Let's jump right into the materia medica on Arsenicum album and Kali bichromicum. If you are just joining us, take a moment to go read this
so that you will know what we are working on.
Arsenicum album, often called simply Arsenicum, is a remedy made from, wait for it, arsenic. Here's where some of the weirdness and magic of homeopathy come into play. Let's talk for a moment about poison as medicine.
The primary treatment for cancer in the US is chemotherapy and radiation. What's the first disease you think of when someone has chemical poisoning or exposure to radiation?
Cancer! And the conventional thinking on sequelae after cancer treatment is that the carcinogenic qualities of the therapies, while they may suppress the current pathology, have deleterious effects on the body that result in different cancer diagnoses later. In order to maintain the survival stats, they stop following up after five years. I've got opinions. Anyway...
The point is that, even in conventional medicine, we often look for the cure to the substances that can cause the problem. However, pharmaceutical drugs are poisonous - in cancer, the dosing is predicated on how much they think you can take without dying.
What if you could extract those healing properties, without the toxicity? That was one of Hahnemann's great insights, and one of the four basic principles of homeopathy, which are:
· Totality - make sure you know ALL the symptoms related to the current dynamic, on all the planes of existence, before you make a prescription
· Individuality - focus on the case of the client in front of you, and not on preconceptions about what this or that disease "always" responds to in terms of remedies.
· Similarity - match the remedy to the client, making sure to find the substance that reveals, through provings, the same dynamic.
· The Minimum Dose - Give as little of the medicine as necessary to effect a curative response.
Through potentization, which is the process of remedy preparation that involves dilution and high-intensity agitation (check out the footnotes below), we render the crude substance non-toxic, while retaining its medicinal nature. In this way, we can use a remedy made from arsenic for the symptoms we will discuss, which can be akin to the symptoms of arsenic poisoning.
When considering Arsenicum, we are looking for some of the following dynamics:
· Anxiety and extreme fear, especially at night, with a need for company; this person does not want to be left alone, but is restless and antsy.
· The anxiety can show up as irritability and criticism.
· Burning pains and heat, with internal chill, or icy cold skin with feelings of great internal heat. The pains can be like hot wires.
· Desire to be wrapped warmly; everything is worse with cold.
· Thin discharges, generally clear, which can be excoriating (burning) and can smell bad, even corpse-like.
· Night aggravates - all symptoms seem worse at night.
· Can be great prostration and weakness, and nausea.
· Extremely thirsty but wants small sips; asks for icy drinks but then feels nauseated.
· Can be short of breath.
· Can be extremely tidy, even OCD, or totally disorganized and made anxious by the chaos. Afraid of financial loss and theft.
When would you consider this remedy?
· Food poisoning with nausea and vomiting and clammy skin
· Colds and upper respiratory infections with clear acrid discharges, where mental symptoms match
· Stomach bugs with burning pains and vomiting
· Diarrhea with burning stool
· Asthma attacks around midnight
The anxiety is so marked in Arsenicum that it is rare to see a case where it is indicated that does not present this way.
The final remedy for this tutorial is Kali bichromicum.
Potassium bichromate is a compound with industrial uses in pyrotechnic and match coatings and textile processing; unless you area professional in these fields, you are unlikely to have heard of it. As a homeopathic remedy, however, it has a very clear and specific application; when it's this remedy you need, nothing else will do.
What is characteristic of Kali bichromicum (Typically written and referred to as Kali-bi or Kali-bich)?
· “Kali bichy is always sticky.” "Gluey" might even be a better term. The discharges and sensations when Kali-bi is indicated are thick and stagnant.
· The person needing this remedy can also have a gluey, stick-in-the-mud energy, with rigidity and conformity.
· Long-winded lists of complaints with a need to dominate someone's attention; irritability and self-pitying energy if this attention is not paid.
· Chilly and cold or cold damp makes it worse.
· Symptoms can be localized to a spot, especially on the head or at the top of the nose.
· Pains can alternate and move around, including in the joints.
· There can be a sensation of hair on the tongue.
What ailments might this remedy be indicated in?
· Colds and flus with dense congestion and thick green discharges. Ever seen kids with the “green elevens” under their noses? That’s the Kali-bi cold.
· When discharges OR congestion are thick and stuck – head and nose feel totally clogged.
· Thick mucus and expectoration.
· Fevers with flushes and sticky sweat, alternating with chill.
Now we have three remedies to work with (Pulsatilla, Arsenicum, Kali-bi). Reading the indications separately, it may seem clear that they are different. Once you are taking a case, however, you are reminded of the nearly-infinite variety and subtlety of differences between individuals. Seeing illness in the person, and matching the remedy to the ailment, is one of the major differences between homeopathy and allopathy, in which the doctor looks to fit the patient’s symptoms into a common description and then give a one-size-fits-all prescription based on a textbook match between the named disease and the pharmaceutical drug.
The failures of the conventional medical system have long been evident, but we rarely have the opportunity to see so many people so openly abused at one time as currently, ground in the cogs of a system designed to pump up pharmaceutical stock prices and reward or punish doctors based on their willingness to be part of the pay-for-play structure.
Homeopathy is different. Our remedies are inexpensive and unpatentable. Our choices are many and require carefully case-taking and discernment, both of the case and then the response. In the next installment of this series, we will be meeting a client, taking a case, analyzing it, comparing remedies, and prescribing.
THE FOOTNOTES, repeated each instructional post.
The last piece of housekeeping is how to dose remedies in an acute. Less is more with homeopathy. Here’s how I always start:
· I do a water dose in the following way:
o One pellet of the 30c potency dissolved in four ounces of pure water. I will use bottled or well water, but not chemically-treated water. Don’t touch the pellet with your fingers.
o Once dissolved, swirl or stir gently with a non-metallic spoon.
o Give one tsp.
o Wait 15 min, give another tsp.
o Wait 15 min, give another tsp.
o If symptoms do not improve, repeat the three doses after an hour.
o If symptoms DO improve, wait until they relapse or stop improving to redose.
o Always wait a couple hours between rounds and don’t do more than 3-4 rounds
in 24 hours unless the situation is emergent, in which case it is wise to get a professional on the phone to offer some support (that’s me!)
*Homeopathic remedies are made by extracting, through tincture or grinding, the crude properties of the substance and then putting that extract through a series of dilutions and hard impacts which isolate the healing properties while eliminating any toxicity.
**All homeopathic remedies have both acute and chronic applications. An acute ailment is something self-limiting (that means short term that’s going to run a course to recovery or death). A chronic condition can drag on for years.
In both acute and chronic illness, the remedy is there to reflect and assist in the process of the healing through the unwinding dynamic. It’s never intended as a quick fix or a suppressive measure. In truly acute situations, when the vital force is strong, the response can be so rapid to a well-chosen remedy that it can feel magical. Often, though, it can take multiple doses, mild temporary intensification, patience, and even additional remedies to get all the way to the other side. So when you are learning to manage acutes at home, remember:
Slow is always good, patience is always part of healing. Don’t panic if you aren’t getting immediate results.
Home prescribing should be used for acutes, not chronics. Homeopathic remedies are safe, but the vital response is complex and chronic prescribing relies on extensive study of case-taking and analysis, remedy selection, posology (what potency and in what dose), materia medica (the medicinal properties of the remedy), and remedy reactions. It is possible to mess it up in a way that can make it difficult for the person to heal fully. Don’t be afraid, but do ask for help!