the same care that you do your food, or medicine? Not all sunscreens are created equal- or effective. Check out this link for the warnings and recommendations: http://www.ewg.org/2013sunscreen/)

But in the next few days, I hear the sun will be out and the digital mercury will be rising. Skin will burn, and you might consider adding a homeopathic remedy - in addition to topical applications- to help skin repair and heal from the damage.

Mild, first degree burns 

A first-degree burn is characterized by redness, slight inflammation, and a sensation of pain.  Spreading aloe vera (best if right from the plant) is especially soothing and healing.

Find a good quality calendula tincture (best if alcohol free) and add a few drops to a small bowl of warm water. Yes- warm water on a burn will initially intensify the sensation, but then it will dissipate (warm water is homeopathic to a burn). Calendula is go-to for any skin trauma and promotes rapid healing. (Note- warm water is good for the first degree, surface burns and should not be used for second and third degree burns.) 

Homeopathically, urtica urens will help when the skin is unbroken and unblistered. Burns may also be itchy. Also good for burns with scalding or hot water, but again, more mild with unbroken skin. See recommendations below for more serious burns.

Start with a 30c, two doses within an hour, and then every 3-4 hours as needed.

A dose of aconite 30c is called for if a bout of chills follows a few hours after exposure. For example, a day out on the beach with the kids, they get a sunburn, and then later that night you find them chilled.

Second and Third Degree Burns

More serious burns can happen from a variety of sources. Certainly many of us have had sunburns so
bad that they blistered, which takes it to the designation of 'second degree'- that is, it has burned through the second layer of skin. In addition to blisters, there is intense redness with severe pain and swelling.
Second degree burns are still treated as 'mild' if they are less than three inches in diameter, and do not occur on the face, hands, feet, groin, buttocks, or a major joint. Traditional medical sources recommend immediate emergency care in such situations.

Burns are a potential injury at anytime, however long days at the beach or multiple sugar-hopped kids
around a campfire, open pots of boiling water on the campstove, and setting off fireworks are specific summer events that provide ample opportunity for an accident resulting in serious burns.

Response and Treatment
1) Make sure that you are out of the burn area. Walk away from the campfire, stove, or wherever the accident occurred.
2) Consider giving an immediate dose of aconite 30c, especially if you are dealing with a child who is scared and shocked by whatever happened- a pot of water spilled, a coal jumped the fire, etc... Aconite will help facilitate some calm.
3) Cold water applications. Avoid straight ice or ice-packs directly on the skin. Submerge a towel or t-shirt in cold water and wrap around the icepack, or ice, or just apply directly.

Remedies:



RemedyBurn looks like...is better with... the patient feels... specific situations
arsenicum albumserious 2nd, even 3rd degree burns,potentially even blackened skin warmth- feels internally cold and avoids the cold compressrestless, anxious, deep chills, and exhaustion
cantharis ves.2nd/3rd degree, very painful, red, burning, cold- must have cold on all the time. no specific mental with burnsburns to inside of mouth, throat; chemical burns, acid burns
causticum2nd degree, raw, difficulty healingcold, cold and damp may be restless and sensitive mentally. The skin never really heals, there are cracks and even ulcersthroat, tongue, effects of deep burns. "Never well since.." an old burn


For new burns start with the cantharis and follow my general recommendations for acutes- two doses of 30c within an hour, and then re-dose every 2-3 hours as needed.
If you see the emergence of restlessness, anxiety and a desire for warmth, then give a few doses of arsenicum. 
I put causticum on the chart not so much as a first-aid remedy, but to share how a homeopathic remedy can help with the long-lasting effects of past accidents and trauma. Maybe you know someone who suffered a burn in the past and could use causticum. 

There are other remedies for the effects of burns- ulceration, neuropathy (nerve damage), etc.. but they are best treated by a homeopath. Conventional medical practitioners may say that nothing can be done after a certain point, but not so!

Before I wrap up-

Third degree burns extend through all the tissue layers and there's a risk of permanent tissue damage, particularly if the burn extends through muscle to bone and fat layers. In place of redness, skin may be charred black or white.

If you find yourself in a situation where a third-degree burn has occurred, then I would head immediately for the aconite and the ER. But definitely follow -up with professional homeopathic treatment to speed healing, recovery, and help avoid secondary affections and infections.

Do you have any questions about treating burns? Have you used homeopathy effectively for a burn? Share it below in the comments and have a safe summer :)


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Take that! Fear of of Fireworks

We are days away from the Fourth of July. Fun and festivity abound on Independence Day, but so does a lot of fear and anxiety. Dogs cower and shake, cats skidaddle. Some children may cling and wail. Even some adults head for the hills. Let's face it- screaming sirens at the parades, booming fireworks into the night. Not exactly a relaxing soundtrack.

A quick Google search will turn up all kinds of suggestions for calming your pooch during the fireworks. The nice thing about homeopathy is that remedies can be used for anyone- dogs, cats, children, adults, the elderly. Heck, I even use them with our chickens. As long as the symptoms fit, you can give the remedy.

One of the key points about homeopathy is that is responds to symptoms. That is, the body is experiencing something *in the moment.* Like cures like... Not, like cures potential.
That being said, homeopaths have found that in certain situations, remedies can be administered in prophylactically. That is, in prevention or protection. And chances are, the animal or person who is scared of fireworks and sirens also has a degree of nervousness and anxiety as a general underlying state. In which case, the remedy is completely appropriate and may be acting both constitutionally, as well as acutely.

Here are four possible remedies to consider:

                                                                         Aconite
A primo remedy for fright, shock, and fear. Especially for sudden fear and fright. If you have young children, put a vial right into your bag and bring it to the parade or fireworks. Maybe your young one has never shown fear before at these things, but kids change and this may be the day. If the sirens start wailing or the explosions start and your little (or bigger) one starts feeling scared, give a dose of Aconite. Start with two pellets of 30c, and then give another dose in 10 or 15 minutes. If he or she doesn't settle down, you can give another dose in 15 minutes or so.
Same for dogs, though if you know your animal has a fear of loud noises, go ahead and put some in the water dish that afternoon. It may be easier than trying to give a remedy in the middle of the whole ordeal.

Borax
For the individual who already has a sensitivity to noises. Jumps or startles every time a big truck goes by, or another sudden noise. These individuals may also have a fear of downward motion- slides, jumping, being laid down in a crib, climbing down a structure or hillside, sledding, etc... Babies who throw their arms out to the side when they startle.
This is less of an acute remedy, and if there is someone like this in your life, then you know exactly the behavior I am talking about. It's fairly marked.
Give two doses of 30c within an hour (two pellets, each dose) and then see how things go. You should notice a significant difference in the startle and response to the sudden noises. Repeat only if the behavior returns.  You can also give aconite in the moment if necesssary.

Arsenicum album
Arsenicum can be helpful for an individual who tends to have anxiety and fear, accompanied by restlessness. In this case, the person who knows that things are going to be loud and scary, and so is preoccupied, nervous, and fearful ahead of time. There might be pacing, a desire for company and consolation. Think of the dog that sticks to you like velcro, panting, can't be still, anxious. Dose as directed above for Borax: two doses within an hour and then observe and re-dose as needed if you see a shift.

Constrast this to aconite, which is more a reaction to the suddenness, with shock and fear. There needs to be no previous display or fear to justify giving aconite. It is a true acute.
Borax will have a history of startling or fear of noises, but not necessarily a state of anxiety and restless in anticipation or in response.

Another lovely little support to consider is Bach's Rescue Remedy.
Rescue Remedy is a flower essence- made from a variety of different flower blossoms which have been shown to be efficacious for soothing fear and anxiety. Flower essences are an energetic blend, though prepared differently than homeopathic remedies. I find the support to be subtle in its action, yet effective and at times profound. You also don't need to worry about specific indications- it's for garden variety anxiety and fear. Some are more sensitive to it than others. The beautiful thing about Rescue Remedy is that you can take it directly from the bottle, or better yet add to anything you're drinking (though ideally water, you can put a few drops in kids' juice). Add to pet water bowls, water bottles, etc... as a gentle support for the sensory onslaught that is our lovely Independence Day :) 

Friday, June 28, 2013

One hive, two hive, three hive, four...

Hives seemed to be in the air this spring. Not that there is a 'season' for hives, but it seemed like every other day hives were coming up in conversation. The main theme?

We have no idea where they came from!

This kind of thing always makes my ears perk up because as a homeopath, I have this little detective streak. One interview I listened to with an experienced homeopathic practitioner and teacher said he recommended that all his students read Sherlock Holmes and watch Columbo. I haven't quite taken the plunge yet, but I understand his point. We must look where others have not thought to look, to inquire about the mundane as well as the peculiar, and look for ripples in the Matrix.

But, I digress. I was talking about hives.

So, hives and summer. Well, I don't know that hives are a *particular* summer issue (as I said, they seemed to be rampant this spring) but you know hot weather, exposed skin, vacations, visitors, switching up schedules- all ripe for some kind of inflammatory response!! Not to mention the poison ivy or oak, which takes very little detecting at all.

But back to the 'we have no idea where they came from!' bit.

The skin is a detoxifier, it's a shield, it's a sieve, it's a release valve. As our container, it is one of the main portals in as well as out. And though many of us like to live our lives in neat vectors of A+B=C, or point A always leads to point B to point C and back to A? Not so much your vital force. Past illnesses, emotions, stress, exposure- these assaults to the system must be dealt with. To maintain homeostasis- that is biochemical balance- in the body for optimal health, things must be dealt with. They are not always dealt with immediately. Bad reaction to x does not result in immediate symptom y. Sometimes it takes a few weeks. A physical influence can result in an emotional detox. An emotional assault can result in a physical expression. Hence- "We have no idea where these hives came from!"

For example, say Bobby breaks out in hives one day. Dad thinks about what he ate: nothing new. Mom thinks about any new lotions, shampoo, detergents, etc... : none. No outings in the woods. No projects or encounters with weird chemicals. But two weeks ago, Bobby's dog died. He hasn't cried yet. Result of suppressed grief? Hives.

Have I actually treated a case like this? Yes, I have. Did a remedy for grief clear up hives? Yes, it did.

Not all cases are so cut and dried. If there have been past rashes or outbreaks that have been suppressed with topical steroids or similar measures, then that is definitely a factor. Skin outbreaks are anything but simple, and for the most part, home prescribers may get frustrated. By all means, I recommend using homeopathy for skin outbreaks because it assists the body in doing the best thing- releasing to the surface and OUT. When topical steroids and other suppressive measures are used, it's like stopping up a volcano. You risk an earthquake. So if you encounter some hives that don't fit the criteria I list below, then call up a homeopath (or go to emergency if it's extreme, of course) and get more specific treatment.

To that end, I am going to offer a few remedies to consider for acute hives to try IF:

1) the medical history is unremarkable and there have been no previous suppressed skin eruptions
2) the cause of the hives is actually known, for example, poison ivy, food reaction (mild), exposure to something new, over heating, etc...

Here's a handy-dandy chart of remedies to consider and contrast:



RemedyThe hives look like....The hives feel....The potential cause is.....They feel better with....They feel worse with....Condition may include...
Apis mellificaswollen (like a balloon) and possibly shiny, redhot, itchy, or burning stings, allergy, infection, inflammationcold applications, movement/exercise, 3pm aggravationheatirritability, swelling of eyes and lips, throat
Rhus toxidendronlarge, red patches w. or w/o swelling prickling itching poison ivy, chicken pox, other contact allergiesHEAT- hot water over the areacold, cold weather, damprestlessness, or irritability
Urtica urenswheals- round patchs that are lighter with red centers. May be on fingers, scalp, and handsburning, itchinginsect bites/stings, over-heating, exertion, allergy to shellfishrubbing, though the itching is severe. Lying down, being stillheat, hot bathing, exertion
Antimonium crudumwhite, or light with red centershot, burning of the skin and may have a thick, honey-like dischargeassociated with stomach complaints, chicken poxeatingheat, sun, touch, being looked atinflamed eyelids, cracks at the nostrils or corners of the mouth
Arsenicum albumwhitish or pinkish whealsburninganxiety, worry, fear, 'poison'- that is, a foreign substance warmth, company, movementcold, seaside, scratchingnausea, diarrhea, a mental state of anxiety, fear, and restlessness
BelladonnaSUDDEN outbreak, red, swollenhot, pulsatingcontact with offending substance, hormonal imbalancespressuremotiona 3pm aggravation, hives worse inner thighs, arms, face
Ignatianettle like rashsevere itchinggrief, strong emotionslying, or pressure on affected arealeast touch- oversensitivity to pain. Open air, cold. sighing, defensiveness or touchy mood


Considerations when choosing a remedy: 
Look for any notable mental symptoms- especially the anxiety that might indicate arsenicum or the restlessness that might suggest rhus tox. If there *is* a prominent emotional state, then that is a stronger consideration than what the hives look like, or what you think the cause might be. Likewise, just because there is an absence of restlessness, does not mean that rhus tox is out of the picture, if the the other symptoms agree. You won't cause any harm by trying a remedy that isn't 'right on.' The symptoms may shift a bit, or nothing will happen. If there's a shift in the symptoms- for example, the eruptions change color, or itching becomes recurrent at a certain time of day or night, then use the new symptoms to guide you to your next remedy choice. 

Remember that progress does not mean that all symptoms clear immediately. Maybe the itching diminishes, but the swelling remains and recedes slowly. Maybe the reverse happens- the swelling reduces, but the itching remains. Shift remedies as you need to. 

As always, once you start seeing progress, reduce the frequency of dosing. Start with two doses within an hour, and then hourly or every two hours (depending on the severity) and discontinue the remedy if there is no difference after 3-4 doses. Also, if symptoms aggravate a bit, stop, observe, and consider a different remedy or consult a practitioner.