A Simple Guide To Palpitations, (Fast Heart Beats) Diagnosis, Treatment And Related Conditions

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PALPITATIONS

Symptoms
• Heart feels as though it is beating harder or faster than usual.
• Fluttering or thumping in the chest, with an alarming sensation as though the heart has stopped beating.
• Possible faintness and breathlessness.

Causes

Heartbeat is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. If nerve impulses are disrupted, the heart will continue beating, but at its own, usually slower rate. The most common form of palpitation—usually experienced at rest—is caused by ectopic heartbeats, when a premature beat is followed by an unusually long pause. This feels like a thumping or fluttering in the chest, and is not usually indicative of heart disease. It is caused by stimulants—for example large amounts of caffeine or heavy smoking. Palpitations with an irregular heartbeat may be symptomatic of heart disease. They may also be caused by an overactive thyroid gland, high fever, food allergy, and certain recreational drugs, such as amphetamines or cocaine. Palpitations may be a side-effect of some prescribed drugs, particularly those that regulate blood pressure, or they may be triggered by anxiety.

Conventional care

Treatment depends on the underlying cause. Investigations may include 24-hour electrocardiograms (ECGs) to explore the level of electrical activity in the heart, and thyroid-function tests to identify gland disorders. Appropriate drug therapy will follow. In extreme cases, a normal heart rhythm may have to be re-established using cardioversion (electric shocks).

Homeopathic medicine
In addition to an individual’s medical history, a homeopath will consider emotional state, any local aggravating factors, such as the effects of cold air or physical exhaustion, and food preferences. Prescription of constitutional remedies will be largely determined by specific symptoms, but some remedies have an affinity with the heart. Agaricus is associated with heart irregularities induced by stimulants. Apis is indicated for organic heart disease accompanied by fluid retention. China is associated with nervous exhaustion. Conium is effective for an incompetent mitral valve, and Kali. carb. is indicated if there are associated respiratory problems such as asthma. Other remedies include Argentum nit., Aurum met., Calc. carb., Lachesis, Nat. mur., Nux vomica, Phosphorus, Sepia, and Sulphur.
Acute attacks are also treated according to specific symptoms. Remedies include Aconite, if onset is sudden, especially after shock, with a fear of dying; and Nux vomica, if palpitations result from overindulgence, or if there is physical and mental exhaustion with overarousal from doing too much, chilliness, and irritability. Digitalis is given for palpitations preceding a feeling as though the heart has stopped, with a fear that the least movement might make it stop again; and Lachesis is prescribed for menopausal women who feel faint and anxious, and complain of a constricted feeling in the chest.

Lifestyle
Smoking is inadvisable, and those who consume large amounts of caffeine should reduce their intake. The diet should be low in fat and refined carbohydrates, and high in oily fish and vegetarian proteins. A nutritionist can advise about possible food allergy, but it is worth eliminating suspected triggers from the diet. Plenty of rest, sleep, and relaxation techniques or meditation are advisable. Time-management techniques can help to reduce stress levels.

CASE HISTORY
Clare, a credit controller, age 37, had a two-month history of palpitations. She described thuds in her chest—three a minute or one every two minutes—at any time of day. She had cut out caffeine and increased the amount of oats in her diet, but neither helped. She felt worse for stress. An ECG was normal. She had been referred to a cardiologist, and prescribed a beta blocker, which helped a good deal. She was taking an oral contraceptive and was a nonsmoker.

PERSONAL DETAILS
Clare was a nervous person, concerned about what others were thinking and, in her view, not tough enough. She was easily offended, but bottled up her feelings. She resented what she considered to be bad treatment by her mother-in-law.

FOOD PREFERENCES
Clare liked sweet foods, vinegar, and spices, and especially chocolate and carbonated drinks. She disliked herbal teas.

GENERAL DETAILS
Clare was better for sun and heat. She slept six hours a night and awoke unrefreshed. She complained of a poor memory, a lack of energy since puberty, split ends, brittle nails, cold extremities, and loose bowel movements when she was anxious.

PRESCRIPTION & FOLLOW-UP
On her first visit Clare was given Staphisagria, and it was suggested that she write a letter to her mother-in-law airing her grievances, but that she did not mail it. She was also advised not to take the contraceptive pill. By her next visit, four weeks later, the cardiologist had confirmed that there was no heart disease. The palpitations were less frequent and less severe, and Clare’s energy levels were higher. She was put on mineral supplements and seen a month later. She had not had any palpitations, felt much less stressed, and was sleeping better, although she was restless, and had become insecure and fastidious. She had also developed a craving for fats. After being prescribed Arsen. alb., Clare had no further problems. She now takes no medication other than the contraceptive pill.

ULCERATIVE COLITIS

Symptoms
• Abdominal pain on the left side.
• Diarrhea, with mucus and blood in the feces.
• In severe cases, fever and general malaise.
• Possible anemia and, if toxins get into the bloodstream, septicemia.
Causes
Although the exact cause of ulcerative colitis is unknown, it is believed that food allergy, infection, autoimmune problems, low levels of digestive enzymes and stomach acid, stress, and some antibiotics aggravate the condition. There may be a genetic tendency. Many sufferers are found to be emotionally stressed, especially if they are frustrated at work or grieving.
Conventional care
Diagnosis is by means of a barium enema and an endoscopy of the rectum and lower colon. If these are not conclusive, a biopsy, whereby a small piece of the bowel lining is removed, may be performed. Infections can be discounted by analyzing stool samples. Treatment is with sulfasalazine and its derivatives and possibly corticosteroid drugs. Ulcerative colitis is a potentially serious condition, and surgery may be necessary. In a few cases of persistent colitis, colonic cancer has been known to develop, so regular examinations are advisable.
Homeopathic medicine
Constitutional assessment is a prerequisite of effective homeopathic treatment. A full medical will include referral for colonic investigation if necessary. Specific symptoms will then be studied, along with any aggravating factors that have been observed, and emotional temperament.
The most important criteria in determining constitutional treatment are the individual’s symptoms. Some remedies have an affinity for the digestive tract, and are particularly effective in treating the symptoms of inflammation of the colon. Cantharis is prescribed for inflammation of the lining of the gut and the production of thick, sticky mucus. Colchicum is given for colitis with dysentery-like symptoms. Colocynthis is effective for colicky and neuralgic pains induced by irritation of the intestine; and Merc. corr. is used for constant straining of the rectum, which is not eased by passing stools. Arsen. alb., Nux vomica, and Sulphur are other commonly used constitutional remedies.
Remedies for acute flare-ups of colitis include Merc. corr., when there are hot, foul-smelling stools containing blood and mucus, and cutting pains in the abdomen on passing a stool, which are not relieved by emptying the bowel; Arsen. alb., for restlessness, anxiety, burning abdominal pains with vomiting, a frequent desire for sips of warm drinks, and attacks that come on around midnight; and Phosphorus, if stools are bloody, and pain is relieved by passing a stool but then the anus feels as though it is gaping.
Lifestyle
Changing to a high-fiber diet with few dairy products may reduce the likelihood of further attacks. Other foods and drinks that are best avoided include refined carbohydrates, those containing caffeine, and alcohol. A nutritionist will be able to advise further. Smoking is inadvisable. When consulting a doctor about infections, colitis sufferers should draw attention to their condition, which may be exacerbated by taking antibiotics. Relaxation techniques and meditation are advisable for those leading stressful lives. During a colitis attack, the most suitable foods are those that are easily digested.

CASE HISTORY
David was a 41-year-old stockbroker. Originally diagnosed as having irritable bowel syndrome, his condition had since been identified by a colonoscopy as ulcerative colitis. He believed that an infection picked up while traveling had made his condition worse. He was taking a corticosteroid and a sulfasalazine derivative, before which he had five or six watery bowel movements a day. His anus was raw and sore. He had great flatulence, with some pain, and had to get up in the early morning to empty his bowels.
PERSONAL DETAILS
David’s father had died when he was eight, and his mother had relied heavily on him. He felt great relief on going away to college, and did well in his work, although it was his main source of stress. He had lost a nine-month-old daughter, a victim of crib death. David was not sure he had gotten over this. He described himself as solid, but feared being incapacitated by illness.
FOOD PREFERENCES
David had a fairly sweet tooth. He liked vinegar and spices, but avoided them in case they upset him. He believed that milk and cheese upset his bowel. He loved tea, and had not smoked for 12 years.
GENERAL DETAILS
David felt better in dry heat and worse in humid conditions. He slept well and awoke refreshed, but had to get up immediately.
PRESCRIPTION & FOLLOW-UP
David was treated with Sulphur, after which his condition improved, with fewer and firmer bowel movements. The corticosteroid dosage was reduced, and David was able to sleep in later in the mornings. About this time he had dreams concerning his job and family, but he continued to improve, reducing his conventional drugs. He was then prescribed the nosode of measles since he had suffered a bad attack as a child. This remedy worked to good effect, so the potency was increased. David’s progress continued and he reduced his drugs further. When last seen, he was on a maintenance dose of mesalazine, and continued to improve.
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PNEUMONIA

Symptoms
• Breathlessness even when resting.
• Fever with alternate sweats and chills.
• Cough that produces yellow or green sputum. When the chest is listened to, there may be an absence of breathing sounds, or there may be wheezing or crackling sounds.
Causes
Pneumonia occurs when an infection of the upper airway spreads deep into the lung tissue and invades the alveoli. It may develop from a cold virus, but it is usually caused by bacteria, especially pneumococcal bacteria. Other, more obscure sources of infection are carried by mycoplasma and rickettsia (microorganisms). Pneumonia may be associated with immunodeficiency disorders, in which case unusual fungi or protozoa may be responsible. Pneumocystis pneumonia— common among AIDS sufferers—is an example of this. People taking inflammatory or immunosuppressive drugs long-term, or who smoke, are more likely to develop pneumonia than those who do not. The disease may also be caused by inhaling liquids or poisonous gases such as chlorine.
Conventional care
Diagnosis is by examination, chest X-ray, blood test, and sputum test, whereby a culture is grown in a laboratory. Patients with lobar pneumonia were once said to heal “by lysis or crisis” within five days. That is to say, the disease came to a head and then abated, or death followed from respiratory failure. Modern drugs enable recovery from pneumonia within about two weeks unless the patient is debilitated or old. In severe cases, oxygen therapy or artificial ventilation may be necessary.
Homeopathic medicine
In the initial stages of mild, viral pneumonia, treatment by an experienced homeopathic physician may be beneficial. With recurrent pneumonia, constitutional homeopathic treatment is certainly advisable in addition to conventional treatment. A person’s specific symptoms will largely determine constitutional prescription , but certain remedies have an affinity with the lungs. Arsen. alb. is prescribed for bronchial constriction; while Bacillinum may be used for those with respiratory problems in whom chronic catarrh may easily give rise to infection, such as the elderly. Calc. carb. is effective for complications arising out of restrictions in the movement of the rib cage; and either Pulsatilla or Phosphorus may be used to treat irritation of the mucous membranes lining the respiratory tract.
In acute cases of pneumonia, Aconite may be prescribed if the onset is sudden, particularly in cold, dry weather, and there is chest pain, fever, anxiety, and a fear of dying. Phosphorus is given for a cough producing rust-colored sputum, with weakness, trembling, nervousness, and numb extremities, and symptoms that are worse for lying on the left side. Bryonia is prescribed for chest pain that is worse for the slightest movement but better for lying on the affected side.
Lifestyle
Plenty of vitamin C, which can also be taken as a preventative measure, and a good deal of rest, preferably sitting up in bed, are beneficial. Since dry air tends to make pneumonia worse, rooms should be humidified. Inhalations of steam or herbs such as echinacea may help. The diet should ideally be low in refined carbohydrates and include plenty of fluids. It is advisable not to smoke. Manipulation by an osteopath or a physiotherapist may help to clear the lungs of sputum.
CASE HISTORY
Fiona, a 38-year-old dental technician, suffered from whooping cough at age six, and had a history of recurrent pneumonia. She was also a migraine sufferer. The pneumonia would be heralded by a sudden drop in energy levels, cold sweats and shakiness, constipation, a characteristic cough, and the production of sputum.
PERSONAL DETAILS
Of medium build and slightly plump, Fiona described herself as having a quick temper and being overemotional, crying easily when angry or frustrated. She craved sympathy and reassurance, especially when unwell, and hated being alone. She had a high sex drive, which was based more on an emotional than a physical need.
FOOD PREFERENCES
Fiona had a strong craving for sweets, especially before a migraine or attack of pneumonia. Even when she had a fever, she was not thirsty. She had an intolerance of, and an aversion to, anything fatty, although she liked butter and cream. She disliked warm foods and drinks. Rich foods, ice cream, and pork gave her indigestion.
GENERAL DETAILS
Fiona preferred hot weather, but disliked being in stuffy rooms, where she craved cool air. She felt worse by the sea and was disturbed by noise. Her energy levels were low, and she had never slept well, even as a child. The pneumonia tended to occur when she was premenstrual.
PRESCRIPTION & FOLLOW-UP
A diet was devised to strengthen Fiona’s liver and make her bowels more efficient. This relieved the constipation, and her energy levels rose. She then developed a cold that went on to her chest. She was prescribed Pulsatilla, and advised to take antibiotics, although she chose not to. She recovered from the acute attack within a week. She still had a cough, which responded to Sticta, although she remained catarrhal. She was then given Merc. sol. and has been healthy ever since. She takes this remedy at the first signs of a cold.

TUBERCULOSIS

Symptoms
• A mild attack of tuberculosis has the same symptoms as mild influenza.
• In second-stage tuberculosis, there may be a slight fever, night sweats, fatigue, weight loss, a dry cough that eventually produces pus or bloody sputum, breathlessness, and chest pain.
• If the disease progresses further still, it may cause a pleural effusion (fluid between the linings, or pleura, of the lung and that of the chest cavity) or pneumothorax (air between the pleurae).
Causes
Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and is spread in droplets of mucus expelled in coughs and sneezes. If the infection is fought off successfully, a small scar forms in the lung tissue. The person is then immune unless they become undernourished or generally unwell in the future, in which case tuberculosis may flare up again. Occasionally, the primary infection spreads to other parts of the body via the lymphatic system and the bloodstream, a condition known as miliary tuberculosis, which is occasionally fatal. Tuberculosis is most common among the elderly, alcoholics, and people living in economically deprived areas.
Conventional care
In many industrialized countries, preventative measures are taken against tuberculosis in the form of inoculation of all children by the age of 13 with a live strain of the bacterium that causes tuberculosis in cattle. This is too weak to cause the disease in humans, yet it stimulates the immune system. Diagnosis of tuberculosis is by a primary test followed by a chest X-ray if the test is positive. The most common treatment is with three drugs—usually isoniazid, rifampicin, and pyrazinamide—taken over a long period. There is concern in some regions of the world that the disease has become resistant to these drugs. Other, shorter treatment regimens are therefore being tried.
Homeopathic medicine
It is rare for a homeopathic practitioner to treat a tuberculosis patient exclusively. The disease has to be reported to the medical authorities, and will inevitably, and justifiably, be treated conventionally. Homeopathy can, however, play an important supportive role, and if indeed the disease is developing a resistance to conventional drugs, complementary treatment may become important—for example, in boosting the immune system.
The patient’s specific symptoms will be the main criteria in determining constitutional prescription . Certain remedies, however, have an affinity with respiratory ailments. Arsen. alb. is indicated for bronchial constriction and Lycopodium with infection of the right lung. Phosphorus is effective for treating inflammation of the mucous membranes; and Calc. carb. is prescribed for gland enlargement.
For acute attacks, remedies include Bacillinum for head sweats; Calc. carb. if the extremities are cold and clammy, with weakness and apprehension; and Arsen. alb. if there is chilliness, exhaustion, anxiety, and a desire for sips of water.
Lifestyle
Tuberculosis tends to affect people who are generally run down and otherwise in poor health. Adequate rest is important, as is a good diet, which should include plenty of potassium-rich foods, raw vegetables, fruits, and protein from legumes and whole grains as well as fish and meat. Plenty of fresh air is beneficial. Bad habits such as smoking, drinking excess alcohol, and taking recreational drugs should be avoided.
CASE HISTORY
The author has not personally treated a case of tuberculosis. The following is based on a report in French homeopathic literature by Dr. Nebel of Monteau at the beginning of the 20th century.
Charles had suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis for ten years. His father and three siblings had died from it. Clinically, he showed signs of extensive tuberculosis, mainly affecting the left lung, with a cough and copious green sputum, which frequently contained blood.
PERSONAL DETAILS
Charles was very tall and thin, with an emaciated chest. He suffered sleeplessness and weariness. He was extremely depressed and worried about his health, being convinced that he would die.
FOOD PREFERENCES
A lover of acidic foods and fat, particularly meat fat, Charles had been known to eat lard. He also liked smoked meats and salty foods. He had a great thirst, sipping water constantly. His stomach was upset by acidic foods and very cold drinks. He would become very hungry during the night and have to eat something.
GENERAL DETAILS
Charles was often constipated and, although he felt the cold, he experienced night sweats. His symptoms were worse between midnight and 2 a.m. He exuded from his armpits and chest what his doctor described as the smell of tuberculosis.
PRESCRIPTION & FOLLOW-UP
Charles was prescribed Tuberculinum, which gave him chest pains. Within a few days, however, his cough and perspiration reduced significantly, although he lost a little more weight. He tried other remedies. After taking Silica, his weight dropped further but his general health improved. After taking Arsen. alb., he coughed only slightly in the morning and evening, he produced no sputum, his chest sounded better to his doctor, and he started gaining weight. After ten weeks his appetite was good, and he could walk farther than before without feeling breathless. He felt stronger than he had for years, and was hopeful for a complete recovery.

IPECAC.

ephaelis ipecacuanha

A Portuguese friar living in Brazil in the early 17th century first recorded the medicinal properties of ipecacuanha, a traditional remedy used by Brazilian Indians. Its name is from the Portuguese for “sick-making plant,” since in large doses it causes nausea, vomiting, and even cardiac failure.In conventional medicine, drugs derived from the root are used to loosen phlegm in the respiratory tract and to induce vomiting. Ipecac. was proved by Hahnemann in 1805 and is used especially to relieve persistent nausea.

REMEDY PROFILE
Irritability is common in those who respond best to Ipecac., and children suited to the remedy may scream and howl. When unwell, these people can be capricious and hard to please, asking for things and then changing their minds. Illness can prompt them to become morose, depressed, impatient, and contemptuous of those around them. Physical symptoms generally linked with Ipecac. are persistent nausea, with or without vomiting, and a tendency to hemorrhage. Despite any vomiting, the tongue is clean and unfurred. There is often oversensitivity to movement and a constant feeling of being hot on the inside and cold on the outside. These symptoms appear rapidly, are generally intermittent, and may also include coughing fits and breathing difficulties. Ipecac. is also used for headaches, migraines, and gynecological problems linked to the general tendency to bleed very easily.

Nausea & vomiting
SYMPTOMS Persistent nausea that is not necessarily relieved by vomiting is a key symptom associated with Ipecac. There is a bloated, swollen feeling in the abdomen, and cramping, colicky pain that may be most severe around the navel, while the stomach may seem to “flop” inside the abdomen. Vomit consists mostly of undigested food or bile. Belching and excess saliva production are common, the mouth remains moist, and there is little thirst. The tongue tends to be clean and unfurred. If gastroenteritis is the cause, there may be copious, watery, greenish-colored diarrhea that contains undigested food. If the skin is itchy, with sweat forming on the brow, then the symptom picture may indicate gallbladder problems. The nausea is very enervating, and may be accompanied by a weak pulse and fainting.

Coughs & wheezing
SYMPTOMS An irritating, dry, rattling, loose cough, usually triggered by warm, humid weather. Breathing may be wheezy and asthmatic, and the chest may feel constricted.Although little phlegm may be produced,coughing may be violent and accompanied by nosebleeds, retching, gagging, nausea,vomiting, or coughing up of blood. These symptoms may be indicative of conditions such as bronchitis, whooping cough, and childhood asthma.Symptoms better For fresh air; for sitting up.Symptoms worse For heat and warmth; in the winter; for lying down; for movement.

Migraine
SYMPTOMS Migraine pain in the whole head,with severe nausea and vomiting. The pain extends to the face, teeth, and tongue.The face is pallid, or blue around the lips and eyes.Gynecological problems SYMPTOMS Extremely heavy menstrual flow,possibly with nausea and fainting. Between menstrual periods there may be irregular spotting or a sudden, gushing flow from the uterus of bright red blood that proves slow to clot. Ipecac. may also be prescribed for morning sickness, for hemorrhaging in connection with a displaced placenta, and for bleeding and nausea in the aftermath of a miscarriage.

S O U R C E D E TA I L S
O R I G I N
Native to Central and South America and cultivated particularly in Brazil; this plant’s preferred habitat is tropical rainforest.

B A C K G R O U N D
A traditional Brazilian cure for dysentery that was brought to Europe in 1672, it is still used today by herbalists for amoebic dysentery.

P R E PA R AT I O N
The root is dug up and the ?rmest dark rootlets dried, powdered, and macerated in alcohol. They are then ?ltered, diluted, and succussed.

C O M M O N N A M E
Ipecacuanha.

CARBO VEG.

Carbo vegetabilis

Charcoal’s hardness and durability have in the past made it a popular material for staking out land boundaries. Its ability to absorb gases and toxins in the body gained charcoal a reputation as a “purifier,” and in the 18th and 19th centuries it was used in dressings for skin ulcers and in mouthwashes. Hahnemann proved and published the homeopathic remedy in his Chronic Diseases (1821–34). It became known as the “corpse reviver” for its ability to restore severe collapse.

REMEDY PROFILE
People who need Carbo veg. may be in a state of physical and mental collapse. It is used for debilitated states ranging from a simple faint or fatigue to exhaustion or more serious collapse. Those affected may never have fully recovered from a previous illness. Symptoms include extreme weariness on making the least effort, indifference, and anxiety at night, along with a fear of the supernatural. Typical physical symptoms include a cold, clammy body, a sallow face, weakness, and numbness or burning pain in the limbs.A tendency to suffer from trapped gas is common. Despite usually feeling cold, people who respond to Carbo veg. like fresh air,especially if it is fanned over their faces. They may crave junk foods, coffee, sweets, and salt, and long for alcohol although it makes them feel unwell. In common with herbalists, homeopaths often give the remedy for flatulence and weak digestive functioning. Carbo veg. may also be taken for respiratory problems, or for a poor, sluggish constitution, particularly in the elderly.

Fatigue
SYMPTOMS Weakness, severe exhaustion,or low vitality. The skin is cold and pale, but the body feels hot inside, and there is a bitter taste in the mouth. Carbo veg. can be used for loss of vitality, fatigue, or shock during convalescence.

Chronic fatigue syndrome
Aching, burning pains all over the body, and swollen, tender glands. Confusion difficulty in concentrating, and anxiety may be evident, along with other symptoms of fatigue.

Indigestion & flatulence
SYMPTOMS Indigestion and flatulence that occur regardless of diet. Regurgitation of food may be accompanied by sour burps, smelly gas, diarrhea, and bloating so that the skin of the stomach is stretched taut. Overeating may trigger nausea, dizziness, fainting, and morning headaches where the head feels heavy and hot.Symptoms better For cold, fresh air; for passing gas; for burping.Symptoms worse In the morning; for lying down; for rich, fatty foods; for milk, coffee, or wine.

Breathing problems
SYMPTOMS Spasmodic cough, whooping cough, asthma, and bronchitis in the elderly.There may be cold perspiration and weakness, choking, gagging, and vomiting of mucus. A desire for fresh air is common, as is a feeling of suffocation.

Poor circulation
SYMPTOMS Reduced energy and lack of coordination due to poor circulation of oxygen around the body. The skin on the face, hands, and feet may be cold and blue.Hoarseness and a cold tongue and breath are common, and there may also be cold, puffy legs with a tendency for bleeding varicose veins to form.

S O U R C E D E TA I L S
O R I G I N
Made from silver birch, beech, or poplar trees, which grow on moors, heaths, woodlands, and mountains throughout the Northern Hemisphere.
B A C K G R O U N D
Used in traditional and conventional medicine for ulceration, septic diseases, ?atulence, and indigestion. Also known for its deodorant and disinfectant properties.

P R E PA R AT I O N
Fist-sized bits of wood are cut, heated until red hot, and sealed in an airtight earthenware jar. The resulting ash is then triturated, diluted, and succussed.

C O M M O N N A M E S
Charcoal, wood charcoal.

CANNABIS IND.

Cannabis sativa ‘Indica’

First mentioned in a Chinese herbal dating to 2700 BCE, marijuana has long been an important medicine in the herbal repertories of many cultures. By the 19th century, marijuana had become a standard painkiller in Europe. More recently, it has been prescribed as a conventional medicine in some countries to relieve nausea caused by chemotherapy and spasms due to multiple sclerosis. The plant is also an illegal recreational drug, and its prohibition extends to medicinal uses in many countries. The homeopathic remedy Cannabis ind. was proved by the American Provers’ Union in 1839 and introduced by Dr. Trinks in 1841.

REMEDY PROFILE
The behavior of those who benefit most from Cannabis ind. alternates between sweet and gentle, and desperate or even paranoid. Typical physical symptoms include a marked increase in appetite and thirst, especially for sweet foods and cold drinks. Cannabis ind. is prescribed primarily to treat abnormal psychological states, such as confusion, disorientation, loss of memory,overexcitement, unwarranted fears, or paranoia. The remedy is also given for physical conditions such as headaches, urinary-tract infections, and pain in the legs.

Disordered mental states
SYMPTOMS Marked swings in thought and mood between a gentle state and paranoia.The gentle state is marked by mild euphoria, an overactive brain, and headstrong views,particularly about esoteric subjects such as astrology and UFOs. Wonderful and enlightening ideas occur in rapid succession,but they are equally quickly forgotten. The slightest thing may trigger hysterical giggling.Prophetic dreams, out-of-body experiences, or an apparent ability to predict the future may also be experienced. In the paranoid state, there is generally fear and anxiety, particularly a fear of losing control and becoming insane. There may be disorientation, memory loss, and confusion, even when in well-known environments. Travel or relocation may cause distress. Hallucinations that distort time, space, and distance are not uncommon.

Headaches
SYMPTOMS An opening and closing sensation at the top of the head, as if shock waves are passing through the brain. The head may shake involuntarily and feel as if it is separate from the body. A stooping posture may be adopted due to a sensation of heavy pressure on the brain or to a migraine.

Urinary-tract infections
SYMPTOMS A dull, burning, aching, or stitch-like pain in the right kidney. Urine may be profuse and colorless, with erratic flow due to obstructed urination. There may be urethritis (inflammation of the urethra) with mucus discharge and burning, stinging pain.

Pain or paralysis in the legs
SYMPTOMS Shooting pains that rise up the legs when walking. Exhaustion may follow even a very short walk. Alternatively, there may be a sensation of paralysis in the lower limbs. These symptoms are frequently accompanied by a backache.

S O U R C E D E TA I L S
O R I G I N
Native to China and central western Asia,but now grown worldwide, although usually subject to legal restrictions.

B A C K G R O U N D
Important in cultures such as ancient Egypt, China, and India, as a strong analgesic, sedative, and anti-in?ammatory.

P R E PA R AT I O N
The ?owering tops and seeds are ?nely chopped, macerated in alcohol for ten days, then ?ltered, diluted, and succussed.

C O M M O N N A M E S
Marijuana, hashish, cannabis, Indian hemp, bhang bhanga.

BRYONIA

Bryonia alba

Dioscorides, the famous Greek physician of the 1st century CE,advocated bryony for gangrenous wounds, and the ancient Greeks and Romans also used it for epilepsy, vertigo, paralysis, gout, and coughs. In 17th-century England the herbalist Culpeper found bryony useful for phlegm, coughs, and shortness of breath. In 1834 Hahnemann proved the homeopathic remedy, which is used mostly for slow-starting ailments accompanied by pain on the slightest movement.

REMEDY PROFILE
Bryonia is mainly used for people who are highly irritable when ill. Often clean-living,meticulous individuals, they can be contrary and capricious if ill, wanting things that, when given, are promptly rejected. They may feel tired, taciturn, languid, and angry if disturbed. Anxiety is common, especially about financial security.The chief physical symptom treated by Bryonia is pain felt on the slightest movement.It is often accompanied by infrequent spells of great thirst, and dry lips, mouth, and eyes.Illness sets in slowly, typically after overexposure to heat or cold. Bryonia is useful for chest inflammation, pneumonia,bad headaches, and rheumatic pains. It may also be taken for some forms of constipation and breast pain.

Dry coughs
SYMPTOMS Great dryness in the mouth, throat,chest, and mucous membranes, with a tickly cough and sharp chest pains. Pressing the chest during a coughing fit may alleviate pain in the head, chest, or rib cage, as may lying still and breathing gently. Coughs may be linked to colds, pleurisy, or bronchitis.

Colds & influenza
SYMPTOMS Red, sore, swollen nose, a hoarse,constricted throat, and a dry cough. The lips are often cracked and itchy,and the mouth is dry, with a white-coated tongue. Sharp, shooting ear pains may develop, as may sore eyes with sensitivity to movement and heavy eyelids. There may be an intense, aching headache,raging thirst, and copious perspiration.

Headaches
SYMPTOMS Bursting, splitting headache over the forehead or left eye, so that even moving the eyeball hurts. Pain extends to the back of the head, then the whole head, often lasting all day. The mouth may be dry, and there may be great thirst.

Joint pain
SYMPTOMS Joints and muscles are hot, swollen,stiff, and prone to stabbing pain, usually due to gout, tenosynovitis, or arthritis, or after an injury.

Constipation
SYMPTOMS Large, hard stools that look black or burned. The rectum may be particularly dry, with burning pain after passing a stool. Rumbly,colicky pains in the abdomen are common.

S O U R C E D E TA I L S
O R I G I N
Grows mainly in hedges and woodlands of southern England, and in central and southern Europe.

B A C K G R O U N D
Used traditionally for shortness of breath,coughing, and the clearing of phlegm from the chest.

P R E PA R AT I O N
The fresh root is unearthed before the plant ?owers, chopped, pulped, macerated in alcohol for ten days, diluted, and succussed.

C O M M O N N A M E S
Bryony, white bryony, wild hops.

CANTHARIS

Cantharis vesicatoria syn. Lytta vesicatoria

The iridescent body of this beetle contains an irritant called cantharidine, which has a long, if dubious, reputation in traditional medicine, due in part to its alleged aphrodisiac properties. If taken in large doses, cantharidine is a powerful poison that attacks the urinary system. It causes vomiting, diarrhea, burning pain in the stomach and throat, and kidney damage, and can lead ultimately to death. The remedy Cantharis, proved by Hahnemann in 1805, is given for complaints accompanied by burning pain.
REMEDY PROFILE
Those who benefit most from Cantharis usually have high sex drives, which may become uncontrollable during certain illnesses. They can be restless, querulous, and difficult to get along with when ill. Irritability or insolence can even explode into paroxysms of violence or rage. In extreme cases, this may escalate into psychological problems such as intense mental confusion or mania. Cantharis is prescribed for conditions that deteriorate very rapidly. Typical symptoms are loss of appetite, burning pain in the throat or stomach, and raging thirst with an aversion to
drinking, since even a small amount of water makes the bladder pain worse. Burning cystitis and urinary tract inflammation are the main disorders for which Cantharis is used. Tenderness in the area of the kidneys, renal colic, kidney inflammation such as nephritis and pyelonephritis, and some other urinary disorders may also be eased by the remedy. It is given for sunburn, scalds, and burns if the skin has blistered, and is also used for insect bites and stings. Some digestive-tract disorders, such as gastritis, severe diarrhea, or dysentery, may respond to the remedy, as may an excessive libido.
Severe cystitis

SYMPTOMS Constant, urgent desire to urinate, with violent, spasmodic pains in the lower abdomen. Urine is scanty, hot, and bloody, and is passed drop by drop, with violent burning or cutting pains in the bladder and urethra. After urinating there is a sensationthat the bladder is not actually empty. There may be long-term urine retention, which results in a loss of muscle tone in the bladder. Inflammation of the genital area may overly stimulate the libido.
Burns & scalds

SYMPTOMS Burns, sunburn, and scalding, if the skin blisters. Cantharis is also prescribed forblisters that resemble burns.
Insect bites & stings

SYMPTOMS Unusually sharp pain at the site of a sting or bite, which has a black center. Anger, restlessness, excitability, or aggravationmay also be evident after the bite or sting.
Gastritis, diarrhea & dysentery
SYMPTOMS Violent, burning pain, distended abdomen, and possibly diarrhea accompanied by a scalding sensation. There may be an urge to empty the bowels when urinating, a loss of appetite, and irritability.
Excessive libido

SYMPTOMS Uncontrollable, inappropriatesexual arousal. An inflamed genital area, due to urinary tract infection, may stimulate sexual activity. Sexual fantasies may bestrong enough to disturb sleep.
S O U R C E D E TA I L S
O R I G I N
Found in southern Europe, notably in Spain and southern France, as well as in western Asia. Feeds on the leaves of white poplar,ash, privet, elder, and lilac trees.
B A C K G R O U N D
Traditionally used for warts, baldness, arousing the libido, and inducing miscarriage. The Greek “father of medicine,” Hippocrates, advocated Spanish fly for dropsy in the 5th century BCE.
P R E PA R AT I O N
Whole, live beetles are killed by heating. They are then macerated in alcohol and left to stand for five days, before being filtered, diluted, and succussed.
C O M M O N N A M E S
Spanish fly, blister beetle.

APIS

Apis mellifera


A 9,000-year-old cave painting depicting a figure taking honey from a hive is the oldest record of our relationship with the honey bee. Bees provide us with more than just honey, however: beeswax is refined and used in ointments and polishes; propolis (a resin collected by bees from tree buds) is used medicinally; and royal jelly is taken as a nutritional supplement. The homeopathic remedy, proved in 1852 by Dr. Frederick Humphries, is often used to treat insect bites and stings.


REMEDY PROFILE


Homeopaths easily recognize people likely to benefit from Apis because, in some ways, their behavior echoes that of bees. They tend to be fussy, restless, irritable types who are hard to please. Frantic hours spent cleaning and sorting, sometimes clumsily, often accomplish little. A vulnerable side reveals oversensitivity, sadness, weepiness, and an aversion to being alone. This need for company gives this type of person a reputation as a “queen bee” who organizes everyone. They reserve a sting in their tails for those who upset them. Fiercely territorial, they can be highly jealous or suspicious of newcomers. Apis is prescribed generally for symptoms that start on the right side and move to the left side. Ailments treated with Apis include urticaria (hives), insect bites or stings, and burns. It is used for urinary infections such as cystitis, and for edema or urine retention, especially in newborn babies. Inflammation of the eyes, mouth, or throat, and fever may also be helped.


Urticaria, bites & stings


SYMPTOMS The skin is itchy, swollen, and highly sensitive to touch, with stinging pain. It may be puffy and blotchy, with raised bumps that seem full of water. Urticaria maydevelop after a chill or fever.


Cystitis


SYMPTOMS Burning, stinging pain in the urethra and bladder on passing urine. The need to urinate is frequent, but only meager amounts of urine are passed. Kidney inflammation with puffy eyes and a lack of thirst may also respond to Apis.


Edema


SYMPTOMS Swelling of body tissues due to fluid retention. The swelling may be associated with arthritis (accompanied by the typical burning or stinging pain), meningitis, pleurisy, or peritonitis.


Inflammation of the eyes, lips,mouth, or throat


SYMPTOMS Inflammation of the eyes, mouth, or throat. The eyes are red, sore, and sensitive to light. They may water profusely with hot tears. The mouth and throat are swollen, and are subject to burning pains. Any swelling in the throat may obstruct breathing. There is a marked lack of thirst.


Fever


SYMPTOMS Fever with a total lack of thirst and possible sore throat. There may be a severe headache with stabbing pains, in which the head feels hot. There may also be chills, and the skin is dry and sensitive.


S O U R C E D E TA I L S
O R I G I N
Made from the native European honey bee, which can today be found throughout Europe and in Canada, the US, and many other countries.
B A C K G R O U N D
Bee-derived substances such as beeswax and honey have long been used in many medicinal traditions, including ancient Greek, Western, Chinese, and Unani.
P R E PA R AT I O N
The remedy is made from the whole female bee, including the stinger, or from the stinger alone. The insect is crushed, dissolved in alcohol, diluted, and succussed.
C O M M O N N A M E
Honey bee.

ARNICA

Arnica montana

The healing properties of this aromatic perennial have been recognized for over 400 years. Arnica is anti-inflammatory and promotes tissue repair. It has been used extensively in European folk medicine as an external remedy for muscle pain, and was once also prescribed as an internal treatment for dysentery and gout. Potentially toxic, its internal use is now largely limited to homeopathy. Proved by Hahnemann and published in his Materia Medica Pura (1821–34), Arnica is used to promote healing and help control bleeding. It is used mostly for shock, injury, and pain.


REMEDY PROFILE


People who respond best to this remedy may actually deny that they are ill, ignoring the severity of their condition. They generally prefer to be left alone and tend to be agitated, restless, and morose. Poor concentration and forgetfulness are typical, as are nightmares and a morbid imagination.Arnica is usually given as a first-aid remedy following an accident, surgery, bereavement, childbirth, or dental treatment. It is also used for joint pain, fever, and some skin problems.


Shock, injury & postoperativecare


SYMPTOMS Acute and chronic consequences of shock, injury, or surgery, particularly bleeding, bruising, swelling, and aching pains. The body may feel battered and highly sensitive to discomfort, to the point where even a bed seems too hard. Arnica may also be prescribed to treat injuries such as a black eye or a foreign object in an eye, concussion, and nosebleeds.


Post-childbirth pain
SYMPTOMS Bruised, aching pain in the vagina that may be especially distressing at night.

Tooth & gum pain


SYMPTOMS Pain in the teeth or sore, bruised, and bleeding gums following injury or dental work may be treated with Arnica.


Joint & muscle pain


SYMPTOMS Arthritic pain, sprains, or strains to the joints, which feel bruised, sore, and sensitive. Arnica is also taken to ease swelling, bruising, and pain after a ligament tear or bone injury. Alternatively, it is used for aches in the muscles due to cramps, unaccustomed exercise, or overexertion.


Fever


SYMPTOMS A hot head, cold body, and exhaustion. Stools, flatulence, and perspiration tend to have a characteristic odor of rotten eggs, and there may be incontinence of stools and urine. Arnica is also prescribed for recurring fevers such as typhoid or malarial fever.


Skin conditions


SYMPTOMS Hard, dry, swollen skin due to insect bites, bed sores, small, painful boils, red, blistering skin eruptions, or varicose ulcers.


S O U R C E D E TA I L S


O R I G I N

Grows in alpine pastures and woodlands of the Pyrenees, Siberia, and central Europe, especially Switzerland and Germany.
B A C K G R O U N D
Traditionally used externally as an ointment to improve local blood supply and speed healing in the treatment of bruises, sprains, and muscle pain.
P R E PA R AT I O N
The whole flowering plant, including the root, is steeped in alcohol, filtered, diluted, and succussed.
C O M M O N N A M E S
Arnica, leopard’s bane, sneezewort, mountain tobacco, mountain daisy.

ANACARDIUM OR

Anacardium orientale syn. Semecarpus anacardium


The Latin name of this shrub derives from the ancient Greek kardia, or “heart,” inspired by the plant’s heart-shaped, shiny, black nut. The nut yields a milky juice that turns black after it is exposed to air. In southeast Asia this juice is combined with chalk to make an ink for marking patterns on fabric, hence the plant’s common name, the marking-nut tree. The homeopathic remedy Anacardium or. was proved by Hahnemann in 1835. It is prescribed for both psychological and physical disorders.


REMEDY PROFILE


Anacardium or. is traditionally used for memory disturbance and a disturbed psychological state. It is considered especially apt for those who feel they are experiencing a conflict of will or are trapped between extremes of good and evil, sometimes described as “a demon sitting on one shoulder, an angel on the other.” These individuals are typically prone to low self- esteem, or may exhibit hard, angry, cruel behavior. They may suspect that they are being pursued, or experience dreamlike states. Typical physical symptoms include a feeling of constricted pain, as if bands are wrapped tightly around the body, or as if the gut or anus is plugged. In this connection, the remedy is used for certain conditions of the digestive tract. It is also used for skin irritations marked by severe itching and burning, and for minor chest pain.


Psychological problems


SYMPTOMS A state of inner conflict expressed in contrary and changeable behavior. This conflict may provoke behavior that is cold- hearted, violent, and cruel, with a compulsive urge to curse. Exaggerated affection toward a person or pet may be followed by cruelty or violence. An inferiority complex may be evident . There may be an extremely poor memory, a lack of concentration, and general absent-mindedness, especially at times of stress— for example, when studying for exams. In extreme cases, symptoms may be linked to a mental illness, such as depression, manic depression, or schizophrenia.



Low self-esteem


SYMPTOMS Great feelings of unworthiness, irresolution, and low self-confidence, possibly with an inferiority complex, due to an inner conflict of will. Depending on the severity of the mental state, there may even be infrequent or ongoing self-abuse. Behavior patterns may be associated with prior subjection to abuse,violence, humiliation, or oppression.



Digestive disorders


SYMPTOMS Hemorrhoids, indigestion, and constipation with a painful constricted feeling, as if the gut or anus were plugged and the body wrapped by tight bands. The pain may stop after eating but resumes a few hours later.



Skin conditions

SYMPTOMS Eczema and possibly patches of blistered skin, often on the forearms, causing intense itching and burning. The skin is highly sensitive. Warts are also treated with the remedy.



Chest pain


SYMPTOMS Sharp or pricking pain in the heart, possibly with a sense of pressure in the chest,as if it is bound by tight bands or weighed down by a small plug. An uneasy sensation may develop in the chest, possibly involving palpitations.


S O U R C E D E TA I L S
O R I G I N
Native to Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Indian subcontinent, and found growing in dry, mountainous forest areas.
B A C K G R O U N D
Arabian physicians traditional y used the juice of the marking nut to treat mental il ness, memory loss, paralysis, and spasms.
P R E PA R AT I O N
The ripe, dried fruit is macerated in alcohol for at least five days, before being filtered and then repeatedly diluted and succussed.
C O M M O N N A M E
Marking-nut tree.

ALOE

Aloe ferox
The medicinal properties of the various species of aloe have been exploited for centuries. The ancient Greeks and Romans considered aloe to be a valuable tonic and purgative. The purgative quality of dried aloe gel is still valued today in herbal medicine, but the plant is probably more familiar now as the source of a soothing and effective skin lotion. The Aloe remedy was proved by Buchner in 1821 and by the homeopath Dr. Helbig in 1833, and is used today mainly for digestive complaints, particularly diarrhea.
REMEDY PROFILE
Homeopaths consider Aloe when the psychological traits exhibited include weariness, a reluctance to work, and great irritability, especially in cloudy weather. Dissatisfaction and anger are commonly directed internally, possibly producing constipation. Moreover, the person may dream about stools or involuntary soiling. Beer is a typical craving, despite the fact that it usually exacerbates any physical symptoms. Aloe is most frequently prescribed for disorders of the large intestine. It may be taken for congestion in the pelvic organs and the head, and is also thought to counter fatigue, hemorrhoids, and the possible consequences of a sedentary lifestyle, particularly in the elderly.
Diarrhea
SYMPTOMS A sudden urge to pass stools, which is at its strongest particularly early in the morning, possibly forcing an early rise from bed at around 5 a.m. Accompanied by hot, explosive gas, the stools may contain mucus or jellylike lumps. They may be passed involuntarily, giving rise to a feeling of insecurity in the rectum (this may also be an indication of colitis). Diarrhea may alternate with constipation. It is marked by incomplete, unsatisfactory stools and heavy
pressure in the lower abdominal area. Symptoms generally tend to be worse prior to menstruation, or may primarily affect the elderly or those with sedentary habits.
Hemorrhoids
SYMPTOMS Hemorrhoids that resemble small bunches of grapes and protrude from the anus. They are typically accompanied by soreness and tenderness. There may be a painful, burning sensation in the rectum and anus, and flatulent diarrhea.
Hepatitis
SYMPTOMS A sensation of congestion and heat in the liver. There may be rumbling and distention in the abdomen, causing it to feel full, heavy, bloated, and hot. An accumulation of gas may accompany this feeling of distention, as well as strain and tension that is felt in the area between the pubic bone and the coccyx.
Headaches
SYMPTOMS Severe, painful headaches that seem to trigger a sensation of congestion in the face
and in the head. These headaches frequently appear to alternate with the occurrence of hemorrhoids or diarrhea, or may be associated with pain in the lower back.
S O U R C E D E TA I L S
O R I G I N
Native to southern Africa, particularly the northern, eastern, and western Capes, but now cultivated throughout the world. Found in fertile, well-drained areas with sandy soil and direct sunlight.
B A C K G R O U N D
Traditional y, aloe gel has been used as a laxative and purgative. Various research trials
conducted between 1979 and 1995 found that extracts from the plant boost immune- system functioning, and may even help to treat cancer and irritable bowel syndrome.
P R E PA R AT I O N
The juice is extracted from the plant and dried to make a hard resin, which is then powdered and steeped in alcohol. The mixture is left to macerate for at least five days, after which it is filtered, and then repeatedly diluted and succussed.
C O M M O N N A M E S
Aloe, Cape aloe.

ALLIUM CEPA

Allium cepa
In ancient Greece, the onion was esteemed and eaten in vast quantities. One of the oldest cultivated plants, its decongestant, diuretic, and other medicinal properties have been utilized by many cultures over the centuries. In the Middle Ages its strong smell was thought to prevent infection, and it was hung outside houses to ward off the plague. Onion causes the eyes and nose to water, and is used homeopathically to treat conditions that cause the same reaction in the body, such as colds and influenza. The remedy Allium cepa was proved in 1847
by Dr. Constantine Hering.

REMEDY PROFILE
Melancholy, anxiety, f ear of pain, and dullness of mind are not uncommon in individuals who respond well to Allium cepa, but there are no marked emotional symptoms indicative of the remedy. Allium cepa is used primarily for the treatment of coughs and colds characterized by profuse, watery catarrh that leaves the skin irritated and sore. Symptoms usually develop following exposure to cold weather and damp winds. They may be associated with hay fever,especially if accompanied by sensitivity to the scent of flowers. Allium cepa is also used to treat burning neuralgic pain that alternatesfrom one side of the body to the other.
Catarrh
SYMPTOMS Profuse, watery catarrh that burns the skin of the nose and upper lip, causing it to become raw, red, and painful. The nose may literally “drip like a faucet.” Constant, violent sneezing is common, as is congestion that alternates between nostrils or affects only one nostril. Allium cepa is used for these symptoms in influenza, colds, and hay fever, but further remedies are needed to treat any actual susceptibility to hay fever itself.
Eye irritation
SYMPTOMS An irritating discharge that causes an urge to rub the eyes. The eyes are red, swollen, and itchy, and possibly extremely sensitive to light.
Throat & chest infections
SYMPTOMS Laryngitis with hoarseness and a raw, sore throat, or a cough characterized by a splitting, tearing sensation in the throat. There may be an urge to repress the cough, as it constantly irritates the throat. Pain may extend to the ear. Symptoms may develop rapidly on exposure to cold air, or after a coldaccompanied by labored, wheezy breathing.
Neuralgic pains
SYMPTOMS Sharp, burning pain on alternating sides of the body, mainly in the face, head, neck, and chest. It may be due to an earache, headaches behind the brow, or a toothache in the molars. Allium cepa is also used forphantom limb pains after amputation.
S O U R C E D E TA I L S
O R I G I N
Native to the Northern Hemisphere, and cultivated for centuries in the Middle East. Now grown worldwide as a vegetable.
B A C K G R O U N D
Widely used in traditional medicine: as a poultice for chilblains, infections, and arthritis; internally for gastric and bronchial infections; and to thin and purify the blood.
P R E PA R AT I O N
The whole, mature bulb is gathered in summer and chopped finely. It is steeped in alcohol for ten days and shaken repeatedly, before being filtered, diluted, and succussed.
C O M M O N N A M E
Onion.

AGARICUS

Agaricus muscarius syn. Amanita muscaria


This toxic toadstool’s common name, fly agaric, is derived from its traditional use as a fly poison. Fly agaric contains hallucinogens that were used by Siberian shamans to induce visionary states, and it may have formed the basis of the ancient Hindu soma drink and the Zoroastrian haoma drink, due to its ability to increase strength and stamina. The fungus has sedative properties in small doses but is highly toxic: a severe overdose can be fatal, while a mild overdose can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, breathing problems, and confusion, although recovery usually takes place within 24 hours. The homeopathic remedy was proved in 1828 by Dr. Stapf, and it remains the only medicinal use of fly agaric.


REMEDY PROFILE


Those in need of Agaricus may be anxious, insecure, or fearful, and have morbid thoughts about death. Anxiety about health may lead to an obsessive fear of having conditions such as cancer. Symptoms typically include great lethargy and an aversion to conversation, or delirium and loquacity to the point of ecstasy, elation, or hypomania, and disturbed sense of perspective.People for whom Agaricus is most suitable are particularly sensitive to the cold when ill. Some symptoms are worse prior to thunderstorms and after sexual intercourse. Agaricus is taken as a remedy for disorders of the nervous system that cause trembling, itching, and twitching and jerking of the limbs. Such conditions include epilepsy, chorea, and multiple sclerosis. Agaricus can be prescribed for the treatment of the delirium tremens associated with alcoholism, and for the effects of senile dementia. It is also used to treat chilblains.


Nervous-system disorders


SYMPTOMS Twitching and spasms in almost any muscle group in the body, caused by degenerative neurological disorders such as senile dementia or multiple sclerosis. Symptoms tend to manifest themselves diagonally from one side of the body to the other, and may be accompanied by pain that is out of proportion to the clinical condition. There may also be sharp, shooting pains, with possible convulsions and spasms. Movementsmay be very shaky, with clumsiness, awkwardness, and a staggering gait. Further symptoms may include facial tics or Bell’s palsy, fainting, chorea, neuralgia, and sciatica.


Chorea


SYMPTOMS Twitching, erratic, unpredictable limb movements and a sensation that thelimbs are detached from the body.


Parkinson’s disease


SYMPTOMS General weakness with trembling and twitching limbs that exhibit the typical nervous symptoms. The spine may be particularly sensitive to touch. Further symptoms may include a mental decline intogreat anxiety, despair, fear, and hypochondria.


Chilblains


SYMPTOMS Chilblains with burning and itching. The skin shows signs of redness and swelling.


Alcoholism


SYMPTOMS Delirium tremens with marked giddiness and an impulse to fall backward. The face is puffy and red, but not hot. There may be a marked increase in appetite.


S O U R C E D E TA I L S


O R I G I N

Grows in dry pastures and woods during summer in Scotland, Scandinavia, and other parts of Europe, as well as in Asia and the US.


B A C K G R O U N D


Has been used throughout history as a hallucinogen, as a method of contacting the spirit world, and as a means of increasing human strength and endurance.


P R E PA R AT I O N


The whole, fresh fungus or the dried cap is washed thoroughly and ground into a mash. It is then steeped in alcohol before beingstrained, diluted, and succussed.

ACONITE

Aconitum napellus
Historically, the deadly juices derived from this plant were used as an arrow poison, hence the name aconite, from the Greek acon, or “dart.” Until the homeopathic remedy was proved by Hahnemann in 1805, aconite was used only externally in medicine. Aconite became a popular alternative to the contemporarypractice of blood-letting for the treatment of acute fevers and inflammations.
REMEDY PROFILE :-
Homeopaths consider using Aconite for people who are excitable, generally healthy, and strong but develop illness rapidly and exhibit a marked sinking of strength. Physical and mental symptoms are like a great storm, arising suddenly but also subsiding quickly. Patterns of behavior are characterized by intense fear, anxiety, and restlessness, with susceptibility to extreme phobias, panic attacks, and a fear of death. Physical symptoms often develop as a result of shock, fear, or exposure to cold, dry winds or, occasionally, intensely hot weather. Acute infections, such as colds and coughs, can be treated with the remedy, particularly at their onset. Aconite may also be prescribed for anxiety states, and for mothers and infants during or immediately after childbirth.
Acute respiratory infections
SYMPTOMS Cold or influenza symptoms that set in fiercely and rapidly, especially after exposure to cold, dry winds. There may be catarrh or phlegm and a sore throat, possibly a fever that makes the skin hot and dry. Croup and other acute chest infections may give rise to breathlessness, burning heat in the chest, and a hoarse, dry, barking cough. Sleep is frequently
restless and agitated; at such times, the face may be hot, flushed, and swollen, although upon
rising it may become very pale. Severe headaches may develop, accompanied by raging thirst, often for cold drinks. The mouth may taste bitter, so that everything except water tastes bad. The skin is hypersensitive, causing a marked aversion to being touched.
Eye & ear infections
SYMPTOMS Inflamed eyes with aching, burning pain, typically due to injury or conjunctivitis. The eyes may be oversensitive to light. Ear infections develop rapidly, causing intense pain, bright red ears, and hypersensitivity to noise. Symptoms may be accompanied by a high fever and restless, fearful agitation.
Fear, shock & anxiety
SYMPTOMS Acute fear and anxiety accompanied by great restlessness and shocked, staring eyes with dilated pupils. Symptoms may be due to shock after witnessing a violent or frightening event, or may be triggered by phobias, such as a fear of flying, of heights, or of enclosed spaces. The fear or anxiety may trigger recurrent panic attacks, with palpitations, numbness, and tingling in the body. They may accompanied by a fear of death and a fear of people, with a strong desire to avoid company.
Problems in labor
SYMPTOMS Strong fear of impending death experienced by a mother during labor. There may be urine retention in either the mother or baby, or in both the mother and baby, immediately after the birth of the child, especially if the mother experienced fear during labor.
S O U R C E D E TA I L S
O R I G I N
Grows in damp, shady, mountainous regions of Europe and Central Asia. Also cultivated as a garden plant.
B A C K G R O U N D
Used externally, except on broken skin, to ease bruising and joint pain, but rarely used internally due to its toxic nature.
P R E PA R AT I O N
Whole plant, including the root, is unearthed during the flowering season, chopped, and macerated in alcohol.
C O M M O N N A M E S
Aconite, monk’s-hood, wolf’s-bane, blue rocket, friar’s-cap.

HEALTH IN ADOLESCENCE

Adolescence describes the transition from childhood to adulthood, and is ushered in by hormonal changes that occur at about 10 or 11 years of age in girls and a year or so later in boys. Height and weight are gained during adolescence, but more significant is the progression to sexual maturity. In boys, this takes the form of an enlargement
of the genitals and the larynx, and the appearance of body hair; in girls, it involves the development of breasts and body hair, and the onset of menstrual periods. Emotionally and intellectually, adolescence is a time of great change as a teenager veers between dependence and independence, and peers very often become more important role models than parents. Many of the disorders encountered during adolescence result from the great hormonal changes that take place at this stage of life. Ailments may be exacerbated by emotional, academic, and peer-group pressures, and may require long-term, constitutional homeopathic treatment in some cases. Homeopathic remedies and
other self-help measures can help address bodily imbalances in the short term.


INFECTIOUS MONONUCLEOSIS

This viral infection is spread by personal contact. It starts like influenza, with fever, sore throat, headache, and general aches and pains. Within a day or two the lymph glands, especially those in the throat, become swollen and painful and the tonsils enlarged and dirty-looking. There may be a rash, and—in rare cases—jaundice. Although symptoms usually wear off in two or three weeks, full recovery may take longer and lethargy may last for months. Stress, such as that generated by overworking
for exams or the breakup of a relationship, may increase susceptibility to mononucleosis.

SELF-HELP Rest in bed until acute symptoms abate, after which avoid strenuous exercise and do only 75 percent of what you are capable of doing, both physically and mentally, until recovery is complete.

CAUTION See a doctor for a blood test to confirm the diagnosis.


BODY ODOR

Sweat glands in the groin and underarms become functional at about 15 or 16 in girls and a year or two later in boys. Most anxiety about body odor occurs as a result of the unfamiliar smell rather than an excess of perspiration. The odor becomes offensive when bacteria breed in the stale sweat. Perspiration may be increased by stress and during menstruation in girls.

SELF-HELP Wash thoroughly every day using alkaline soap, which will discourage the proliferation of bacteria.

CAUTION If symptoms persist, consult a doctor.


EXAM NERVES

This describes a state of extreme anxiety about taking exams that almost amounts to a phobia. Psychological symptoms include a feeling of panic and an inability to concentrate. Physical symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and headache.The condition may be exacerbated by other problems—for example, difficulty in studying at home or pressure to achieve high grades. Constitutional homeopathic treatment may be required.

SELF-HELP Time management is the key to controlling anxiety. Start studying well in advance; draw up a timetable that divides subjects into manageable units and covers all topics adequately; and always include time out. Also, make sure that you get enough rest.Remedies should be taken on the day of the exam but also for some
days before whenever symptoms appear.

CAUTION If symptoms persist, consult a doctor.

CHILDREN’S HEALTH AND HOMEOPATHY

Babyhood lasts from birth to one year old, a period of extremely rapid growth. The birth weight of a baby can double within six months and triple within a year. By one
year, most babies can stand. Childhood as a stage of human development extends roughly from one to twelve years old. During this period the immune system flexes its muscles,
so to speak, in readiness for puberty and adulthood. Illnesses contracted in childhood help to provide the body with the resistance to, and ultimately immunity against,
many diseases in later life. Parents often prefer to treat their children with gentle, natural products to reduce the risk of side-effects, resorting to conventional drugs only when a child’s immune system is unable to cope with extremely serious ailments. Unless there is a congenital, genetic disability, a child’s immune system should respond well to homeopathic treatment. In most cases, a child’s vital force will enable him or her to deal with many common threats to childhood health. Homeopathic remedies are easily administered to children, and can help them bounce back to health quickly and efficiently.


COLIC
Colic is believed to be spasm of the intestines that causes a baby to scream, pull up its legs, and turn red. Colic occurs at about three months of age, usually in the evening, and for several hours. It may be aggravated by the mother’s tension or her diet (if she is breast-feeding), or by the baby gulping milk or swallowing air.

SELF-HELP If breast-feeding, avoiding foods such as citrus fruits,
strong spices, caffeine, legumes, and cows’-milk products may be
helpful. If bottle-feeding, enlarge the nipple hole.

CAUTION If the baby vomits or has diarrhea, see a doctor within
12 hours. If the baby is pale and limp, call 911.


DIAPER RASH
A baby’s buttocks, genitals, and even thighs may become red and sore due to contact with soiled diapers. This is caused by irritating chemicals released from urine and feces, or in the detergent used to wash nondisposable diapers. The rash may develop into candidiasis as a secondary infection, especially if a baby or breast-feeding mother is taking antibiotics.

SELF-HELP Wash the baby’s bottom with a solution of calendula and hypericum, dry well, and apply calendula cream. Change the baby’s diapers frequently.

CAUTION If the condition does not improve, consult a doctor.


TEETHING

Teething describes the discomfort that may arise during the eruption from the gums of a baby’s milk teeth. This usually starts at the age of about six months and continues until approximately the end of the child’s third year. Symptoms include sore gums, irritability, and upset stomach.

SELF-HELP Combination R tissue salts may be given throughout the teething period.

CAUTION If there is a high fever do not assume that it is a symptom of the teething, and consult a doctor.


TEMPER TANTRUMS

A young child has outbursts of anger, shouting, and crying when thwarted. The causes may be emotional tension within the family, a lack of parental affection, inconsistent disciplining by parents, which may produce insecurity, or simply a child testing the boundaries. Tantrums are exacerbated by teething, allergy, or digestive ailments.

SELF-HELP Discipline a child consistently, and avoid arguments. Give the child plenty of attention except during a tantrum, when unacceptable behavior is best ignored. Distract the child from the undesirable behavior.

CAUTION If problems persist, ask a doctor about family therapy.

SLEEPLESSNESS

Newborn babies need about 16 hours of sleep, 2-year-olds 12 hours, 6-year-olds 10 hours, and 12-year-olds 9 hours. Sleeplessness in babies may be due to being hot or cold, hunger, a dirty diaper, teething, colic, or too much stimulation. In older
children it may be caused by being hot or cold, irregular bedtimes, caffeine in carbonated drinks, other food allergy, noise, stress, or anxiety. Nightmares may result from watching television or videos.

SELF-HELP Keep a baby’s or young child’s room at 64–68°F (16–20°C). Establish a bedtime routine: bath, last feeding, then bed, at the same time every day, and avoid overstimulation. If a child wakes frequently during the night and becomes overtired, bring bedtime forward by 15 minutes every 3 nights until the child sleeps through. Maintain this bedtime, and then gradually put it back by 15-minute intervals. Look for
the underlying causes of sleeplessness. Do not punish a child by sending him or her to a bedroom, which will acquire bad associations.

CAUTION If the problem persists, consult a doctor.


BED-WETTING (NOCTURNAL ENURESIS)

By the end of their second year, most children have a degree of bladder control. Daytime control is usually achieved between 18 months and 3 years of age: nighttime control may take another year. About 10 percent of 4- to 5-year-olds wet the bed regularly. Primary bedwetting means a child has never been dry at night. This may be due to immaturity of the nervous system or to psychological reasons—for example, a child’s diapers may not have been changed often enough, so that he or she did not learn what it felt like to be dry. Secondary bed-wetting means a child was dry for a time but then starts to wet the bed again—because of emotional stress, for example.

SELF-HELP With primary bed-wetting, encourage a child of 7 or over to take control—by changing soiled sheets, for example.

CAUTION If there is a burning sensation on passing urine with secondary
bed-wetting, see a doctor within 48 hours.


FEVER

A rise in body temperature above 98°F (37°C) usually indicates that the body is fighting infection. In young children, however, before the temperature regulation mechanism has matured, temperature may rise simply because the child is overheated. Other symptoms of fever include restlessness and hot skin.

SELF-HELP Remove the child’s clothes and sponge him or her all over with tepid water. Open the windows or use a fan to cool the air. Provide plenty of fluids. If the child’s temperature rises above 102°F (39°C), or if there is a history of febrile convulsions (seizures induced by high temperature), give children’s acetaminophen.

CAUTION If the child suffers a febrile convulsion—abnormal breathing and limb movements, rolling eyes, and a loss of consciousness— try to lower the child’s temperature and consult a doctor. If the child is unconscious for more than five minutes, call Doctor. If fever is accompanied by symptoms of meningitis (inflammation of the membranes around the brain)—severe headache, nausea and vomiting, abnormal drowsiness, oversensitivity to light, a stiff neck, and a rash that does not fade when pressure is applied—call Doctor.

GLUE EAR

Recurrent infections may result in overactivity of the mucous membrane lining the middle ear and inadequate drainage via the eustachian tube. This results in a build-up of sticky fluid and the poor transmission of sounds, hence reduced hearing. Glue ear may
also be due to allergy. The insertion of a grommet (a small tube passed through the eardrum) may be necessary to drain the fluid and aerate the middle ear.

SELF-HELP If symptoms persist, investigate the possibility of allergy to food or atmospheric irritants. If a child is catarrhal, eliminate dairy products from the diet, but only for one month.

CAUTION If deafness persists, see a doctor within a month.


TONSILLITIS

The tonsils are two sacs of lymphatic tissue at the back of the throat that form part of the body’s immune system. They often become infected, especially during childhood. Symptoms include sore or painful throat, fever, and general malaise. The tonsils look bright red at first, then become covered with a slimy, whitish coating. The glands in the neck may become enlarged.

SELF-HELP Encourage the child to rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take garlic preparations. Apply alternate hot and cold compresses around the neck. Gargling with sage tea may soothe the soreness or pain in the throat.

CAUTION If symptoms persist for more than 48 hours, see a doctor. If
temperature rises above 102°F (39°C), see a doctor within 12 hours.


CROUP

Resulting from an infection of the larynx, epiglottis, or trachea, or from an obstruction of the airway, croup causes a sudden narrowing of the larynx, which produces hoarseness, wheezing, stridor (grunting while breathing), and a distinctive, barking cough.

SELF-HELP Humidify the bedroom or, during a coughing fit, put the child in a bathroom with all hot faucets on. Stay with the child.

CAUTION If there is fever, call a doctor within two hours. If stridor is acute with no sign of infection and there are breathing difficulties, call Doctor.


WHOOPING COUGH

This highly infectious, bacterial illness is serious in young children, and is occasionally fatal in babies. The incubation period is 1–2 weeks. A child is most infectious during the first week, and may remain infectious for up to three weeks. A fever is followed by spasmodic coughing characterized by a whooping noise. Complications include pneumonia and brain damage.

CAUTION If you suspect that a child has contracted whooping cough, see a doctor within 48 hours. Antibiotics can minimize severity, but follow up with an acidophilic supplement, such as live yogurt, to reestablish beneficial intestinal bacteria. If a child turns blue during coughing, see a doctor within two hours.

CHICKEN POX

This highly infectious, viral disease is spread in droplets of mucus expelled in coughs and sneezes from an infected child or an adult with shingles. Incubation is 13–17 days. Symptoms are a slight fever for 24 hours, followed by the eruption of a rash and a worsening of the fever. Clusters of small, red, itchy spots evolve into fluid-filled blisters, which heal in 6–10 days. A child is infectious from just before the onset of fever until all the spots heal. Scratched spots may become infected and leave pockmarks. Most children recover completely, but the virus may lie dormant and
be triggered in adulthood as shingles.

SELF-HELP To soothe the spots, rub in honey or vitamin E cream on unbroken skin, dab on baking soda solution (1 tsp soda to ¾ cup water), or take an oatmeal herbal bath.

CAUTION If you suspect that your child has chicken pox, consult a doctor within 24 hours. If the temperature is still high two days after the rash appears, or if the child seems very ill and chesty, see a doctor within two hours because of a risk of pneumonia.

MEASLES

A highly infectious, viral disease, measles is spread in droplets of mucus expelled in coughs and sneezes. The incubation period is about ten days, after which the first symptoms develop—an inflamed throat, runny nose, dry cough, red and watering eyes,
and fever. After 3–4 days, dark red spots appear, which may join up to form blotches. A child is infectious from the first symptoms until five days after the rash develops. Complications include acute middle-ear infection, bronchitis, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), and febrile convulsions.

SELF-HELP Give the child plenty of water and a light diet until the runny nose and the cough clear up. Treat as for fever. Bathe the eyes with a saline solution (1 tsp salt to ¾ cup boiled, cooled water).

CAUTION If fever persists, or if the child feels ill after the rash begins
to fade or has an earache, see a doctor within 12 hours.


MUMPS

A viral infection of certain salivary glands (the parotids in front of the ear and the submandibulars in the lower jaw), mumps is spread by droplets of mucus expelled in coughs and sneezes. The incubation period is 2–3 weeks and a child may be infectious for a week before the symptoms appear. These include fever, headache, and pain in front of the ears as the glands become swollen. The swelling subsides within ten days, during which time a child is still infectious. Complications may include meningitis or inflammation of the pancreas, ovaries, or testes. Rarely, the effect of this disorder
on the reproductive organs results in sterility.

SELF-HELP Avoid acidic drinks, such as citrus fruit juices, since these will stimulate the salivary glands, causing pain.

CAUTION If there is a severe headache, oversensitivity to light, confusion, rowsiness, or any other symptoms of meningitis, see a doctor within two hours. If the testicles or ovaries are painful, see a doctor within 12 hours.

SKIN DISORDER

The skin accounts for 16 percent of the total weight of the human body and as such may be described as its largest organ. Stretched out flat, it would cover 15–20 square feet
(2–2.6 square meters). It protects the internal organs of the body from environmental impact and injury, and acts as a sensory organ, regulating body temperature and metabolism for example, the control of bodily fluids and elimination of waste.The skin contains blood vessels, lymph vessels, and nerve endings that perform its sensory function, glands that manufacture sebum to keep the skin supple and waterproof, and follicles that produce hair and nails. Homeopathic practitioners tend to regard skin complaints as an outer manifestation of what is going on within the body, and look for underlying causes of skin eruptions. Stress,poor diet, and allergies, as well as infections, may all cause outbreaks. Skin conditions may be aggravated by factors
such as lack of exercise; eating sugary foods, refined carbohydrates, or other foods; caffeine and alcohol; constipation; the use of cosmetics; and contact irritants
in the environment.


MILD ACNE

The term acne includes common blemishes such as blackheads (comedones), whiteheads (milia), and yellowheads (pustules). Acne is associated with high hormone levels—for example, at puberty—that increase production of sebum, the skin’s oily secretion, leading to clogged pores. If pores become infected, pimples form. Acne may be exacerbated by taking certain drugs or by stress. If there is a firm swelling beneath the skin, treat as for boils (see below).

SELF-HELP
Sunlight in moderation and fresh air are beneficial. Avoid refined carbohydrates, chocolate, cheese, nuts, carbonated citrus drinks, and processed foods. Wash affected areas thoroughly twice a day. Do not scrub the skin, since this spreads infection, or pick pimples and risk scarring. Use commercial preparations sparingly.

CAUTION
If there is scarring or large, fluid-filled pimples (cysts), treat as for rosacea. If pimples persist for 14 days, or are causing distress, see a doctor.


MILD ECZEMA

Mild eczema is common, especially in children. The skin is inflamed and itchy, possibly with small pimples and scaly patches. If scratched, the skin may bleed. Eczema is commonly found in the flexures, such as the bend of an elbow, and on the face, but it can occur anywhere. It may be an allergic reaction to a variety of chemical irritants, plants, food, or metals, or it may be hereditary. Eczema may be exacerbated by stress, hormonal changes, or dietary factors.

SELF-HELP
Avoid known irritants. Use moisturizing ointments, preferably paraffin-based, to keep the skin soft. Use emulsifying ointments for washing rather than soap. Wear cotton next to the skin. Avoid potentially irritating foods, such as dairy products, one at a time for a month, and see if the condition improves.

CAUTION
If the skin produces a watery discharge, or becomes infected, creating a yellow discharge, or if irritation causes sleeplessness, treat as for severe eczema.



BOILS

A boil is a firm swelling (nodule) beneath the skin caused by the infection of a hair follicle. Thick, white or yellow pus accumulates and comes to a head. Boils may be associated with illness, being run-down, fatigue, or stress. Recurrent boils may be due to an infection or they may be a symptom of diabetes.

SELF-HELP
Bathe a boil with a solution of hypericum and calendula. Never squeeze a boil, and if it bursts, let it drain naturally. Avoid handling food after dealing with boils.

CAUTION
If boils recur, are accompanied by fever or severe pain, or do not heal within a week, consult a doctor.


URTICARIA (HIVES)

This condition consists of raised red patches—sometimes with paler centers—that itch intensely. It may be caused by food allergy, certain drugs, bites or stings, or heat, cold, or sunlight. Urticaria may also be a symptom of stress or leaky gut syndrome.

SELF-HELP
Take a cool shower or place a covered ice-pack on the affected area. Urtica ointment may relieve itchiness.

CAUTION
If the eyes, lips, or throat swell dramatically, call doctor, and take Apis 30c every minute until help arrives.



COLD SORES

Cold sores are blisters on and around the mouth caused by a virus. They are triggered by being run-down or by hot, cold, or windy weather. Accompanying symptoms include ulcers, inflamed gums, a furry tongue, and mild fever.

SELF-HELP
Avoid eating peanuts, chocolate, seeds, and cereals.


WARTS

A wart is caused by a virus that causes cells to multiply rapidly, forming a raised lump. Warts on the feet (verrucas) tend to grow inward as a result of the pressure placed on them.

SELF-HELP
Cover a wart, but not the surrounding skin, with a fabric adhesive bandage. Drip thuja mother tincture on to it twice daily. Over-the-counter treatments can be used with homeopathic ones, except on facial warts. Keep treatments away from the eyes.

CAUTION
If the condition does not improve, and especially if a wart changes size or color, or if it itches or bleeds, consult a doctor.


DANDRUFF

Dandruff is characterized by a flaking scalp, which is sometimes itchy and red. It may be caused by seborrheic dermatitis, a form of eczema. More rarely, it may be symptomatic of psoriasis or a fungal infection.

SELF-HELP
Reduce your intake of refined carbohydrates and animal fats. If the whole scalp itches, place a cold compress soaked in olive oil on the head overnight; wash off with a pure soap shampoo. If all else fails, use a shampoo containing selenium, but follow instructions carefully. Apply calendula ointment to itchy areas around the hair line.


HAIR LOSS

Old hair is lost as new hair grows. Growth may slow sometimes so that hair is lost faster than it is replaced. Thinning often occurs with age, especially in men, and may be hereditary. Hair loss may be associated with thyroid problems, anemia, vitamin or mineral deficiency, stress or shock, or certain drugs.

SELF-HELP
Avoid processes such as dyeing or perming, and do not wash or condition the hair too frequently. Let the hair dry naturally. Scalp massage may help. Eat plenty of protein.

CAUTION
If the condition does not improve, or if there is no explanation for sudden hair loss, consult a doctor.

DIGESTIVE SYSTEM DISORDER

Digestion is a complex process that starts with the chewing of food in the mouth and ends with the passing of waste from the rectum. A healthy, efficient digestive
system is essential for both physical and mental well-being, but it can be upset by many factors. Some can be controlled, such as diet and, to a certain extent, emotional stress or allergy, and some cannot, like infection or inherited problems. Dietary discretion—what a person chooses to eat and eating habits have an obvious impact on digestion. Some foods are difficult to digest, and routines such as eating late
may also cause problems. Minor ailments, such as indigestion, lend themselves to homeopathic self-help, especially if combined with dietary controls. Homeopathic
remedies are concerned with improving the condition of the digestive tract, by adjusting the number of beneficial bacteria; reducing irritation caused by some foods;
improving waste elimination; and maintaining other organs involved in the digestive process, such as the liver. Some ailments, such as hemorrhoids, may need constitutional
treatment, especially if they recur.


INDIGESTION

Indigestion is a blanket term for a number of symptoms that include excessive burping, stomachaches, and heartburn.It may be caused by the defective production or flow of
digestive enzymes, fluids, or hormones, or by something more serious such as a peptic ulcer. Alternatively, it may result simply from eating too much, or eating the kinds of food that the digestive system finds difficult to process. Indigestion tends to worsen with stress and with age.

SELF-HELP
Practice some form of relaxation or meditation before you eat. Do not rush your food, and relax for at least 30 minutes after eating. Avoid coffee, tea, alcohol, carbonated drinks, smoking, and eating late at night. Avoid foods that may cause problems, such as
citrus fruits, tomatoes, onions, beans, nuts, spices, bread, pork, and rich, fatty foods. Cut down on unrefined carbohydrates.

CAUTION
If you experience serious pain radiating toward the back, with or without vomiting, see a doctor within two hours. If you vomit blood, consult a doctor immediately.


HEARTBURN

Heartburn is a common form of indigestion consisting of a burning pain in the stomach or the esophagus and the chest. It tends to worsen with age, and may be associated with a hiatus hernia (protrusion of the stomach through the opening in the diaphragm
into the esophagus). It is exacerbated by stress, and by eating certain foods (see Indigestion, above). Eating too quickly, or eating too much,and swallowing air also aggravate the condition. Heartburn is very common during pregnancy, when digestive efficiency is impaired.

SELF-HELP
Try relaxation or meditation before you eat. Eat calmly, and relax for 30 minutes afterward. Avoid eating late, and do not eat foods that you know upset you. If you smoke, stop. Raise the head of your bed slightly.

CAUTION
If you have serious pain radiating toward the back, see a doctor within two hours. If you vomit blood, consult a doctor immediately.


HICCUPS

Hiccups are caused by spasms of the diaphragm that produce a rush of air into the lungs. This causes the vocal cords to snap shut with a click. The spasms are caused by irritation of the diaphragm due to too much air in the stomach, laughing, being tickled, or emotional stress.

SELF-HELP
Traditional cures include holding the breath, breathing rapidly, breathing into a paper bag, having someone give you a shock,or squirting lemon juice down the back of the throat. Water with a little glucose may help infants.


NAUSEA & VOMITING

Nausea, or the feeling of a need to vomit, is not necessarily followed by vomiting, the involuntary expulsion of the contents of the stomach, but the causes of the two are the same. Nausea and vomiting may be symptoms of digestive disorders caused by
eating fatty foods, drinking too much alcohol, food poisoning, or infections such as gastroenteritis. Stress, migraine, or the hormonal changes associated with enstruation or pregnancy may also trigger these conditions. Nausea and vomiting may also indicate more serious ailments, many of which are digestive disorders, such as a peptic ulcer (erosion of areas of the digestive tract by acidic gastric juices) or cancer of the stomach,but some of which are connected to the brain and nervous system. Self-help treatments are not appropriate in these cases.

SELF-HELP
Drink small amounts of cooled, boiled water frequently and avoid solid foods. If you smoke, stop.

CAUTION
If vomiting persists for more than 48 hours, or is accompanied by fever, see a doctor within two hours. If there is severe abdominal pain or blood in the vomit, seek medical help immediately. If you think you may have vomited prescribed drugs, consult a doctor.


GASTROENTERITIS (GASTRIC FLU)

This inflammation of the digestive tract is usually caused by a virus transmitted directly from person to person or via contaminated food and water. Symptoms of gastroenteritis vary in severity but usually pass within 48 hours. At worst, there is nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and exhaustion. Infants and the
elderly are most at risk because of the danger of dehydration.

SELF-HELP
Rest and drink plenty of fluids, preferably salted, cooled,boiled water (1 tsp salt and 8 tsp sugar to approximately 1 quart/ liter of water), to prevent dehydration. Avoid drinking milk and eating any solid food until the stomach settles. Be meticulous about
personal hygiene.

CAUTION
If symptoms persist for more than 48 hours, or if there is blood in the feces or a fever, see a doctor within two hours. If symptoms are accompanied by severe abdominal pain that lasts for more than an hour, consult a doctor immediately.



BLOATING & FLATULENCE

Bloating and flatulence—a feeling of fullness in the stomach associated with burping or the passing of air out through the anus may be due to constipation (see page 238) or intestinal dysbios (an overgrowth of bacteria or fungi in the intestine). The condition
may be worse prior to menstruation, and is aggravated by anxiety, food intolerance, or swallowing air.

SELF-HELP
Avoid eating legumes, onions, cabbage, and nuts, and use cumin, aniseed, or ginger in your cooking.



DIARRHEA

Diarrhea is the frequent passing of watery or loose stools as a result of the failure of the large intestine to absorb water from undigested material. This may be the result of dietary or digestive problems, such as eating too many prunes or legumes, a lack of vitamin B or folic acid, too much vitamin D, food intolerance, parasites, or gastroenteritis. Diarrhea may indicate a more serious condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome or be a reaction to certain drugs, anxiety, or stress.

SELF-HELP
Drink plenty of boiled, cooled water with a little honey in it or ice water to avoid dehydration. Progress to arrowroot, tapioca, semolina, or slippery elm food, then thin soups. A supplement of acidophilus, or eating live yogurt, is advisable if diarrhea follows taking certain drugs such as antibiotics. Avoid analgesics and vitamin E supplements.

CAUTION
If diarrhea continues for more than 48 hours, or if there is blood in the feces, see a doctor within two hours. Recurrent diarrhea may require constitutional homeopathic treatment.


CONSTIPATION

Constipation is the difficult and/or infrequent passing of stools. It is commonly caused by a diet that includes too little fiber, but it can also result from a lack of exercise, stress, poor bowel training, taking certain drugs, and thyroid or liver problems. Chronic constipation may be due to the recurrent use of laxatives or drinking too much coffee or alcohol, and is viewed in homeopathy as a constitutional problem.

SELF-HELP
Try eating plenty of raw vegetables before resorting to laxatives based on substances such as senna which, over a long period, may irritate the lining of the gut. Increase the amount of exercise you do and amount of fluid you drink.

CAUTION
If a marked change in bowel function is accompanied by a weight loss of more than 1 lb (0.5 kg) in a week, see a doctor within 48 hours. If there is any bleeding from the anus or blood in the stools, see a doctor within 12 hours. If no stools have been passed for several days despite self-help measures, especially if there is pain in the abdomen, see a doctor as soon as possible.



HEMORRHOIDS

Hemorrhoids, or piles, are swollen veins in the lower rectum and around the anus, often due to constipation, but also associated with hormonal problems, pregnancy, childbirth, the overuse of laxatives, and sitting on hard surfaces.

SELF-HELP
Try peony ointment or hamamelis suppositories. Include more fiber in your diet to avoid constipation.

CAUTION
If there is bleeding from the anus, do not assume that it is due to piles until other possible causes have been ruled out. If bleeding persists, see a doctor within 12 hours.