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Chiropractic News

September 2011

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Homeopathic first aid

With an understanding of the principles of homeopathic care, you can offer relief even to patients who are experiencing acute trauma.

By Jamie Oskin, ND

You can add value to your practice by offering your patients homeopathic care to speed their recovery from trauma and injuries. Homeopathy is a gentle, safe, and non-toxic therapy that promotes rapid recovery. It can be used alone or as a complement to chiropractic.

Homeopathy basics

Homeopathy as a system of medicine has been used for more than 200 years worldwide since it was developed by Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician. Homeopathy respects the body’s innate ability to heal, and uses individualized medications to support the body’s own healing capacity.

It is often effective where conventional medicine fails. Furthermore, homeopathy is grounded in a scientific method and supported by clinical research.

OskinHomeopathy is based on the idea that “like cures like.” This states that a disease can be cured by using a substance that can produce similar symptoms of the disease when given to a healthy person.

For example: You may have experienced eye and sinus pain when cutting a fresh onion. In homeopathy, you can use a homeopathic preparation of onion to treat ailments like allergic rhinitis and the common cold. The more the prescription matches the patient’s symptoms, the greater the benefit.

Homeopathy can be effective in treating many acute and first-aid conditions like traumatic bruises, back pain, nerve injuries, and sprains and strains. This makes it valuable for chiropractic. A homeopathic expert can also treat more serious and chronic diseases. Your skill as a homeopathic prescriber dictates the types of conditions you choose to treat.

If you are new to homeopathy, several homeopathic pharmacies sell groups of commonly prescribed remedies for certain conditions. To successfully prescribe individualized homeopathic remedies, here are some basic guidelines you can apply to start achieving results and getting your patients better quickly, safely, and naturally.

Five tips for acute homeopathic prescribing

  1. Find out all the details of the main problem for the patient. Perform due diligence to come to an accurate medical diagnosis.
  2. It is important to find out the pain’s exact location, its exact sensation, its pattern of radiation, and its modalities (what makes it better and worse). The more details you obtain, the richer the symptom picture and the easier it will be to find the most individualized homeopathic remedy.
  3. Use open-ended questions like “describe your pain” or “what makes the pain worse?” to get the most reliable descriptions from the person, rather than asking close-ended “yes-or- no” questions.
  4. Other important symptoms are any changes the person has experienced since the injury or trauma began. This may include changes in their general temperature (e.g., whether they are chilly or warm), thirst, appetite, sleep, perspiration, or mental and emotional states.
  5. For difficult cases, consult your homeopathic references (materia medica) to find the remedy that best matches your patient’s symptoms or refer to a homeopathic specialist.

Homeopathy for first aid

While there are many possible choices in the homeopathic treatment of acute injuries, here are the more frequently indicated remedies that you can use in everyday chiropractic:

Arnica montana: Arnica is the number-one remedy for traumatic injuries and will be helpful in about 70 percent of such cases. It is useful for sprains and strains to tendons and ligaments, contusions, head injuries, post-surgical recovery, and bruising after motor vehicle accidents.

The key is to give Arnica right after the traumatic injury in the first stage when there is swelling, black-and-blue bruising, and the injury feels sore or bruised. The patient may be oversensitive to pain and everything they lie on may seem too hard. Some patients may try to be tough and say they are OK when they are clearly injured more than they will admit.

Hypericum perforatum (St. John’s Wort): Hypericum is the main homeopathic remedy for crush injuries to the distal extremities such as the fingers, toes, and nails (especially at the tips). It can also be used post-surgically when Arnica fails as well as for phantom pains in amputees.

Patient’s needing Hypericum will have intolerable shooting nerve pains that will travel upward from the distal extremity proximally. Hypericum is also the most indicated first-aid remedy for coccyx injuries.

Cimicifuga racemosa: Cimicifuga is the number-one remedy for the bruised, sore feeling of muscle tissue after hard exercise. You may find this valuable for your sedentary patients who come in sore after starting a new exercise regimen.

Rhus toxicodendron: Consider Rhus tox as a top remedy for sports injuries such as knee and ankle sprains as well as low-back pain. You can prescribe it a few days after your initial Arnica prescription, once that has helped the swelling come down. Rhus tox injuries often happen from overexertion. The pain is aching and the joint will feel stiff, especially after resting for a while. Low-back pain will be better from hard pressure such as

lying on a hard floor. If the person’s pain improves from application of heat, Rhus tox is indicated.

Bryonia: Bryonia is another remedy for sports injuries such as sprains/strains, low-back pain, and costochondritis. You will need to differentiate your prescription between Bryonia and Rhus tox. As with Rhus tox, prescribe Bryonia following an Arnica prescription once the initial swelling and bruising have improved. You will know it’s time because the swelling has improved, yet the pain still persists. For an accurate Bryonia prescription, the pain will worsen from the slightest motion and improve from rest and hard pressure. It will worsen from warmth and improve with cold applications.

Ruta graviolens: Next to Rhus tox and Bryonia, Ruta is an invaluable remedy for sprain/strain injuries to the wrists, ankles, and flexor tendons and ligaments. You can give it in the second stage after Arnica for bruised, weak, and sore joints following an injury when  you  see no clear indication for Rhus tox or Bryonia, or if you’ve tried those remedies and they failed to help.

Belladonna: This remedy can treat acute injuries, costochondritis, and low-back pain. It is for pain that is severe and pulsating, throbbing, shooting, or for spasms and intense cramps. The spasms can begin and end suddenly, and sometimes may be the only symptoms. Other symptoms may include pain worsening from motion, touch, or exposure to cold. The pain may worsen when lying on the painful side, and improve when sitting up.

Symphytum: Symphytum is the main remedy for speeding the healing of bone fractures. This is a supportive therapy you will give to patients once they’ve had the fracture appropriately set by an orthopedist. It will follow Arnica well after the initial stages of swelling and bruising have improved. It is best to prescribe a low potency dose (like 6C or 30C daily) until the fracture is completely healed.

Magnesia phosphorica: The person needing Mag phos will have a classic sciatica pattern of nerve pain extending from the low back down the back of the buttocks and back of the leg. The pain can be cramping (often from overexertion) or sudden, violent, and neuralgic, such as cutting, shooting, or sharp lightning-like pains. When the sciatica pain improves from warmth and pressure, but warmth is better than pressure, consider this remedy.

Colocynthis: This is another sciatica remedy. When the pain improves from warmth and hard pressure, but pressure gives the most relief, Colocynthis will often be effective. In their state of extreme pain, patients may be angry, indignant, and easily offended; yet these mental-emotional symptoms are not as significant for diagnosis as are the physical symptoms.

Homeopathic dosing strategies

Homeopathic remedies are FDA-approved medicines that are very dilute, and thus are non-toxic. They are mostly made from plant, mineral, or animal substances, and are given in minuscule doses to eliminate the possibility of side effects.

Homeopathic medicines are dosed by dissolving three to four pellets in the patient’s mouth. In acute cases, dose the medicine every hour or two at first, until you notice a clear improvement in pain levels.

In severe acute pain, use high potencies (e.g., 200C, 1M, or 10M). If there is no relief after a few hours or days, try another remedy.

After initial signs of improvement, the dosage can be backed off to three to four times a day. If the patient gets better for a few days and then relapses, first try a higher potency of the same remedy before changing to a different homeopathic medicine.

Overall, the most important thing is finding the best remedy, not the potency. With accurate homeopathic prescribing, acute problems can be expected to resolve rather quickly within a few days to weeks. With intense pain, the right remedy will often give relief within hours of the first dose.

Homeopathic first-aid kits

For your practice, you can set up an account with one of the various homeopathic pharmacies to stock homeopathic remedies as a courtesy for your patients.

Most of the remedies discussed can also be purchased by patients over the counter in low potencies (below 30C) at many health food stores. Higher potencies of individual homeopathic remedies (above 200C) are only sold to doctors.

Several homeopathic pharmacies sell first-aid kits that patients and families can keep at home. These are perfect for long-standing patients who can learn basic homeopathic prescribing when their kids get various bumps and bruises.

Teaching parents homeopathic first- aid prescribing is an incredible practice-building technique because it makes them more valuable patients and advocates of your practice. Patients who experience homeopathy working first-hand for their minor problems at home will be happy because they can use an all-natural therapy rather than toxic drugs.

JamieOskinJamie Oskin, ND, is in private practice at the Arizona Natural Health Center. He graduated in 2008 from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. He has completed naturopathic family medicine and homeopathic specialty residencies. He can be reached at 480-456-0402 or through www.aznaturalhealth.com/drjamieoskin.

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