Someone asked me the other day if I had any information on using homeopathy with babies and, in particular, newborns. Generally, the information we provide with our remedies includes dosages for all ages, but it is evident that a little more information on bubs would be helpful to you all, just for peace of mind and certainty. As always if you have any concerns get in touch with me by phone or email.
The Ethics around treating Babies
Before I begin I am going to talk about the ethics around treating babies. As a practitioner these days we are under increasing scrutiny as to ethical practice and responsibility for our patients, and babies are an area where there is potentially most risk for us. It is here also that we are most likely to be taken to task over our management of a case or for our guidelines to a parent.
Speaking as a homeopath, I take my responsibilities for your child’s welfare very seriously. Home prescribing can sometimes seem like a fun and cool thing to do, particularly when it works so quickly and well, but we are talking about a tiny baby’s vulnerability and things can go from good to bad very quickly, so it’s important we are clear on what to do and when to do it.
When I was first in practice in the early 2000s we were allowed to tell you that homeopathy was “safe and effective”. Now we must advise you that homeopathy is “low risk when used as directed“, which makes it sound like there is now risk, where there wasn’t before. Nothing has changed, just the wording we are allowed to use.
The advice we must give you when discussing a baby or small child is that you should always seek medical advice for fever in a baby under six months old and if symptoms of any kind persist see your GP, ED or other healthcare professional. Better to be safe than sorry!
Now I wrote this to someone the other day and they were aghast! How could I, a homeopath, suggest you take your child to see someone medical because homeopathy is alternative medicine!! Homeopathy is actually a complementary therapy and the long and short of it is that we can’t (and shouldn’t) be all things to all people. We need to use the available resources to the best advantage for everyone.
Sometimes I don’t physically see a child I’m asked to provide assistance for in a minor acute illness, so it makes sense all round that someone does see the child to ensure there is nothing serious going on. We all have your child’s best interests at heart and we have a duty of care as a practitioner, as you do to your child as the parent.
Often I will suggest a trip to the GP for a once-over. Not only is this reassuring, but it also tells us whether a baby who is non-verbal really is just unsettled or teething, or whether they have something more serious going on. While a homeopath treats the whole person rather than the diagnosis, in a baby, where symptoms are not as clear as in an older child or adult, knowing what is going on is important in case management and particularly if early remedies are not working.
We shouldn’t fear going to the GP but learn to work as a team for the best outcomes for your child. Sometimes this may mean antibiotics, but very often this can be avoided with a good early diagnosis and some good homeopathic prescribing. It can make sense to take the prescription for whatever your GP is recommending “just in case”, with the expectation that it won’t be needed but the reassurance that you have a plan B.
Research into ear infections in the under-fives, for instance, showed that 80% of infections resolved in 72 hours without antibiotics, so if we can support and stimulate the system with remedies, the outcome can be very good.
Of course if it turns out that your baby is going to need antibiotics (which occasionally happens) you can do both homeopathics and conventional medications together. Remember that while conventional medications generally suppress the system to bring about the improvement, ie they kill the bugs both good and bad, homeopathics actually stimulate the system to work harder to overcome the symptoms naturally. That might sound contradictory but if you think about the homeopathic as being supportive of the immune system at this time, you can see how using them at the same time as drugs could be helpful in bringing about a more rapid resolution of a potential problem.
Homeopathy doesn’t work like Conventional Medicine
It’s also useful to understand that homeopathic remedies don’t work the same way as conventional drugs at all, so they are not going to interact. Conventional medications are based on the law of chemistry, they are a physical substance and need to be given in a very specific amount at a specific time. They can be toxic and they can interact with things like herbs, supplements and other medicines, so caution is always advised.
Homeopathic remedies are based on the laws of physics and while we are still not 100% sure of how a homeopathic remedy works, we know that remedies function more like a vibrational energy or resonant frequency (eg microwave, mobile phone signal) than a physical substance. I often describe them as being like acupuncture in the way they bring the system back to balance.
Homeopathics can’t be analysed in a chemistry lab, so if you’ve read any of those articles which say that there’s nothing in a homeopathic remedy but water or sugar, they would be right because they are measuring with the wrong equipment. A bit like taking your blood pressure to see if you have a broken leg!
You can also use homeopathics and over the counter medications together if necessary, eg in acute teething using ABC (Aconite, Belladonna, Chamomilla 30c) and Panadol or Neurofen. However, I do tend to say that you are better off trying the homeopathics first so you can save the drugs as your backup plan, should your home prescribing not work.
Checking in with your GP, however, is always important with a baby and ensures everyone knows exactly what is going on.
So onwards …
Treating babies is just the same as treating an adult or a dog! We are looking for the unique symptoms that the baby is presenting us with on which to match a remedy. Now here we are talking single remedy prescribing, where we are looking at individual symptom pictures. If you are using our homeo-combinations you may simply select ABC (great for fevers and pain), Teething or Colic. But sometimes the remedy your baby needs (because we individualise even in acute illness) may not be included in a combination remedy. If you don’t have a single remedy kit, you may be slightly bewildered when I suggest the Hayfever & Allergy combination for anticipatory anxiety because it contains Arsenicum Album, for example.
So picking a remedy is the same for a baby or small child as for anyone else. You can use a homeo-combination and it may work if the required remedy is included, but sometimes learning about using single remedies and understanding which remedies fit your baby can bring better results. Not every baby needs ABC for a fever or Chamomilla for teething.
Frequency of Dose
The frequency of dose is the same too and many of you will know my favourite protocols. Read on further to see how this works:
- Every 10 minutes for up to 5 doses if the situation is pretty intense.
- Every hour for the rest of the day if it’s less intense.
- Every couple of hours for a day if it needs some work.
- Three times a day for three days if it’s not too bad and has come on slowly.
- Then once a day for four more days to finish things up.
Some of you will say “but our homeopath makes us take a single dose and then wait to see what happens”! This is the ideal of homeopathy, to find the single remedy in the single dose that will bring about full resolution of a problem. Unfortunately, it’s all too common in this day of vaccines, environmental challenges and generally weakened immune systems that we need more energy to bring about resolution than one dose can bring. You do sometimes see those cases where one dose will resolve tonsillitis, but they are much less common than they used to be. I also find that more regular dosing, backing off as symptoms improve, gives better improvement and less likelihood of relapse in a reasonably healthy child.
A note on understanding about Frequency of Dose
If you think about the remedy as a stick hitting a ball (the ball being the immune system), sometimes a good hit will get things going and the ball will roll along under its own steam. However, often a hit only pushes the ball a small distance until it comes to a stop again. This is definitely the case when you’re trying to push uphill, which is rather like the cases where there is vaccine damage or environmental challenges and a weakened immune system. You get some improvement but you may have to keep hitting to keep things going in the right direction. You’ll know when the ball is going to keep rolling under its own steam and that’s the point at which you can stop giving your remedies!!
When deciding on dosing frequency you can jump in at any point in the protocol above, depending on the situation. You assess how intense things are and match how often you think you need to give your dose. Less is more in homeopathy, so it’s best to do a minimum rather than a maximum in the hope that more is more!!
As long as your remedy seems to be bringing improvement then you can actually just go through the steps, starting where appropriate. Maybe on day one where baby is teething and is pretty distressed you might start at step 1, then after 5 doses go to step 2. On day two you might then decide that step 3 or step 4 will see you through. If the situation is not particularly intense then you might just do three times a day for three days and that will be enough.
Always remember though, if your remedy is not bringing improvement after the 5 doses at step 1 or one day of giving remedies in a less acute case, you either need to change your remedy or contact your homeopath, and you definitely should be thinking about checking in with your GP.
The sooner you check in with your homeopath as well, the better the outcome is likely to be. The remedy picture will also be much clearer if you haven’t given lots of remedies to cloud the situation and the immune system will be better able to respond.
Also remember that if you’ve been smart enough to do a consultation for your baby with your homeopath already, this can make things even easier. If you contact your homeopath, he or she will usually advise on how to use the constitutional (individualised) remedy at this point or will be able to advise you on a suitable related remedy. Frequently I already have a plan in place with patients for “what to do if …”.
Using the Constitutional Remedy in an Acute Illness
I’ve already written a blog about this which you can read here. It is not appropriate to just go ahead and use your child’s constitutional/individualised remedy without reference to your homeopath. There are several reasons for this.
- Babies and small children grow and change so the remedy may no longer be indicated and you might waste time using a remedy you think is a “forever” remedy (more about that in another blog!).
- The potency (eg 30c, 200c, LM03) may not be correct in this instance.
- You don’t know what dose you need and it’s never good to guess with practitioner prescribed remedies.
- Some potencies and some remedies can cause unwanted aggravations if used incorrectly, so just like checking in with your GP, always check in with your homeopath.
Homeopathy is about quality not quantity, so dose size is not related to child size or age, although we do tend to give smaller doses if using drops.
If you are using drops the dose for a baby under six months is one drop and 6-12 months is two drops. You may be concerned about the alcohol in the remedy, which we need to use as a preservative, but it really isn’t a lot at the dosage you are going to be giving. If you are concerned you can put your drops in a little water (see below).
If you’re using pilules the dose is one pilule and this is the same for any age or size. If you feel baby is too small to take a whole pilule, then you can crush between two clean teaspoons and tip inside the bottom lip. Don’t worry if you don’t get the whole lot in the mouth, as long as you can see some has gone in.
Giving in water
Put your 1 or 2 drops (or 1 pilule) in ¼ glass of water. Stir vigorously with a teaspoon to activate the remedy in the water. The water is now your remedy. If using a pilule don’t expect it to dissolve, but as long as you’ve stirred well the remedy will be active in the water. Give ½ teaspoon as your dose and throw the rest away.
Sometimes you might want to give more than one remedy at a time, maybe because you’re not sure which remedy baby needs. The best way to do this is to alternate the remedies and perhaps leave half an hour or an hour in between. If you’re thinking you need to give three or four remedies that’s definitely time to talk to your homeopath!
Melanie Creedy is a UK trained and Australian Registered Homeopath (AROH). She was Vice President and Professional Development Coordinator of the Australian Homoeopathic Association from 2011 to 2015 and is editor of the AHA National Newsletter. Melanie has used homeopathy for 30 years and has been in practice since 1998. For many years she ran The Children’s Ear Clinic in Western Australia, but since her tree change to Tasmania, has a special interest in women’s and children’s health generally and helping individuals manage their journey on the spiritual path with homeopathy and her range of essences. Melanie has developed her own methods of dealing with complex cases over the years and offers distance consultations via phone and skype to allow people Australia-wide to access her services.
Homeopathy is a traditional medicine. It may be used in conjunction with other medicines. For any ongoing chronic condition, it is important to be assessed or examined by your healthcare professional or specialist. Always seek medical advice in emergencies. The information provided in this blog does not constitute medical advice but is for information only. If in doubt as to the appropriateness of a suggestion or treatment seek advice from your homeopath.