Arnie is a sixty-one-year-old accountant with a perfunctory understanding of health. He’s splashed his way through life without troubling himself too much about such matters. He occasionally treats himself to bacon, thinking it’s naughty, while eating his requisite Eggbeaters and a dry bagel from the office cafeteria each morning. It’s his “healthy” breakfast. Later in the day he guards his weight with diet soda. Yet Arnie’s efforts are only halfhearted because he hasn’t really suffered any heretofore ills. Until now. Health comes into sharp focus when it’s lost.
A few months ago, Arnie woke around three in the morning with pain in his chest, his heart racing, and in a panic. It scared the bagels right out of him. (He had accompanying diarrhea.) A visit to his doctor and days off from work for obligatory tests revealed that Arnie was suffering from angina. He actually already knew that, except he called it pain in his heart. Along with Arnie’s angina also came a sense of urgency, overwhelming anxiety, and racing thoughts during his mild but nonetheless painful heart spells. He often found himself pacing the room with angst and unable to quiet his mind.
As far as empty nesters go, Jane is one who doesn’t speak much about it. Instead, she suffers silently, assuming she’s overreacting. Secretly, she’d weep in the bathtub nightly for weeks. To everyone else, it appeared that she had strolled seamlessly back into her previous world as a real estate agent. It helped to get her mind off the fact that her twenty-year-old baby girl was out of the house. After raising four kids, the change required a significant shift in her nature. She’d often whisper to herself while soaking in the tub, “I used to be a mom. Now I’m a real estate agent.” Sob. “I hate this.”
It was right about this time that not only did her last child leave, but her menses did too. In its place came sleepless nights, anxiety, heart pain, palpitations and vertigo.
Arnie and Jane have something in common. They both have heart conditions. However, neither the etiology nor their circumstances are the same, hence their treatments ought not to be as well. Unfortunately their cardiologists don’t see it that way. Yet those of us who have homeopathic and nutritional knowledge and experience do.
AN ALTERNATE APPROACH
The lipid hypothesis of heart disease has been the darling of the medical establishment for the last sixty years. “Clogged arteries” is their sacred siren song. This flawed hypothesis, completely without scientific merit, has managed to influence and harm generations of doctors and patients.
In contrast, the myogenic theory of heart disease asserts that heart attacks occur as a result of a cascade of stress-induced conditions in the heart muscle cells themselves. There is indeed compelling scientific evidence to substantiate this therapeutic approach.
Yet allow me to propose another consideration. The homeopathic take on cardiac disease does not speculate upon the various functions of the vessels or tissues, their uptake ability, or the extent of their occlusion. Instead, homeopathy considers one of the main causes of heart disease to be a result of suppression or deepening of some less serious illness from the past. In other words, illness that originally presented in a less crucial organ is forced onto a more vital organ as a direct result of suppression by drug use and other “heroic” medical measures. “Iatrogenic” is the term for a disease or condition that is caused by medical mismanagement.
Imagine a skin condition such as acne or eczema. The sufferer seeks a quick fix to silence the symptoms via drugs, such as topical steroid creams or oral antibiotics. The illness must either beg to return as soon as the ointment or other suppressive method is halted, often reappearing with symptoms more severe than before, or, if not allowed to return, will (and this is the pivotal moment) drive more deeply into a more critical organ. The illness has the opportunity to be freed from the bondage of drugs but only if it is not suppressed. At this time, if the vital force of the person is capable, it will simply put the pathology right back where it belongs: on the skin. If, however, the person is not of great resiliency because of inherited factors, overuse of previous suppressing treatments, and a deficient diet, then the pathology will travel to the more crucial organ. This might include the lungs (even pediatricians recognize that asthma follows eczema), the gut (after a skin rash has been held back), or worse yet, the heart. Indeed, new illness that compensates for the suppression of the old is usually more serious. This can make it difficult to eradicate.
So what does this mean to you now? To begin, I hope that it gives you the resolve to keep your children away from medications for fevers, eczema, allergies, diarrhea and anything easily treatable with wiser food choices, homeopathic remedies, or, in the case of normal fever, doing nothing. The goal is to protect your children from damage that can be thrown into their future. Employing alternatives to drugs is essentially an insurance policy.
But what about those of us who have already allowed tinkering with our long-term health via years of medications? As heart conditions are varied and each case is unique, I can only offer a few insights by referring to Arnie and Jane.
For Arnie, his digestion or intake of questionable ingredients in his meals may have triggered the reaction he suffers. Could it be the MSG in his Eggbeaters breakfast? Or the gluten and corn syrup in his much-loved bagels? Then again, he took antibiotics just a few months previous, as was his habit after sinus infections, and ever since has suffered indigestion and bloating. But when he visited the cardiologist, no questions with the intent of shedding light on such information were posed. His doc simply offered tests that revealed a need for a prescription. In the end, the answer sounded like this: “You’re not that young, Arnie. No more steaks for you, my friend. Here, take these pills. Yes, for the rest of your life.”
FROM THE HOMEOPATHIC PERSPECTIVE
The consideration of his cardiac reactions to MSG would necessitate the need for Arsenicum album 30. It has a reputation for being able to remove the immediate “poisoning” effects of such additives. It would not be taken, however, unless he was clearly under its influence. In other words, this is not a time for speculation. In antidoting the ill effects of MSG, Arsenicum album 30 should be used while the symptoms of heart palpitations, pounding, apprehension, and restlessness are present. This remedy has the ability to allay fears, panic, and to abort the potential of ensuing cardiac pathology.
Eventually, Arnie snapped to his senses and realized that he was probably relying on drugs more often than was prudent. He consulted with a homeopath who told him to indeed take the nitroglycerine as the doctor had ordered for a while longer, but to follow it with a specific homeopathic medicine within a few minutes of an episode. It would likely take care of his anxiety and racing heart. Knowing that homeopathy employs “like cures like” as its paradigm, what better remedy choice than something that in its gross form causes symptoms such as what Arnie was suffering? Hence the choice of homeopathically prepared coffee. After a few nights of taking Coffea cruda, Arnie was able to calm down, with a sense of returning to himself. The remedy also helped him minimize the need to take nitroglycerine. This is what his homeopath had counted on.
But Arnie didn’t listen to his homeopath. The next time he experienced that horrible anguish and jumping heart with pain, he skipped the drug and instead only took Coffea cruda 200. To his relief, he not only came down from the anxiety, but the pain and pounding heart vanished in about the same amount of time as with the use of the drug. Oh, happy day! Does this mean he could wean off nitroglycerine? No homeopath in the U.S. is willing to overstep in a situation such as this, so Arnie’s was cautious and said she’d like Arnie to meet with his cardiologist regarding this decision. But he didn’t. Arnie is like that. After using Coffea cruda over the span of about two weeks, his confidence returned. Now he keeps nitroglycerine in his medicine cabinet but never even thinks of using it. And just as homeopathy is intended to work, he requires Coffea cruda less and less because his problem is resolving. Symptoms are signs and if the signs are not there, then the disease isn’t either.
As an aside, I’d like to be clear that because homeopaths no longer have their hospitals in North America nor the climate within which to practice freely, I, too, will not recommend to clients that they eliminate a drug without the oversight of a medical doctor. Removal of any prescription medication is never a decision to be taken lightly. And one must also consider the possibility of a boomerang effect when doing so. Remember, the body has habituated and compensated for the drugs, and remission should be judicious and monitored if possible.
Another homeopathic medicine that would benefit Arnie is Lycopodium 200 mixed with Arsenicum album 3. This is a combination that I learned about from Dr. Prasanta Banerji while in Calcutta. It is a wonderful antidote to ills that result in bloating and a sense of uncomfortable fullness in the abdomen, including the lower chest. Even if the seat of his ills is not centered in the gastrointestinal tract (although it is likely to be), this remedy combination has a history of resolving symptoms that are specific to gastrointestinal sufferings such as Arnie’s. Of course Arnie should improve his diet, but remember, not everyone is willing to do so, and this is a good step towards guiding him to value excellence in medicine, just like excellence in food.
Arnie’s homeopathic remedy schedule is:
- Arsenicum album 200, twice daily
- Coffea cruda 200, once daily, approximately 30 minutes after dinner
- Lycopodium 200 mixed with Arsenicum album 3, twice daily
A few years ago I received a rash of desperate phone calls from several women over age forty-five complaining of overwhelming anguish, a quickened or hard thumping heartbeat, and occasional atrial fibrillation.
None had been asked by their family practitioners what they had eaten just before the cardiac incident. None were asked whether they regularly drank coffee or how much. None were asked whether chocolate, sweets, MSG-laden foods, wheat or other such foods were daily fare or consumed prior to the cardiac incident.
“Palpitations can be frightening, but they are not always dangerous,” advises the Mayo Clinic. Certain that they are about to die of a heart attack, women suffering these unnerving symptoms who are entering menopause or even long afterward, often head to the ER where they submit to a battery of unpleasant tests. Exhausted and frightened, they whimper home, prescription to suppress their symptoms clutched in hand.
This is what happened to Jane. But then she called her brother-in-law, a homeopathic physician in England, and he told her, “Instead of drugs to restrain warning signs, we will use homeopathic medicines. They will uproot the problem so that symptoms will not be required to present and the drugs will become superfluous.”
Had Jane favored hormone replacement methods using euphemistic “bio-identical” hormones, she might have halted some of her menopausal symptoms. But wouldn’t hormone replacement be similar to taking synthetic vitamin E for a skin ailment rather than simply eating nutrient-dense raw butter? In this way, what would have been accomplished is a suspension of ills, not a cure.
Jane was sent the following remedies from England and took them for two months until she could meet with her brother-in-law for a review.
- Lachesis 200, twice daily
- 2. Ignatia 200, twice daily
- 3. Crataegus tincture, twice daily
Lachesis 200 was chosen for its ability to calm Jane’s heart palpitations and angina yet is nearly specific for women during and around menopause. Interestingly, it is particularly well chosen for this particular combination of heart symptoms during menopause.
Dr. Douglas M. Gibson in Studies of Homeopathic Remedies says of Lachesis, “Synchopal episodes are associated with cardiac pain or accompanied by nausea and vertigo. Hard thumping palpitations are associated with the sense of tightness in the chest. . . the remedy is of special value in relation to throat affections and menopausal disorders.” Jane had no throat problems, yet the remedy picture fits her in other important ways.
Ignatia 200 was the best bet for the deep sadness Jane felt for the loss of her life as a stay-at-home mom. It has a reputation for lifting sufferers from grief and relentless sadness. Crataegus, while not actually made into a homeopathic preparation but left as a botanical tincture, covers the following cardiac maladies as per Frans Vermeulen’s Concordant Materia Medica: “Valvular murmurs, angina pectoris, cardiac dropsy, aortic disease, pain in region of the heart, under left clavicle and under the left scapula, pulse accelerated and irregular, feeble, intermittent, valvular murmurs and angina pectoris.”
Within a mere two days of incorporating Ignatia 200 into her daily routine, Jane’s bathtub crying sessions washed away. Instead, she found her way into the kitchen to bake cookies to send to her daughter away at school. This simple gesture brought her back to herself. By the third or fourth day of taking the remedies, she noted that the palpitations had halted, and her sleep was re-established. By the time the two months had rolled around to make the Skype call to her brother-in-law, nothing that was plaguing her previously remained. Instead, she asked if he had a homeopathic remedy for weight gain. But that is the subject of another article.
HEART CONDITIONS AS SYMPTOMS
Many cases that present as heart disease may indeed be a reaction, a symptom of something else that necessitates attention. This means that all symptoms represent something; hence they should never be shut up. Sometimes it’s easy to figure out what they signify. Sometimes not. But the examination of them is worthy of our effort, particularly if we have homeopathy to address each one. This is also true when we take into account those concomitant conditions that may appear unremarkable, but by ignoring them, we might easily miss the most telling information.
The importance of keeping superfluous drugs that merely silence a condition away from our bodies can’t be emphasized enough. It is an oft-missed piece to the puzzle of not only heart disease but many chronic conditions. Think strategically and long term. From a health standpoint, our lives are simply timelines. The more time on a drug, the darker the hue of the graph. Each onslaught affects our health.
It is encouraging to know that homeopathy has the capacity to address even a burdened timeline; however, would it not be wise to keep the assault to a quiet murmur rather than a roaring tsunami? Exercise the principle of “less is more,” not when enjoying healthy saturated fats but when considering taking a drug. Save drugs for rare, lifesaving emergencies, not for common ear infections, fevers, birth control, eczema or chronic conditions. But if you’re on them, don’t just leap off imprudently; seek a better way and put your life in order first. May I also remind you that you mustn’t count on the doctor who prescribed the drug to offer an alternative solution. If he had one, he would have given it to you.
Find a doctor with compatible convictions. Look at the practitioners associated with WAPF, work with a homeopath. Better yet, learn how to treat your family yourself, especially for the smaller, more acute ills. As your knowledge deepens, you’ll be able to take on more complex conditions, confident in your reliance upon the prudent, time-tested methods of nourishing traditional foods and homeopathic medicine. Be unstoppable in your resolve.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Fall 2014