I was fifteen when the younger sister of a friend of mine sustained third-degree burns after her nightgown caught on fire as she made breakfast before school. Years later, my friend told me she could still hear her little sister’s shrieks as she ran in flames through the kitchen.
The suffering my friend’s sister endured from burns over nearly her entire body lasted for years. The pain stemmed not only from the initial burn but from the subsequent onslaughts of repetitive skin grafting surgery, infections, anxiety, depression—and even from the long-term effects of the treatments she received.
This happened in Buffalo, New York, where until about twenty years before, there had been three noteworthy homeopathic hospitals a mere five miles from where my friend’s sister was burned. But alas homeopathy suffered an intentional demise perpetrated by its competition: conventional medicine. So homeopathy was no longer available to my friend and her family. (I could have written this article on that subject alone, and it would most certainly fascinate you. But, it wouldn’t leave enough room to write about burns.)
Turning to today’s resurgence of homeopathy—not in American hospitals but in educated homes—we can speculate on the treatment of a burn victim. What might have been done for my friend’s sister had there still been a homeopathy hospital operating in Buffalo? Let’s pretend such a place still exists and call it by its name from bygone days: Buffalo Homeopathy Hospital.1
WRITE IT DOWN
The first homeopathic remedy administered in the emergency room would have been Aconitum napellus 200. In fact, the moment any injury or shocking event occurs, Aconitum napellus should come to mind as Step One. This is a writer-downer, folks. Don’t be without this medicine in your home or even your purse. It ought to be repeated every few minutes within the first several hours to reduce shock and angst and help minimize the potential for infection.
The less severe the trauma, the less frequently the Aconitum napellus remedy is given, and the more one can reduce the length of time it is needed. Hence, a small burn from a hot splatter wouldn’t be the time for this medicine. However, for a more severe burn or a broken arm or head injury, it should be used. William Boericke, MD, in his Pocket Manual of Homeopathic Materia Medica, says this about Aconitum: “Sudden and violent invasion, with fever call for it” and “A state of fear, anxiety; anguish of mind and body.”2
With Step One underway and Aconitum napellus consistently administered every fifteen minutes or so, Step Two would commence. Referring to Dr. Robin Murphy’s Homeopathic Clinical Repertory,3 which categorizes the most important medicines to consider for burns, and looking under the rubric, “to prevent blisters from arising,” Cantharis is the most highlighted medicine. Under the rubric of “burns; painful,” there are only two medicines listed, with Cantharis again noted as most significant. Cantharis is specifically used for severe pain and the blistering that accompanies third-degree burns. (However, it can be used for first- and second-degree burns, including painful sunburns, as well. Homeopathic Urtica urens and Arnica can also be good choices for sunburn.)
Although Cantharis isn’t the only medicine to consider, in our imaginary homeopathic hospital, Cantharis—alternating with Aconitum napellus 200—would give the sufferer a good start at protection from potential infection, soothe extreme pain, calm nerves and set the sufferer on his or her way toward a rapid recovery.
Upon entering the emergency room of the homeopathic hospital, our friend would be whisked away by attending MDs and hooked up to an IV of saline. No antibiotics would be administered. Instead, Pyrogenium 30 would be administered orally to protect the patient from sepsis. Meanwhile, homeopathic nurses would be tending to the cleaning and protection of the wounds, including gently pouring diluted tincture of Urtica urens.
At the turn of the last century, the topical use of Urtica urens was also familiar to Dr. Dorothy Shepherd, a homeopathic physician in London, England. Shepherd declared “For burns, however extreme they are, I should use Urtica urens, mother tincture, for an external application.” (A “mother tincture” is a botanical extract in a specific amount of alcohol.) Shepherd also verified her use of homeopathic Causticum, which she recommended in a 6 potency: “Give Causticum 6 internally, every 15-30 minutes at first for the pain and shock accompanying a burn.”
She said, “I never had such rapidly healing wounds in the old days when I used antiseptic dressings. It needs some courage at first to strike out for yourself and to do things contrary to the accepted teaching; but it is well worthwhile when you see the results.”
Summarizing, this is what our patient would be taking presently and for some time to come:
1. Aconitum 200: Every fifteen minutes during the first day or so for shock, angst.
2. Cantharis 6 or 200: Every three hours for burn, prevention of blisters, pain.
3. Causticum 6: Every fifteen to thirty minutes.
4. Urtica urens: Mother tincture applied to the wound and added to dressings.
5. Pyrogenium 30: In the event of infection.
Adjustments to each of the medicines would be made as the patient’s needs dictated. Previous remedies would no longer be needed, and new ones would be required. Most importantly, the practitioner would adjust the frequency of the medicines according to the symptoms.
During such traumatic events, it’s not uncommon for the person’s weakest link to become evident at this most unfortunate time. For example, if my friend’s sister had a history of urinary tract infections, it’s likely one might occur while under such stressful conditions. (It’s also common for this condition to appear after sustaining a burn.) Oddly enough, that situation would also call for Cantharis. This medicine is—not coincidentally—called for in these two main conditions: both for second- or third-degree burns as well as for urinary tract infections. Why? The searing, burning pain of a urinary tract infection bears a resemblance to the pain of a burn.
It is not unusual in the world of homeopathy that one medicine has many applications, and they are concomitant. What may seem like a coincidence is the body’s tidy way of calling for the medicine most needed. (For a reference as to how Cantharis is used in urinary tract infections, refer to my article in the Spring 2012 edition of Wise Traditions.4)
Adding these medicines would not be an impediment to the already committed schedule of medicines used for the burn trauma. In fact, they should and could seamlessly be integrated into the overall schedule. Each one would be used for as long as necessary for the symptoms to abate. (Indeed, this is most often how we know when to halt the use of the medicines: when symptoms abate.)
Not unlike allopathic medicine, homeopathy relies on tests, symptoms and keen observation. It certainly would be useful to have a urinalysis done frequently to keep an eye on infections. Meanwhile, if an infection were detected through either testing or observation, the medicines specifically designed for such occasions would be administered more frequently—as often as every hour during a crisis and less frequently as the infection cleared.
As we imagine my friend’s family having a choice—either to head to the emergency room of the allopathic hospital or veer in the other direction toward the homeopathic one—you might ask, “Why would they choose the homeopathic hospital? Why not just use intravenous antibiotics, steroids and antibiotic ointments?”
The argument in favor of the homeopathic route is simple. World-renowned homeopath and medical doctor Dr. Pratip Banerji of the Prasanta Banerji Homeopathic Research Foundation has repeatedly remarked when asked this question, “Our medicines will not do harm. Theirs often do.” If homeopathy has the ability to treat a traumatic condition with at least as much efficacy as conventional medicine, then it’s a simple choice!
Indeed, antibiotics and steroids have been known to save lives—but not without a price. Of course, most in the field of modern medicine would posit that if you don’t use antibiotics and steroids, you’re doing nothing—and doing nothing is dangerous. Who would disagree? Indeed, doing nothing would be neglectful. That is why we use homeopathy! Homeopathy does not mean “doing nothing” but rather doing “something” that in certain circumstances is superior.
I’m not often in touch with my friend these days. Years back, I learned that her sister had become a holistic practitioner. This can be noted time and again: holistic practitioners such as homeopaths and chiropractors are frequently called to their profession precisely because of their own unsolvable health problems or past experiences with health conditions. Admittedly, I’m only speculating as to why my friend’s sister followed such a professional path. Nonetheless, there is something to be learned after sustaining an injury of such proportions, as well as experiencing repercussions from treatments. Perhaps she subsequently learned of the treatment method she missed by living in a city that no longer offered professional homeopathy.
1. “Postcard: homeopathic hospital.” http://buffaloah.com/h/homeo/homeo.html.
2. Boericke W. Pocket Manual of Homoeopathic Materia Medica (revised edition). Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers; 1993.
3. Murphy R. Homeopathic Clinical Repertory: A Modern Alphabetical and Practical Repertory (third edition). Blacksburg, VA: Lotus Health Institute; 2005.
4. Calabrese J. Ants and urinary tract infections. Wise Traditions 2012;13(1):43-45. https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/homeopathy/ants-and-urinary-tract-infections/.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Winter 2018