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Read articles about
health using homeopathy by
Lia Bello, RN, FNP, CCH


 
 

Materia Medica—Single Remedies

by Lia Bello RN, FNP, CCH

 

Aconite
Do you have a home remedy kit? I know many of you do so I want to share how to use these kits. I will start with Aconite, the first remedy of the alphabet. The most acute remedy in the kit – which means it is very useful in an emergency or some sudden problem. Give it immediately after any accident, for the shock and fear that would naturally arise. Example: The family car is hit from behind – there don't seem to be any physical injuries – but everybody is upset and the shock and scariness is felt by all. Give everyone a dose of Aconite. My experience shows that it is the emotional wounds of life that predispose us to being susceptible to physical ailments. I used this remedy earlier this year on a beautiful 6-month-old baby boy after he had to have heart surgery. Think of the shock he had to his delicate nervous system! Aconite is an excellent heart attack remedy if used quickly. The most frequent way Aconite is used is at the first sign of a cold or flu. Take 1 to 3 doses if you think you are coming down with something. Good only during the earliest prodromal symptoms. (also think of Oscillococcinum.)

Last tidbit: I love the homeopathic philosophy of "going with" the body's symptoms instead of suppressing them back into the body with "antis" (anti-histamine, anti-biotics, anti-hypertensives – and on and on.) "Like cures like" (the motto of homeopathy) allows us to honor and "go with" the body's natural wisdom.


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Allium Cepa
The next remedy that we will learn about is Allium Cepa, the Red Onion. This is the one I always use when I am teaching the concept of "provings" to people just learning about homeopathy. I ask everyone to remember what happens to them when they are cutting onions. The same thing happens to all of us if we cut onions long enough. Our eyes begin to burn and then water profusely. Copious burning, clear nasal discharge streams out leaving the upper lip raw and sore. So this is why Allium Cepa, a preparation of Red Onion that has been potentised (diluted and shaken over and over) is used successfully for early colds and hay fever with those same symptoms. A more detailed proving adds sneezing, neuralgic headache, and hoarseness to the list of symptoms used to match a sick person to their similar remedy, Allium Cepa. Whenever the eyes and the nose are streaming, think of Allium Cepa.


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Antimonium Tart
I would like to re-acquaint you with another remedy from your home remedy kit: Antimonium Tart. I only need to recommend this remedy when someone has gotten himself or herself into a fix and gone all the way in to a bronchitis or pneumonia. It usually starts with just a cold or flu and then goes down to the chest. There are so many good things to do to avoid getting that sick and infected (like Pulsatilla and Kali. Bich.) that we rarely need Antimonium Tart – but this remedy is invaluable when you need the lungs to clear quickly or else it is off to the clinic for an antibiotic. The cough is very loose and rattley and the sick person is weak – and may be feverish. They are not able to clear the congestion by coughing. I have heard very rattley chest sounds with my stethoscope improve 90% overnight after a few doses of this remedy. It is best to be in touch with a health care practitioner who can give you feedback on how things are going medically when someone has a deep cough like this that is not improving. It is always great when someone in a crisis, starts an upswing in health after they get the right remedy!


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Apis Mellifica
Made from the Honey Bee, Apis is very effective for the following set of symptoms. Bright red, shiny swellings, that sting and feel better with a cold application and worse from a warm one. Since like cures like, this remedy can be used effectively for much more than bee stings, but is well known to quickly relieve the pain of bee sting. A sore throat, that is bright red, swollen and stinging and cold drinks and a hot drink can be relieved with Apis. Allergic hives on the skin are like bee stings. A boil, a stye or conjunctivitis, a urinary problem with edema, a red, swollen joint with bursitis or arthritis. Anything that looks like a sting – herpes, gum boil – very swollen mosquito bites can be helped by Apis (as long as the Apis symptoms are there). Apis is an acute remedy – and Natrum Mur. is its chronic. That means that Natrum Mur can be used if Apis helped but a deeper remedy is needed.

People that are allergic to bee stings can become less sensitive if given a high dose of Apis prophylactically in the early Spring, before the bees come out. They should always carry a high potency of Apis with them to take if they are stung. This does not mean that they should go without their emergency Epinephrine shot kit.

I had a patient who called me to say that she was covered with hot red hives and was starting to feel her throat swelling up inside. She did not know what had caused it. I had her take Apis 30c on the way to the Emergency Room and she did not need to have epinephrine shots or cortisone when she got there. She thinks it might have been the fuzzy peach that she ate.


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Arnica
Arnica is the trauma remedy. Think of it whenever the body has been bruised, banged or broken. Taken internally and applied by gel or ointment externally can substantially reduce the bruising, swelling and pain after an accident. I keep it in my car's glove compartment just in case of accident. Overuse of muscles, from a hike to a marathon, calls for its use. Sprains, blood blisters, and deep dental or surgical work are times to have it on hand.

Arnica is the next remedy in our alphabetical tour through your home remedy kit. It is probably the remedy you have used the most. I have heard that a few hospitals make sure that all patients take it before and after surgery. It must save them money! Also most every massage therapist uses Arnica oil when massaging to help with achy muscles.

Here is a little Arnica testimonial letter from a person who gave her elderly father Arnica before and after his extensive eye surgery. Thanks, Maria Chilcote, for sharing your success.

She wrote:

Thanks SOOOO much for the advice you gave me before my father's surgery. I did just as you suggested – Arnica before the eye surgery, Aconite quickly after and then alternate Arnica and Aconite throughout the day until 3 doses of each were given. The results were amazing! The original directions that my father was given were to come to the doctor's office the next morning where they would change the bandage and then the doctor wanted to see him again in three days. We were told that my dad would look like a prize fighter – and be very bruised from the surgery – and that they would have to use a retractor to keep his eye open to examine it. But to EVERYONE's surprise – mostly the doctor and nurse – when my father went to the doctor the next day and the patch was removed there was NO bruising! Everyone was shocked. My mother remarked what a GOOD surgeon the doctor was and my father and I shot each other a knowing glance! In addition, the doctor said his eye was in such good shape that he did not have to wear the patch for another two days and that unless there were complications, he did not want to see him for another two weeks!

We call Arnica the queen of homeopathic remedies and I think it deserves its reputation. From the bruising of the birth process when a baby is being born, through the bumps and bangs of a lifetime, to the surgeries and fragility of old age, Arnica is our good friend.


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Arsenicum Album
Since Arsenicum Album is mentioned over and over in the treatments outlined above I decided to tell you more about it here. Arsenicum Album, which is made from white arsenic, is one of the most useful remedies in our Materia Medica. Imagine the symptoms one would get by ingesting real Arsenic poison. Violent burning gastric pains accompanied by vomiting and watery diarrhea, constriction of the breathing, great anxiety, fear and restlessness along with overwhelming weakness and collapse. These are classic acute Arsenicum Album symptoms and it is invaluable to have this remedy on hand for food poisoning, abdominal flu and asthma. It is a first line remedy in many colds and allergies if the nasal discharge is clear, watery and excoriating, and the throat is burning but better from a warm drink. A tight wheezy cough and shortness of breath can occur and many people use Arsenicum before they resort to their broncho-dilation inhalers. Arsenicum is one of the best remedies for skin rashes and eczemas that are intensely itchy and burning. Homeopathic practitioners choose Arsenicum Album as a constitutional (overall health enhancer) for people who lean toward the symptoms above when they are ill and who display the "Arsenicum" characteristics of anxiety about health and cleanliness, chilliness, and whose symptoms are worse at night, including insomnia from worries and fears.


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Belladonna
– sounds scary because it is made from the Deadly Nightshade and the powerful drugs Atropine and Morphine are related to Belladonna – but it is not scary – it is just an intense situation that would call for this famous remedy. The word Belladonna means "Beautiful Woman" from its history of being used by women to make the pupils of their eyes dilate and look shiny, large and dark and their cheeks glow red.

Of course, when a plant is made into a homeopathic remedy it is diluted so many times that it cannot be harmful and it can then be easily used at home for the common ailments that call for it like fever and earaches and nightmares. Belladonna is a great children's remedy!

The person needing Belladonna might have dilated pupils and brilliant glassy eyes with their high fever along with radiating heat and flushed skin The fevers that usually call for Belladonna are not low-grade, 99-101.5° fevers (which are usually treated with Ferrum Phos, or Bryonia, or Gelsemium) but instead they are hot, high fevers of 102-105° that can come on suddenly. This high a fever may even create some delirium in which the sick person sees frightening things that are not there or says something strange. When there is a high fever I have families use Belladonna 30c, one dose every 15 minutes for one to two hours, switching to Belladonna 200c if the fever is still high after that. If the fever is over 104° and not coming down using this protocol, a fever reducer like Tylenol should be used to get the fever down and then continue with natural therapies as needed. Belladonna is sometimes used by homeopathic practitioners for febrile convulsions. Its successful use in Scarlet Fever epidemics back in the 1800s is history and it works for Scarletina and early strep throat. (Be sure to get a strep culture if you think you had strep – even if it feels better – to ensure that you are not contagious).

Use Belladonna for earache or sore throat in which there are throbbing or piercing pains with heat and swelling and redness of the part. A hot, red, throbbing stye or boil will be helped by Belladonna. I have counseled parents to give a dose at bedtime for a child who has been having nightmares.


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Bryonia Alba
Bryonia symptoms are nicknamed "the Bear." The Bryonia person might be irritable and gruff and want to be left alone. Physically they always feel worse from motion, are very thirsty for cold drinks and have sharp pains. Bryonia is a good remedy for sharp headache behind one or both eyes and in the forehead which feels better with pressure and worse from any motion. This remedy is also good for ailments (like flu) with a fever that comes on gradually. A Bryonia cough is dry sounding (no mucous rattle) and may hurt. The person might hold the chest to reduce its movement while coughing. Bryonia is required in a majority of appendicitis cases, and other acute abdominal pains. As always they want to stay still, because any motion, even a deep breath, aggravates their pain. Dryness is another common part of Bryonia symptomatology. Dry mouth and lips with coated tongue, and great thirst. Dry rectum, and constipation with dry, hard stool.

I heard a great story from a new acquaintance (I don't want you to try this by yourself like she did, but I know that this could become much more routine if more doctors knew a little homeopathy.) This woman's son was 15 and he started to complain of stomach pains, which got more and more severe. So she took him to the local clinic where he was checked and they quickly told the mother to take him to the hospital where a doctor would be waiting to do surgery for appendicitis. On the way to the hospital she stopped at a friend's house that was a lay homeopath and got a remedy. The mom administered Bryonia Alba to her son every 15 minutes for one hour while she drove around. His pains were lessened and then stopped but she went to the surgeon anyway to have him checked like a good mom. Surgery was not needed.

We are slowly making our way through all the remedies included in most home remedy kits.


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Cantharis
Cantharis is made from Spanish Fly, a preparation made from dried blister beetles. These insects cause a burning, blistering irritation when contacted. Its historical reputation as an aphrodisiac is based on the irritation it creates in the urinary tract and any mucous membrane area.

Cantharis symptoms are violent and the mind can have a manic feeling (sometimes sexual). We think of it first when burning on urination, with accompanying painful urgency and inflammation is the main complaint. The urine feels as if it is scalding during urination. It is also the first remedy we think of in burns and sunburn and can relieve pain and reduce the inflammation quickly when administered.

Cantharis is the remedy which made me believe in Homeopathy! Twenty-nine years ago I had a bad cystitis, bladder infection, for several months, which was starting to spread to the kidneys. I had just learned about natural medicine and did not want to take antibiotics but I was in pain with every urination. I saw a Homeopath and got one dose of Cantharis 30x. The next morning the symptoms were gone and never returned. Though I had studied the principles of Homeopathy and they sounded good –I had to see it to believe it! I have used it numerous times on kitchen burns and it always helps.


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Euphrasia
Primarily coryza and hayfever. Trigger word: lachrymation. Burning eyes and bland nasal discharge.

For the following overview of Euphrasia I went to an old book that I read in 1975 – Dr. Margaret Shepherd's Physician's Posy. Dr. Shepherd was the Homeopathic Physician to the Royal Family and I am honored that I got to hear her lectures when I studied in England at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital in 1976.

Eyebright is another example of the old doctrine of signatures, which claims that the shape and colour of flowers and leaves are signposts pointing to the use which can be made of the individual plant. Our art and science is founded on the Law of Similars and is not based on the doctrine of signatures of the ancients, except that Hahnemann and his disciples in looking round for indications for curative medicines from the plant kingdom, first experimented and proved on themselves the effects of taking extracts and tinctures made from plants known or well spoken of in folk lore and in domestic medicine and mentioned by the writers on herbal remedies going back to the days of Dioscorides and Pliny, the Elder. Euphrasia was one of the early herbs to be thus "proved" on healthy individuals by the German physician Hahnemann. Let me repeat it so as to make it quite clear: homoeopathy in many instances confirms the doctrine of signatures, but is not based on it.

The symptoms which Euphrasia produced on the healthy experimenters once again confirmed the ancients were correct in their assertion that Eyebright has a definite irritating action on the eyes if taken or applied in large doses, and therefore as "like cures like," if given in minute doses, it will cure the same diseases which it produces. Some of the symptoms are as follow:

Catarrhal conditions of the eye with copious acrid lachrymation and fluent bland discharge from the nose during coryza. The lids are dry and the margins of the lids are red, swollen and burning. Suppuration of the margins of the lids and inflammation of the lids with a fine rash about the eyes.

The mucous membranes of the lids and eyeballs are injected and red. The lids stick together in the morning. The cornea is ulcerated; cutting pains in the eyes with pressure, as if caused by sand. Misty sight and blurring of vision. Profuse bland, fluent discharge from the nose; after a day or two of inflammation of the eyes and discharge from the nose, the catarrh extends into the larynx with a hard, dry cough which is worse in the daytime and better for lying down, while the coryza is worse at night when lying down.

There is a fine rash, redness and heat of the cheeks. Remember, dry cough in the daytime, with streaming, hot burning tears with rash, photophobia (aversion to light), profuse running from the nose, worse during the night while lying down, intense throbbing headaches, redness of the eyes, and three you have the typical Euphrasia measles case. What a blessing we have such a remedy as Euphrasia for acute catarrhal eye conditions in epidemic diseases, and what a pity the orthodox doctors do not know it! The old school doctors and hospitals only know boric lotion for eye diseases, or maybe they use normal salines and stronger antiseptics for bathing the eyes, and golden mercurial eye ointment. I fancy they may now use some aniline dyes and penicillin for sure for averting chronic blepharitis; in spite of it one still sees plenty of children with encrusted eyelids after measles.

Give Euphrasia internally in frequent and repeated doses in the third or sixth potency, until the eye condition clears up, and apply Euphrasia mother tincture as an eye lotion externally (one drop to two teaspoons of water) and future eye troubles will be averted. No more golden ointment for me: it contains mercury in appreciable doses which gets absorbed into the system.

In cases of corneal opacity, thickening of and white patches on the mucous membrane of the cornea, I have seen the beneficial effects of Euphrasia, provided you use it daily for a long time.

I had a case of cataract, where Euphrasia lotion acted like a charm: it removed the conjunctivitis which accompanied it, and after many months, when the patient went back to the eye surgeon, he was surprised to find the cataract had nearly disappeared. our medicines applied on the totality of the symptoms according to the law of similars, can and do cure a large number of cataract cases; indeed one of our eye surgeons declared that 75 to 80 per cent of cataracts could be cured by medicinal means alone, without an operation.

It is not always Euphrasia which is required; you want to study your patient and prescribe according to the constitutional symptoms which are present, but Euphrasia lotion applied locally helps in the process I found that the Eyebright did well in affections of the eyes in animals. For example, a little dog some time ago was treated with Euphrasia 30 internally and Euphrasia lotion externally for injury to his left eye after a fight with a neighbouring cat. In less than a week, his eye was well, and no blindness followed.

You can make an infusion of Euphrasia: one ounce of the entire herb to a pint of boiling water is the right strength, if you make it yourself, and the eyes can be bathed three or four times a day with it. The extract of the plant, as made by the chemist, is much stronger, and, as I mentioned before, must be used in much smaller quantities, especially if the eyes are already inflamed.

Eyebright is called "casse-lunette," the "breaker of spectacles," in French, and "augentrost," or "comforter of the eyes," in German. How expressive the common every-day names of plants often are!
– Margaret Shepherd's Physician's Posy

Did you know that in our homeopathic community we have one highly trained ophthalmologist who has chosen to use Homeopathic medicine for his patients? Dr. Ed Kondrot – Pittsburgh, PA, and Phoenix, AZ? His website is www.homeopathiceye.com.


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Hepar Sulph
Hepar Sulph is a staple in our family homeopathic kit – one of the most useful remedies. It is prepared from a mixture of equal parts of finely powdered oyster shells and pure sulphur, which have been heated together to white hot. The European homeopath, Dr. Scholten depicts these two elements in this way. Calcium = vulnerability to external influences; Sulphur = inner fire.

Common uses for Hepar Sulph in acute ailments are sore throat, earache, croup, boils, and other skin or glandular infections with pus-even acne. Hepar can also be used as a constitutional (chronic overall remedy). The one feature which is most characteristic of Hepar cases is over-sensitiveness. Extremely sensitive to cold, the most chilly person feels the slightest draft. Cannot bear to be uncovered. Ailments from cold, dry wind. This sensitivity extends to the emotional realm and they are known as being very irritable and cross. Sensitive to pain. They let you know that they are in pain and won't let the spot be touched.

Amazingly effective for abscess and pus formation. Boils and carbuncles repond well to Hepar. Hepar has a tendency to suppuration; pus formation, yellow thick discharges from ear or tonsils or boil or infected wound. I have seen tooth abscesses where the person looked like a chipmunk and the swelling will come down in just one day with Hepar. Hepar is closely related to Silica but has a much faster and more intense picture when infection is involved. Very effective alternative to antibiotics when there is pus formation with infection.

Hepar's pains are stitching and splinter-like where ever they occur. Stitches in throat extending to the ear when swallowing. Swollen glands. Ears are very sensitive to touch, wind. Discharge of fetid pus from the ears. Ear infection, otitis media, painful. Hawking up of mucus. Hoarseness with loss of voice. Aconite, Spongia, and Hepar make up the croup triad – I give Hepar only when croup is prolonged or becomes more infected sounding after the first two remedies have been given. Dry, croupy cough from exposure to cold wind.


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Great Outcomes Using Hepar
Last month's featured remedy was Hepar Sulph. I wanted to share these two acute Hepar cured cases that occurred since then.

One woman called to say she woke with a sore, swollen lower left lower jaw that hurt to open her mouth and felt just like the start of a dental abcess. Without waiting for things to get worse she took three doses of Hepar Sulph 30 over that day and by the next morning – no symptoms. Probably good to get the tooth in that area checked out but problem averted for now without antibiotics, which would be most dentist's treatment before a root canal or extraction.

Another story – a nursing mother developed a very sore and hard area in ½ of her breast, along with thrush (candida) on the nipple. Milk stopped flowing in this breast and her usual method of treating mastitis (breast infection) with Belladonna or Bryonia, hot compresses and drinking lots of water, did not work. The keynote symptom was exquisite tenderness. She called me to get help and after three doses of Hepar Sulph 30 and a very long hot shower, the infection cleared. Hepar 200 was needed when another infection tried to get started. This woman probably needs a constitutional remedy, as she is too susceptible to recurrent infections.


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Ignatia
As I progress through the main remedies that make up the common family remedy kit, Ignatia is next in line for study. Those who have taken my courses know that I call this remedy the "funeral remedy," and the "divorce remedy," and certainly many, but not all, grieving people need this remedy. Simple uses include: home-sickness, first day of school, going off to college (for both mother and children). Good for pets, after the family moves to a new home. But Ignatia can be a deep-acting constitutional for chronic health problems, if the overall picture fits the person.

Ignatia is a great remedy of moods and contradictions: of mental stress and strain, connected with shock, bereavement, disappointment, or distress. Think of it when physical problems started with disappointed love, grief, fright, or worry, with long drawn sighs, much sobbing, especially if inclined to smother or hide that grief from others. Another characteristic state of mind is a changeable mood. No remedy can equal Ignatia for this... the patient is at one time full of glee and merriment, to be followed suddenly with the other extreme, of melancholy sadness and tears, and so these states of mind rapidly alternate. Symptoms are erratic, contradictory, paradoxical mental and physical effects, which change rapidly and are opposite to each other. A common sign of grief is a lump in the throat and Ignatia covers this physical manifestation of emotion. I have had patients who went to the emergency room to find out if there was really something in their throat or not! – the psycho-somatic lump sensation was then helped by Ignatia. Twitching or spasms and dramatic pains, especially headache, fit this remedy picture. Natrum Mur is the natural chronic of Ignatia.... When the troubles keep coming back, and Ignatia comes to a place when it will not hold any longer – we use Nat Mur.


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Ipecacuanha
As I progress through the main remedies that make up a common family remedy kit – Ipecacuanha leads all the remedies for nausea. Most people have heard of using a material amount of Ipecac as a way to make someone vomit and so this remedy really exemplifies the homeopathic concept of "like cures like." The main characteristic of this remedy is persistent nausea, not being at all relieved by vomiting, just as sick after as before. Sometimes the cause is dietetic errors as in Nux and Puls. Useful for vomiting of pregnancy with disgust and loathing of food. Irritable and peevish. Distressing feeling, as if stomach were hanging down, relaxed. Another characteristic of Ipecac gastric problems is that the tongue is clear – not coated as in Nux Vom and Puls.

Ipecac is also known for hemorrhages. Nose-bleed, menstrual or post partum bleeding, bright red, profuse, gushing. Bleeding with threatened abortion. Dark, bluish rings under eyes and a pale face. Nausea with hemorrhage.

Ipecac helps asthma or spasmodic cough (especially if vomiting is excited by cough). Ipecacuanha is often our best remedy in the first stage of both asthma and whooping cough, before the stage when the mucus is present. Croup, bronchitis, with coughing until retching.


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Kali Bichromicum
– the best remedy for sinus infection! So many people end up on antibiotics when a cold in the nose stops draining and builds up pressure in the sinuses, but when you have Kali Bichromicum the sinus pressure and infection will dissipate and drain out. Kali Bichromicum is indicated when there is thick, gluey stringy yellow green nasal discharge or expectoration from the throat. Inability to breathe through nose and pain at bridge (root) of nose. Post nasal dripping of thick ropy mucus. Facial bones sensitive especially cheek bones under eyes. Use a 30c potency – three to five doses in 24 hours, and if it helps but does not finish the job you may need Kali Bichromicum 200c one to three doses. Of course nasal irrigation with salt water containing echinacea / goldenseal tinctures and herbal antibiotics may be needed.


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Kali Mur
Another very useful tissue salt (mineral which occurs naturally in the body which has been potentized into a homeopathic remedy) called for when there is need for a decongestant effect. Works well if used in alternation with Ferrum phos 6x. I commonly suggest Kali Mur 6x three times a day ongoing for a week or more for stuffy nose, when ears feel full or hearing is reduced due to eustachian tube blockage – and raise potency to 30c if 6x is not effective enough. Also known to help catarrhal conditions, producing milky white, viscid, sticky, thick, slimy or lumpy mucus discharges. Chronic catarrhal condition of middle ear. Crackling noises on blowing nose or swallowing. Hawking of mucous from posterior sinuses, whitish gray tongue. Skin eruptions with small vesicles containing whitish or yellowish secretions, in leucorrhoea (vaginal discharge) with whitish discharges. Seems to facilitate drainage of mucus in upper respiratory infections preventing complications like ear infection, sinus infection or bronchitis. Helps body with mucus secretions instead of using decongestant, antihistamine and steroid drugs. This remedy has been successful when parents are told that their child's tympanogram shows that fluid behind the eardrum is impairing hearing and that "tubes" must be inserted. During treatment with Kali Mur (and Ferr. Phos) subsequent tympanograms over a three- to six-month period should show improvement as it is important that toddlers have their full hearing capacity for speech to develop correctly.


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