DO-IT-YOURSELF LEARNING healing ear infections

December 15, 2008 by admin  
Filed under Parents Guide to Children's Health

by Timothy R.Dooley, MD, ND

child-earache.jpgIf you can make simple observations, you can quickly learn enough homeopathy to practice on the home-health level. You don’t need to be an expert in anatomy, physiology, or pharmacology.  You do need to be able to observe your child’s symptoms and anychanges in them: thirst, skin color, appetite, mood, discharges, modalities (what makes symptoms better or worse), etc. And you need to be able to match these observations with the symptoms and changes that medicines can cause - and therefore cure when applied homeopathically.

Ear infections: Breaking the antibiotic cycle

One common home health problem that frequently arises is that of middle ear infections, also known by their Latin name, otitis media.  Most children experience a few episodes of otitis media, usually associated with a cold or upper respiratory infection. It is well known that antibiotics are overused in the treatment of ear infections. I have treated many patients of all ages over the years for this disorder, using homeopathy almost exclusively and with great success.

In fact, I think it is safe to say that the use of antibiotics in ear infections seems to create a self-perpetuating cycle.  It is as if the immune system gets lazy and this results in increasing numbers of such episodes. Using homeopathy seems to break the cycle; the immune system starts functioning on a higher level, resulting in fewer colds and ear infections.

This makes sense when you realize that homeopathic remedies don’t work by killing bacteria.  Rather, they stimulate a response in the overall recuperative process, helping your child’s body fight infections naturally.

Pay close attention to the symptoms. How did the problem start? How is the child behaving? What do they want to eat? What do they want to drink?

The trick for good results with homeopathic prescribing is to pay close attention to the symptoms. How did the problem start?  How is the child behaving?  What do they want to eat?  What do they want to drink?  How do they appear?  Are they chilly or hot?  Are they more comfortable indoors or outside in the open air?  What is the nature of any discharge they may have?  And so on.

Changing symptoms, changing remedies

The remedies listed are not the only remedies that might be indicated in someone with an earache, but just these few will help a surprising number of cases.  If none of these seems to fit, check for other remedies in one of the many good homeopathic self-care books available.

Remember when treating your child that their symptoms may change as the days (or even hours) go by, and when the symptoms change, the child will typically need a new remedy.  For example, Belladonna or Ferrum phosphoricum might be indicated in the early stages of an earache, but the symptoms may change, calling for Pulsatilla or Hepar sulphuris as the days go by.

Sometimes patients, especially kids, just bounce back after a dose or two of a well-chosen remedy and get better practically overnight.  More typically, however, they will improve significantly with a well-chosen remedy and then spend a number of days “clearing up” the remaining, less acute, symptoms.  In my experience, if the child is getting better in general, their ears are also recovering.

These remedies are non-toxic and sold over the counter at natural health food stores

Here are some of the common, and truly indispensable, remedies to consider for children with ear infections.

Chamomilla. You can hear the child who needs Chamomilla down the hall and through a closed door. They are uncomfortable and irritable, and they want you to know it. There is something in their cry that puts you on edge; it’s the kind of cry that causes adults to think things like, ‘Would somebody please shut that kid up!?’  The child demands to be carried and screams when put down. They demand this or that, but throw the object of their desire away when they finally get it.  A peculiar symptom I have seen many times is that one cheek may be glowing red, while the other is pale.

Pulsatilla. A child needing Pulsatilla is also tearful, but quite different from the Chamomilla patient described above. Here the cry is usually wimpier, creating a reaction in the surrounding adults of, “Oh, the poor thing!” The child clearly wants sympathy and nurturing. Discharges (such as a runny nose) are usually yellow or green, thick, and bland - not irritating. They typically have little thirst or appetite, and they generally feel better in fresh, open air.

Belladonna. In conventional medical school I remember being taught a memory aid for the patient who has been poisoned with Belladonna [in large,non-homeopathic doses].  It went something like: “Red as a beet, dry as a bone, hot as a furnace, blind as a bat, mad as a hatter.”  These represent some of the characteristic symptoms for Belladonna and are helpful in recognizing its homeopathic  presentation as well.  We think of Belladonna for illnesses with sudden, violent onset. The child is typically hot, red, and dry. The pupils are often dilated and the eyes seem very bright.  Curiously, the head is often hot but the limbs are cold. The nervous system is affected in such a way that the child often experiences twitching or jerking - perhaps in their sleep - and is sensitive to light and jarring. They are often excited and restless.

Ferrum phosphoricum. Listed in the homeopathic materia medica for Ferrum phosphoricum is the comment, “violent earache, acute otitis media when Belladonna fails.” That is, the child needing Ferrum phosphoricum may at first be mistaken for one needing Belladonna.  And this is largely how I have come to think of Ferrum phosphoricum -  similar to Belladonna but less intense. The child is often excited, sensitive to light and jarring - but not to the extent of Belladonna.  They are often red, but not as intensely red; hot, but not as burning; eyes red, but not so bright.  And like Belladonna, Ferrum phosphoricum is commonly indicated in children with earaches.

Hepar sulphuris. Think of Hepar sulphuris when the child is chilly, sweats easily, and often has an accompanying hoarse, barking cough. Discharges are typically thick and yellow, and pains are often sticking (like splinters).

Dosage: These remedies are non-toxic and sold over the counter at natural food storesand some drug stores. The commonly found potencies (such as the 6th, 12th, or 30th) will be fine. Given a choice, I usually recommendthe 30th potency.

At first you might lack confidence in your abilities to take care of your family.  Remember, though, that you intuitively know much more about health and disease than you realize, even if you don’t know all the terminology.  After a few successes you will start to realize that the body heals itself; we’re just giving it a little help - with homeopathy.

Adapted from “Do-it-yourself learning—Healing ear infections”, by Timothy R. Dooley, MD, ND in Homeopathy Today, April 2004