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    A guide to DIY homeopathy might seem amusing. Actually it’s terrifying

    26 January 2017

    The National Center for Homeopathy (NCH) claims to be the ‘go-to resource for all who are interested in learning about homeopathy’. Its website informs us that ‘it’s easy to get started using homeopathy at home. You don’t need to be an expert in anatomy, physiology, or pharmacology. You only need to be able to observe your and your family’s symptoms and any changes you might see in those symptoms. By using the information on this site you can quickly learn enough about homeopathy to use it at home to care for yourself and your family to address minor illnesses and injuries that don’t necessarily need a doctor’s care.’

    To promote the idea of DIY homeopathy, the NCH offers the right homeopathic remedies for a vast array of conditions. Its list of several hundred conditions ranges from acne to whooping cough and covers many illnesses that are potentially life-threatening. Here is just a small selection.

    Asthma attack
    Asthma attacks occur for a variety of reasons. You can help treat asthma attacks with homeopathic remedies based on the type of attack that it is.

    • Arsenicum album: anxiety, restlessness, unable to lie down because of feeling of suffocation shortly after midnight.
    • Carbo vegetabilis: asthma attach occurs after long, spasmodic coughing spell with gagging or vomiting; patient feels worst after eating or talking; worse in the evening.
    • Ipecacuanha: sudden onset of wheezing and feeling of suffocation; coughs constantly, but unable to bring up mucus; feeling of weight on chest.
    • Nux vomica: attack often follows stomach upset with much belching; patient very irritable.

    Bleeding

    • Arnica: injury, shock.
    • China: loss of blood.
    • Carbo vegetabilis: steady oozing of dark blood; cold breath, cold limbs; cold, clammy sweat; air hunger.
    • Ipecac: gushes of bright red blood, nausea, cold sweat.
    • Sabina: threatened abortion and uterine hemorrhage.
    • Phosphorus: profuse nosebleed, especially after vigorous blowing, or any hemorrhage; when small wounds bleed profusely.

    Chicken pox
    Chicken pox can be uncomfortable and painful (for both the child and the parent) and the only way to deal with it is to wait for it to run its course. However, homeopathy can help speed up the healing process – and quickly calm the itch and irritation of this childhood illness.
    Let’s look at the handful of remedies that are often called for in cases of chicken pox:

    • Aconite: Early cases, with restlessness, anxiety and high fever.
    • Antimonium tart: Delayed or receding, blue or pustular eruptions. Drowsy, sweaty and relaxed; nausea. Tardy eruption, to accelerate it. Associated with bronchitis, especially in children.
    • Belladonna: Severe headache: face flushed; hot skin. Drowsiness with inability to sleep.
    • Mercurius: To be used should vesicles discharge pus.
    • Rhus toxicodendron: Intense, annoying itching. Generally the only remedy required; under its action the disease soon disappears.
    • Sulphur: like with Rhus toxicodendron, rash is extremely annoying; very thirsty and hungry but takes more than can eat.

    Croup
    Croup can be very scary for parents… your child awakens at night coughing and gasping for air. Homeopathy works very well for these young patients.
    There are a number of great homeopathic remedies to consider first when you confront this condition late some night:

    • Aconite: This remedy should always be given at the first; it will often prove to be the only one needed, if given right, unless some other remedy is strongly indicated. Aconite will be called for if there is a high fever, skin dry, much restlessness and distress. Cough and loud breathing during inspiration. Every expiration ends with a hoarse hacking cough.
    • Arsenicum album: For croup with suffocative attacks at night; especially after midnight; croup before or after rashes or hives; patient cannot breath through nose; complaints with much restlessness and thirst, but for less quantity of water; aggravation after drinking.
    • Bromine: Spasms of the larynx, suffocative cough, horse whistling, croupy sound with great effort; rattling breathing; gasping; impeded respiration, heat of the face, much rattling in larynx when coughing.
    • Hepar sulph: If there is a rattling, choking cough, becoming worse particularly in the morning part of the night. Patient tends to be chilly. Cough can be worse from cold drafts or cold room – better warm moist air.
    • Spongia: The cough is dry and silibant; or it sounds like a saw driven through a pine board, each cough corresponding to a thrust of the saw.

    Ebola
    …The good news is that a small international team of experienced and heroic homeopaths have arrived in West Africa, and are currently on the ground working hard to examine patients, work out the ‘genus epidemicus’, and initiate clinical trials. This work is being done alongside the current conventional supportive measures and treatments already in place. We applaud and congratulate this team’s dedication and courage in joining the front lines in treating Ebola with homeopathy. The answer to whether homeopathic medicine has an important role in the Ebola epidemic could be forthcoming quite soon.

    Flu
    The flu can come on suddenly and stop you in your tracks – but there are many homeopathic remedies that can help bring relief and shorten the duration of the flu.
    The following are some remedies that can bring relief during the flu:

    • Arsenicum album: great prostration with extreme chilliness and a thirst for frequent sips of warm drinks. The eyes and nose stream with watery, acrid discharges. Feels irritable and anxious.
    • Baptista: gastric flu with vomiting and diarrhea. Comes on suddenly. Feels sore and bruised all over. Profuse perspiration with a high fever and extreme thirst. Feels (and looks) dazed and sluggish.
    • Bryonia: flu comes on slowly. Aching pains in all the joints are worse for the slightest motion. Painful dry cough that makes the head hurt. Extreme thirst at infrequent intervals. Feels intensely irritable and wants to be alone.
    • Eupatorium perfoliatum: the pains are so severe it feels as if the bones are broken. The muscles ache and feel sore and bruised as well. A bursting headache with sore, aching eyeballs. The nose runs with much sneezing, and the chest feels sore and raw. Thirsty for cold water even though it brings on violent chills in the small of the back.
    • Ferrum phosphoricum: a fever develops, a flu is likely but the symptoms aren’t clearly developed yet (and Aconite didn’t help). Take 3 doses every 2-4 hours.
    • Gelsemium: flu comes on slowly especially when the weather changes from cold to warm. The muscles feel weak and achy. There’s a great feeling of heaviness everywhere-the head (which aches dully), limbs, eyelids, etc. No thirst at all. Fever alternative with chills and shivers that run up and down the spine. Feels (and looks) apathetic, dull, and drowsy.
    • Mercurius solubilis: fever with copious, extremely offensive perspiration that doesn’t provide any relief (unlike most feverish sweats). The breath smells bad, there’s more salivation than normal and an extreme thirst.
    • Nux vomica: gastric flu with vomiting and diarrhea. The limbs and back ache a great deal. The nose runs during the day and is stopped up at night. Fever with chills and shivering especially after drinking. Very chilly and sensitive to the slightest draught of air or uncovering. Feels extremely impatient and irritable.
    • Pyrogenium: serious flu with severe pains in the back and the limbs and a terrible, bursting headache. Feels beaten and bruised all over. Very restless and feels better on beginning to move. Chills in the back and the limbs with a thumping heart.
    • Rhus toxicodendron: flu in cold, damp weather. Great restlessness: aching and stiffness in the joints is worse for first motion, it eases with continued motion and then they feel weak and have to rest after which they stiffen and have to move again. Pains are better for warmth. Feels anxious and weepy.

    At the first sign of a flu Oscillococcinum® can also be taken right at the very beginning of feeling ill but before any symptoms have developed.

    Measles
    While measles is probably best known for its full-body rash, the first symptoms of the infection are usually a hacking cough, runny nose, high fever, and red eyes that can be very sensitive to light. Characteristic markers of measles are Koplik’s spots, small red spots with blue-white centers that appear inside the mouth. The rash first appears on the face and then moves downwards and from the face downward.

    • Euphrasia: Lots of mucus; a mouthful hawked up on cough; clears the throat frequently; cough during the day only and worse in the morning; better lying down; eyes – burning, watery and sensitive to light; eyelids burning, red and swollen; wind and light aggravate; nose – bland, watery unlike the watery discharge of the eyes which burns; throat might be sore with burning pain.
    • Pulsatilla: thirstless; clinging and weepy; warm rooms and becoming warm aggravate; open air ameliorates; low fever and the itchy skin/eruptions are worse for heat; eruptions itching and worse for warmth with white or yellow discharge.
    • Apis: eruptions painful, burning, hot, stinging with swelling where the skin looks shiny/puffy; thirstless; itching better for cold applications and worse for heat, especially heat of bed; if rash is slow to develop or is suppressed; better in general for fresh air, better with cold drinks.
    • Bryonia: Rash/eruptions slow to come out or suppressed; warmth of the bed ameliorates; dryness and dislike of movement; headache has pain behind the eyeballs, bursting and violent, worse for moving; better for cold compresses and pressure; thirsty for large quantities of water all at once; motion aggravates; grumpy bear remedy – want to be left alone; throbbing/pulsating pains; dryness throughout all mucous membranes.

    Readers of the above advice might first have giggled, then have felt increasingly angry and eventually slightly depressed: this glimpse into the way homeopaths think is revealing and frightening in equal measure. In the final analysis, it is anything but amusing.

    Do I hear someone say ‘this is unnecessarily alarmist; homeopathic remedies are usually safe, much safer than conventional medicines’? If so, please consider the following two points.

    1. Homeopathy does not normally cause harm via its remedies but through neglect: it is essentially a non-treatment, and a non-treatment of a serious condition is inevitably life-threatening.

    2. Yes, real medicines do have real risks, but they also convey real benefits. Responsible healthcare practitioners use treatments the benefits of which outweigh their risks.

    What follows is fairly straightforward: the promotion of homeopathy is irresponsible, and the promotion of DIY homeopathy is outright dangerous.

    Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor at the University of Exeter, is the author of Homeopathy: The Undiluted Facts and the awardee of the John Maddox Prize 2015 for standing up for science. He blogs at edzardernst.com.