Abstract: Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a psychiatric syndrome which affects both the physical and mental health of the individual. Moreover, it also causes social problems with family, friends and work, thus impacting the quality of life of the sufferer. Alcohol abuse is one of the main killers of young men in India today. The depths of its strong roots in India can be understood from the data available from the 2003 World Health Survey (total sample size n = 722; males n = 658 and females n = 64), the mean value (in grams) of pure alcohol consumed per day among drinkers was 35.9 (total), 38.3 (males) and 12.9 (females).1 Can homoeopathy offer help in such cases? Dr. C.M.F. Von Boenninghausen in his article, “Concerning Philoposia” has given directions for handling such cases. This brief article is an attempt to review his philosophy and the literature available for this disorder.
Keywords- Alcohol Use Disorder, Alcoholism, Homoeopathy, Opium tincture, Dr C.M.F. VonBoenninghausen
Alcohol is a psychoactive substance which has an effect on individual in multiple ways. It acts primarily on the central nervous system, both immediately and over a period of time, and affects, both directly and indirectly, almost all body organs and systems. The impact of globalization, industrialization, migration and media invasion is leading to a major shift into the lives of people. People are embracing new lifestyles, cultures and practices, giving rise to new problems such as the increasing use and abuse of alcohol. Consumption of alcohol is now synonymous with family’s/ individual’s status in the society. The key problem area is heavy episodic or “binge” drinking. Different patterns of usage of alcohol is seen ranging from one-time use, occasional use, regular use, hazardous use to harmful use eventually leading to “Dependence”.
Presently, the conditions of dependence and harmful use of alcohol are grouped as Alcohol Use Disorder in DSM-Vwhich were separate in DSM-IV.2
As per the definition, Dependence Syndrome is, “A cluster of behavioural, cognitive, and physiological phenomena that develop after repeated alcohol use and that typically include a strong desire, difficulties in controlling its use, persisting in its use despite harmful consequences, a higher priority given to alcohol use than to other activities and obligations, increased tolerance, and sometimes a physical withdrawal state”
Global Information System on Alcohol and Health (GISAH), developed by WHO presents the data that, Worldwide, 3.3 million deaths every year result from harmful use of alcohol, this represent 5.9 % of all deaths. WHO estimates that there are about 2 billion people worldwide who consume alcoholic beverages, out of which 76.3 million have diagnosable alcohol use disorder.3 In India, the situation is much worse. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, have recently reported the extent, pattern and trends of drug abuse in India, including alcohol abuse (Ray, 2004)4. The National Household Survey reported the current one-month-period use for alcohol to be 21.4%. Of the total alcohol-users, 17%, were classified as dependent users based on ICD 10. Applying the prevalence estimates to the population figures of India for 2001, it was estimated that there are 62.5 million alcohol-users (62.5/1000 population) and 10.6 million dependent users in India (Ray, 2004)4.
The effects of alcohol use by an individual are widespread and noticeable in all spheres (physical, psychological, social, and economical) of an individual’s life. Moreover, the harmful use of alcohol results in a significant health, social and economic burden on society at large. Alcohol is estimated to cause about 20–30% of oesophageal cancer, liver cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, homicide, epileptic seizures, and motor vehicle crashes worldwide. Unintentional injuries alone account for about one third of the deaths due to alcohol (WHO, 2004)5.
The following symptoms are observed in person suffering from Alcohol Use Disorder:
- Craving- i.e. a strong need, or compulsion to drink.
- Loss of Control- i.e. Inability to limit one’s drinking on any given occasion.
- Physical Dependence- i.e. Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness and anxiety, occur when alcohol use is stopped after a period of heavy drinking.
- Tolerance- i.e. the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol in order to get high.
CAN HOMOEOPATHY HELP?
Worldwide, over 200 million people use homeopathy on a regular basis. In India, where homoeopathy is a national medical system, the market is growing at 25% a year, and more than 100 million people depend solely on this form of therapy for their health care. 6 Homoeopathy is one of the most popular systems of medicine, sought after by suffering patients. It is playing a major role in integrating the public healthcare delivery system of India due to its wide acceptance by people at large. This acceptance is mainly due to its simplicity, affordability, safety and holistic and approach.
Homoeopathy offers a much safer, more effective and holistic treatment in such cases of Alcohol Use Disorder. Some medicines indicated in such cases are: Ars alb., Asarum. ,Canth. , Caps., Crot. , Lach., Nuxvom, Opium, Phos., Puls., Sel., Sulph., Sulph ac., Syphillinum. Many rubrics in homoeopathic repertories are given for complaints of alcoholic drinkers.Below is a list of useful rubrics from some basic repertories:
[Kent ] [Stomach]Desires: Alcoholic drinks
[Kent ] [Stomach]Desires: Beer
[Kent ] [Stomach]Desires: Brandy
[Kent ] [Stomach]Desires: Whisky
[Kent ] [Stomach]Desires: Wine
[Kent ] [Generalities]Alcoholic stimulants
[Kent ] [Mind]Mania-a-potu
[Kent ] [Mind]Confusion of mind (see concentration): Spirituous liquors, from
[Kent ] [Head]Pain, headache in general: Spirituous liquors: From
BOENNINGHAUSEN’S CHARACTERISTIC REPERTORY
[Boenning ] [Appetite]Desire for: Alcoholic liquors
[Boenning ] [Mind] Alcoholism, intoxication, etc.
[Boenning ] [Mind]Aggravation: Spirituous liquors, from
[Boenning ] [Head]Internal: Aggravation: Alcoholic liquors
[Boenning ] [Eyes]Aggravation: Alcoholism, from
[Boenning ] [Nose]Bleeding: Alcoholics
[Boenning ] [Stomach & Epigastrium]Digestion: Weak: Alcoholics, in
[Boenning ] [Sensation and complaints in general]Trembling: Alcoholics of
THERAPEUTIC POCKET BOOK
[Therap ] [Hunger And Thirst]Desire for: Beer
[Therap ] [Hunger And Thirst]Desire for: Brandy
[Therap ] [Hunger And Thirst]Desire for: Wine
[Therap ] [Aggravation]Food and drink: Alcoholic stimulants in general
WHAT DR. BOENNINGHAUSEN SUGGESTS IN SUCH CASES?
Opiates have been used for centuries for their pain relieving and euphorigenic properties. Although they possess several beneficial properties, including vasodilatory action and unmatched analgesic effectiveness, the positive reinforcing (euphorigenic) properties of opiates create the potential for addiction (and/or dependence). Through this article, I am not advocating the use of opium, but sharing a method that Dr Von Boenninghausen used (sparingly) as an adjunct to homeopathic treatment in cases of Alcohol Use Disorder.
“Philoposia”, the term Boenninghausen has discussed in his article, “Concerning Philoposia”( Allg. hom. Zeit., Vol 60,pg 171)7, meant what we today understand as Alcohol Use Disorder. The word ‘philoposia’ had its origin in the Greek language meaning ‘mania for drinking’.
Dr. Boenninghausen, was much concerned about the frightful consequences that this “passion” inflicts not only on the drunkard himself but also on his whole family.He instructed in such cases to give the patients a few dietary instructions and giving a few drops of Opium tincture.
First and foremost he gave some therapeutic and dietary hints for the intoxicated state:
- When caused by beer- instruct patient to take large quantities of Chinese tea and then as per indications Rhus tox or Nuxvom can be given.
- When caused by brandy- salt water to be given first, and later Pulsatilla to be administered.
- When caused by wine- bitter almond to be chewed first and afterwards Nuxvom to be given. And in wines containing acids, Antim crud better corresponds to the indications.
- In cases where drunken person is lying with red face, staring eyes and twitching in muscles of face- administer Opium and Belladonna in alteration after every 15 minutes, until the patient recovers and then whatever symptoms call for.
All the above indications are for improving the bodily condition but what concerned most to the master was the real ‘philoposia’ which he calls “the disease, the essence of which lies in moral and physical necessity of drunkard falling into vice of drunkenness as soon as previous intoxication has passed off.”
He further says, “The physician, therefore in such case has to solve the double problem of first improving the bodily condition, and then causing an antipathy to spirituous liquors in general.”
On use of Opium tincture in these cases, he instructs, “For the cure of the bodily mania for drinking, there is no doubt that Poppy-juice (Opium) stands at the head of all the remedies of this class. With incipient drinkers, repeated use of this remedy alone will give great results, as in such cases it is sufficient of itself to extinguish not only the ill effects of intoxication but also to induce a sort of repugnance to spirituous liquors in general.”
The dosage that he advises in such cases is 2-3 drops at a dose of TincturaOpii either to be administered in their morning cup of coffee or while they are unaware of it because most of the patients are averse to taking medicine.
Also, in such cases, he strongly suggests the use of milk as a dietetic remedy. In these cases, milk continually increases aversion to spirituous drinks. He advocates physicians to take account of this naturally occurring phenomenon in their practice. It is worth noting that persons who have this strong inclination towards spirituous liquors usually have an aversion to drinking milk and a repugnance to it.
A few doses of Ignatia may be needed after Opium, especially in cases where in returning soberness and clear perception there is depth of grief, sorrow and remorse which opposes obstruction to progress of recovery.Thus, Boenninghausen has given clear instructions for an approach to Alcohol Use Disorder.
For all those medical men who would wonder if taking a few drops of opium tincture could develop an addiction and/or dependence, I would refer to what opioid dependence means. Opioid dependence is a chronic relapsing condition characterized by compulsive self-administration of opioids despite adverse consequences. So, taking few drops of tincture, in my opinion, wouldn’t do any harm. Opium tincture is not part of any homeopathic protocol these days.
- Ustun TB et al. The World Health Surveys. In: Murray CJL, Evans DB, eds. Health Systems Performance Assessment: Debates, Methods and Empiricism. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2003
- Ray R. National survey on extent, pattern and trends of drug abuse in India. New Delhi, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2004.
- World Health Organization (WHO). Global status report on alcohol. Geneva, 2004.
- Original article is in German language and can be referred in “Allgemeine homöopathische Zeitung”, volume 60, p.171 https://www.hahnemann.net/img/cms/DVD/Leseprobe_AHZ_1832.pdf Also, Many small articles of Boenninghausen have been compiled by Thomas Lindsley Bradford, and translated from original German by Prof. L.H. Tafel in the form of ‘Lesser Writings of C.M.F. von Boenninghausen’. This article can be referred in this work under the heading “Concerning Philoposia” https://books.google.co.in/books?id=0qDyyp33BE4C&pg=PA125&lpg=PA125&dq=concerning+philoposia&source=bl&ots=Maf7DfGcc-&sig=5smWuJafI9cYqtZZwqqcy2SJzXI&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi6sZTF49HfAhVEcCsKHUnFAEIQ6AEwAXoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=concerning%20philoposia&f=false