Homeopathy: Redefining Your “Comfort Zone”

Last year my son developed an acute illness which eventually became chronic and just wouldn’t go away despite trying several different remedies. In the previous three years since beginning homeopathy, the kids rarely required a doctor visit other than an annual checkup. But my son continued to have a fever and his cough just wouldn’t quit. One morning he woke up coughing so hard, he threw up mucus and a small bit of blood. His fever was 103. I called my husband and said, “I’m way past my comfort zone, we need to take him to urgent care.”

The doctor listened to his lungs, looked in his ears, and gave him a very thorough exam. Diagnosis: a no name virus not requiring antibiotics. I was both relieved and disappointed. Of course, I was relieved because my son’s condition wasn’t serious and also because I dread antibiotics given our history of chronic systemic yeast and spectrum issues. On the other hand, I was disappointed but not because I wanted antibiotics to eliminate my son’s health issue. I was disappointed in myself for reverting to allopathic medicine when the going got tough.

At the time I rationalized my son was seriously ill and for whatever reason I thought allopathic medicine was most necessary in the face of serious illness. I must preface this by saying even today if my children are very ill and not recovering the way they should, I will still take them in for a doctor visit. I may not ever fill the script if one is prescribed but I think maintaining my child’s health is far and away more important than maintaining my ego as a homeopath.

But as time went on, I began to realize, perhaps when things become more serious is precisely the time I should be running to homeopathy, not allopathy. History has shown us in serious epidemics such as the 1918 flu pandemic, homeopathy saved more patients than allopathy. In fact, the mortality rate for homeopathic patients was 1% while the rate for conventional medicine patients was over 30%. This realization simply meant I had to re-examine what exactly my “comfort zone” was and why when pushed past it I thought allopathy was the better choice.

I was given this opportunity later in the year when my oldest daughter developed a critical illness called Henoch Schonlein Purpura (HSP), possibly as a latent consequence of vaccine reaction. Starting as just a rash on her lower legs, she eventually became covered in bruises, was bleeding internally from the kidneys and intestines, and paralyzed from the neck down. We rushed her to the hospital when it became clear something was seriously wrong with her. In fact, she made 5 visits to the ER that week for IV fluids. Unfortunately, (or perhaps fortunately) allopathic medicine offers no treatment for HSP. Steroids and chemotherapy are their best offerings and neither result in a quick or permanent cure. In many studies, steroids provided absolutely no benefit but doctors continue to prescribe them.

The kidney specialist we saw told us it would take one to two years for the steroids to stop her kidneys from losing protein and bleeding. We were told without a biopsy and immediate steroids, my daughter’s kidneys would be permanently damaged. I’m not sure how a year or two of steroids would somehow prevent this if the need for treatment was so urgent. However, I do know the right homeopathic remedy stopped the protein within 3 days. She quickly regained her health and has never been better.

The list of side effects for steroids is a mile long. The specialist guaranteed my daughter would experience weight gain, fatigue, a swollen face, stomach pain, nausea, lowered resistance to infections, and mood swings. She spoke for 5 minutes about the various side effects, some of which can be permanent. Worst of all, there was no guarantee the steroids would even work.

Along with unpleasant and perhaps long lasting side effects, allopathic medicine can often make us sicker. Recent studies indicate acetaminophen can deplete glutathione levels decreasing immunity and the body’s ability to detoxify. Depleted glutathione levels have also been implicated in autistic spectrum disorder. Accidental acetaminophen overdose has been identified as the number one cause of acute liver failure in the United States. Ibuprofen has also been cited as creating serious adverse reactions in children who are mildly dehydrated, and can cause two rare but serious disorders.

While many studies show the use of these two over-the-counter medicines as mostly safe, the very act of using them to suppress the illness or fever can have consequences. A series of studies show using acetaminophen during the flu can prolong the illness by up to 3.5 days. And giving these medicines to children to treat a fever, robs the body of its natural defense to fight off the illness at hand.

Usually, allopathic medicines don’t cure illness. They simply suppress symptoms. Antibiotics, steroids, even acetaminophen and ibuprofen can drive an illness deeper so eventually a more serious issue may develop. A prime example of this is children who develop asthma after using corticosteroid crèmes to treat eczema. Instead of using the skin to express dis-ease in the body, the lungs now become the target of this expression. Most of us were never taught the symptoms are not the illness itself, but manifest as the way our bodies attempt to restore health.

Some medicines can even create the need for more medication. This is often seen in the elderly who are put on one medication after the other when each new medication brings new side effects (symptoms). Thus each new “symptom” results in a new medication until they are on 5 or more different medications. In 2005, senior citizens averaged over 27 prescriptions annually!

This is not to say allopathic medicine does no good or there isn’t a need for certain medications. For many people, allopathic medicine is a true lifesaver. But for many others, it creates the ill health it endeavors to appease. I turned away from allopathic medicine for these very reasons. It failed me and it failed my children who experienced severe and long lasting ill effects as a result of their routine infant vaccinations.

As a homeopath, it is very frustrating that it is all too easy to turn away from homeopathy in times of illness and put our trust and faith back in allopathic medicine. As a parent, I completely understand this response and would never criticize another parent for choosing what they think is the best care for their child. In fact, I encourage parents to see a doctor to ensure their child is receiving timely care. Overtime though, my own “comfort zone” has shifted and I now believe homeopathy is the right choice for my children even in times of serious illness, actually, especially in times of serious illness.

The problem is all the moms and dads out there don’t have access to a skilled homeopath for acute treatment. What do they do? Homeopathy takes years of training and acutes are often especially difficult as so many remedies begin to look the same as we search through books with bleary eyes and a spouse in the background yelling at us to just give the kid some ibuprofen or the antibiotic so everyone can get some sleep. For some parents, the ideal situation is to treat our kids the easiest, fastest method possible and then use homeopathy to clean up the fallout. In times of serious illnesses, as a parent, it doesn’t matter what kind of medicine makes our children better, it only matters that it does. But are we trading the quick fix for more serious chronic illness?

At what point will homeopathy not be able to address the suppression of allopathic meds? Many of the chronic illnesses experienced today are a result of suppressed symptoms/illness. Continued suppression makes the homeopathic case that much more complicated and difficult to cure. Additionally, we are already seeing antibiotics fail and more and more virulent illnesses which don’t respond to any allopathic treatment.

Thankfully, homeopathy can frequently treat that which allopathic medicine cannot. Many come to homeopathy as a last resort because all else has failed. This has made many a believer in homeopathy.

Perhaps it is wishful thinking for me to hope some day homeopathy will be the medicine of first choice, not a treatment of last resort.

Erica McPhee

Autism Spectrum Disorder Warning Signs Checklist

One of the things parents frequently ask me is if there is a way to detect spectrum issues early on. We saw symptoms in my son which suggested problems from as early as 4 months old. It is now clear babies show symptoms which can be early warning signs for autism. In and of themselves, these symptoms are sometimes just that – a single incident or issue with no further indications. However, historically, it is easy to see several symptoms children on the spectrum had in common during infancy and early childhood.

Any one symptom is usually not of concern but a combination of symptoms, repeated frequently, can be an early warning sign. What is considered “normal” is extremely varied. These are general guidelines to consider as your child develops. In and of themselves, many of these characteristics or traits are part of normal development.

The warning signs build by developmental stages but can appear at any age. Please note this is solely a suggestive list – it is not to be construed as medical or expert advice. If your child exhibits several warning signs, please talk to your pediatrician or a child development expert specializing in autistic spectrum disorder.

If your child shows several warning signs or does not have mostly checked boxes under the blue headings (things your baby should be doing), do not let your doctor put you off. The earlier your child receives intervention, the better the outcome.

Age: 2 Months

Things your baby should be doing:

  • Follows you with his/her eyes
  • Startles at loud noises
  • Gains weight appropriately

Warning signs:

  • Rashes all over or persistent yeast rash
  • Reflux (lengthy crying spells, frequent spitting up, choking while feeding, aspirating)
  • Excessive gas
  • Begins chronic constipation or (explosive) diarrhea after vaccinations

Age: 4 Months

Things your baby should be doing:

  • Smiling back at you when you laugh or smile
  • Making babbling sounds
  • Interested in looking at your face
  • Gaining weight appropriately
  • Typically can roll over
  • No apparent weakness on either side
  • Head is straight – not always tilted to one side
  • Eyes should now be straight
  • Having regular bowel movements

Warning signs:

  • Staring without following you or an object
  • No change in facial expression Limited eye contact
  • Stops babbling after a period of babbling sounds
  • Food intolerances
  • Preoccupation with spinning objects (fans, wheels, etc.)
  • Begins repeat ear infections or chronic illnesses
  • Develops asthma or frequent upper respiratory infections
  • Frequent “colic” or extensive crying
  • Unusually “easy” baby, never fussing, never crying
  • Shows reaction to any vaccinations

Age 6 Months

Things your baby should be doing:

  • Sit with assistance for a short time
  • Interested in activity of others around them
  • Beginning to show interest in food
  • Cooing and or babbling
  • Rolling over
  • Supporting weight on both legs with help
  • Waking only once per night if at all
  • Napping twice per day on a regular schedule

Warning signs:

  • No verbal sounds
  • Does not roll from side to side
  • If sitting and falls over, does not reach out with arms to catch her/himself
  • Has crossed eyes or other visual disturbance
  • Cries frequently for no reason

9 Months

Things your baby should be doing:

  • Showing interest in food
  • Crawling
  • Able to sit unassisted
  • Beginning to gesture or point
  • Express whether happy or sad by smiling or crying appropriately
  • Sleeping through most nights on a regular basis
  • Beginning to show signs of separation anxiety

Warning signs:

  • Headbanging on walls or floors or headbutting people
  • High tolerance to pain
  • Extreme sensitivity
  • Pushing head on carpet or along the wall
  • Wounded soldier crawl
  • Obsessed with a single toy or item (i.e. telephone, remote control) in place of toys
  • Not much interested in toys
  • Low muscle tone (hypotonia) or extreme (hyper-) flexibility
  • Hypertonia – extremely tense, rigid muscles
  • Not babbling with “baba,” “dada” sounds
  • Does not smile or laugh interactively
  • Appears to have hearing impairment
  • Frequent night waking
  • Chronic resistance to naps
  • Unconcerned with mother’s or father’s presence or lack there of
  • Chronically congested or chronic upper respiratory infections or ear infections

12 Months

Things your baby should be doing:

  • Able to understand most of what is said to him/her
  • Starting to stand unassisted, some even walking
  • Saying at least one word
  • Looking at your eyes when you speak to him/her
  • Able to understand yes and no
  • Pointing to objects
  • Making desires known
  • Beginning to eat or regularly eating solid foods
  • Waving hi and bye
  • Play peek-a-boo or patty-cake

Warning signs:

  • Obviously large head size in comparison to body
  • Does not point or otherwise gesture for objects
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Does not notice other children or siblings
  • Difficulty with transitions and/or new things
  • Excessive tantrums or aggressive behaviors
  • Unhealthy attachments to inanimate objects
  • Shows no interest in table food
  • Frequently gags, chokes, or shows sensory issues to texture
  • Easily and/or excessively irritated by tags on clothing or socks and shoes
  • Does not brace him/herself when falling
  • Afraid of the bathtub or water
  • Head seems excessively large

18 Months

Things your baby should be doing:

  • Walking steadily unassisted
  • Eating a varied diet of table food
  • Saying at least five or more recognizable words consistently
  • Understanding what you are saying
  • Making good eye contact
  • Laughing and smiling interactively
  • Playing with toys
  • Beginning to pretend play
  • Climbing over furniture, obstacles, etc., climbing up on things

Warning signs:

  • Frequently spinning in circles
  • Frequently walking on tiptoes
  • Licking the air or objects
  • Frequent self-stimulatory (stimming* or stim) behavior.
  • Looks at things out of the corners of the eyes
  • Frequent uncontrollable and/or violent tantrums
  • Pinching, hitting, biting, or scratching repeatedly and/or frequently
  • Slamming (crashing) into furniture or people
  • Extremely sensitive
  • Extreme difficulty with transitions
  • Unusually long attention span (like for movies or TV)
  • Does not respond to name after repeated efforts
  • Fixated on television, computer, or other objects such as telephone or remote control
  • Self selected diet to gluten and casein or single foods
  • Consistently red ears and/or red cheeks
  • Afraid of loud noises
  • Covers ears
  • Does not allow you to brush his/her teeth
  • Fights having nails clipped
  • Easy gag reflex
  • Plays with same toy repetitively for extended amounts of time
  • Does not acknowledge other people or children
  • Refuses to get into car seat, arches back, tantrums
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Excessive fascination and/or obsession with dinosaurs or trains (particularly Thomas the Tank engine)
  • Frequent sighing
  • Does not like fingers or toes touched
  • Delayed dentition (teeth)

24 Months
Things your baby should be doing:

  • Using at least 50+ words
  • Putting 2 – 3 words together
  • Interacting with other children
  • Eating a varied diet
  • Doing pretend play with sounds
  • Beginning to show interest in toilet training

Warning signs:

  • Limited diet of mac&cheese, chicken nuggets, and other wheat and dairy products
  • Echolalia – repeating words back sometimes seeming like they are answering you and then upset if it is not what they want (ex. You ask, “Do you want to go outside?” Child says, “Go outside.” You think this means they want to go outside so you take them outside. Toddler says, “No.” or has tantrum because s/he was not really answering but was repeating back what you said.
  • Scripting – repeating movie or TV lines – even in context
  • Obsessive compulsive behaviors – hand washing, checking things, shuffling feet, rituals
  • Underweight or height for age group (only in conjuction with other signs)
  • Insists on sameness or resistant to change
  • Difficulty expressing wants or needs
  • Repeats words or phrases
  • Excessive anxiety or irritable behaviors
  • Aloof
  • Overwhelmed in noisy, bright environments (like Jokers)
  • Frequently covers ears
  • Averse to singing or being sung to
  • Excessive laughing for no apparent reason
  • Excessive fear of strangers or relatives or
  • No fear of strangers
  • Chronic constipation or diarrhea
  • Continued resistance to toilet training
  • Feces smearing
  • Intolerance to clothing or removes clothing frequently
  • Hyper-sexual – excessive masturbation
  • Makes frequent loud noises or shrills and chirps
  • Wringing of hands or rocking behavior
  • Arm flapping
  • Maintains tilted head
  • Cannot jump
  • Cannot follow directions
  • Cannot express wants
  • Appears to be deaf at times
  • Hyperactive or inattentive
  • Oppositional and/or defiant (more so than usual for toddlers)
  • Lost words s/he used to say
  • Does not use inflection – monotone
  • Prefers to play alone
  • Does not play with toys
  • Does not smile back when smiled at
  • Does not like to cuddle or be touched
  • Does not like to have fingers, ears, or toes touched
  • Extreme independence
  • No regard for consequence (not upset by reprimand)
  • Precocious – developing or learning way ahead of peers with other warning signs
  • Showing signs of genius coupled with other warning signs
  • Unusual obsession with certain objects, subjects, or routines (ex. Must hold certain object at all times.)
  • In older children – trouble interpreting sarcasm – very literal
  • Delayed dexterity (uncoordinated, fine motor skills)
  • Apraxia – inability to make purposeful movements
  • Development of Tourette’s syndrome (facial and other tics, spontaneous noises)

*Stimming or stims are behaviors engaged in to self-sooth. They can be anything such as headbanging, spinning, rolling eyes, looking at things from the corners of the eyes, flapping arms, making noises, lining things up, shuffling feet, tapping, etc.