Many chronic patients, especially children in the developed world or in locations with widespread access to allopathic medicines, have been prescribed some form of corticoid medications (cortisone acetate or a chemical variant). Cortisone has a major influence on the immune response of a patient and over-dosage can have lasting effects that may need to be rebalanced homeopathically.
In my experience, even if taken long ago and for a short time, cortisone can be considered as an obstacle to cure, if a well-indicated remedy does not work. This is especially true with children who have been prescribed cortisone drugs for asthma or skin issues, and start developing allergies. This article will help explain what happens in a case with cortisone toxicity, and the strategies to adopt.
Role of Cortisone Hormone in the Stress Response
Cortisone is an important hormone in the body, secreted by the adrenal glands and involved in the various key functions. It is often nicknamed “the stress hormone”. Normally, it is present in the body at higher levels in the morning, and lowest at night. Cortisone is secreted in higher levels when the sympathetic system is activated (the ‘fight or flight’ response to stress).
Cortisone is responsible for several stress-related changes in the body, which will drive body resources towards key organs such as the brain, muscles, heart and lungs, and away from the digestive and immune systems.
It is important that the body’s relaxation response (“parasympathetic system”) be activated, so the body’s functions can return to normal following a stressful event.
If not, chronic and long-term exposure to high levels of cortisone will lead to fatigue, insomnia, digestive problems, and a weakened immune system.
Cortisone Levels and Immunity
Cortisone has become an allopathic medication of choice because of its ability to switch off the immune response, or put more simply, “to prevent the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation”. No inflammation – No symptoms!
Cortisone actually has an important role to play in immune response. At the cellular level, the immune system relies on two types of immune cells to eliminate toxins and pathogens during the early phase: TH-1 and TH-2 cells are pro-inflammatory lymphocytes whose main task is to trigger and stimulate the defenses against a specific antigen:
TH-1 cells are responsible for cellular immunity. They trigger natural killer cells (NK-cells) and macrophages which phagocytose micro organisms.
TH-2 cells direct extra-cellular immunity. Once triggered, their activity results in a stimulation of antibody production (B-cells, plasma cells) so that antigens outside the cells are eliminated.
The Tspan and Tspan responses are auto-regulating in that they inhibit one another. In essence, when there is inflammation, the immune response will swing from the TH-1 phase to the TH-2 phase until inflammation is fully cleared. In healthy persons there is a harmonious balance between TH-1 and TH-2 activity.
Local presence of hydrocortisone inhibits TH-1 reactions. A long term secretion of Hydrocortisone, either through stress or medications will reduce the TH-1 immune reaction and increase the TH-2 reaction.
Allopathically, cortisone is given to switch off the immune response and prevent inflammation. In effect, giving cortisone medications will reduce the Tspan cellular phase of the immune inflammatory response. It is an obvious short-term win from an allopathic point of view: no inflammation, no symptoms!
However, a blocking in the TH-1 state will reduce the self-balancing abilities of the immune response. In effect, the immune response will be less able to balance, and this will increase the risk of auto-immune diseases, such as Crohn’s or allergies.
It can also create a situation where the immune response is not working effectively. This is especially the case with newborns or babies having exposure to cortisone medications.
Reported Side-effects of Cortisone Overdose
Here is the description provided to consumers:
COMMON side effects
Difficulty sleeping; dizziness or light-headedness; headache; increased appetite; increased sweating; indigestion; nervousness.
Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects:
Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); black, tarry stools; changes in menstrual periods; chest pain; eye pain or increased pressure in the eye; fever, chills, or sore throat; joint or bone pain; mood or mental changes (eg, depression); muscle pain or weakness; seizures; severe or persistent nausea or vomiting; stomach pain or bloating; swelling of feet or legs; unusual weight gain or loss; vision changes; vomiting material that looks like coffee grounds.
Here is also a detailed description of the side-effects by body organs:
Cardiovascular side effects including myocardial rupture following recent myocardial infarction, fluid retention, sodium retention, congestive heart failure, potassium loss, alkalosis, and hypertension have been reported with cortisone therapy.
Gastrointestinal side effects including peptic ulcer with potential perforation and haemorrhage, perforation of small and large bowel, pancreatitis, abdominal distension, nausea, increased appetite, and ulcerative oesophagitis have been reported.
Musculoskeletal side effects including muscle weakness, steroid myopathy, loss of muscle mass, osteoporosis, vertebral compression fractures, aseptic necrosis of femoral and humoral heads, pathologic fracture of long bones, and tendon rupture have been reported.
Psychiatric side effects including euphoria, insomnia, mood swings, personality changes, severe depression, and psychotic manifestations have been reported.
Nervous system side effects including convulsions, increased intracranial pressure with papillo-edema, vertigo, myalgia, arthralgia, malaise, headache, and psychic disturbances have been reported.
Endocrine side effects including development of Cushing’s state, suppression of growth in children, and secondary adreno-cortical and pituitary unresponsiveness have been reported.
Ocular side effects including posterior sub-capsular cataracts, increased intraocular pressure, glaucoma, and exophthalmos have been reported.
Thrombo-embolism has rarely been reported.
Increase/decrease in motility and number of spermatozoa in men and menstrual irregularities in women have been reported rarely.
Homeopathic picture of Cortisone Acetate
Cortisone was proved in 1953 by W.L. Templeton on eight persons and by B.K. Sarkar in 1966. Here is a short description of the leading symptoms, and you can see that this corroborates the drug’s toxicity picture listed above:
Affinity: Endocrines, Digestions
Unstable mood, alternating between euphoria and excitement
Alternation of excitability with increased activity and a state of fatigue with weariness
Irritable and impatient, > occupation
Irritability when travelling too slow
Fat persons with round face
Tendency to obesity with retention of water
Slow irritable subjects with a dull mind
Increased growth of hair in unusual places
Lack of reaction
Weakness after acute or prostrating diseases
Disposition to catch cold
< warmth, warm room, sun , heat
Milk and fat badly digested
Right-sided headache, above right eye, < motion, pressure, sun – or headache as from a band around the head
Allergy Rhinitis & allergic conjunctivitis
Acne of face, shoulders and back
Sensation of fullness in hypogastrium, > menses, walking
Pain in sacroiliac regiun, < right side, < sitting, rising from sitting
Useful Homeopathic Remedies for Cortisone Toxicity
In my experience, giving the drug or the hormone in potency, a practice called tautopathy or isopathy, is the simplest and most effective method. A well indicated remedy will also help the patient.
For this, Frans Vermeulen compares Cortisone with Sulphur, Psorinum, Sepia, Pulsatilla and RNA.
Robin Murphy lists the following remedies for Ailments from Cortisone poisoning: apis, arsenicum, cortico, cortisone, mercurius, natrum muriaticum, sepia, sulphur.
I have also commonly given Silica to people who had digestive disturbances, or eye problems after taking eye drops.
The remedy that fits the symptom picture the most, will be the most effective. In my experience, Sepia and Arsenicum have been most commonly indicated.
Other Strategies after Cortisone Overdose
The liver and the adrenal glands usually need to be supported after long intake of cortisone. This can be done homeopathically and by following a strict diet amicable to the liver, but rich in good quality fat, which is necessary to the nervous system and adrenal glands in particular.
The following advice during the treatment will help:
– Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco, as they are highly toxic to the adrenals and other glands.
– Consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables especially leafy green vegetables.
– Eat a diet rich in brown rice, legumes, nuts, olive oil, safflower oil, seeds, wheat germ and whole grains.
– Eat deep-water ocean fish at least 3 times a week
– Eat good quality oils, such as olive or coconut oil. Nuts and seeds can be hard to digest sometimes.
– Avoid all processed foods such as ham, sugar, white flower, fats and fried foods.
Also helpful are adding nourishing herbs such as Milk Thistle and Cynara for the liver, and Avena Sativa for the nervous system.
Case Example – 5-year old child with chronic cough
This is a very simple case to illustrate the impact of cortisone medication on the immune system. A very pleasant Italian family came to see me with their 5-year old daughter who had been suffering from a chronic dry cough for the last 8 months.
The family was well aware of alternative medicine and were followed by a medical doctor using homeopathy in Italy. They had tried a series of homeopathic remedies such as Tuberculinum, Antimonium Tartaricum and Dulcamara.