In this blog Id like to address the subject of gastrointestinal disorders and how homeopathy is often a critical therapy for such patients, although not always completely sufficient by itself. I say critical because if a patient who suffers from digestive problems does not take their constitutional homeopathic remedy (refer to the article on this site, titled constitutional homeopathy), it is either significantly more difficult or, in many cases, impossible to obtain a satisfactory level of healing. On the contrary, if the same patient is treated with homeopathic remedies along with other natural therapies CONCURRENTLY, the possibility of healing their digestive distress is significantly higher. In fact, it is quite rare for me to see a patient with digestive problems who does not respond quite well to the therapies recommended. And, they usually do so in a short period of time, usually a few weeks.
In homeopathy, we categorize people to various constitutions, depending upon their physical as well as mental/emotional characteristics. People can fit into any of the hundreds of different constitutions, but there are nearly 50 common constitutions that I deal with on a day-to-day basis in my practice. The homeopathic remedy that is used to treat a particular constitution has the same name as the constitution itself. For example, a person who has the constitution Pulsatilla is treated with the remedy called Pulsatilla. People typically need to take their constitutional remedy once a month, on average. The remedy is not to be taken daily like most other medicines such as drugs or supplements.
A patients prognosis or recovery depends greatly on the persons constitution. This is, in fact, one of the most useful aspects of being a homeopathic practitioner. I can often predict how a patient might respond to various factors, including lifestyle/dietary changes or even drugs/supplements, depending on their constitution. For example, a person with the constitution called Carcinosin is much more likely to suffer from birth control pills than a person with the constitution called Sulphur. (The details of this subject are beyond the scope of this blog, but as a rule, Sulphur individuals are much healthier than Carcinosin individuals.)
Although homeopathic remedies are considered natural, most NDs (naturopathic doctors) do not specialize or prescribe homeopathic remedies since they do not have sufficient training to do so. In order to be able to effectively practice homeopathy, a naturopath needs (although not required by law) to take extra training in the field of homeopathy. The length of training should ideally be at least 1-2 years beyond a doctorate degree in naturopathic medicine. Naturopaths typically offer lifestyle/dietary recommendations, and prescribe natural therapies including vitamins, minerals, herbs, natural hormones, and numerous other natural medicines. It is rare for a naturopath to prescribe homeopathic remedies, and if they do, it is often not the patients constitutional remedy – although it may be a well indicated remedy to address the symptom at hand, but not the remedy that matches the persons entire profile (i.e. physical as well as mental/emotional symptoms and/or traits, otherwise known as the persons constitution).
Below, I would like to discuss the most common constitutions that are likely to suffer with digestive complaints, and mention specifically what digestive complaints these constitutions are each likely to present with, and a few miscellaneous issues surrounding homeopathy and digestive problems.
Among the most common homeopathic constitutions, I find that Carcinosin, Silica, Nux vomica, and Lycopodium are the top four constitutions that, nearly 100% of the time, suffer from significant digestive problems.
Note that the Nux vomica or Lycopodium constitutions are known by homeopathic practitioners to have poor liver function, and these remedies are used even by non-homeopathic practitioners to help improve liver function. For instance Lycopodium 4X can be found in both UNDA #243 and UNDA #1, two of the main UNDA compounds used for draining or detoxifying the liver. Therefore, individuals with either these constitutions suffer from various digestive symptoms (such as gas, bloating, acid reflux, abnormal bowel movements, abdominal discomfort/pain, etc.) and/or signs (such as abnormal liver blood test results).
(Note: UNDA numbers are made in Belgium by the company UNDA, and distributed in North America by Seroyal. UNDAs are combination, low potency, homeopathic remedies that are organ/tissue specific. For example, UNDA #243 helps optimize liver function, and UNDA #45 helps optimize kidney function. I have found UNDAs to be highly effective in cleansing/detoxifying and optimizing the function of the main organs of metabolism and detoxification, namely liver and kidneys. Although constitutional homeopathy is, in my view, far superior in many ways to such combination remedies as UNDAs, I find that patients often also need UNDA numbers to help focus on and optimize the function of their internal organs.)
I have never seen a constitutional Carcinosin patient without significant digestive problems. I have noticed that many earlier authors have not written about Carcinosin at all. The reason is that this remedy was not even proven (i.e. put through rigorous homeopathic tests and trials) until the late 19th century. Furthermore, for reasons unknown to me, the more recent authors who have happened to write about this remedy are not speaking to the fact that Carcinosin individuals have significant digestive problems.
Carcinosin is a phase 2 remedy (out of the four possible phases) in the Map of Hierarchy devised by Dr. Paul Herscu, ND, world-renowned homeopath who practices in Boston. I have talked about Dr. Herscus Map of Hierarchy in my book titled Visual Homeopathy. My understanding of this illustration is that you cant be healthy as long as you are in any phase other than in phase 1. Of course, even phase 1 constitutions have their own health challenges, but phases 2, 3 and 4 most definitely do not present in a healthy version. In the eyes of homeopaths, Carcinosin individuals are unfortunately at risk for cancer due to various reasons, such as family history of cancer, history of suppression of emotions as well as rather significant digestive dysfunction which could have come about as a result of all the emotional suppression.
In my opinion, taking birth control pills or the use of other hormonal interventions such as hormonal IUDs definitely puts Carcinosin patients at risk for cancer. (Refer to my blog titled what I wish gastroenterologists would recognize on this site for more information on how female hormones can negatively impact the digestive system.)
Similarly to Carcinosin, individuals with the Silica constitution also have numerous digestive problems. In contrast to Carcinosin, however, Silicas digestive problems, are talked about in all homeopathy texts. In fact, Silica is known for its constipation, in particular. Id like to point out, however, that I have seen far more Carcinosin patients with constipation than Silica patients even though, as mentioned in the previous paragraphs, you may not read much about Carcinosin individuals having digestive problems, in general, and constipation, in particular.
In the list of the top most common constitutions, I find that there are a few other constitutions that may complain of GI problems, but their GI disturbance is significantly milder in nature than the four constitutions listed above. For instance, most Natrum muriaticum (or Nat mur) individuals have constipation as well, but otherwise, I find that Nat murs digestive health is rather normal. (I have found, however, that Nat murs often mask their constipation by exercising and taking good care of themselves in other ways such as with diet and supplements.) Note that the constipation in Nat mur makes sense since dryness throughout the body (and even on the personality level, as manifested by a strong tendency towards being introverted) is the central theme in this constitution.
I often find that Sulphurs complain of acid reflux as their only digestive concern. Sepia has constipation which makes sense since the central theme in Sepia is stasis and stagnation. Finally, its not too uncommon for me to see a Pulsatilla patient with digestive disturbance. However, treating the digestive complaints of these constitutions is much easier than the other four constitutions in the previous paragraphs, namely Carcinosin, Silica, Nux vomica and Lycopodium who have much more significant imbalance in their digestive system.
A healing reaction/crisis can occur sometimes with homeopathic remedies. (The symptoms of a healing reaction can vary from person to person, but it often tends to manifest as flu-like symptoms, or general malaise with headache and fatigue.) In my experience, patients who are more likely to experience a healing reaction upon taking their constitutional homeopathic remedy tend to be the ones with significant digestive problems. Since I also specialize in naturopathic cleansing/detoxification, I have learned that a person is not likely at all to mount a healing reaction/crisis if her organs of elimination or the vital organs are not overly congested or toxic. A single dose of a high potency (such as 200C or 1M) remedy is powerful enough that it can stimulate numerous chemical reactions in the body, specifically in the vital organs/tissues such as in the liver, kidneys, and intestines. Sometimes, this act of biochemical stimulation can cause the toxins to return into the body, instead of move out of the body, if the persons organs of elimination are backed up or congested already. I believe this is what a healing reaction is about. Therefore, a healing reaction/crisis is not truly a desirable phenomenon if the practitioner indeed knows how to prepare the patient for the arrival of this most potent medicine, the high potency constitutional remedy. The preparation can be done by an effective cleansing program first, BEFORE the person takes her constitutional remedy. (Note: This is exactly why I have listed detoxification/cleansing as step 2 in the Seven Steps to Healing, and homeopathy as step 3. Refer to the Seven Steps to Healing article on this website under Educational Articles. Often, I choose to do both in the same visit if I feel that the patient can tolerate it.) Specifically, if a person suffers from chronic constipation (refer to my blog on constipation on this site), she is far more likely to experience a healing reaction by taking the constitutional homeopathic remedy. Therefore, I often try to effectively treat constipation before I offer the patient her constitutional homeopathic remedy. (In some cases, in addition to assuring regular BMs, a thorough liver cleanse is necessary as well to assure effective detoxification so that the patient does not mount a healing reaction.) For instance if a Carcinosin patient has one BM every two weeks, and you offer her Carcinosin 200C or 1M, there is nearly a 100% chance that she will mount a healing reaction and become ill with flu-like symptoms for a few days. Therefore, in many such cases of constipation in any constitutional type, I treat the constipation so that the patient has AT LEAST one BM a day BEFORE I offer her the constitutional remedy.
To make matters more complicated, note that sometimes you cannot treat the constipation with your conventional naturopathic therapies (such as bitters, magnesium, castor oil packs, laxative teas, etc.) UNLESS you offer the patient her constitutional homeopathic remedy. In such rare cases, the practitioner has to offer the patient her homeopathic remedy despite the possibility of a healing reaction. For instance, I had a constitutional Aluminum case whose constipation became worsened by magnesium which is an extremely unusual reaction. In fact, this patients constipation was not responding well to other natural therapies either. I had to offer her a dose of homeopathic Aluminum 200C in order to effectively treat the constipation. (Refer to her video under Patient Videos section on this website, her video is titled Homeopathic Aluminum reverses Aluminum Toxicity. Her chronic constipation was effectively treated overnight.)
Note that often patients with digestive problems require various other natural therapies/approaches in addition to homeopathic remedies. Proper lifestyle and diet, and various natural supplements such as DGL, digestive enzymes, bitters, probiotics, and liver/intestinal detox or cleansing can be critical as well.