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Homeopathic Casebook: A Case of Hot, Swollen Breasts!

by Dr Neil Slade(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 165 - December 2009

Andrea had been a patient of mine for a couple of years and had responded well to homeopathic treatment for a number of minor ailments. Sixteen weeks before this particular consultation she had given birth a very healthy and hungry bouncing baby boy. The birth had gone well and post birth recovery had been very good (thanks to the usefulness of a solution of Calendula tincture that Andrea had used to bathe her '..bits and bobs..'). The problem now though was a very sore right breast.

Andrea had been given an accurate diagnosis of mastitis, which she thought was brought about by her baby's love of the left breast which he strongly favoured and regularly emptied. The right breast didn't do it for him as much and he would regularly pull off the nipple and complain until he was turned to the left. Consequently the right breast had a tendency to become engorged and even though Andrea expressed with a pump, there was a good chance of stale milk hanging about that led to the problem. She had been offered antibiotics, but exercised mother's prerogative and did not want to take them as she was breast feeding. The condition had been getting progressively worse over the last week. Prior to consultation, Andrea had been trying a range of methods to self-treat to no avail; this even included placing a Savoy cabbage leaf against the breast which she had at first pricked many times with a fork (the leaf not the breast), which was a new one on me!

As she needed to feed her son in the consultation, she allowed me to have a look at the affected breast. It was swollen and red, the redness having a slightly dusky hue rather than being bright red. The affected area was sore to touch and was hard; there was a marked transition in firmness of the tissue from the affected to the non-affected area of the breast. She had been advised by her Health Visitor to try to suckle more with the right breast in order to keep a free flow of milk, but the pain was intense and felt like it was radiating from her nipple region all over her back. When questioned about what made the breast better or worse she was very clear about the pain when she went to bed; she could only lie on her back or left side. Any motion made it worse, she couldn't bear her breast juggling about as she moved and had to pad it under her bra to try and give support, which gave her some relief. Other than the mastitis, she was fine and greatly enjoying motherhood and all its demands.

This was a case that needed very little analysis to find the remedy. The appearance of the breast, the modalities (better and worse for symptoms) and the fact that it was all centred on breast feeding, led me straight to Phytolacca. This is a remedy derived from the Poke Root plant and is a mastitis remedy par excellence. As this was a physical case of an acute nature, I wanted a potency and dosage regimen to suit, thus I prescribed the 200c strength to be repeated frequently - one tablet three times a day until improvement. After five days Andrea reported that her breast was much improved. The redness, pain and hardness of the tissue had all greatly subsided. Feeding on that side was better, although her son still favoured the left breast; that was a battle she would need to persevere with. However, her nipples had started to crack; both sides were equally bad and would bleed. The cracks were deep and very sore. Pain was worse when he latched on and suckled, but also when she showered and tried to dry herself afterwards.

Phytolacca is also indicated in cracked nipples so I advised to carry on with the prescription for a couple of days more. Under normal circumstances I would have been advising her to stop the remedy as the mastitis was improving - the 'watch and wait' approach common in homeopathic practice. However as the nipple problem had come through, there was still an indication. After a further couple of days the breast was much improved, but the nipples were no better at all. This required a re-think.

Another remedy often called upon in breast feeding is one from a most unusual source (I have no idea how anybody had the thought to make a remedy from this source, but have been thankful on many an occasion that they did). Castor equi is derived from the rudimentary thumb nail of the horse (that is the scale half way up a horse's foreleg), and does not really have any application in the homeopathic materia medica other than cracked, ragged, bleeding, sore nipples when breast feeding.

I advised Andrea to stop the Phytolacca and to start Castor equi 30c, one three times daily. She was also to make up a very dilute solution of the Calendula tincture and bathe her nipples in it twice daily, leaving the solution to air dry on the nipple. You will note that I reduced the potency of the Castor equi; this was to avoid even the remotest chance of a homeopathic aggravation which would definitely not have been welcome. Andrea took the remedy for five days before she noticed an improvement in her nipples, so the dosage was dropped to once a day and to continue the Calendula bathing. A few days later and her nipples were very much back to normal, and breast feeding had become more pleasurable again.

I heard from Andrea again about six weeks later and her nipples were suffering once more, although no more mastitis thankfully. I repeated the Castor equi prescription and she started Calendula bathing again, after a few days her nipples were once again returned to health and she did not have any problems after that time. Her son is now a healthy robust toddler, weaned of course and if there should be a number two child, at least Andrea knows that homeopathy can help her breasts and nipples again should the need arise.


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About Dr Neil Slade

Dr Neil Slade  PhD LCH RSHom. Neil is a senior lecturer at two leading complementary therapy colleges and has two busy homeopathic practices. He is the Deputy Director of Pure Medicine in London's Harley Street. He regularly contributes articles to the national press, radio and television. Neil can be contacted on Tel: 01372 361669;

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