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Homeopathy for the End of Life

I think we know that regardless of our position in life, affluence and religious connections, we will all one day die. Or as one of my bosses used to say “the only certainties in life are death and taxes”!

In the West both birth and death are highly medicalised and medical professionals seem to be always preparing us for a difficult outcome, intervening when unnecessary “just in case” and interrupting the flow of natural energy, particularly at the end.

Death is a subject that I find infrequently discussed in our Western culture in any depth and which is surrounded by fear. Certainly, there are many references in our churches and if you’re a medical person it will also be on your radar, but mostly it’s a topic which is viewed as if it will never happen, or it shouldn’t happen.

Perhaps this is partly because of the magic that is conjured by some in the medical field that they can always find a treatment, can always extend life – often at the expense of quality and dignity. Maybe it’s that being a culture so focused on “the science” behind everything, we don’t know what is beyond the veil, what happens after death, and we don’t have a faith to inform or sustain the process.

But death is a fact of life and over the last couple of years we’ve seen a big increase in “sudden unexplained deaths”, meaning often that support is required for the shocked and grieving families, rather than support for the ailing.

What patients want

A study published in JAMA back in 2008 looked at coping with cancer to find out what patients want at the end and the short list is clearly going to be common to anyone at the end of their lives.

  • Avoiding suffering
  • Strengthening relationships with family/friends
  • Maintaining mental awareness
  • To not be a burden to family/friends
  • Cultivate a sense of life being complete

How can we help?

So what can we do to help someone at the end of their life find meaning, acceptance and peace with the process, as well as bring some relief to a faltering physical body preparing to depart this realm?

The event of death is a crucial point of transition which can be as important to the conscious growth of an individual as any other crisis during life. Every person should be allowed to die with the minimum possible suffering and the maximum state of awareness.

       The Science of Homeopathy; George Vithoulkas

And what about the family and loved ones? It can be challenging to support partners or family members who have not admitted to themselves, or perhaps just not understood, that their loved one is dying. This is about grief and loss and abandonment, mixed with fear and lack of control, so we will talk about remedies for this situation too.

I am not going to turn this post into a thesis on the philosophy of dying, what lies beyond the veil and all those ideas you know I love to wax lyrical about. I want this to be a practical article which covers some of the homeopathics which are so useful at the end of life. Whether we want to discuss death or not, there are some very helpful remedies, many of which have been in use for over 200 years, to support this stage in life.

Why homeopathy at the end of a life?

Nature is our healer and has been since the beginning of man on earth. Homeopathy is a dynamic medicine – a vibrational medicine – which comes from nature.

The right remedy can help us do what needs to be done, because each of us will need something different at the end. Here are some of the things homeopathy may assist with towards and at the end of a life:
  • Allow us to reconnect with our God or other source of spiritual sustenance, if that’s what needs to happen.
  • Remind us who we truly are and to help us find peace at the end.
  • Reduce the fear about what is to come.
  • Help reduce worry about those being left behind and their circumstances.
  • Bring clarity and closure around life events if this is required.
  • Help manage pain and other little niggles so goodbyes can be said and communications made with loved ones.

We don’t need to be experts in using homeopathy. I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on homeopathy at the end of life, however, after more than 25 years in practice, I know the application of homeopathy to any situation can be simple and efficient. We just need to be connected with what is happening and administer the indicated remedies!

Who?

I’ve had the honour of being a close part of the end of life of several patients, as well as my own father and most recently my stepfather. Dad took everything the medical profession offered through his journey with stomach and liver cancer, and I supported his choices, just taking the opportunity to spend time and be his support as much as I was able.

Despite his strong reliance on conventional medicine, he did ask for homeopathic support at the end and, as is the case with many professionals who work in oncology and palliative care, there was no problem with openly using remedies both at home and later in the hospice.

Dad and I had many conversations about death and dying over the short weeks when we both knew the end was near and it was insightful to see someone face their own passing with such peace, faith, clarity and lack of fear. We had lots of laughs, lots of reminiscences and time making final, positive memories, and this continued on through to his wake!

I recently supported, via phone, a grieving wife whose deeply spiritual partner had chosen to take no conventional treatment for his condition and was in the very end stages of life and ready to pass over at home. He asked specifically for homeopathic remedies and part of his support was actually her support. And while we did a couple of remedies which clearly helped him let go quite quickly, a bigger part of the process was supporting her distress and grief. She honoured what her partner had asked her to do, but it was a challenge that she really struggled with. Homeopathy was helpful for both of them and she connected with me several weeks after his passing to tell me just how much it had helped.

The loved ones

The other people we need to think about supporting are of course the grieving loved ones and other relations. I wrote a little about this in a previous blog on Grief & Loss, but we’ll explore support options here as well.

Just recently an article popped up on my facebook feed which talked about the grief of those who did not have love for the one passing or who had been wounded or abused by them but also needed to grieve and process this death. To an extent that is a whole other story, but in the moment of the acute grief there may be a role for homeopathy to play.

What?

I always remind people that homeopathy treats the person and not the condition or diagnosis. This is worth remembering at the end of life because as with treating an acute illness where we still need to individualise what’s going on, this is exactly the same.

James Tyler Kent’s advice on “how to ensure an easy death” was to take the symptoms of each individual case and select the remedy capable of producing similar symptoms. Kent was one of our most famous and prolific homeopaths of the late 19th to early 20th century (1849-1916) and wrote extensively on the principals and practice of homeopathy. He observed the action of homeopathy at the end of life and gave us many pointers on how best to apply our remedies and how to know what was going on.

As home prescribers you don’t necessarily need to know any of this; you just need to tune in and be observant and you will find some simple remedies for some of the things which may arise in these times.

There will be remedies that obviously come to mind if we step back and look at the bigger picture. Sometimes all we will have will be our observations of how the patient is coping and what their physical needs are, perhaps because they are heavily medicated or maybe because they are unconsious. These observational skills and knowing our loved ones so well, will be helpful in selecting remedies which bring relief.

These same remedies and guidelines are going to apply to your fur and feathered friends as well and, again, observation is going to guide you to the best remedies.

Even in death the body will try to find balance or homeostasis. To what degree this can happen will obviously depend on where the individual is choosing to play out this phase in life and what level of medication is involved. Yes, drugs like morphine can bring relief from pain and help people slip away, but they also induce a drugged state where the loved one is no longer lucid or connected emotionally, reducing the opportunity to say farewell before the journey home. The side effects can also be unpleasant to downright scary.

Many of the remedies listed here will be found in our online store in some potency, some you won’t find, but you are welcome to contact us. Use the search function to locate them.

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Remedies for the patient

Many of the remedies that we use at the end of life come from poisonous plants and poisonous animals, which is interesting. Remember we’re not giving poison, we’re giving a dynamic substance that matches the patients suffering and helps bring balance by stimulating to the system to act. Balance might mean it helps bring them back to us for a little longer, or it may help them let go and pass over if it’s their time. This is absolutely not about euthanasia, this is allowing the vital force (energy system of the patient) to do what it wants and needs to do naturally.

Below are some of the remedies which have a particular affinity for this phase. Some of this information comes from a professional Facebook group Homeopathy and Palliative Care. which popped up not long after I had started to think about writing this blog. The other source was a great webinar I attended early in 2022 on the topic by Dr Ian R. Luepker, a naturopath/homeopath in the USA.

You will have seen discussion about some of the more common and well-known remedies that have the affinity for restlessness and agitation and there are a couple of specifics below, but really any remedy that fits the picture will be helpful. Don’t be restricted by what you see here. Be creative in your use of the remedies, and I do often find that clients are amazingly creative!!

Aconite is a remedy I’ve used more than usual over the last couple of years as the level of fear has climbed generally. So we will see intense fear, people naming the time of their death, really freaking out with the fear. It also covers intolerable pain with fear and like Arsenicum below, the patient may be very restless, coughing up blood (depending on the situation), breathing with the diaphragm, panting. There may be great thirst and fear is always present. The patient may be much worse in the middle of the night.

Antimonium tartaricum is for those very disturbing states at the end of life, particularly in respiratory conditions or heart disease. The patient may suffer high anxiety with oppression of the chest, violent pains and heaviness in the chest as if under a heavy load. They may experience suffocative anxiety and rattling of the phlegm, as if they are drowning. There may be acute oedema of the lungs, rattling which originates in the upper bronchi and can be heard at a great distance. End stage cases may be very cold with cold sweat yet feel worse for heat and desire open air and fanning.

Arsenicum album is well indicated for those who have difficulty letting go at the end of their lives. It probably is the remedy many homeopaths think of for the end when the patient is anxious, restless and has great fear of being alone and of course of the end. They worry about their family left behind, the distribution of their possessions and whether the house is tidy, and when alone will dwell on their disease. They may become suspicious, obsessive and ritualistic and – a bit of homeopathy speak here – may have the delusion that they have sinned away their day of grace!

People needing Arsenicum are generally worse between midnight and 2am, so those wee small hours when things always feel worse. They tend to feel cold and will need warmth from wraps, heaters or warm drinks, which will make them feel better. Sometimes they will want to be well wrapped but have the window open. They may be thirsty but only want to sip a little at a time. At the end of life we may see some of the classic symptoms of Arsenicum such as picking at the bedclothes, experiencing hallucinations of rats and fear of robbers and poverty (this can be drug related as well). Patients are likely to be restless and agitated in this state, moving to complete prostration where they will lie still, appearing as if dead.

Kent called Arsenicum a “friend of the dying”. He said it “gives quiet and ease to the last moments of life when given in high potency”. We often talk about giving Arsenicum in high potency to help our loved ones let go of this mortal plane and cross the rainbow bridge, but a 30c may do just as well if they are ready to go and they just need a homeopathic hand to hold.

Aurum metallicum is another remedy with an affinity for the heart. The mental picture is of great fearfulness and anguish increasing to self-destruction, so the potential is there for suicide (or more likely talking of suicide) due to pain, etc. They are restless and need to move and can feel much worse for inactivity. They may have a delusion that they have neglected something and deserve to be punished or reproached (this is a useful remedy for PTSD in combat veterans). They can experience a great sense of responsibility, guilt and become very focused on religion at the end. They may talk about and feel better for the thought of death and they can feel much, much better for music generally.

Belladonna is another one of our remedies for imminent death. In its plant form it is a poisonous substance which can induce vivid dreams of flying and dancing or seeing bugs or spiders climbing up the wall. It can cause mania and violence or on the other side stupor and lethargy. So this is the picture we may see in someone who is approaching their time and in homeopathic form (where it is non-toxic!) it can help ease these sorts of symptoms.

On the physical level, where Belladonna is indicated, symptoms are usually sudden. The face may be flushed with high fever, dilated pupils, along with heat, burning and redness. The heart rate and circulation are up and down, muscles weaken to a state of paralysis, blood vessels relax and the blood pressure falls leading to asphyxia and finally death. There may be desire for lemons and lemonade – and you do see this come up sometimes with Belladonna during acute illness. The patient may be very sensitive to light, noise, shiny objects and may need to lie in a dark room. They can be sensitive to drafts, especially to the head.

Bryonia is a useful remedy for pain. The patient is likely to be irritable, even angry due to the pain and not want to be touched. Pains are aggravated by motion and contact, with oversensitiveness to all external impressions. Pains are likely to be pricking, darting and stinging in the joints, muscles, lungs, liver, and pain in the bones may feel as if the flesh has been beaten off.

Buddleia is a newer remedy which can be really usedful for trauma, fear of any kind and is often called the homeopathic tranquiliser. It may assist where someone is paralysed by terror (see Stramonium below) and is therefore stuck because of fear, preventing them from passing over. The person is afraid of the darkness, but equally has fear of moving towards the light. It can bring peace to the person who is passing over and to their relatives, shedding light and showing that there is no separation.

Carbo veg is known in homeopathy as ‘the corpse reviver’ because in those extreme cases it either brings the patient back or allows them to pass easily. These cases are often debilitated and collapsed with weakness due to pathology in the lungs, heart, liver, congestive heart failure, etc. Generally they are likely to have breathlessness, frequently with blue lips or face, and need a flow of air with windows open and fan on, plus they are better for sitting upright. Abdomen may be distended with flatus, cold sweat covers them and the breath is cold.

Bringing them back is sometimes just a brief reprieve, but it can give families the opportunity to say their farewells, similar to the way I’ve seen Arsenicum album act at the end. One of our great homeopaths, JT Kent, said to give “Carbo veg in water every hour for six hours, and stopped, will give rest and beatitude with many thanks.”

There’s a little bit more about Carbo veg under Loss of Appetite below.

Chamomilla, which we may think of only for teething, is a great remedy for pain. The patient may be oversensitive to the pain, which seems unendurable, driving them to despair. They are unlikely to be a calm patient, but really over the top with their reaction to the pain, to the point of being driven crazy. As we sometimes see in labour, they can shout and curse and demand relief from their pain or their state.

Lac Humanum or mother’s milk is another lovely and useful remedy at this time in a life, where it helps to make the transition beyond the veil with courage and in peace. Where souls have lost their link with God, source, spirit, etc it can help re-establish it at this time, to reduce fear. The remedy is both a link-breaker and a link-maker, so breaking the ties in order to pass over, but also bringing people together in those last stages of life if necessary.

Lachesis is an interesting remedy for end of life. Some of the keynote symptoms are that the patient becomes very suspicious, rambling and even malicious. They may think preparations are being made for their funeral. Not only that they may think they are already dead! They can have fear of being poisoned, dread of death, fear of going to bed and can be weary of life, looking at the dark side of everything. Whatever the presenting picture at the end you would usually find that they cannot bear the clothing around their neck, chest or abdomen and you may see choking.

Latrodectus mactans is a small remedy which  may be useful and one your homeopath would likely prescribe. I share it because this picture may be seen in very anxious patients who scream with pain typically in heart failure. Cardiac pains can be violent, sharp and extend into the shoulders and both arms, they may gasp with fear of asphyxiation and the skin may be cold as marble, all classic symptoms of angina and myocardial infarction.

Lycopodium is one of our classic homeopathic remedies and many will be familiar with it. I’m going to share this content as written by Mark Lambrick (thanks Mark!), the founder of Homeopathy and Palliative Care as I don’t feel I need to reinvent the wheel here.

The picture is one of sudden descent into mental torture with hyperventilation. They awaken angry, sensitive and fearful. They can scream and have very ugly behaviour. Afraid to be left alone but become objectionable, domineering wanting to leave their beds but have no strength to get up. The early evenings are their worst time. Their memories weaken and they make mistakes using wrong words and confusing who they are with for people absent. They are frequently hungry, wake hungry at night, but can only eat small amounts before feeling full and have noisey flatulence. They suffer from dryness and rawness of the skin. Pale skin which is tight across the face. One foot hot and the other cold.

Nitric acid These patients have much fear around death, great pessimism and may be weepy with discontent about self and life. They can be quarrelsome and unmoved by apologies, so unlikely to have big death bed reconciliations as they are inclined to hold a grudge. Affinity for conditions of the mouth and anus. Blood loss, liver problems, as well as prostate and salivary issues are common and affect the appetite. Jaundice and aching in the liver may be present. There may be nausea with belching, bitter and sour vomiting, and they cannot eat anything. Better for motion but worse for the slightest touch, worse for lack of sleep, as well as cold air and hot weather.

Opium is a homeopathic remedy which is restricted for use in Australia, but I give the symptoms here as it’s a picture you do see frequently at the end of life and in chronic health issues in older patients. The patient is as if in a heavy stuporous sleep or may be unconscious. They will appear sleepy even when awake and they often feel no pain, which is what homeopaths call a keynote symptom. Looking in one of our old but great materia medica of symptom pictures, William Boericke, another of our great masters tells us “he is unable to understand or appreciate his sufferings. Frightful fancies […]. Thinks he is not at home. Delirious talking, with wide open eyes”. The breathing may be noisy and irregular, with hot and damp skin. They are worse from warm applications and worse during and after sleep. It’s a very useful remedy for fecal impaction, often a side effect of opiates, and for constipation with no urge at all.

Rhus tox patients may appear confused, forgetful and thoughts are cloudy. They are anxious and fearful, suspicious of family members and fear something unspecific and terrible is going to happen. They may fear they are going to be hurt, poisoned or bumped off and all of this is worse at night, driving them to attempt to get out of bed in their agitation. All this worry and anxiety comes with great restlessness and agitation (restless legs are prominent in Rhus Tox) and they constantly move about in the bed trying to find a comfortable position. They feel cold, but may actually feel hot to the touch, and want to be kept warm. They are better sitting up in the bed and may request or feel better for a very hot bath or a hot pack. They may experience diarrhea or urinary incontinence, so can’t keep anything in. And since Rhus Tox is a remedy for joint and skin conditions, they may be very itchy with achy joints, burning eyes and a constant annoying cough. As always with Rhus Tox, symptoms are worse for rest, better for first motion and may be worse for continued motion/over exertion.

Sandalwood is a lesser known remedy which can be very useful at the end of life, taking away the fear of death and bringing the knowledge that there is no death, only life eternal. We know that its smell enhances spiritual awareness and the awareness of elementals and angelic forces, and the homeopathic will bring similar connection. It’s a pathfinder which will shine a light forward as well as backward, something which we know happens at the end of life as the patient reflects. It allows us to surrender and to find the point of stillness within.

Stramonium if required at the end of life may present a picture of manic delirium, praying and pleading as hallucinations distress and disturb them. This may be due to medications such as opioids, due to the organs shutting down, or it may also be due to spiritually held beliefs around what happens after death. These patients may be afraid of the dark, need company and just want to escape their terror. They may be confused and mistake people around them. Talking can be an effort and their face may distort with grimaces and muscle spasms. Muscles may twitch uncontrollably, especially of the upper body and they may suffer convulsions, through which they remain conscious. Typical of the Stramonium picture, they may experience very dry throat with great thirst but with a dread of water. Strangely it would seem with any complaints they suffer no pain.

As you can imagine, for the family, this would also be a terrifying picture and not a happy way to remember a dear loved one, so remedies for shock and fright such as Aconite might be required for the family members

Tarentula cubensis – yes, that’s right, this is a spider remedy! Our friend and master, JT Kent says that “Tarent C soothes the dying sufferer as I have never seen any other remedy do. I have seen Arsenic, Carbo veg, Lycopodium, Lachesis, act kindly and quiet the last horrors, but Tarent C goes beyond these. The pain, the rattling in the chest, with no power to throw the mucous out; the patient has but a few hours to suffer, but he can be made quiet as with the terrible morphine in a very few minutes by Tarent C in the thirtieth potency (30c).”

Soul Harmonics Crossing Over is a vibrational essence which may be helpful towards the end to reduce fear and prepare the soul for departure. The product has extensive information about the essences included. Available in oral drops or as a spray which can sometimes be more appropriate in an unconscious or unwell patient.

Triple A or AAA 200c is one of our most popular combinations which includes Aconite, Argentum nitricum and Arsenicum album, all big remedies for anxiety, anticipation and fear. We’ve used it in our practice extensively, almost as a rescue-type remedy where the usual remedies or single remedies are not cutting it, but people need a bit of support outside of a consultation. Because it contains the three main remedies for these strong emotions, it can be useful for the patient and also for the loved ones.

Angel I-Con is a beautiful essence we created some years back to help connect us with the angelic realms and who wouldn’t want to do this to bring comfort and support at the end of their life, allowing them to float away on the wings of an angel.

Remedies for some of the physical discomforts

Loss of Appetite

Loss of appetite towards the end is natural and there are many reasons for this; organ failure and tissue breakdown, bowel obstruction, reflux, infections, middle ear or vestibular disturbances, metastases and side effects or just effects of medications. The patient may have lost their sense of taste and smell and there is no pleasure in eating, and of course there may just be a sense that the end is near and there is no point in sustenance.

If you are not sure what is causing the issue and can’t easily work out an appropriate remedy, your homeopath can be helpful at this point. Remember, if the loved one is not suffering through this part of the process, sometimes it’s best to just let it be. We want to help, but the patient may just need to go through a process that is natural. As long as they are not uncomfortable you may just be able to observe and support only if necessary.

It can be difficult to know what to feed your loved one and really just letting them have what they fancy may be the best option. You may find they naturally refuse animal products and they can be hard to digest. Certainly when my father and step-father were dying they craved fruit. Fruits and vegies are easier to digest and things like a bone broth or chicken soup or a smoothie can provide some nutrition for a little energy and are quite digestible.

However, if they are wasting away before your eyes when perhaps the end is not so near, there are a number of homeopathics worth thinking about. Some of the remedies below are smaller remedies and not all will be available on the website.

Alfalfa is a remedy commonly thought of for loss of appetite, helping to tone up the appetite in a very natural way. Along with boosting the appetite, it also helps to provide mental and physical strength to the body. Alfalfa works well in patients who have experienced weight loss and emaciation, with weakness, fatigue and exhaustion.

Antimonium crudum Abdomen distended with loud rumbling and wind. There may be heartburn, nausea and vomiting with burning pains driving them to despair. The patient is irritable, touchy and fretful, and usually worse for touch or consolation. There is either a disgust for food or they want to eat but have no energy to do so. Food leaves an aftertaste or causes constant belching. Tongue may be thickly coated white. Generally there is no thirst.

Bryonia These patients always feel worse for any movement, sometimes even moving the eyes can bring on nausea, faintness and vomiting, and rising to a seated position aggravates. They are better for lying perfectly still, lying on the painful side, and for cool open air. They have a strong thirst for large quantities of water but the appetite may be very low. They are better for cold drinks, and warm drinks may be vomited. Like Nux vomica patients, people needing Bryonia are likely to be very irritable, hard to please and changeable in what they want.

Carbo veg Low appetite with empty feeling in the stomach. There will be a lack of vitality, they cannot seem to recover and their body and skin has a bluish colour, particulalrly around the lips. They need fresh air and they often feel better for being fanned or having the air moved by a fan.

Carduus marianus This is one of our main liver remedies (as is Nux vom), where there is often a bitter after-taste (meaning everything tastes terrible), and nausea and vomiting with abdominal distension. Continuous nausea with desire to vomit and sometimes increased salivation. Burning in the oesophagus and the stomach contents may feel sour. Worse lying on the left side.

China may be useful in cases of reduced appetite with a sensation of fullness in the abdomen or where the stomach feels full all the time. The abdomen feels bloated and distended and there is an aversion to all food. It may work well in cases where the patient feels full after eating very little. China is also a useful remedy where there has been loss of fluids, such as through bleeding or dehydration resulting in weakness.

Colchicum can be helpful when nausea is present along with the loss of appetite. The patient becomes nauseous at the thought or smell of food. They may feel hungry, but on smelling food, the appetite vanishes. If they do eat, the food seems tasteless. Colchicum helps to reduce nausea and stimulate the appetite.

Conium Slow progressive debility and depression which is worse in the mornings. Feels better from eating but then worse a few hours afterwards. Painful spasms in the stomach with nausea and vomiting, worse when lying down in bed. Attacks of nausea. Vomiting of coffee grounds. Worse for seeing moving objects (!), worse turning over in bed.

Lycopodium Another of our liver remedies and a remedy for stomach cancer. Weakness of the digestion is a big focus, and 4 to 8 in the evening is a classic time of aggravation. Better for motion and warm foods and drinks. Lots of wind with abdominal distension/bloating.

Nat sulph Especially related to head injuries, this is another remedy with an affinity for the liver and gallbladder. Lots of liver symptoms, stitching pain, irritable liver, worse for deep breathing and jarring. Vomiting of bile. Feels squeamish in the stomach after eating, acid reflux with wind. Very sensitive to change of weather from wet to dry and worse for damp weather. Desires ice and ice cold water despite being worse for cold food and drinks.

Nitric acid Blood loss, liver problems, as well as prostate and salivary issues are common and affect the appetite. Jaundice and aching in the liver may be present. There may be nausea with belching, bitter and sour vomiting, and they cannot eat anything.

Nux vomica Nausea and vomiting with retching, which is worse in the morning. Feels better for vomiting, but may be unable. Loud rumbling in the tummy, colicky pains and wind, sour or bitter taste in the mouth. Doesn’t want to eat but is thirsty. Everything irritates them (physically and emotionally) and makes things much worse. There may be sleeplessness in the middle of the night, which further increases the irritability, particularly on waking.

Sepia Where there are liver and uterine issues, but you may find this fits a lot of patients with hormone or reproductive organ-related cancers generally. Nausea and vomiting with the classic Sepia bearing down or sinking sensation. Nausea at the thought or smell of food, particularly in the morning.

Rhus tox Rheumatic/arthritic symptoms and similar will generally be present for these people. There may be hunger and emptiness in the stomach with no appetite. Nausea, vertigo and bloated abdomen after eating. They are worse from cold drinks, ice cream and at night and are better from continued motion and heat.

Managing Back Pain

For a bed ridden or sedentary patient, this is a real issue and while there are many remedies which you may consider this is going to be one of those situations you will really need good detail to select a good remedy. The remedies below are just examples and you may need to read the bigger picture to make a selection.

Berberis vulgaris may help numbness, stiffness and lameness with painful pressure in the bottom half of the back. They are very sensitive to touch around the kidneys (and this is a big kidney support remedy). Worse from sudden movements, fatigue, when sitting and lying.

Kali carbonicum suits the nervous patient with sweat, weakness and lower back pain, especially worse in the early hours (2 to 4 am). They cannot walk any distance, but must lie down. Worse when eating a meal.

Nux vomica fits the patient who is extremely irritable and agitated by the smallest of things. Pain is especially worse in the lumbar region and they must sit up in order to turn over in bed.

Rhus tox The pain is worse between the shoulders when swallowing. Pain and stiffness in the lower back, worse from sitting and lying, better for movement or lying on something hard, but worse from prolonged movement.

Ruta grav has back pain which may be relieved by lying on the back.

Staphysagria Backache worse at night and before rising in the morning.

And a few more suggestions from Mark Lambrick:

Where there is backache after much sitting and it is relieved by walking think of Cobaltum, Pulsatilla and Rhus tox. And where the patient also experiences great prostration and cannot bear to be touched, consider Zincum met.

When the patient feels relief from sitting sideways in the chair to avoid pressure in their spine, think of Chinin sulph.

Where there is great weakness of the spine and back with burning sensation, think of Picric acid.

And where the patient has had falls or injuries and become very sensitive to the slightest touch or movement which makes them cry out in pain, consider Hypericum.

Pressure sores & more

Pressure sores (aka bed sores) are an issue for a patient who is confined to bed. Worse than the pain can be the breakdown of the skin, which may lead to ulceration and other complications. Obviously we’re all hoping that good nursing support will be available, but as we know staff shortages have left many patients vulnerable to a lack of care.

There are a number of remedies to support a range of these situations which will hopefully avoid more chronic issues. Some will be easily available. Others you may need to request from our site.

Arnica is particularly for bed sores that have made the skin turn blue-black in appearance. This may also be accompanied by soreness, itchiness, and a feeling as if the bed is too hard to lie down on. Arnica helps reduce blue-black spots and also prevents the formation of pus.

Apis mellifica is useful where the skin appears rose coloured. There is a marked burning sensation in the spots and it is worse by touch, worse in a warm room or from heat of bed. The desire is to be in open air or to uncover the affected parts to reduce the pain, burning and stinging.

Carbo veg can be helpful when the skin is bluish with coldness. Excessive sweat may also be present along with the coldness. The person needing this remedy will have bed sores due to stagnation of blood in the capillaries so poor oxidation and there may be bleeding of the sores. Itching may also be present and will be worse by warmth and towards evening time. Marked weakness forms a part of the total symptom picture.

Arsenic album is one of the main remedies where ulcers have formed with discharge of an extremely offensive nature, usually with burning. The pains are frequently worse at night and may be worse from cold, increasing the pain and burning in a weak patient.

Silica is a common remedy for conditions where there is formation of pus.

Hepar Sulph is also a common remedy for pus where the discharge is bloody. There is extreme pain and sensitiveness in the ulcer. The person needing Hepar sulph may also have burning and stinging sensation in the ulcers.

Silica is useful when only pus oozes out of ulcers, while Hepar sulph is the best remedy when blood oozes out along with pus.

Paeonia is indicated for bed sores that appear on the skin covering sacrum and coccyx. Ulcers are present with pain, sensitiveness, and itching.

Pyrogen Sepsis is a very critical condition also called blood poisoning. In sepsis, the septic or poisonous matter appears in the blood and spreads through the entire body. The patient shows symptoms of increased pulse rate and high fever with shivering. The skin is cold and sweaty and there are deep ulcers with horribly offensive discharge. No doubt the patient will be on antibiotics but remedies such as Pyrogen may speed up the healing process.

Narayani War Mix This is a combination remedy developed some 40 years ago by a group of homeopaths in South Africa. It’s great for infection, particularly low grade where multiple courses of antibiotics have not done as much as they could. Ask your homeopath about this one for these nasty end stage symptoms.

And thanks again to Mark Lambrick for a few more snippets from his wealth of experience.

Pain in the coccyx or tail bone mostly occurs from prolonged sitting and some useful remedies include Kali bich, Amm mur, Apis, Carbo animalis and Petroleum. Your homeopath can help you here if you are unsure.

Causticum If the pain is drawing in nature.

Phosphorus is useful for burning pain in the back, and when it burns on sitting think of Apis and Cistus.

Bovista For strong itching of the coccyx where the patient scratches until rough and sore.

Restlessness or terminal agitation

This is a common experience in the final days of life as the patient who is not prepared for their death struggles with letting go emotionally. The patient may be angry and aggressive, shouting and screaming, trying to get out of bed. As the organs begin to shut down, toxins build up in the system and they may drift in and out of consciousness. The limbs may jerk and twitch uncontrollably and they may sleep all day and be wakeful all night. This may be partly because of the drugs, and some certainly cause hallucinations, nightmares and other unpleasant side-effects, but they are clinging part way between worlds, neither really here nor there.

This can be extremely distressing for care-givers to manage but homeopathy has much to offer at these times. Sometimes you will see remedy pictures you are familiar with very clearly, but there may be times and situations where you will need to reach out to your homeopath for advice on small remedies, organ support or individualised constitutional care.

Miscellaneous

Euphorbium Officinalis is a small remedy which is quite specific for the burning pains of cancer where the patient feels chilly and is better for warmth and worse rest. It may be useful where Arsenicum has not helped.

Cactus grandiflorus is another heart remedy, mainly for the pains. Pains in the apex of the heart, shooting down the left arm to the fingers, feeble pulse, breathlessness. Pains are everywhere, darting like lightning and ending with a sharp vide like grip.

The unconscious patient

If you need to give remedies to a patient who is unconscious or disabled in some way there are a couple of options.

Drops are easiest and can be dropped into the mouth, or dripped onto the lips, pulse spots or top of the head (crown chakra).

Pilules If you only have pilules here are the instructions for dispensing as a liquid dose:

Put 1 pilule in ¼ glass of water and stir vigorously with a teaspoon. It won’t dissolve and doesn’t need to. The water is now the remedy.
You can then give 1 teaspoon (or 1/2 teaspoon in babies under 6 months) as the dose and you can keep using the glass or bottle (if that’s what you’ve used) by stirring vigorously or shaking before the dose.
Please note that without a preservative such as alcohol, the dosing glass/bottle is best replaced daily.

For the loved ones

Aconite where the death is a shock, sudden, frightening or unexpected, such as from an accident or something like a heart attack. Perhaps the news has come as a sudden and major blow and the loved one experiences chest pain, palpitations, difficulty breathing, or other symptoms resembling or presenting as a panic attack.

Also useful where the loved one experiences the type of picture described under Stramonium above, which can be terrifying for the family. See also Triple A 200c or AAA described above.

Gelsemium where shock or grief has left the family member mentally exhausted, dull and dazed, feeling paralysed with the emotion (before or after). Fear of hearing bad news, fear of having to face the doctors, anticipation of what is to come.

Ignatia is probably the first remedy we would all think of for a grief, where the grief is fresh and raw, the emotions are all over the place, the loved ones are inconsolable with sobbing and sighing. Often worse for being consoled, they want to be alone, to try and smother or suppress how they feel. Sometimes they can manifest the oddest symptoms which are quite contradictory to what you might expect. The remedy is not going to take away the feelings but just helps in softening the emotions and provides support to move through the stages.

Natrum Mur is very useful where the loved one does not exhibit any emotions over a loss or grief. They are holding it together for the family, suppressing their emotions and sometimes this can go on for months or even years. Patients often say in clinic that they don’t feel they ever grieved for a parent or pet, just stoically got on with life.

Phosphoric Acic is helpful where a long period of supporting a dying loved one causes complete exhaustion, both mental and physical.

Triple A or AAA – as above.

WyldChyld Let It Go – one of our WyldChyld Essences, this can help with processing the grief, particularly if thoughts of the end or the event create a mental loop.

Soul Harmonics Love – where the heart is broken or shut down, this can bring softness and reconnection in order to allow grieving and the other matters associated with the loss of a loved one to take place in love and peace.

Resources:

Homeopathy & Palliative Care Facebook Group

Colleagues; Mark Lambrick Homeopathy and Heather Smith

Dr Ian R. Leupker; Healing at the end of life webinar

Madeline Evans; Meditative Provings

Robin Murphy; Natures Materia Medica

https://www.drhomeo.com/homeopathic-treatment/homeopathic-treatment-loss-appetite/

https://www.drhomeo.com/bed-sores/homeopathic-medicines-for-bed-sores/


Melanie Creedy is a Licentiate of the British School of Homeopathy in the UK and holds a Bachelor of Health Science in Homeopathy. She is registered with the Australian Register of Homoeopaths (AROH) and is a member of the Australian Homoeopathic Association. She was Vice President and Professional Development Coordinator of the Australian Homoeopathic Association from 2011 to 2015 and editor of the AHA National Newsletter from 2012 to 2020.

Melanie has used homeopathy since the mid-1980s 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 helping individuals manage their life and health through looking at a diagnosis or condition in relation to the symbolism of this unique picture. Armed with a range of remedies from the most common to the most unusual and esoteric, Melanie guides people to plumb the depths of their life and spiritual path with homeopathy to help them find insights, to understand and to heal.

For many years Melanie taught people how to use homeopathy in their homes, with their children and with their pets. She has run classes on how to use homeopathy with native animals and taught courses on homeopathy  for birthing to doulas. Since moving to Tasmania she has found writing a better forum to reach more people. You will find many posts reaching back over her 25 years in practice here, revised and updated over time.

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 on our website and in this article does not constitute medical advice. It is referenced from traditional homeopathic texts and is for information only. If in doubt as to the appropriateness of a treatment seek advice from your GP or your registered homeopath.