Mouth and throat disorders – a homeopathic approach
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.
What are the characteristics of your sore throat? Is the pain raw or splinter-like, is it worse on one side, are the symptoms more severe in the morning? Dr Barbara Lewis describes different symptom pictures and their remedies, as well as some natural home management tips to relieve mouth and throat disorders.
Mouth ulcers are painful denuded areas of the tongue, gums, inner lips or palate. They often start as hard lumps that break open leaving raw sensitive flesh. Sometimes cold sores also break out in the mouth as ulcers. Described below are some extremely helpful homeopathic remedies used to treat this condition. Besides the ulcer the entire vital force is affected, and the individual changes from his or her usual state. It is important to look at the whole symptom picture. Homeopathic remedies Arsen alb patients have unhealthy gums that bleed easily and are painful to the touch. With the mouth ulceration, there is dryness and burning slightly relieved by sips of warm water, although the water may seem to taste bitter. The ulcers may look blue. Hepar sulph, Kali bich and Merc sol are described in more detail below where we discuss sore throats. Nat mur is a cold and emotional remedy, but it is very useful for mouth ulcers if the symptoms of the sick person match the remedy picture. Mouth ulcers start as vesicles that burst open. Before the onset the tongue may feel burning or as if it had been burnt and the mouth feels dry. The tongue may also look ‘mapped’ with red patches resembling an atlas. The gums are spongy and bleed easily. The sick person feels withdrawn and sensitive. Home management tips Recurrent mouth ulcers and gum inflammations can be a sign of gum disease or poor dental hygiene. Contact your dentist of dental hygienist for a check up. To protect your teeth and gums, avoid refined sugars and starches and carbonated cold drinks. Make sure you eat fresh fruit and vegetables daily and get sufficient exercise and sleep. Consider taking extra vitamin C and calcium/magnesium.
• For mouth ulcers or the beginning of sore throats take 15 drops of calendula tincture in a little warm water (or warm calendula tea) and use as a gargle, swishing it around in the mouth every hour.
• Powdered goldenseal can be placed directly onto the mouth ulcer with a cotton bud.
• Three drops of myrrh tincture in a glass of warm water gargled every hour is very healing.
• Marshmallow or comfrey root releases a mucilaginous gel when simmered in water. This gel is soothing, lubricating, healing and reduces pain. Make a strong tea and use as a mouthwash.
• Cider vinegar and honey in hot water is reputed to be curative for many ills including mouth ulcers.
• Chew a clove while waiting to see your dentist.
Sore throats can be
caused by allergies, infections that can be either bacterial or viral or
from the effects of a postnasal discharge. Mucus trickling down the back
of the nose and into the throat often causes enough irritation to produce
pain. Postnasal drip can be a problem for those with acute colds or
acute attacks of allergies like hay fever or reactions to cat fur. It can
also trouble those who have chronic nasal congestion due to allergy.
People with acute symptoms can be treated at home according to the
guidelines in the articles on colds and allergies, but those with chronic
or recurrent symptoms should be treated by a professional homeopath.
Sore throats are also commonly the result of dryness caused by open mouth breathing or artificially heated air, and they often accompany colds and flu. Sore throats usually respond to homeopathic help, especially if one starts treatment soon after the onset. Bacterial sore throats can be caused by Streptococcus which can become serious. If a sore throat is severe it will require a swab test. While waiting for the results continue on homeopathic medication. There is also no reason not to use homeopathic aid to speed up healing if one has to take an antibiotic. Remember though to seek professional help if the pain is so severe that it prevents swallowing, eating or drinking, or if there is a high fever and a red, rough rash. Also get help if there is an abscess on the tonsils or if the sick person has previously had rheumatic fever. In other words, please be sensible. Mononucleosis or glandular fever is a viral infection of the whole system and is most common in 10 - 35-yearolds.
Symptoms often include a very painful sore throat, red, swollen tonsils (sometimes spotted with white material), exhaustion, aches, and fever. The lymph nodes, especially in the neck, are always swollen. Glandular fever is like the flu, but lasts longer, and the sore throat is worse. Glandular fever may also be accompanied by cough, hepatitis (liver inflammation), swelling of the spleen, or symptoms affecting the nervous system. A blood test is required to confirm it. There is no orthodox medical treatment for glandular fever, and it usually resolves itself in 2 - 4 weeks, although it may last up to 3 months. Homeopathic treatment is very effective, but please see a professional homeopath. Listed below are some commonly used remedies that will be helpful in treating a sore throat. Homeopathic remedies Apis is the remedy of choice if the throat is a bright pinky-red and the uvula is swollen and looks like a little sac of water. Even the gums and lips feel or become swollen. There is frequently a fiery red margin around the upper throat.
The sick person has no thirst but sips at cold water to soothe the burning stinging pains. There is often a fever and the patient wants to be kept cool. Belladonna is used in the early stages of inflammation. The throat, tongue and tonsils are bright red and the tongue looks like a strawberry with red papilla sticking through a white base. Often the infection starts at 3 a.m. and on the right-hand side. The onset can be sudden and the condition becomes severe, quickly causing a high fever and a red, flushed face with a hot dry skin. Naturally with all of this the patient is hypersensitive to jarring, touch, pressure and light. Belladonna 30ch given every 15 minutes for about an hour, and then at longer intervals, can make an enormous difference to the infection. Hepar sulph patients also have a characteristic sore throat. It usually starts after one is overheated and then catches a cold draft (compare with aconite). This is common in Gauteng with its warm winter days and freezing cold nights. With the sore throat, the patient is extremely chilly and dislikes drafts, although they may be sweaty too, with an unpleasant odour to the sweat. In addition they are irritable, impatient and hypersensitive. Warm drinks bring some relief to the throat pain, which can extend to the ear. Where there are mouth ulcers they are often on the roof of the mouth at the back causing splinter-like pain. There may be an increase in the amount of saliva produced. Kali bich is the remedy used when the sore throat is caused by a stringy, yellow green postnasal drip. The throat feels soothed by warm drinks. Mouth ulcers look punched out. Merc sol is one of the most common sore throat remedies, especially in Cape Town and Durban, whereas Hepar sulph may be the first remedy one thinks of in the rest of the country.
Again Capetonians are different! Fluctuating temperatures, like a mercury barometer, may be the trigger for a viral sore throat that extends rapidly along the mucous membranes to the ears and the chest. The throat and mouth have a characteristic swollen slimy look with increased production of saliva causing dribbling in the sleep. Despite the wet-looking mouth the patient feels thirsty for cold water, fizzy drinks or milk. Merc sol is useful for the treatment of all kinds of mouth and tongue ulcers. The mucous membranes of the mouth become spongy and slimy-looking and often bluish-red. The gums become inflamed, swollen and bleed easily and the tongue is large, flabby, coated and shows the imprint of the teeth. The breath is offensive. Nux vomica types have a sore throat that feels like a roughness, tickling or rawness or even tightness in the throat. This is often worse on waking in the morning and is frequently accompanied by itching in the eustachian tubes or stitching pains in the ears. There is a feeling of catarrh in the throat. When one needs Nux vomica, one tends to feel chilly, hungry, impatient, irritable and oversensitive to touch, pain, noise, smells, music, drugs – in fact oversensitive to life in general. Rhus tox patients have throat pain better for warm drinks and general warmth, with general restlessness. The symptoms begin after straining the voice or from cold, wet weather. They are thirsty for sips of water and have a dry mouth and a dry sore throat. There may be aches and pains while lying still; these are worse on first starting to move but improve with continued motion. Silica is usually needed towards the end of the sore throat, often after using Hepar sulph to complete the healing. There are persistently swollen lymph glands, lingering weakness, low vitality and a tendency to relapse. When in a silica state one feels chilly – cold enough to want to wear a scarf and hat outdoors or in bed! Despite the chilliness, one may perspire profusely especially on the feet and head.
One also may feel sensitive, weepy and needy. Home management tips Sore throats caused or aggravated by dryness are often relieved simply by reducing room heat, running a humidifier, and remembering to take frequent sips of liquid. Gargling with warm salt water, lemon juice and honey in warm water, or diluted apple cider vinegar temporarily relieves sore throat pain. Throat lozenges may help too. Sucking on a 100 mg or 500 mg tablet of vitamin C may be soothing, but be careful not to irritate the tongue or throat. If you are being treated with homeopathic medicine, however, do not take lozenges containing menthol or eucalyptus, since these substances may interfere with the action of the medicine.
• Steep three teaspoons of dried sage in one litre of boiling water. Cover and allow to cool. Gargle and swallow the strained sweetened liquid.
• Mix hot lemon and honey together with a little grated ginger root and drink often.
• Combine echinacea, baptisia and calendula tincture, 10 drops of each in a little warm water, and gargle and swallow every 2 hours. Do this if exposed to others’ coughs and colds and as a preventative.
• Take vitamin C or use zinc
lozenges as per the manufacturer’s instructions.