Homoeopathy for asthma

An image posted by Scott Gavura at Science Based Pharmacy led me to look up what homoeopathic treatments are recommended for asthma.

According to the British Homeopathic Association, the following are suggested. It is important to note that all of these substances are sold in such low concentrations that no effect is possible.

Blatta orientalis
This is the large dark Oriental cockroach. As a species, cockroaches are night-active insects and most live in damp places. Interestingly, asthma sufferers who benefit from this remedy may complain that their condition is worse in mouldy, damp environments. There may also be an allergy or sensitivity to moulds, mildew and rotting leaves. 

If asthma is associated with nausea and/or vomiting then Ipecacuanha could be indicated. Emetine, the active principle of Ipecac, is obtained from the bark or the root. It is a powerful poison that produces vomiting and is sometimes prescribed to relieve the stomach of some other poison. Ipecac is recognised as a remedy for childhood asthmatic crisis.

Lobelia inflata 
Lobelia inflata (Indian tobacco) derives from a common American plant, which has small blue flowers and inflated capsules. The “inflation” of the capsules could serve as a symbol of the type of asthma that this remedy helps. 

Antimonium tartaricum
This, like Ipecac, was used traditionally in medicine as an emetic. It was also used as an expectorant helping the production of catarrh from the chest. It was used in the treatment of several diseases, but because the side-effects were frequent and toxic this eventually limited its use. Fortunately, the doses that are used in homeopathy are infinitesimally small so it can be administered with some benefit. 

Sambucus nigra
This can be helpful particularly in childhood asthma. The elder is one of the most mysterious plants in British folk tradition. Traditionally feelings about the elder were ambivalent – some considered it the friend of witches and were extremely superstitious about even bringing the wood into the house. However, the elder was also used for its protective and curative effects – protection against witches, for warding off flies and curing warts.  There was a legend that if you fell asleep under elder flowers, the scent would poison you and you would never wake up. Perhaps there is some truth in this if homeopathy will cure what it will cause. The patient who might benefit from Sambucus wakes up in the night with a frightening sensation of suffocation and may even have cyanosis (blueness of the face). 

Natrum sulphuricum
This is a very useful remedy for asthma in both children and adults. The asthma may stop at puberty and reappear later from the 30s onwards. The asthma may even appear in association with a period of grief. It tends to be worse at 4am or between 4 and 5am. Damp weather – be it cold or warm – makes it worse, as does fog and storms. It may also be worse before menstruation. At times, there can be rattling and greenish mucus.

This can be very valuable in the treatment of childhood asthma, particularly where asthma and eczema may also be combined. The shortness of breath is reputed to be better when the child kneels on the bed curled up with the chest touching the knees (knee-chest position). Wet weather makes the asthma worse but being at the seaside improves it.

This is a useful remedy for asthma sufferers as it helps build up the immune system to try to prevent recurrent colds and chest infections which may precipitate asthma attacks.

Of course, this is only a subset of the possible homoeopathic treatments for asthma. None of this matters. As the homoeopaths imply above, the practice is akin to witchcraft and the doses  are too low to worry about side effects. In fact, the doses are so infinitesimally low that there is no possible effect, positive or negative from the treatments.

Asthma is a serious illness affecting a large segment of the population.

Asthma, an inflammatory disorder of the airway, accounts for roughly 80% of cases of chronic respiratory disease in Canada. It affects more than 3 million Canadians and roughly 235 million people worldwide]. According to Statistics Canada, 8.5% of the population aged 12 and older has been diagnosed with asthma. Its prevalence in this country has been increasing over the last 20 years. Worldwide, asthma prevalence rates have been rising on average by 50% every decade. Notably, asthma is the leading cause of hospital admissions in the overall Canadian population, the leading cause of absenteeism from school, and the third leading cause of work loss. Each year, there are 146,000 emergency room visits due to asthma attacks in Canada. Asthma is also a major cause of hospitalization among the estimated 13% of Canadian children who suffer from the disease.

High prevalence in conjunction with significant asthma-related morbidity leads to a heavy clinico-economic and humanistic burden of asthma in Canada. Healthcare utilization and costs are even higher when management and control of the disease are suboptimal. The direct and indirect costs associated with asthma are expected to rank among the highest for chronic diseases due to the significant healthcare utilization associated with the disease and asthma’s detrimental impact on physical, emotional, social, and professional lives of sufferers.

The article goes on to describe the best treatments based upon recent clinical research and the current understanding of the biology of asthma. 

In other words, asthma is a serious chronic condition that requires the best of modern medical care to minimize the long term impact on individuals, their families, and the entire health care system. Anyone who sells or recommends useless treatments to sufferers is putting lives at risk and should be treated with the disdain they deserves.  It is important to remember that it not only those who call themselves homoeopaths who are guilty, but also naturopaths who believe that homoeopathy is a viable treatment option.

With all their education, naturopaths must decide between their treatment options: homoeopathy, acupuncture, supplements, reiki, Traditional Chinese Medicine, or any of the myriad other alternative vitalistic treatments. None of these are based on modern concepts in medicine. biology, physics, or chemistry, nor are they subject to change with new understanding in these fields. They are mired in the superstitions of previous ages. On the other hand, modern medical treatment options for asthma focus on those that have been proven to work.

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One Response to Homoeopathy for asthma

  1. Pingback: Homoeopathic Remedies

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