Just as with conventional medicine, homeopathy can be used on several levels. If a dog is itching, you can temporarily alleviate the symptoms with antihistamines or anti-inflammatories. Or you can do a more in depth search to determine if there is a thyroid or allergic component to be treated. You can read a book on what homeopathic remedies to use for itching or buy a combination remedy labeled for “itching” (each company has a different combination of remedies in their “itch stop” combination remedy). Or you can look at the animal as a whole and choose the homeopathic remedy that most accurately matches all symptoms and characteristics. In this talk I will begin discussing selection of homeopathic remedies for specific problems. Then I will introduce the incredible potential available for healing when homeopathic remedies are actually selected to be “homeopathic” to a specific animal (or person), the principles and practicalities of taking this curative approach. Remember that homeopathy does not stand alone. The animal may need nutritional or other energetic support while healing with homeopathy.
CASE EXAMPLES OF SYMPTOMATIC TREATMENT
Fred, a basset hound, came to the clinic for scooting his rear. On examination, he had a prolapsed rectum. I cleaned off the rectum and asked a few questions about the puppy. Normally an outgoing dog, he had been hiding and a little cranky the day before the prolapse and had diarrhea 2 days before. He often would vomit after eating rich foods or garbage can scraps. He was being fed a raw food diet and had minimal vaccinations. These symptoms fit Nux vomica, which I gave at 200c potency. Within two hours the rectum was back, and the next day he was as playful and friendly as ever. Over the next 3 years, the rectum did not re-prolapse.
Jack, a 4-month-old Pekinese, had one testicle that had been retracted for 3 weeks. He had massive erections, mounted dogs a lot, had nice open nares, and loose joints. I gave the homeopathic remedy Clematis, 10M, and 2 weeks later the testicle was down and has stayed down for 5 months, to date.
Your first patient of the night has been hit by a car and is lying on the table. The first thing you notice is that as you approach, the dog looks in a friendly way towards you, but as you draw near, he growls, or shrieks, or withdraws clearly indicating an aversion to being touched. When you see this characteristic symptom and there is history of trauma, give a dose of Arnica. Then proceed with your examination and treatment.
When you walk into the next room, this dog is cowering and seems terrified of you, and the owner says that ever since being left in the basement accidentally, she has been that way. There you might start with a dose of Aconite for effects of fear and terror.
The next 3 patients are cats with bite wound abscesses. The first is timid and does not mind you palpating the area, which seems to be painless and has been oozing serum. You would start with Silica. The second cat seems fine until you touch the abscess, when he freaks out with the pain, so you give Hepar sulph. The third cat is drooling, and has red gums. The abscess is painful to the touch and has a foul odor. This cat might respond well to treatment with Mercurius vivus.
Interspersed with these “clear cut symptom” patients who have characteristics and generalities that seem to match one remedy, are many animals where you cannot select a remedy that you have confidence in, or where you realize immediately that there is not a clear cut picture with no characteristic symptoms and indistinct generalities (“well, she is sort of nice, occasionally mean & no temperature preferences & sometimes thirsty and has a doggy odor”). Initially, do not treat these homeopathically unless the owner requests, and then be ready to refer or consult if there is not a good response and the owner would like to pursue homeopathic treatment.
The key shift that must be made is to treat the individual animal, not merely the disease. Even when treating an acute problem, and using a list of 2 – 10 remedies, we will have difficulty choosing from the list if we forget to find something unique about the patient to match to one of the remedy choices. Then, if the first selection does not help the animal, we can either say, “Oh, homeopathy does not work because the animal is worse,” or “I need to look again for what is unique about this animal, what new symptoms have appeared and choose a different remedy, go to another modality or conventional drugs.”
HISTORY OF HOMEOPATHY
Dr. Samuel Hahnemann began the science of homeopathy in the early 1800s and his understanding and guidelines have been followed since then. From his observations of sickness and recovery, and writings from the earlier physicians, he posited a vital force that would produce symptoms in the body to heal its energetic imbalances. He realized that symptoms are good – they are the attempt of the body to heal itself (Fevers increase white blood cell production and interferon). They are also good as indicators to evaluate the health status of this unseen energy field. The goal then is to treat the vital force so it no longer has to produce uncomfortable symptoms and can live a long, happy life. For the acute conditions you will initially be treating, the goal is still to match the vital force. You find remedies that can help the current condition, then match the unusual characteristics of the animal to one of those remedies. Dilutions of herbs, minerals and body substances were, and are, given to healthy people (Provings). The provers take repeated doses until they experience any different sensations, feelings, aches, pains, and any other changes at all. These are carefully recorded by the “prover” and compiled with detailed questioning by the doctor conducting the proving. When an ill person or animal enters the examination room, the doctor asks about the current complaint in great detail and how anything has changed since the illness began. This includes preferences, personalities, fears and more. Like cures like is the basic principle, for when you successfully find the correct match, the animals is cured. Hahnemann and his medical doctor followers did treat animals with homeopathy since a person helped with homeopathy would, and still does, ask for help with the other members of their family, including livestock and pets.
HOW TO BEGIN
While the real healing power of homeopathy lies in prescribing for the chronic disease problems that we will speak of later, it can also be very useful for acute problems and to evaluate the health of animals treated with other modalities. Spend a few hours following these steps and you, too can be putting those little sugar remedies into animal’s mouths.
1. Study. Read the notes in this lecture. Take an overview course or two (Drs. Chambreau, Epstein, Young and others). Buy some of the books written to help you select remedies for animal problems. Even they will tell you about the more in depth prescribing and you can begin to study the elucidating principles of homeopathy. Hamilton, Day, McLeod, Hunter, Westerhuis and Wolff cover the philosophy as well as therapeutic materia medica.
2. Decide what category(ies) you will be treating and study ahead of time.
a. Learn some remedies to help with routine problems in your practice such as slow recovery from anesthesia, nervous or panicked individuals, traumatic injuries, prolapsed rectums, dystocia. While you will individualize some, you are prescribing more on the condition. If the animal doesn’t respond well, you will now realize that you have not individualized well enough and will seek homeopathic coaching or treat conventionally.
b. Choose which remedies you want to start prescribing, and study them, so you will
recognize a patient needing a particular remedy, regardless of the illness.
c. Choose what conditions you want to treat, write out all the symptoms you have seen in many animals, choose 2-10 remedies that most fit the generic problem, and learn some of the differentiating characteristics of these remedies. This is called the genus epidemicus approach to homeopathy and is often used to find the remedies needed to treat epidemics. If the presenting animal matches one of your selected remedies, you can offer homeopathic treatment. If it does not seem a clear match, treat the way you normally would.
3. Order remedies and books. If you are already sure you will be practicing homeopathy for many years, you can save money by ordering kits of remedies, better books and programs.
4. Be clear on how to evaluate the response to a remedy and how you will decide to wait, repeat the same remedy or choose a new remedy or potency. Remember that waiting is usually the best thing to do.
5. Learn obstacles to being able to stay healthy or to be cured. Vaccination, nutrition, emotional and environmental factors can hinder a cure, as can a client who demands that symptoms go away fast and cannot be patient. The vaccinations seem the most harmful, so read the many articles and books available. Definitely do not vaccinate while an animal is under treatment – vaccine inserts do say “for use in healthy animals only.” Nutritionally, a fresh diet is ideal – raw meat and bones, grated or pureed vegetables and fruits, and maybe overcooked carbohydrates.
Once you have done your homework (studied, ordered a few books and remedies) you are ready to treat your first case. Even from the beginning, train yourself to look at the whole animal, not just the presenting complaint.
1. How is the animal acting now? Ask the owner how she normally acts when not sick.
2. Notice any odors, discharges, and temperature of the skin on torso and extremities.
3. Perform a complete physical exam and record all findings quantitatively. Do any diagnostic procedures indicated by your in-depth physical exam.
4. Characteristic symptoms are ones that make you hesitate, that do not fit the picture that is contrary to what you would expect. Examples include gastritis that is better from eating a large meal, itching eruption that gets better with scratching, a lameness that is better with exercise or better from cold damp weather, or symptoms that occur periodically (every 7th day, every 4PM, annually), etc. They make you say, “What? Really?”
5. General characteristics (traits) of the patient include: temperature preferences, moods and personalities, affected by seasons or weather conditions, mental aberrations, tendency to discharges, swellings, suppurations, appetite tendencies. If the acute diarrhea has occurred after a change in the weather from warm to cold, you would be able to narrow your remedy selection.
6. Common symptoms that will not be as helpful in the remedy search would be itching red skin, vomiting hairballs, food or clear froth, being a “nice” animal, blood tests, stiffness, liking a certain brand of food, description of the tissue pathology, etc.
7. List all the symptoms with their quantification.
8. Use the abbreviated homeopathic veterinary books, and/or my remedy and disease notes that follow, to select the closest match.
9. Decide on potency (probably the only one you have on hand) and administer the remedy.
10. Schedule a follow-up appointment, even if this is your own or a staff person’s animal. Be sure to write down what you do and why.