Homoeopathic Prescribing for Acute Symptoms
Homoeopathic prescribing for the acute case can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of Homoeopathic practice. As the telephone rings, the Homoeopath follows their training to establish vital information in establishing the case history and the presenting symptoms of the patient. As well as bringing useful practical assistance, clarity of information and discerning practitionership to a situation often charged with emotional uncertainty and anxiety for the patient, and sometimes their family; it is simply rewarding as a Homoeopath to see Homoeopathy ‘in action’. Providing Homoeopathic support in acute symptoms means several things are delivered in an immediate and practical way.
For example, a mother rings in at 5pm to inform the Homoeopath that her son, who is under two years of age is running a temperature.
Timing is of the essence.
The Homoeopath will ask specific, simple to follow questions which help to elicit the full picture as it presents in real time. This is called emergency care ‘triage’. The answers quickly inform the Homoeopath as to what level of care is required and by whom. Triage also forms the basis of Differential Diagnosis, which the homoeopath is fully trained and competent to make in their own right, and alongside GP or consultant, will form an additional pathway of care.
Homoeopathy is not a substitute for Emergency First Aid care and referral to the appropriate agencies is always advised. However, Homoeopathy can assist in the physiology in ‘knowing normal’; thereby assisting in the gentle resolution of symptoms and also in effective communication and support of patients.
1. Is the child alert? (Or drowsy, talkative, confused, sleepy?) Obviously the Homoeopath will react accordingly and advise specific referral for emergency care if the child is drowsy, confused and unresponsive. Otherwise, questions will continue.
2. Is the child breathing comfortably? (Or struggling to breathe, and if so, there are specific first aid care questions to ask enabling clear advice and onward referral for emergency care or decision making which suggests that Homoeopathic care is appropriate)
3. Describe the colour of face, the lips and area around the mouth.
4. Is there a known history of asthma, allergy.
5. Has the child inhaled or ingested an object? Has a trauma occurred? Depending on the nature of the information received, the Homoeopath will advise onward referral for emergency care or Homoeopathic care if appropriate.
If deemed appropriate for Homoeopathy, the questions continue.
6. Changes in mood, character and nature are asked about. This information is important if there has been a significant trauma, such as head injury, other physical trauma or shock. Also important in case of emotional upset which the child is unable to express or talk about the cause. This understanding is important where emotional or physical harm or abuse has occurred.
Decision for onward care is made as appropriate. GP advice may be sought or GP informed in real time.
7. Where is the heat? (Temperature in the body, head or limbs)
8. Do any parts feel cool or chilled to touch? (Are the hands, feet warm or cool?)
The Homoeopath will invite the parent to gently run their hands over the head, chest, abdomen, back and limbs including hands and feet. This quickly allows a parent to discern specific information concerning the temperature of their child.
9. Is there sweat/perspiration? And where on the body does it occur? What temperature is the sweat itself? Warm or cool?
For a Homoeopath location of symptoms is important as it enables discrete perceptual understanding of, for instance, the stages of fever or chill which the child is currently experiencing.
A Homoeopath will ask further questions about any other symptoms occurring now in real time, and then ask questions concerning what has occurred in the 24 hours beforehand, and a few days previously, including any previous episodes of known history.
For a Homoeopath, any other symptoms occurring in real time are known as ‘concomitant symptoms’, symptoms which occur alongside the main presenting symptom, which in this case is the child’s raised temperature, which enable the Homoeopath to understand the case more completely, and allow specific understanding of the different body systems such as digestion, breathing, cardio-vascular, urinary systems.
10. Is the child able to drink? Refusing drinks? Thirsty? For anything specific, such as warm, cool or chilled drinks?
11. Is the child able to eat? Refusing food? Hungry? For anything specific, such as savoury, sweet things, juicy fruits? Or averse to anything which normally would be eaten.
12. What is the child’s sleep pattern like during the acute symptoms? What is it like normally?
13. Where the child is able to speak, they may describe the sensation in the body. Sensations, ‘what a thing feels like’, is vital understanding to the Homoeopath. For example, if there is a rash, does it feel hot, itchy, prickly, for instance? The child may be able to describe the sensation in their body. ‘It feels hot’ (a particular symptom of the rash), discerned from, ‘I feel hot’(a general particular symptom of the whole body).
The Homoeopath is specifically trained to discern the value of such information about symptoms, which also informs the differential diagnostic process and identification of the remedy.
Also, a child is able to say: ‘I feel thirsty’. ‘I feel cold’. ‘I feel sleepy’. These are individual particular symptoms true in the moment and occurring alongside the primary presenting symptom. Such particular symptoms form a very important aspect of Homoeopathic case history taking, diagnosis and remedy identification.
14. Does the temperature peak at particular times? The timing of aggravation in fever and other symptoms is also invaluable information to the Homoeopath in eliciting the full case history and in identifying the nature of the remedy. Is there a ‘lull’ or a ‘trough’ in the fever process where the temperature subsides? The amelioration time or quiescence in a fever is also invaluable information to the Homoeopath, who can then also provide specific advice to the parent in the care of their child during acute symptoms. Invaluable in what can be an emotionally distressing for parent and child alike. Recognising timing of fever spikes, and the associated behaviour and desires or dislikes of the child, assists to inform the Homoeopath in confirming the remedy picture.
15. Does the child seem better for, or worse for, certain things? (Does the child want to move, be still, be cuddled, be alone, want company, want fresh air, or warmth, covering or heat?) During acute symptoms these ‘modalities’ are an essential part of Homoeopathic case history taking, differential diagnosis and remedy selection.
Such information is particular to the time and situation in acute symptoms and can also be generally true of the child when well, or not. Deviation from the normal state of emotional health during acute phase of illness is an important aspect of understanding a child’s nature and their well-being.
If the patient has already been seen by the practice, a full case history will already be known. Any subsequent case history is asked about once the acute presentation has been established. If the enquiry is from a new patient, unknown to the practice, an emergency consultation is made for them, where appropriate. The Homoeopath is trained to discern whether emergency care and first aid are needed, and onward referral is made if deemed more appropriate.
The particular value of the way I run my practice is the ability to offer immediate response and onward referral where required, or immediate response which enables the patient and their family to effectively understand the presenting symptoms; to achieve timely support and effective management of acute symptoms such as First Aid practical measures which can be done immediately at home; alongside the provision of emergency consultation with physical examination and the prescription of Homoeopathic remedies for acute symptoms.
If a Homoeopathic consultation has been made and Homoeopathy has been provided, the Homoeopath will request you to keep them informed of any further changes in symptoms, whether resolution of original symptoms or development of new symptoms, as this may indicate a changing state or condition, which the Homoeopath will ask you to keep them informed of.
If a change in state or condition occurs where further symptoms are being experienced, this may also indicate a change in Homoeopathic prescribing is indicated. As the aim of Homoeopathy is to enable the vital force of the patient’s health to recognise their ‘normal state’ of well-being, or indeed improved well-being and achieve this as swiftly, and as economically for the body systems, as possible. The Homoeopath will advise you and work with you to achieve clear understanding of what is happening in your health and achieve your informed consent for Homoeopathic treatment throughout the course of your case.
The provision of Homoeopathic remedies in a timely, humble and simple way can offer effective symptom relief and support the patient’s health in its ‘self-recognition’ of the presenting state and symptoms. Indeed, progression through acute symptoms to resolution and restoration of health is the particular art in Homoeopathic prescribing which I find especially rewarding and challenging.
Often the health has reached a point where acute symptoms have been triggered to enable the body to undertake important physiologic processes which enable a ‘spring – clean’ or clearing out of the household economy, to effectively remove patterns in the health which have become chronic, thereby, ineffective in resolving underlying issues which by their nature, undermines the good health and well-being of the person. Often we speak of a ‘healing crisis’ which permits through the manifestation of acute ‘dis-ease’ symptoms, the pathway to, and restoration of, true healing and restoration of vitality.
Homoeopathy is not a substitute for Emergency First Aid care and referral to the appropriate agencies is always advised. However, Homoeopathy can assist in the physiology in ‘knowing normal’; thereby assisting in the gentle resolution of symptoms and in effective communication and support of patients.