4 At-Home Homeopathic Treatments
In most countries outside the United States, homeopathics are the first line of defense against ailment, from the common cold to bruising to muscle pain. And since they offer such a gentle but effective path to healing, they’re a great starting point for anyone dipping their toes into alternative medicine—that, and the fact that they’re easy to find, safe to self-treat, and inexpensive. Dr. Ellen Kamhi, a long-time herbalist and holistic nurse (she also leads incredible trips that explore ancient healing arts in indigenous cultures), has been treating illnesses big and small with homeopathics for more than 40 years. Below, her favorite go-to treatments and the essential ingredients for an at-home homeopathy first-aid kit.
A Q&A with Dr. Ellen Kamhi
How is homeopathy different from herbal medicine?
Homeopathy is completely different than herbal medicine. Homeopathic remedies often use an herb as the starting material, but some remedies also use a mineral or other substance as the starting material. An example is the homeopathic remedy Carbo vegetabilis (Carbo veg.), which is prepared using charcoal and is used to help digestive issues such as indigestion and intestinal gas, as well as other health complaints.
In herbal medicine, the actual plant is the medicine. The amount of plant material can be identified, measured and analyzed in the herbal preparation.
In homeopathy, the original substance is diluted many times and succussed (shaken) through a complex preparation process. Most practitioners use premade homeopathic remedies that are either sold in their office or in pharmacies, or health food stores, though they can also be made by hand. In homeopathy, the end product contains “energy,” but no molecules of the original substance due to the dilution process. The fact that homeopathics function on an energetic basis is a major reason that so many naysayers claim quackery, despite countless clinical studies proving otherwise. The mechanism of action that gives homeopathics their power is complex, and experts are now studying quantum physics and the science of non-locality to more completely understand how homeopathics work.
Are there any ailments that respond particularly well to homeopathic treatment? Vice versa?
Homeopathy is used around the world for every kind of health imbalance. Mixed homeopathics really shine when it comes to first-aid home remedies, such as stopping a cold or flu in its tracks, or for mild traumatic injuries.
Classical homeopathy administered by an experienced practitioner can make a big difference in deep-seeded, long-term chronic health challenges. It’s been known to assist in a protocol to heal and reverse arthritis, and it’s also helpful with mental health issues like depression.
When you consider life-threatening diseases such as cancer, knowledgeable practitioners may use homeopathy in concert with conventional medicine. Homeopathic medicine can be used as a palliative adjunct, particularly to counter the side effects such as nausea of conventional treatments like chemotherapy.
What should a patient expect at a consultation with a homeopathic doctor?
Many health providers offer consultations in homeopathic remedies. They may be an M.D., D.O., chiropractor, herbalist, nurse, or other kind of practitioner. If the provider is offering single-dose constitutional homeopathy, the patient will be interviewed extensively, usually for over 2 hours, to allow the provider to determine the one remedy that would help to balance a chronic, ongoing situation. If the patient seeks help with an acute condition, and the practitioner is offering a complex homochord (a blended remedy that takes more of a shotgun approach at treatment), the recommendation will be based on the immediate condition. An acute recommendation can typically be made very quickly.
How can you find a homeopath, and are there tricks to identifying a good one?
There are various homeopathic societies that many professional homeopaths may belong to, such as the North American Society of Homeopaths. They can be contacted to find a homeopath in your area, and anyone on their registry will have gone through extensive certification to be recognized. Asking friends and family for recommendations is another good way to go.
Homeopathic remedies are typically very affordable, and many minor ailments can be self-treated. Homeopathy has a high safety record, with a very low rate of adverse effects.
One possible side effect is called aggravation—it can happen if someone’s particularly sensitive or if the incorrect remedy is mistakenly chosen. Symptoms of aggravation could be a runny nose or a temporary rash.
Can homeopathic treatments coexist with conventional treatments?
Homeopathic treatments blend excellently with conventional pharmaceuticals and other conventional treatments. They can be extremely helpful to counteract the negative side effects of conventional interventions.
Any quick-fixes that we should all have in our medicine cabinets?
The four treatments are good basics to get started with, and really emphasize the areas where homeopathy shines:
#1: FOR FLU Oscillococcinum
Oscillococcinum has been shown in clinical trials to help reduce the severity and shorten the duration of flu-like symptoms (1, 2). It works rapidly, with 63 percent of patients showing “complete resolution” or “clear improvement” at 48 hours.*1 In a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, the recovery rate within 48 hours of treatment was significantly greater in the group that received the active drug than in the placebo group.†2 Unlike other flu medicines, Oscillococcinum does not cause drowsiness or interact with other medications. It’s available at most pharmacies, natural food stores, and supermarkets. It works best when taken early, so I recommend keeping a bottle in your medicine cabinet and taking it at the first signs of flu-like symptoms.
*Versus 48% in the placebo group, P=0.003; †P=0.03.
#2: BRUISES, PAIN, SWELLING Arnica
Arnica is a common homeopathic remedy that can make a black-and-blue mark disappear before your eyes, as well as reduce swelling. I used it constantly for my children, now 41 and 38, when they had a sports ‘mishap’. There are several published studies that show arnica to be very effective for pain and swelling (3, 4, 5, 6). It can be taken as an oral homeopathic or as a topical cream.
#3: TRAUMA Gelsemium, Hypericum, and Arnica
The combination of three single remedies, gelsemium (for headaches and flu with muscle pain), hypericum (helpful for nerve injury—known as St. John’s Wort in herbal medicine), and arnica (see above), is something people should keep on hand for any kind of trauma. It’s particularly great for surgeries that are planned in advance. Take one pellet of each daily for three days before the incident, and then take three pellets of each three times per day for one week following the incident. Clinically, I’ve seen this combination reduce suffering because there’s less swelling and less inflammation.
#4: GRIEF & EMOTIONAL UPSET Ignatia amara
Ignatia amara can be a wonderful support during times of loss. It applies for all kinds of loss, from ended relationships, loss of a job, a move, and even the loss of a friend or family member. I always recommend that patients take ignatia on the weekends, because there’s one potential side effect. Often we stuff the feelings of a loss under the surface—if you take ignatia, as part of the release process, you may experience revisiting the deep grief that was often not addressed during the time of the loss event. Ignatia may bring all those feelings back up to the surface, so you can release it, find resolution, and then move on. Therefore, it may be useful to take it when you have a bit of time and space to face emotional release.
A HOMEOPATHIC FIRST-AID KIT
If you’re ready to go all-in, Ellen recommends equipping every home with a homeopathic first aid kit, which should include a quick and easy reference guide like the one below.
|Cold & Flu|
|Cold And Fever (with Sudden Onset)||Aconitum Napellus|
|Runny Nose||Allium Cepa|
|Cough (with Mucus In Chest)||Antimonium Tartaricum|
|Dry Cough And Arthritis Pain||Bryonia Alba|
|Fever And Inflammation||Ferrum Phosphoricum|
|Cough And Runny Nose||Hepar Sulphuris Calcareum Pulsatilla Nigricans|
|Sore Throat||Mercurius Vivus|
|Cough And Sore Throat||Phosphorus|
|Swelling & Irritation|
|Bites, Stings, And Swelling||Apis Mellifica|
|Bruising And Muscle Soreness||Arnica Montana|
|Fever And Inflammation||Belladonna|
|Bites, Stings, And Minor Puncture Wounds||Ledum Palustre|
|Sprains And Tendonitis||Ruta Graveolens|
|Rashes And Eczema||Sulphur|
|Cramps & Soreness|
|Teething And Irritability||Chamomilla|
|Menstrual Cramps||Magnesia Phosphorica|
|Nausea And Vomiting||Ipecacuanha|
|Indigestion And Nausea||Nux Vomica|
|Diarrhea With Vomiting||Veratrum Album|
Ellen Kamhi, PhD, RN, AHG, AHN-BC, The Natural Nurse®, is an author, radio host and medical school instructor. She offers online courses in Natural Health Career Counselling, and specific topics in Natural Health Care.
(1) Papp R, Schuback G, Beck E, et al. Oscillococcinum in patients with influenza-like syndromes: a placebo-controlled, double-blind evaluation. Br Homeopath J. 1998;87:69-76.
(2) Ferley JP, Zmirou D, D’Adhemar D, Balducci F. A controlled evaluation of a homeopathic preparation in the treatment of influenza-like syndromes. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1989;27:329-335.
(3) Otto Knuesel, Michel Weber and Andy Suter. “Arnica montana gel in osteoarthritis of the knee: An open, multicenter clinical trial” Advances in Therapy Volume 19, Number 5, 209-218, DOI: 10.1007/BF02850361, 2002.
(4) Robertson A, Suryanarayanan R, Banerjee A. “Homeopathic Arnica montana for post-tonsillectomy analgesia: a randomised placebo control trial.” Homeopathy Jan; 96(1):17-21, 2007.
(5) R. Widrig, A. Suter, R. Saller & J. Melzer. “Choosing between NSAID and arnica for topical treatment of hand osteoarthritis in a randomised, double-blind study”. Rheumatology International 27 (6): 585-91, 2007.
(6) Seeley BM, Denton AB, Ahn MS, Maas CS. “Effect of homeopathic Arnica montana on bruising in face-lifts: results of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.” Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery Jan-Feb; 8(1):54-9, 2006.
The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of goop, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.