You’ve seen those little tubes of small, white pellets and dropper bottles of liquids with mysterious names and probably wondered what they’re all about. They represent one of the most important forms of over-the-counter solutions for simple health problems. Homeopathic medicines are among the safest choices for self-treatment since they produce neither side effects nor drug interactions.
Homeopathy was “discovered” in the early 1800s by a German physician, Samuel Hahnemann. This system of medicine is based on the law of similars, or the concept that “like is cured by like.” This principle states that a medicine can cure a disease if it produces, in a healthy person, symptoms similar to those produced by the disease. Homeopathic medicines use minute amounts of natural substances to stimulate healing reactions to bring relief from simple problems.
Regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as over-the-counter drugs since 1938, homeopathic medicines have a long history of safety and effectiveness. Modern research has confirmed the efficacy of homeo-pathy in more than 150 scientific studies published in medical journals. In the experienced hands of licensed practitioners, homeopathy also plays a significant role in treating chronic health problems.
Safe First Aid
Here are popular homeopathic remedies for common problems and some guidelines on how to use them. Follow the dosage recommendations given on the tube or bottle.
Cuts or Injuries
To stop bleeding from a cut or injury, press sterile gauze or the cleanest material available firmly over the wound. When the bleeding stops, bandage it firmly. Be aware of the need for professional care if bleeding persists, and call 9-1-1 if the wound seems serious. Use one of the following internal homeopathic medicines. Arnica: First choice if the bleeding is from a blow or fall, or if the person is in shock. China: Use when bleeding is accompanied by weakness, faintness, or shortness of breath. Ipecac: Advised for gushes of bright red blood (common during a nosebleed), especially when accompanied by nausea and a cold sweat.
Your first response in treating a bruise is homeopathic Arnica. If the pain is intense, Arnica can be taken every 15 minutes until the pain subsides.
When a bruise lasts longer than seems reasonable, and the injured part remains cold and numb, use Ledum. The key to using Ledum is that the problem is improved by the application of cold.
With a minor burn from touching a hot surface, first take Arnica immediately for shock. Once shock has passed, then the pain from the burn sets in. This is a time for Cantharis.
Burns with blistering and more severe burning pain may require Causticum. Lotions of homeopathic Hypericum and Calendula are useful external treatments for burns. Use either one frequently to relieve discomfort and to aid normal healing.
Stings from bees, hornets, and wasps are among the most common insect bites. Burning pain, itching, redness, swelling, and occasionally severe or even life-threatening reactions can occur, so be prepared to head to an emergency room. Whenever swelling occurs in the throat region, or with a history of severe breathing reactions to insect stings, call 9-1-1.
One of the most commonly used homeopathic medicines for bee stings is Apis mellifica. Made from the whole honey bee, consider Apis for insect stings that cause strong burning and stinging and a rosy (rather than bright red), soft, puffy swelling around the sting (rather than a firm or hard swelling).
When the tissue where the sting occurred is red and inflamed, and there’s a strong burning sensation, Cantharis may be a good choice. If the pain radiates upward from the injury and feels like a shooting nerve pain, then consider Hypericum. Calendula or Arnica tincture can relieve pain and swelling when applied directly.
Traveling by car, boat, or plane can cause motion sickness in sensitive individuals. Take the following medicines two or three times the day before starting the trip, as well as two to three times a day while traveling. Cocculus: Use for nausea and even dizziness with motion sickness. The smell or even the thought of food can increase nausea and induce vomiting. Tabacum: Symptoms that indicate this remedy include nausea, skin pallor, vomiting, a feeling of almost icy coldness, and sweating. Nux vomica: One of the most valuable homeopathic medicines for traveling, it’s useful for motion sickness and also resolves many digestive symptoms that can occur when exposed to different foods and water. Symptoms include horrible nausea associated with a weight or pain in the stomach, as well as gagging and retching that may lead to vomiting.
Poison Ivy or Oak
The very plant that causes the itching, poison oak, has been made into a homeopathic medicine. This preparation, Rhus toxicodendron (commonly called Rhus tox) is recommended for itching and burning skin, along with the small blister-like eruptions and local swelling. Antimonium crudum is advised for hive-like pustules and itching. Choose this remedy when itching is worse in bed or in the evening. Select Graphites for reactions that produce a sticky fluid (similar to honey) with dryness and roughness of the skin.
For the Little Ones Diaper Rash
Topically, apply Calendula lotion to keep the skin protected and moisturized. Internally, dissolve 5 pellets each of Belladonna 12C and Croton tiglium 12C in a bottle with a half-ounce of pure water and give to drink every hour until the rash is gone. Usually, the rash disappears within 48 hours. If not, the child may have a yeast infection, and you will have to consult your physician. When diaper rash accompanies teething, give Camilia.
At the first sign of inflammation (runny nose, earache, shiny eyes, warm body), give Belladonna 12C and Ferrum phosphoricum 12C, 5 pellets of each dissolved in a half-ounce of pure water in a baby bottle, every hour. Or try Camilia, which contains both medicines and an additional one for teething. Give one unit dose every hour. If pain is acute and sharp, add 3 pellets Capsicum 12C every 20 minutes while waiting for the physician.
Try Camilia, reducing frequency with improvement. This formula also relieves troubles associated with teething: diarrhea, sleeplessness, moodiness, and changes of behavior.