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Homoeopathy for Children

by Frederick Cole(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 36 - January 1999

Parents are constantly made aware and often worry about their children’s state of health. Even the most seemingly robust child may suddenly succumb to illness without warning, and homoeopathy can play a significant part in treating practically every ailment the young may encounter during their developing years. For the parents of a child with chronic or recurring infections, for whom conventional treatment with antibiotics, etc. has little or no lasting effect, discovering homoeopathy can be a god-send. For the more confident, armed with a homoeopathic first-aid manual, of which there are many good ones on the market, and a small medicine chest of 15-20 remedies, home prescribing is not at all difficult once a few basic guidelines are understood and followed. To the newcomer the results can seem spectacular, even miraculous at times, but come to be expected by the more experienced prescriber.

Silica – pale and chilly.
Silica – pale and chilly.

Younger: more open, friendly phosphorus – older: shy pulsatilla
Younger: more open, friendly phosphorus – older: shy pulsatilla

Sulphur – lazy and untidy
Sulphur – lazy and untidy

Those with some knowledge of the toxicity of plants and chemicals may be deterred a little by the names of some of the remedies in common usage (Belladonna, Aconite, etc.) but homoeopathic remedies are potentised, refined by a process of serial dilution, which removes any toxicity while enhancing the curative effect. As a result remedies may be given to a day old baby as safely as to an adult, and are equally safe during pregnancy.

Home prescribing is ideal for common colds, sore throats, headaches and other everyday ailments such as minor injuries and burns, etc., but for the more cautious parent, and especially if a child has a recurring or chronic illness, then it is advisable to seek a consultation with a professional homoeopath.

Most people find the consultation itself a rewarding process, for the practitioner will explore in-depth, as far as possible, the totality of the child’s state of health including pregnancy and birth, explore their mental and emotional state as well as enquire about life-style in general, pattern of sleep, reaction to weather, likes and dislikes in diet, etc. The parents will usually be asked about their own state of health and, as far as it is known, any underlying health traits within the family, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. Homoeopathy is unquestionably of great benefit to patients of any age, but the parent can observe a transformation, not just physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually in the treated child.

In order to establish a pattern of good health in a child it is essential to explore and treat the basic constitution and temperament. This way susceptibility to acute and chronic illness will be addressed. One, therefore, has to be careful not to repeatedly treat only the acute manifestation of an underlying susceptibility. A word of advice then to the home prescriber; if your child’s symptoms return repeatedly after prescribing a remedy successfully do seek professional advice as well.

Miasms, Pollution and Vaccination

Today’s parent is confronted by an entirely different range of conditions than presented to our grandparents. Scarlet fever, diphtheria, etc. have largely given way to more chronic conditions like ME, hyperactivity, allergies of all kinds and, lately, ADD. The bodies of children suffering from these types of conditions are very polluted and treatment is not always easy, but with patience on the part of the parents, especially, the results of treatment can be very satisfactory. Homoeopaths refer to the polluted state as a miasm. A hundred years ago the theory of miasms was fairly straightforward to understand. Insanitary living conditions apart, chronic illness was, in the eyes of homoeopaths, attributable to the inherited taints of plagues or scourges like tuberculosis or syphilis. Today, besides inherited problems, pollution is on a wider scale and more insidious, acquired through the food we eat, the air we breathe and, for some, through the ill-effects of vaccination. It is not the writer’s intention to attempt to influence anyone’s opinions on the merits or otherwise of vaccination programmes. It is the duty of the professional homoeopath to explain only the homoeopathic point of view to concerned parents, and guide them to appropriate literature if required, but ultimately one has to respect the parents’ decision and work with that. It is wrong to assume that a vaccination will automatically undermine a child’s state of health, but it has to be stated that homoeopathic treatment often reveals the aetiology of some types of chronic complaints coinciding with the administration of a vaccine.

My younger daughter then aged two had a severe case of measles and was treated with homoeopathy to ease the symptoms. She had not been vaccinated but she caught the infection from her equally as ill older sister who had! When she was six the same daughter woke one morning with swelling on one side of her jaw. A visit to the GP confirmed our diagnosis of mumps. No treatment available was the GP’s statement, just keep her warm in bed and she would be over it fully in about ten days. As there were no distinct indications my daughter was given a tablet of Merc. cor. 6 to hourly. By bedtime the swelling had gone totally. The next morning she woke with the swelling on the other side, but with distinct symptoms pointing to Belladonna, hot, flushed face, pain on slightest movement. With the remedy given at two hour intervals the swelling had reduced by fifty per cent by the next morning. By the third evening it had gone completely and on the evening of the sixth day my daughter was dancing, whooping and yelling at her elder sister’s birthday party as if nothing had occurred.

Parents often ask about homoeopathy as prophylaxis. The homoeopath may prescribe a nosode prepared from diseased tissue or infected discharges (because they are potentised they are safe and don’t contain any active organisms). There is no firm evidence that the method of giving it automatically to babies is any more beneficial than vaccination. It is probably better to prescribe the infant’s constitutional and other indicated remedies when required. Nosodes do seem to help during epidemics when administered in time. The old homoeopaths, though, tended to use the matching remedies for the then common child-hood complaints; Pulsatilla for measles, Drosera for whooping cough, Merc. cor. for mumps. In the case of an epidemic in the school or neighbourhood the child would be given one tablet of the 6th potency daily for a week or ten days. If symptoms did develop they were generally milder than those of untreated children.

Chamomilla

A young family’s first introduction to homeopathy is often through Chamomilla. The soothing effect of this herb as a tissane is well-known on the continent. Whether for ear-ache, colic or teething pain the symptoms exhibited by baby are very distinctive and the similimum, given potentised in either drops or granules, is a wonderfully quick-acting remedy. The suffering infant just cannot bear the pain: everything is intolerable. He or she will whine and insist on being carried, and the moment he seems calm and the tired parent tries to lie him down the howling starts all over again. Often there is one red cheek and perspiration on the scalp. Where pain is borne calmly and patiently this remedy is contra-indicated. Opposite to this is Pulsatilla. The child needing this remedy, whether for ear-ache or any other acute or sub-acute complaint, will desire to be carried, but gently, not rocked to and fro like Chamomilla, and, again in contrast, welcoming sympathy. Aconite is another remedy for pain which is not borne calmly. The child is very hot and restless, even anxious, doesn’t want to be covered and, similarly to Chamomilla, is very thirsty for cold drinks.

Aconite

Aconite is a remedy that is extremely useful for acute shock and its ill-effects. An eleven year old girl was brought for treatment suffering from enuresis. I was surprised to learn that this was not a case where the problem had lingered since infancy but had only occurred for the past year or so. Asked what she thought may have triggered the condition her mother explained that shortly before its onset her daughter had been crossing the road with a friend who had been knocked down by a car and severely injured. On questioning further it was learned that the girl was now terrified of crossing the street, holding on to anybody who was with her. There are several remedies used commonly for bed-wetting, but on this occasion the selection was made on the two most important aspects of the case, ailments from shock, and the deciding symptom “fear of crossing the street” which features strongly in the mental symptoms of Aconite.

Another example of the use for Aconite is of the twelve year old boy brought to me with recurring tonsillitis. In spite of repeated antibiotics the bouts were still frequent and on each occasion he spent a week to ten days off school, consequently falling behind with his studies. His sore throat showed all the signs of Aconite, sudden onset, redness, scraping sensation, thirst for cold drinks. He was given Aconite tablets to take whenever he developed an infection. His mother was amazed when after a only a few hours on Aconite the next bout of tonsillitis subsided dramatically and he was back at school the following day, an experience that was repeated on each subsequent occasion. Aconite is mainly an acute remedy, quick in its action and this young person’s tonsils were chronically enlarged. Several chronic enlargement remedies were tried with not much success in reducing their size. Eventually I decided his constitutional remedy was Phosphorous, and after a few infrequent doses in high potency the acute attacks of tonsillitis gradually became a thing of the past, though we had to settle for still extremely large tonsils. It is commonly believed, even among some homoeopaths, that once the person’s constitutional remedy has been established then that is the remedy that can be prescribed for that person for all ills. Frequently, however, one may develop symptoms that are atypical of the constitutional type as demonstrated by the last case.

Nuffield Professor of chemical medicine, Dr John Bell, recently stated that in the future medicine will be applied in a different way: it will be more important to know what type of person has a disease than to know what type of disease a person has. Well, homoeopathy, always ahead of its time, has been applying this different principle for almost two hundred years. Peculiar to homoeopathy is the identification of certain constitutional types and their corresponding medicines or remedies. Constitutional remedies are a large number of polycrest (many uses) medicines that exhibit such strong characteristics in their symptomology that they seem to match certain basic physiological and psychological types of people. These are particularly useful in the treatment of children. Your child may be a Calc carb type, or a Sulphur or Pulsatilla type, etc. The ability to identify these basic constitutional “types” is one of the fascinating aspects of homeopathic prescribing, and it tends to be slightly easier and more rewarding in the treatment of children, who generally are less complicated than adult patients who have taken on a lot of excess luggage in life in the way of repeated illnesses and bad living habits.

Phosphorous

Phosphorous children are sensitive, quick and lively, can flare up or get excited easily (remember the red phosphorous tipped matches that ignited easily?), and just as easily wear out. Physically they tend to be narrow-chested with reddish or brown hair. They respond well to affection and touch, but are nervous of the dark, having vivid imaginations. They tend to be well-mannered, friendly and talk to everyone easily, and show great concern for others. Their complaints seem to centre mainly around the respiratory tract, prone to chesty coughs, sore throats and laryngitis, and also the alimentary tract, prone to vomiting and diarrhoea. Thirsty for ice-cold drinks Phosphorous children crave ice-cream, cold foods and salty foods. A lot of their complaints arise from excitement or anticipation. One ten-year old who came to me always became ill with headache and temperature following any out of the ordinary family or group activity such as going up to London for the day or camping at the weekend. He would become tremendously excited beforehand and enjoyed the experience, but always suffered afterwards. A dose of high potency Phosphorous repeated at intervals a couple of times cured him of the problem. Phosphorous is a good first-aid remedy for nosebleeds where the blood is bright and gushing, but if the child is fearful and restlesss as well then give Aconite instead. A bloody nose from a game of rugby or, heaven forbid, a fight needs Arnica.

Sulphur

The Sulphur child tends to be lazy and untidy and often quarrelsome, but also extroverted and intensely curious. Hot-bloodied, coarse haired, the skin is usually dry, red and itchy. They can be boastful imagining their possessions are better than anyone else’s, full of exuberance they will lead a group rather than be subordinate, sooner socialise than study. Richmal Compton’s famous character in children’s literature, Just William, personified this type. Some Sulphurs, however, are loners, more articulate, read a lot and display a tendency to be haughty. Infants are prone to rashes and diarrhoea and toddlers may not care about soiling their nappies even put up resistance when parent tries to change them. Dislike of bathing is a strong Sulphur feature, water tending to aggravate dermatitis or eczema. Redness of the eyes, ears, nostrils and lips is commonplace. Asthma sometimes alternates with skin eruptions. A craving for sweets, spicy foods and fats is usually observed, and most Sulphur types are very thirsty for ice-cold drinks.

Silicea

The opposite of Sulphur, Silicea (or Silica) types are chilly. Under-developed and under-nourished looking, but with protruding belly, they seem to tire easily and get irritable and obstinate. Because they dread the thought of failure they shirk responsibility so at school they will never volunteer to help or participate in anything, though they can be very conscientious in their work, again because they don’t want to fail. Faint-hearted, timid and anxious they seem to lack grit, both moral and physical. Silicea children catch colds easily, their physical weakness due to mal-assimilation of food. They have a dislike for or are worse for milk (poor absorption of calcium causing poor nails, teeth and soft bones with curvature of the spine). There is a craving for ice-cream, cold food and drink, yet they are chilly, suffer from cold hands and feet and usually want their heads wrapped up and kept warm, as they are sensitive to every draught. Silicea is a good remedy for injuries that suppurate, and for pussy boils and abscesses. If your child is terrified of having splinters removed with a (sterile) needle, then give very frequent doses of Silicea 6x and watch the splinter gradually be expelled. It has been known to help with scabies in the same way and also tics in animals. For head-lice one would suggest rinsing the hair with a dilution of lavender oil and leaving it, without towelling, to dry naturally. Also give the child’s constitutional remedy.

Other parasites may also be treated with homoeopathy. A women six months pregnant came to see me recently suffering from thread worms. After two weeks taking Cina 6 three times daily the worms had gone. Homoeopaths do not hesitate to give the correctly matched remedy to pregnant women. From morning sickness to mastitis there is a remedy to suit the individual sufferer. It makes sense to help balance the expectant mother’s health with the gentle action of homoeopathy for she and her foetus share the same nutrients: her state of health in pregnancy and while breast feeding is also the child’s state of health. Symptoms of thread worms in infants may include irritability, restless nights, grinding of teeth and boring in the nose as well as irritation at anus. Cina which has produced these symptoms (but no worms) in its provings is the leading remedy. This remedy is given in 6c potency or higher if thought suitable. The thread worms disappear alongside the nervous symptoms that accompany them. The potentised remedy does not poison the worms as a crude substance might, but rather restores balance to the chemistry of the bowel. Just as a healthy person does not succumb readily to germs a healthy mucus membrane is not suitable habitat for worms. The action of homoeopathy is not directed towards the symptoms of the complaint, but works indirectly by stimulating the body’s own defence mechanisms.

Pulsatilla

Pulsatilla types, whether boys or girls have a gentle yielding nature, are shy and timid, the younger ones hiding behind mother’s skirts as it were. During consultation they may look nervously at their parent as if seeking assurance before answering the practitioner’s questions. Sometimes obstinate, their moods can be quite changeable, laughter giving way to tears very easily, but just as easy changing back with a little fuss and sympathy. They always suffer from the heat, especially stuffy rooms, and their symptoms (headache, earache, catarrh, coughs, etc.) are always ameliorated in the fresh air and by gentle motion. It is a good digestive remedy for those who cannot tolerate rich and fatty foods or pork. Often one of the parents’ comments is that their child does not drink enough. Pulsatilla was always one of the first remedies considered for measles, but one rarely sees a typical measles symptom picture nowadays. Still it is worth remembering it for any viral infection producing watery eyes, catarrh and teasing, troublesome cough, with dry mouth but no thirst, and, of course, accompanied by a desire for attention. Styes, especially on the lower lid, respond well to Pulsatilla given in low potency. It is an excellent remedy for teenage girls whose ill-health starts with puberty. The changeable moods and discomfort from heat will confirm the need for this remedy.

Reading the above one understands that any prescription given in homoeopathy has to be on the totality of symptoms including modalities, that is any condition that modifies a symptom in any way either aggravating it or giving amelioration. Thus, as mentioned, feeling better in the fresh air may indicate Pulsatilla, while worse for draughts may point to Silicea or its analogue Hepar sulph. Symptoms worse 4-8 p.m. indicate Lycopodium. Worse at twilight or being alone in the dark suggests Phosphorous and so on. Mental and emotional symptoms also take precedence over physical symptoms when trying to differentiate between remedies with similar physical symptomology. A girl of fourteen came to me with her fingers covered in warts. They had been “frozen” several times at hospital, but always returned soon after, getting worse on each occasion. A couple of wart remedies was tried initially with only partial success, then the remedy Causticum was given and within days the warts had disappeared. Causticum does have warts in its symptom picture, but what confirmed the prescription was the mother commenting on how worried and concerned her daughter had been over her pet rabbit when it had to be taken to the vet. Causticum children (and adults, too) usually exhibit great sensitivity and sympathy towards the suffering of others, especially animals.

Treating Chronic Conditions

The treatment of asthma, hay-fever and allergies needs a carefully planned programme of treatment. The homoeopath may give remedies to palliate the acute symptoms when they occur, but prescribing needs to be mainly at the constitutional and miasmatic level. On no account in asthma should one reduce the prescribed dosage of any medication or steroid inhaler. This should only be done when there is definite evidence that the homoeopathic remedies have a beneficial effect and then, advisably, with the knowledge of the doctor who prescribed them. It is sometimes wrongly thought that homoeopathic remedies cannot work well in conjunction with conventional drugs, especially steroids, but this is not so. Progress may be a little slower if conventional drugs are also administered, but perseverance pays off in the long run.

Homoeopathy is not a cure-all for all complaints. There will be times in the child’s life when it is necessary for him or her to have conventional treatment or other kinds of complementary medicine, but the child from a home where homoeopathy is used as primary health-care, and where the parents keep in touch with a homoeopath for more serious complaints, is being given that little extra towards having a healthy and happy life in the future.

Bibliography:

Homoeopathic Drug Pictures; M.L.Tyler, C.W.Daniel Company
Homoeopathic Remedies for Children: Phylis Speight, C.W. Daniel Company
The Homoeopathic Treatment of Children; Paul Herscu, North Atlantic Books

Homoeopathy First-Aid Kit for the Home
A first-aid kit for the home should contain the following minimum number of remedies:-
Aconite: sudden shocks or fright, coughs, colds, chills, sore throats, ear-ache etc, sudden onset with fever, anxiety and restlessness.
Arnica: shock mainly of physical aetiology, bruises, sprains, injuries of all kinds
Arsenicum alb.: vomiting and diarrhoea, food-poisoning with anxiety, restlessness and prostration.
Belladonna: acute fever, congestion, violent onset, very flushed face, delirium, throbbing pains worse for jolting and jarring.
Bryonia: colds that go quickly to chest, bronchitis with hard, dry, painful cough, thirst for large amounts at long intervals. Headache, worse for movement.
Chamomilla: (for infants). Colic, teething pain, ear-ache. Intolerable pain better for being carried or jogged up and down.
Hepar sulph: for wounds that turn septic, to hasten suppuration from boils or abscess. sore throats with splinter-like pains and tendency to suppurate.
Hypericum: for injuries to parts rich in nerves, fingers, toes, spine, especially coccyx.
Gelsemium: for summer colds, flu-like symptoms with slow onset in mild weather, heaviness of head, eyes and limbs. Stage-fright.
Ignatia: emotional shock, grief, sleeplessness from emotional upset, globus hystericus.
Ipecac.: for persistent nausea, with or without vomiting, glairy vomit, stringy saliva. worse for over-eating and rich foods.
Nux vomica: Constipation, complaints from over-eating, indigestion, headache etc.
Pulsatilla: sub-acute colds, bland thick yellow/green catarrh, earache, stomach upsets from fat and rich foods. Headache worse in stuffy rooms, desire for open air.
Rhus tox: sprains, strains etc, ailments caused by over-straining the muscles, aggravated by damp, better for moving.
Externally:-
• Arnica ointment for bruises.
• Calendula lotion or ointment for cuts and grazes.
• Urtica ointment or lotion for minor burns and scalds.

The above is a brief guide only. All the remedies have much wider symptom pictures that may be found in a good homeopathic first-aid book. Other remedies, more specific to your child’s individual expression of his or her illness, may be required for any of the above conditions.

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About Frederick Cole

Frederick Cole  D. Hom(Med). FHMA has been a practising homoeopath for 15 years and is president of the United Kingdom Medical Association. He has a clinic in Margate, Kent and regularly lectures at the Hahnemann College of Homoeopathy in London (Tel: 0181-984 9240). He has also lectured in California and Toronto. The United Kingdom Homoeopathic Medical Association publishes a register of qualified, professional homoeopaths. Their address is 6 Livingstone Road, Gravesend, Kent, DA12 5DZ. Tel: 01474 560336

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