In asking, as I did, in the recent post, whether I am seeing disease or cure, I was speaking of group, as well as individual, processes. In this post, where we get into the nuts and bolts of using our tools, I want to focus on when it IS disease.
In particular, when it looks emergent: what is the role of homeopathy, in your hands?
(Stay tuned for the home kit webinar to dig further into these applications – just sorting out the whys and wherefores and I’ll have a date for you soon!).
Colds and flus can be uncomfortable, but they are rarely alarming. Intense or persistent pain in the chest, difficulty in breathing or hypoxia, excessive bleeding; if those moments arise, it is easy to panic. How do we approach a truly emergent situation?
These are the indicators of medical situations requiring rapid attention: (medline reference here; the hyperlinks below will take you the medical descriptions of these conditions)
Bleeding that will not stop
Breathing problems (difficulty breathing, shortness of breath)
Change in mental status (such as unusual behavior, confusion, difficulty arousing)
Feeling of committing suicide or murder
Head or spine injury
Severe or persistent vomiting
Sudden injury due to a motor vehicle accident, burns or smoke inhalation, near drowning, deep or large wound, or other injuries
Sudden, severe pain anywhere in the body
Swallowing a poisonous substance
Severe abdominal pain or pressure
When I studied first aid a million years ago, EMTs still talked about “the cigarette rule;” when assessing the appropriate action in an emergency situation, first, stop and smoke a cigarette. It takes seven minutes, it calms your nerves, and it prevents you from rushing into the situation in a panic. (While I don’t recommend the cigarette part, I do find that some strategy to slow yourself down is critical; despite how many times I’ve thought this through, when a friend’s daughter gashed her leg on broken glass at a playground while under my care, I immediately forgot all my tools and had to allow another parent to step in and manage this situation for me while I went to call the child’s mother.)
Take several deep, box-shaped breaths (breathe in for a count of 5, hold for a count of 5, out for a count of 5, hold for a count of 5), and take careful stock of what is happening. (Of course, there are situations where this does not apply, but when that is the case truly, you don’t usually need to think – if someone is choking, for instance, you will likely move to apply some variation of the-maneuver-formerly-called-Heimlich without sending yourself into a spin).
The first question is: does it meet any of the above criteria?
The second question is: am I sure?
The third question is: what do I need in order to be okay right now? This last is extremely important, because if you are in the position of offering care and service to someone who is experiencing pain and fear, your own mental state can be a help or a hindrance. I recommend that everyone have a little vial of Rescue Remedy on hand, and that they take a little in any situation where they are feeling anxious and activated by someone else’s health issues.
Then you get to the fourth question: what can I do to be of aid?
Even in many of the above listed situations, there is a distinction between urgent and emergent. Emergent is: someone is going to die or suffer immediate and serious debilitation if I don’t respond. Urgent is: this requires my focused attention and action towards resolution in a timely manner.
We’ve been conditioned by our sirens-and-flashing-lights culture of medicine to immediately put things into the “emergency” category; I always ask: what is leading me to believe that this is an emergency? Is this truly medical? Am I able to identify what triggered this situation?
Let’s leave that aspect of the discussion aside now and assume we ARE dealing with an emergent situation. I am going to focus on chest pain. (Just a reminder that this isn’t medical advice and I’m not a doctor!).
Why chest pain? Well, two reasons.
One, there appears to be an increase in cardiac events, particularly in young and healthy people, and cardiac issues are a known side effect of the injection related to Covid that many people received in the past two years. In cardiac events, rapid response is critical, so you want to make sure that you know what tools you have, and how to use them, so that you aren’t needing to comb through your notes.
Two: chest pain is a common symptom that can be brought on by anxiety and fear, and it can look like a medical emergency when it’s not. So knowing how to elicit an accurate symptom picture and give a remedy can help you relieve someone symptoms in a supportive way and determine whether emergency care is needed.
NOTE ON SEEKING MEDICAL CARE: TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS! Are there hospitals in your area that might feel more comfortable than others for emergency care? (In my area, the Adventist hospital closed and the Catholic hospital was purchased by a corporate conglomerate, so I’m in the process of trying to determine where I would access medical equipment and expertise should I need it. Figuring this out in advance can help reduce anxiety when trying to make a clear-headed decision about whether such care is needed. I have assisted several people recently who might have gone to the hospital for such symptoms in the past but no longer consider that a safe or respectful option.)
Pain in the chest can be caused by issues in the heart, the lungs, or the muscle tissues of the pleural (lung) or cardiac (heart) cavity.
Stable angina pectoris is pain in the center of the chest that is chronic; stress or exercise can bring it on and rest can relieve it. Unstable angina pectoris, however, is pain in the heart region that is more recent in origin, comes on even at rest, and can last more than 5 minutes.
Therefore, when someone is complaining of pain in the center of the chest, you want to ask questions such as:
· Have you had this pain before? If so, for how many months?
· Have you had this pain for more than 5 minutes? If so, how long?
· Did anything trigger it?
· Does anything relieve it?
· Is there shortness of breath?
· Is there nausea?
· Does it radiate to left arm? To jaw? To neck?
· For women, is there a sense of indigestion and fatigue? Cardiac issues in women can be easily missed because they don’t always have the same left-sided radiation and acute symptoms. So pay careful attention to questions about duration and triggers.
· KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR SYMPTOMS OF SHOCK! This can look like the opposite of acute pain; is the person unresponsive or vague while in apparent pain? Or panicking and anxious?
The three remedies I am going to discuss today for chest pain are Crataegus, Digitalis, and Latrodectus mactans. These are not the only remedies that might apply, but they are three that I carry with me in my kit.
Latrodectus mactans has
· sharp, radiating pains with intense fear of death and panic;
· every motion aggravates the pain. The person can have
· nausea and shortness of breath, with cold skin. They can be
· restless, weak, and rigid. Their symptoms may have
· all the classic hallmarks of myocardial infarction (heart attack).
Compare this to Crataegus, which can also have
· sharp pain in the chest, but a very different symptom profile. As with Latrodectus, there can be
· shortness of breath and radiating pains, but the
· radiation is to the collar bone and shoulder blade rather than extremities. With this remedy, there is a sense of
· pressure on the chest, and the
· pulse is fast and irregular but weak, not pounding. As with Latrodectus you may see
· weakness and a desire for rest, but they are more likely to
· want fresh air and may be uncomfortable in a warm room (remember the modalities of Pulsatilla? This is how differentiation works with remedies – if you saw this desire for fresh air and discomfort in a closed room, and it made you think of Pulsatilla but you were seeing heart symptoms instead of cold and flu symptoms, you might look at Craetagus). This person might be
· sweaty, coughing, and have
· burning sensations on the skin.
Digitalis is another remedy to think of with pain in the chest, and has a signature sensation of
· intense fear that the heart will stop if he or she moves. Similar to both Lat-m and Crat,
· difficulty breathing and weakness are present, and, like Lat-m,
· cold skin.
· Pulse feels slow when at rest but speeds up on motion, and there can be
· urinary, liver, or digestive symptoms at the same time.
· Anxiety, thirst, and
· nausea may be present, as with the other remedies discussed. There may be
· genital symptoms, and sexual issues or trauma.
You can see, looking at these three remedies, that if someone is experiencing acute chest pain, you want to get a very clear picture on
· whether pulse feels fast or slow or irregular,
· what happens when the person moves,
· whether they feel cold to the touch or have hot or cold sensations, and
· what the nature and direction of pain is, as well as mental symptoms.
Weakness, anxiety, and shortness of breath are common to all three, so when evaluating those symptoms, you want to determine how they relate to the overall picture.
While you might not necessarily think to connect an experience of sexual trauma, for instance, to heart symptoms, if you see a temporal relationship, this could be an indication to explore Digitalis. In homeopathy, the mental/emotional context of an ailment can help elucidate the remedy in ways that are often ignored in other forms of medicine. Remembering to ask, “Was anything unusual happening in your life when this started?” can elicit a lot of useful information.
But we might be talking about a potential cardiac emergency here, and that is going to change your strategy.
HOW TO DOSE IN AN EMERGENT SITUATION:
If something is truly emergent (and a heart attack is truly emergent), you will, of course, be pursuing professional services where available. But even in that situation, homeopathy plays a role (and if you are in the back country, or off the map, the role of this modality in your first response protocol is even more important, because you may need to buy more time than you would in your living room). However, dosing is different than our usual strategy of dissolving a 30c pellet and taking sips every 15 minutes.
In emergent situation, use high potencies (1M and above). Give a pellet dry under the tongue immediately. Repeat as frequently as every 5 minutes if necessary for 3 doses, and, if you are seeing a response, repeat if there is any stalling of progress or relapse. But if there is sustained improvement, wait. You can always put the pellet in water for dosing. Even with an emergency, there is still no reason to give more than is needed; the vital force can only rise to the level of healing instigation that it can handle – do fewer doses with weaker or infirmed individuals, and more with the young or strong.
IF YOU DON’T HAVE A 1M, USE THE POTENCY YOU HAVE! Anything is better than nothing. And if you don’t have the right one but you have one that’s close, or you only have Arnica or Aconite (both excellent first response trauma remedies), use those.
In short, in an emergent situation, while you wait for other help to arrive and go through your complete response protocol, you can, and should, use homeopathy to support the vital force and give it the best chance for optimal outcomes.
(As always, a reminder that this isn’t medical advice, but just a suggestion based on existing clinical experience of ways to holistically approach any situation.)
It’s easy to get swept up in the energy of emergency. I hope that this essay will remind you that there are tools you can have on hand for even the most serious of situations. One of the most amazing aspects of homeopathy, for me, is how I feel such confidence and reassurance that I have, on my shelf, practical and powerful remedies to respond to anything life might throw at me.
Part of my exploration of disease is the acknowledgement of how deeply broken and disempowering our primary medical system has become. Central to my understanding of cure is that it is in our hands.
Sometimes there is emergence, but there is also, always, emergence.