- Premenstrual Syndrome
- Cysts & Fibroids
- Fertility and Contraception
Eliza Flagg Young, MD, a nineteenth century physician, once said, “Every woman is born a doctor. Men have to study to become one.” Although this may be a controversial statement, what isn’t controversial is that women tend to be the primary health care providers in most families. In the vast majority of homes women are responsible for watching over the health needs of the children, and by their shopping and cooking, they are responsible for fulfilling the nutritional needs of the family.
Because homeopathic medicines are considerably more amenable to home care than are conventional drugs, it is predictable that American women have had a history of interest in homeopathy.
It was not simply a coincidence that a large number of leading suffragettes in America during the 19th century were advocates of homeopathic medicine. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Julia Ward Howe, Louisa May Alcott, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Lucretia Mott, and Clemence Sophia Lozier were but some of the nineteenth century feminists who considered both women’s rights and homeopathic medicine to be important ways to create a healthier society.
The famous Ladies Physiological Societies of the nineteenth century were early versions of contemporary women’s support groups in which women taught each other about their bodies and how to heal themselves. Because of the significant role that homeopathy played at that time, information about homeopathic medicines was integral in many of these meetings of women.
Even many wives of conventional physicians in the nineteenth century sought the care of homeopaths. At an 1883 meeting of the American Medical Association, one doctor complained, “Too many wives of conventional physicians are going to homeopathic physicians. And to make matters worse, they are taking their children to homeopaths too!”1
Likewise today, the vast majority, approximately two thirds, of homeopathic patients and purchasers of homeopathic products are women. And today, there are approximately 300 homeopathic study groups, the significant majority of which are led by women and participated in by women.
There is one simple reason why so many women, past and present, have sought out homeopathic medicine: it is a safer and more effective method of healing themselves and their families. Because women tend to seek professional medical care more than men do, they also tend to experience more of its dangers as well as its benefits. When women reach the limits of modern medical expertise and experience some of the harsh side effects of modern medical practices, it is certainly understandable that they seek out alternative health methods such as homeopathic medicine.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Homeopathic medicines can effectively treat the cramps, bloating, and various psychological symptoms that women commonly experience around their menstrual flow. While serious PMS should receive professional homeopathic attention, occasional or mild PMS symptoms can benefit from self-treatment, with either an individually prescribed remedy or one of the combination formula products.
When cramps are the predominating symptom of PMS, consider Pulsatilla (for cramps experienced by women who are gentle, yielding, and easily weepy, and who experience a changeable menstrual flow from month to month, are without thirst, are occasionally nauseous, prefer open air, and tend to feel worse when exposed to heat, which usually aggravates their water retention), Belladonna (for intense bearing down pains or cramps that come on and go away suddenly, and aggravation from motion or any type of jarring or draft, sometimes with a headache), Magnesia phos (cramps that are relieved by bending over, by firm abdominal massage while bending forward, or by warmth and warm application, and that are aggravated by cold, cold air, or uncovering), and Colocynthis (cramps like those of Magnesia phos but the woman is considerably more irritable and restless).
When bloating is the primary symptom, consider Pulsatilla (see above), Sepia (constipation, lethargy, general weakness felt in internal organs, irritable personality, snappishness, sadness), Lycopodium (aggravation of symptoms between 4-8pm, in warm weather, and with flatulence, and backache), and Lachesis (aggravation of symptoms during sleep and upon waking, symptoms worse on left side, pains relieved by the flow).
When moodiness, irritability, and heightened emotions are the main symptoms, consider Pulsatilla (see above), Sepia (see above), Ignatia (emotional vulnerability, especially grief, contradictory feelings, and hysteria), Cimicifuga (sharp labor-like pains that dart from one side of the body to the other, possible back pain or sciatica, intolerance of pain, loquaciousness, hysteria, feelings of being overwhelmed, and “I can’t take it anymore”), Lachesis (loquacious, sharp-tongued, sarcastic ,irritable, suspicious, and jealous, with flushes of heat, symptoms worse upon waking and exposure to heat; headaches), and Nux vomica (irritable, faultfinding, quarrelsome, competitive; Type-A personality; nausea).
Dose: Take the 6, 12, or 30th potency every two hours during intense symptoms and every four hours for less intense symptoms. Stop taking the remedy if symptoms are gone or quite mild. If there isn’t some type of obvious improvement in 12 hours, try another remedy.
Cystitis (Bladder Infection)
Another extremely common condition for which homeopathic medicines seem to work wonders is cystitis (bladder infection). While professional homeopathic care and/or medical attention should be sought to treat recurring bladder symptoms and for severe symptoms, an individually chosen homeopathic medicine can alleviate the pain and discomfort of most acute conditions before the woman reaches the doctor’s office.
The two most common remedies for acute cystitis are Cantharis (burning, cutting pain before, during, and after urination, each drop passing as though it were scalding water, frequent urges to urinate) and Sarsaparilla (severe pain at end of urination, burning pain and constant urging; a characteristic but not common symptom is that urine can be passed only while standing). Other remedies to consider are Berberis (pain in the thighs and loins during urination, pain extending from the bladder and/or over the abdomen to the urethra), Pulsatilla (pain during and after urination as well as when lying down, dry mouth but no thirst), Apis (stinging pains with an aggravation of symptoms by warmth of any sort), Belladonna (acute pain aggravated by any motion or simple jarring, a sensation of something moving inside the bladder, restlessness at night with wild dreams), Nux vomica (constant urge to urinate, short relief when passing small quantities and from warm applications or warm bathing), and Causticum (cystitis after surgery, involuntary urination when coughing or sneezing).
Dose: Take the 6, 12, or 30th potency every two hours during intense symptoms and every four hours for less intense symptoms. Stop taking the remedy if symptoms are gone or become mild. If there isn’t some type of obvious improvement in 24 hours, try another remedy. The correct remedy may need to be taken for up to three days for an acute urinary tract infection.
Vaginitis refers to an inflammatory condition in the vagina that is primarily the result of infection (i.e., from Candida albicans, Trichomonas vaginalis, Gardnerella vaginalis, or Chlamydia trachomatis) or exposure to an irritant (chemical or allergic). The symptoms of vaginitis generally include an abnormal vaginal discharge and itching or burning pains. To understand how and why homeopathic medicines are effective, it is useful to learn something about the nature of vaginitis.
One of the most common types of vaginitis is a yeast infection, usually caused by the yeast Candida albicans. The vagina normally is populated by a variety of microorganisms that help to prevent infection. The “good” microorganisms create a chemical environment that inhibits the “bad” microorganisms. They also compete for food with the “bad” infective organisms. If a woman takes antibiotics to treat an infection, whether it is for vaginitis or not, the antibiotics kill both the bad and the good microorganisms, ultimately creating various imbalances in the body, including yeast infections.
The vagina can normally live comfortably with small amounts of yeast, but the killing of good microorganisms by antibiotics allows yeast to grow in significant numbers, creating a yeast infection.
Conventional treatment for yeast conditions is usually antifungal medications or suppositories. While these medicines may temporarily decrease the number of yeast cells, they do not increase the body’s good microorganisms, nor do they protect the body from future yeast infections.
Other factors that can disrupt the ecological balance in the vagina are a high sugar diet, birth control pills, and certain hormonal changes, including those caused by pregnancy. Simply getting rid of the yeast, bacteria, or other pathogens growing as a result of the ecological imbalance and leading to vaginitis does not resolve the fundamental stress to the woman’s health.
Homeopathic medicines are not antifungal or antibacterial in the conventional sense. Rather, they strengthen a woman’s own defenses, which then help her body fight off the fungal infection itself. By this process they do not create the same type of internal ecological disruption that antibiotics cause. Some of the common remedies for vaginitis are Pulsatilla (white, yellow, or greenish bland vaginal discharge with vaginal soreness, a weepy, moody, emotionally-laden state, thirstlessness, aggravated by heat and relieved in the open air; a common remedy for vaginitis in pregnant women), Kreosotum (itching with burning pains, a yellow, putrid vaginal discharge which is acrid and irritates the vaginal lips and surrounding skin; the discharge may stain bedsheets, and is worse in the morning and upon standing), Borax (a burning vaginal discharge which is the color of egg whites; Borax tends to be useful for vaginitis that occurs midway between menstrual periods), Hydrastis (profuse stringy yellow vaginal discharge with great itching, worse after menstruation), Sepia (white, milky, offensive, itchy, and burning discharge which tends to be more profuse in the morning and while walking, sensations of uncomfortable pressure and heaviness in the vaginal area, general fatigue, constipation, irritability, depression), Graphites (premenstrual yeast infection, often in overweight women with thin, white, acrid discharge and who may experience a concurrent backache, increased discharge in the morning and while walking), and Calcarea carb (thick yellow or milky discharge which tends to cause intense itching, usually in overweight, fair-skinned women, worse before menses and on becoming warm, though they tend to be very chilly; a headache and spasmodic cramps may be concurrent). These remedies are effective not only for yeast infections, but also for other types of vaginal infection. In addition, there are numerous homeopathic formula products in pill or suppository form that can be used to treat the acute vaginal infection effectively.
Chronic or recurrent vaginitis should receive professional homeopathic care for an appropriate constitutional medicine.
Dose: Take the 6, 12, or 30th potency every two hours during intense symptoms and every four hours for less intense symptoms. Stop taking the remedy if symptoms are gone or have become mild. If there isn’t some type of obvious improvement in 48 hours, try another remedy.
Cysts and Fibroids
A cyst is a usually harmless fluid-filled sac of tissue that may be found in the breast, ovaries, or vagina, or simply under the skin. Small cysts are often imperceptible, and even large ones can sometimes be symptomless unless they are large enough to press on certain organs or nerves. Fibroids are noncancerous growths in or on the walls of the uterus which can lead to abnormal uterine bleeding, painful intercourse, and bladder and bowel pressure.
Cysts and fibroids are relatively common symptoms experienced by women. Conventional medical care ranges from the conservative (“Let’s leave it alone and let it go away”) to the radical (“We need to remove it before it gets worse or causes any other problem”). Homeopathic treatment for these conditions generally requires professional constitutional care. Some homeopaths have observed that cysts often respond rapidly to the correct homeopathic medicine, while fibroids tend to take longer. Homeopathic remedies for fibroids will not always completely get rid of them, but they do often at least reduce bleeding or other complications. Homeopathic treatment of fibroids tends to be more effective when they are not too extensive.
In reference to the treatment of cysts, a gynecologist from Barcelona, recently reported on a study she performed evaluating 40 cases of ovarian cysts. After nine months of treatment using individually chosen homeopathic medicines, 36 of the 40 women had no evidence of a cyst, three had only a right-sided cyst, and one had a cyst on both sides.2
Endometriosis is a condition in which the lining of the uterus gets displaced and appears in various sites in the body, including the ovaries, the bladder, or the bowel. Although the cause of this condition is unknown, it is sustained by ovarian hormones.
Endometriosis can lead to varying symptoms, including heavy, painful periods, breast swelling, backache before periods, infertility, painful intercourse, dizziness, and depression. Conventional treatments for it are diverse and problematic. The conventional pharmacological treatment is with drugs that inhibit ovarian or pituitary hormones. These drugs produce various masculinizing effects, including increased body hair and irreversible changes in the voice. Some physicians recommend surgical treatment in which the displaced cells are burned out with a laser, or removal of the uterus, Fallopian tubes, and/or ovaries.
Because some women experience great pain with this condition, they are desperate for any relief. These conventional medical treatments sometimes provide relief, but at the cost of new problematic symptoms and sometimes at the cost of the recurrence of the original condition.
Michael Carlston, MD, a homeopath and assistant clinical professor at the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine, asserts that homeopathic medicines can be very helpful at the early and middle stages of endometriosis, though because of severe scarring during advanced stages of the disease, they are not very effective later on. Endometriosis is not an ailment amenable to self-care; professional homeopathic care is required.
Fertility and Contraception
Because homeopathic medicines can be effective in reestablishing health in women’s reproductive organs, it follows that they can be helpful in reestablishing fertility. Homeopathic constitutional care, rather than self-care, is necessary for treating problems of fertility.
Some women ask if homeopathic medicines can be used for contraception. The answer to this question is a definitive “No.” Homeopathic medicines create healthy people, and in the process of doing so tend to make people more rather than less fertile.
Any pharmacological agent that is strong enough to block conception is also strong enough to cause other physiological disruptions. Birth control pills have been linked to heart disease and to breast cancer, though while some studies have found this latter link, others have not. Various less drastic but still problematic symptoms have also been associated with the use of birth control pills, including increased vaginal bleeding, migraine headaches, bladder infections, depression, and various nutritional deficiencies. Dr. Ronald W. Davey, physician to Queen Elizabeth II, notes that he sometimes uses homeopathic doses of the Pill to treat women who have suffered from side effects of this drug. To get the best results, however, a woman has to have stopped taking the Pill.
Many women have experienced symptoms from the IUD as well. Chellis Glendinning, in her book When Technology Wounds, describes her traumatic experiences with the ill-famed Dalkon shield IUD.3 Ultimately, professional care from a homeopathic physician helped restore her health when no other treatment was effective.
Side effects from conventional drugs and from medical devices generally require the attention of a professional homeopath, unless the symptoms are extremely minor.
Menopause is a natural life phase which some doctors seem to have made into a disease. The fact that women secrete less estrogen in their fifth or sixth decade of life does not signify an ailment but is part of normal body evolution. While it is true that many women experience various symptoms during this change of life, there are many natural ways to deal with them which are safer than the lifelong estrogen replacement therapy that physicians commonly recommend (see Resources section for details).
Homeopathic medicines are effective for relieving the common symptoms experienced during menopause (hot flashes, vaginal dryness, cramping, bloating, constipation, and emotional swings). Self-care with homeopathic medicines can be provided for these symptoms, though because the symptoms can be so diverse in their effects on women’s bodies and minds, it is not possible to summarize the key remedies in this book (see Resources).
Osteoporesis is one of the serious conditions that some women experience late in life. Because there are several homeopathic medicines, notably Calcarea phos (calcium phosphate), which are known to help build stronger bones, it makes sense that homeopathic remedies be considered as part of a woman’s health program. However, because osteoporesis can be an insidious condition which develops without obvious symptoms prior to a fracture, women are encouraged to become familiar with the various nutritional and lifestyle factors that decrease the chances of developing osteoporesis. When such efforts are combined with homeopathic medicines, women will inevitably be significantly stronger and healthier.
Dose: Although classical homeopaths prefer to prescribe constitutionally to women just prior to, during, or after menopause, women who have increased risk factors for osteoporesis and are not under professional homeopathic care might consider taking the 6th potency of Calcarea phos once a day for three to five days, every month. If, however, the woman is undergoing professional homeopathic constitutional care, this remedy will generally not be necessary.
1Harris L. Coulter, Divided Legacy: The Conflict Between Homoeopathy and the American Medical Association, Berkeley: North Atlantic, 1973, 116.
2Dr. Maria Luisa Queralt Gimeno, “Research and Practical Application of the Treatment of Forty Women with Ovarian Cysts,” 45th Congress of the International League for Homeopathic Medicine, Barcelona, Spain, May, 1990.
3Chellis Glendinning, When Technology Wounds, New York: Morrow, 1990.
Lonnie Barbach, The Pause: Positive Approaches to Menopause. New York: Dutton, 1993.
Susan Curtis and Romy Fraser, Natural Healing for Women. London: Pandora, 1991.
Chellis Glendinning, When Technology Wounds. New York: Morrow, 1990.
Liz Grist, A Woman’s Guide to Alternative Medicine. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1988.
Rima Handley, A Homeopathic Love Story. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1990.
Dr. Andrew Lockie and Dr. Nicola Geddes. The Women’s Guide to Homeopathy, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994.
Robin Murphy, Women’s Health (a set of seven tapes). Available from Homeopathic Educational Services (Berkeley, CA.). This set of tapes is not for the beginner. It provides useful, practical information for people who already have introductory level information and books and who want to expand their knowledge.
Christine Northrup, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. New York: Bantam, 1994.
Dana Ullman, The One-Minute (or so) Healer. Los Angeles: Tarcher, 1991.
Copyright 1991 by Dana Ullman, M.P.H. used by permission of the author from
the book Consumer’s Guide to Homeopathy: The Definitive Resource for
Understanding Homeopathic Medicine and Making it Work for You
published by Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam.
For further information about homeopathic medicine, contact:
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Berkeley, CA. 94704