By Sister Alida – Our registered nurse Naturopathic Health Care Centre, Hazelwood, Pretoria
You have read a pile of baby magazines and you are subscribed to a few email newsletters to help you stay on track. You are attending baby stimulation classes and go to workshops and somewhere along the line somebody mentioned Homoeopathy. Yet another new topic to explore.
In my career as a nursing sister working in a homoeopathic practice, I have seen a number of little children whose parents were desperate. Their kid is six months old and already finished her third course of antibiotics. Often people come to the homoeopathic practitioner as a last resort.
It would be great if we could get our patients early, teach them what to look out for and help them to understand the value of the body’s own healing properties. My ideal is to have parents who can act as first line healers in their own homes. If we can achieve that, the world would be a better place.
The first thing to understand is the illness:
An acute disease develops in a short period of time. It is important that you learn to observe the circumstances during the early stages of development because your homoeopathic practitioner will ask about the following:
- Sensation: what does it feel like, like a splinter or a ball? If it is a pain, is it a sharp or dull pain?
- Location: where exactly is the discomfort? For example, on the left side of the throat, or on top of the scull.
- Extending to: For example, going towards the ears or down the leg
- Period: for how long, since when and what triggered it initially.
- Modalities: What aggravates it and what brings relief. For instance cold air makes it worse, but it is better from a warm bath.
Parents should learn to watch out carefully for the symptoms, realise that the body’s own defense mechanism already kicked in with an inflammatory response causing a raised temperature, pain, swelling, tiredness, etc. We are going to discuss the whole issue around fever in future talks.
The homoeopathic approach to acute diseases is to find a remedy or a complex of remedies that support the immune system in that specific area. Most pharmacies keep homoeopathic complexes to treat almost any minor ailment and it is quite okay to keep some of those little bottles in your medicine cupboard. It is a combination of remedies in low potency that can be taken frequently according to the acuteness of the situation.
In most cases the illness will start improving within 24 hours, starting on a mental level. In other words, when you see your child does not moan anymore and starts looking happier, then you know that there is a turn for the better.
A chronic illness develops over a longer period of time and it lasts for several months to years. A chronic case is more complicated to treat and will almost always need professional help. Chronic disease has often to do with an over response of the body’s immune system. You need a knowledgeable health care practitioner who are not only able to find the correct homoeopathic simplex , but who also has a good understanding of the physiological mechanism of the body and are able to tackle the condition from a different angle like for instance the digestive system.
Why does homoeopathy work?
To answer this question we must look into the history of homoeopathy. It all started with Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, who qualified in 1791 as a medical doctor. He practiced medicine for about nine years, but became increasingly disillusioned by the cruel and ineffective treatments of his time. At this point I must remind you that medicine and medical treatment in those days were not what we are used to these days. They made use of plants and herbals of which some of the side effects were very dangerous and even poisonous.
Dr. Hahnemann left practice and focused on studying, writing and translation work. To make a long story short, he started experimenting on himself. For that he used Peruvian bark, known as Cinchona. Homoeopaths call it China.
Hahnemann then observed that Cinchona produced in a healthy person the symptoms of malaria, the very disease that it was known to cure, a discovery which was a cornerstone in the development of homoeopathy. He referred to it as similia similibus curentur, meaning let like be cured with like. This principle became the first law of a system he called homoeopathy. (Homoios – similar and pathos – disease.)
He started experimenting with smaller and smaller doses, until he got rid of the side effects, but now it no longer effected a cure. He then developed a new method of dilution. Instead of simply stirring the substance after each dilution, he shook it vigorously. This shaking he called succusion and the liquid he called a potentised remedy. He found that the more he dilutes the remedy, using the method of succusion, the more effectively his remedy cured. He believed that the shaking released the energy of the substance and dissipated its toxic effects. This of cause is difficult to understand, difficult to explain and difficult to accept. How can anything so dilute have any affect? Yet despite opposition homoeopathy survived and spread remarkably quickly – because it was remarkably effective.
Important Principles, mode of action:
The classical homoeopath would give one remedy at a time, trying to match as much as possible symptoms of the patient with as much as possible characteristics of the remedy. This is time consuming and hard work, but once a practitioner gets the hang of it, it becomes most rewarding.
OTC’s on the market
Luckily for you, you do not have to become an expert before you can help your child. There are complex remedies on the market that contains a combination of simplexes altogether aiming for the same target. The ideal remedy will probably be in the complex, but until you can get to a practitioner who is able to choose the remedy more accurately, the OTC will do it for you.
When to self-medicate and when to seek professional help.
This is something that is different for every person, depending on one’s knowledge, or lack thereof, but also one’s personality and nerve. For instance, if you bump your toe, you are not going to ran off to the doctor. But if the toe becomes hot and red and the pain persists for several days, you might suspect a fracture. Then you might consider going to the doctor. And then there are still a few who will say: What will the doctor do? Take an x-ray, confirm the fracture and bandage it. I can do it myself. …
While it is always important to seek professional advice for serious injuries and situations, don’t forget that even here, homeopathy can help. A few doses of the needed remedy while the ambulance is on the way can make all the difference when every minute counts.
Now you have an idea of what homoeopathy is about. In the next talk we are going to discuss a few general conditions and remedies that work well on those conditions.