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6/7/2018 Using Homeopathy to Treat Digestive Disorders: An Overview – Naturopathic Doctor News and Review

US ING H O MEO PATH Y TO TR E AT


DIG ES T IVE DIS O RDE RS : A N O V E RV IEW

USING HOMEOPATHY TO
TREAT DIGESTIVE
DISORDERS: AN OVERVIEW
By Editor Posted January 1, 2017 In Homeopathy

3 6

TOLLE TOTUM
Sharum Sharif, ND

We naturopaths help numerous patients with various digestive


disorders and complaints every day by prescribing necessary dietary
modifications, specific tailored nutritional and/or herbal supplement
regimens, and sometimes bodywork. Even though NDs are able to
successfully help many of our patients with digestive problems, there
are always cases that don’t respond well to these therapies. In such
cases, homeopathy can be an indispensable tool. In this article, I have
attempted to discuss the highlights of why and how homeopathy can
be used to treat digestive disorders/complaints.

Homeopathic remedies can be highly effective in treating acute


digestive conditions such as the stomach flu, bloody diarrhea, and
pancreatitis, as well as chronic digestive conditions such as

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inflammatory bowel disease and hemorrhoids. Homeopathic remedies


can certainly function palliatively, but when applied correctly, and
especially when combined with the proper dietary and supplement
regimens, they may be curative.

If you don’t already use homeopathy in your practice, the good news
is that it’s easier to incorporate than you might think! Homeopathic
remedies are extremely fast-acting, easy to use for all ages,
inexpensive, and earth-friendly, and, you don’t have to worry about
adverse interactions between homeopathic remedies and other natural
therapies or drugs since the remedies are energetic in nature, not
biochemical.

In my opinion, the most important reason to consider the use of


homeopathic remedies is that there are cases that are extremely
difficult, if not impossible, to treat without homeopathy. For example,
a patient of mine with colitis described frequent bloody diarrhea that
had lasted for many months. She had not responded to the
supplements prescribed to her by another ND, but one dose of the
remedy Lac caninum 200C stopped the bloody diarrhea immediately.
Coincidentally, since this remedy was the patient’s “constitutional”
(i.e., chronic) remedy, she has taken it a couple of times each year
over the last few years for overall physical and emotional health.
Another example is an Alumina case: An older lady named Estelle
came to see me for chronic constipation. Estelle would have a BM
once every few weeks. Although dietary modifications and
supplements such as laxatives, bitters and magnesium had not
changed her constipation, one dose of Alumina 200C, her
constitutional homeopathic remedy, brought on daily bowel
movements immediately. Her video can be viewed on my website.

You can, of course, use homeopathy in many other situations that are
not so difficult or urgent. For instance, I often find patients use
numerous supplements, such as digestive enzymes or hydrochloric
acid, as crutches in order to alleviate symptoms. Although
homeopathic remedies can be just as non-curative as supplements,
when used appropriately, they can cure patients’ digestive challenges,
often rather quickly.

HOMEOPATHIC CASE-TAKING
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I would like now to briefly introduce acute versus constitutional


homeopathic prescribing. In homeopathy, we categorize people into
various constitutions depending on their physical, mental and
emotional characteristics. People may fit any of the hundreds of
different constitutions, but there are nearly 50 common constitutions
that I prescribe on a regular basis in my practice. For long-term care,
the remedy corresponding to the patient’s constitution is used;
however, for acute care, you may need to prescribe a different remedy
to help with the symptoms at hand. For example, a person with a
Calcarea carbonica constitution may need Arsenicum album for
acute-onset gastroenteritis.

In addition to a naturopathic review of systems and physical exam,


taking a homeopathic case involves the following:

1. Ask questions about the details of the symptoms that characterize the
main concern as well as accompanying symptoms. These include quality
and intensity, sides, times, modalities (better with or worse with
questions), extensions, localizations, and detailed descriptions of all major
and accompanying or concomitant symptoms. General or common
symptoms (symptoms that everyone with that condition might have) are
not as helpful as characteristic symptoms (symptoms that are unique to
your patient).
2. Concomitant symptoms. The symptoms that occur at the same time as
those related to the chief complaint are known as concomitant symptoms.
For example, if the patient has the chief complaint of abdominal pain and
happens to be angry, anger is a concomitant symptom. Look for remedies
with abdominal pain, and then pick from the ones that have anger. Note
that you should not look for remedies in the anger section of the repertory,
and then pick the ones that have abdominal pain because, in this case,
abdominal pain is the chief complaint, not anger.
3. Prioritization of symptoms. Although the correct remedy can improve
many symptoms at once, if the patient presents with more than one
symptom, you need to prioritize and treat them accordingly. For example,
if the patient presents with acute severe bloody diarrhea, chronic
headaches and eczema, you clearly should focus on treating the acute
bloody diarrhea first, and when the diarrhea is entirely resolved, focus on
treating the chronic headaches and eczema.
4. Etiology. Knowing the etiology (causes and contributing circumstances)
of a condition can be critical, and is sometimes more important than the
totality of the symptoms. Possible etiologies include trauma, shock, grief,
infection, and cancer. Prescribing based on etiology often leads to better
results, especially in the short term.
5. Diagnosis/pathology. This is absolutely critical in any branch of medicine.
In homeopathy, knowing the diagnosis can help guide treatment because
each remedy has an affinity for particular organ(s). Abdominal pain, for
example, may be caused by a number of different pathologies, and
different pathologies point to different remedies. In some cases, pathology
takes precedence over symptoms when choosing a remedy.
6. Center of gravity. An example can best illustrate this concept: If a patient
presents with chief complaint of severe diarrhea and vomiting, and feels
fine otherwise, the center of gravity in this case is the digestive system. A
homeopathic remedy that centers on the digestive tract may help this
patient more than their constitutional remedy. The constitutional remedy
may be useful again for ongoing care after the diarrhea and vomiting are
entirely resolved.

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The Law of Similars (“like cures like”) is a fundamental law in


homeopathy, but it is not the only law. Based on this law, a remedy is
chosen that most closely matches the totality of all the patient’s
symptoms. In other words, the key features (keynotes) of the remedy
fit the key characteristic physical, mental and emotional symptoms of
the patient; however, if you ignore the etiology, pathology and center
of gravity of the case and base your assessment and remedy selection
only on the Law of Similars (using a simple and thoughtless
repertorization), you might only achieve palliative results and fail to
address the root cause.

REPERTORIZATION
1
One of my favorite repertories is Dr. Robin Murphy’s repertory. It is
a modern repertory that lists the various traditional repertory chapters
alphabetically, and also lists numerous diseases by their actual
modern names. Most repertories list mainly symptoms, and do not
contain many disease names, but in this repertory you can find disease
terms such as Parkinson’s disease, hypertension, and cellulitis.
Homeopaths using Murphy’s repertory may find that the painstaking
process known as repertorization—breaking a disease down into all
its symptoms, finding each symptom in the repertory, and finding a
remedy that is listed under all of the symptoms—is required less
often.

A full repertorization is not always necessary to find an effective


remedy. You may want to start by focusing on the most important
rubrics, looking at the remedies that are in bold and reading about
their keynotes in a Materia Medica. This may lead you to a remedy
that closely matches your case, taking into consideration the totality
of symptoms, etiology, pathology, and center of gravity.

There are many sections listed in the repertory that are related to
digestion, starting with mouth, throat, stomach, abdomen, rectum, and
stool, and numerous remedies may be effective for the treatment of
each condition listed. Food cravings (or better yet, change in a
person’s food cravings) and symptoms associated with the
consumption of particular foods should be considered as confirmatory
symptoms, helping you confirm your remedy choice, rather than as
key symptoms to be addressed by the remedy.

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DIGESTIVE CONDITIONS IN THE


REPERTORY
Many digestive conditions can easily be found in the repertory. For
example, you can find hemorrhoids in the rectum section. There are
many other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) that are
not listed in the repertory by name. In such cases, you need to find all
the presenting symptoms of your patient in the corresponding
anatomical region in the repertory.

Some conditions can be found in more than one section in the


repertory. For example, acid reflux can be found in the mouth
(mouth:taste:sour), throat (throat:food:esophagus, sensation as if food
lodged in), and stomach (stomach:heartburn or stomach:eructations)
sections.

Below are some of the most common digestive conditions and some
of the most useful remedies for their treatment, in alphabetical order:

Constipation can be found in the rectum section of the repertory. Some


constipation remedies for severe constipation include Alumina, Opium,
and Plumbum. In my experience, patients who need these remedies are
nearly impossible to treat with basic naturopathic therapies. Other
remedies that have less severe constipation include Carcinosin, Nat mur,
Sepia and Silica. Many patients with chronic constipation do wonderfully
with on-going naturopathic treatments such as bitters, liver cleansing and
probiotics in addition to their remedy.
Diarrhea can be found in both the abdomen and the rectum sections.
Diarrhea remedies include: Aloe, Arsenicum album, Baptisia, China,
Mercury, Natrum sulphuricum, Podophyllum and Veratrum album.
Patients with diarrhea typically respond well to probiotics
supplementation.
Gastroenteritis (“stomach flu”) remedies include Arsencium album and
Veratrum album. When patients have diarrhea and vomiting, I have never
seen a remedy work better than Arsenicum album. One dose of this
remedy in any potency can quickly stop gastroenteritis in its tracks.
Hemorrhoids is listed under the rectum section. There are numerous
remedies for hemorrhoids, but the two I most commonly use are Aloe and
Hamamelis virginica.
IBS can involve many symptoms and may present differently from patient
to patient, you need to repertorize the unique and characteristic set of
symptoms your patient presents with, keeping in mind other aspects of
case-taking including etiology. The most common symptoms are
abdominal pain/cramps (abdomen:pain and abdomen:contraction) along
with diarrhea (abdomen:diarrhea and rectum:diarrhea) and/or constipation
(rectum:constipation). Anxiety (mind:anxiety), gurgling
(abdomen:gurgling), heartburn (stomach:heartburn), nausea
(stomach:nausea), rumbling in abdomen (abdomen:rumbling), and many
other symptoms may or may not be present. Regarding the stools, you
can find specific remedies to address the exact color of the stools (refer to
the section on stools in the repertory).
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is also not specifically in the repertory.
As with IBS, you have to find out exactly how the IBD manifests in your
patient, and find a remedy that matches your case.

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Nausea can be found in both the stomach and abdomen sections. In my


experience, chronic and difficult cases of nausea often respond
wonderfully to on-going use of naturopathic therapies such as bitters, liver
cleanses along with dietary changes in addition to their homeopathic
remedy.
Pain in the digestive system is repertorized according to its location: you
will need to use the mouth, throat, stomach, abdomen or rectum
sections. It’s noteworthy that there are more rubrics for pain than for any
other symptom in each of these sections.
Vomiting is listed in the stomach section. Acute vomiting may be due to
flu or some other infection and needs to be evaluated and treated
promptly. Chronic vomiting, which, in my experience, usually occurs in
children) is almost always related to consumption of allergenic foods
(namely, gluten and dairy).

POTENCY SELECTION
Any potency may be used for treating any condition, whether acute or
chronic. The lower the potency of a remedy, the less powerful the
effect, and the faster it wears off. As a general rule, the 6C and 12C
potencies are prescribed to be taken daily or every few days. The
effect of 30C potencies can last for days to weeks, while 200C and
higher potencies can stay active in the body for weeks to months. I
typically start out with lower potencies, and increase them over time
if needed. The effect of a homeopathic remedy may be shorter in
patients with acute illness, those weakened by a chronic debilitating
condition, and those experiencing intense physical or emotional
stress. For example, the 30C potency of a remedy may need to be
repeated daily for a few days in an acute digestive tract infection;
however, a remedy in the 30C potency may stay active in a person
with a chronic condition for weeks to months.

If you are not totally confident in your remedy selection, you should
stay away from the 200C and higher potencies since they can have a
powerful impact on the body and mind; you can always test the
waters with potencies of 12C or 30C. Keep in mind that these lower
potencies are so weak that you may not discern significant changes,
especially in chronic cases, so you and your patient may both need to
be patient! If there is a dire need for immediate and serious help,
regardless of whether the condition is acute or chronic, the patient is
sufficiently vital to handle a higher potency, and I am certain of my
remedy selection, I usually prescribe a 200C potency, which can often
bring out rapid recovery. How do we know when to re-dose? As a
simple rule, the remedy can be repeated when the symptoms are
starting to return.

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CASE FOLLOW-UP
Since homeopathic remedies affect the whole person, you should do a
full review of systems and physical exam to find out how all of your
patient’s symptoms changed immediately after taking the remedy, as
well as days to weeks or even months later.

According to Hering’s Law of Cure, you can expect healing to always


proceed from emotional to physical (example: anxiety heals first, then
digestive symptoms), inside to outside (example: IBS heals first, then
skin), and top to bottom (example: heartburn heals first, then
constipation), and in reverse order in time of appearance or
suppression of the symptoms (example: a recent symptom heals first,
then an old symptom).

The correct remedy sometimes brings about an immediate shift in the


person’s mood and energy, often within minutes of taking the remedy.
Relief from other symptoms typically follows.

COMMON CONSTITUTIONS THAT HAVE


GI PROBLEMS
Among the most common homeopathic constitutions, I find
that Carcinosin, Lycopodium, Nux vomica, and Silica suffer most
commonly from significant digestive problems and require lifelong
homeopathic and naturopathic care for their digestive systems to stay
balanced.

The Lycopodium and Nux vomica constitutions are known by


homeopathic practitioners to have poor liver function, and these
remedies are used even by non-homeopathic practitioners to help
improve liver function. Practicing in the Pacific NW for nearly 15
years, the constitution I encounter most of all is Lycopodium. Patients
with this constitution happen to have the worst digestive health. Their
achilles heel is their liver, and their main digestive symptoms are
typically abdominal bloating and discomfort and constipation. Nux
vomica individuals also have significant liver weakness and can have
various digestive symptoms, but they visit my office far less
frequently, probably because they are often workaholics and are too
busy to take care of their health.

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I have never seen a Carcinosin patient without significant digestive


problems, including constipation and abdominal discomfort or pain,
particularly when not careful with diet. Like Carcinosins, individuals
with the Silica constitution have numerous digestive problems, most
importantly constipation. Interestingly, I have only seen two cases of
collagenous gastritis, a rare intestinal disorder in which the lining of
the small intestine is frail, and both had the Silica constitution; of
course, the entire body is frail in the Silica constitution.

There are several other common constitutions that often complain of


GI problems, but their GI disturbance is significantly milder in nature
than the four constitutions listed above:

Most Natrum muriaticum individuals have constipation due to the


dryness that runs throughout their body, even on an emotional level.
I find that Sulphur individuals complain of acid reflux as their main
digestive concern.
Sepias often have constipation, which makes sense since the central
theme in Sepia is stasis and stagnation. It’s well known that they “are
better with” exercise, and in particular, their constipation responds well to
exercise.
Finally, I see many Pulsatilla patients with various digestive disturbances,
and although their digestive symptoms are sometimes severe, they
fortunately respond extremely well to their remedy.

Reference:

1. Murphy R. Homeopathic rd Clinical Repertory: A Modern Alphabetical and


Practical Repertory (3 Ed). Pagosa Springs, CO: Hahnemann Academy
of North America; 2005.

Sharum Sharif, ND, has a primary


care practice in Kent, Washington,
and is an Affiliate Clinical Faculty at
Bastyr University. He is a graduate of
Bastyr University and New England
School of Homeopathy. Dr Sharif has
written a book titled “Visual
Homeopathy: Identifying the Common Constitutions Within
Minutes.” His website, www.VisualHomeopathy.com, has
numerous patient videos for the purpose of teaching basic
constitutional homeopathy. He has taught homeopathy at
naturopathic medical schools in the United States and Canada,
and has been a presenter at professional conferences. He is
happily married and enjoys spending time with his family.

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Digestive Disorders, DIgestive Health, Homeopathy For Digestion

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SHOWING 6 COMMENTS

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Habib June 23, 2017 Reply

Hii how can i contact u

Kate McMurry September 12, 2017 Reply

How can one purchase “Visual Homeopathy: Identifying the


Common Constitutions Within Minutes”?

Inderjeet September 13, 2017 Reply

I am very much into homeopathy. Originally from India, i now


live in the US, in New Rochelle, New York. Do you know of a
good homeopathic doctor that can treat my Fibromyalgia pain? I
also have this mucus stuck in my throat and the ENT says that it
is due to acid reflux. Or maybe you can suggest any medicine for
me?

Mohammed September 13, 2017 Reply

Excellent eye openi

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