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Homeopathy in the Treatment of Septic (Infectious) Conditions
by Herbert A. Roberts, MD
Editor's Note from David Johnson: This article was first written in the homeopathic journal Homeopathic Recorder. The remedies Dr. Roberts describes in this 1943 article are the same as those used in infectious conditions today--provided, of course, that the patient's symptoms match the indications for use of the respective remedies!
Septic states have kept the medical profession in bondage and fear since the dawn of medical history, and physicians have resorted to this thing and that thing as a possible cure, only to find they were following another will-o'-the-wisp. As homeopathic physicians, we all need to have brought to our minds the wonderfully rich field for the treatment of these septic conditions that Hahnemann and his followers have provided; and it gives us assurance to realize that these profound states produce the best indications for remedies.
I wish to emphasize that the remedies I speak of are but a few of the many that we might select, for there is hardly a remedy but may be used with the best results in these conditions when the indications call for it; and there is no field in surgery that will bring anywhere near the reward in satisfaction in seeing the patient brought from seeming death back to life and full recovery, by the exhibition at the proper time and in the proper form of the indicated remedy.
A remedy not often thought of in septic states, yet one which is very valuable indeed when its characteristic indications are present, is Arnica. Arnica is suited to those low septic conditions, especially those brought on from traumatic injuries to the tissues. The part is exceedingly sore, and the patient complains of every part he lies on being sore to the touch. The skin is mottled, ecchymosed, and there is a tendency for carbuncles of a deep bluish color, and abscesses which have a very decided tendency to burrow in the tissues. There is bleeding of the parts affected. There is a peculiar fever, the legs and body being cold, while the head is hot. The mouth is foul; in fact, there is nothing about Arnica that does not show this degenerative foulness. The eructations are like rotten eggs. The stools become involuntary, bloody and offensive.
Where erysipelatous infection takes place in a punctured wound, and there is great swelling and edema of the parts, with smooth, red, shiny skin, and exquisite sensitiveness-a sensitiveness all out of proportion-we think of Apis. The patient complains of sudden, sharp, stinging pains. If the wound is in the fingers, the stinging pains extend upward to the shoulder, for these stinging pains always extend toward the center and are always of that intense stinging quality that causes the patient to cry out. The inflammation is very largely of the venous type, and phlebitis may develop and become very troublesome.
With all these conditions we may get the general constitutional symptoms calling for Apis, for unless these constitutional symptoms are present it is not indicated; fever without thirst; sleepiness and drowsiness, only to be suddenly roused by the intensely sharp pains; scanty, albuminous urine; and aggravation of all conditions from 4 to 8 p.m.
Another remedy to come under our consideration is that which has been used extensively by those who prescribe for septic states in a routine manner, on a purely empirical basis. Arsenicum album accomplishes splendid work in profoundly septic states when it is given on its individual indications, but unless it is strongly indicated, and instead given as a matter of routine, it will never accomplish the end the prescriber seeks to attain. The predominant symptom of Arsenicum is its intense restlessness and anxiety. This restlessness and anxiety is aggravated from midnight to 3 a.m. The periodicity of Arsenicum is very marked.
Another peculiarity of Arsenicum is the aggravation from cold and damp, and relief from warmth. There is intense thirst with the febrile conditions, but it is for a sip of water only, but he calls for it very often. The pains of Arsenicum are burning and stabbing, but a marked peculiarity of the remedy is that with the intense burning pains, there is relief from heat.
A remedy that has served me in good stead is Arum triphyllum. This represents a very profound poisoning of the general constitution. It is more apt to be indicated in diversified or cryptogenic septicemia, where the whole system is engulfed as it is in some of the puerperal septic states. Its symptomatology is peculiar. The skin presents a mottled appearance. There is extremely high temperature; all the secretions are exceedingly excoriating. The nostrils are obstructed, yet the coryza is exceedingly watery and burning, causing the patient to breathe through the mouth. When the patient drinks, the fluid comes out through the nose. The tongue is cracked and bleeding, as well as the lips. There is a delirium, or semi-delirious state, and a peculiar symptom in these delirious states of Arum triphyllum that has often been verified is the quivering of the left upper lid. Another characteristic symptom is that the patient persistently and insistently bores his fingers into the nostrils and picks at them until they bleed. As soon as the blood appears the patient seems satisfied and will cease for a time. This remedy may be called for only occasionally, but where it is indicated it will do wonderfully good work.
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About the Author
Herbert A. Roberts, MD (1868 - 1950) was an English homeopathic physician and author who played a leading role in homeopathic education during the first half of the 1900's. He was one of a handful of homeopathic physicians who practiced, taught and kept homeopathy alive even while homeopathic practice had retreated into the "dark ages" in the US, and England was experiencing the tremendous challenges of World War II.
He is the author of:
The Principles and Art of Cure by Homoeopathy
The Study of Remedies by Comparison
Sensations as If...