Creating Waves of Awareness
Homeopathy for Hospice care
Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, says, “The highest ideal of cure is the rapid, gentle and permanent restoration of health; that is, the lifting and annihilation of the disease in its entire extent in the shortest, most reliable, and least disadvantageous way, according to clearly realizable principles.” (Organon, aphorism 2).
Finding the correct remedy entails matching the symptoms of the animal with the symptoms of a remedy. While some animals needing hospice care may find symptom relief on their path towards death, many will move towards the cure Hahnemann outlined above, and may live for many more years.
The following are a few cases who may have been considered hospice who went on to live a much longer life than expected, with the use of homeopathy that will demonstrate what we just covered.
From De Buchaeler: An "old gun dog" appeared a few months prior at a farm, then developed severe heart failure. Sudden lack of energy. Can hardly walk. The heart was very enlarged heart and the EKG demonstrated severe arrhythmias. He gives the impression, sometimes, that death is near.
Dignified, Haughty. Growls/coward. Sings in front of radio, watches TV and pushes on the remote control. At 6AM - wakes them, at noon he goes to the table and calls them. Arrogant. Punishes himself before I can punish him. He wants to be perfect. Crusty growths on eyelids. Clean teeth. Never drinks water. Will not walk in water. Craves sugar. Sleeps on his back. Only will eat his food burning hot.
We have two aspects to this case that are striking - the sudden onset of heart disease with specific physical symptoms and the many unusual mental and emotional symptoms. Some veterinarians would recommend euthanasia at this point because of his age and unknown history. The dog would be considered terminal within 4-6 months.
One approach is to start with drugs to treat the enlarged heart. The treatment plan would be continuous drug therapy with frequent re-evaluations of the arrhythmia and size and function of heart using EKGs, Ultra sound, and/or X-rays. My experience is that the dog would decline in many ways, especially emotionally.
Another approach is to treat this dog with homeopathy. The results with homeopathy can be a complete cure with no more treatment needed, or a continuous treatment of the symptoms (like with drugs) including the mental symptoms, so the dog will usually feel much better emotionally and have more energy to participate in the household. There may be occasional veterinary consults or more frequent ones if the "best" remedy is not found. Usually animals who are successfully treated (few doses or continuing to find different remedies) will die quickly, in their sleep or at home.
Dr. Rouchoase gave homeopathic Aurum 9C every two days. After two doses, the owner reported a complete change. "…no more capriciousness, no more fear of water and excellent physical condition…. One year later he is still fine. In the case of severe heart failure this is quite a remarkable result."
Dr. Jensen comments (1.), "Countless cats have been euthanized in their teens (and even earlier) after that dreaded-and-all-too-common diagnosis of chronic renal failure."
Dr. Chambreau had a cat present at age 16 because two veterinarians had recommended euthanasia because the symptoms of renal disease were severe - vomiting, weight loss, inappetence, poor hair coat, lethargy and a behavior that did not allow sub-cutaneous fluid administration (had to be deeply tranquilized to draw blood). The cat, when I took the case, was very fearful, very chilly, very fastidious and even liked to drink warm tea, so I prescribed Arsenicum album 6c daily. Within a month the cat had returned to normal and went on, with some repetition of the Arsenicum album, to live to 22. She became ill and no remedy seemed to help her and she died within a week.
Dr. Ed Schaeffer saw a cow ready to be killed because of rear paralysis. He gave 10M Phosphorus and the cow lived another 7 years and was the top milker in the herd.
Examples abound at Brighthaven, as most of the cats they adopted at 16 years or older would be in the hospices category. They had many live to 28 and 30, and one to 34. Gail Pope says they rarely have to give any special remedies for the death process. Animals just become quieter, more ethereal, more relaxed, then die within a few days. If any remedies are given it would be the "constitutional" or "chronic" remedy that has helped keep them healthy so far.
Dr. Pitcairn says that most books well grounded in the homeopathic and holistic perspectives do not make a big distinction about hospice care, as we are always committed to finding the best treatment for this animal at a specific time.
Dr. Armstrong speaks of how important it is to look at the needs of both the animal and the family at this time and points out that often guardians will go into a state of grief too early, which decreases their enjoyment of their companion as well as lessening their caretaking ability. There are specific homeopathic remedies for the caretaker, for a person worn out from tending to an animal, for people who cannot sleep for their worries. Flower essences are also excellent for emotional states. Sue Armstrong observes, like I have, that often the pain and discomfort from physical ailments (especially in old age) leads to secondary behavioral changes. Brain deficits can also cause these disconcerting behavioral changes. She and I also agree that most animals who are treated homeopathically have a short crisis then die quickly. "Despite functional organ depletion over time, the animal is often able to maintain a good vitality and state of wellness right up to the day and act of death." This is why "hospice" homeopathy is often just good homeopathy.
Steps and Reference Materials for Successful Prescribing in Hospice Situations
1. Case taking (Knowledge of disease)
2. Remedy selection (Knowledge of medicines & Ability to match the remedy): First, ponder the individual animal - what seem to be the most important aspects of the problem: Is the disease primarily physical, primarily emotional or a combination? Is this animal curable, terminal or you think it is unlikely to be cured? With hospice animals, until you have more experience, assume there is a chance of cure unless they are very close to death. Even when it seems that more than one remedy fits the symptoms of an animal, a good homeopath will choose only one to give at a time, even in hospice situations. Occasionally two remedies need to be alternated if conditions become severe. Treating cancer may follow that approach or one that uses several remedies. Remember to record the rationale for your remedy choice.
3. Posology (Ability to match the animal’s strength): The homeopath then decides on the correct strength and repetition of the chosen remedy, what method of administration is best and chooses the time for re-evaluation depending on the condition. Lower potencies are often chosen because of a lot of physical problems or because of a paucity of symptoms (lower potencies have more chance of helping even if not correct). Experienced practitioners may use high potencies if sure of the prescription. LM potencies are often very useful in hospice care.
4. Evaluation of response (Knowledge of the possible outcomes of treatment): We then wait for the body to react to the remedy, carefully evaluating to see if the remedy is stimulating movement towards a cure, merely palliating or even suppressing current symptoms with worsening overall. The curative goal happens when the susceptibility to illness is eliminated or changed so the animal remains healthy—or becomes healthier. Animals treated successfully with homeopathy usually stay alert, agile, interactive and relatively symptom-free until they have a final illness and die within a short time. This is a goal worth striving for. If an animal has had diabetes for the last 4 years and now is showing signs of senility, you would expect for the signs of senility to resolve quickly with the correct remedy, but the diabetes to takes months to even a year to resolve, if ever.
Materia Medica selected for hospice cases
ACONITE (Monkshood): “fear, fright, fever.” Sue Armstrong lists this as a rite of passing remedy.
ARNICA (Leopard’s bane): Sore, lame, bruised feeling. Mind: fears touch, or the approach of anyone, often because so painful. Restless in bed, can’t find comfortable position. Because many hospice animals have cancer or surgical issues, this may be commonly needed.
ARSENICUM ALBUM (White arsenic): Because of its fear of death, this remedy is often called the "euthanasia" remedy. It does NOT cause death. If given to an animal in a restless, fearful, worse after midnight condition, it re-balances them so they are no longer afraid, or restless, or in pain, so they can go ahead with their process of dying in a smooth, easy way. Gail Pope feels that we may be treating the owner's fear of death of their loved one and noted that she rarely uses Arsenicum. Dr. Pitcairn needed it in 90% of his dying patients and adds that there is often a low temperature and cold body.
BELLADONNA (Deadly nightshade): High fevers and great intensity of physical symptoms. Fever but thirstless. Sudden explosive anger. Bleeding.
BARYTA CARBONICA (Carbonate of Barium): Degenerative changes in any organ. Weak and weary. Senility. Loss of memory. Bashful. Aversion to strangers (often when they used to be sociable). Hungry, but refuses food. Pain when swallowing. Cold feet. Better for open air. Emaciation with normal appetite Baryta carbonicum is a remedy known for use in the very young and very old, so it is often a hospice remedie.
BRYONIA (Wild hops): Movement makes condition worse. Very thirsty for large amounts of water at a time. Joint problems, arthritis. Stiffness worse from motion. They may stand and stare.
CARCINOSIN: Dr. Cindee Gardner suggests it as a final remedy for extreme pain of cancer, often to be alternated with Arsenicum.
CAUSTICUM (Lime/Potassium mix): Involuntary urination or dribbling, weak muscles, warts. Trembling. Old age problems. Paralysis, especially of a single part – bladder paralyzed secondary to being blocked. General weakness. This is a sphincter remedy.
GELSEMIUM (Yellow Jasmine): Dull, droopy, drowsy, achy, chilled. Sick, esp. diarrhea from anticipation. Cats pull hair from back. Diarrhea from anticipation or anxiety. Show animals. Dr. Gardener uses this to help transitions.
HYPERICUM (St. John’s wart): Injuries to nerve rich tissue, esp. hands, feet (fingers or toes crushed, declawing nails, tailbone. Spines that are sensitive to touch (disc problems). Puncture wounds. May be useful for continuing painful reaction from Sub Cutaneous fluids or injections.
IGNATIA (St. Ignatius bean): Grief and ailments from grief, paradoxical symptoms. Hysteria. This may be needed by the people or animals after an animal dies - Dr. Gardener (3.). I find that animals needing it vocalize, yawn, sign, and even seem to weep. Worse from open air and warmth.
PULSATILLA NIGRICANS (Windflower): Weepy, changeable, and clingy when ill. Better for consolation. Often needed near death when animals do not you out of their sight. Dr. Pitcairn says it is needed for whimpering, complaining, wanting to be held. Just before death when breathing is loud and labored (often they are unconscious).
TARENTULA CUBENSES: Dr. Pitcairn says it is good when dying from a severe infection. Very weak, may not be conscious. Overwhelming infection or blood poisoning or gangrene. Often needed in cancer. "Soothes the last struggles." I have never used it.
TARENTULA HISPANICA: Dr. Pitcairn says it is similar to Arsenicum. They roll back and forth, from side to side. Nervous like movements of the right front and rear legs. Constantly move. Better from soothing music. May give if Ars does not help.
A brief therapeutic materia medica is in my expanded notes.
The annual hospice conference at Davis CA sells CDs of the speakers where Dr Chambreau spoke in 2009. www.pethospice.org
See past shows with Dr Christina Chambreau