Let’s start with a disclaimer: I am not a homeopath. I’ve never even taken a class in homeopathy. I was given homeopathic remedies for labor induction by my midwives in 2002 and have since read about it, been given homeopathics for other reasons by other midwives and my dentist (even our vet prescribed homeopathic remedies for our dogs), had the opportunity to hear expert speakers on the topic, and I’ve been using homeopathy on myself and my children for several years now. Occasionally even my husband begrudgingly allows me to drop a few homeopathic pellets in his mouth. So it is only from my own experience that I write on this topic with the hope that you will take it further and see how it might work for your family.
What is homeopathy? Homeopathic medicine is based on the idea that the body has the inherent ability to heal itself. This concept really resonates with me. It’s not a new concept: homeopathy in its current form was discovered in Germany in the late 1700s and has been widely practiced throughout Europe ever since. Homeopathy involves treating the individual with highly diluted and succussed (vigorously shaken) substances, given mainly in pellets, with the aim of triggering the body’s natural system of healing. A key principle of homeopathy is the idea that like cures like. That is, if a substance causes a symptom in a healthy person when taken in large doses, it can be used in small amounts to treat those same symptoms. For example, if you drink too much coffee, you may experience sleeplessness and agitation, so according to this principle, when made into a homeopathic medicine, it could be used to treat people with these symptoms. In theory, a homeopathic dose enhances the body’s normal healing and self-regulatory processes.
How does it work exactly? According to the Society of Homeopaths, “As yet, science has not been able to explain the mechanism of action of ultra high dilutions in the body, but laboratory experiments have repeatedly demonstrated that homeopathically prepared substances cause biological effects….There is also a growing body of research evidence that homeopathic medicines have clinical effects.” And from my experience, it does!
For me, the beauty of homeopathy lies in the fact that I can help heal my family’s ailments without pharmaceutical drugs. I want to encourage my children’s bodies to deal with challenges naturally. Homeopathic remedies are generally considered safe, non-toxic, and do not interfere with conventional medications. They can be used at any age – my fourth baby got them within hours of birth for respiratory difficulties, which completely resolved within 18 hours of her birth. They can be used in many cases but of course there is a time and place for more conventional treatment – as always, use your own best judgment!
I don’t fear colds, fevers, congestion, or the normal bumps and bruises of an active childhood and was raised by parents who are very averse to pharmaceutical drugs. As in they don’t even want to be numbed up for dental work. I’ll happily give birth at home but I will not have a cavity filled without numbing, thank you very much! I have to draw the line somewhere.
Do I use homeopathy for everything? No. I use it as a first line of defense whenever I can and it almost always is all that I need. However, I do have one child with allergies to peas, beans, oat, soy and peanut so sometimes for him we need to pull out the big guns: Benadryl. We use the dye-free version and one dose usually gets things under control. Although he has been prescribed an epi-pen and we’ve been given other ‘harder’ pharmaceutical samples from the allergy specialist, we have so far been OK with Benadryl. And while some frown on that and warn me of the dangers of anticholinergi drugs which block the action of neurotransmitters in our nervous system (acetylcholine is a key player in cognition), when I see my child looking like this:
or covered in hives, I am perfectly at peace using Benadryl a few times per year. Like I said, there’s a time and a place…
But for the other 97% of the time, I turn to homeopathics. I’ve invested in a fair arsenal of these small blue tubes from Boiron as well as remedies from Hyland’s and have used them for various reasons ranging from nightmares to bruises, from coughing to bug bites, from labor induction to postpartum healing, from respiratory difficulties to teething discomfort.
Here are the 5 most commonly used remedies in my personal family care kit:
In our home, the most frequently used remedy is arnica montana, which we have in both pellet and gel form. Kids will be kids and get bumps and bruises all the time. I myself bruise easily. Arnica helps heal tissue trauma and reduce bruising.
Mosquitoes love me. With. A. Passion. I don’t go camping without this. Any insect bites or stings get treated with apis and we find it’s very effective in reducing welts and itching.
Sometimes our kids really do grow up too fast! One in particular wakes up sometimes in the middle of the night crying and clutching her leg as she rolls around in pain. Her dad had very similar ‘growing pains’ as a child. We find a dose of calcarea phosphorica and a good leg massage do wonders to ease the pain and help her get back to sleep.
That kid with the allergies? He knows when his eyes start to bother him. He doesn’t always notice the hives on his face or abdomen before I do, but this is the remedy that we turn to first and it helps prevent escalation of the problem and brings it under control, making him more comfortable. We never travel far from home without it.
We have used belladonna for fevers if they get uncomfortable, for sunburns (which do happen from time to time, much to my guilt) and for the occasional acute sore throat.
The book I turn to most often is The Family Guide to Homeopathy but there are other great ones on the market.
Does homeopathy really work? I’ve known a few skeptics who doubt the ability of highly diluted substances to be effective. Most of the time, I believe homeopathy can and does work. I know apis alleviates the painful itching welts mosquitoes give me, that arnica reduces my bruising and that histaminum gets my boy’s hives under control. But sometimes, when my boys come running to me to tell me of their latest misadventure, crying in pain, asking for “those little white balls”, they skip away to play again seconds after the pellets hit their tongues. Seconds! One might argue that the pellets still worked – they made the patient feel better – and I’m OK with that too.
Which homeopathic remedies do you use most for your family?
Check out these further resources:
- Boiron Homeopathics
- Hyland’s Homepathics
- 20 Homeopathic Remedies That Every Home Should Not Be Without
- Mothering.com’s Articles on Homeopathy