It was an evening in mid-June, the end of a perfect day at the beach – gorgeous weather, clear blue skies with puffy white clouds hanging high. The beach was almost vacant and the ocean was pristine. We had ventured the seven-hour drive in our small RV the day prior, arriving late in the night, so this first day on the beach was pure bliss – a much-deserved break from the busy practice and college.
We had just sat down to an all organic, home-cooked meal of ground chicken, spinach with lemon and olive oil, and rice. Everyone was eating heartily, when our oldest child, a six-year-old girl cried, “OUCH!” She paused, swallowed and yelled, “OOUCH!” again. “Something hurts in the back of my mouth when I swallow!” Manfred and I just looked at each other. He spoke first, “drink some juice and see what happens.” She did and upon swallowing, she again felt pain.
She stayed calm at first, until repeated attempts at swallowing yielded more and more pain. She began to panic. I looked inside her mouth but could not find anything unusual in the area where she was pointing. I decided to give her a dose of Pulsatilla (a remedy that has always helped her constitutionally) to help with her anxiety, as it is not uncommon for her to become panicky, fearful and oversensitive to pain during an intense situation. It did help her calm down, but by this time, the tears had already started.
We needed to look deeper into her mouth with a flashlight and investigate the throat. I got the job since I was sitting closest to her in the RV (the dinner table is cramped with 2 adults and 3 children around it!). Fortunately, our daughter was eager to be diagnosed.
There it was! “I found it,” I announced happily. It appeared as if something was stuck to the right side of the back of her throat, behind the uvula, just near the tonsil. The object was off-white in color, approximately 1mm wide and about 3mm long. I thought, OK, it’s probably just stuck to the side of her throat – let’s flush it out. Manfred prepared a clean remedy dropper that I used to squirt a stream of water at the object in her throat. This did nothing but gag her and increase her level of panic! Of course I felt bad, but at least we had established one crucial point – this object was not lying on the throat, but was embedded in it and what we could see of it was protruding 3mm. Our guess? It was probably a shard of a bone from the ground chicken we’d been eating.
We decided to try tweezers to pull it out. However, that this was not going to be easy with the depth of the location. By now our daughter was frantic, and after several tries, we realized, this was not going to happen! I suggested that maybe an after-hours dentist could sedate her and use a long tweezers and pull it out. Being in a very small town at the beach on a Friday night quickly put an end to that idea. Of course, it was after 8pm and the local urgent care facility had already closed. We were at a loss, that is, until we contemplated calling the paramedics, in hopes they might be able to help us without having to go to the ER. So I called 911.
While I was busy trying to come up with a make-shift way to remove the splinter mechanically, Manfred had been thinking about the homeopathic material medica. He had decided he’d try a little “homeopathic surgery”. He’d quietly begun to administer Hepar sulphuris in an olfactory (sniffed) dose in the 3X potency diluted in water, every 15 minutes.
He reasoned that our daughter was suffering from the effects of a “splinter” of sorts and needed a remedy that could cause expulsion. Hepar sulph in a low X potency can do just that.
While waiting for the paramedics, we started packing up the entire campsite in preparation for a possible evacuation to the hospital. By the time the medics arrived, our daughter was composed, and calmly let the men examine her throat. It turned out they could not help us because she did not appear to be having an “acute medical emergency”- she could breath with no obstruction, her blood oxygen levels and BP were normal. They suggested we go to the hospital, a good 45 minutes away, to have a surgeon look at the situation.
By the time the paramedics had left, our daughter had taken three doses of the remedy. What to do now? We were faced with the big decision: go to the hospital or put our faith in homeopathy! Our daughter seemed to think the object was sticking out more. We examined her throat one more time. Sure enough, it was now protruding 4.5mm instead of the 3mm before we called 911!
Manfred deemed this a good sign. Hepar sulphuris (Hep) was indeed beginning its homeopathic surgery – we would simply begin our seven-hour drive home and postpone the hospital. Phew!
By midnight, when she fell asleep – the splinter was protruding approximately 5mm and the surrounding area had reddened and appeared to be forming a pus pocket. Hep. was doing what it was supposed to – encouraging suppuration. Her body had begun to fight back with macrophages! At 1:30am she woke up and we examined her throat again to find the splinter was about 6mm long with the redness and pus pocket slightly increased.
At this point, Manfred and I were both exhausted and decided to pull into a rest area to get a few hours of sleep. By 5:30am when everyone woke up, our daughter happily smiled and declared that she could swallow with no pain. She handed me the flashlight to examine her throat.
Sure enough, the splinter was gone, the area looked less red and was on the mend. What a relief! I gave her a dose of Calendula officinalis 6X to prevent any infection from the wound (gargling with the diluted mother tincture or even taking a 30C potency would have been fine, I just happened to have the 6X potency on hand).
Though we had missed several days of beach fun, we narrowly avoided a night at a hospital – thanks to homeopathy.
[gn_box title=”On Choosing a Remedy and Dose”]Perhaps having the benefit of practicing homeopathy for over 30 years helped Manfred make a remedy choice here, since when I read Vermeulen’s Concordant Materia Medica (Millennium Edition) to compare Hepar sulphuris with Silica, it was not obvious to me which one to choose. I asked him to differentiate between the two remedies, and also what Materia Medica he preferred for acute prescribing. Manfred said:
“Hepar sulphuris is best in acute or very recent cases where a foreign object needs to be expelled because it is protruding and will rapidly set up infection. The affected area is very sensitive to touch, red and swollen. The remedy Hepar promotes suppuration and pushes the foreign object out. Our daughter described the pain as “stabbing, sharp, stitching as from a pointy object”. Hepar has stitching, splinter-like pains in the affected area. She was hypersensitive to pain and pulled a blanket around her the whole time.
“I considered Silica because it can also promote the expulsion of foreign objects, however it is more suitable for older and long-lasting cases of embedded objects without the more visible signs of infection or inflammation, although sometimes the affected area can be painful. Silica is a deep and slow acting remedy that can even bring old shrapnel to the surface. In such a case, I use the low X-potency to cause the expulsion. Higher C-potencies and Q(LM)-potencies of Silica should be avoided for this purpose as they tend to promote absorption.
“As for the Materia Medica I prefer in acute situations, I hardly go more than a week without consulting my “Materia Medica with Repertory” by William Boericke, MD, 9th edition! I have found this is an indispensible book for “beside” prescribing as Boericke leaves off most of the unnecessary chronic symptoms of the remedies and focuses instead of the acute ones. Plus, the repertory in the back is very helpful.”
Note on Dosing: Our daughter is sensitive enough that she can take all of her remedies (that are dissolved in water) in an olfactory dose (sniff dose). Olfactory doses avoid side effects in sensitive patients without lessening the beneficial healing response.
If you are interested in learning more about successful acute prescribing, please consider the following courses/lectures by Manfred Mueller, MA, DHM, RSHom(NA), CCH :
- Principles of Acute Prescribing (a 2 hr tutorial put out by The Homeopathic College)
Secrets of Acute Prescribing (a free 1 ½ hr webinar hosted by the NCH on January 25, 2012 that can be found in the NCH Webinar Archives)
How to Prescribe for Acutes During Chronic Treatment (a free 1 hr chat hosted by the NCH in May 2010 that can be found in the NCH Chat Archives)
*Mr. Mueller founded The Homeopathic College in 1989, originally as a 4 year undergraduate homeopathic program. Today, the college focuses on distance learning modules in subjects receiving little to no attention in the homeopathic community. [/gn_box]