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Arthritis and rheumatism are among the commonest forms of chronic disease and, with an aging population, are set to become commoner still. Strictly speaking, arthritis means disease of the joints, while rheumatism is disease of the soft connective tissues which support and move the joints. In fact, the distinction is often artificial, since many of these conditions affect both the joints and connective tissues.

Osteoarthritis, the commonest of these conditions, is basically “wear and tear” of the joints. The root of the problem is wearing out of the cartilage, the tough, slippery “gristle”, which allows the ends of the bone to slide smoothly over each other and absorbs shocks. The joint becomes stiff and painful, and may creak as it is moved.

As the cartilage wears down, the bones on either side of the joint may react by forming small bony outgrowths called osteophytes. One of the sites where bony nodes can easily be seen is the last joint of the fingers. Spondylosis is a similar problem affecting the spine; here the main problem is degeneration of the disks which separate the vertebrae.

As one would expect with a degenerative condition the prevalence of osteoarthritis increases with age, it affects nine per cent of the total population but around 70 per cent of the over-70s. It is the commonest of all rheumatological conditions, and indeed probably the commonest of all chronic diseases, because many sufferers live with it for many years. Not surprisingly it tends to affect weight-bearing joints (eg low back, hips and knees). Joint injuries or overuse (for instance heavy physical work or professional sport) predispose to osteoarthritis later in life. Overweight is another important factor.

The other two main groups of arthritis and rheumatism are inflammatory arthritis, of which the commonest form is rheumatoid arthritis, and soft tissue rheumatism. Rheumatoid arthritis affects about one person in a hundred; it is nearly three times commoner in women than men (for unknown reasons). Its cause, too, remains frustratingly elusive. It tends to come on at an earlier age than osteoarthritis (typically in the 30s to 50s) and is more aggressive, running a more rapid course: about a third of sufferers are seriously disabled within ten years, although it is very variable. It particularly affects the small joints, especially of the hands and feet, causing a typical hand deformity where the fingers slant sideways. But it can affect almost any joint in the body, and also cause nodules under the skin and eye problems. There are many other forms of inflammatory arthritis, some of them associated with infections.

The final group is true rheumatism, affecting the soft connective tissues rather then the joints themselves. There are many forms, some with picturesque names. They include enthesopathies which affect the point at which tendons connect to the bones – the best known of these are tennis elbow, affecting the outer side of the elbow, and golfer’s elbow, which affects the inner side. Capsulitis – inflammation of the capsule of tissues that surround the joint – most commonly affects the shoulder, and may lead to a stiff “frozen” shoulder. Some of the more amusing names are reserved for bursitis – inflammation of the bursae, cushioning pads which overlie many joints. These include Housemaid’s Knee (also known as Clergyman’s Knee), from too much kneeling. But my favourite is Weaver’s Bottom – so called because it used to affect weavers who had to shuffle up and down long benches to tend their looms!

The most common form of soft tissue rheumatism, however, is fibromyalgia (which used to be known as fibrositis). It affects about two per cent of people and is much commoner in women than men. It is a controversial condition; some believe that fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME) are varieties of the same condition, certainly there are similarities. The typical features are widespread musculoskeletal pain and aching with tender points at several specific locations. It is frequently associated with poor sleep and fatigue as well as other problems including migraine and irritable bowel syndrome.

There are many problems with current conventional treatment of arthritis and rheumatism. For instance, although osteoarthritis rarely, if ever, killed anyone, a group of drugs often used in its treatment, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), including aspirin, Ibuprofen and Voltarol among many others, certainly has. There are some 12,000 hospital admissions and 2,000 deaths from these drugs every year in the UK alone. Although the new generation of NSAIDs is safer, they are only glorified painkillers, which do not affect the basic disease process. Similarly for rheumatoid arthritis, a range of powerful drugs is available but all of these have long and alarming lists of side effects.

The homeopathic approach
In treating someone suffering from arthritis and rheumatism with homeopathy, just as with any other condition, I look at the person as a whole. In practice this means starting by looking at what exactly the problem is: pain, stiffness, sleep disturbance, limitation of particular activities, or what? Where is it? How long has it been a problem, and what has been the evolution? “Evolution” means where did it start and what has happened since – has it moved, if so, in any particular pattern? Does it come and go, any pattern to that? Did anything seem to trigger it off in the first place?

Then the modalities – simply any factor which makes the problem worse or better: for instance hot or cold applications, bandaging or support, the weather etc. Here it is important to know what is normal: for instance it is usual for an acutely inflamed, swollen, tender joint to be relieved by cold applications. But in homeopathy exceptions to the rule are of particular interest.

I then move on to the rest of “homeopathic” histories, I integrate the two. Sometimes the conventional part of the history can give a vital clue. For instance, a woman came to consult me with extra-articular manifestations of rheumatoid arthritis. When I asked if anything seemed to have triggered the problem, she said she couldn’t think of anything. But when I enquired into the social background it turned out she had been through a messy divorce, including a court battle for custody of the children, which she eventually won. The onset of her illness coincided almost to the day with the end of the custody case. I was amazed that she did not make the connection. It was clear that this was a topic she didn’t want to discuss. Translated into the quaint 19th century language of some homeopathic books this is “aggravated by consolation”. It was this that gave me the first clue to the homeopathic medicine, Sepia, to which she had an excellent response. This was an example of “not what they say, but how they say it”.

Then to complete the history, the “mentals” and “generals”. The mentals include how the patient reacts to and copes (or fails to cope) with their problems, and the so-called “constitutional” features: is this a strong-willed and assertive person, or the opposite? Tidy and organised or untidy? And so forth. Then the generals, for instance does this person feel the cold excessively, prefer the morning or the evening? I then examine the patient, again this not just a matter of good medical practice, but can give important clues to possible homeopathic treatment. For instance warm, swollen joints may suggest the medicines Apis or Bryonia; stiff contracted joints Causticum or Formica.

We are what we eat” – so the old adage goes, so maybe it is not surprising that many people have problems with their digestive system. These problems can vary from a bit of indigestion occasionally, to serious and incapacitating inflammatory bowel disease.

Perhaps to start with it is instructive to look at the sort of foods that man evolved to digest. Primitive men were hunters and gatherers, so this meant meat, when the hunters were in luck; fish, depending on where they lived; and roots and fruit, depending on the season. Grains were not cultivated until much later, so many doctors and nutritionalists feel that this so-called “stone-age” diet is the one that the human system can best handle. Along with the cultivation of grain crops came the domestication of cows, with dairy products becoming incorporated into man’s staple diet, although these are certainly not “natural” foods for humans.

Now all this is not to say that only meat, fish, fruit and vegetables should be eaten, and not grains or dairy products, because there are many people who have cast-iron stomachs, and these foods present no problems at all. I am simply pointing out a possible starting point for those who do find they have trouble with their digestion and first we have to be clear what is meant by indigestion.

What one person means may be poles apart from another person’s complaint. One patient may be meaning heart-burn, whilst another may be embarrassed at describing an excess of wind from the back passage!

So the first task is to take a really good history and find out exactly what it is that is troubling the patient, along with the modalities (qualifying factors) of the condition.

Jeff’s story
Jeff came to see me very disenchanted with his own doctor. He had had “indigestion” for years and investigations had shown up a hiatus hernia, for which he had had conventional treatment, but the symptoms had not been controlled. Immediately after a meal he would develop a severe pain under his left ribs, with a lot of wind. The pain was relieved by passing the wind. He also had a separate complaint of heart-burn, which developed some two hours after a meal, and he had noticed it was much worse if he ate bread (which he loved). After more direct questioning it transpired that he was upset by fats and pickles, although he liked both. Sweet things did not cause problems, but he disliked spicy foods and curries. He was an anxious man, and admitted to being a perfectionist, but he was very emotional and had not really ever got over the death of his father.

So here was a very complicated picture, with two different pathological diagnoses – hiatus hernia and irritable bowel syndrome – but he just regarded it all as “indigestion”. No wonder his own GP could not sort him out – only a holistic approach, such as homeopathy, would be likely to make any headway.

I treated him with a combination of diet (excluding wheat and dairy) and homeopathy, but even so, it took me a while to get him symptom free. The bowel nosode, Dys co, did the trick in the end, so much so that he is now able to eat wheat without any problems!

Woman self-examining her throat.

The thyroid gland is one of the most important glands in the body with a far-reaching influence. It is one of the endocrine, hormone-producing, organs and it basically controls the rate at which the body’s various organs and systems function. It has an effect on immunity, energy levels, circulation, sugar regulation and is the overall con­troller of growth and development, and of metabolism throughout the body. More than that, however, it has an important part to play in mood.

A shield
The name thyroid comes from the Greek thyreo-eides, the name from the Ancient Greek “door-shaped” battle shield, which had a notch for the chin, from thyra, meaning door. The thyroid cartilage is such a shape and forms the Adam’s apple prominence on the front of the neck. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland, the two lobes of which lie against the lower half of the thyroid cartilage. The two lobes are united by an isthmus of tissue.

Essentially, the thyroid gland makes the thyroid hormones, thyroxine and tri­iodothyronine (respectively referred to as T4 and T3) and another called calcitonin, which has an effect on cal­cium metabolism. Ninety per cent of the body’s iodine is contained in the thyroid gland in organic form. This iodine is needed in order to manufacture the thy­roid hormones.

The thyroid hormones are the medi­ators of innumerable chemical reactions within the body. This is what we mean when we talk about metabolism; basi­cally the thyroid, through the action of its hormones, is the regulator of the rate at which the body functions.

Feedback loop
The thyroid hormones function via a feedback loop. The hypothalamus, a col­lection of specialised cells within the brain, is affected by the circulating lev­els of the thyroid hormones. If the level is lower than it should be, then it pumps out a hormone that controls the pitu­itary gland, at the base of the brain. This responds by producing Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), which causes the thyroid to produce more thy­roxine until it achieves adequate levels. Once those levels are attained, then a negative feedback ceases further pro­duction. Tapping into this feedback loop is the way in which we can biochemi­cally test for over- or under-activity of the gland. Essentially, we find out if there is too much or too little.

Tadpoles into frogs
Let me take you away from human phys­iology for a moment and consider your common or garden pond and its popu­lation of frogs’ spawn. How wonderful it is to see those jelly-like masses develop into little wriggling tadpoles. Remember the wonder with which you watched them during your childhood, as they slowly transformed into frogs? You were witnessing the metamorphosis of a crea­ture from one life stage to another. And it is a profound change because the lar­val tadpole hatches from the egg equipped by nature to live its life in the water. It is an herbivorous water-dweller with gills. As it develops, however, it grows limbs, lungs and when it emerges from the water as an adult frog, it has become an air-breathing carnivore.

Frogs are amphibians and the whole class to which they belong exhibit this metamorphosis. The name comes from the Greek amphi, meaning double, and bios, meaning life. The stimulus for this profound growth and development is the thyroid hormone, thyroxine. This can be proved by suppressing thyroid function in the tadpole, which will cause it to remain permanently in the larval stage, although it will continue to grow abnormally large. On the other hand, increasing the concentration of thyrox­ine in the water will induce a rapid meta­morphosis to produce a tiny frog. I find this a useful model when thinking about thyroid disorders.

Too much or too little?
Thyroxine is very important in every stage of human development. It is impor­tant to the developing foetus and it is important to the newborn baby. In this country we automatically check for con­genital hypothyroidism, which is impor­tant since early treatment is of vital importance.

A man holding his back in pain

Rhus Tox – Top grade Homeopathic medicine for cervical spondylosis

Rhus Tox is one of the top grade Homeopathic medicines for cervical spondylosis. The indicating features for using Rhus Tox are pain and excessive stiffness in the neck. A person in need of Rhus Tox may get relief from warm applications on the neck. Neck massage may provide relief in some cases. Rhus Tox is also one of the well indicated Homeopathic medicines for cervical spondylosis complaint arising after injury to the neck. Neck pain from over straining or overuse also makes a strong case for use of Rhus Tox.

Bryonia Alba – Homeopathic medicine for cervical spondylosis that worsens with movement

Bryonia Alba is another majorly indicated Homeopathic medicine for cervical spondylosis. The person needing Bryonia Alba experiences pain and stiffness in the neck that worsen with motion. Taking rest relieves the symptoms.

Hypericum Perforatum – Best Homeopathic medicine for cervical spondylosis from injury

In addition to Rhus Tox, Homeopathic medicine Hypericum Perforatum is a very significant medicine for cervical spondylosis resulting from injury. Major symptoms deciding on Hypericum Perforatum as the best prescription are neck pain that may radiate to the shoulders and a spine that is extremely sensitive to the touch. Tingling, burning, numbness in hands may also be present.

Cimicifuga Racemosa and Guaiacum Officinale – Prominent Homeopathic medicines for cervical spondylosis with marked neck stiffness

For treating marked stiffness in the neck from cervical spondylosis, Cimicifuga Racemosa and Guaiacum Officinale are two extremely useful Homeopathic medicines. Characteristic symptom for use of Cimicifuga Racemosa is a very very stiff neck. Along with this, the cervical spine is also very sensitive to the touch. Pressure worsens the symptoms. Homeopathic medicine Guaiacum Officinale is indicated in case of stiffness and aching pain in the neck. Stiffness from the neck may extend down the entire back.  Marked soreness in shoulders may accompany.

Paris Quadrifolia – Excellent Homeopathic medicine for cervical spondylosis with numbness in arms, hands or fingers

Paris Quadrifolia is an excellent choice of Homeopathic medicine for cervical spondylosis cases with marked numbness in arms, hands or fingers as the major complaint. Pain in the neck is also present. Pain radiates down the fingers from the neck. The pain is attended by sensation of a heavy weight around the neck and shoulders.

Kalmia Latifolia – Wonderful Homeopathic medicine for cervical spondylosis with tingling, pricking sensation in hands

For cervical spondylosis with tingling, pricking sensation in hands, Homeopathic medicine Kalmia Latifolia is recommended as the ideal choice. In some such cases, upper limbs may feel week. Pain in the neck extends down to the shoulder blades or the arm.

Gelsemium – Top rated Homeopathic medicine for cervical spondylosis with vertigo

Gelsemium is a very useful Homeopathic medicine for cervical spondylosis with vertigo episodes. The vertigo episodes occur mostly while walking. Movement of the head may also lead to vertigo. Blurring of vision may occur during the vertigo episodes.

Silicea – Effective Homeopathic medicine for cervical spondylosis with neck pain radiating up the head

Silicea is one of the majorly indicated Homeopathic medicines for cervical spondylosis where pain from the neck radiates upwards to the head. Pain from the neck extends to either the occiput (back of head) or the entire head. In some cases, the neck pain radiates to the head and settles over the eyes. This may be accompanied by vertigo in some cases. Vertigo mainly arise from looking upwards.

What are the causes of cervical spondylosis?

Cervical spondylosis mainly arises from wear and tear of the cervical spine. The wear and tear of cervical spine results mainly due to age related degenerative changes. In some cases, injury to the cervical spine may lead to early spondylosis changes in the cervical spine.

Asthma is a very common condition affecting five per cent of the population at one stage of life. In the Western world, up to ten per cent of children have the disease. It is certainly not confined to our epoch – Seneca the younger, a powerful Roman leader and historic figure of the theatre, described his asthma as his “last gasp”. However, he was something of a celebrity during his age and his demise was certainly not due to asthma!

In asthma the bronchial tubes narrow and this makes it more difficult to breathe. Symptoms that occur in asthma are chest tightness, coughing, wheezy breathing and shortness of breath. These symptoms may simply occur when the body has to work harder – such as on walking quickly, going upstairs or running. House dust may provoke an asthma attack if there is a history of allergy as may exposure to cat, dog or horse hair. People who suffer from hay fever may find that they get asthma-like symptoms too. It is helpful to find out if the asthma is caused by an allergy as this can offer some direction that treatment with homeopathy may pursue. Asthma patients may have a personal or family history of hay fever and/or eczema, as these conditions tend to exist together.

Homeopathic treatment
So what homeopathic medicines are available to treat asthma? Asthma like any other condition can be treated with homeopathy at various levels. The ideal would be to find the treatment, which reflects the Similimum of the case (or as near to the Similimum as possible). By Similimum, I mean the remedy that best matches the person not just in terms of his symptoms but also in terms of his psyche and the way that he relates to other people and to life generally. This would offer a deeper prospect of healing. However finding the Similimum may not always be possible and there are many remedies which may be given for the symptoms of asthma. There are also remedies that can be given for the causes of allergic asthma (homeopathic preparations of house dust mite, grasses and pollens etc). Asthma is a condition for which I would highly recommend professional treatment – I would not advocate self-treatment. Here are the outlines of a few remedies, which may be helpful in the treatment of asthma.

Hair loss is one of the most common problems faced by people across the globe. Many of us dread the thought of brushing our hair because it may result in hair loss and breakage. Not to mention the fact that whenever winter sets in, dandruff starts acting up, irritating the scalp and leading to more hair loss. All of us love our hair and don’t appreciate seeing it waste away. This is why many people often try new products and treatments that promise to reduce hair fall. If you are one of these people and haven’t had any luck yet, switch to homeopathy.

Homeopathy is a form of medicine that mainly aims at triggering the healing process in one’s body. Homeopathy offers quite a few medicines for treating hair loss. Here are the top 18 homeopathic treatments for hair loss.

Diabetes mellitus* is a condition in which the normal mechanism of the body for controlling the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood stream has gone awry. A hormone called insulin, which is produced by the pancreas, is responsible for controlling the movement of sugar, in the form of glucose, across from the blood stream into the individual cells of the body. Intracellular glucose is the “fuel” of the cells, without which they cannot work. In diabetes, either the pancreatic beta cells fail, and thus insulin is not produced; or the body become insensitive to the action of insulin with the same end result. So diabetes is really a condition of “starvation in the midst of plenty” where the glucose piles up in the blood stream and spills over into the urine, but the individual cells are starved of glucose.

In the case of pancreatic beta cell failure, insulin is the only possible treatment, and must be given regularly by injection. This type of diabetes is known as type 1 diabetes or formerly “insulin­-dependent diabetes mellitus”. Let me say at this point that there is no homeopathic alternative to insulin, although some remedies may help to reduce the insulin requirements. People with type 1 diabetes are often quite young at the time of diagnosis, and will often have lost a lot of weight before diagnosis is made.

In the case of the cells being resistant to insulin, management can often be achieved by a healthy diet, regular physical activity, drugs and sometimes insulin – this is type 2 diabetes and used to be known as “non-­insulin dependent diabetes mellitus”. These people are often in their middle years at time of diagnosis, and are often overweight, and can thus be helped considerably by dieting and regular physical activity.

Back pain is the subjective experience of pain in the cervical, thoracic, lumbar or sacral areas of the spine.  Almost 98% of back pain cases are the result of “unknown” causes.  Only a small proportion (2%) of cases occur as a result of serious pathology, which can include herniated discs, cancer, infection, or other identifiable causes.  Nine out of ten people report at least one episode of back pain in their lives.

Low back pain (LBP), or lumbago, affects 80% of the population and accounts for more sick leave and disability than any other medical condition. In the U.S. lower back pain is the number one reason for individuals younger than 45 to limit physical activity.  It is the second most common complaint in physician’s offices.  Most patients with acute lower back pain recover completely over a few weeks regardless of treatment modality.

A number of approaches used to treat back pain have gained favor and have been recommended with varying degrees of success.  Conventional treatment of back pain typically includes analgesics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), and muscle relaxants.  In chronic cases  narcotics, antidepressants, physical therapy, facet injections and even surgery have been used

Conventional treatment of back pain is, for the most part, a failure.  According to researchers at the Pain Research Center at University of Utah and the Chairman of the American Academy of Pain Medicine “almost everybody” now suffers from chronic pain, including back pain.  Conventional medication, a “mainstay” of treatment, is one of the reasons for this.  Pharmaceuticals actually worsen pain over time.  Use of most of these medicines causes an increase in pain sensitivity, slows down the body’s healing response and leads the well-known tendency to escalate use and eventually abuse these drugs.   It’s no wonder that many people overuse these drugs on a daily basis since pharmaceutical marketing strategies permeate the media with information suggesting that these drugs should be part of a normal daily routine.  Our culture has become dependent upon medications for pain relief.