DR BARBARA LEWIS, BSC, DHOM, DHERB, MNIMH, is a registered herbalist and homeopath, and has been in practice for the past 24 years. She has taught homeopathy at the Durban Technicon, and has recently co-authored a self-help book on homeopathy. Dr Lewis practices at the Refuah Healing Centre in Sea Point and in Rondebosch, Cape Town. Tel. 021-433 2858.
ADD is the single most common learning and behavioural problem In most instances nosebleeds are transient and can be remedied naturally. This article focuses on home management of nondangerous nosebleeds such as occur in childhood and during cold weather.
The nostrils of a human being serve an important protective function in the process of respiration. They do this by filtering out dust and pollen, and warming and moisturising the air we breathe in before this air reaches the very delicate lung tissue. The mucous membranes lining the inside of the nasal passages are well supplied with blood capillaries, so any damage would result in easy bleeding. The incidence of nosebleeds is higher during the colder winter months when upper respiratory infections are more frequent, and the temperature and humidity fluctuate more dramatically.
Nosebleeds are common in children and are not usually cause for concern. However, if bleeding occurs repeatedly or together with other serious symptoms, or if the bleeding is gushing, very heavy, or cannot be stopped within 20 minutes, or if it was caused by a head injury, you should seek professional help quickly.
• A fall or blow to the nose.
• Nosebleeds are also typically caused by over-enthusiastic blowing, especially during a cold when the mucous lining is already dry and cracked.
• Foreign objects in the nose.
• Recurring nosebleeds often occur spontaneously if the capillary walls are particularly fragile and prone to injury. A lack of vitamin C causes this fragility.
• Polyps also cause recurring nosebleeds.
• A common cause is food sensitivity.
• Other causes include trauma, nose-picking, upper respiratory tract infections, sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, hay fever and dryness of the mucous membranes.
• Systemically, nosebleed problems might be caused by various bleeding disorders like haemophilia, aspirin use, use of ‘blood-thinning’ medications called anti-coagulants, infections like malaria or scarlet fever, anaemia, leukaemia and some hereditary conditions.
• More serious causes are rare, but gout, leukaemia, kidney disease and dangerously high blood pressure should be considered if nosebleeds occur repeatedly.
A professional homeopath will diagnose and treat after taking a thorough medical history for previous bleeding, high blood pressure, liver diseases, use of anti-coagulants, nasal trauma, family history of bleeding, etc. There may need to be an analysis of blood coagulation parameters, measurement of the blood pressure, and X-rays of the skull and sinuses if necessary. A full homeopathic case history needs to be taken too, as the whole person needs to be assessed and their constitutional remedy ascertained.
As this article is designed to empower you at home with the treatment of common nosebleeds, I will focus on that aspect of this condition.
The following measures should be taken immediately:
1. Calmly sit the patient down in a chair and explain and reassure, as most nosebleeds end of their own accord.
2. The patient should lean forward as any blood that runs down into the back of the throat may set off vomiting, choking or a coughing fit.
3. Pinch the subject's nostrils gently between your thumb and forefinger and ask the person to breathe through their mouth.
4. Do not put dry cotton wool in the nose, as it is very difficult to remove once the blood has dried. Soak cotton wool in Calendula tincture, or strong tea for the tannin effect.
5. A cold compress on the neck may help.
6. A cold wrap around the calves may help to draw the blood from the head area.
7. For one minute only, not longer, tie an elastic band at the upper joint of the small finger on the side of the body of the nosebleed.
If the nosebleed does not stop, repeat. (I read this on the Internet in more than one place, but do not know if it works!).
8. Place a small piece of blotting paper under the tongue. This activates a constricting effect on the small arteries of the mucous membranes of the nose.
As homeopathy works by restoring the homeostasis or vital balance in the body, it is an ideal form of therapy for the treatment of nosebleeds. Depending on the cause and symptoms, choose one of the remedies listed below in the 6c or 30c strength, repeating every 10 - 15 minutes for three or four doses. Take two tablets under the tongue.
Arnica is excellent when nosebleeds occur as a result of injury or after washing the face, with the nosebleed preceded by tingling. It is useful where there is copious bleeding after every over-exertion, during whooping cough, and in the case of nosebleeds in growing children. There is a discharge of several drops of thin blood from the nose on first blowing in the morning; this blood is bright red, mixed with clots and leaves a bruised sensation behind in the nose.
Arsen alb is useful for a nosebleed after a fit of anger with a passive haemorrhage, accompanied by vomiting and great anxiety and restlessness.
Belladonna is indicated for nosebleeds in little children that occur during fevers at night, with the child having a red flushed face and a throbbing headache. In these cases the bright red blood flows freely, even from both nostrils. Belladonna is also indicated when the nose bleeds in bed or on waking in the morning.
Bryonia constitutional types may experience nosebleeds at the time of menstruation or even instead of menstruation in young women, and also after being overheated, or when anaemic. They also experience nosebleeds in the morning after rising, less often during the day, but sometimes during sleep or after being under the rays of a hot sun.
Carbo veg is useful for older people who sneeze a lot and then get a nosebleed. They feel very fatigued and want cold air on them or want to be fanned.
Cina is indicated where there are nosebleeds in children suffering from worms. Such children experience a constant desire to rub, pick or bore into the nose, which damages the nasal mucosa. These tend to be illhumoured and irritable, cranky kids.
Ferrum phos is recommended if the symptoms do not suit any particular remedy or if the person is pale or flushed, feels weak and is starting a mild feverish illness.
Hamamelis (witch hazel) is useful for frequent nosebleeds due to a friable capillary in the nostril. There will usually be engorged veins in the legs.
Kali bich is a useful remedy for nosebleeds after a cold, with thick yellow-green sticky mucous or crusts in the nostrils that the person desires to pick, preceded by pressure and tightness at the root of the nose. The blood tends to be thick and of a dark-red colour, and there is persistent tickling high up in the nostril.
Phosphorus is helpful for profuse, bright red blood that flows freely and will not clot. Use when there is bleeding after blowing the nose too vigorously, especially after a cold or flu with a loose cough. Other Phosphorus symptoms such as a desire for company, ice-cold drinks or ice-cream among others, may be observed.
Pulsatilla constitutional people often have nasal polyps that cause nosebleeds.
Nosebleeds may occur after colds with thick, bland mucous. Sanguinaria-type people tend to have nosebleeds with polyps and often rightsided headaches. People requiring Sulphur often have nosebleeds at around 3 p.m, with vertigo and great soreness of the nose to the touch. There may be nosebleeds just before and after the menses, and clotted blood is discharged on blowing the nose. There is a tendency to nosebleeds in fast-growing Sulphur teenagers.
Eat citrus fruits to increase the intake of vitamin C; this is important for capillary strength and health. Other good food sources of vitamin C and bioflavonoids are berries, cherries, blackcurrants, peppers, rose hips, garlic and onions.
Vitamin K is needed for normal blood clotting. It is normally synthesised in the bowels, but this can be interrupted if the bacterial balance is upset through antibiotics. Good dietary sources are alfalfa sprouts, kale, cabbage, spinach, yogurt and chestnuts (steamed or lightly cooked), and apple cider vinegar (one teaspoonful in a cup of water daily). The most effective bioflavonoids for nosebleeds are those found in grapeseed extract and quercetin. Zinc, copper, iron and vitamin E supplementation are also important in some cases.
Herbs improve the ability of external therapies to stop nosebleeds. Herbs that are rich in tannins like yarrow, calendula, nettle, cinnamon and witch hazel, and even strong black tea, can be applied to gauze and inserted into the nose. Keep the gauze moist and withdraw gently from the nose before a hard clot forms.
Take four tablets every 10 minutes for up to four doses if necessary.
• Ferr phos will slow all types of bleeding, whether the result of an injury or due to fragile capillaries.
• Nat mur relieves nosebleeds in anaemic people with thin, watery blood.
• Kali phos is effective for nosebleeds after blowing thick yellow crusts from the nose, and for delicate constitutions, or a predisposition to nosebleeds.
• Avoid blowing of the nose or putting anything into it. If one feels like sneezing, keep the mouth open so that the air will escape through the mouth and not through the nose.
• Do not strain during bowel movements.
• Do not smoke.
• Stay on a soft cool diet. Take no hot liquids for at least 24 hours.
• Do not take any medications that will ‘thin the blood’ like aspirin.
• Keep the lining of the nose moist. Gently apply a light coating of petroleum jelly (Vaseline) inside the nose with a cotton bud twice a day.
• Counteract the drying effects of indoor heated air by using a humidifier at night in the bedroom.
• Avoid picking the nose. Most people have suffered from nosebleeds at one time or another, usually after repeated colds, but with the aid of common sense, the correct diet and the appropriate homeopathic remedy, this unpleasant event should soon be something of the past.