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 Naturopathic Medicine: Maternity Medicine  
 
Lauri Aesoph M. ND ©
Pregnancy is a special time for both mother and baby. This relationship is so close that almost everything the mother consumes, be it drugs, alcohol or food, is shared with baby across the placental barrier. Nursing babies receive these same substances through their mother's milk. Recreational drugs, and prescribed and over-the-counter medications can harm a developing infant. Even natural medicines should be only taken with your doctor's consent. All the more reason to choose homeopathic remedies, safe effective medicines for morning sickness and other pregnancy-related problems.

The 1200 remedies found in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States contain minute amounts of plants, minerals or animal substances used to cure a variety of ailments by promoting inner healing, or what America's estimated 3000 homeopathic practitioners call the vital force. Remedies are diluted so no side effects occur--essential to a pregnant woman and her baby--but healing does. In fact, the more dilute a remedy, the more potent it is. It's believed that the vigorous shaking, or succussions, used to prepare these medicines help potentize them.

It's the principles of homeopathy that separate it from conventional medicine. The first law says "like cures like" meaning the compound used to treat a disease produces those same symptoms when given to a healthy person. For example, Coffea cruda (unroasted coffee), is ideal for restless insomnia.

In classical homeopathy, the law of the single remedy says medicines be given one at a time based on current symptoms. Because the patient and disease are each seen as ever-changing, the remedy is adjusted as symptoms change. Individual treatment requires careful documentation of physical symptoms, emotional and mental balance, food cravings and aversions, sleeping habits and other signs. These symptoms are then matched to one remedy at an appropriate dose.

The ability of homeopathic remedies to encourage healing, rather than merely suppress symptoms, have nudged them to the single fastest-growing category in drug stores. The 1994 retail sales of homeopathic medicines in the U.S. are calculated at $165 million. About 95 percent of homeopathic remedies are available over-the-counter, making them both accessible and inexpensive (around $3 to $7 per bottle). While simple, acute conditions are safely treated at home, more serious conditions--particularly involving pregnancy--should be treated by a qualified homeopathic practitioner.

During Pregnancy
Several studies attest to homeopathy's success with pregnancy- related problems, particularly labor. When French researchers gave 90 women a combination remedy containing Caulophyllum, Arnica, Cimicifuga, Pulsatilla and Gelsemium twice a day throughout their pregnancy, the women had 40 percent shorter labors and one-quarter the complications of labor as those handed a sugar pill (Cahiers de Biotherapie, volume 94, April 1987).

Breech babies, whose feet or buttocks, rather than head, point downward in the womb, are a classic labor complication. Obstetricians often rely on a hospital procedure called external version, involving uterine-relaxing drugs and sometimes anesthesia, to turn these babies by pushing on the mother's belly.

Joyce Frye, DO, an obstetrician from Philadelphia, prefers Pulsatilla as the first step toward correcting breech positioned babies, saving external version as a final resort. Frye estimates half her pregnant patients respond to this safer, less expensive treatment. External version works in 40 to 70 percent of breech cases, says Frye, depending the operator's skill and whether the mother is having her first or second child.

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