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For GI pain after surgery we think of the following remedies:
Arsenicum album: Employ this remedy when there are inflamed intestines, burning pain with excoriating loose stool, worse in the middle of the night; there can be vomiting with diarrhea, the patient is generally anxious and emotionally needy.
Lycopodium: Patients will benefit from this remedy if there is gas and bloating, worse in the morning and again as day goes along. They will often be irritable and chilly with upper right quadrant discomfort and excessive distension. There is copious flatus, which does not ameliorate the patient.
Nux vomica: Patient complains of cramping pain, better warm applications, can be extreme pain, patient is irritable and bossy; we can see this in children as well.
Opium: We use for constipation in days after surgery often due to opiate medication; patient generally dull and sleepy.
Bryonia: There will be marked pain worse any motion, sometimes needed after Arnica. Must lie perfectly still, cough worse from jarring, better lying on the painful side.
Calendula: You can employ if the wound does not close well or if there is ongoing exudate, may lead to infection, suppuration; rule out other remedies such as Ledum, Pyrogen, Staphysagria, Tarentula cubensis.
For diarrhea postsurgery:
Arsenicum album: In a patient where there is also nausea or vomiting and anxiety. Look for burning and acrid stool, with prostration, restlessness.
Sulphur: These patients often have offensive diarrhea that irritates the anus. Stool wakes the patient from sleep in the early morning, burning or soreness at the anus.
Nux moschata: Recognize this remedy for those who are cognitively dull post surgery; there may be diarrhea with excess bloating as well.
Aloe: The patient has ample gas and air but cannot differentiate from stool. Lots of gurgling and rumbling, involuntary stool, drives the patient out of bed in the morning, mushy stool with jellylike lumps of mucous.
Natrum muriaticum: This patient has watery stool with undigested food visible, and during passing stool, it may feel like many little cuts at the anus. There may be mucous or blood in the stool.
Veratrum album: This patient has odorless "rice-water" stools, often with vomiting; they will be cold and clammy in head and abdomen as if during gastroenteritis.
For issues post anesthesia, these are the most common remedies:
Nux moschata: Such patients are excessively drowsy after surgery, cannot wake up, and will have dry lips, dry mouth where the tongue adheres to roof of mouth.
Phosphorus: See exhausted patients, cannot get up, may have irritating, incessant cough regardless of diagnosis. Fatigue may well stem from loss of blood.
Opium: These patients do not come out of anesthesia well, they spend too many hours in recovery, may have tremendous difficulty breathing, stertorous breathing.
For mouth sores during chemotherapy:
Borax: If you find painful aphthae with vesicles around the mouth or on any mucous membrane surface in the mouth, think of this remedy.
Natrum muriaticum: We see transparent vesicles which may be pearly white. These painful lesions can be found on the buccal mucosa or the lips, which may be cracked at the center line.
Mercury: Prescribe this remedy when there are copious discharges, often offensive smelling, with excess salivation. The patient is often shaky and has a difficult time controlling body temperature.
For fever during chemotherapy:
Aconite: Used for sudden onset of fever followed by chills, worse in a warm room, worse in the evening, with strong thirst, contracted pupils, one cheek red, the other pale, great anxiety, fear and restlessness, with fear of impending death.
Arsenicum album: These patients are often worse around midnight. There can be prolonged chill, better warm covers, warm drinks, especially anxious and restless, usually better with company and encouragement.
Belladonna: Use for patients with sudden and intense burning heat, no chills, face and head hot, hands cold, throbbing headache, glassy-eyed.
Bryonia: Think of this remedy for slow onset of fever, rigors begin followed by chills, often patient feels one-sided heat, very thirsty, worse motion, irritable.
Gelsemium: The fever for these patients comes with tremendous fatigue and tremulousness, chills up and down the back, sleepiness and weakness with the fever.
Opium: Such patients can present with high fever and stupor, they desires to uncover, the heat is intense especially during sleep. Unbothered by fever, usually somewhat checked out cognitively.
Belladonna: Use this remedy when infection is near or around burn, skin breaking down, redness with streaking, with fever.
Apis: Give Apis when there is a small area of burn, marked pain, redness and swelling, better ice application, or cold wraps with excess restlessness.
Rhus toxicodendron: Will be helpful when the burn has a concomitant rash nearby and often with attendant itching and restless.
Causticum: This medicine is useful with burns that crack or ulcerate or fail to heal in a timely fashion. Often easy scarring or contraction in area of burn.
When issues arise from other medications, homeopathy can be useful. For instance, many patients receiving chemotherapy receive a Neulasta shot after chemo to help keep the white counts from plummeting. For many, the pain of this shot is the worst part of the whole ordeal. Many patients develop flu-like symptoms and/or excruciating bone pain.
Here are some remedies to think about:
For the ongoing, debilitating flu-like symptoms, Gelsemium often helps, or other flu remedies depending upon presenting symptoms. If the main issue is bone pain, Symphytum often works. I have found that some patients, if they use the remedies, with subsequent Neulasta shots, no longer develop such side effects.
Some breast cancer patients who take the adjuvant therapy such as tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor experience severe side effects to the point that they wish to discontinue what otherwise would be a very good drug for them in terms of preventing recurrence. Giving the indicated remedy can be imminently helpful here. There is no short list; you need to prescribe a remedy for the whole person, more of a constitutional prescription. There are also many things from botanicals to dietary shifts that can help, used alongside homeopathy.
For the more emotional aspects that often need addressing, we are usually looking to understand any depression, anxiety, or irritability: what and how the person feels, what makes it better or worse, and how it is affecting their ability to function, to tolerate treatments, to remain involved in their life. Remedies are prescribed constitutionally in this regard. Some patients need the remedy that they have always needed, others have been pushed to a different remedy state.
With regard to potency selection, I generally give a 30C and repeat when needed. I will work up to a 200C or IM as indicated.
Homeopathy is safe and effective to use during conventional cancer care
It's also good to use alongside other integrative therapies. Be sure to prescribe for patients after treatment in order optimize health and to address residual impacts of conventional care whether psychological, cognitive, or physical. And of course, use constitutional homeopathy alongside other integrative approaches to help prevent recurrence.
During my own year of cancer treatment in 2014, I often wrote for the Huffington Post on using naturopathic medicine alongside conventional care. You can find that writing at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-rothenberg-nd.
Dr. Rothenberg practices in Connecticut (www.nhcmed.com). She blogs for the Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-rothenberg-nd. Her book, The A Cappella Singer Who Lost Her Voice & Other Stories From Natural Medicine, can be found on Amazon or at http://www.amyrothenberg.com. She is founder and lead instructor along with Paul Herscu, ND, MPH, at the New England School of Homeopathy (www.nesh.com). Join the NESH class beginning October 2016 in Amherst, Massachusetts. Dr. Rothenberg serves as president of the Massachusetts Society of Naturopathic Doctors, working to licensing NDs in the Bay State. She has raised three wonderful children and spends many of her nonworking hours in the garden, in her art studio, and on the ballroom dance floor.
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