Since I’m sitting here coughing, and Shana is in the other room coughing, thanks to the “cougher” who sat next to us at the screening of “Deconstructing The White Album”, I thought we might as well do this month’s Tidbits on Coughs!
What remedies do we have for coughing?
How do you take a coughing case?
We’ll do that later! Only homeopaths will be interested in that; right now, for the people who are out there coughing, here are:
The Most-Used Homeopathic Remedies for Coughs
We’ve had a lot of Antimonium tart cases in the Quiz lately so we should all be very familiar with it! When you think of Antimonium tart, think of “loose”, think of “rattling”, and think of “expectoration very difficult!” We call this “Difficult Cough”. In babies and children, they will be worse lying down and better carried. They may seem stuporous, lifeless with an overwhelming desire to sleep like Gelsemium. Better cold/outside air, worse warmth. They are irritable, complain-y and whiny. This is our drowning remedy, it’s our “swallowing wrong” remedy. Any time there’s fluid in the lungs and it needs to come out, give Antimonium tart.
This is our main remedy for pneumonia and bronchitis. I keep Phos. 200C by my bed and whenever I wake up with a distressing cough–which has only happened 2 or 3 times, but each time it was quite extreme–Phosphorus 200C stopped it in less than half an hour. For Phosphorus, think of dry cough, hoarse cough, tightness of the chest and oppression of the chest. Dry hacking cough. Can be painful. You may also observe the famous symptom: major thirst for ice cold drinks. Cough is worse from talking and laughing. Also, worse exertion and cold air. Better sitting and lying on the right side.
Bryonia is a remedy with very severe symptoms. A Bryonia case is going to involve a lot of sharp, stitching pain; so, here’s what you can expect from a Bryonia cough–a hard, dry cough that hurts the patient’s chest and his head. He may have to hold his chest or hold his head when he’s coughing. (Nux vomica holds his head too.) The least motion makes his cough worse, even breathing makes it worse, so he will try not to breathe deeply. He appears irritable because he does not want to talk to you. Talking involves taking a deep breath and he cannot do that without exciting a cough, which is painful; so, he may refuse to talk to you. He is very dry, mucus membranes dry, and so he’s very thirsty but will not want to sit up to drink, so, will ask for water only rarely but will drink the whole glass down when he does. Better rest, better firm pressure, better cool open air.
Another really important dry cough remedy. The cough can be barking, hollow, metallic or can sound like fabric ripping or a carpenter sawing through wood. Worse talking, better eating, better drinking, worse sweets. Can feel suffocating, as if breathing though a sponge. Gasping breathing. Fearful of suffocation. Worse warm room, worse lying down, worse wind, worse exertion; better warm food.
Switching over again to loose coughs, we have Pulsatilla! Let me clarify–loose in the day, dry at night. Evening aggravation. Thirstless. Wants to be propped up. Better for company. Desires butter, ice cream and creamy foods. Discharges are thick, yellow or green. Nose is stopped up. Child may be weepy and pathetic sounding. Better for sympathy and consolation. Better in outside open air and better for walking slowly. Worse warm, stuffy rooms.
One of our main whooping cough remedies. Violent fits of coughing, can hardly breathe! Cough is hard, painful, dry, barking and ends in gagging or vomiting. He may say there is a crumb or feather sensation in his throat. Worse lying, worse after midnight, worse cold drinks. Cough may result in nosebleed.
The thing with Ipecac is, almost any complaint that goes for Ipecac has nausea and vomiting; hence, the cough will have nausea or vomiting as a concomitant. You can confuse this remedy with Antimonium tart and Pulsatilla because like Pulsatilla, it is thirstless and better for open air, worse for warm stuffy rooms. Like Antimonium tart, it will have a loose, rattling cough with great difficulty to bring up mucus. The tongue is clean, no coating. There may be coughing up of bright red blood or nosebleed. Asthma remedy. Worse smell of food. Breathing is difficult. Very disgusted by everything, hard to please unlike Pulsatilla.
Dry or loose cough, can’t expectorate. Very cold, may be shivering. Any exposure to cold excites cough, must stay completely covered. Worse cold air, cold draft. Very sensitive to cold. Thick yellow mucus. Cough is worse from cold drinks. Weak with rattling in the chest. Very hypersensitive to pain, to touch of any part that’s painful. Suffocative attacks forces patient to sit up and bend head backwards. Worse after midnight.
Dry, incessant, violent, tickling cough. Tickle in throat. Rawness sensation in trachea. Worse from uncovering. Even just sticking the hand out of the covers excites a cough. Cough prevents sleep. Coughs as soon as his head hits the pillow. Mucus in throat. Worse inhaling cold air, so, he may pull the covers over his head.
How Do You Take A Coughing Case?
Well, first of all, you have to ask your patient, “What does your cough sound like?” And you have to give him examples, because otherwise, your patient will give you unimaginative answers. Do you honestly think your patient is going to say, “It sounds like a saw going through a pine board”? But that’s a very important description for us, as only Spongia has it! And you know where to find it? It’s in the Coughing chapter under “Sibilant”. Yeah, I know, don’t ask.
What are some of the coughing sounds listed in our Repertory?
- Metallic sounding
- Paroxysmal (coughing fit)
- Whooping cough
- Difficult (hard to raise phlegm)
- Machine-gun cough–it’s under “Minute, guns, short hacking cough, like”. (Don’t ask!) See also “Series, coughs in a”.
Now, we need to ask about the all-important “Sensation” the patient may be experiencing when he’s coughing, let’s list a few of them here:
- Burning–burning in chest, trachea, throat, etc.
- Constriction–in throat, chest, etc.
- Crawling sensation–in chest, throat, etc.
- Down of a feather, see also “feather”
- Dryness–of chest, throat, etc.
- Foreign body sensation–in throat, etc. See also “Crumb” & “Lump”.
- Formication (like insects crawling)
- Fullness sensation in chest
- Hair sensation
- Icy cold air in air passages
- Itching in chest
- Itching in Larynx
- Lump in throat
- Rawness in larynx
- Roughness–cough leads to a roughness sensation in throat, etc.
- Scratching sensation–in throat, chest, etc.
- Smoke sensation in trachea
- Smothering sensation
- Sticking sensation–in throat, etc.
- Swollen sensation in throat
- Tickling–in chest, larynx, etc.
- Oppression (of the chest)
Location! You’d be surprised but some people will say, “It feels like the cough is coming from my stomach.” So, here are a few locations where the cough may be coming from:
Modalities, the all-important modalities! (The things that make the patient better or worse.) Oh yeah, they are really important!
- Coughing agg. The more you cough, the more you cough. (I had that once! That’s Ignatia!)
- Acids agg. I assume that means orange juice, etc.
- A certain time aggravates: Look up Daytime, Forenoon, Afternoon, Morning, Evening and Night. Check the subrubrics for the exact time if needed.
- Air agg. Look at the subrubrics–cold air, dry air, open air, etc.
- Anger agg.
- Ascending stairs agg.
- Autumn agg.
- Bathing agg. (see also Generals: bathing)
- Bed, on becoming warm in bed agg.
- Belching amel.
- Bending, forward or backward, agg. or amel.
- Breathing agg.
- Cold–temperature, drinks, food, wind, milk, etc. either agg. or amel.
- Heated, on becoming
- Holding, holds chest with his hands amel.
- Hunger agg.
- Ice cream
- Inspiration (breathing)
- Laughing agg.
- Lying (down)
- Periodic. This means the cough comes at a predictable time or day. For example, if your cough comes every night at 1 am, go to “Night, 1am”
- Pressure agg.
- Rising, on
- Room, in
- Sit up, must
- Spicy food agg.
- Storm, thunder storm, agg.
- Sun agg.
- Sweetmeats agg. I guess that means sweets. Think of Spongia for that.
- Tea, hot, agg.
- Touched, being, agg.
- Uncovering, undressing agg.
- Walking agg. or amel.
- Warm agg. or amel.–warm food, warm room, etc.
- Wet, getting wet
- Wind, coughing in the
- Bright, shiny objects
- Spoken to, being spoken to agg.
- Cellars–cellar air/damp cellars
Concomitants! That means, “What else is going on besides the cough?” This is how I found Shana’s remedy, because she complained that her eyes were running, and I already knew her nose was running because she was sniffing, so I gave her Allium cepa and it really brought her out of the worst of it. What are some of the concomitants listed in the Coughing chapter?
- Coryza (that means runny nose, another way of saying “the common cold”)
- Heart complaints–some people have what’s known as “cardiac cough”.
- Mental symptoms, like fear from coughing, fear that they might not be able to stop, which could be Aconite.