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Homeopathy and Asthma

by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in asthma, originally published in issue 10 - February 1996

Children are a joy to treat with homeopathy. Not only are their characteristics clearly and openly displayed in the consulting room; they also respond wonderfully well to the correctly-chosen simillimum in ways that frequently amaze parents and practitioners alike. I would like to share with you two cases of asthma in childhood which I have treated with homeopathy and which demonstrate how the same complaint presents so differently in the various children and is therefore treated with a different remedy in each case.

Case 1 AH age 6

Aled has had a tendency to chestiness all his life, and received several courses of antibiotics before the age of two for "wheezy bronchitis". Indeed, every cold that he picked up went straight to his chest. In recent years, doctors have become increasingly aware that this kind of pattern is usually indicative of underlying asthma and are commencing broncho- dilator therapy and preventative medications such as Intal or even inhaled steroids at earlier and earlier ages. There is good evidence that this practice reduces the time off school and the overall ill health of these children. It is hoped that it will prevent long term lung damage caused by chronic spasm in the air passages.

However, the treatments, especially the preventive treatments, have to be administered on a daily basis and, as such, are clearly designed to keep the situation under control. They are not influencing the underlying problem. Measures to reduce exposure to the house dust mite (HDM) can help children known to be allergic to its droppings but even then, we are not explaining why some children are allergic to HDM and some are not.

Aled's parents had tried the anti-HDM routine without significant benefit. His GP had prescribed Intal, and then Becotide, an inhaled steroid, with only marginal improvement. Aled was having frequent chest infections, was coughing most nights until he vomited and was unable to participate in football at school because running made his cough so much worse. In desperation, his parents turned to homeopathy.

I realised that the best chance of improving the asthma in the long term was to prescribe a so-called constitutional remedy based on all the physical and psychological characteristics of the child. However, it can be a long process to ascertain the constitutional remedy and Aled was acutely unwell when seen. I therefore prescribed Drosera 6c tablets, one to be chewed up three to four times daily until improvement. This preparation of the bog plant Sundew was given because of the characteristics of Aled's cough. He would start coughing as soon as his head hit the pillow at night, it was dry and staccato in nature and the spasms frequently ended with retching. I stressed that Aled should continue on his prescribed medication as it is very dangerous for asthmatics to cease their usual treatment suddenly, especially during an acute attack, and never without medical advice.

The family returned the next week and, happily, Aled had recovered well. The Drosera seemed to have relieved the cough considerably. For the first time in many months, he had recovered from a cold without antibiotics. Now we proceeded to gather the information required to prescribe a constitutional remedy which would raise Aled's general level of health and reduce the overall frequency of attacks.

It transpired that Aled had had baby eczema quite badly and was treated with steroid creams. These eventually settled the problem by about 18 months of age. It was at about this time that the asthma had begun to develop. Apart from these problems, Aled was generally well. While we were talking, Aled was busy in the toy corner. He had turned the box upside down and was busily and noisily sorting through the contents, trying out every available button and knob. Every now and then he would interrupt the conversation and offer information in a quite unabashed manner. Early on in the proceedings, he had peeled off his jumper, announcing that he was too hot.

His parents confirmed that he was always too hot and that it was difficult to persuade him to wear what they considered to be adequate clothing. He often threw his bedclothes off at night or was found with his feet sticking out of the covers. He liked fat and spicy food and sometimes surprised them by enjoying hot curry. Above all he had a terribly sweet tooth. Though inclined to be argumentative and boisterous, he was not violent or cruel and looked out for his little brother.

Aled was a clear case to me, requiring the homeopathic remedy Sulphur. This decision was based on his general warm-bloodedness, his active energetic character and the history of frequent administration at drugs and antibiotics. I gave a 6c potency In 3 doses at 12 hourly intervals over a weekend.

His progress was rapid. He had no further attacks of asthma that year and eventually weaned off his steroid inhaler without any deterioration in the control of his asthma. Interestingly, for about three months his eczema returned but disappeared again treated only with bath oil and moisturising cream, and without the use of steroid cream. Aled is now nine years old and remains well. He has needed three more short courses of Sulphur in the intervening years and is off all inhalers.

Case 2 SG Aped 2 1/2 years

Steffan had suffered from "croup" since the age of six months and was said, by his doctor, to be a "happy wheezer". This term is given to infants with mild chronic asthma who manage to avoid needing inhaled therapy. He also tended to have a blocked nose with white catarrh and had had several ear infections.

Just prior to consulting me, things took a definite turn for the worse and Steffan became very wheezy. He required a strong course of steroid tablets by mouth to bring the situation under control. His parents were well-informed and understandably concerned that he had deteriorated to the extent that steroids were needed. Wishing to avoid a repeat of the situation, they decided to try homeopathy.

Steffan presented as an active determined little boy. He displayed good eye-contact and no shyness. Constantly on the move, he seemed to need continuous stimulation and was easily bored in the consulting room, which was, unfortunately rather bare of toys that day. His mother reported him to be very much in tune with his twin siblings, often crying in sympathy with them. He could be sensitive to chiding, criticism or events. He attends a playgroup and is very much in awe of the other children. In general he is scared of things. An artistic flair can be detected and he drew me a nice scribble with something of a flourish.

Quite a warm child he perspires from the upper lip and also from the head while sleeping, though the latter less so than when a baby.

He likes fish, dairy products and adores chocolate and sweets. As he shows a very strong thirst, his mother never travels without being armed with plenty of drinks for him.

In homeopathy, certain physical characteristics are said to point to specific remedies. One has to be careful not to be led astray by a too simplistic use of such clues. However, in this case, Steffan's flaming red hair fitted with his general constitution and I prescribed Phosphorus 30c with some confidence. (3 doses over 24 hours). A month later, he returned having had no asthma attacks since the remedy. His catarrh had settled somewhat and he had no night cough (a classic telltale sign of asthma). He was attending playgroup happily and all seemed to be well. The asthma nurse at the doctor's surgery had suggested a non-steroid preventative spray called Intal and this had indeed been commenced. However, Simon was already improving before the Intal was started.

Although we are only in the early stages of this case, I was keen to relate it to you, as it is another good example of how homeopathy can help asthma in children and avoid excessive use of the steroid medications which, although lifesaving in their place, are known to have side effects in chronic use. Before I trained in homeopathy, I would never have believed that there was a system of therapeutics that could have such a fundamental effect on conditions like asthma in children. However, I myself still use steroids both for acute attacks of asthma and for prevention, when nothing else works, and I always stress to my patients never to stop their prescribed medication without consulting their own doctor to ensure that their condition is adequately under control.

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About Dr Angela Jones

Dr Angela Jones works in NHS general practice and also privately, using homeopathy alongside conventional medicine. Dr Jones can be contacted via the Faculty of Homeopathy on Tel: 020-7566 7800.

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