Earlier in this century meningitis was fatal 95% of the time in children who contracted it. Now, because of the use of antibiotics, 95% of the children who get it survive. The number of infants dying in the first two years of life has also dramatically declined, once again primarily because of the use of conventional medicines. The significant reduction in the number of children dying from leukemia is another impressive development of modern medicine. Despite these benefits of modern medicine, however, there is general agreement that medical care can and should be better. There is also recognition that modern medicine is not always safe and that, in fact, it sometimes does more harm than good.
The Homeopathic Treatment of Teething and Colic
Shakespeare once described infancy as the age of "mewling and puking in the nurse's arms." Although there are innumerable theories for why infants vomit or have one condition or another, the underlying basis of homeopathic thought is that symptoms are responses of the organism to deal with infections or some type of internally or externally derived stress. Symptoms, then, represent the best efforts of the body to try to defend and heal itself.
Besides the inappropriate treatment of infant fevers and colds, another common, inappropriate treatment that is often administered is for infant's teething problems. A large group of pediatricians were recently surveyed about what they do for teething infants. Virtually all prescribed medications, usually pain-killers of varying strengths, sedatives, and local anesthetics.
It is certainly understandable that parents want to do something to allay their infants' pain during the teething stage. Besides the tooth pain and drooling that infants suffer, they also often have fever, bowel problems (usually diarrhea, or constipation alternating with diarrhea), colds, and skin rashes. And it is certainly understandable that physicians who see the pained infants and the frightened and concerned parents would want to do something. However, homeopathy offers such an effective alternative to problems associated with teething that physicians and parents will inevitably look to it.
Chamomilla has probably introduced more parents to homeopathy than any other homeopathic medicine. It is not the only medicine that homeopaths prescribe to treat teething, but it is so commonly used that it is generally recommended unless the infant's symptoms clearly indicate the need for a different medicine. The most common symptoms of infants who need Chamomilla are inflamed gums, drooling, and a desire to keep fingers in the mouth. Commonly, one cheek is hot and red, while the other is pale. More notable than these physical symptoms are the emotional and behavioral changes. The infants are hyperirritable and may scream and hit. They demand things but reject them as soon as they are given. During sleep they toss and turn and may cry aloud. The only relief they experience comes when they are being carried about or rocked. This description of Chamomilla infants no doubt sounds familiar to many parents.
Other homeopathic medicines given to teething infants are Podophyllum (mayapple), Belladonna (deadly nightshade),Calcarea phosphorica (phosphate of calcium), Calcarea carbonica (calcium carbonate), Coffea (coffee), and Caffeinum (caffeine).
Although some parents may be frightened to give some of these substances to their infant or child, the exceedingly small doses used in homeopathic medicine are known not only to be safe but to be effective in treating many common ailments.