Homeopathy in Obstetrics
“I would like to thank the Scientific Commission of this Congress for this opportunity which for me is a double honor: first, to participate in this event as a speaker, and second, to have the opportunity to put forth some ideas on Homeopathy, which I believe has much to contribute to obstetrics.”
My first contact with the conceptions that inform Homeopathy took place in 1976. I was dealing with a patient who had a relapse of breast cancer, 10 years after initial treatments. The patient was depressed and underwent the relapse after her husband was found murdered in the red light district of a small city. All of the therapies used were to no avail. My knowledge proved insufficient.
In my anguish to uncover the relationship between what had happened and the relapse of her illness, I read Organon de la Medicina by Samuel Hahnemann. Notwithstanding the work’s evident contradictions, I was able to perceive that Hahnemann paid attention to the way psychic energy affects vital energy. In the author’s own words:
“When a man is in a state of health, the vital autocratic force that dynamically animates the material organism governs with unlimited power(...) In this manner, the spirit that is endowed with reason that exists within us can employ these live and healthy instruments for the highest goals of human existence”.
“The vital force that resides within our body is non-intelligent and instinctive and governs life in harmonious movement only when the organism is healthy; it is unable to provide self-curing in the case of illness.”
A new field of knowledge had opened up before me, which I began to research.
THE BASIS OF HOMEOPATHY
Samuel Hahnemann, born in Meisen (Germany) in 1775, was King Frederic of Saxon’s personal physician. He spoke 11 languages and had training in Chemistry. Disenchanted with official medicine, he gave up its practice and spent a period of his life as a translator of works - from Greek, Hebrew and Latin into German.
In 1788, in search of alternatives, he observed that upon ingesting, he experienced symptoms similar to those produced by malaria. This leads him to revive Hippocrates: Law of Similarities: Similia similibus curantur – the similar cures the similar. The remedies used in that period: Belladonna. Arsenic, Digitalis etc. ... and he was able to prove the continued validity of this Law (Principle). Using his knowledge of chemistry he experiments with other products, such as Calcarea ostrearum (oyster powder), Phosphorus, Calcareas phosphorica, Kali carbonicum, phosphoricum, metals, magneto, etc.
Seeking to decrease the toxicity of the different substances with which he is experimenting, he used the method of successive dilution. He observed that while much less toxic than the drugs in their pure form, these small dosages produced mental symptoms, emotional changes, sensations, dreams and fears that up to this time had not be reported. This was how he came to found the dynamics of Homeopathy, with all its potential.
Through this experimentation, it is the holistic view of the patient that comes to prevail, rather than the focus on a specific illness. In terms of notions of health and illness, mental symptoms are considered just as significant as physical ones. There are in fact no illnesses, but rather ill people. People are the subject of illness, rather than its object. For Hahnemann, illness does not come from the outside, but rather is a process that develops over time, influenced by hereditary factors, life style, food and eating habits, vital circumstances and other events that alter the terrain where illness manifests itself. In placing importance on individualities, symptoms are seen as a hierarchy in which those that are rare and/or peculiar should be seen as an expression of this individuality.
In addition to the Organon, which Hahnemann revised successively, he published his experiments in Maténa Médica Pura and broadens his concept of disease treatment in Chronic Illnesses. He uses the term “miasma” to define a chronic state of illness, like a perpetual bonfire in which the intensifying of the process is like the flaring up of the fire. He classifies miasma as “psora” (from the Hebraic term for stigma) associating this with the suppression of the skin’s exonerative symptoms, psychosis with the suppression of condylomatosis and syphilis with the local treatment of local chancres. He reiterates the inefficiency of local treatments arguing that after their apparent success, the patient will then find his/her vital organs affected, and will undergo profound alterations of vital energies heightened by the treatment process of what may in fact be incurable.
Thus, he founds the bases of Homeopathy along the following lines:
Experimentation of remedies on people include:
• The infinitesimal dose
• Diagnosis based on individualization
• The use of a similar remedy (similumum) in an infinitesimal dose
• The concept of vital energy.
Hahnemann had numerous followers who accepted his teachings either partially or completely. Kent, Allen, Boenmghausen, Hering and others gave continuity to his experimentation, contributing with new remedies. Kent and Boeninghausen, seeking to improve diagnosis, published a dictionary of symptoms, indicating compatible remedies with a scale of intensity. This work, the Repertoire, together with Medical Matter, the Organon, Chronic Illnesses and other writings of these early practitioners, became the basic bibliography of the art.
Homeopathic practice continued to develop according to the understand and the individuality of its doctors, giving rise to diverse schools, such as:
• Isopathy, etc
HOMEOPATHY AND PREGNANCY
Pregnancy is a moment of health for a woman. For the child, intra-uterine life in the greatest school she/he passes through. The woman becomes a mother; the child is formed not only within her body but within her consciousness, receiving influence of mother and father and through them, that of their environment. Anxiety – will my child be normal? -, anguish, lack of confidence, jealously, alterations of the libido, fear, fear of death during childbirth, anticipation, wrath and irritability, together with love, are symptoms, alterations of vital energy that, valorized and individualized, can be corrected by homeopathic therapies, bringing about well-being, in other words, the notion that “I feel well”.
We began our work in this area in 1981, at which time we gave 2 types of remedies to 50 patients who were in labor: Caulophilum, a plant that was much-used by Native North Americans during labor, and the Gelsemium sempervirens flower, in the homeopathic dynamization centesimal 6, in repeated dosages meant to accelerate birth.
Although we did not encounter significant differences in relation to the control group, there were two cases, 35 and 40 year old woman in their first pregnancies, who came into the hospital with two centimeters of dilation and gave birth through normal deliveries within four hours. We presented a paper on this experience at the Brazilian Congress of Acupuncture, in Recife, under the title, “Analgesics and the acceleration of childbirth through chemo-puncture and homeopathy”. (Paciornik, Claudio and Assenheimer, Elida.) Through this work, I learned two things: the successful cases were those in which the patients were sensitive to the remedies that were given, and homeopathic treatment requires individualization in order for the best results to be obtained.
I have been using homeopathic remedies gradually, chosen in accordance with the individualization of the patient in his/her context, and within the limits of my knowledge. The pregnant woman is subject to numerous minor symptoms, many of which are physiological and related to the adaptation of the organism to the mother-fetus binomial, such as nausea, cramps and hypertension, all quite common and sensitive to homeopathic treatment, with the advantage of not provoking side-effects in the fetus. This contrasts with the side-effects of commonly prescribed drugs such as aspirin taken during the first trimester of pregnancy, metoclopramide – used for many years and then found to be harmful, without mentioning the infamous thalidomide.
For women who experience difficulties in getting pregnant, after the initial history and clinical analysis, we put together a repertoire of symptoms, placing importance on the rare and the peculiar, or in other words, individualizing in order to find each one’s own remedy: Similimum. This is not always an easy task, but it is our concern and increases our ability to hear what the patient says, bringing us closer to an understanding of the person we are concerned with.
This same remedy can be used during gestation, as long as the totality of symptoms continues to warrant its prescription. It is common for a remedy that has worked well before pregnancy functions differently under the influence of the fetus, but after childbirth becomes useful again.
For common occurrences during the cycle of childbirth and pregnancy, we can avail ourselves of the repertoire to find the remedy or remedies that apply to these situations. Thus, we have remedies such as:
• Ipecacuanã, Symphoricarpus, Nux vomica, etc. for the treatment of nausea which is common during the first trimester;
• Sabina, secale cornutum and China used for bleeding and threat of miscarriage, depending upon the stage of gestation;
• Aesculus Hippocastanum (cashew nut), Hammemelis, Aloe Vera, andRathanhia, associated with the hygienic and dietary care for the treatment of varicose veins, hemorrhoids and alterations in blood circulation;
• Lycopodium for the excessive intrauterine movement of the fetus;
• And for abnormal fetal positions, Aconitum and Anemona pratensis, resources than we have used on various occasions for pelvic problems;
• Perceiving and correcting alterations in vital energy when these occur, which also helps to prevent or treat problems of gestational hypertension.
During labor and childbirth, symptoms appear and are exacerbated. Through experimentation, Chamomile has been shown to be effective in treating the following symptoms:
• Excessive sensitivity to pain, which becomes intolerable, making the person irritable and aggressive.
• Not wanting to be touched, looked at or spoken to.
• False labor pains, or excessive or spasmodic labor pains that move upwards; a fetus moving upwards instead of downwards;
• Contractions that stop or are weak.
• Uterine rigidity during labor.
• Hourglass-type uterine contraction.
• Abundant discharge
• Pain aggravated by hot flashes and anger, accompanied by thirst and sometimes by fainting.
When we encounter a patient with these symptoms and with dilation disturbance, we prescribe Chamomile and observe the agitation and hypersensitivity unfold into a natural birth.
Homeopathic treatment requires that attention is given to the patient as well as knowledge in the testing of remedies so that we can have a diagnosis which in fact pertains to the remedy rather than the disturbance. Gelsemium (yellow jasmine) thus is used for:
• A sensation of waves moving from the uterus to the throat, stopping contractions.
• A sensation that the child moves upward with the pain
• Anguishing contractions
• Uterine rigidity
• Back pains that move upwards during childbirth
• In the case of delayed or incomplete expulsion of the placenta, we can use rye spore Secale cornutum, so well known to obstetricians;
• For agalactia or hipogalactia, which in my opinion are most often iatrogenic and caused by the separation of the mother-child unit, we use Urtica urens, the well-known Urtica used in the form of tea by the Kaingang and Guarani Indians for centuries;
• For mastitis and mammary fissures, we can use remedies such as Hepar sulphur, Silicia, Phytolloca, etc., which are easily applied and can allow us to avoid the use of antibiotics which can lead to the creation of resistance, causing biological problems and even damage to the ecosystem;
• For post-partum depression and sense of emptiness, we can refer to the totality of systems for the individualization of remedies, the search for Similimum.
There are also symptoms that the newborn may have, such as rejection of mother’s milk, colic, fevers, etc., which can be treated in much healthier ways than the use of anti-spasm, antibiotic and conventional fever medications. We know that all drugs work in the organism for a relatively long period, as “primary action”, which is then followed by “secondary action”, which is the organism’s reaction to the former. This is in fact an expression of the Newtonian law that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
When we treat a patient with successive miscarriages, with symptoms that worsen at night, and we find a great grandfather who carried syphilis in her medical history – quite common in the 19th century, a time when a common play on words was to refer to civilization as “syphillization”- together with a family history of alcoholism, we treat the patient with Luesinum (fluid from syphilitic chancre) and we observe the aggravation of the mental and physical symptoms, followed by skin problems and the eventual correction of this state of morbidity.
Cases such as these are reported in Hahnemann’s Chronic Illnesses, in which he develops his theory of “miasma” and we are able to understand what, after a lifetime of work and reflection, he wanted to tell us with his therapeutic method. I hope that I have succeeded in showing the possibilities of Homeopathic Therapy can add to Obstetrics.
BARTHEL, Horst. Synthetic Repertory Psychic and General Symptoms of the Homoeopathic. Matéria Médica. 2. Ed. Sleep, dreams, sexuality / Will Klunker, Karl F. Haug Verlag Heidelberg v. 3. 1981.
HAHNEMAN, Samuel. Matéria Médica Pura. New Delhi: Jain Publishing Co. V. 1. 1983.
S. Organon de la Medicina. 6. Ed.
S. Doenças Crônicas. PRADO, Maria Isabel de Almeida. A estrutura lógica do Organon.
VIJNOVSKY, Bernardo. Tratamiento homepalico delas afecciones y enfermidades agudas. Buenos Aires: 1979.
VIJNOVSKY, Bernardo. Sintomas-clavede la matéria médica homeopática en el repertório de Kent. Buenos Aires: Editorial Albatros, 1978.