I’ve been thinking a lot about convalescence. I’ve been thinking about it partly because I’ve been doing it (Covid, round 2 for our house) and I’ve been thinking about it because I attended a webinar recently given by a naturopathic doctor. She said that when her patients tell her they are feeling better, that then begins their 3 day convalescence. She doesn’t clear them for returning to work or school until they have been 3 days past when they started to feel better.
What a concept!
I get it! It makes so much sense! Get back up to speed before returning to life at full speed! It’s a luxurious thought, though, I think. It shouldn’t be a luxury to recuperate, but I think in today’s day and age, it is. Bills need to be paid, houses need to be cleaned, school work needs to be completed… who has time to take 3 days to get back up to speed?
Maybe it’s time we return to this seemingly outdated idea.
What does it mean to “convalesce,” exactly?
Dictionary.com tells us “convalescence” means, “the gradual recovery of health and strength after an illness.” Victoria State Government recommends setting “recovery goals,” such as:
Homeopathy has some lovely remedies to assist with convalescence. For this article, we’ll look at some remedies for recovering from influenza, in particular. For recuperation, we’re not looking at symptoms of the disease so much as we’re looking at the weakness, lethargy, loss of appetite and even wonky sleep.
Homeopathic Gelsemium is the first to consider. Interestingly, Gelsemium is one of the first remedies to consider on the front side of the flu, too. The 4 Ds: droopy, drowsy, dull, dizzy. (Well, the dizzy part is hopefully behind you at this point….) The fatigue following influenza can be pronounced and Gelsemium is a fantastic remedy for fatigue, in general and chronic fatigue in particular.
Phosphoric acid is indicated when mental weakness is a bigger deal than the physical weakness following an acute disease, particularly when recovering from fevers. People who may benefit from Phos-ac may find they are worse from conversation, sensitive to light and sound and smells; worse from cold drafts, worse from sitting and worse from standing.
Sulphur is known to help “clean up” following respiratory illnesses. I liken it to mopping up the gunk — it just kind of clears stuff out. (How’s that for getting technical?!) Another remedy to consider here is Sulphuric iodatum. Sulph-iod has a connection to exertion: weakness from exertion as well as a fear of exertion.
If sleeplessness sets in, try some Avena sativa tincture. It is also excellent for nervous exhaustion and debility.
Calc phos 6x and Ferr phos 6x are two excellent cell salts to help build up what was broken down during the illness. Calc phos can help when there is a lack of energy as well as mental or physical weakness. It can also help with absorption and assimilation of nutrients. Ferrum phos is said to assist in oxygenating the blood and can help with inflammation and sore muscles. Take this cell salt combination 3-4 times a day.
And, don’t forget my favorite non-homeopathic recommendation of bone broth! So many nutrients!
Now, go forth and rest! A few extra days to get back to full strength has to outweigh jumping back in with both feet when you’re still half in the bag!
Julia Coyte, CHom
Classically Practical homeopath
Victoria State Government, n.d. Convalescence - Better Health Channel [online]. www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au.
Summer athletes, take heed! ER visits shoot up in
the warmer months as the seasonal warriors take on
the bats, balls and trails.
This one hits home right now as my husband is in week 3 of his really nasty sprain. Click here for an 18-second visual of what’s involved in an ankle sprain. (For the record, he wasn’t being a weekend warrior, it was just an unfortunate happenstance.)
We were hours from medical care, his ankle was huge and looked very wrong. I gave him Arnica 1m immediately, to great effect. Ice. Rest. Elevation. More Arnica repeated as needed. The ER took X-rays and sent him on his way with 2 Ace bandages and told him to take ibuprofen for the pain. That was helpful. Not. The next day we were able to see a proper orthopedist who took more X-rays and this time sent him on his way with a walking/air boot and the same instructions for pain. He never resorted to the over-the-counter painkillers, I am happy to say.
What to do after that? Well, some people say the X-rays can be a problem. If you’re worried about that, Nat Mur 6x, (twice daily the day of the X-ray and a few days following) is said to help.
Back to sprained ankles…
The number one remedy to turn to for any accident or injury is Arnica. Give it early and repeat as needed. As a general rule of thumb, the worse the injury, the higher the potency and then back off the repetition and lower the potency as the pain dictates.
The next remedy to consider is Aconite to help reduce the shock which often follows a bad injury. Remember! Aconite rhymes with fright. Any situation that has been a shock to your system can benefit from Aconite. And, in this case, it can benefit not only the person who had the accident, but the person who witnessed the accident.
The traditional, much accepted treatment for injuries is RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Some injuries respond to cold, some respond to heat. Ice restricts blood flow and blood flow is what you need to heal your parts. That same blood flow is also what can cause all the swelling. I am not a physician but I have certainly had more than my fair share of injuries in my lifetime. Some of my injuries felt better with rest and elevation and ice and some felt better getting moving right away. To my mind, your pain (in addition to the input from your physician) needs to be your guide as to what is right for you.
What else can help? Here are a few homeopathic suggestions and their symptoms which may help you choose the best homeopathic remedy for your injury.
Arnica: Start here. “It is safe to say that 98% of patients who have suffered traumatic injury, however caused, need a dose of Arnica to begin their recovery” (Thomas 2000).
A typical Arnica patient does not want anyone to touch their injured area. Sore, they may feel “beaten up” with swelling, bruising and inflammation. Topical Arnica is an option if the skin is intact. Do NOT apply Arnica to open injuries.
Rhus tox: for an injury that is better for heat and continued motion. Worse on first moving. Rhus tox is better suited to simple sprains.
Ruta: for an injury that is worse for motion and worse for cold application. Bruised, crushed, weak feeling. A remedy for tendons and ligaments, similar to Rhus in its pain. May feel hot to touch. Follows Arnica well to help aid in recovery.
Bellis perennis: Think of this remedy if Arnica is not helping as much as you think it should be helping. Bruised pain. Like Rhus tox, a Bellis pain hurts when starting to move but gets better as you keep moving the injured area and is better from heat. A Bellis pain, though, may have the sensation of a band squeezing the injured joint. “Complicated sprains involving tendons, ligaments and soft tissue with swelling, edema and pain” (Ratera 2016).
Bryonia: worse for the slightest movement of any kind. Better for rest and immobility. This person might be a little grumpy as a result of their injury.
Ledum: when the injured area feels better from cold applications. Ankle feels dislocated and is worse by walking, to the point of being intolerable. The skin may be cold to the touch.
Symphytum for tears at the point of tendon insertion into the bone (Ratera 2016). This remedy has been known to speed along recovery. CAUTION: do NOT use Symphytum until you are certain there is no break or fracture.
Cell Salts which may be of help for sprains (Weintraub 1999):
Again, let your pain be your guide as to how long and how often you taking the remedies.
According to American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, a sprain is a stretch and/or tear of a ligament and a strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon. Sprains generally occur in ankles, knees and wrists and strains generally occur in the back or leg, particularly the hamstring. Both injuries can range in severity and neither is necessarily worse than the other — it depends on the person and the injury.
Conventional medicine again recommends RICE for strains (see above).
Homeopathically, Arnica is the best place to start and may be all that you need. “Forcing, twisting, wrenching strains and tears are most likely to respond to Arnica if it is prescribed within 24 hours of the trauma” (Thomas 2000).
The above list of remedies can also be applied to muscle strains with these notations:
Rhus tox may be especially helpful in injuries due to lifting or over-exertion.
Bryonia is especially well suited to intercostal and rib injuries.
Ruta is also useful for injuries due to over-exertion. Follows Arnica well to help aid in recovery.
Cell Salts which may be of help for strains (Weintraub 1999):
In addition to the above listed cell salts:
Number one: wear a helmet. Høye (2018) found helmet use reduced serious head injury by 60%.
We just watched an interesting documentary called Bikes of Wrath where 5 young guys re-created the journey from Steinbeck’s novel of a similar name, but this time on bikes. None of them had any head injuries, but they did indeed have some strains and perhaps a sprain — in his case, it was his elbow. They certainly could have benefitted from carrying a little remedy kit with them, that's for sure!
Sprains and strains are covered above, let's move on to cuts, scrapes and contusions.
Once again, Arnica is the first stop for any injury. If the fall was big enough, take a dose of Aconite for any shock.
ROAD RASH (see this link for more information)
Ooof! It’s been a long time since I’ve had to pick gravel out of my knee, but I can still remember how unpleasant that is!
In this case, an oral dose of Arnica may be helpful because there is probably some element of bruising that will accompany the road rash, but remember DO NOT to apply Arnica to broken skin.
I have no idea who this group is, but they have some clear images indicating whether hospital treatment should be sought following a skinned knee.
Assuming the wound is not too bad and does not need professional medical care, clean the area and remove any debris. The Wound Care Society has some nice instructions.
Calendula is where you want to start homeopathically for this injury — after the wound has been sufficiently cleaned out, that is. Calendula can be taken orally, or a Calendula tincture or cream can be applied. If you have the homeopathic pellet, but not a tincture, dissolve the Calendula pellet in some clean water and apply that to the wound. Hypericum can be used in this way, as well.
Ledum is useful if the wound is deeper. It may be cool to the touch and very painful.
Hypericum: like Calendula, Hypericum is very good and soothing to use topically. In fact, they can work very well together. Helios offers a lovely combination cream*. A Hypericum wound is very sensitive and is definitely indicated if any nerves are involved, like fingertips or toes.
Hamamelis is very good if the wound continues to bleed. Arnica, too, can help with bleeding, but Hamamelis would be the next stop. Also very good for hematomas which may form as a result of the injury.
Cell Salts which may be of help for cuts and abrasions (Weintraub 1999):
Guess what the first remedy is for bruising? You’re so clever! Yes, it’s Arnica! The bruise is painful and they don’t want anybody to touch it!
Bellis perennis if the bruising is deeper, and especially if the bruising is in the abdominal area or breast tissue.
Ledum shows up again here, too -- if the area feels better with cold application.
Ruta or Symphytum if the bone is bruised or the periosteum is affected (the tissues between the bones and the skin — think of the shins or cheekbones).
Cell Salts which may be of help for bruising (Weintraub 1999):
First off — consult a physician if you have hit your head, whether you were wearing a helmet, or not.
Once again, Arnica is the place to start. Not only because it’s the go-to first remedy for any accident or injury, but in this case because Arnica is the first choice homeopathic remedy for head injury, period.
Bonus! One of my favorite homeopathic books for injuries, First Aid with Homeopathy by Dr. Manuel Mateu Ratera, has a PDF of his Head Injury pages available online.
The next-in-line remedy for head injuries is Nat sulph (see cell salts below). Like Arnica, Nat sulph can be used for residual effects from old head injuries.
Why choose one over the other? Arnica has the general trauma/injury element to it.
When to choose Nat sulph? Nat sulph has a slight edge in terms of residual effects from head injuries: concussions afterward, migraines afterward. However, Nat sulph is more clearly indicated when there is vertigo following a head injury or depression or mental dullness sets in after a head injury.
Cell Salts which may be of help for head injuries (Weintraub 1999):
For some research on mild traumatic brain injuries and homeopathy, see Chapman et al. (1999).
These remedies, Arnica in particular, should accompany you when you set out for any physical activities this summer. Or, better yet, purchase a little kit to throw in your bag. Taproots has nice one*.
Julia Coyte, CHom
Classically Practical homeopath
* Just because NSAIDs are available over the counter does not mean they are without risks. There are plenty of studies out there talking about the downside of taking NSAIDs. Below are just a few of these studies.
** I have no affiliation with these companies, I just like their products.
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, n.d. Sprains, Strains and Other Soft-Tissue Injuries - OrthoInfo - AAOS [online]. www.orthoinfo.org.
Helios Homoeopathy, n.d. Hypericum/Calendula cream: helios-frontend [online]. www.helios.co.uk.
Høye, A., 2018. Bicycle helmets – To wear or not to wear? A meta-analyses of the effects of bicycle helmets on injuries. Accident Analysis & Prevention [online], 117, 85–97.
Mayo Clinic, 2018. Sprained ankle - Symptoms and causes [online]. Mayo Clinic.
Ratera, Dr. M. M., 2016. First Aid with Homeopathy. Kander, Germany: Narayana Verlag.
Sonnenschmidt, R., Sankaran, R., Vithoulkas, G., Borland, D., Scholten, J., Kusse, F., Mangialavori, M., Birch, K., Das Kaviraj, V., Perko, S., Welte, U., Le Roux, P., Hahnemann, S., Jus, S. and Chauhan, D., n.d. Manuel Mateu i Ratera First Aid with Homeopathy Reading excerpt First Aid with Homeopathy of Manuel Mateu i Ratera Publisher: Hahnemann Institut [online].
Summers, S., 2022. How can I take care of a scraped knee? [online]. www.truthaboutnursing.org.
TapRoots, 2022. SUMMER On-the-Go Portable Homeopathic Kit Including Hard-covered Case, Holds 8 Kit-sized Remedies [online]. TapRoots.
Temple ReadyCare, 2021. 6 Reasons for Summer ER Visits and How to Avoid Common Injuries and Illness [online]. Temple Health.
Thomas, E., 2000. Homoeopathy for sports, exercise, and dance. Beaconsfield, Bucks, Uk: Beaconsfield Publishers.
Weintraub, S., 1999. Natural healing with cell salts. Pleasant Grove, Ut: Woodland Pub.
woundcaresociety, 2016. How to heal skinned knee quickly? [online]. Wound Care Society.
woundcaresociety, 2019. How Long Does Road Rash Take To Heal [online]. Wound Care Society.
Research links - Arnica:
Marzotto, M., Arruda-Silva, F. and Bellavite, P., 2020. Fibronectin Gene Up-regulation by Arnica montana in Human Macrophages: Validation by Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction Assay. Homeopathy [online], 109 (03), 140–145.
Research links Homeopathy & Head Injury:
Chapman, E. H., Weintraub, R. J., Milburn, M. A., Pirozzi, T. O. and Woo, E., 1999. Homeopathic Treatment of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation [online], 14 (6), 521–542.
Research links: Traumeel:
Birnesser, H., Oberbaum, M., Klein, P. and Weiser, M., 2004. THE HOMEOPATHIC PREPARATION TRAUMEEL® S COMPARED WITH NSAIDS FOR SYMPTOMATIC TREATMENT OF EPICONDYLITIS. Journal of Musculoskeletal Research [online], 08 (02n03), 119–128.
Conforti, A., Bertani, S., Metelmann, H., Chirumbolo, S., Lussignoli, S. and Bellavite, P., 1997. Experimental studies of the anti-inflammatory activity of a homeopathic preparation. [online].
Lussignoli, S., Bertani, S., Metelmann, H., Bellavite, P. and Conforti, A., 1999. Effect of Traumeel S, a homeopathic formulation, on blood-induced inflammation in rats. Complementary Therapies in Medicine [online], 7 (4), 225–230.
Porozov, S., Cahalon, L., Weiser, M., Branski, D., Lider, O. and Oberbaum, M., 2004. Inhibition of IL-1β and TNF-α Secretion from Resting and Activated Human Immunocytes by the Homeopathic Medication Traumeel® S. Clinical and Developmental Immunology [online], 11 (2), 143–149.
Schneider, C., Klein, P., Stolt, P. and Oberbaum, M., 2005. A Homeopathic Ointment Preparation Compared With 1% Diclofenac Gel for Acute Symptomatic Treatment of Tendinopathy. EXPLORE [online], 1 (6), 446–452.
* Research links: NSAIDs:
Allison, M. C., Howatson, A. G., Torrance, C. J., Lee, F. D. and Russell, R. I., 1992. Gastrointestinal Damage Associated with the Use of Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs. New England Journal of Medicine [online], 327 (11), 749–754.
Bindu, S., Mazumder, S. and Bandyopadhyay, U., 2020. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and organ damage: A current perspective. Biochemical Pharmacology [online], 180, 114147.
Graham, D. Y., Opekun, A. R., Willingham, F. F. and Qureshi, W. A., 2005. Visible small-intestinal mucosal injury in chronic NSAID users. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology [online], 3 (1), 55–59.
Risser, A., Donovan, D., Heintzman, J. and Page, T., 2009. NSAID Prescribing Precautions. American Family Physician [online], 80 (12), 1371–1378.
Julia Coyte, CHom
I am passionate about homeopathy and I love sharing this passion. Having a working knowledge of homeopathy shouldn't be kept a secret. If people have the ability to help themselves, their children and their friends when they have minor ailments, life just gets better for everyone. That is the purpose behind Ruminating on Remedies.