A lovely bright and lively 76 year old lady consulted me for an emergency appointment. She explained that she had been bitten on her ankle by an insect the previous day whilst in the garden and her ankle and left foot were now swollen, hot, tender, throbbing and stinging. She also described a tight and bursting sensation. The symptoms had worsened as the day had progressed. However, she explained that as she was an extremely busy person, she didn’t want to stop to put her feet up. Upon examination the area was bright red and swollen. It looked full to busting point.
It looked to me like cellulitis and she confirmed that she had suffered from cellulitis in the same foot from a bite the previous year, and that it was treated with antibiotics. She also suffered from prickly skin around her eyes and the creases around her mouth were prone to becoming red and sore. She was unsure of what triggers these symptoms. During the last week she had experienced painful swelling of the eyes and cheeks. Her skin was very dry in general.
Her energy levels were generally excellent and she told me again that she is an extremely busy and active person. She came across as being very capable, efficient and positive in her approach to life. Her appetite was good and she advised that she was definitely not a thirsty person. She slept well but had to get up during the night to pass water. Her stools were daily and she considered them to be normal but she had become more windy recently. She had previously had a colonoscopy which revealed mild diverticulosis.
She was insistent that she didn’t want to take antibiotics and that is why she had come for homeopathy. I explained the potential of homeopathic remedies to resolve the symptoms, however, due to the serious nature of cellulitis I strongly recommended that she consult her GP for a diagnosis and also get a prescription for antibiotics in case they were needed. She agreed to this. I also advised that in the event that she started to feel unwell or fluish she should seek emergency medical treatment.
The stinging sensation, swelling and tightness as well as her “busy bee” character, thirstlessness and the bite aetiology strongly suggested Apis Mellifica which I prescribed to be taken every 30 minutes for the next 3-4 hours. As a supportive measure I also prescribed a combination of Narayani War, Immunity and Drawingto be taken three times daily. The Narayani remedies are a useful set of combination remedies which were put together by Swami Narayani in the early seventies. I prescribed War as it is indicated for infection and inflammation anywhere in the body; Immunity to support the patient’s immune system in dealing with the infection and Drawing 6x (Hepar Sulph, Gunpowder, Myristica Seb, Silicea) to help prevent the infection from spreading . Topically I recommended medical manuka honey to be applied to the area and then covered with a dressing.
I called the patient next morning and she advised that the skin in the affected area had felt really itchy during the night and it had spread ever so slightly into her toes but her ankle appeared less swollen and inflamed. It felt sore but not as painful and still felt tight. The patient had made an appointment to see her GP later that day. In the meantime as her symptoms, including intolerable itching at night from bites, still fitted Apis Mel I advised her to continue this remedy three times daily together with the Narayani War, Immunity and Drawing three times daily.
On phoning the patient the following day she advised me that the GP had prescribed antibiotics but she had decided to hold off taking them as the affected area was now considerably less red and the swelling in her ankle and foot had reduced and moved down to her toes (following the direction of cure from above to below). She also reported that she enjoyed a really good night’s sleep.
The following day she was delighted to advise that the area was considerably better. The swelling in her toes had disappeared and her skin had returned to its usual colour. However, there was slight itching around the point of the bite from which the cellulitis had originated and it felt slightly bruised. As the symptom picture had now changed I recommended two split doses of Arnica 200c followed by Ledum 30c twice daily for 2 days. This was based on the bruised feeling and itching around the bite.
We arranged to speak on the phone in a couple of days, by which time the patient reported that the cellulitis had now completely healed. This case reminded me of the power of homeopathic remedies to work quickly and effectively in an acute situation, in this case avoiding the need for antibiotics. I received many recommendations from this patient. In my experience, prescribing a single well indicated remedy, frequently repeated in an acute case, yields the best results. However, I have also recently introduced the Narayani remedies into my practice and found them to be really helpful in supporting the main indicated remedy.