April 3, 2013

Homeopathy. Yes. It works.



I’m frelling ILL.  I’ve got some kind of head-cold-flu thing.  It’s all that hanging out in freezing-cold chapels with monks.*

A while ago on the forum Mrs Redboots asked for the ‘go-to’ homeopathic remedy for a head cold.  There isn’t one.  But I’ve been meaning** to use the question as an excuse to give you a(nother) little disquisition, not to say harangue, about first-aid homeopathy.

One of the great strengths of homeopathy, as well as its chief central frustration, is that it’s so INDIVIDUALISED.  Barring Arnica, which works, often amazingly, for almost all blood-and-bruising injuries, there isn’t much else that is one size fits all.  The two remedies I carry teeny-tiny bottles of in my pocket are Arnica and Aconite.  Aconite is the go-to remedy for shock and fear, and one of the guidelines about using it is that if you’re in a situation where someone is freaked out enough for you to be giving it to them, you should probably take it too because fear is contagious.  You’re first on the scene at a traffic accident?  While you’re waiting for the ambulance, give anyone who’s injured Arnica***—but give everyone present Aconite.

But most things you have to choose a remedy that suits the individual.  I’m pretty sure I’ve done my little tap-dance about this before:  if, say, you are treating five people (or you have five friends who ring you up because they know you’re a homeopathy wonk) for flu, chances are very good you’ll be recommending three or four—or five—different remedies.†  All five of your friends are achy and feverish and fluey, but if you ask them what’s bothering them the worst, one of them will say the headache and sore throat, one of them will say the sneezing and streaming nose, and one of them will say the nausea and photophobia.  That’s three different remedies.

And even for ‘acute’ prescribing like this you have a better chance of hitting on the right remedy if you know something more about them than the symptoms of flu.  Do they tend to be fussy and particular or are they easy going slobs?  Are they usually hot people or cold people (when they’re not ill)?  Do they like warm rooms or fresh air?  Do they prefer company or solitude?   Arsenicum album, for example, is chilly, persnickety, cranky, fearful, restless even when they’re ill and prone to burning pains (if their noses run, it’ll burn their upper lips).  You’re going to nail an Ars alb more on the ‘mentals’ than on the fact that they’re wobbly and sneezy.  Allium cepa has a runny nose that burns the upper lip, Gelsemium is wobbly and Rhus tox is restless and fearful.  They’re all flu remedies.

The best thing to do is buy a homeopathic first-aid book and a first-aid kit to go with it, and start experimenting.  And I recommend you begin this exercise while you’re feeling well.  The last thing you want to be doing is trying to prescribe when you feel like something a bull terrier puppy has spent the last several hours chewing on.  Unfortunately homeopathy books go in and out of print really fast and the ones I learnt on and can recommend aren’t necessarily available any more.  Don’t even bother with amazon.  There are homeopathic on line bookshops however and the two that I use,



are both run by friendly helpful people—and they ship overseas.  I’m sure there are good homeopathic bookshops in whatever country you live in as you read this, it’s just these are the ones I know, and they are, not surprisingly, in the UK.  Looking at Minerva’s ‘introductory’ category I can recommend any of these:

Miranda Castro, Complete Homeopathy Handbook

Colin Griffiths, The Practical Handbook of Homeopathy

Henrietta Wells, Homeopathy the Modern Prescriber

David Gemmell, Everyday Homeopathy

The latter two are possibly a little shorter and less intimidating than the first two, although it’s the Castro that first made me a homeopathic obsessive.

Helios Pharmacy does kits:


Ainsworth’s is the other well known homeopathic specialist pharmacy, but their kits are all stamped NOT AVAILABLE IN THE UK which is pretty unhelpful.  This is another fact about homeopathy:  it’s permanently under fire by ConMed and its allies, chiefly Big Pharma, although frequently disguised as Wanting What’s Best for Humanity.  Apparently at the moment this is preventing Ainsworth’s from selling its kits at home.  I’m not going to go there, the Bash Homeopathy movement makes me furious.  Homeopathy is not bunk and it’s not placebo, okay?  And there is evidence that it works, it’s just it’s not very good at publicising itself, and the entrenched party line is very good at burying it.  I’ve been using homeopathy for about a dozen years and I’m afraid I pay as little attention to the political rows as I can, which is in fact irresponsible of me, but life is short at best and my fuse is too short and ranting is tiring and doesn’t do any good.  Homeopathy isn’t for everyone and I’m not saying it is, but anyone who wants to tell me that it’s all water and snake oil and I’m a poor sad deluded fool will be shot at dawn, okay?

PS:  I was going to start tonight’s entry by saying that there is a go-to remedy for that first all-is-not-well icky sensation of an oncoming cold or flu virus, but I’m not sure it’s obtainable in the UK:  Oscillococcinum.  It’s not listed as a remedy from either Helios or Ainsworth’s ††.  I have a remedy machine†††, I make it.  If you google it it seems to be available here and there, but the problem with here and there is knowing whether it’s the real thing . . . or water and snake oil.  Homeopathic remedies can be fake just like almost anything real can be recreated as a knock-off fake.  Hannah says however that it’s so popular in the States at the moment you can get it at ordinary drugstores, and apparently it’s the real thing because it works.  My system is that I start taking it about once an hour or, if this is happening overnight, every few hours, till the symptoms either go away or become a pattern I can prescribe on.  Which is what I did last night.  I’m still clearly ill, but I made it to tower practice at Fustian tonight and what really matters . . . ?

* * *

* I will start taking two blankets.  And a hat.  I suppose it’s possible that we’ll eventually have spring and, you know, summer.  When it’s, um, WARM?

** Believe it or not I keep a list of all the forum questions and comments I want to answer.  It’s usually quite a long list.  This plan has mostly gone the way of Ask Robin, but it might be worth re-asking something on the forum that you were actually hoping for an answer or at least a reaction to.

*** Arnica can save lives.  Don’t move them or do anything silly with a badly injured person—but do give them Arnica.

† A proper epidemic will probably respond to a specific remedy or progression of remedies, but that’s for the big boys and girls, not small time amateur wonks like me.  Common or garden variety plagues that are two a penny every winter—if you treat enough of them, you may see a pattern.  If you’re just helping people make first-aid choices you may not.  Three kids in the same family may need three different remedies, for example—or the three kids in one family may all need the same remedy but the three kids in the family next door that they caught it from need a different remedy.  Yes.  You have to stay alert.

†† And if you want a taste of the way the Other Side talks about homeopathy, look it up on Wiki.  Any time I need reminding that Wiki is unreliable, I think about the way they treat homeopathy.

††† http://www.sulisinstruments.com/

Mine is old, and was a lot cheaper.  Also I was in (homeopathic) college at the time, and a bunch of us got together and took advantage of the group rate.  Which was a lot cheaper than today’s group rate.  A machine does cost a bomb—there are other ones than the Sulis—but if you use homeopathy at all seriously it earns back really fast.  I use mine at least every week, and some weeks every day.


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