Last post I dug out the common names for a bunch of homeopathic… I’m not sure what to call it. “Ingredients” sounds too optimistic, for reasons that should become clear shortly. Let’s go with “varieties”.
That’s all well and interesting, but so what? What is this homeopathy stuff anyway? Well, I’ll let the International Academy of Classical Homeopathy (henceforth IACH) explain it.
This system is based mainly on the principle that the cure for a particular disease is achieved through the use of pharmaceutical substances that, when administered to a healthy person, produce the similar symptoms as those of the disease in question. For example, it is well known that Belladonna causes mydriasis , that is to say dilation of the pupil of the eye. In a case of mydriasis the homeopathic doctor will probably give Belladonna, in a highly diluted potency, in order to restore the pupil to its normal state.
This is why Ipecacuanha is recommended for nausea and vomiting, the plant makes you puke, therefore the homeopathic version stops you from puking.
If you’re worried about how many of those ingredients are powerful poisons, you can relax. Homeopathic remedies are so diluted that there’s no active ingredient left. Read the rest of this entry
(After I started writing this last night, I wound up spiraling out of control into a very long post about homeopathy. Looking at it this morning, I’ve decided it’s better to split it up. Would probably be best to post this part second, but it stands on its own with less work and it’s how I started thinking about the subject, so here it is. )
I mentioned there were two posts in Mothering about pertussis that I had things to say about, but I think I’m going to skip to the end of this article by Lauren Feder, MD, and just talk about homeopathy instead. Dr Feder wraps up her article with a list of homeopathic remedies, which I’ll reproduce here.
Aconitum napellus for sudden attacks of croupy coughs at the beginning stages of illness and cough
Antimonium tartaricum for rattling in the chest with a strong, loose cough when chest feels full of mucus
Bryonia alba for dry, racking, painful cough in chest and head, made worse by motion and better by being still
Coccus cacti for winter coughs with tickling in the throat, and strong fits of coughing that end in choking or vomiting
Cuprum metallicum (Cuprum) for spasmodic coughing fits
Drosera for violent coughing spells ending in choking, gagging, or vomiting. Sometimes these coughs are so strong that the child can hardly catch her breath. Drosera is indicated for barking coughs, whooping cough, croup, and coughs that are worse after midnight, commonly accompanied by a bloody nose and a hoarse voice.
Hepar sulphuris calcareum for croup that is worse in the morning and evening (until midnight); indicated following Aconitum napellus, especially with croup with rattling mucus in chest that is worse in the morning
Ipecacuanha for whooping cough and other severe suffocative coughs that end in retching, vomiting, or cyanosis, with stiffness in the body; the child feels nauseated and has an aversion to food (including the smell of food)
Pulsatilla for coughs with yellow-green mucus; cough is worse at night and interferes with sleep
Spongia tosta for dry coughs that sound like a saw going through wood; often used for croup. Useful for croupy coughs that are worse before midnight, accompanied by a dry, barking cough that can sound like a seal.
Such interesting names! What is this stuff? Well don’t worry, I’m here to help! I use google so you don’t have to!
- Aconitum napellus has many names, Monkshood, aconite, Wolf’s Bane, Fuzi, Monk’s Blood, or Monk’s Hood. It’s a poisonous herb native to Europe, famous for deterring movie werewolves.
- Antimonium tartaricum Modern chemistry calls this potassium antimonyl tartrate, it’s also known as emetic tartar or tartar emetic. Used since the Middle Ages to induce vomiting.
- Bryonia alba a vine commonly known as white bryony. Other names include English mandrake, kudzu of the Northwest, and devil’s turnip. Leaves and berries are toxic, apparently 40 berries will kill an adult.
- Coccus cacti is the classification given by Linnaeus to the cochineal, an insect native to Mexico and South America from which we get the dye carmine.
- Cuprum metallicum is metallic copper.
- Drosera is a genus of carnivorous plants, usually called sundews. Used medicinally as an expectorant and stimulant.
- Hepar sulphuris calcareum seems to be unique to homeopathy. Best I can tell it’s an impure calcium sulfide compound made from oyster shells and sulfur, heated in a crucible.
- Ipecacuanha is the plant used to make syrup of ipecac, the go-to drug for when you need to vomit.
- Pulsatilla is a genus of highly toxic flowers found in meadows and prairies. Blackfoot tribes used it to induce abortions and childbirth, but it will also slow the heart, and in higher doses can cause diarrhea, vomiting, convulsions, hypotension, and coma.
- Spongia tosta is roasted sea sponge. Just like it says, “sponge toast”!
I suppose the Latin names have both an old mystery appeal and a clinical medicine sound at once, but personally I would totally use some of those common names. I mean, Wolf’s Bane and English mandrake? Awesome! Maybe it’s the fantasy geek in me.
I’ll have a long post about homeopathy up soon. It probably won’t surprise you that I don’t think it works. What might surprise you, though, is the history of homeopathy and how it claims to work.
The more I read about it, the more surprised I am that anyone takes it seriously.