The two veterinary cases presented here are both illustrations that have their place in the ongoing exchanges on prescription techniques. The cases are not fully presented in order to draw the attention to one particular part of homeopathic prescribing only. Both cases will be published in full at a later date.
Many years ago, the discovery of the dynamics that can be found in these two cases helped me in my conversion from a more pluralistic prescribing to a mostly singular prescription technique. They illustrate how different homeopathy is from conventional thinking. Always remember: prescriptions are not made for conditions but for patients.
Every time we forget to prescribe for patients and slip back to our orthodox diagnosis-treatment education, we abandon homeopathy a little.
Both patients are horses. They were consulted for different problems but at one point developed the same pathology: an abscess in the foot.
Abscesses in the hoof are common horse problems. The initial cause of the pathology is multifactorial but it always starts with a pin point local inflammation with seepage of serum or lymph between the hoof wall and the skin that produces the hoof wall.
The inflammation can start due to an injury of the hoof or due to the dying off (necrosis) of a small part of the skin that produces the hoof wall.
Many horses and ponies in the wet regions (like the UK) have less than good hoof health. This is so because they walk on soft fields (wet ground with grass) but more so due to poor hoof management. One of the consequences of this poor health is the occasional ‘dying off’ of small parts of the hoof-skin (the skin that produces the hoof and to which the hoof is snugly attached). Explaining the cause for this goes far beyond the scope of this article.
A foot abscess in a horse is like having a small abscess forming under your nail, between the nail and the skin. The initial seepage will attract more inflammation and there will be fluid build up. This causes pressure and pain (it can be a very painful condition) and often without good management, the disease/inflammation will progress and may under-run a large area of the hoof causing extensive damage. Imagine your nail being pushed away form the underlying skin due to a progressing inflammation.
Traditionally it is thought that one needs to open the hoof wall to let the fluid off (reduced pressure = less pain). This is certainly the case with hoofs that bare iron shoes. Horses that are trimmed following the newer more natural techniques of barefoot trimming usually deal with these abscesses by allowing them to break out at the top rather that spread all over the hoof.
Well trimmed, healthy hoofs are more competent in managing these abscesses; they are more likely to break out at the junction between the hoof and the rest of the leg without causing any important damage. The speed and success of the ‘natural’ cure of such an abscess is largely related to the health of horse and hoof.
Both the horses I write about today were barefoot trimmed at the time of the appearance of the abscess: they did not wear iron shoes at that time.
Case 1 is a 15 year old retired race horse called Jeff. I was called in last year in August (2006) because he was not well. He suffers from lameness in his hind legs due to an inflammation of one of the bones in his hoof and the inflammation of a tendon. He prefers not to go out on rides with his owner. Jeff is also slightly underweight.
He is the rather typical picture of the retired race horse which suffers with chronic foot and leg injury and did not enjoy the thrills of being a real horse; i.e. being locked away in a stable for many years.
Jeff, like many of his fellow ex-racers, lives now in a field but still shows signs of the institutionalised upbringing and relentless training he suffered at a young age.
A successful prescription of Carbo animalis 30C repeated in a 200c dose 2 weeks later brings Jeff back to life. His lameness/stiffness disappears and he is more forward. After 4 months, he is doing so well that the owner decided to remove his shoes and make a transition to bare foot management.
The change from shod to barefoot management is a big step for any horse. It can only be successful when there is sufficient support available for the horse. Homeopathy is one of the perfect systems to help with the transition. When successful, barefoot management will lead to a much healthier lifestyle, which of course translates into reduction of health problems for the future.
As is often the case, after 3 months he developed an abscess in the foot (common appearance during the transition when the foot anatomy slowly returns to normal and circulation restores itself). This abscess works its way out in no time and the lameness is gone in 2 days, after administration of 2 doses Carbo animalis 30c.
Four months later he was still well, but the owner called me because he was lame on his left fore. The owner had noticed he hurt his foot against a stone and was not sure whether something serious had happened, because Jeff is down in the dumps due to the lameness.
On examination the hoof was warm and a diagnosis of a traumatic abscess was made. Arnica 9 was administered four times per day for 2 days with no results. The owner then used Hepar sulphur 30 for 1 day but Jeff just got worse and more depressed.
When the owner rang me on the 5th day I advised to use two doses of Carbo-an. 30 and the next day the abscess breaks out and Jeff is back to his good self in 24hrs. The news over the next two months is very good with a return to normal activity.
Ben is the second patient. I started treating him in October 2006 when he suffered with laminitis.
Laminitis is a debilitating syndrome of chronic inflammation of the skin that produces the hoof. Ben is a typical sturdy cob horse, slightly overweight with a fat crest on his neck. Such horses are most prone to this disease/syndrome.
Ben was shoeless and trimmed according to one of the modern ‘natural’ techniques. This should have made him less sensitive to a laminitis attack, but a change in yard caused a serious flare up of his chronic condition.
When I saw him, he was in pain and depressed. He received a series of remedies, selected based on the symptoms (Arnica and then Plumbum in different dilutions) which helped him. But it was only when he received two doses of Lycopodium 30 that the crisis really ended.
When I saw Ben again in July 07, he suffered a new acute phase of laminitis with the suspicion of an abscess brewing in his right fore. Initially, over the phone, we suspected a trauma due to having walked over the hard road and used Arnica and Hepar sulphur to no avail.
When I saw him four days later, the foot with the abscess was warm and he took the typical laminitis posture, leaning backwards on his feet. This indicated how bad things really were. Hoof testing showed there was a painful spot (abscess) in the tip of his right fore hoof.
I learned that he had been very good over the winter. The Lycopodium had not only cured the previous laminitis attack but also made him more relaxed. He used to be a bully but was now much more tolerant to his friends. Also, the grass in the spring had not caused him to put on so much weight. His condition was much more appropriate. Only in the last 2 weeks had he started to put on weight.
I therefore prescribed Lycopodium 7c twice per day until response.
Ben improved so much after the first dose that he did not need any further remedy. The abscess did not even break out.
One month later, Ben is still very well and grazing in the field without much need to restrict his grass intake. In chronic laminitis cases one would suspect that any excess of grass would prevent a crisis from subsiding or would cause a new crisis to appear.
A few observations:
Both these cases illustrate how a successful chronic remedy can also be indicated during an acute state of the patient even if there appears to be an aetiology for the onset of the acute condition.
To understand this, it is important to learn to distinguish between a real acute and an acute situation that is only an accentuation of the chronic state of the patient.
Conventionally an abscess is treated as a separate incident. From a homeopathic point of view, the appearance of an abscess is usually the sign of a disturbance of the vital force of the patient. This means that, at the time of the appearance of the abscess, the way the abscess develops and how the patient deals with the abscess are part of the patient’s particular way of reacting.
It is the nature of the chronic disease of the patient, which decides how illnesses appear and evolve during the patient’s lifetime and whether they are insidious or acute: the chronic disease will often ‘decide’ on the time of appearance and nature of the acute illnesses the patient will suffer with.
This means that it is not uncommon that acute illnesses have the same essence as the chronic picture of the patient. This allows the homeopath to use a chronic remedy during an acute phase. In some occasions, this also allows the homeopath to find a very chronic remedy for the patient by using the symptoms apparent during an acute episode, which is in effect,a temporary aggravation of a low key chronic state.
It is important to note that if the acute disease is alien to the patient, (never noticed before or unrelated to the condition present in the patient) this may indicate that the chronic remedy used before is not appropriate and a better remedy for the patient should be found. The possibility of a suppression from palliating should be considered. The symptoms of the acute episode may be used in the search for such a remedy.