?First, do no harm? was Hippocrates? most famous rule, and this is particularly important in the care and treatment of infants and children. Many people don?t know it, but most conventional drugs are tested on adults, and then doctors estimate (or guesstimate) the appropriate dosage for children using such measures as a child?s weight. Worse still, in the United States, approximately 20 percent of pediatric visits lead to a prescription of more than one drug at a time.
The No. 1 reason why parents take their children to a homeopath is because they believe homeopathic medicines are safer than conventional medicines.
The second main reason is that children respond extremely well to homeopathic remedies, even when the perfect medicine is not always prescribed. It is as though the intelligence in their bodies is so high that their internal radar is scanning for any energetic medicine that is even close to being the best one. Famed astronomer Johann Kepler once said, ?Nature uses as little as possible of anything.? The fact that children respond so well to homeopathic medicines is one further example of this.
Most often, one needs to treat the parents? anxieties and fears more than the child?s fever. The best way to treat these fears is with education about the wisdom of the body and about fever as an important defense. I say this because physicians and physiologists today recognize that fever is a useful response to infection. While it is true that certain high or long-lasting fevers need to be treated or suppressed in some way, such fevers represent an extreme minority of fevers in children. Homeopaths assert that we create a lot of chronic disease when we suppress acute illness.
Because a fever is a defense, the body will make good use of additional tools, like homeopathic medicines, that are given to help in its defense. This is distinct from conventional drugs, especially anti-inflammatory drugs that ultimately are obstacles to the true cure. I can and will refer an infant for immediate medical treatment if fever does not respond to homeopathic treatment within two hours, or any child whose fever is higher than 104 degrees Fahrenheit and doesn?t respond to home treatment after six hours, or if high fever in any child leads to great lethargy and neck stiffness.
Homeopathy for the ear
Antibiotics may have a place in treating ear infections, but not necessarily as a treatment of first choice. The American Academy of Pediatrics? guidelines recommend avoiding antibiotics for the first two months if possible. It may surprise some people to learn that a meta-analysis of the best studies on ear infection, published in 1997 in the British Medical Journal, found no benefit of using antibiotics as compared with placebo.
To make matters worse, some evidence suggests that administration of antibiotics leads to three times the number of ear infections as those children left untreated. Part of the problem with antibiotics is their use runs counter to a basic premise of healing: Any time you get something done for the body, the body doesn?t learn to do it on its own.
Homeopathy is magnificent for the treatment for childhood ear infections. It is often as simple as ABC + P: Aconitum, Belladonna, Chamomilla and Pulsatilla, with less common use of Mercurius, Merc. iodatus flavus, Merc. iodatus ruber, Hepar sulphur and Silicea. Results are often rapid, but even when they aren?t, it seems as though these children still aren?t getting as many ear infections as those who are prescribed antibiotics.
According to a 2001 study of 75 children with otitis media (ear infection) that was published in The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, parents? diary scores showed a significant decrease in symptoms at 24 and 64 hours after treatment in favor of those given a homeopathic medicine. There were also 20 percent fewer treatment failures in children given a homeopathic medicine as compared with those given a placebo. [See ?Peer-Reviewed Research Backs Homeopathy.?] What potencies are usually used to treat ear infections? From 6th to 1,000 (known as ?1M?). The more confident I am, the higher the potency I prescribe, and the more vitality the child has, the higher the potency. That said, people who are not as knowledgeable about homeopathic medicines should use the 6th, 12th or 30th potencies. I usually repeat every two to four hours for severe pain and every four to six hours for mild pain if using 12th and 30th potencies. For 200 and 1M potencies, I recommend every two hours for severe pain for the first three doses, and for mild pain every four to six hours. If there is no change after 24 hours, I consider another remedy. I recommend discontinuing the medicine once obvious improvement begins, and to start taking it again if pain returns.
Homeopathy and hyperactivity
Homeopathic medicines are wonderfully effective for hyperactive children (and adults), though this doesn?t necessarily mean that a remedy will ?cure? them. Sometimes, the remedy will simply slow them down and help them feel more in control of their energy.
One study of 43 children with hyperactivity, published in the British Homeopathic Journal in 1997, found a statistically significant benefit in those given an individually chosen homeopathic medicine. After the first phase of the study, the children who were given a placebo were then given a homeopathic medicine, and there was again a statistically significant improvement in their health. The most common remedies used in this study were Stramonium (thornapple), Cina (wormseed), Hyoscaymus (henbane), Veratrum album (white hellebore) and Tarentula (spider).
Hyperactivity sometimes requires a constitutional remedy rather than an acute one. Acute remedies may provide short-term relief, but such relief is not what most children and parents want. They want long-term improvement, though they can and will accept whatever they can get.
The course of treatment may require miasmatic remedies and other remedies based on the etiology of the child?s problem. (A miasm is the homeopathic concept of an underlying genetic or acquired chronic disease from which various chronic and acute symptoms manifest.) A miasm can be the result of a previous infection or environmental toxin that a person or one of his or her ancestors experienced and never adequately cured.
Dana Ullman, M.P.H., has written eight books and serves on advisory boards of alternative medicine institutes at Harvard, Columbia and the University of Arizona schools of medicine. He created the curriculum in homeopathy for Dr. Andrew Weil?s Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona and is the director of Homeopathic Educational Services (www.homeopathic.com).
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXV/number 11/p. 40, 42, 44