Homeopathy for the Homestead
Alternative medicine holds a very important place in homesteading. Homeopathy is a natural, safe, holistic healing method that has been used for over 200 years. It is one of the safest methods of healing, it is even useful in labor and delivery; for newborns, and children of all ages as well as animals and elderly folk. It is also easy to use, and extremely effective.
Homeopathy or homeopathic medicines are often confused with other healing modalities such as herbalism, or supplementation. Homeopathic remedies are FDA-approved over-the-counter and prescription medicines that are available to practitioners and in low potency to the general public. They are very dilute substances of a material (plant, animal, mineral or other materials) that are sprayed on milk sugar pellets and dissolved under the tongue. I have been practicing homeopathy for 20 years, and naturopathy for 15 years, and work with clients from all over the U.S. via phone or in person on my homestead of eight-plus acres. We endeavor to teach people how to return to health with the help of a few non-invasive methods, and teach them how to use homeopathy for their families through the use of remedy kits we carry in the office. We will ship kits or remedies to the general public if requested, as long as the remedies are “over the counter” remedies in low potencies.
With a little bit of knowledge, you can use homeopathy for yourself, family or barnyard for acute problems around the homestead. It does not interfere with medications, causes no side effects, and can save you money on medical and veterinary care.
That being said, if you have any questions about the severity of your symptoms, contact your health care practitioner! Generally, if there is high fever, especially if it is not resolving quickly or the person is listless, you should consult your provider for advice or necessary medical care. I always advise folks to ask the doctor questions such as:
Do you think this problem is viral or bacterial?
Would there be any complications if I tried a natural therapy for a few days to help with the symptoms?
I ask the viral/bacterial question because if there is a virus that is causing the problem, antibiotics will not help. Your doctor may want to give you antibiotics just in case they feel you are at high risk of developing a secondary bacterial infection, or they feel they have no other options available. The important thing is to keep communication between you open. In most cases, the common cold lasts about 7-10 days (about as long as the usual antibiotic prescription). In working with physicians myself for many years, understand that they are there to help relieve your symptoms and don’t always like to tell the patient “This is a virus, there is no medication we can give you, go home, increase fluids, and rest.” I find that it helps to discuss with the doctor how you feel about antibiotics if you would rather not use them unless necessary. The doc can then follow up as needed to track progress or discuss complications and what to do if they arise.
You should only be handling acute problems yourself. Leave the chronic ones to your health care practitioner or medical team whether allopathic (conventional) or holistic practitioner/homeopath.
Just so we’re on the same page, an acute issue is something that comes on suddenly, and sometimes resolves its own (such as a cold, flu, or minor cut).
A chronic issue is something you have to deal with on a regular basis, such as headaches that recur, hormonal issues, arthritis, eczema, etc.
We’ll describe the rules of homeopathic use, how to take remedies for injuries, and how to dose the remedies. This can be quite different than for conventional medicines and herbs. Remedies are not taken on a schedule, and if you get the wrong one, it simply won’t work! Thankfully, if you mess up, homeopathy is very forgiving. You want to make sure you don’t take more than you need, because your symptoms may be aggravated, or you may have an initial aggravation that is mild and should resolve quickly.
Don’t take remedies frequently that don’t help, and don’t take lots of remedies at a time, so you know what’s working. There are some practitioners out there who use machines to make remedies and give multiple remedies at the same time in dropper bottles. Although sometimes helpful, this is not “classical homeopathy,” which is using one remedy at a time to help the person heal. If you need help locating a good practitioner, don’t hesitate to contact the office and we’ll be glad to help you find the right person for you.
As a general rule, acute problems resolve fairly quickly with homeopathic care. You should feel better within a few doses of a well-selected remedy. If you do not, you may need to choose another or contact your practitioner for guidance.
How to Take Homeopathic Remedies
Taking homeopathic remedies requires a little bit of skill and knowledge. There are a few rules to consider when using remedies for healing.
Homeopathic remedies are not taken on a schedule like aspirin or other medications or herbs.
Remedies are usually taken “as needed,” which means that if you take one or two doses of the remedy and you improve, you repeat the dose only when it wears off.
Remedies have no side effects, but you can notice what we call an “aggravation” or slight worsening of your symptoms before you see improvement, this is usually a good sign that you have the correct remedy. Usually this is mild and brief. If you aggravate, don’t repeat the remedy unless you see improvement and then you will relapse where your symptoms get worse again. Repeating doses too frequently when you don’t need them will also make you worse. This sounds confusing, but people usually get the hang of it quickly once you realize it is not like using conventional drugs.
Generally, a child falling asleep after a remedy is given for cold or flu is a good sign that the remedy is helping the healing process.
General Dosing of Homeopathics
Remedies are taken on an as-needed basis, and each person is different. No two people are exactly alike, some are sensitive and some are not. General guidelines are: Take a test dose of the indicated remedy—two large pellets or 10 tiny pellets and wait for a response. If no change, take a second dose a few hours later and wait for a response. You can try a third dose if no change is noted. If you do feel better, then take the remedy as needed until symptoms resolve. If you have no improvement after the first day, or first three doses, change remedies. Obviously, if you have dramatic symptoms, you need not wait hours to repeat. With shock or trauma, usually a big improvement is seen and repetition is more obvious.
If you have a very good remedy and a good response, it is easier to know when to re-dose. If there is improvement, and then you worsen, you may repeat the remedy. Usually, the remedy will start to last longer and longer until you are well. The best symptom to watch is the energy and/or biggest concern (pain, cough, fever, etc.).
In the case of a bee sting or other similar sudden (acute) problem, you should know right away if it is the right remedy or not. If no improvement is seen in one-to-two doses, you need to select another remedy. Obviously, if you have a severe reaction to stings, such as mouth itching or shortness of breath, seek medical help immediately. It may be a good idea to have an epi-pen around for emergencies.
Hopefully this little guide aids you in trying to help your family heal with natural methods. Homeopathy takes a little bit of commitment, but is well worth it in the payoff of healing and safety. Once you see what a remedy can do, you will probably be hooked and want to learn more. Contact me if this is the case and I can steer you in the right direction! Best of luck on your journey to health!
Becky Rupert is a Board Certified Homeopath, and Traditional Naturopath who consults with clients all over the United States. She has been homesteading and helping others to “Heal Yourself, Naturally” for more than 20 years. She can be reached at 419-853-3805 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Homeopathy and Uses
Arnica: Arnica is the pre-eminent remedy for bumps and bruises, or injuries. When in doubt, try arnica first. It is often used post-surgery for swelling and bruising. It is especially useful when the person says they are well, when they clearly are not, or the parts injured are sore to touch. They often complain about “the bed is too hard.” This remedy is often used in traumatic situations with shock en-route to the hospital.
Rhus-t: Rhus Toxicodendron is often used for pain with restlessness, symptoms are also worse with cold, damp weather, or on first movement, but tends to be better with continued motion. Often the pain feels better from heat or hot bathing. Problems can come on from cold weather, a cold that came on from getting cold and wet and the person is restless. (This is where rhus-t can also be used for colds.) It’s also a front line remedy for poison ivy, and poison ivy prevention. (See our poison ivy article from Jan/Feb 2005.)
Bry: Bryonia alba: Bryonia is often useful for any situation where the person wishes to lie completely still to avoid aggravating the condition. The pains are worse from jarring, and pains can be sharp or stitching in character.
Ruta: Ruta graveolens is often the best remedy for sprains and strains of soft tissue. It is also useful for bone bruising.
Symph: Symphytum: An old herbal standby, comfrey is also a favorite homeopathic remedy for fracture (get set first!) and blunt trauma to the eyes, or even scratches of the eye (seek professional help).
Hyper: Hypericum Perfoliatum: Not necessarily for hyperactive children, hypericum is a great remedy for nerve pains such as when you hit your finger with a hammer, stub your toe, or a child slams their finger in a car door.
Canth: One of the most common burn remedies is cantharis. It is good for many types of burns, chemical, scalds, or sunburn. A definite for the first aid kit.
Apis: A good remedy for minor burns that have the characteristic redness, burning, stinging, and swelling.
Led: Ledum pulustre is wonderful for puncture wounds, stepping on nails, needle sticks, after vaccinations, etc. Also used for animal bites, tick bites, and simple stings. The area surrounding the puncture can feel cold to the touch, and cold applications are desired. There is much controversy over tetanus vaccinations, so I will simply say that ledum can be used in conjunction with the vaccine, if desired. If you have a tick bite, it is wise to seek out help to determine if you have contracted lyme disease.
Staph: Staphysagria: Actually a plant remedy, staphysagria is useful for cutting wounds, stabs, or cuts. It can be used after surgery to aid in healing. Of course, get stitches if needed! This can be a great remedy for unplanned C-Sections especially if mom is upset about not having a natural delivery.
Sil: Silica terra is often used to expel splinters and remove foreign objects. Don’t use if you have implants of any kind, just in case!
Calendula: We use calendula (marigold) tincture for abrasions and scrapes. You can use it in remedy form or make your own mother tincture with calendula officionales petals soaked for a month in alcohol then strained. We add calendula petals to make homemade salves, soaps and just about any skin care product we make on the homestead.
See also arnica.
Acon: Aconite is a wonderful remedy for shock, and it’s almost the opposite of arnica, so it’s easy to spot! In aconite, the shock is terrifying or frightening. This remedy is often used for panic. I would use this one first if you are not sure which one to give, and seek medical help.
— Becky Rupert
Rules for Homeopathy
There are a few rules to remember with homeopathy that are different than what you may be used to with traditional medicine.
- Homeopathic remedies are all FDA approved and can be obtained at many health food stores, and of course, homeopathic pharmacies. Keep in mind that acute care is best handled with 30C potency remedies. The “C” means how the potency was diluted (1:100), the 30 means how many times it was diluted (30 times). There are also “X” potencies (1:10). Don’t worry about potency as long as you stick with 6-12-30 potencies of either X or C…either will work if you have a close remedy. With the 6 potency, you may have to take it more frequently—yes, the higher the number, the stronger the dose! 30C is a good potency to use, followed by 12C if 30 is not available. A 6C is useful for sprains or fractures and are usually taken three times a day for three to six weeks until the sprain or fracture heals completely.
- Remedies are not the same as herbs, even if you take the remedy echinacea or goldenseal in potency (as a homeopathic remedy) it is not the same. Homeopathic remedies are a catalyst to help a healing response, and herbs work as supportive therapies or sometimes work against the body, similarly to a drug (they are generally not toxic). Examples would be an anti-emetic (to stop vomiting) or anti-pyretic to reduce a fever. Medications such as antacids, or anti-inflammatory drug works against the body, and homeopathy (by contrast) works with the body to help heal the symptom. An example would be when I had to use a remedy called nux-v (nux vomica) or poison nut to help heal a colicky horse. Or Allium cepa (made from onion) to help with streaming, burning eyes from allergies. Remember how it feels when you are chopping onions!
- Homeopathic remedies are not taken on a schedule like medications, they are taken on an as-needed basis, depending on the individual and their symptoms.
- Remedies are not placebos. When we get the wrong remedy, nothing happens! Also, remedies work on babies and animals, neither of which is subject to placebo response.
- Homeopathic remedies are not given on the basis of diagnosis, i.e.: we don’t have one remedy for asthma, one for arthritis, one for headache, etc. However, there are some exceptions to the rule. Remedies are given based on the individual symptom picture of the client. To give an example, if you have a person that has the following symptoms of redness, heat, stinging pain, and swelling, you would consider apis 30, made from the honey bee—even if the person who had these symptoms as a sore throat, cellulitis, an insect bite, or mastitis in a cow. This is one of the hardest things for people to understand about homeopathy. Everything is individualized to the particular person, and the pattern of symptoms. There are 4,000 homeopathic remedies, but don’t worry, you don’t need to memorize them all, we’ll start with an easy category, and one you can use at home.
We’ll cover first aid as something to “get your feet wet.” There are a few remedies here that are used for specific things, and are almost always the correct remedy for sprains, strains, splinters or injuries.