Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Belladonna December 2015

Belladonna--the name sounds so innocent, literally meaning "Beautiful lady". The purple flowers hand languidly from arched stems, seeming to mind their own business, offering up unassuming beauty to passersby.  However, the foliage and enticing berries which the flowers give way to in Autumn are extremely poisonous, giving the plant it's other common name: deadly nightshade.

The berries are mild tasting and many children have died by eating them. Women used to use a mild tincture of this plant to make their pupils dilate, which was thought to be beautiful. Too much of this tincture or eating the berries of this plant could result in any one of these symptoms:

  • hallucinations
  • high fever
  • cramping pain in the abdomen, particularly along the transverse colon
  • pounding headache, with so much pressure the eyes feel as though they will pop out. Headache is worse with coughing, light in the eyes, noise, mar, motion, stooping.
  • sinus pain (frontal or maxillary), better with hard pressure, worse from stooping forward
  • severe ear pain, throbbing
  • tonsillitis with severe pain and exudate (white spots). Air passing over the tonsils makes it hurt worse
  • constipation
  • cold hands and feet but hot face
All of these symptoms fit a flu that has been going around.  The interesting thing about the Belladonna flu is that is is typically short lived. There are two flus that have been going around whose symptoms seem to last longer than a day or two. See my previous post regarding Bryonia and Hepar sulph.  If Hepar sulph doesn't seem to fit because there is not a lot of mucous, try Belladonna for dry sinus congestion/inflammation.

People with Belladonna symptoms over the last two weeks, though, have had sudden recurring bouts of abdominal pain across the transverse colon, hot flushes/fever, nausea, and feeling sick. These symptoms will get somewhat better, then return in a day or two. Usually Belladonna flus don't have a remitting/recurring style, but this year it seems to. Belladonna has worked very well for treating the abdominal cramping and fever lately.  Three patients so far have had intense cramping resembling a gall stone attack. Imaging has shown no stones and one patient did have a gall bladder polyp. Belladonna is a cholecystitis (gall bladder inflammation) remedy. So far over the last two weeks it has worked better than colocynthis and chelidonium which are more often used for gall bladder symptoms and cramping abdominal pain in the epigastrium.  Also Nux vomica, which is typically used during holiday time for over indulgence in rich foods, has not been working well for indigestion this year.

Belladonna is the best pick right now for fevers or abdominal pain that come on suddenly (within minutes to hours). Typically, the person with the flu will feel hot and a little "out-of it"--be it weird dreams or waking delirium at night. Their eyes will look glassy and the pupils will be dilated. These are the hallucinogenic effect typical of a belladonna flu, likely caused by a very high fever. Pregnant women should take care not to let their fever go too high (over 102 F). Taking Belladonna early in the flu onset can prevent this. 

Because a Belladonna flu comes on so suddenly, it is advisable to have some on hand in the medicine cabinet. Luckily, most natural health grocery stores will carry homeopathic Belladonna.  A 30c dose will treat most people, young and old. If you happen to have a 200c dose on hand, that will also work, but take only one dose daily as needed. Babies or young children can probably get away with a 12c or 6c dose, given as needed for symptoms.

And remember: DON'T EAT THE BERRIES!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hepar sulph (Fall 2015)--the flu that just won't end

In my last post (please read), I told about the Bryonia flu, in which cold intolerance is a hallmark.  While Bryonia marks the beginning of this slowly onsetting flu, when it continues and morphs into the sticky, gluey, stuffy cold you get when mucous fills the respiratory tract and decides to set up camp, you might have the hepar sulph flu.

Hepar sulph is also known as calcium sulfide and is prepared by peeling the calcium rich inner layer of an oyster shell (see pic above) and combining it with sulfur and then treating it with hydrochloric acid. One of the hallmarks of this remedy is the inability to bear cold, so it is a remedy which follows the Bryonia flu well.

Similar to Bryonia, people suffering from the Hepar sulph flu feel worse with cold drafts, want to be wrapped and even their head covered up to protect the ears from cold wind. They feel better in warmth and humidity.  They are also irritable like Bryonia. People in a chronic Hepar sulph state are good workers (similar to Calc carb.--calcium carbonate) but they don't tolerate the imperfections and the annoying nature of other people and thus are known to be 'grumpy'.  At the same time, they are also sensitive and get their feelings hurt easily, mirroring their sensitivity to a slight cold draft.

In the flu state of Hepar sulph, there is much mucous. Take a look at the oyster shell picture above. It does not look clean and smooth. There is a lot of icky matter clinging to the shell. Simlarly, in a Hepar sulph flu mucous is abundant and becomes sticky and thick, coating the sinuses, throat, and bronchioles. It is difficult to expel.  Sinus infection ensues (or what is known as a sinus infection in western medical terms) as well as bronchitis. While these problems are commonly treated with antibiotics in the United States, the medicine does not solve the problem of the sticky mucous.

Hepar sulph is commonly used for tonsillitis and ear infection where the sore throat pain on swallowing shoots up to the ear in a piercing manner.  In a child who does not talk, you may notice them cry out every time they swallow and they may also tug on their ear or cover their ear with their hand  They want to be wrapped up.  Mouth ulcers and cold sores can also be helped by hepar sulph.

Already this year I have had a few people come to me at the end of their course of antibiotics thinking that they need something more--more antibiotics or something different.  I give them something different--homeopathy.  Their noses are still stuffy, they are still coughing. Though they might feel that their production of mucous has waned, the existing mucous still clings to the mucous membranes. Whereas the Bryonia cough is dry, the Hepar sulph cough is wet sounding, yet the mucous is difficult to bring up. When the nature of the cough changes from dry to wet sounding, you know you have to switch from Bryonia to Hepar sulph.

Actually, if people would take the Bryonia homeopathic near the beginning of the flu, I am certain that they would never reach a Hepar sulph state. However most people come to me after having gone to urgent care and having taken antibiotics already.  If you go to your nearest Natural Grocers, Chuck's produce, Whole Foods or other health food store, stock up on Bryonia and Hepar sulph in a 30c dose if you can find it.  Those in a less toxic state or children may get away with a 12c or 6c potency.  You can usually avoid antibiotics by having the proper homeopathic remedies on the shelf.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Forecast: Bryonia

I'm going to do something a little different this time and actually give a prediction. I predict that this season's first flu (in case you haven't had a flu already) will be a Bryonia flu. Also I have a prediction based on a couple of observations that the Bryonia flu will transform into a Hepar sulph state (see next blog post).

Although there have been some indications here and there of Bryonia flu, I haven't seen someone with a full blown case of it. Likely because I have been giving out Bryonia for people's symptoms. What symptoms you ask?

-flu that comes on insidiously (slowly). You feel like you are getting sick for a couple of days.
-back ache
-dry mouth, thirst
-laying still feels better than moving. even the movement of breath through the sinuses and lungs is uncomfortable, especially if it's cold air.
-sensitive to drafts. you want to be wrapped up.
-wants to be left alone.  When someone has the Bryonia flu, they don't want consolation. They want to go home and stay there.
-Headache will usually be left-sided, over the left eye or forehead, extending to the occiput, then the whole head (Morrison, Desktop Guide).
-Lung sequelae of colds and flus: bronchitis, pleurisy, pneumonia with painful coughing.

Try Bryonia if you have an inkling of these symptoms at the start of a flu.  If not sure, there is a great new product in our office that is a combination homeopathic by Hevert called Cold & Flu Relief. It has Bryonia, Aconite, Belladonna, Rhus tox, and other homeopathics that are great for taking at the start of a flu. call the office to get some at 360-433-2727.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Ipecacuana--Summer remedy 2015

There has been a large amount of nausea going around.  People are getting the flu, some with diarrhea, some with vomiting, most with a little fever. All have nausea.

When it comes to nausea, Ipecac is often the top remedy to take. Not Ipecac in a bottle that you give your kids when they eat poison. Homeopathic Ipecacuanha.  Liquid Ipecac causes vomiting and as usual, according to like-cures-like theory, homeopathic Ipecac helps relieve nausea.

Homeopathic Ipecac can be used for nausea and vomiting with cough, migraine, labor, and dysmenorrhea (painful menses). It is indicated for rattling cough in warm humid weather and asthmatic bronchitis,  making this remedy especially useful in summertime. In addition, it may be used for motion sickness nausea, which typically will happen on a boat, and boats are especially used in summertime.

Croup can have vomiting or coughing until gagging as a hallmark and Ipecac can be used to relieve cough due to pertussis. (it is recommended that antibiotic therapy be co-administered especially in anyone with asthma or other respiratory trouble).

This summer, many people have had one to two weeks of nausea, low grade fever (higher fever in babies), and some with abdominal cramps.  Certainly there are other differential diagnoses with these same symptoms but among the patients I have seen who have also been to the ER or seen their MD  none had any other complicating diagnoses and none had any other symptoms or sequelae.

When we see vomiting and diarrhea we usually think of Veratrum album. However, this sickness going around is not as intense as veratrum. The diarrhea may come on for a few days before the nausea. The patient does not get dehydrated from vomiting and diarrhea together. Most do not have vomiting at all, just the nausea. Also the thought or smell of food may make them more nauseous.  In addition, they may have very stiff muscles of the face and neck during the cough as well as aching in the bones, particularly the legs.

So far, Ipecac has helped a great deal. Does it cure the virus?  The virus may last just as long as if the patient did not take the Ipecac. However, even if a person had to take two to three doses of Ipecac homeopathic daily for four or more days, that person could go on with their daily life or at least rest at home free of nausea while they recover.  So far, low dose Ipecac (12c) has worked well.

Ipecac can also be used for chronic asthma and any tendency to nausea and hemorrhage.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lycopodium--attack of the club moss

Lycopodium. Club moss.  Technically it's a moss, but it doesn't lay low or horizontal like some other common mosses.  Although it propogates by travelling along the ground, it sends up shoots which stand straight up, resembling a pine seedling.  This gives  it one of it's names: 'ground pine'. Lycopodium clavatum is the species found in Europe, so is the species used to make the homeopathic medicine. 

When most homeopaths think of Lycopodium, they think things like abdominal bloating, gas, and feelings of inferiority.  The classic phrase "if you don't like a podium, you might need Lycopodium" helps us remember how the Lycopodium individual is not keen on public speaking and so the remedy can be used for these occasions. 

However, a well known homeopath recently identified Lycopodium as the genus epidemicus (flu remedy) for the flu this winter.  Indeed, many of the symptoms of this year's flu are symptoms that match the potential Lycopodium picture:

FEVER-Remittent (the illness waxes and wanes, coming back just when you think it's over)
MIND-Dullness-headache, with 
HEAD-Pain-light; from -agg.  (light in the eyes causes headache)
NOSE sinuses, complaints of -frontal sinuses
EXPECTORATION-rusty (this was towards the end of the cold)
CHEST-inflammation-Bronchiol tubes-bronchopneumonia (seen in a couple of patients)
update 3/3/15: got the cold again, here are some more symptoms I forgot about:
THROAT-MUCUS-greenish (by the way, it is all coming from the adenoids but Lycopodium is not listed in the very few adenoid rubrics available).
HEAD-PAIN-Forehead-Middle of (one is tempted to use sinus rubrics here but more simple head pain rubrics seem to have been used)

I first got this flu in September. Usually I am happy to get the flu early in the season because then I can figure out the homeopathic remedy and use it on other people.  With this flu, you go down. Fast and hard.  Your head feels like lead, at least mine did.  I could not think. The sinuses were completely congested and heavy. Sinus headache.  Light shining in my eyes while driving made the headache worse. I felt vertigo when watching moving objects (although Lycopodium did not show up in the computer repertory for that symptom).

I had tried several flu remedies and nothing worked. I finally used an herbal bronchitis formula which worked for the cough with which this flu ended. (update 3/3/15: herbs seem to work well for this flu. When i got it last weekend, I was up at a hike-in cabin in the mountains and did not have any homeopathics with me (doh!).  Luckily I had thyme and oregano which I had just picked from my yard before heading out for the trip.  I chewed on the thyme and oregano buds and the sore throat went away and I felt much better in the morning).

Then Paul Herscu, homeopath, naturopathic physician and teacher, suggested lycopodium as the flu remedy this winter. I was over the flu so I couldn't try it (see update below). I asked other people to tell me their symptoms but it wasn't until late January when my family came down with the flu.  Lycopodium seemed to work. I had a few symptoms again, took lycopodium right away and was fine. I also took other remedies though (I can never keep myself to one remedy). Then a friend of mine took Lycopodium when she and her family were sick. She got better within hours but her husband who didn't think Lycopodium fit his picture refused to take it and his flu carried on for days.

After reviewing Lycopodium again, I can see how it can be a cold/flu remedy. Although it's classically used for gastrointestinal distress (which also is apparent in this flu in the form of loose stool and gas), like any remedy it can treat a multitude of other symptoms. It's interesting that Lycopodium, the plant, contains triterpinoids with acetylcholinesterase inhibitor activity.  Use of acetylcholine esterase inhibitors can carry an increased risk of bronchitis, pneumonia, and chronic cough.  Acetylcholine increases mucous secretion and congestion in the sinuses. So if Lycopodium as a plant can cause the symptoms associated with increased acetylcholine (via acetylcholinesterase inhibition), then using Lycopodium in a diluted and potentized homeopathic dose should treat the same symptoms.  This would prove Hahnemann's theory of 'like cures like'.

I will definitely be keeping this remedy in mind for future flus which have the sinus and bronchial symptoms listed above as hallmarks.  

UPDATE 3/3/15: did take Lycopodium this morning again as the cold is still lingering after getting back from my mountain excursion over the weekend.  The sinus pain is definitely right in the middle of the forehead, is sinus in nature, and worse with inspiration although it is not listed in this rubric in RADAR.  This shows the difficulties of using an incomplete repertory to find a remedy. Also my throat was very dry (THROAT-DRYNESS: 379 remedies) but only bothered me at night when I lay down (THROAT-DRYNESS-lying-agg.: 2 remedies). Although using large rubrics and tiny rubrics are both ill advised, using the smaller rubric brings us to the remedy in this case.  After a 200c dose, then a cup of coffee (I know, I know) then another 200c dose, the sinus pain is still there but congestion is improved.  Hopefully the dullness of mind caused by the headache will subside as I need to contemplate the periodic table in relation to disease for an upcoming discussion next week.

 2010 Fall;17(3):e379-89. Epub 2010 Oct 26.

Cholinesterase inhibitors and the risk of pulmonary disorders in hospitalized dementia patients.