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Treating Verrucas - to Burn or Not to Burn?

by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 61 - February 2001

Verrucas are horrible things, aren't they? Not everyone knows that they are simply warts, which, because they occur on the sole of the foot, are permanently being flattened and pressed inwards. They stealthily infect the unsuspecting foot, and the next thing you know, there are three or four of them, spreading out like a nasty constellation on the sufferer's sole. If you are really unlucky, they are painful, but usually, they just persist and persist, until eliminated by freezing, burning, cutting or application of a caustic cream. Of course, if you wait long enough, it seems that the body will eventually recognize this viral excrescence as 'foreign' and mount the required immune response, resulting in the long-awaited disappearance of the wretch.

It is not surprising, therefore, that patients will sometimes come to a homeopath to have their verrucas cured. They will usually have tried wart paints and pumice stones, and found them to be ineffective.

Others have heard the view expressed that it is 'bad' to burn or otherwise unnaturally remove a wart because this will lead to some kind of health problem in later life. Although this is stated or implied in some of the old homeopathic texts, I have no evidence for or against this belief. Purely pragmatically, however, homeopathy is worth trying when attempting to get rid of these annoying lesions.

There are a number of possible approaches for treating verrucas, or plantar warts as they are also known. The first is 'local' treatment, which involves the use of a remedy purely aimed at the verruca itself.

Local remedies, which I have employed with success, include Antimonium crudum. This preparation of antimony is taken in the 6c or 30c potency regularly for about a week. The verruca usually falls off within a month of this treatment. If this fails to happen, the course can be repeated. Accompanying features in the patient that might point to a higher chance of success with Antimonium crudum, may be a white-coated tongue, a tendency towards indigestion, and, in a child, an aversion to being looked at.

Another local remedy that is worth trying is Thuja occidentalis, prepared from the coniferous tree of the same name. It is sometimes applied as the mother tincture, dropped directly the wart or verruca.

Some people swear by this approach but I have not found this method particularly helpful and prefer to suggest taking the remedy by mouth, usually as a 6c or 30c, regularly for a week (as for Antimonium crudum). Confirmatory symptoms for Thuja, which, if present, may herald a successful outcome, are a tendency to green catarrh and also to warts in other places.

Graphites is another remedy to consider. The person usually suffers from nasty sweaty feet, and often has an accompanying athlete's foot-type problem with cracks or chafing between the toes. They may also get eczema or other skin rashes with a tendency to yellowish weeping and often have deformed or discoloured nails. For verrucas that cause a pricking pain, as if standing on a splinter, nitric acid, homeopathically prepared to the 6c or 30c potency, of course, is probably the remedy of choice.

The other approach, which can be used, is so-called 'constitutional treatment'. The basis of this approach to homeopathic treatment is that the body has the ability to cure itself of a problem. If a remedy is given which raises the general level of health, this remedy will enable the system to overcome whatever assails it more quickly and efficiently. The constitutional remedy is chosen by looking at every aspect of the patient's physical and psychological functioning and attempting to identify which homeopathic remedy type is the best match for that individual. A dose of the constitutional remedy is said to raise the individual's general level of health with the benefits that logically follow (increased energy, greater resistance to infection etc).

Thirteen-year-old Julia had had a verruca for two months and she was already fed up with it. She certainly did not fancy waiting the average of four years until her verruca would spontaneously resolve.

She was generally quite well, apart from a tendency to asthma which was most marked in the autumn. She also had chronically enlarged tonsils and was a poor eater. She was a fairly warm-blooded girl, with a tendency to sweat profusely especially from the head. This had been even more marked when she was a baby. In fact, she had been one of those fat, clammy, sweaty babies with a large head and cold hands and feet. Recently, however, she had lost her chubbiness and was more warm 'around the edges' than she used to be.

Her favourite food was gammon steak, or any smoked meat and she drank a lot of milk. She loved travelling around – her family was with the armed forces and she had never minded the moves, relishing the change, whereas her sister hated the constant upheaval and used to become very distressed. She had recently started getting pains in her legs, which had been diagnosed as 'growing pains' by her GP.

I felt that she fitted into the constitutional type of Calcarea phosphorica. This is an interesting remedy, often seen in children who are moving away from being chubby, sweaty Calcarea carbonica infants. If they go through a Calcarea phosphorica phase, they will often end up as a phosphorus personality with its intense sensitivity and vivid imagination. Julia is already showing some phosphorus traits, as she hates the dark and horror movies and also has a habit of bursting into tears in sympathy, if anyone is upset!

I prescribed a single dose of Calcarea phosphorica 30c followed by a week's course of Antimonium crudum 30c twice daily. To Julia and her mother's delight, the verruca went away within two weeks. I felt sure that the homeopathy had something to do with this, for two reasons – firstly, that the natural history of a verruca is not to resolve as quickly as this, and secondly, because Julia's appetite improved tremendously and remained good for some time after. Furthermore, her asthma did not trouble her that autumn.

These kinds of improvements in general health are exactly what one would expect from a well-chosen constitutional remedy and were a welcome 'side effect' from this gentle but effective verruca cure.


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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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