Our friend Arnica Montana is making another appearance. There is no other remedy that is quite as useful after surgery as Arnica. From plastic surgery, grafts, organ removals, almost any kind of procedure that has created a wound will benefit from Arnica. Please note however, that you should only take Arnica after a procedure, not before, and of course, always check with your doctor!
Arnica is very versatile because of its key symptom: feeling as if beaten. That is why it is good for the symptoms of muscle soreness (which often feels like you have been beaten), and bruises (which often occur after you have had some kind of physical trauma, like being beaten).
Arnica is unique in how well it has been studied, especially in the plastic surgery area! Here are a few studies on its effectiveness:
Chaiet & Marcus Ann Plast Surg. 2016. Arnica reduces the size and intensity of bruises after rhinoplasty (i.e. nose-jobs). If you are statistics geek, P=0.097 on day 7 for the size, and P=0.074 on day 9/10 for the intensity.
Sorrentino et al. J Intercult Ethnopharmacol. 2017 Jan 3;6(1):1-8. doi: 10.5455/jice.20161229055245: In women receiving a mastecomy, Arnica reduced blood loss, helped maintain weight post-surgically and reduced drainage. P=0.11, 0.03, 0.0223 respectively.
Lee, Yoon & Hwang. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2017 Jul;274(7):2685-2694. doi: 10.1007/s00405-017-4535-6.: Meta Analysis of studies "where the outcomes of interest were edema, ecchymosis, and satisfaction rate of patients on postoperative days". "Edema and ecchymosis during the first 7 days postoperatively were statistically decreased in the arnicaadministration groups versus the control group".
"Certain remedies such as Sepia, Pulsatilla nigricans, Platina, Cimicifuga, Lilium tigrinum, Sabina and Secale appear to have a focus on female related symptoms. We see statements declaring 'this is a women's remedy...." (The fairer sex)
It's a shame but it's true. The other day I heard a practitioner call Sepia the "lesbian remedy". Not only do I find that insulting to homosexual women (Isn't that insinuating homosexuality is a pathological process?), but it's also completely inaccurate. "Sepia...has a thorough proving with no special emphasis on the female reproduction system but rather on the bowels and skin. Yet Sepia is portrayed as the 'washerman's remedy' in Allen's Keynotes, which was copied by Clarke...Later authors continued picturing Sepia as a woman".
The sexism prevalent in homeopathic literature is an example of one of the areas where bias creeps into practice. Understanding these areas of bias on the part of the prescriber or on the part of the homeopathic sources is critical in order to prevent mis-prescribing due to preconceived notions of the medicines or of the patient.
Prescribing based on Kingdoms is too close for comfort to the doctrine of signatures.
Doctrine of signatures is an idea that a remedy source will tell you what diseases it can treat. For example, a plant that has yellow flowers will treat liver issues. This kind of thinking is common in folk medicines, and especially in Christian and Muslim traditions; in traditionally Muslim or Christian nations, folk healers believed Allah/God deliberately made plants look like the parts of the body the plant could heal.
This idea has often proved useful in folk medicine, however it has no place in homeopathy. Homeopathy, as stated before, is matching a proving symptom to the symptom of the patient. Where the remedy is derived from has no implications for its prescription. Prescribing based on which kingdom the remedy comes from or where the remedy comes from in the periodic table directly implies that a remedy's source can tell us its use. For example: a mineral is structured, therefore the person who needs a remedy prepared from a mineral will have structural issues. This is a vast generalization, and there are many exceptions to such generalizations:
Phosphorus, a remedy made from the mineral phosphorus, produces symptoms of incredible sensitivity and hypersexuality, but sensitivity is associated with plants and hypersexuality is associated with animals. Hyoscyamus niger (a plant) produces some of the most intense sexual mania seen in the materia medica. However hypersexuality is, again, supposedly, a symptom associated with the "animal" symptom. The classic example of a "split in two" personality (a symptom associated with animals) is Anacardium orientale, another plant remedy. Even generalizing based on plant families can lead us astray. The solanaceae family includes the highly poisonous Datura stramonium, Atropa belladonna, (both lethal in small doses) but also potatoes, eggplants and tomatoes. Attempting to generalize based on remedy source will filter the remedies into artificial categories that can easily confuse a remedy prescription.
Hahnemann in Essay on a New Principle (Hahnemann's Lesser Writings, page 249) explains that we cannot generalize based on the remedy's origins (although such connections can be useful in memorizing), but rather we must pay attention to the proving symptoms in determining prescriptions.
Generalizing in this way is detrimental in another way: it's a generalization. My interpretation of the people I meet in the field of alternative health, and homeopathy especially, is that they want a repose from the de-humanizing categorizations and disease labels given to patients by the conventional medical profession. One of the virtues of homeopathy, supposedly, is that it is the only system of medicine that does not categorize people but keeps them as true individuals. This is different from Ayurveda and TCM, which also put people into the categories of "spleen qi deficient" or "vata". If homeopathy puts its patients into these kingdom and miasm boxes, are we not doing exactly the same thing?
Additionally, the definition of homeopathy matching patient symptoms (this does not include normal attributes of your personality) with the symptoms that arose from a proving. Note that in this process, there is no theorizing about the patient nor about the remedy; the process is a simple matching of one set of facts to another set of facts. If we match patient attributes to kingdom traits, we are in fact not practicing homeopathy.
In Anshutz's New Remedies you can find the original proving of Chionanthus virginica. For those new to homeopathic language, a proving is when a healthy person takes a dose of a medicine in order to understand the effects that medicine has on the body. Every remedy should be tested in this way before being given to patients. Many provings were done during Hahnemann's time (mid nineteenth century) and the original results have been lost; we only have access to secondary sources: compilations of of the original results with the intent to allow homeopaths to prescribe remedies based on the data.
Recently I went through the original proving of Chionanthus viriginica and I encourage others to do the same. The exercise raised more questions than it answered. How do you decide on time modalities? If someone wakes at 4am, is the symptom: worse at 4am OR is it because the prover took the tincture three hours previously? How many of the symptoms in this one proving characteristic (common and consistent) and how many are specific to this individual prover?
Our materia medica was put into perspective for me; it's a compilation of symptoms that are not as concrete and discreet as they seem. Additionally it became apparent that symptoms can only become concrete and discreet after many provings have been done.