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In classical homeopathy, we believe that each person has a “constitution” which is based on his/her temperament/personality traits as well as physical characteristics. Some constitutions are, in general, dryer than others. Some of the more common “constitutions” that are on the dry side include Pulsatilla and Natrum muriaticum/Nat mur. As you can see in the examples below, chronic dehydration can have life-threatening consequences. Many people, especially the “dry” constitutions, are at risk for such complications.

By far the majority of Pulsatillas are chronically dehydrated, leading to numerous health problems. Today, I had a very interesting case of a Pulsatilla male who had been hospitalized due to dehydration at some point in his life! Of course, other constitutions, due to life’s circumstances, can end up severely dehydrated as well, but did it surprise me that this gentleman had ended up in the hospital as a result? No!

I have seen Pulsatillas develop a headache for months in a row, develop hives or rashes, chronic eye infections, chronic “cotton” mouth, or even many cavities as a result of chronic dehydration. Almost all such dehydrated Pulsatilla individuals become thirsty minutes after taking their remedy. I have seen this happen and have actually captured this on camera on numerous occasions.

Since Pulsatillas don’t care for the taste of plain water, I believe they ought to consider adding something to their water to make it more palatable. A few suggestions include, adding a few drops of liquid Stevia, lemon juice, or various other “extracts” (such as vanilla, anise, or fruit flavors of different kinds) to your water. Another idea is to add a very small amount of Recharge or fruit juice to their water unless sugar is strictly contraindicated for their health. You can purchase Recharge from most grocery stores, and it comes in different flavors. This is where creativity can help you greatly.

Another common constitutional homeopathic remedy which can end up in trouble due to dehydration is Natrum muriaticum (Nat mur). Why? Nat murs have a dryer body to begin with- their body “runs” dry, manifested as dry skin and/or dry bowels (skin turned outside in). Dry bowels would of course translate to constipation, or tendency towards it. Unless they exercise regularly or eat properly, most Nat murs at least tend towards constipation. With this dry constitution, drinking a sufficient amount of water becomes more critical for them than most other constitutions. I have seen depressed Nat mur patients who feel significantly better emotionally minutes after drinking 1-2 glasses of water in the office, even without their remedy. One such patient who was nearly suicidal when he first came into my office, felt almost entirely well emotionally after drinking two large glasses of water in front of me as I was taking his case. I suspected severe dehydration in his case based on a few factors: I noted that his facial skin (including lips) appeared extremely dehydrated, he was taking diuretics (which make a person urinate more and lose water out of their body), and also on Lithium for bipolar depression (which coincidentally depletes the body of water). These factors were a very risky combination, leading to what I believe was severe dehydration of his brain, making him feel suicidal. How else can you explain the rapid recovery within minutes of drinking two large glasses of water? The image I got of his brain was like a flower wilting due to lack of water.

A very interesting case of how a patient’s low level of hydration caused so many problems and it took careful analysis to figure out a simple solution to such a seemingly complicated case:

I had a patient a few weeks ago who had been itching severely for 4 months or so. After careful questioning and reviewing the history of her case, I came to believe that this patient was severely dehydrated and toxic. She had been on dialysis for years, therefore, she had been toxic for years since her kidneys had not been able to properly detoxify and cleanse her body. She became constipated and was hospitalized for it in May. Constipation made her more toxic, of course, since the toxins stay in the body instead of coming out. At the hospital, they recommended that she reduces her water intake to one pint (16 fluid ounces) a day since she is a dialysis patient. The interesting thing is that she had been drinking a normal amount of water for years until this visit to the hospital. Note that water is probably the first therapy of choice for constipation. So, it’s surprising to me that her practitioners at the hospital made such a recommendation to her. It seems to me that even if she needed to reduce her water intake, this was not the time to make the change since she was very constipated, to a point where she was hospitalized. A week later she developed a severe case of shingles on her face. I believe the shingles came on because her immune system could not deal with the additional load of toxicity resulting from severe dehydration in a person who was already toxic for years (having been a dialysis patient). It turns that she was “allergic” to the pharmaceutical medication for shingles- Acyclovir. She became delirious initially, and eventually went into a coma for 3 days. If anyone is going to be “allergic” to a medication, it would most likely be someone who is very, very toxic. So, I believe that is why she reacted so negatively to this medication. Two weeks after being hospitalized for her reaction to Acyclovir, she developed systemic itching which has been extremely disturbing to her, severely impacting her sleep and day-to-day life. She has consulted her nephrologist over the last few months, but surprisingly no one has suggested to her to resume drinking the same amount of water as she used to drink prior to developing severe constipation. I am not sure why she became so constipated in May, but it’s clear to me that all the proceeding events (including shingles and her reaction to the shingles medication, followed later on by systemic itching) happened due to one wrong piece of advice when she was hospitalized in May for her constipation- “drink one pint (16 ounces) of water a day”. She came in today for her follow up visit, and reported that her itching was 90% alleviated by simply drinking more water.

The average healthy adult should drink half their body’s weight in ounces of water. A dialysis patient should drink less. However, one pint sounds extremely unreasonable even for a dialysis patient. No wonder this woman feels that she “is dying”. Her skin color (which was gray), texture (old), and turgor (flat) revealed her extremely high level of toxicity today. I recommended that she start to drink the same amount of water as she used to prior to her hospitalization for constipation in May, since I could not find any specific reason why after years of being on dialysis she suddenly was advised to cut her water intake down from 6 or so glasses of water (probably close to 50 ounces) to 16 ounces a day. I also recommended that she take a higher dose of magnesium, take a high quality fiber supplement, and start applying castor oil over her abdomen. I am hoping the above suggestions will help with her constipation. I always jokingly tell patients that if there is one condition that I can treat 100% successfully, it’s constipation. I also recommended that she very gently start cleansing/detoxifying her liver. I hesitated to start a kidney cleanse today since she is on dialysis and I don’t want to push her kidneys yet. As the intestines and liver start to get some of the toxins in her body out via the stools, her kidneys will also benefit since these organs share the burden of detoxification for the entire body. If one of them is doing better, it will help the others. Less stress on intestines and liver (i.e. less constipation, or other GI issues, for that matter) means less stress on the kidneys, and vice versa. With less stress on these 3 organs (intestines, liver and kidneys), her itching should most definitely stop. Even though the above reasoning is based on common sense and is in fact scientific, it is missing in conventional medicine. And, I believe is one of the most important concepts missing in conventional medicine.

I would like to end this blog by pointing out that in my experience after eight of years of practice, I have come to believe that nearly 100% (with only a few exceptions) of my patients were chronically dehydrated prior to seeing me, and most of them continue to struggle with taking in enough water. I make the following recommendation on when/how much water to drink. Drink roughly half of your body’s weight in ounces of water per day. Drink 1-2 large glasses (depending on your body size) immediately upon getting out of bed in the morning, get ready for the day (take a shower, put your clothes on), and finally eat breakfast. This way, by the time you are ready to eat breakfast, the water in your stomach has probably mostly worked its way out into your intestines. You don’t want to drink much water with your meals as too much water can dilute the digestive juices. Perhaps a few gulps with a meal is fine, but no more. After meals, wait for a good 45 minutes to an hour, or even more, before you start drinking a lot of water. Once your food has moved out of your stomach into your intestines, or at least mostly digested in your stomach, I feel it would be fine to start drinking a lot of water again. Drink a lot of water between meals, 45-60 minutes after meals all the way up to 10-15 minutes before meals. I’d recommend avoiding much water consumption in the evening after dinner since it will most likely make you get up in the middle of the night to urinate, disturbing your precious sleep.

Herbal (non-caffeinated) teas do count in place of water. Caffeinated teas (black or green) do not count since caffeine has a diuretic effect. Coffee (or even coffee alternatives) most definitely does not count as a source of water, and neither do juices of any kind (unless the juices are extremely diluted). Thicker drinks such as milks of various types don’t count either. For each glass of such thicker or caffeinated drinks you drink, you ought to drink a good size glass of water to counteract the water depleting effect of such fluids.

I often tell patients that their problems are not that they have this disease or that, rather that their body does not have the right fluids. (Refer to the book titled “Your Body’s Many Cries for Water” by Dr. Batmanghelidj, MD. The subtitle reads: “You’re Not Sick; You’re Thirsty. Don’t Treat Thirst with Medication.”)

Drink up (water)!

Dr. Sharif