Sunday, February 17, 2013

Aconite hits again--West Coast February 2013

Like Sanguinaria, Aconite is one of the first plants to emerge in early spring--even showing itself before the snow melts.
It's aconite time again...and time to review our emergency fever remedies.

Many people have a few homeopathic remedies in the cupboard for emergency use: Arnica for bruises, Calendula for cuts and scrapes.  For flus, the top two remedies needed are Belladonna and Aconite.

Why?  You need remedies on hand that will most likely be used in the middle of the night for sudden fever spikes in children.  It's much simpler than calling the advice nurse, giving a tepid bath, and much cheaper than going to the ER.  (I'm not saying you shouldn't call for advice or go to the ER, but if you are going to wait it out, might as well use a dose of a remedy while you're at it.  You might get more sleep, fend off an ear infection and the dodge antibiotics.)

It is important to know the difference between Belladonna and Aconite:  ie. which fever symptoms are best calmed by which remedy.

Both remedies are for high fevers (102 and above) that spike suddenly at night
Both can be used for ear pain, even ear infections, or throat pain, even tonsillitis.
Both types of patients can have a barking cough
Both can have a headache that is throbbing, located in the occiput and forehead, and worse with things that increase internal pressure such as stooping or coughing.  The Belladonna headache is generally more intense and more throbbing in nature.

However, here are the differences:

Fever/heat: in Aconite one cheek is red while the other is white.  Hands and feet will be very hot.  In Belladonna, the whole face is red while the hands can be cold
Eyes: The Belladonna patient has glassy eyes that can look wild or besotted and the pupils are dilated.  With the Aconite patient, the pupils are smaller and the look of the eyes is best described as anxious but at least cognizant.
Thirst: Aconite patient will want lots of cold water whereas the Belladonna patient is thirstless, even during a high fever.
Mind:  Belladonna tends to be more irritable, even mean, along with fearful, whereas Aconite is more anxiously fearful.  Although both can be scared of ghosts, Belladonna is more fearful of imaginary things whereas someone in an Aconite state is scared of dying and fearful that they will die of the fever.

On Thursday night my 6yo daughter awoke at almost midnight with a high fever.  The day had been uneventful at school, except for eating lots of sugar at and after her class Valentine's Party.  It was a sunny day but cold.  They had gone to recess several times during the day.  She had gone to bed perfectly fine.

She woke complaining she was hot.  She was burning up. Her face, hands and feet were so hot that a cold wet cloth put on any of these parts warmed up in seconds.  She insisted that I take her temperature.  She was restless and clearly scared by what she was experiencing. She wanted ice cold water--insisted that I put ice in it and she drank a whole cup.  Normally she isn't very thirsty at all.  I have to remind her to drink water or juice on a daily basis.  She continued to be restless--couldn't hold the thermometer in her mouth due to a stuffy nose and complained even of the time it took to take an axial temp.

At first i gave her a low dose of Belladonna because I had just woken up and wasn't yet using all of my mental faculties (most of my mind was going towards converting celsius into fahenheit.  Why don't I get an American thermometer?).  Also it was before I had noted all of her symptoms (such as the thirst and hot hands and feet). The Belladonna did not do much. At first she said she felt a little better, but her fever did not change and she was still just as anxious as before.  I waited less than 10 minutes to try another remedy.

I really woke up, thought about all of her symptoms, checked her pupils and gave her Aconite in a 30x dose.  She calmed down almost immediately.  Within a few minutes she seemed almost chipper and her hands and feet were not as hot.  She still could not sleep, so she watched a couple of movies without complaining of her symptoms any longer.  She cooled off enough to have a light blanket over her for the rest of the night.

By morning, she had a 99 degree fever and although her nose was a bit runny, her sinuses were not totally stuffy as before.  We went to the office and checked her ears which looked perfectly clear.  She played in the office all day and by afternoon her fever was completely gone and she had no other symptoms.

That was with one single low dose of Aconite.

A friend from California then called today (3 days later) and described some similar symptoms in her almost one year old.  Her daughter, however had had a fever off and on and a cough and runny nose for a few days.  She had given her Belladonna to no effect.  Then her fever spiked to 103 again in the night.  She had the one cheek red, the other pale.  I suggested Aconite and luckily she had some at home.  She gave it and within a couple of hours her daughter was much better than she had been all week.  Mom felt she was on her way to full recovery.

Aconite is usually given at the first sign of fever.  Usually it is not used for fevers and sicknesses that drag on for days or weeks.  The "flu" or virus that is going around right now seems to be bad, gets better, then bad again.  That is one of the reasons we have been using Sanguinaria for it.  However, when the patient really seems to be improving and then a fever spikes high again, I believe Aconite can be given for the newly spiked fever.

Aconite is perfect for fevers that are brought on by being outside in the cold or wind.  It seems that as soon as kids feel like they are recovering from their cold or cough, they want to go outside if the day is sunny.  A sunny late winter/early spring day is hard to pass up.  However, the weather is still cold despite the blue sky and kids can get chilled due to being underdressed.  This can cause a reemergence of Aconite fever which will surely wake the parent around midnight or later.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Sanguinaria January-February 2013 Vancouver, WA

It starts with a dry throat and cough. Then the sinuses hurt and you get a headache.  You have nausea, and maybe even vomiting.  Possibly diarrhea.  Ears feel stopped up.  Eventually when the chest congestion starts, there is burning in your chest and your feet and hands might also feel hot even though the rest of you goes through bouts of chills.  Just when you think you're getting better, you get a fever, headache or cough again. This thing just wont go away! 

Everyone is getting the flu.  This flu hits all areas of the body making people think they have an ear infection, a sinus infection, tonsillitis or bacterial bronchitis. Because of the spasmodic cough that is worse at night, some think they have pertussis. This fever feels terrible and drives people to the hospital in numbers far greater than the previous flu season. That could be the reason flu counts have gone up. But it is viral, so antibiotics may not do anything. Anti-viral medications can be expensive.  But there is help in homeopathy.

Sanguinaria canadensis, the plant, or bloodroot as it's sometimes called, is popping up in the warmer areas of northern north America.  It pops up in late winter/early spring, making it great for the flu that has just arrived.  Although one doesn't use the flowers or leaves, if one didn't gather, dry and tincture the root of this plant in fall, the new sprouts show the forager where the rhizomes can be found.  I prefer using sanguinaria in it's homeopathic form which is easily stored at room temperature for several years.

Sanguinaria is a perfect example of 'like cures like'.  Native americans used it to induce vomiting for cleansing purposes. But we can use it for much more than nausea.

The headache in this flu is usually in the forehead or temples and could be construed as sinus pain.  But the occiput (back base of the head) is also sore and it feels as if this headache from occiput to the right eye is due to a much needed neck adjustment.  The headache is worse with light sound and movement (whereas in Belladonna it's worse only with stooping movements).  Even moving the eyes hurts.  (This is why it can be confused with a Bryonia flu, known for being worse with movement, particularly moving the eyes and also known for dryness of the throat and cough).  Normally, a  person sick in bed could at least enjoy TV, but these symptoms (worse light, worse sound, worse movement of the eyes) make this flu truly unbearable.

I've had a few patients say that their ears feel stopped up, like their adenoids are swollen and eustachian tubes blocked.  This is even true of one patient who has had her adenoids and tonsils removed.  Not everyone gets the ear symptoms, but those that are prone to ear symptoms do.  Also, a hoarse voice or even total loss of voice has been apparent this season.

Although the cough feels dry in the throat, there can be easy expectoration of phlegm.  The phlegm can be pink, rusty or even bloody if the inflammation has gone on long enough (NOTE: BLOODY SPUTUM IS A REASON TO VISIT A HOSPITAL OR DOCTOR AS SOON AS POSSIBLE).  The most noteable symptom, which was really the tip-off for this flu, is that people feel a burning behind the sternum.

With a sanguinaria flu, you can alternate between hot and cold without the usual amelioration from breaking a fever.  The interesting thing about a Sanguinaria fever is while your body may be experiencing chills, your feet feel burning hot making you want to have them out of the covers or even touching a cold surface.

The chill, irritabililty, and headache worse with movement led me to take Bryonia when I felt like I was getting the flu 3 days ago.  (Sanguinaria can want to be held but also be irritable while Bryonia types are irritable and want to be left alone).  I thought that some people I had talked to needed Sanguinaria but wasn't sure until I tried it on myself.  Bryonia, a more common flu remedy, did almost immediately relieve the chills I was experiencing.   However my palms and soles of my feet became hot, burning almost as soon as the chills went away.  Then I knew it was likely Sanguinaria that I needed.  The next day, I put some Sanguinaria 200c pellets in water, took 3 doses throughout the day and felt perfectly fine by bedtime.  I wasn't resting that day either--had errans to run--so it wasn't just taking it easy that made things better.  The only symptoms I had were the headache, nausea, feeling of fever while chilled and burning sinuses causing a headache.  Sounds like many symptoms, but since I caught it early, it only lasted a day or so and did not result in the bronchitis or vomiting that has happened to other people I know.

Sanguinaria can be used palliatively throughout a flu even if Sanguinaria isn't the "genus epidemicus" of the flu.    I suppose this can be said of several flu remedies however: Gelsemium, Bryonia, Nux vomica, Arsenicum, and others.  Remember that Phosphorus is also indicated in coughs worse and night with burning under the sternum. For more complete discussion of Phosphorus see Flucaster:Phosphorus

If you find the Sanguinaria plant in your area, tell me about it or send a picture!  To see my website for more information, go to