An Introduction To Homeopathy
Homeopathy is a gentle system of healing that uses very diluted naturally occurring substances to stimulate healing in the body.
Samuel Hanneman, an 18th century physician and the founder of homeopathy, noticed that he could use small amounts of natural substances, such as plants or minerals, to cure illness in patients.
Curiously he discovered that the best results came from using a substance whose anticipated side effects mimicked the same symptoms which the person was experiencing.
For example, the potentially deadly herb belladonna can cause salivation, dilated pupils, headache and sweating.
Dr. Hanneman would give minute amounts of belladonna to a feverish patient who displayed these same symptoms and the patient would begin to get better.
Using very small amounts of the herbs and minerals eliminated the risk of toxicity and adverse reaction, but Samuel Hanneman also noticed that the more dilute the remedy, the faster and better the patients responded.
When you purchase homeopathic medicines, the higher doses have a decreasing amount of actual active ingredient. Typically homeopathic medicines come in the forms of lactose pellets, liquids or creams.
The most common commercially available doses are referred to as potencies and are a number followed by an X, C or M. X is the lowest and M is the highest.
Increasingly larger numbers signify a more potent medicine but the letter signifies an even greater jump in strength. (It’s kind of a cross between the Roman numeral system and the Richter scale used to measure earthquakes)
For example, a remedy with the potency of 6C is stronger than 2X and a remedy with a potency of 10M is stronger than one of 200C strength.
Why Should I Try Homeopathy To Treat My Eczema?
Homeopathy is the most popular alternative therapy in the world and is used by more people than herbal medicine, chiropractic or even acupuncture.
Even though it has been in widespread use for several hundred years, the science to prove its efficacy is just now being revealed.
A 2010 study completed at MD Anderson showed that breast cancer cells in a petri dish stopped growing and some even were killed off when exposed to the homeopathic remedies
Carcinosinum and Phytolacca. This effect did not happen to healthy breast tissue.
An article appearing in 2009 in the journal Dermatology found homeopathic eczema treatment to be as effective as the standard conventional therapy.
Given the low cost of homeopathic medicines and their even lower risk for adverse reaction, homeopathy is a sound treatment approach for people with eczema.
Learning To Be A Homeopath: Find The Characteristic Or Unusual Symptoms
Homeopathic principles are unique in that not all people with eczema will see their symptoms improve with the same remedy. It is a system of medicine that works by individualizing the remedy to the person.
The best tool to find the correct remedy is to identify the strange, individual or peculiar symptoms of your disease.
Most eczema sufferers will describe their skin as feeling itchy or wanting to scratch.
This common symptom might help lead to the diagnosis of eczema but it will not by itself identify the proper homeopathic remedy.
Now, if the itchiness is worse after a hot bath you have a more specific, and less commonly experienced symptom to narrow down the list of possible homeopathic medicines that would be appropriate for you.
Or if you only get the urge to scratch during the night, this would also be specific enough to use in selecting the right remedy for you.
Skilled homeopaths will inquire in depth about the appearance, distribution (what areas of the body are affected), and sensations of the eczema presentation.
You do not need to be an experienced homeopath to come to the best remedy but you will need to be a careful observer.
The following are some questions to help differentiate between the more common homeopathic remedies for eczema:
1. Is my eczema better or worse in warm weather or cold weather? Likewise, is it better or worse on rainy days or in dry climates?
2. Does scratching the area make it feel better or worse?
3. What is the appearance of my eczematous lesions? Are they bright red, pink, silvery, more raised or flat, do they bleed or ooze when picked?
4. What foods or beverages aggravate my skin?
5. Have I felt more anxious, angry, sad or apathetic since the eczema started?
This last question is obviously easier to assess if the eczema is newly developed but sometimes I’ve had patients who can even recall 10 years later that their eczema started when their beloved pet died, they started a new job, or got a divorce.
These mental emotional clues also can help identify the individual characteristics of homeopathic remedies.
Homeopathy is holistic in the sense that it treats both physical symptoms as well as a person’s mental and emotional health.
Below you will find the most common homeopathic remedies used to treat eczema and their individualizing characteristics but first I want to give some tips for being a successful homeopath.
1) There Can Be More Than One Appropriate Homeopathic Remedy to Get Improvement In Your Eczema
While most classical homeopaths feel that there is usually one remedy most aligned with a person’s particular constitution, there will often be improvement of symptoms if the selected remedy is even a close match.
If you get some results, but you aren’t continuing to improve, you might want to try another remedy with similar characteristics.
Earlier this year I treated a woman in her early thirties who had acne since she was a teenager. I confidently prescribed homeopathic Sulphur as she was generally warm-blooded, craved bacon and her acne was worse from bathing—all Sulphur characteristics and a strong correlative factor. Six weeks later Diane came back and her acne was only marginally improved but she reported better energy and focus. So I got more symptoms and we tried again, this time with a remedy related to Sulphur called Pulsatilla and fortunately after the new remedy Diane’s face was the clearest it had been in years.
2) Your Symptoms May Temporarily Get Worse Before Your Eczema Improves
Sometimes an aggravation is possible before you notice improvement.
While I said earlier that homeopathic medicines are very safe and are not known to interact with other medication, they can cause a temporary aggravation of symptoms.
In the case of eczema I have seen where a remedy is given and for the next few hours up until a week, there is worsening of itching, redness or swelling followed by steady improvement.
This type of aggravation was written about in the time of Samuel Hanneman and was speculated to be a release of sorts.
I always warn patients that this can occur but see it happen only 5-10% of the time in practice. More commonly this occurs in persons with a history of being hypersensitive to other therapies.
If a person does not improve after a suspected aggravation then the correct remedy was not selected and a different remedy should be given.
One way to minimize risk of aggravation is to start with a low potency. In sensitive patients I start with 6c for eczema and other skin conditions.
3) Follow These Dosing Strategies for Best Outcomes
There are times when a person will react to a remedy and that improvement wears off.
If this is the case, it is time to either re-dose the remedy (if it hasn’t been taken in awhile) or increase the potency of the remedy.
Generally, I increase only to the next potency level but some homeopaths do increase more rapidly. It is appropriate to continue increasing in potency as needed and discontinue when symptoms resolve.
There are also differing opinions on how often to administer remedies. The two most popular dosing strategies are either a daily dose for a prescribed period of time or a single large dose.
The single dose is given only once and then repeated if there is relapse. In the real world I find it easier to give remedies daily so as not to miss the window of when symptoms are recurring.
OK, now that you’ve completed a mini course in homeopathy, it’s time to apply what you’ve learned and compare the list of your specific symptoms to the ones listed below for each remedy.
If you continue to have trouble or none of the remedies below seem to match your case, then consulting a formally trained homeopath is a good idea.
The North America Society of Homeopaths has a list of clinicians in your area and many are willing to do phone consultations as well.
In addition to using homeopathy for eczema, I also recommend people read Eczema Free, a book designed for people looking for natural, easy to follow steps in order to eradicate their eczema.
Whereas conventional therapies merely suppress eczema, Eczema Free has practical solutions to address the underlying cause.
The 15 Most Common Homeopathic Remedies For Eczema And Their Characteristic Symptoms
1. Agaricus Muscarius: burning, biting, extreme itching, prickling as from needles, electric like sensations in the skin; small nodules in the skin, worse in winter.
Persons needing Agaricus often have reddened ears or noses. They are prone to anxiety, especially about their health.
2. Alumina: dry eczema, patients tend to be very irritable with constipation. Eczema is worse in winter.
Ulcerated lesions secrete yellowish brown, smelly pus. This remedy is often prescribed in the elderly, pale persons or frail individuals.
I once gave homeopathic Alumina to a fussy 11-month-old baby boy who had eczema on his cheeks. The clue to use this remedy was his persistent constipation despite his mom giving him plenty of fibrous foods and fluids.
People needing Alumina can crave non-edible food as was the case of this boy who liked to munch paper and chalk.
3. Antimonium Crudum: thick, hard, honey colored scales, itching when warm. People often report burning, worse at night; stomach problems; sensitive to cold bathing.
4. Arsenicum Album: itching, burning, swelling, worse in cold and from scratching; dry, rough, scaly skin; between fingers and cracks on tips of fingers; scaly eruptions on scalp and face with acrid, fetid discharge; intense burning and ditching.
Like Agaricus, persons needing Arsenicum also tend to be highly anxious, especially regarding their own health.
5. Calcarea Carbonica: violent itching at all times, worse in the early morning while in bed; sometimes people have the sensation as if wearing cold damp socks from cold sweating of the lower extremities.
This patient also perspires easily on the head. People needing Calcarea Carbonica are often overweight.
6. Calcarea Sulphurica: dry eczema in kids; yellow smelly crusts and scales; pimples on the hair, which bleed when scratched.
7. Chrysarobinum: behind ears; violent itching; filthy-looking, scabby condition with tendency to form thick crust.
I used this remedy successfully with a patient who was in the lichen phase of eczema, where his lesions had thickened almost to a leathery texture.
8. Graphites: weeping, sticky honey-like fluid; on hands, face, lips, behind ears, worse from becoming overheated at night (such as having overly warm bed covers); moist in folds of skin with itching on bends of joints; suppurates easily and pimples form; sensitive to touch, worse in dry, cold wind, better in damp and warm weather.
9. Kali Sulphuricum: vesicles with thin, yellow pus; distribution is often the inside of hands and fingers; lips cracked, eczema worse from eating sweets.
10. Petroleum: yellowish, green thick crusts on face and neck which profuse discharge; bloody cracks with no discharge; dry, scaly or moist better in summer, worse in cold or winter; on hands or behind ears.
11. Psorinum: dry, scaly on scalp and face; crusts over the scalp; hair falls out, oozing lifts the crusts and exposes new vesicles, worse at night from warmth of bed.
The person needing Psorinum is often depressed, unhopeful; their eczema has a strong odor from oozing fluid.
12. Rhus Toxicodendron: dry with redness, swelling, intolerable itching made worse by warmth; on scalp in infants; vesicles suppurate thin watery dark colored secretion.
The personality of Rhus tox is typically quite restless.
13. Staphysagria: yellow, acrid fluid oozes from under crusts; humid itching, fetid eruptions on head and behind ears; scratching place of itching but increases oozing.
The personality of a person needing Staphysagria is often timid and they report feeling suppressed by others or their situation. Rarely will they show anger but when they do, it will be explosive.
I saw a patient recently where I prescribed Staphysagria for her mental emotional state during a divorce from a controlling and sexually perverse man.
The remedy did help her mood but it also simultaneously improved the deep, itchy cracks in her hands.
The patient jokes that she no longer needed to “purchase a case of hand cream every time I go to the grocery store.”
14. Sulphur: intense burning, itching is worse from washing or scratching; rough, course, dry scaly skin; redness around orifices (mouth, anus).
Sulphur types are deep thinkers and quite intellectual but they also have a tendency towards laziness at times. Food cravings of this remedy include bacon, beer and spicy foods.
15. Thuja: occurring after suppression of gonorrhea (this was a problematic disease in Samuel Hanneman’s time but it could be said that Thuja is indicated if eczema started after any untreated sexually transmitted infection), also indicated for eczema occurring after vaccination; appears as dirty brown skin covered with itching vesicles.