The moth don’t care if the flame is real
‘Cause flame and moth got a sweetheart deal
And nothing fuels a good flirtation
Like need and anger and desperation
— Aimee Mann, The Moth Lyrics
Last time, we asked if Arnica could treat conditions other than injury. Does it make sense to you to ask it like this “Are there other conditions in which this soreness of muscles and soft tissues can be the primary form of suffering?” Yes, there are such states that are not the result of injury. As an example, Arnica is one of the outstanding remedies for flu. We know there are many ways one can be sick with flu — perhaps vomiting and diarrhea, or fever and chills, but many people will complain early on of muscle soreness and aching. If this is the chief way the flu has developed itself then Arnica is the remedy that will address it and bring recovery about very quickly.
We can be sure that animals will have this feeling as well, but it is difficult to determine that because they can’t tell us in words this is what they are feeling. So, in practice, the veterinary homeopathic practitioner will be looking for other indications that suggest Arnica, and there is real giveaway for Arnica that helps you recognize it. The person or animal in an Arnica state (with internal soreness as described above) does not want to be approached or touched. The doctor will attempt to examine the patient but they vigorously refuse that. Underlying this is the fear that touching the affected area will make it worse. “Well”, you say, “isn’t that normal? Who would want a painful area touched?” Good point, but in practice you will see quite a variation. With some injuries it feels good to rub it or massage it, in other cases the desire to be comforted or held overcomes any concern about the injury itself being touched. With Arnica, however, the fear of approach is strongly demonstrated and this often gives the practitioner the clue as to the need for that remedy.
Here is an description of this aversion to approach described by one of the important historical figures of homeopathic medicine, Dr. James Kent. He is discussing use of Arnica in treatment of gout. If you don’t know, gout is a very painful inflammation of some of the (usually) foot joints, with great swelling of the part affected. Kent puts it like this:
“It is quite a common thing for old cases of gout to rouse up into a new soreness of joints, with great sensitiveness. You will see the old grand-father sit off in a corner of the room, and if he sees little Johnnie running towards him, he will say, ‘Oh, do keep away, keep away.’ Give him a dose of Arnica and be will let Johnnie run all over him. He does not want to be touched or approached; he feels that anything that is coming towards him is going to hurt him. He is extremely sensitive, his joints are sore and tender and he is afraid they will be hurt.”
[From Kent’s Lectures on Materia Medica, 1905.]
As we think about it, we can see that a painful feeling of soreness is actually a quite common symptom in many infectious diseases. This next is a description of the typical state of a person sick with Typhoid Fever that will respond curatively to treatment with Arnica. Typhoid Fever is a condition very much like Parvovirus so, if you like, you can read it as a Parvo case:
“The type of typhoid fever, calling for Arnica exhibits a larger view of this drug’s general characteristics. Gradually increasing prostration; mental dullness; weariness as after a long journey; seems as if in thought, yet thinks nothing; wants to lie down and be let alone. In bed he is constantly shifting to find a soft spot on account of the sore bruised feeling of the surface of the body. The dazed state of mind gradually merges into low muttering delirium and stupor.”
Then follows description of the mental condition, with dullness and inability to speak properly; of how the teeth become covered with a coating (because of not swallowing and using the mouth); and the appearance of little dark (greenish) hemorrhages on the skin.
As the condition goes on:
“Later he picks at the bed clothes, grasps at imaginary objects in the air, or lies perfectly motionless, with the exception of an occasional attempt, even in his stupor, to shift into a comfortable position, to find a softer place in the bed. Finally, the jaw drops, the sphincters relax, the respiration becomes loud and blowing and complete unconsciousness ends in death.”
[From Harvey Farrington MD, Homeopathy and Homeopathic Prescribing: A Study Course for the Graduate Physician, 1955.]
Much of this we could see in an animal — the fever, the developing weakness (prostration), the sluggish, sleepy state (stupor), the making feeble sounds (the muttering). The frequent and persistent attempt to shift positions will be seen, as well as the final paralysis of the lower jaw, loud breathing, leakage or urine and stool (relaxation of the sphincters) and finally death.
Do you get a sense of how the veterinarian can recognize this remedy in an animal? However, this still does not exhaust the range of Arnica. Next time, let’s continue to investigate what other clinical conditions it can be used for.