The recent spotlight on head injuries in the NFL and other professional sports serves to highlight a serious deficiency in the conventional medical approach to head trauma. It is a deficiency that could be effectively remedied by homeopathic medicine, which offers a number of viable options for treating brain trauma. It is incumbent upon the medical profession to educate itself about the homeopathic option in order to make it available to both those who sustain acute head injuries and also those who suffer from the chronic effects of head trauma.
The general public is becoming more aware of the dangers of head injuries and the long-term consequences of repetitive head trauma. While professional sports get most of the attention, the highly competitive nature of American youth sports is increasingly placing our children in harm's way, often at very young ages. The Center for Disease Control estimates that there are 300,000 sports-related traumatic brain injuries in the U.S each year. It boggles the mind when you consider that this number doesn't even take into account motor vehicle accidents or military-related trauma.
It is generally understood that there is no truly effective conventional medical treatment for mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), also known as concussion. This lack of therapeutic options for concussion leaves the medical profession with nothing left to do but emphasize prevention on the one hand, and diagnosis after head injuries have occurred on the other. Diagnosis involves history taking, physical exam and brain imaging technologies like MRIs and CT scans.
Conventional treatment, however, is limited to rest, symptomatic relief such as analgesics for headache, and continued observation afterwards to ensure that the condition of the patient does not deteriorate. In most cases of concussion there is no overt organic pathology. Unless a head injury involves detectable physical damage to the skull or brain, in which case surgical intervention may be indicated, there is little else that standard medicine has to offer.
Any homeopathic practitioner, on the other hand, knows that there are very effective treatments for both the immediate aftermath and longer-term consequences of head trauma. The lack of awareness of this therapeutic option for head injuries is largely due to the medical establishment's obstinate refusal to take homeopathy seriously. Such medical ignorance, which really borders on negligence, is based almost purely on ideological grounds.
The medical profession decided long ago, for purely prejudicial reasons, that homeopathy just can't possibly work. Since the results repeatedly observed by homeopathic practitioners and their patients cannot be explained in conventional scientific terms, medicine dismissed the phenomenon without further consideration. It is the same reason why acupuncture is not taken seriously, because science can't detect the energy meridians that the Chinese have known about for thousands of years.
Undeterred by the unscientific nature of scientific bias, thousands of practitioners have successfully used homeopathy to treat millions of patients over the past two hundred years. I have personally had a great deal of success in the treatment of the acute and chronic effects of head injury many times in my own medical practice.
Clinical experience indicates that homeopathic medicines are quite effective in all stages of concussion and post-concussion syndromes. The homeopathic medicine, Arnica montana, is well known for its rapid and powerful healing capacity in many cases of physical trauma. Some surgeons prescribe it for their patients post-operatively and some European sports teams use it routinely when athletes are injured. Arnica can minimize, stop, and reverse bleeding, swelling, and the effects of blunt trauma and can be of benefit even for internal injuries as is often the case with concussions.
Given that there is no other comparable treatment option, it is my medical opinion that homeopathy should be used as the first line of defense in all head injury cases. Arnica should be stocked in all emergency departments, doctors' clinics, military facilities, schools, workplaces, home medicine cabinets and first aid kits. Since side effects are virtually non-existent, any responsible adult can use Arnica safely and effectively. There are many resources available to help educate the public in the proper use of homeopathic medicines in first-aid situations.
Although Arnica can be used without hesitation within seconds or minutes after a head injury, it is not the only homeopathic medicine suited for such situations. Other homeopathic medicines, however, require greater knowledge and experience to use and should therefore be taken under the supervision of a professional. The use of these other medicines often comes into play in later stages—days, weeks, months, or even years after an injury has occurred—and depend upon a careful evaluation of the symptom picture of the injured person.
The following are some examples of the symptom patterns that can emerge after concussion and the homeopathic medicines indicated for their treatment:
1. Hypericum perforatum is a homeopathic medicine that is particularly valuable in trauma of the nervous system, which often occurs in head, neck or spine injuries. Post-concussive complaints like stiff neck, whiplash, and pinched nerves may respond well to this medicine. Numbness, tingling, burning, and neuralgic pains that shoot along the course of nerves are indications for Hypericum, especially when these symptoms develop subsequent to a head or spine injury.
2. Helleborus niger is a homeopathic medicine that can be very helpful in the event of psychomotor slowing after head injury. Individuals who need this remedy exhibit a markedly noticeable delay in their thinking and ability to respond to questions. They tend to have a blank facial expression and may lack the normal range of emotional responses. They have a great deal of trouble thinking, concentrating, and remembering things. Their slow passive demeanor can resemble a type of apathetic depression. These patients may also complain of chronic headaches. A few doses of Helleborus can help restore normal brain function in these individuals.
3. Natrum sulphuricum may be the indicated homeopathic medicine if a head injury or concussion is followed by depression in the ensuing weeks or months, especially when the depression involves suicidal ideation. Natrum sulphuricum can also be helpful in cases of asthma that develop after a head injury, particularly if the asthma is triggered early in the mornings or by damp conditions or humid weather. It may also be useful in chronic headaches following a concussion.
With proper medical supervision even post-concussive seizure disorders and paralytic symptoms may respond favorably to expert homeopathic care, especially if care is initiated soon after an injury takes place. These few examples are provided just to illustrate some homeopathic medicines and their profiles and do not represent an exhaustive discussion of all available homeopathic options.
It must be emphasized that homeopathic care should not replace common sense and standard medical care in the event of a serious injury. If I suspected that my child had sustained a concussion, I would administer Arnica immediately and proceed to the nearest emergency facility. An enlightened green medical system employs the best of all medical options, both conventional and alternative.
It is time for the medical profession to step up to the plate to acknowledge its limitations. The health and well-being of too many people hang in the balance. To deprive so many of safe and effective care for head injuries and their sequelae out of ideological prejudice reflects poorly upon a medical system that claims to be so advanced. The technological prowess of conventional medicine must ultimately be balanced with humility and a willingness to be receptive to alternative modalities like homeopathy. Although homeopathy may not be able to be explained to the satisfaction of medical science it, nevertheless, has a great deal to offer its patients.
Chapman, E, Weintraub, R, Milburn, M, et al., Homeopathic Treatment of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: A Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Trial, Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 14,6, Dec, 1999, 521-542.
Larry Malerba, DO, Homeopathic Arnica to the Rescue, Huffington Post, November 2011.
JoAnn Jarvis, RN, DHM, Brain Jolt: A Life Renewed After Traumatic Brain Injury, 2008.
Larry Malerba, DO, DHt is a classical homeopath, osteopathic physician, and educator whose mission is to build bridges between holistic healing, conventional medicine, and spirituality. He is the author of Green Medicine and Metaphysics & Medicine. His new book, Dynamic Medicine: The World According to Homeopathy, will be released in fall of 2016. Dr. Malerba is board certified in Homeotherapeutics and is past president of the Homeopathic Medical Society of the State of New York. You can follow "DocMalerba" on Facebook and Twitter.