Homoeopathy and the stages of life
We usually have an idealistic image of life in the womb – 9 months of serenity, bathed in warm amniotic fluid, growing all the time and with oxygen, food and love readily provided. However, even in this nine month mini paradise, any trauma, sudden shock or negative emotion experienced by the mother hits the foetus hardest of all.
Conversely, it was the ancient Greeks who believed that putting pregnant women in beautiful, harmonious surroundings would cause them to imbibe feelings of joy. Similarly, the Tziganes of Hungary would play their violins over the abdomen of pregnant women in the belief that the baby would grow up to be musical.
Opium is one of the top homoeopathic remedies to consider when a strong fright is experienced during pregnancy. The remedy has been used successfully when premature labour began at six months, and allowed the pregnancy to continue to full term. In other cases the baby may be born underweight, constipated, sleeping too much and a poor feeder, when the remedy will again restore order. One of the side effects of taking opiate type pain killers is constipation, so it follows homoeopathically that Opium is a good remedy for constipated babies whose mothers have been taking his type of analgesic.
Pulsatilla is the remedy for fear of separation – Pulsatilla children are often very clingy and will hate to part from their mothers, for example on the first day of school. In the uterus as full term is reached, it is common for the foetus to present in a breech (head up, bottom down) position - as though it cannot bear to part from it’s mother – when a dose of Pulsatilla will often succeed in turning to a head down position. In India, homoeopaths routinely give a dose of Pulsatilla 15C in the final stage of pregnancy to encourage a problem free labour.
Staphysagria is an excellent remedy for suppressed anger and frustration, and is therefore excellent for women whose partners or employers are annoyed at them “falling” pregnant. It is also indicated for women who feel violated or intimidated when being clinically examined (under any circumstances) but in this context as part of an ante natal examination.
All this suppressed anger is often expressed by the baby during its first three months as colic, when Colocynthis (Bitter Cucumber) will often cure. Colocynthis is the acute form of Staphysagria and was used in material doses as a purgative over twenty years ago.
Symphoricarpus racemosa (Snow Berry) is useful for the severe vomiting of pregnancy, often during the first trimester, which is so profuse that it endangers the life of both mother and baby.
When the vomiting is not so severe but brought on by the smell or even thought of food, think of Sepia (Cuttlefish Ink). Sepia is often needed in women who feel torn between being a mother and being a woman. They experience pregnancy as a loss of their femininity and unconsciously reject the child, which often makes this a top remedy for depression during pregnancy.
Apis (crushed bee) is a good remedy for threatened miscarriage in the third month. Apis is a top remedy for allergic reactions, and the unborn baby is perceived by the mother’s body as an allergen (foreign protein) which it needs to get rid of.
Ignatia is the remedy for children who were deprived for several days (which must seem like ages to an unborn baby!), of their mother’s love – perhaps whilst they were awaiting the results of an amniocentesis test – and emotionally detached themselves from the baby in case they would have to abort. Consequently, these children are extremely sensitive to broken relationships, which makes them withdraw with lots of weeping and sighing.
Kali Carbonicum is the top remedy for backache during pregnancy, and especially for backache following on from pregnancy. The remedy is often seen in those with a strong sense of duty who carry the weight of the world on their shoulders – and the backache is felt as a dragging pain in the lower back extending downwards.
I hope the above examples have provided a tiny insight into how a shock during pregnancy can be transmitted to the foetus and subsequently manifest after birth.
Adapting to life outside the womb is never an easy process and many problems can occur:
Colic: it is extremely easy to overload the digestive system, leading to bloating, gas and flatulence. Nux Vomica is a great remedy for an overworked digestive system, especially where the baby is stressed out. Colocynthis has the classic picture of doubling up with the pain, and they will scream and throw a temper tantrum. Their pain is relieved by heat and pressure. If Colocynthis does not work, consider Mag Phos. Chamomilla, which is often considered as a great teething remedy, is a major colic remedy, too. Again there is much anger and screaming as the child feels the pain is unfair. Unlike Colocynthis, however, one cheek is hot and the other pale, the child desires to be held and will start crying each time it is laid down. Cuprum Met is one final remedy which can have colic plus convulsions and is the number one for a condition called intussusception(telescoping of one part of the bowel into the other) which should be treated as a medical emergency.
Teething often coincides with the sixth month of life – the very act of teething involves piercing of the gums which can create pain and inflammation, sometimes extending to the ears and respiratory tract. The cutting of the first tooth represents the first stage towards adulthood and independence. It is not uncommon for the stools to be upset during a teething episode and this can often help to point towards the right remedy – for example, Chamomilla will show a similar picture as described earlier, has stools looking like chopped spinach and smelling of bad eggs.
Belladonna has a brightly flushed face, dilated pupils and is excitable and will often scream at the approach of a stranger. They will often develop symptoms after cutting or washing their hair. Belladonna complaints are characterised by great suddenness and intensity. Children who do well on the remedy Calcarea Carbonica will often have a slowness around cutting their first teeth and development generally. They are fat and flabby children with sweating heads and open fontanelles (an opening in the skull due to incomplete closure of the cranial bones which is often delayed in children needing this remedy). These children can often put on weight rapidly and are very fearful and tend to suffer a lot from cradle cap (an attempt to protect their delicate skulls?). Children who do well on this remedy will often respond well to Belladonna during a flare up (acute condition) of, say, teething.
Finally, a few quick pointers to some remedies which might be indicated during infancy and will often serve well on future occasions:
For infants born with congenital anomalies such as cleft palate, skeletal abnormalities, much long hair on the back, who go on to be excessively irritable, grind their teeth at night and love milk, think of Tuberculinum. They are often prone to asthma and respiratory problems as they develop.
For infants who suffer with illnesses such as asthma, from birth, think of Medorrhinum. These infants will often tend to sleep on their abdomens with their buttocks in the air, and knees under their chests. They are prone to colds and eye infections. Chest colds are frequent and tend to be “wet” sounding (Tuberculinum has “dry” sounding). They are generally “hot” babies, and prefer orange juice to milk.
Pulsatilla infants need to be held all the time and tearful or fearful of any separation from the parent. Physically, they are prone to recurrent eye and ear infections (otitis). They are always better for consolation, coolness and in the morning, and worse from heat.
Sulphur infants tend to be warm- blooded and are naturally curious. They are prone to dry skin eruptions, such as eczema, and are often intolerant of milk which they vomit.
For further information, the booklets Homeopathic Treatment in the Nursery and Homoeopathy for Mother and Infants are available through many local pharmacies.
Lawrence Collin, M.R.Pharm.S, L.C.Hom, Pharmacist and Homoeopath.