Homeopathic natural treatments for your pet
Homeopathy literally translated means “similar suffering”. It is a form of medicine developed by Samuel Hahneman in the 1800s.
How does it work?
Good question, nobody knows, there are many theories, but none proven. The fact that it is still around and widely used in many parts of the globe in the 21st century be enough of an indication that there is some merit in its use. Once you start using it in the prescribed manner you’ll soon get to know that it works.
The principle is that a homeopathically prepared substance can cure symptoms that the original substance would have caused when given to a healthy individual. The trick is to match the so-called “symptom picture” of the patient with the homeopathic remedy and give the latter at the correct potency.
A homeopathic prescription has 2 major parts:
1. Finding the correct remedy and
2. Matching the potency (strength) of the remedy with the symptoms and disease process displayed by the patient.
Finding the correct remedy
“A homeopathically prepared substance can cure symptoms that the original substance would have caused when given to healthy individual”.
The easiest way to explain this is by an example: When cutting an onion, many people develop burning eyes and a clear watery nasal discharge. Even if you are healthy onions can have this effect on you. A homeopathic remedy made from onion can cure these symptoms. So if you are developing a cold and have itchy eyes and a clear watery discharge, you can use the homeopathic remedy Allium cepa (onion) to overcome the symptoms. It has to be a close match though, because if your symptoms are a bland discharge from the eyes with an irritating nasal discharge, your symptoms are different from those caused by the onion and thus a different homeopathic remedy would be indicated. So as you can see a very detailed history and physical exam are needed to match the symptoms with the correct remedy to ensure a healing outcome.
Matching the potency of the remedy to the patient.
The potency is the strength of the remedy. Just like curries and jalapenos are graded mild, medium and hot, homeopathic remedies come in different strengths referred to as potencies.
Matching the potency of the remedy and the patient has two major parts:
- Where the disease process is manifesting in the body.
- The vitality of the patient
Locality of disease
To understand how the correct potency is chosen, we need to understand the disease process according to homeopathic philosophy or physiology (how the body functions).
In homeopathy the human being (or in our case the animal) is seen to consist of several layers, like an onion.
The outermost layer comprises the organs that are in contact with the environment i.e. the skin and intestines.
The next layer inwards are the paired organs like the lung and kidney.
Deep to that lie the unpaired organs like the liver and heart.
The central and most precious layer, the one we cannot do without is the mental level which comprises the mind, spirit and soul. Without this one cannot function as a human being.
When the body is at ease it is healthy. When it experiences “dis-ease” it is no longer in a state of health. If the dis-ease is mild, it will affect the outer layers, but if the disease is strong it can move into the inner layers. The body will try to push the disease out to the least harmful spot, which is as far out towards the periphery as possible, to maintain the ease of functioning on the inner aspect.
In real life this means that a creature is more likely to survive dealing with a chronic sinus infection (disease on the respiratory level) than dealing with a depression (disease on the mental level) where its environmental awareness is reduced and it becomes more accident prone. Another example is eczema. One can have a much better quality of life with eczema on the skin than having liver disease or being constantly angry.
So what the homeopathic practitioner does is find the correct remedy that matches the symptoms and then decide how strong the remedy must be. If the disease is sitting in the sphere of the mental level, we need to give a high potency. If however the disease is sitting on the periphery, a much lower potency is needed. Personally I see it as a manifestation of Newton’s third law of motion we learned in school physics (after all I am a scientist). This law states that “for every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction “. So for superficial diseases like skin symptoms we only need to give a light nudge to the body so that it can push the disease out of the body. But if there is a mental issue like depression, we need to give a much harder push so that the body’s equal and opposite push eliminates the disease from the body.
If our selected potency is not strong enough, the disease will not leave the body, but will go to sit in a more peripheral level. In the above example the patient may no longer be depressed, but may now develop a respiratory disease. This is referred to as an “aggravation“. The patient may appear more diseased now than he was before because of having physical symptoms, but the homeopath is happy to have cleared the disease from the core of the individual. The new symptoms would now have to be addressed. Most owners would also rather be in the company of a happy snotty cat (for a short time being at least) than a depressed one that does not want to eat and just hides in dark places. If at this stage we now give antibiotics to clear the infection, we may push the disease process back deeper into the system again, so it is important to check with the homeopathic practitioner if antibiotics are really indicated. If it is a case of life and death, of course antibiotics should be given.
Another aspect to be considered in the choice of the homeopathic potency is the vitality or life energy of the patient. A patient may appear weak but may actually have good energy reserves. Some patients have low reserves but put on a show of great energy. If the patient has a strong life force a small nudge can have a huge effect or alternatively may not be noticed at all. If the patient’s vitality is weak, too strong a nudge can exhaust his or her last reserves and push them over the edge.
Layers of diseases
To complicate things further we often have layers of different diseases. As we go through life, we have different experiences which can lead to disease. Sometimes all diseases are based on a single issue, in which case only one remedy is needed. Other times the underlying cause is different but due to previous experiences. In this case different remedies are needed as the layers of disease are peeled off remedy by remedy until a cure is eventually achieved.
Obstacles to cure
As with any form of medicine, obstacles to cure will need to be removed to affect a lasting cure. So if we are dealing with a horse with ulcers, we can keep giving homeopathic remedies to heal the ulcers, but will not achieve a lasting cure until we address the unsuitable diet or the cause of stress.
The beauty of homeopathy is that it can help in conditions where conventional medicine has not yet found answers. I have used it successfully with injured wildlife, particularly birds where wounds are old and the tissue is dying due to a weak blood supply. It has also been of great benefit in downer cows – both for the mental aspect as well as tissue perfusion of the hindquarters. The cows however still need to be turned or lifted every few hours. As homeopathic remedies stimulate the body to help itself, they can be used in a wide variety of conditions.