BABIES, CHILDREN AND HOMEOPATHY
Homeopathic Remedies for the Young
Dr Jenifer Worden MB ChB MRCGP MFHom
Homeopathy is a rapidly growing area of complementary medicine and one that a growing number of parents are becoming familiar with. There are several reasons for this. One, a desire to treat babies and children more 'naturally' and two, that it is better to look at the child in a complete manner. Healthcare professionals are increasingly asked about the suitability of homeopathic medicines in pregnancy and labour and indeed for babies. Therefore it is useful for the mother to be aware of homeopathy and how it may be of help.
Homeopathy is based on the principle 'like cures like', meaning that a dilute, energised solution of that which is causing a problem is given to alleviate it. In practice, the professional homeopath will assess the symptoms which cover all aspects of the problem and then attempt to find a homeopathic medicine which seems appropriate for that condition. Physical and psychological factors are both considered, which is why homeopathy is referred to as 'holistic'. Because homeopathic remedies are so dilute, they are safe to give at any stage of pregnancy or labour and during breast-feeding. They may be used literally from birth through life into old age.
Homeopathic medicines are made from a variety of substances, but most often from plants. However, the plant extract is treated quite differently from that used by herbalists. This is why homeopathic remedies are safe for mothers-to-be and children which is not true for all herbal medicines.
A wide range of homeopathic products are available from pharmacies without prescription but it is always best to seek the advice of a medically qualified homeopathic doctor if the patient is unsure of the best remedy. Homeopathic medicines may be administered in different ways which make them more palatable and easy to take. Small, round sugar balls, or pillules, are the common form for children or indeed adults and they are also available in drops or granules. However, when treating the very young, or if the problem or symptoms being treated do not resolve quickly, it is recommended that the child, particularly if a high temperature is involved, be treated by conventional medicine.
Problems in the young child or baby which may be helped by a homeopathic approach include persistent crying, where any serious underlying cause has been excluded, and Chamomilla is used, especially when the crying is linked to teething. Children who usually benefit from Chamomilla often appear angry and also make their carer feel angry. Colic can also be helped by homeopathy and Chamomilla is again useful together with Cuprum or Colocynthis.
Recurrent upper respiratory tract infections in children such as colds, sore throats and middle ear infections will usually respond well to homeopathic treatment, either as a cure in the acute stages, or as a preventive. Pulsatilla is commonly used where a child is quite changeable in their personality, perhaps being shy and tearful. Also, they may have a bland, catarrhal-like discharge from either their nose or ears .Children who tend to be shy and who feel the cold may be given Calc carb but those who like to be outside and are happy in the open air do best with Pulsatilla. The discharge from the ear of a child who will react well to Calc.carb may well be offensive.
Vomiting may also be a problem in childhood, particularly if it is caused by gastro-enteritis. A number of homeopathic medicines are useful here, whether or not diarrhoea is present. Pulsatilla may again be used, particularly where there is vomiting after excitement or over-eating for example, at a party, or Phosphorus, if vomiting seems to be related to anxiety.
Homeopathy can be used for a wide range of other childhood illnesses including eczema, asthma, hayfever, and migraine. It may be safely taken alongside conventional medication without loss of effect to either.
It will be appreciated that babies and young children can be affected by a wide range of ailments or illnesses and that a parent should always consult their GP if they are concerned. However, there are many symptoms that may be treated successfully with homeopathic remedies and it is hoped that some mentioned here will be useful to the parent and child.
© Dr Jeni Worden 8.3.06