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Treating Children with Homoeopathy

by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 35 - December 1998

Our children are our most treasured possessions, or should I say our most valued charges. It is the natural wish of a parent that their child should have the best of everything, including, and especially, health.

By extrapolation, as parents we are anxious that, when our children are ill, they should receive the best treatment.

But what is the best treatment? Who can we turn to, to help us decide whether a given feverish illness is a harmless virus or a dangerous bacterial infection? Is it necessary to ladle paracetamol and antibiotics into the child with the former, in case it turns out to have the latter?

There is definite evidence that the vast majority of childhood fevers are due to viruses. These include obvious sore throats and ear aches as well as the majority of coughs and all colds. Thus, when there are clear features to explain the fever, such as cold-type symptoms and when the child is merely off-colour, as opposed to obviously very ill (delirious, with decreased consciousness, prolonged vomiting, shortness of breath), then the priority is to keep the child comfortable and to encourage fluids to prevent dehydration. Absolute control of fever by regular dosage of paracetamol is not necessary unless the child is known to be prone to fits with fever. The use of antibiotics in these circumstances is not only a waste of time as the infection is not susceptible to antibiotics, but also hazardous as resistant strains of bacteria are likely to arise in the body of the person thus exposed.

Likewise, I would not advocate routine use of homoeopathy in minor illnesses. Hahnemann, the founder of homoeopathy, felt that it should not be used for trivial symptoms. The child's own immune system should be able to overcome minor illness unaided. Indeed, each time it overcomes an infection, it will store the pattern of that particular infection in its database, so that, if challenged again by the same virus, it will recognise it and prevent a full-blown infection by the production of antibodies.

Children can be susceptible to recurrent or chronic disorders as well as to acute infections. In these cases, homoeopathy can be a great benefit. This is because it treats the chronic problem by stimulating the child's own system to overcome the problem. This is in contrast to conventional medications which tend to treat chronic problems by suppressing symptoms and therefore need to be taken repeatedly in order to keep the problem under control.

One such child was baby Susan who was brought to see me at the age of eight weeks with severe colic. She was born normally, about three days early, after an uneventful pregnancy. In view of the injections given for pain relief during labour, she needed an injection of antidote to morphine straight after birth, as she was sleepy and not keen to breathe for herself.

Her mother breastfed Susan for two weeks. However, despite hourly feeds, Susan was never satisfied and the milk supply failed to improve. Susan was therefore changed over to bottle feeds at the age of two weeks. One week later, the colic began.

Initially, the bouts of colic were restricted to the evenings, from 6pm to 8pm. During the colic, Susan would bring her legs up and shake her head from side to side. She would go red in the face and would grunt and groan for the whole period. There was a copious supply of wind from the lower end as well as easy burping.

During the colic, Susan would want to sleep, as it was just after the 6pm feed, but would be unable to. Sometimes things deteriorated and she would seem to be in more pain, crying and wanting to be cuddled or carried over the shoulder. She seemed to prefer being carried around and moving rather than sitting still.

On examination, Susan was a fairly thin baby with a worried frown. She was basically warm but with cool hands and feet. There was no sign of marked perspiration; she only sweated when agitated, and not in her sleep. Her general temperament was good, apart from during the bouts of colic.

She loved her feeds but was unable to take large feeds. Her mother had discovered that Susan was better with frequent small feeds.

Attempting to give the normal sized feed for her age led to possetting and therefore, she was being fed three hourly. Susan's mother had also noticed that Susan preferred the milk surprisingly warm.

The combination of a windy, worried-looking baby with the signs of a 'small stomach' and preference for warm drinks indicated a prescription of Lycopodium, one of the great homoeopathic 'polycrests', i.e. a medicine which has numerous different prescribing indications in all systems. Susan received just one dose of Lycopodium 30c as a crushed tablet, the powder being put directly onto the tongue.

Over the next week, Susan gradually improved. By the time she was ten weeks old, the colic had completely settled and she was thriving.

Her mother was relieved to report that the feeding interval had lengthened to a more sociable four hours. All in all, the Lycopodium was a great success. Of course, it could be argued that Susan would have got over the colic anyway and that the improvement was coincidental. Susan's parents were convinced that it was no coincidence and attribute a general improvement in Susan's wellbeing to the Lycopodium also. Certainly, in my experience as a general practitioner, we have infants with established colic who continue for weeks or months and have to be given recurring doses of medication with every feed to control symptoms. Homoeopathy is a very useful alternative in these circumstances and has the advantage of being tailored to the individual child's symptoms. The other great advantage is that the homoeopathic medicine is given in minimal doses, either as a single dose or perhaps once or twice daily, and ALWAYS stopped as soon as improvement is noted. This accords with most people's instincts about medicines, an instinct that can get them into trouble with conventional medicines that have to be taken regularly to continue working. In contrast, as soon as a homoeopathic medicine has started to take effect, it should be stopped in order to allow the body to maximise the effect of each individual dose.

It is always inspiring and gratifying to me to treat children with homoeopathy, not only because the children often respond so beautifully but also because of the open-mindedness of the parents who react so instinctively and positively to this gentle yet powerful therapy.


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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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