by Larry Malerba, DO, DHt – With the increasing participation of America’s youth in many different sports, often at very young ages, the issue of head injuries and their impact is receiving a great deal of attention. The Center for Disease Control estimates that there are 300,000 sports-related traumatic brain injuries in the U.S each year. And this doesn’t even take into account motor vehicle accidents and military-related trauma. The recent and tragic death of New York Rangers hockey player, Derek Boogaard, highlights a serious deficiency in the conventional medical approach to head trauma. Although his death remains a mystery it cannot be overlooked that this young man had been sidelined by a season-ending concussion five months earlier. It was the 28 year-old’s fourth documented concussion.
It is generally understood that there is no truly effective conventional treatment for mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), also known as concussion. Medical intervention focuses upon diagnosis, which involves history taking, physical exam and brain imaging technologies like CT and MRI. The standard approach is limited to rest, symptomatic relief such as analgesics for headache, and continued observation after concussion to ensure that the condition of the patient does not deteriorate. In most cases of concussion there is no overt organic pathology. Unless a head injury involves detectable physical damage to the skull or brain, in which case surgery may be indicated, there is little else that standard medicine has to offer.
Any homeopathic practitioner, on the other hand, knows that not only is there very effective treatment for the acute phase of concussion but also for the long-term consequences of head trauma. The lack of awareness of this therapeutic option for head injuries is largely due to the medical establishment’s obstinate refusal to take homeopathy seriously. Such medical ignorance, which really borders on negligence, is based almost purely on ideological grounds. Undeterred by such unscientific bias, thousands of practitioners have successfully used homeopathy to treat millions of patients over the past two hundred years. I have personally witnessed the tangible results from the treatment of the acute and chronic effects of head injury many times in my own medical practice.
Clinical experience indicates that homeopathic medicines are quite effective in all stages of concussion and post-concussion syndromes. The homeopathic medicine, Arnica montana, is well known for its rapid and powerful healing capacity in many cases of physical trauma. Some surgeons prescribe it for their patients post-operatively and some sports teams use it routinely when athletes are injured. Arnica can minimize, stop, and reverse bleeding, swelling, and the effects of blunt trauma and can even be of benefit for internal injuries as is often the case with concussions.
Given that there is no other comparable treatment option, homeopathy should be used as the first line of defense in all head injury cases. Arnica should be stocked in all emergency departments, doctors’ clinics, military facilities, schools, workplaces, home medicine cabinets and first aid kits. Since side effects are virtually non-existent, any responsible adult can use Arnica safely and effectively.
Arnica is listed in repertories under “Mind, Well, says he is, when very sick.” In other words, it is suitable for the person wandering around at the scene of an accident as if unharmed even though he or she may be seriously injured. It fits that initial state of shock during which the person is unaware of the severity of trauma. Although Arnica is the first line of defense and can be used without hesitation within seconds or minutes after a head injury, it is not the only homeopathic medicine suited for such situations.
Other homeopathic medicines, however, require greater knowledge and experience to use and should therefore be taken under the supervision of a professional. The use of these other medicines often comes into play in later stages—days, weeks, months, or even years after the original injury occurred—and depends upon a careful evaluation of the symptom picture of the injured person. The following are some examples of the symptom patterns that can emerge after concussion and the homeopathic medicines indicated for their treatment.
Hypericum is a homeopathic medicine that can be particularly valuable in trauma of the nervous system, which often occurs in head, neck or spine injuries. Post-concussive complaints like stiff neck, whiplash, and pinched nerves may respond well to this medicine. Numbness, tingling, burning, and neuralgic pains that shoot along the course of nerves are indications for Hypericum, especially when these symptoms develop subsequent to a head or spine injury.
The homeopathic medicine, Helleborus, can be very helpful in the event of psychomotor slowing after head injury. These individuals exhibit a markedly noticeable delay in their thinking and their ability to respond to questions. Helleborus lists in repertories under “Mind, Answers, slowly” and “Mind, Answers, reflects long.” They tend to have a blank facial expression and may lack the normal range of emotional responses. I have seen patients who took up to a minute or more to answer my questions. Persons who need Helleborus have a great deal of trouble thinking, concentrating, and remembering things. Their slow passive demeanor can resemble a type of apathetic depression. They may also complain of chronic headaches.
If a head injury or concussion is followed by depression in the ensuing weeks or months, Natrum sulphuricum may be the indicated medicine, especially if the depression involves suicidal ideation. These patients often admit to suicidal thinking but are not inclined to take action out of a sense of responsibility for their loved ones. Natrum sulphuricum can also be helpful in cases of asthma that develop after a head injury, particularly if the asthma is triggered early in the mornings or by damp conditions or humid weather. It may also be useful in chronic headaches following a concussion. Another helpful clue that may point to Natrum sulphuricum is a preference for crisp, tart apples.
When the result of a head injury is a dreamy, spacey, disconnected state of mind, then Opium may be the homeopathic medicine of choice. It is as if a traumatic event has caused the individual to leave his or her body and not fully return. This can be similar to an out-of-body experience and explains the high pain tolerance of these individuals. They are not fully grounded and do not experience physical or emotional pain the way a normal person might. Like Arnica, Opium lists under “Mind, Well, says he is, when very sick” and “Generals, Painlessness, of complaints usually painful.” Other clues for Opium include heavy sleep, snoring, sleep apnea, and vivid dreaming.
Cicuta is a medicine that may be indicated for spasmodic phenomena that manifest after head or spine injury. Cramping, twitching, electric shocks, violent spasms, and even convulsions are common symptoms that can respond to Cicuta. The person who needs this medicine may exhibit signs of mental impairment. There can be a regression into an inhibited, child-like state of mind. Cicuta keys out in repertories under “Mind, Childish, behavior” and “Mind, Company, avoids the sight of people.”
Of course, there is a lot of overlap between these homeopathic medicines and many cases can require the prescription of several of them in sequence over time. With proper medical supervision even post-concussive seizure disorders and paralytic symptoms may respond favorably to expert homeopathic care, especially if care is initiated soon after an injury takes place. Again, these few examples are provided just to illustrate some of the homeopathic medicines and their profiles and do not represent an exhaustive discussion of all available homeopathic options.
It must be emphasized that homeopathic care should not replace common sense in the event of a serious injury. If I suspected that my child had sustained a concussion, I would administer Arnica immediately and proceed to the nearest emergency facility. An enlightened green medical system employs the best of all medical options, both conventional and alternative.
– JoAnn Jarvis, RN, DHM, Brain Jolt: A Life Renewed After Traumatic Brain Injury, Second Edition with Homeopathic Appendix, 2011
– Chapman, E, Weintraub, R, Milburn, M, et al., Homeopathic Treatment of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Trial, Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 14,6, Dec, 1999, 521-542.
This article is adapted from a blog that originally appeared in the July/August 2011 issue of Dynamic Living Magazine (DynamicLiving.com).
Larry Malerba, DO, DHt is a physician and educator whose mission is to build bridges between holistic healing, conventional medicine, and spirituality. He is the author of Metaphysics & Medicine: Restoring Freedom of Thought to the Art and Science of Healing and Green Medicine: Challenging the Assumptions of Conventional Health Care. He writes for Huffington Post, Natural News, and the American Holistic Medical Association. Dr. Malerba is board certified in Homeotherapeutics, is Clinical Assistant Professor at New York Medical College, and past president of the Homeopathic Medical Society of the State of New York. He is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Ireland. Website: SpiritScienceHealing.com