What about coffee?
I’m the queen of giving things up. My husband says I’m addicted to giving things up and has challenged me to give up giving things up. Well, I’m running out of things to give up, so, someday soon perhaps I’ll think about it!
My latest giving up thing has without a doubt been the hardest one I have tackled to date. Over the years, I have successfully kicked: alcohol, caffeine, grains, legumes, nightshades, sugar, dairy and even chocolate. There are more, but I won’t bore you with the list. Some of them were for short periods of time just to see how it affected me, but most have become incorporated into my way of life after discovering I felt better without them. This article is in no way suggesting that anybody give up anything in particular. I’m a firm believer in the importance of people doing what is right for themselves. You do you.
Back to this latest one that is so hard. ** Drumroll ** Crossing my legs while sitting.
Oooh! It’s killing me! Well, it’s a little easier today after a Rolfing session yesterday. She helped move my sacrum into its new home after being twisted up for many decades and it is now much easier to sit without desperately wanting to cross my legs. Argh. Yet, I know from experience, this, too, shall pass.
What’s the secret to successfully giving things up?
Putting things in. Don’t punish yourself when you give something up — swap it. Maybe that’s why the not crossing my legs is so hard — there is nothing I can put in to substitute for this habit. The other big obstacle is situational. These habits are engrained throughout your whole being. Hanging out with the old friend with whom you used to enjoy ice cream sundaes can set those cravings in motion. Passing the cafe where you used to enjoy a regular coffee and a cookie can likewise stir things up. Create new neural pathways and life gets much easier.
Why am I telling you this? Because I want to tell you my thoughts on coffee. I gave up coffee prior to finding homeopathy, so I never thought about it much from the alleged homeopathic interference standpoint for myself. Again, I am not suggesting you give up coffee.
What does coffee have to do with homeopathy?
Some homeopaths instruct their clients to not drink coffee while working with them (and, even coffee flavored things, too). Others expand the “do not use while taking homeopathic remedies” list to include: mint, (including toothpaste), mouthwash, onions, garlic, ginger, chocolate, tobacco, alcohol, and more…. (Here’s a link to a nice article on mint from the American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists (Watkins and Foxman 2014) which dispels the mint myth.)
“What!?!?” I hear you saying. “You want me to forego my morning coffee in order to use homeopathy? No way is that happening!”
Not I, but, yup, some homeopaths even go so far as to say they won’t work with a client if they don’t agree to some pretty stringent rules. In case it isn’t clear, I’m not one of those homeopaths.
For the record, I am not suggesting that you should go against your homeopath's guidance. Perhaps you could start a conversation with them to understand their thinking. What I am sharing here are my thoughts on homeopathy and what I have found works with my clients.
Why is this coffee thing even a thing?
“Effect of coffee on Homeopathic medicine” does a good job of explaining one theory on where this idea originated (Varghese 2019).
It is true that some things can indeed cancel out your homeopathic remedies: both cancelling the effects of a remedy on the person as well as making the remedies themselves in their tubes inert (*see below).
In true homeopathic form — these things are highly individualistic. Some people are much more sensitive than others. However, in my experience, coffee and mint are not a problem for most people.
I’m not going to make a blanket statement that if you have your remedy and then drink a cup of coffee that it’s not going to counter-act said remedy. If you are a regular coffee drinker, coffee is most likely not going to affect you and your homeopathic remedy. Coffee is a part of who you are. If you don’t drink coffee regularly and you find yourself on a lovely vacation in Venice, Italy and you just can’t resist that special after dinner espresso — it may have an effect on the effectiveness of your remedy. Is this a problem? In a word? No. Just repeat the remedy.
So, what’s the big deal, then?
In a classical homeopathic situation, it is common that the client would be given one single dose of a remedy and then wait a number of weeks and see what happens. In these circumstances, I can see how a homeopath would want to limit any possible interference with said remedy. When homeopathic remedies are repeated at regular intervals, whether that be twice daily, once weekly or something else, possible interference is less of a concern.
So, are there other substances that actually might interfere with the effect of homeopathic remedies?
Yes. But, there’s a big caveat here. Again, like homeopathic remedies, it’s highly individual. Some common culprits are:
Other possible antidotes that I have heard about but have not seen to be a problem include:
If you are noticing your remedies not working as well as they used to work, you may be a sensitive soul and you may want to time your remedies differently if you partake in any of the above possibilities. (A word on sensitive souls — we definitely exist and just because you have been sensitive to remedies in the past does not mean homeopathic remedies are not right for you. Work with a professional homeopath who can help guide you through this process.)
* How can you make a whole tube of remedies go inert?
Storing remedies next to strong smelling substances like cleaning products or strong essential oils has been known to “kill” the remedies themselves. If you find that tube of Arnica which has always worked in the past for you is no longer having that same beneficial effect, that tube should probably be discarded and a new one should take its place.
Some people say that putting remedies through the X-ray machine at the airport can have a negative effect on the remedies themselves. I never travel without my remedies and I have never had a problem after they have been through the X-ray machine. If you are worried about it, though, the few times I have asked the TSA agents to do a hand inspection, they have happily obliged.
What about keeping the remedies next to cell phones or computers?
I haven’t found this to be a problem.
Some people say magnets can have a negative effect on remedies — I have no experience with this and cannot comment.
Heat and sunlight has not been a problem for my remedies, either. I keep a small kit in the center console of my car and each remedy I have used has worked every time.
Tell me more about Camphor.
** Camphor as a homeopathic remedy is commonly used to stop further action of another homeopathic remedy. If an ill-advised remedy has been used and is causing unwanted effects, a dose of homeopathic Camphor can often bring that to a halt.
Likewise, some deep inhales of camphor itself or eucalyptus or menthol or tea tree oil can have the same halting effect.
“OK, we now know that coffee and mint and some other niceties of life are not (necessarily) going to interfere with the remedies. Anything else to take into consideration?”
There are a few general guidelines which may be beneficial.
In an ideal world, homeopathic remedies would be taken in a clean mouth, waiting 10-15 minutes after eating, drinking (except water) or brushing your teeth. Additionally, take the remedies away from allopathic medicines and herbs and supplements and other homeopathic remedies. In other words, give these delicate but powerful homeopathic remedies some time and space to do what they do.
Are these conditions absolutely necessary?
Not in my experience. But, if you have the time and the capacity to administer the remedies in this way, it certainly can’t be faulted.
What about touching the pellets themselves?
This could be a problem because the homeopathic medicine is just a thin coating on the pellet and any moisture on your fingers or hands may release the remedy at the point of contact, rather than utilizing that delightful and quick-acting sublingual absorption. (Having said this, the remedy can still be effective through the skin, but not as quick and sure.) Any creams or soaps on the skin may stop the remedy from entering your system. The best way to get the pellets into your mouth is to pour the desired amount of pellets into the cap and toss them into your mouth directly from the cap.
Under the tongue is best, but it’s perfectly fine to place the pellets between gum and lip — this is especially useful with babies and animals.
If you spill the pellets, it’s best to throw them out. Definitely don’t try to put them back in the tube if they have spilled.
As I mentioned above, I kicked the coffee habit prior to my knowledge of homeopathy. (I actually did it on vacation, when I was down for the count sick and I couldn’t taste it anyway, so I decided to stop cold turkey. I drank a lot of coffee all day every day and I was missing it both physically and mentally. I switched to fully caffeinated tea for a while and weaned myself from there.)
If you are looking to stop your coffee habit, remember homeopathic Chamomilla to help with those horrible caffeine withdrawal headaches. Other remedies which may help you through those tough days: Nux vomica, Ignatia and possibly Coffea cruda itself (but this is more akin to same cures same and most likely not as effective as the other choices.)
In terms of focusing on putting something in instead of suffering through taking something out, I found a Dandelion instant coffee*** to be a pretty good substitute. A word of caution: At the time of quitting coffee, I didn’t care about what ingredients I put into my system. When I gave up gluten, this coffee substitute had to go, too, because it is made from roasted barley.
For me, as a homeopath, the long and the short of taking homeopathic remedies comes down to this: don’t overthink it and don't stress about it. If you take a remedy and it’s not helping, it could be that it’s not the right remedy for your current situation or it could be that your remedy tube has been exposed to one of the above possibilities and has become ineffective. If you’re sure of the remedy choice, perhaps a new tube will set you straight.
If you have successfully been taking a remedy and it seems to no longer be effective (and you're sure storage issues are not a thing), it could be that remedy has run its course for you or, it could be a different potency is now needed or, it could be that you have been inadvertently antidoting the remedy. If you suspect the latter, take a look at when you are taking the remedy in comparison to when you are doing one of the above possible antidotes — especially if you are a sensitive soul.
If you need any help with any of this, book a focused appointment and we’ll see what we can do to get you on your way.
Julia Coyte, CHom
Classically Practical homeopath
*** I have no affiliation with this company.
American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists, n.d. FAQs [online]. The American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists.
Boiron, n.d. Frequently Asked Questions | Boiron USA [online]. boironusa.com.
Varghese, Dr. S., 2019. Effect of coffee on Homeopathic medicine [online]. Homeopathy Resource by Homeobook.com.
Watkins, M. B. and Foxman, E. L., 2014. Don’t Skip the Mint [online]. The American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists.
The Road Less Traveled
Photo by brut carniollus on Unsplash
Headaches are tough. They’re tough to live through and they can be tough to help homeopathically speaking because there are so many variables in headaches.
I woke up with a cracking headache the other day. This headache was so bad that I, the homeopath who has not had so much as a Tylenol in 10 years, considered for just a brief moment, taking some over the counter (OTC) medicine.
Why not take that route? It’s so easy! What harm can it do?
Let's take a quick look at why OTC meds might not be the best option.
If you take any conventional meds, prescribed or otherwise, I highly recommend you spend a little time at drugs.com. They do a nice job of explaining the “side effects” and other important information that one should know when one is ingesting medicinal substances. (All of the below information comes from drugs.com unless otherwise noted.)
The two most common OTC meds for headaches are acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) and NSAIDs (a.k.a. ibuprofen, e.g. Advil).
Acetaminophen use in the US is shockingly high. 40% of adults reported using it monthly and 23% weekly. Acetaminophen is the most common cause of acute liver failure. Acetaminophen is also the most common cause of both intentional and unintentional poisoning in the US (Dimitropoulos 2014).
Finding statistics on who uses ibuprofen and how often was not so easy. The nearest I came was to find that “approximately 70% of people 65 years or older use NSAIDs at least once per week” (Fine 2013).
NSAIDs and acetaminophen both:
Ibuprofen: Very common (10% or more): Nausea (up to 57%), vomiting (up to 22%), flatulence (up to 16%), diarrhea (up to 10%)
Ibuprofen: Very common (10% or more): Hemorrhage (up to 10%), hypertension (10%), hypotension (10%)
Using these OTC meds frequently for headaches can also result in rebound headaches (Freeland 2020).
For years, doctors have been recommending acetaminophen over NSAIDs during pregnancy, but now we’re learning that exposure to this is linked to higher rates of ADHD and autism (National Institutes of Health 2019; Alemany et al. 2021; Cleveland Clinic 2022).
An added risk of using acetaminophen is that it is commonly added to other drugs (e.g. Theraflu, Alka-Seltzer Plus Liquid Gels, Vicodin, Percocet). If you take a Tylenol in addition to taking one of these other meds, it could result in a fatal overdose (Bates 2016; Harvard Health Publishing 2018).
After just a short while looking into these “safe” OTC medicines, I realized this could become a very long article, so I will stop here. (I really didn’t even look into risks for children (Ogilvie et al. 2012), though I’m sure they are just as bad, if not worse than for adults.) I will say this, though: I am even more pleased with my decision to not take the well trodden OTC painkiller route after my little internet exploration. Risking gastrointestinal bleeding or liver disease to get rid of a headache? No, thank you. I’ll pass.
What route did I take? I took the road less traveled… Homeopathy, of course!
Before I get to the homeopathic remedies for headaches, please note that some headaches definitely warrant medical assistance:
As I mentioned in my article Garbage In, Garbage Out, everybody experiences headaches differently. Your headache is not the same as your neighbor’s headache.
Why do we get headaches? Good question. The reasons are plentiful: Stress and tension can cause headaches. Emotions can cause headaches. Crying can cause headaches. Drinking alcohol can cause headaches. Certain foods for certain people can cause headaches. The weather can cause headaches. Hunger can cause headaches. Physical issues, like sitting at a desk all day, can cause headaches. Dehydration can cause headaches (see, Summer Fun #5: Dehydration). Menses can cause headaches. Homeopathy in all its wisdom takes all of these possible causations into consideration when selecting a remedy. (Some of these conditions are chronic situations and seeking the advice from a professional homeopath may be necessary to help figure your headaches out.)
As in everything homeopathy, the symptoms, or how you experience the headache, are the key to finding the right remedy for you.
NOTE: A 30c potency is a good place to start. If no change occurs, repeat the remedy 15-20 minutes later. If there is any amelioration, stick with the remedy. We are not looking for perfection, we are looking for improvement. If you are NO better after a couple of doses, take another look at the symptoms and try another remedy. As I said earlier, headaches can be very tricky, especially when you are in the middle of one. (If you have somebody nearby who can help you figure it out, all the better.) Don’t get discouraged. The long-term benefits of kicking the OTC habit are worth it. If you have to succumb to an OTC, try and take note of what you were feeling and see if you can match up a remedy for the next time you get a headache.
Please note also that this is not an exhaustive list of headache remedies, nor is it an exhaustive list of symptoms for each remedy listed. This is just a quick look at a few common homeopathic headache remedies which should be readily available in most household homeopathic kits or in your local health food store.
Bryonia is the “grumpy bear” remedy. Grumpy because every movement you make hurts — it even hurts to move your eyes. It hurts to be touched. Every noise somebody else makes hurts. A splitting headache — as if the head would split right open or pain right across the forehead. Thirsty, thirsty, thirsty for big gulps of water. Constipation may be present. Firm pressure on the head can help as can a nice, cool cloth across the forehead. Bryonia is an excellent flu remedy and is also good for injuries and back pains, neck & shoulder pains; too much sun and coughing.
Belladonna — sudden onset. Throbbing, pounding pain. In the temples or extending from temple to temple. Fullness in the head — a congestive headache. Your head may hurt so much that it hurts to touch your scalp. A couple of keynotes for Belladonna in any condition: sudden onset. Hotness. Redness. (See, Summer Fun #1: Sun.) They don’t want any noise or light or anyone to bump that bed you’re on. A Belladonna headache feels better with pressure — pressing on your head can help the pain. Headaches from coughing or sneezing.
Gelsemium: Headache with the sensation as if there were a tight band around the head. A distressing headache. Pain beginning in the neck and extending up and all over the head. A good remedy for headaches with the flu. Can’t keep the eyes open. Headache from nervousness — anticipatory anxiety. Or, a headache that came on after hearing bad news. They feel better when keeping their head raised up when lying down. Their brain may feel sore. A fascinating symptom of Gelsemium is the headache can feel better after urinating. They want to be left alone, but unlike Bryonia, they have no thirst.
Ignatia: Headaches from emotions: shock, sadness, grief, worry or anger. From the outside, they may seem oversensitive to the pain; they may even be hysterical. Pain as if a nail is driven into the side of the head. Or, a headache felt along the sides of the head. A heavy feeling in the head. Pulsating sensation over the eyes. They may have a very focused headache, just in one spot. Strong smells, especially tobacco smoke, can bring on a headache. Wrapping the head up may feel good.
Natrum muriaticum: headaches from grief and disappointed love. Headache as if being hit by dozens of tiny hammers beating on your brain. A bursting headache. A heavy sensation in the back of the head. May feel a band or hoop sensation around head. Headache as if from a blow to the head. Feels as if they must lie down. A headache on one side of the head. Eyes are sensitive to light and there may be visual disturbances. They are worse from the sun.
Nux vomica for headaches from too much (see, Too Much!) — too much alcohol, too much sugar, too much sun, too much work, too much food. Too much can also mean not enough of something else: not enough sleep, not enough emptying of the bowels (constipation). Headaches from toxic substances, street drugs as well as prescription or over the counter medicines. Or, a headache that feels as if it’s from intoxication, without imbibing the toxic substance itself. Unable to raise the head. Head feels swollen. These people can be miffed — angry and frustrated. The pain can be in the back of the head or over the eyes. As if a nail has been driven into the top of the head. Headache all over the head. Splitting headache. Dizziness, especially on rising. The head may be sensitive to cold air or drafts of air. Headache from tooth pain. Nux vomica is also good for colds and stuffed up noses, so if your headache is coming from that, this could be a good choice.
Pulsatilla: Headache from overeating, especially fats. Hormonal headaches. Headaches experienced during puberty. Throbbing. Heavy head — hard to hold it up. A bubbling sensation in the head or noises in the head. Bending the head to one side may feel good. They must lie down while keeping their head raised. A one-sided headache. Oversensitivity, weepiness and craving company and with no thirst — all big keynotes for Pulsatilla. They feel better in open air and while rubbing their head or from wrapping their head. Coughs make it worse. Shooting pains or wandering pains.
Sanguinaria: A “sick headache” with nausea and possibly vomiting. The pain is focused in or around the right eye. It can be a quick pain — a flash of pain on the back of the head. The eyes may feel like they’re being pressed out. Forehead pain, just above the eyes. The pain improves from sleep. Nausea. Dizziness. Vomiting and feeling better from vomiting. Bursting pain.
Silicea. Lingering headaches following an illness. An occipital headache, sitting right there at the back or your head or, starting in the occiput and traveling up and over the head. May feel nauseous and vomit. Cold, clammy sweat on the forehead. Talking makes them feel worse. Constipation and straining can cause this headache. A headache from cold exposure to the head. Head pain resulting from a toothache. May feel better from binding the head. Conversely, a headache that has been brought on from having the head bound may respond well to Silicea. Like Gelsemium, the headache can improve with urination.
Children with headaches may respond well to Calc phos 3x. Older children may respond well to Nat Mur or Ignatia.
So, what did I take for my headache?
Bryonia first, which removed the debilitating pain and I could then focus more clearly on what I was feeling. Almost immediately, I noticed how nauseous I was. Was I nauseous before? Maybe, but it certainly wasn't pronounced enough for me to notice it. Then, sitting by an open window trying to get some work done, the nearby construction noise was absolutely intolerable — really irking me. Aha. Irritability and nausea = Nux vomica. Within an hour, the bulk of the headache was gone and by afternoon I felt absolutely good to go -- as if I never even had a headache.
Was it harder to take homeopathy rather than popping an OTC? Maybe, but only because it required me to think about my symptoms. But, to me, it was absolutely worth it. With homeopathy, there are no side-effects, no rebound headaches, no possibility of long-term damage (Habs and Koller 2021; American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists 2022). And, bonus!, homeopathy has been known to help uproot the underlying cause of the existing condition, thereby lessening the frequency and intensity in the future, especially in chronic conditions.
"I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost
Julia Coyte, CHom
Classically Practical homeopath
Alemany, S., Avella-García, C., Liew, Z., García-Esteban, R., Inoue, K., Cadman, T., López-Vicente, M., González, L., Riaño Galán, I., Andiarena, A., Casas, M., Margetaki, K., Strandberg-Larsen, K., Lawlor, D. A., El Marroun, H., Tiemeier, H., Iñiguez, C., Tardón, A., Santa-Marina, L. and Júlvez, J., 2021. Prenatal and postnatal exposure to acetaminophen in relation to autism spectrum and attention-deficit and hyperactivity symptoms in childhood: Meta-analysis in six European population-based cohorts. European Journal of Epidemiology [online].
American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists, 2022. FAQs [online]. The American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists.
Anderson, L. A., 2022. Pain / Fever Drugs and Alcohol Interactions [online]. Drugs.com. Available from: https://www.drugs.com/article/pain-medications-alcohol.html
Bates, A., 2016. Acetaminophen Intoxication: A Critical-Care Emergency [online]. Uspharmacist.com.
Cleveland Clinic, 2022. Does Acetaminophen Heighten Risk for Autism or ADHD? [online]. Cleveland Clinic.
Dimitropoulos, E., 2014. Acetaminophen Toxicity: What Pharmacists Need to Know [online]. Uspharmacist.com.
Drugs.com, 2018a. Acetaminophen [online]. Drugs.com.
Drugs.com, 2018b. Ibuprofen [online]. Drugs.com.
Fine, M., 2013. Quantifying the Impact of NSAID-Associated Adverse Events [online]. AJMC.
Freeland, M. N., 2020. Migraine Medication Overuse and Rebound Headaches - GoodRx [online]. GoodRx.
Habs, M. and Koller, M., 2021. Material Risks of Homeopathic Medicinal Products: Regulatory Frameworks, Results of Preclinical Toxicology, and Clinical Meta-Analyses and Their Implications. Complementary Medicine Research [online], 28 (1), 64–84.
Harvard Health Publishing, 2018. Acetaminophen safety: Be cautious but not afraid - Harvard Health [online]. Harvard Health.
National Institutes of Health, 2019. NIH-funded study suggests acetaminophen exposure in pregnancy linked to higher risk of ADHD, autism [online]. National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Ogilvie, J. D., Rieder, M. J. and Lim, R., 2012. Acetaminophen overdose in children. Canadian Medical Association Journal [online], 184 (13), 1492–1496.
Kaufman, D. W., Kelly, J. P., Wiholm, B.-E., Laszlo, A., Sheehan, J. E., Koff, R. S. and Shapiro, S., 1999. The Risk of Acute Major Upper Gastrointestinal Bleeding Among Users of Aspirin and Ibuprofen at Various Levels of Alcohol Consumption. American Journal of Gastroenterology [online], 94 (11), 3189–3196.
Mayo Clinic Staff, 2018. Taking pills for chronic pain? [online]. Mayo Clinic.
Ullman, D., 2017. Safety Issues and Homeopathic Medicines [online]. Homeopathic.com.
Her ears were "yuck"
Our overseas visitors just left us after a very enjoyable time.
One (dare I say) benefit of staying at the home of an enthusiastic homeopath is that some issues can be addressed in a relaxed fashion. Among other ailments, we addressed a long-standing case of plantar fasciitis; pre-wedding emotions for the mother-of-the-bride were handled nicely with Ignatia; bug bites were avoided and (if we didn’t get the OHM* bug spray on in time) helped; sunburned shoulders were quickly cooled with Similasan’s Burn Recovery*™; jangled nerves following an off-road adventure were met with Aconite (remember! Aconite rhymes with Fright!); Nux vomica came in handy the morning after the late night festivities and a custom Bach Flower Remedy blend for the bride herself proved useful for the ubiquitous pre-nuptial butterflies. Did I mention it was a nice, long visit with plenty of time to get the chance to show off what homeopathy can do!?
The day before the return flight, painful ears as a result of flying was brought up. So, I sent along a tube of Kali mur. When she landed, she texted to say that she did not take the remedy for the first flight and her “ears were yuck. Took them for the second flight and for the first time no need to keep moving jaw to pop ears, also when landing.”
Kali muriaticum is one of Schussler’s 12 original cell salts and is known to help the body clear congestions. (In this case, I gave her the 30c potency, but I’m sure the 6x "cell salt" would have worked just fine, but may have needed to be repeated more frequently.) This remedy is known to be helpful for blocked eustachian tubes, middle ear conditions, swollen glands and when crackling noises are heard when blowing the nose or swallowing. Robin Murphy talks about "snapping, itching, as of a plug in ears". That pretty much sums up the discomfort one can feel in one's ears when flying and Kali mur did the trick for her.
Her husband jokingly asked if I had “anything for the annoying fellow passengers.” Yup. Nux vomica would be worth a try for that because, after all, it’s not necessarily that the fellow passengers are annoying, it’s the fact that one is being annoyed by one's fellow passengers.
Whoo hoo! I love it. Homeopathy works so quickly and so effectively for so very many conditions. I truly wish everybody knew about this amazing medicine!
Julia Coyte, CHom
Classically Practical homeopath
* OHM products are only available to professional homeopaths and their clients.
** I have no affiliation with this company, I just like their products.
I have never used it, but I bet Similasan’s Itch Relief would work well, too!
A friend texted the other day asking for a remedy suggestion “for work stress and ready to cry — not sad crying, but overwhelmed.”
My general go-to for stress and feelings of overwhelm is Ignatia, but that remedy wasn’t quite right here. I suggested Nux vomica to her.
Surprisingly, these two homeopathic remedies have a lot in common in the mental and emotional realm. It’s not really this simple (because there is a lot of nuance to homeopathic remedies), but to me, the difference comes down to this: Ignatia is a bit sadder and Nux vomica is a bit angrier.
In the homeopathic repertory (the big, marvelous book of symptoms), the remedies are listed on a scale of 1-4, with 4 being the strongest association of the remedy to the symptom. Here is how Ignatia and Nux vomica stack up in a few mental/emotional symptoms:
Where is Nux vomica more highly indicated? Funny you should ask… I have that info right here:
See what I mean? These two remedies are very similar but just ever so slightly different (in the mental & emotional arena, anyway).
Homeopathic Nux vomica has a reputation of being a good remedy for “the businessman.” Picture the old stereotype of the stressed out, overworked, chain smoking, hard drinking, stressed out, short-tempered business man … the characters from Man in the Grey Flannel Suit* or Mad Men, or, heck, even Darren Stevens from Bewitched!
We’re now in a world where the smoking and heavy daytime drinking may have been dropped away from being societally acceptable, but the stress and the resulting grumpiness remains for all the desk jockies (not just the men in the grey flannel suits).
Homeopathic Nux vomica also addresses issues that stem from work, otherwise known in the repertory as the rubric, “ailments from being overworked".
All of this stress and worry can then lead to sleep problems which can be addressed nicely by Nux vomica:
Just because the homeopathic literature speaks of the benefits of Nux vomica to businessmen does not mean it only benefits men or only benefits ailments from work related issues… but, it’s a helpful way to remember the remedy.**
Keep calm and carry a tube of Nux vomica…
Julia Coyte, CHom
Classically Practical homeopath
*Aucoin (2015) has a nice overview of The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit.
**For more information on Nux vomica, see these previous articles: Calming the Cold, My Little Bag of Wellness, The Eagle has Landed!, Too Much!
Watch your step!
A scary morning!
My teenage son stepped outside the patio door, hit some ice and was promptly on the ground. I heard the crash from the other room. We knew he banged his knee up pretty good. We didn’t know if he hit his head on the flower pot next to the door.
With some help, he hobbled back in the house and sat down in a chair. Almost immediately, he “disappeared.” He was staring (and, breathing!) but completely unresponsive. Concussion? Seizure? It was a very spooky few seconds. Then, nausea and retching set in and he started shaking; his face (lips in particular) were absolutely colorless. Now, we added shock to the list of possibilities.*
Immediately, I gave him Arnica 200c.
Why 200c? Because it was the one that was the nearest. In an emergency, the best potency is the one you have! (I did move to Arnica 1M shortly thereafter.)
Homeopathic Arnica is the go-to for injuries in general.
Arnica is the go-to for head injuries, too.
Arnica is indicated in traumatic shock and shock from fractures.
Arnica is also indicated in, as the homeopathic repertory says, “fainting, injury from shock in.”
Cleveland Clinic (n.d.) says, “Fainting, also called passing out or syncope, is a temporary loss of consciousness. It is caused by a sudden decrease of blood flow to the brain. An episode typically lasts a few seconds or minutes. Most fainting spells are not a cause for concern. But if you faint often or have other symptoms, you should seek medical attention.”
(I have seen 2 of my boys faint now on more than one occasion and it certainly does not feel like it’s not a cause for concern!)
Mayo Clinic (2018) describes: pale skin, lightheadedness, nausea and jerky, abnormal movements. “Recovery after a vasovagal episode generally begins in less than a minute. However, if you stand up too soon after fainting — waiting about 15-30 minutes — you’re at risk of fainting again.” I wish I had read that earlier today because he did try to stand up and he did “disappear” again.
One theory of why this happens, according to Alboni and Alboni (2017), is the body is trying to “take on a gravitationally neutral position” — to get the head lowered to get some blood flow back to the brain. It turns out sitting in a chair was probably not the best position for him; we should have had him lying down with his head slightly raised on a pillow.
Is Arnica the only remedy I used? Nope. Aconite for shock. Ipecac for the nausea. Bryonia for the knee stiffness.
I also used homeopathic Carbo vegetabilis.
We were discussing going to the emergency room and he commented that putting a mask over his face "felt like a very bad idea." When taking a homeopathic case, the patient’s words are very important, so his mentioning this with no prompting gave me reason to pay attention.
Why did I care about this statement? It is Carbo veg’s association with the want of air that tipped me off. “The patient faints easily, is worn out, and must have fresh air” (Boericke 2007).
Homeopathic Carbo veg is known to be helpful for the following breathing issues:
• Difficult breathing
• Wants to be fanned
• Gasping for air
• Desires air
• Breathing stopped
Carbo veg is also useful for: shaking with chills, unconsciousness or semi-consciousness, traumatic shock, physical anxiety, and it is very highly indicated in hypotension or low blood pressure, which, of course also makes it a good remedy for fainting, thus making it a good fit for my son this morning.
I am happy to report that after a couple of hours of taking it easy and getting some good food and plenty of water in him, he is nearly back to his old self. His knee is still a little tender, but it’s getting him where he needs to go and it doesn't appear to be broken. (Phew!)
Any other remedies used? Yep. Ignatia 200c for me. As my mother-in-law used to say about raising children, “it’s not the work, it’s the worry.” Stressful stuff to watch your son “disappear.”
Watch your step!
Julia Coyte, CHom
Classically Practical homeopath
* I am fortunate to have an excellent and kind MD who answers my texts on a panicked Saturday morning. We also spoke with an ER doctor. We did not go this alone. If we had not had these resources, we definitely would have taken him to the ER.
Alboni, P. and Alboni, M., 2017. Typical vasovagal syncope as a “defense mechanism” for the heart by contrasting sympathetic overactivity. Clinical Autonomic Research: Official Journal of the Clinical Autonomic Research Society [online], 27 (4), 253–261.
Boericke, W., 2007. Pocket manual of homeopathic materia medica & repertory : comprising of the characteristic and guiding symptoms of all remedies clinical and pathogenetic including Indian drugs. Accessed through Radar Opus software. New Delhi, India: B. Jain.
Cleveland Clinic, n.d. Fainting: Causes, Symptoms & Prevention [online]. Cleveland Clinic.
Mayo Clinic, 2018. Vasovagal syncope - Symptoms and causes [online]. Mayo Clinic.
Rest In Peace
Photo by Simon Wilkes on Unsplash
The world of homeopathy suffered an enormous, irreplaceable loss this week.
If you have read any of my articles before, then you have unwittingly met Dr. Robin Murphy. I cite him regularly. Dr. Murphy is the man who translated all of the old homeopathy books into every day words and meanings. He brought clarity to all of us homeopaths in explaining the nuances of this artful, intricate science.
I have listened to countless hours of his old lectures. My notes are copious as he so clearly said what needed to be understood. I never met Dr. Murphy nor spoken to him directly, but he did answer one of my questions in his forum (and that one short answer of his gave more clarity and depth to not just the remedy in question, but to homeopathy in general). The bookshelf where I work is lined with 10 sticky notes, 9 of them with Dr. Murphy's words to keep me on track with what is important in taking a homeopathic case.
This fall I enrolled in a year-long class with Dr. Murphy. The 3 live classes we had were fantastic and left me wanting much more. Alas. The classes were temporarily cancelled a couple of weeks ago when he became ill, to give him the time he needed to recover. Last I heard, on Sunday, he was recovering slowly but surely and by Wednesday night the homeopathic chats were filled with the sad news.
Lots of things come to mind for me with the passing of Dr. Murphy. These same sorts of thoughts popped up last year (when another world-renowned homeopath) Dr. Pratip Banerji died. I'm sure I wasn't the only homeopath who thought, “why didn’t they…?” I’m sure they did. As Dr. Banerji’s father Prasanta Banerji is known to have said, (and, I paraphrase), “Homeopathy can cure all conditions, but homeopathy can’t cure all conditions in all people.”
When I pulled Dr. Murphy’s book off the shelf for guidance for this article on grief, it magically opened to Ignatia. The book knew exactly where I wanted to go. Unlike most of the rest of the book, Ignatia is not all highlighted and marked up. I hadn’t tackled Ignatia from Dr. Murphy’s point of view yet. I have written about Ignatia before (PTSD, Homeopathy can make a heavy world lighter, Accidents, and Dystopia). Ignatia is a very powerful homeopathic remedy for emotions and there aren’t many emotions bigger, or more common, than grief and sadness.
Dr. Murphy’s Keynote Materia Medica (Murphy 2015, pp 328-329) are the transcribed seminar notes on homeopathic remedies — with lots of back and forth between “RM” and “Student.” He was incredibly generous with his knowledge. He wanted to make homeopathy accessible to people, and he did!
His commentary on Ignatia begins: “Most of you know Ignatia so we won’t spend much time on it. This is the most often prescribed remedy if someone has an acute sudden shock and grief. Hysteria from grief, hysteria in homeopathy means a loss of emotional control: laughing, crying, weeping, irritability, moody, etc. It's for shock from frights, shock from bad news and it's also a black type remedy for shock from disappointments.” There you have it. Now you know why Dr. Murphy is my go-to guy to learn the remedies. He read through all the many, many volumes of the old literature and summed it all up for us in a nice, tidy package. (Trust me, there are no other books that give this information so succinctly.)
He goes on to explain, "the disappointment was a shock to the system and the person has become sleepless, irritable, angry ever since then. A dose of Ignatia 200c will usually neutralize disappointments.”
“… they’re sobbing and sighing and have catching respiration. The sighing is a keynote of Ignatia… They have a lump in the throat, and a tight feeling, and all the acute symptoms of grief, or signs of suppressed grief. They can also have an all-gone feeling in the chest or the stomach since a grief, they have an empty feeling."
“Crying from grief with the inability to stop, uncontrolled crying spells with choking and spasmodic crying.… it’s like a ratching [sic] that’s tearing them apart inside, agony, really acute emotional agony and pain from emotional loss. That’s Ignatia.”
I dare say, that you, too, now have a good idea of the understanding of homeopathic Ignatia.
Like all homeopathic remedies, there is more to it than this. There are deeper levels and further physical manifestations but for today’s purpose, after the homeopathic community lost an absolute giant, that’s all that needs to be said for Ignatia.
Thank you Dr. Murphy for your generosity in sharing your vast knowledge. You will be sorely missed by many.
Julia Coyte, CHom
Classically Practical homeopath
Homeopathy in Dystopia
Dystopian fiction used to be one of my favorite genres… until 2020 happened and we found ourselves living in an actual dystopia! A few weeks ago, I decided it was time to return to normal and re-visit this type of fiction.
One Second After by William R. Forstchen came to me via an enthusiastic recommendation and it turned out to be a well-written, plausible scenario of the after effects of an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) being dropped on the United States. The result? All electronics ceased functioning: no phones, no running water, no refrigeration, no cars. Supply lines stopped. Stores looted and emptied in the first days. Medical help was dependent on the knowledge of the local doctors, nurses and veterinarians and whatever supplies they happened to have on hand.
You know what was missing in this scenario? Somebody with some homeopathic knowledge! Homeopathy is an essential skill to have if you are living off the grid, whether by choice … or through a fictional EMP being dropped.
The main character got a life-threatening infection after cutting his hand. A number of remedies come to mind for a really bad infection*: Calendula (Parente et al. 2012; Givol et al. 2019; Preethi and Kuttan 2009), Gunpowder (Casey 2011) or, the Banerji protocol of Hypericum 200c mixed with Arsenicum album 200c (Banerji and Banerji 2013).
*This article is based on a fictional situation. If you find yourself in any of these situations in real life, seek medical attention immediately!
His daughter had Type 1 diabetes (NOT a good thing to have when the supply lines are cut and there is no more insulin to be found) and though homeopathy may help control some of the symptoms, it isn’t going to do much to help that situation. There are certainly medical conditions for which pharmaceutical drugs are absolutely necessary to keep people alive. But, this dystopian novel made me think about all the people dependent on pharmaceutical meds for non-life-threatening conditions. You don’t want to be dependent on these things when this fictional EMP is dropped (or even if there is a breakdown of the supply chain)!
The coming to grips with their new reality? Ignatia could certainly help with that. It is so good at addressing emotional shocks and for those suffering ill effects from hearing bad news or from fright and "disorders of the mind, particularly if actuated by grief, sadness, hopelessness, hysterical variableness, fantastic illusions" (Murphy 2006, p. 973).
The diarrhea that spread through town? Arsenicum album (Rafferty and Kayne 1994), Veratrum album (Banerji and Banerji 2013) or Camphor (Banerji and Banerji 2013; Leary 1997; Perko 2005). [An interesting read on the use of homeopathy in cholera epidemics.]
The psychiatric patients in town who no longer had their meds… Homeopathy has a good track record for helping mental and emotional conditions of all sorts and certainly could have helped to keep some of these conditions at bay, but these are better suited to an individualized classical homeopathic remedy. (Johannes 2010)
Another beautiful aspect of homeopathy is it doesn’t require much of a supply chain. It is completely possible to make your own homeopathic remedies as long as you have either the raw materials or the homeopathic remedy itself. If you have blank pellets, you can create more pellets as needed, or, you can make essentially limitless liquid remedies from a couple of pellets and treat the whole town at once!
What else could these people have used? A good First Aid Kit** and the knowledge of how to use it. When your local hospitals and clinics are no longer of any use to you, a medium-sized accident can leave you in a world of hurt. Remember, in this fictional account, there was no electricity, no internet, no phones to help you figure out how to use your first aid kit. It does you no good to have something downloaded on your now defunct tablet; you need to have good, old fashioned books to guide you, like US Army First Aid Manual or Herbal medic : a green beret’s guide to emergency medical preparedness and natural first aid.
I know some people find these catastrophic topics disturbing. I like the problem solving that comes along with reading these kinds of books; to think about the worst case scenario and figure out ways to tackle the problems — being prepared (in my mind, at least) brings me a sense of calm.
I’m happy to have this genre back in my life. I wonder what the next dystopian scenario coming my way will be? Regardless of what it is, I bet homeopathy would be a useful skill to have!
Julia Coyte, CHom
Classically Practical homeopath
** I have no affiliation with this company or any products listed here, I just like their products.
Anon., 2020. Instructions For Turning Pills Into Liquid Remedies [online]. Homeopathy Plus.
Banerji, P. and Banerji, P., 2013. The Banerji protocols : a new method of treatment with homeopathic medicines. India: Pratip Banerji.
Camerlink, I., Ellinger, L., Bakker, E. J., and Lantinga, E. A., 2010. Homeopathy as replacement to antibiotics in the case of Escherichia coli diarrhoea in neonatal piglets. Homeopathy [online], 99 (1), 57–62.
Casey, S., 2011. Gunpowder! Little-Known Remedy Packs a Wallop Against Wounds - Shirley Casey [online]. Hpathy.
Coyte, J., 2021. Homeopathic potency briefly explained [online]. CLASSICALLYPRACTICAL.COM.
Givol, O., Kornhaber, R., Visentin, D., Cleary, M., Haik, J., and Harats, M., 2019. A systematic review of Calendula officinalis extract for wound healing. Wound Repair and Regeneration [online], 27 (5), 548–561.
Jacobs, J., Jiménez, L. M., Gloyd, S. S., Gale, J. L., and Crothers, D., 1994. Treatment of acute childhood diarrhea with homeopathic medicine: a randomized clinical trial in Nicaragua. Pediatrics [online], 93 (5), 719–725.
Johannes, C. K., 2010. Homeopathy and Mental Health Care. The Netherlands: Homeolinks Publishers.
Leary, B., 1997. The homoepathic management of cholera in the nineteenty century with special reference to the epidemic in London, 1854. Medizin, Gesellschaft, Und Geschichte: Jahrbuch Des Instituts Fur Geschichte Der Medizin Der Robert Bosch Stiftung [online], 16, 125–144.
Murphy, R., 2006. Nature’s materia medica : 1,400 homeopathic and herbal remedies. Blackburg, Va.: Lotus Health Institute, November.
Parente, L. M. L., Lino Júnior, R. de S., Tresvenzol, L. M. F., Vinaud, M. C., de Paula, J. R., and Paulo, N. M., 2012. Wound Healing and Anti-Inflammatory Effect in Animal Models of Calendula officinalis L. Growing in Brazil [online]. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Perko, S. J., 2005. The homeopathic treatment of influenza : surviving influenza epidemics and pandemics past, present and future with homeopathy. San Antonio, Tx: Benchmark Homeopathic Publications.
Preethi, K. C. and Kuttan, R., 2009. Wound healing activity of flower extract of Calendula offlcinalis. Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology[online], 20 (1).
Rafferty, A. and Kayne, S., 1994. The use of Arsenicum album 30c to complement conventional treatment of neonatal diarrhoea (“scours”) in calves. British Homeopathic Journal [online], 83 (04), 202–204.
FIRST AID BOOKS
Coffman, S., 2021. Herbal medic : a green beret’s guide to emergency medical preparedness and natural first aid. North Adams, Ma: Storey Publishing.
Pareek, R. S. and Pareek, A., 2012. Homeopathy for Acutes and Emergencies. Kandern, Germany: Narayana Publishers.
Ratera, Dr. M. M., 2016. First Aid with Homeopathy.
Schmukler, A. V., 2006. Homeopathy : an A to Z home handbook. Woodbury, Minn.: Llewellyn Publications.
United States. Department Of The Army, 2009. U.S. Army first aid manual. New York: Skyhorse Pub.
Wiseman, J. and Britain., G., 2014. SAS survival handbook : the ultimate guide to surviving anywhere. New York: William Morrow, An Imprint Of Harpercollins Publishers.
September 02nd, 2021
image by: TonisPan
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.