Tis the Season for… Sore Throats
Tis the season for… Sore Throats.
Sore throat complaints are keeping me busy this month! Some have the dreaded Covid, some have the flu, some may have strep throat and some people just have a sore throat.
What to do about this pharyngitis? (Pharynx is the part of the throat behind the mouth and nasal cavity and “itis” for inflammation.)
Well, at the first sign of feeling unwell, I like the Banerji protocol of Aconite 200c mixed with Bryonia 30c. Taking this right away can often nip things in the bud and send the yucks away before they can settle in.
Another option for those who are quick on the draw is Ferrum phos 6x. This, too, can often turn things around in short order.
Once the yucks have made themselves at home and one is definitively feeling unwell, let’s look at a few homeopathic remedies which may help. (Note: There are many remedies which can be helpful for sore throats, these are just a few of my favorites.) See also: Calming the Cold; Some Flu Remedies to Consider and Tis the season for the crud.
Extremely painful, dark red throat, where swallowing liquids is the only option and even that is very difficult, despite being thirsty; tiny bites of food gags them. They may have swollen glands and/or bad breath.
The sore throat appears suddenly and generally hurts more on the right side with burning or throbbing pain. The throat and the tip of the tongue may be red. Pain is worse from turning the head, touching the throat and swallowing, especially liquids. Face will often be red and hot but the hands and feet tend to be cold.
Burning and rough sore throat with pain that extends from the throat to the ear. May feel like there’s a painful lump in the throat that cannot be swallowed. Pain in the sternocleidomastoid — the long muscles on either side of your neck. Paralysis of the vocal cords. Swallowing solid foods is difficult.
Homeopathic Hepar is known for a sticking sensation in the throat, like a splinter or a bone. Pain extends to the ear on yawning and swallowing. May hawk up thick, yellow, sticky mucus. Wrapping up the external throat feels good. Cold drinks or becoming cold makes them feel worse but warmth in general and warm drinks can help. There may be a pulsation felt in the throat and they may feel worse in the evening and at night. Very sensitive to the pain and sensitive to everything else, too, actually and they may be irritable and impatient.
A purple throat, often on the left side (or starts on the left and moves to the right) and feels worse when swallowing liquids — even saliva is difficult — empty swallowing makes the throat hurt even worse (though they may have a constant desire to swallow). Swallowing solids may be easier. May have a disturbing constricting sensation, causing them to loosen clothes around the throat. Ear pain with sore throat. There may be a sensation of breadcrumbs or a painful sensation of a lump or plug which is not relieved by swallowing. They may choke easily, especially on falling to sleep and may have a suffocative feeling. Often feel worse on waking.
Often on the right side with a dryness in the throat and they may not be very thirsty. A stitching pain on swallowing which is better with warm drinks and worse with cold drinks. Choking on swallowing. They may feel like there is a lump or a plug in the throat. They are chilly but they also want fresh air but are worse becoming cold or eating/drinking cold things. May have digestive issues at the same time as the sore throat.
Lots of saliva and a raw, rough and burning feeling in the throat. Lots of slime gets stuck in the throat and there may be drooling while sleeping. Swollen glands. A bad or metallic taste in the mouth and may have bad breath. The throat may be copper colored. Throat pain on coughing. The throat may be worse at night and they may also experience night sweats. Finding the right temperature is often difficult.
Body aches and restlessness may accompany the sore throat. The tip of the tongue may be red. The throat becomes irritated and the voice becomes hoarse and is often worse from talking. The pain is worse from swallowing at first, but improves with more swallowing. Warmth is helpful and moving around may help, too — feeling worse when they are resting. Like the swallowing, they may feel worse when first moving around but better as they keep moving.
When to see a doctor?
According to the Mayo Clinic, see a doctor if:
A few quick notes relating to tonsillitis. (Note on type: Most highly indicated, highly indicated and indicated.) Again, there are many homeopathic remedies for tonsillitis and I am just focusing on the throat remedies already mentioned.
Tonsillitis, in general — in order of importance: Belladonna, Ferrum phos and Mercurius. Hepar & Lachesis. Baptisia and Lycopodium.
Tonsillitis with pus: Hepar, Mercurius. Belladonna, Lycopodium, Lachesis
Hardness of hearing with tonsillitis: Hepar, Lycopodium and Mercurius
Chronic, recurring tonsillitis: Hepar, Lachesis and Lycopodium
Painless tonsillitis: Baptisia
Burning pain in tonsils: Belladonna and Mercurius
Purple tonsils: Hepar and Lachesis
Bright red tonsils: Belladonna and Ferrum phos
Dark red tonsils: Baptisia and Lachesis
Tonsillitis in children: Ferr-phos, Lachesis, Lycopodium and Mercury
Sharp pain in tonsils: Belladonna, Lachesis, Lycopodium and Mercury
Tearing pain in tonsils: Belladonna
Throbbing pain in tonsils: Belladonna
Strep throat is another possibility and can lead to long term problems in rare cases. Unlike most sore throats, strep is caused by bacteria. Strep A is big in the news this year, especially in the UK, but there are other strains of strep which can cause throat problems, too (A, C & G are the primary throat culprits).
I never messed around with strep throats when my kids were little because I know two people who suffered terribly as a result of untreated strep. “Untreated strep throat can cause an autoimmune reaction in which the body attacks its own tissues and may lead to rheumatic fever, chorea and kidney damage” (Berkow et al. 1995).
How can you tell the difference between a sore throat and Strep throat?
Ultimately, for a full diagnosis of strep throat, you need to see a doctor and get a throat culture.
According the the Merck Manual and the Mayo Clinic, strep throat symptoms typically appear suddenly and include:
In very young children (under 4), the only symptom may be a runny nose. (When my kids were little, I learned that strep infections in littles may present with only stomach problems, so keep that in mind.)
“People with strep throat generally get better in 2 weeks, even without treatment. … antibiotics can shorten the duration of symptoms in young children and prevent serious complications such as rheumatic fever” (Berkow et al. 1995). (Note: There are homeopathic remedies which can be helpful in strep throat, but that is beyond the scope of this article.)
If you are suffering from a sore throat, try one of these homeopathic remedies so you can get back to some painless Fa La La-ing before the festive season is behind us.
Julia Coyte, CHom
Classically Practical homeopath
Berkow, R., Beers, M. and Fletcher, A., 1995. The Merck Manual Home Edition. Merck Research Laboratories.
Mayo Clinic, 2018. Strep throat - symptoms and causes [online]. Mayo Clinic.
Did you know that October 18th is World Menopause Day? (Nor did I.)
The International Menopause Society says it is, so it must be true. The IMS have a goal “to work globally to promote and support access to best practice health care for women through their menopause transition.”
A good goal, to be sure. I certainly hope they include homeopathy in their best practices!
This year, IMS is focusing on Cognition and Mood associated with menopause. Their website provides a leaflet on Menopausal Brain Fog with some interesting data, if you’re curious.
Brain Fog is a complaint I hear often from women of a certain age and I addressed it here where I shared the Banerji Protocol for menopausal brain fog — an excellent place to start for “Cognition and Mood” during menopause. Protocols don’t address every condition for every person, so if you try the protocol and don’t get any joy, work with a professional homeopath to relieve your specific condition.
Homeopathic remedies can be very helpful in relieving the symptoms of menopause and peri-menopause in general. In addition to brain fog, hot flashes are right up there in common complaints.
Homeopathic Ammonium carb may address some level of hot flashes, especially when there is heat in the face and/or sweaty feet. Becoming heated can cause aggravation or even result in a headache. Unlike some of the remedies that follow below, Am-carb women may have an aversion to open air.
Lachesis is my “go-to” remedy for hot flashes as I have seen some pretty amazing things happen when women suffering from hot flashes use homeopathic Lachesis. Hot flashes may be more intense around the head and neck while their hands and feet remain cold. They have no tolerance for warm and stuffy rooms; craving cool, fresh air. There is also very little tolerance for tight or constricting clothing, especially around the neck or waist. All symptoms may be worse on waking. Because of this, falling asleep may be daunting.
Sepia can be cold during the day and hot during the night resulting in drenching sweats only to end up chilly again. These sweats may also show up from minimal physical effort. Hot flashes may begin down low and move upward. Women benefitting from homeopathic Sepia often suffer from low energy but are energized through exercise.
Pulsatilla hot flashes may be experienced when anxious or upset. Open windows with fresh air are are needed all the time…, they feel better outdoors. Constant fluctuation between being too hot and too cold. This changeability may be found elsewhere: mood swings, constantly changing bowel habits and wandering pains.
Sulphur is kind of the “mother of all hot flashes.” They are warm all the time and rapidly overheat. These flashes can be very distressing and may be followed quickly by chilliness. In general, homeopathic sulphur has irregular heat distribution throughout the body. They may also find some parts are hot while other parts remain cool. They have a tendency to sweat excessively, especially around the head, feet and armpits and this sweat may be strongly odiferous. They are too hot for covers at night, especially the feet, and may also suffer from rashes, which are worse from heat.
The experience surrounding menopause can last for many years — the perimenopause leading up to, the menopause itself as well as the years following the cessation of periods. That’s potentially a very long time to be suffering needlessly. Do yourself a favor and try some homeopathy.
Julia Coyte, CHom
Classically Practical homeopath
Summer Fun #2: Water
Whether a river, an ocean or a pool -- nothing is as inviting as a body of water on a hot, summer’s day. It’s cool and refreshing, but, after a shallow dive into the subject … I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it can be dangerous!
Let’s start with a dip in the pool, which is most likely chlorinated. Some people are particularly sensitive to the chlorine and can develop what is known as SWIMMER'S EYE or, chlorine conjunctivitis. It is essentially eye irritation but it stings and it can be pretty miserable. Goggles can help, but that's not a sure thing to keep it at bay.
Homeopathic Euphrasia or “Eyebright” for burning eyes and watery eyes. Pain as if something were in the eye. Puffy eyes. Red eyes. When “eye” is in the name of the remedy, you know it’s a good place to start.
Arsenicum album for profuse, watery, burning discharge. There is often a level of restlessness.
Or, Similisan’s Redness & Itchy Eye Relief* would be a good thing to keep in the cupboard if you or your child is prone to this.
Moving from the pool to a natural body of water can bring it’s own set of problems, namely, SWIMMER'S ITCH or Cercarial Dermatitis.
Caused by a parasite that gets under the skin (Kolářová et al. 2012) and triggers an allergic reaction, swimmer’s itch is as the name suggests, an itchy rash.
If the rash is blistery and oozy, look to Graphites.
If the rash burns, stings and itches, try Sulphur.
If the rash stings and is raised and fluid filled, try Apis.
Regardless of what kind of water you’re swimming in, swimmer’s ear is basically an outer ear infection caused by trapped water in your ear that can lead to the growth of bacteria (Mayo Clinic).
For sharp ear pain with a sudden onset, Belladonna. There may be redness and throbbing pain.
An aching ear pain that feels like the ear is stopped up, Chamomilla.
If there is discharge and itching, try Hepar sulph.
Or, Similason has a new formula: Swimmer's Ear Relief*.
If you are lucky enough to be near the ocean, beware of JELLYFISH!
Potentially harmful jellyfish are found in most oceans and can cause both dermatological problems as well as systemic issues (Mebs 2014). The venom of the 51 species of box jellyfish can kill a human in less than 2 minutes (Baldwin 2022).
The Wilderness Medical Society has published “Jellyfish Stings: A Practical Approach” (Lakkis et al. 2015). If you left your stinger suit hanging in the closet and manage to get stung, conventional medicine doesn’t have a lot to offer. “The literature published on the treatment of jellyfish stings is limited, conflicting, and lacks consensus.” In short, help the person out of the water, keep them from rubbing the stung area and reassure them. Some say to apply cold, others heat. If it’s a life-threatening species, call an ambulance immediately. (Be careful when helping someone with a jellyfish sting as stinging cells may be spread on contact.)
Once again, this is a situation where homeopathy can come in very handy. Homeopathy doesn’t care if the sting is a result of a jellyfish or a bee. If the symptoms match the remedy, there is a good chance relief will follow.
First Aid with Homeopathy (Mateu 2020) says applying vinegar can decrease the effect of the toxins.
For all these homeopathic jellyfish remedy recommendations, repeat every five minutes until significantly better and then begin to lengthen the time between doses.
For most “run of the mill” jellyfish stings, try Apis mellifica. For intense burning and stinging followed by redness and swelling. The person needing Apis will generally be worse from warm applications.
If the affected area feels cold and also feels better from cold, try Ledum.
Urtica urens can be applied topically as well as ingesting the homeopathic remedy. The person needing Urtica will be experiencing great itchiness and burning, similar to experiencing stinging nettles (from which the remedy is made).
If the pains are more neuralgic in nature and radiating out, try Hypericum.
It’s a warm, beautiful day with a little breeze and you think, “what could possibly go wrong?” Well, Hypothermia is one thing that can ruin your day.
“That only happens in the cold, right?” Um. Nope. The only requirement for hypothermia to set in is anything that causes a severe drop in body temperature. It can happen in perfect conditions (Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission 2022) and, actually, swimming doesn’t even need to be involved.
It can happen from being in the water or from being caught in a rainstorm. When I was a kid, my brother went sailing on a too cold day and he returned way too cold. I remember being instructed to lie down on the kitchen floor next to him under a blanket to try and warm him up. I now know that is termed “external passive rewarming” and is the method of choice for mild hypothermia. A slow and gentle warming is what you’re after.
For hypothermia to set in, the water doesn’t have to be cold, just cooler than your body temperature. Children, the elderly, injured or intoxicated people are more susceptible (Paal et al. 2022). Shivering, confusion, breathing issues, and muscle dysfunction are some of the symptoms which may be experienced with a significantly lowered body temperature.
The Natural First Aid Handbook (Mars 2017) recommends hot water bottles to the groin and sides of the torso and warns against rubbing or massaging an individual with hypothermia. First Aid with Homeopathy (Ratera 2016) recommends hot liquids and moderate warmth to the abdomen via a hot water bottle and also talks about breath as a treatment for hypothermia. “The helper places his mouth against the spine, between the shoulder blades, and breathes out in long breaths, blowing directly against the clothing. Almost immediately, local heat is felt, and gradually this heat spreads through the body if the exercise is continued. This technique helps to warm, and also to calm the patient. It can therefore also be used in crises of asthma or panic, to calm the patient and restore natural breathing.” Fascinating!
Other than warming the person, what can be done? Homeopathy, of course!
If the person is conscious, give a dose of Aconite to help with the shock.
Bellis perennis is useful in thermal shock (Ratera 2016). Thermal shock can happen from any sudden exposure to cold when the body is hot — even drinking cold drinks when the body is hot.
Carbo vegetabilis can be useful for persons who are chilly, with cold perspiration and cold breath. Other symptoms may include coldness, numbness and weakness.
Veratrum album is for internal coldness, as if ice-water is in the veins. Weakness and collapse with coldness.
If the person is icy cold but wants to be uncovered, consider some homeopathic Camphor. Cramps, convulsions or shock may be present.
Regardless of the size of the body of water, drowning is always something to watch out for and contrary to what we have seen in the movies, drowning is often completely silent (Redcross. CA 2013). See sidebar for "signs a swimmer is in trouble."
According to Stop Drowning Now (2018), in the US, 10 people die every day from drowning. “Drowning is fast and silent and can happen in as little as 20-60 seconds.”
When my son was little, I turned my back to get his floaties and the other mother with me (who I thought was watching all the kids!) said, “I didn’t know he could swim.” I turned around and I saw him standing on the bottom of the pool, completely underwater, eyes open, looking up at me. He couldn’t swim! He definitely did not belong there! That could have been a disaster. It was absolutely instantaneous — shockingly fast! Thankfully, he was completely fine. I will never be able to get that vision out of my mind. It was terrible.
CPR or the Heimlich maneuver, followed by mouth-to-mouth is the standard recommendation. Venema (et al. 2010) claim that 30% of rescued drowning victims require CPR. Get medical help immediately.
If the person is unconscious, administer homeopathic Carbo vegetabilis while waiting for help to arrive. Carbo veg is known as “the corpse reviver” and should be administered frequently. To avoid inhaling the remedy, place the pellet between the lips and the teeth and let it dissolve there.
If the person is better when sitting up but is experiencing a rattling in the chest, try Antimonium tart.
Lachesis is indicated when the person is suffering asphyxia and the pulse is very weak.
If there is a “near miss” like I described with my son, it may not be over and done with when you have them out of the water and breathing on their own again. Jama Pediatrics (Stern and Thompson 2022) notes that “symptoms of drowning such as gasping or difficulty breathing most commonly occur immediately. In rare cases, symptoms may develop after a nonfatal drowning. If a child develops worsening cough, fast breathing rate, vomiting or change in mental status after nonfatal drowning, take them to the nearest emergency department for evaluation.”
It may seem like it’s better (and safer!) to just dip your toes in the water to cool off, but no! Life is too short to sit out the swim!
Julia Coyte, CHom
Classically Practical homeopath
* I have no affiliation with this company, I just like their products.
REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING:
Baird, J. K. and Wear, D. J., 1987. 12 Cercarial dermatitis: The swimmer’s itch. Clinics in Dermatology, 5 (3), 88–91.
Baldwin, E., 2022. Box Jellyfish: The Dangerous Jellyfish | Ocean Info [online]. oceaninfo.com.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, 2022. Hypothermia [online]. Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Gordy, M. A., Cobb, T. P. and Hanington, P. C., 2018. Swimmer’s itch in Canada: a look at the past and a survey of the present to plan for the future. Environmental Health, 17 (1).
Hoeffler, D. F., 1977. ‘Swimmers’ itch’ (cercarial dermatitis). Cutis [online], 19 (4), 461–465, 467.
Kolářová, L., Horák, P., Skírnisson, K., Marečková, H. and Doenhoff, M., 2012. Cercarial Dermatitis, a Neglected Allergic Disease. Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology [online], 45 (1), 63–74.
Lakkis, N. A., Maalouf, G. J. and Mahmassani, D. M., 2015. Jellyfish Stings: A Practical Approach. Wilderness & Environmental Medicine [online], 26 (3), 422–429.
Lessell, C. B., 1999. The world travellers’ manual of homoeopathy. Saffron Walden: C.W. Daniel.
Mateu, M., 2020. First aid with homeopathy. Kandern, Germany Narayana Verlag.
Mayo Clinic, n.d. Swimmer’s ear - Symptoms and causes [online]. Mayo Clinic.
Mayo Clinic, n.d. Swimmer’s itch - Symptoms and causes [online]. Mayo Clinic.
Mebs, D., 2014. Durch Quallen verursachte Verletzungen. Jelly Fish Sting Injuries Der Hautarzt [online], 65 (10), 873–878.
Paal, P., Pasquier, M., Darocha, T., Lechner, R., Kosinski, S., Wallner, B., Zafren, K. and Brugger, H., 2022. Accidental Hypothermia: 2021 Update. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health [online], 19 (1), 501.
Ratera, Dr. M. M., 2016. First Aid with Homeopathy. Kander, Germany: Narayana Verlag.
Redcross. CA, 2013. Drowning: A silent killer - Canadian Red Cross [online]. Red Cross Canada.
Schmukler, A. V., 2006. Homeopathy : an A to Z home handbook. Woodbury, Minn.: Llewellyn Publications.
Smith, S., 2007. Medical homoeopathy. West Wickham England: Winter Press.
Stern, A. M. and Thompson, L. A., 2022. What Parents Should Know About Drowning and Dry Drowning. JAMA Pediatrics [online].
Stop Drowning Now, 2018. Facts & Stats About Drowning - Stop Drowning Now [online]. www.stopdrowningnow.org.
Szpilman, D., Bierens, J. J. L. M., Handley, A. J. and Orlowski, J. P., 2012. Drowning. New England Journal of Medicine [online], 366 (22), 2102–2110.
Venema, A. M., Groothoff, J. W. and Bierens, J. J. L. M., 2010. The role of bystanders during rescue and resuscitation of drowning victims. Resuscitation [online], 81 (4), 434–439.
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.