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.

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. 


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. 


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.

"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:

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.


RemedyBurn looks 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:

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.

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 :)