You are here

Beyond Flat Earth Medicine - The pinkeye problem

Calm conjuctivitis quickly

Back-to-school
means many things to many people. To nostalgic adults it might mean autumn leaves,
crisp apples, and football games. To kids it means a new teacher, new classes,
and maybe even a new school. To parents it means school clothes and book purchases,
daily commutes, and, unfortunately, sick kids.
     Perhaps it is just the changing weather or the
close social contact in confined spaces. Perhaps it's the stress of new challenges.
Maybe it's all of the above. But whatever the reason, kids tend to get sick in
the fall.
     One problem that can occur at this time of year
is conjunctivitis. This is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin membrane
that covers the exterior of the white part of the eyeball and curves around under
the eyelids. Contagious conjunctivitis is sometimes referred to as pinkeye, because
of the color of the inflamed eye.

Common causes
Conjunctivitis can have many causes: allergies, chemical irritation, bacterial
infections, and viral infections. Most of the time, the contagious pinkeye contracted
at school is caused by a virus; it's really just a "cold" in the eye. Based on
symptoms alone, however, it is sometimes hard to distinguish between these various
causes. I have successfully treated patients with allergic, bacterial, and viral
conjunctivitis using only homeopathy. Those with chemical irritation need to
have the chemical removed from the eyes.
     In my experience, a common cause of chemical irritation
is the excessive use of eye drops, which have often been prescribed by a doctor
for irritated eyes. When these patients stop using their eye drops (which they
usually have been using for some time), I have seen their conjunctivitis disappear.

Six remedies for sore eyes
Following are some of the common homeopathic remedies for patients with viral,
bacterial, or allergic conjunctivitis. They are easily found in homeopathic self-care
kits and in stores that carry homeopathic remedies.
     Euphrasia. This is the homeopathic preparation
of the herb "eye-bright." As this herbal name implies, Euphrasia has been shown
to have a special affinity for the eye and for conjunctivitis in particular.
Those needing this remedy generally have very watery eyes. The classic description
of Euphrasia symptoms—that the tears will be acrid and the discharge from
the nose will be bland—applies to patients with colds. Those with simple
conjunctivitis may or may not have accompanying symptoms such as nasal discharge,
a cough, cold, etc. Euphrasia is a common remedy for patients with conjunctivitis
who have profuse, often acrid, tears. This is true whether the underlying cause
is viral, bacterial, or allergic.
     Pulsatilla. This remedy is also commonly
used for patients with conjunctivitis who have very watery eyes. But with Pulsatilla,
the discharge is bland and may be thick or yellow. The eyelids are often stuck
together. The common symptoms of Pulsatilla are generally found in patients needing
this remedy: they feel better in the open air; they have a mild, tearful temperament
or feel "needy" (although sometimes these patients may be irritable); and they
are generally lacking in thirst.
     Aconite. In patients needing this remedy,
the eyes are often dry and hot, though they can also be watery. The eyes may
feel as if there is sand in them. Aconite is a common remedy for those with inflammation
from excessive exposure, such as from snow or welding. General symptoms of Aconite
include sudden onset of complaints (especially after exposure to cold, dry wind),
intensity of symptoms, fear, anxiety, and restlessness.
     Argentum nitricum. This is the homeopathic
preparation of silver nitrate. Interestingly enough, silver nitrate used to be
applied in large chemical doses (as opposed to the safe homeopathic preparations)
to the eyes of babies at birth to prevent eye infections caused by gonorrhea.
Now an antibiotic ointment is used instead (though parents with no risk for gonorrhea
can refuse this treatment for their baby). Argentum nitricum's main homeopathic
indication in those with conjunctivitis is a profuse, purulent (pus-like) discharge.
The lids are often thick and swollen. Those needing this remedy often feel worse
in a warm room (like Pulsatilla patients). There may be a splinter-like pain
or an aching soreness. Patients needing this remedy are often nervous and impulsive,
and they crave sweets.
     Hepar sulphuris. Patients needing this remedy
can appear quite a bit like those needing Argentum nitricum. That is, they can
have conjunctivitis with profuse, purulent discharge. The discharge is often
yellow, and there can be splinter-like pains. So how do you distinguish between
these two remedies? Often it is a consideration of the patient's general symptoms
that will help make the decision. Patients needing Argentum nitricum are usually
hot; those needing Hepar sulph are usually chilly. Argentum nitricum patients
are typically nervous and anxious, while those needing Hepar sulph are irritable
and angry. Argentum nitricum patients typically crave sweets, while those needing
Hepar sulph prefer sour things (such as vinegar and pickles).
     Apis mellifica. This is a homeopathic remedy
made from the honeybee, and those suffering with conjunctivitis who need this
remedy will have puffy, red, swollen conjunctiva or eyelids that burn and sting
(not unlike after a bee-sting). The patient is usually sensitive to light and
may have sudden, sharp pains. The patient will prefer cold applications and is
typically thirstless.
     There are many other homeopathic remedies that
might be indicated for a patient with conjunctivitis, but the remedies discussed
above are the most common—and as I am fond of saying, common things occur
commonly. So if you are faced with a friend or family member with conjunctivitis,
examine their symptoms and choose one of the remedies above. If none of these
remedies seem to fit the symptoms, either give Euphrasia, or consult a more comprehensive
guide such as one of the many excellent self-care homeopathy books available.

Dosage
Any of the common potencies available in most health food stores (such as 6X,
6C, 12X, 12C, 30X, and 30C) will work fine. Just give a few pellets orally (preferably
under the tongue or melted in the mouth) every one-half to four hours. The trick
is to repeat the remedy more frequently when the patient is more ill, and decrease
the frequency of the dosing as the patient improves.

A word of caution
While the overwhelming majority of cases of people with conjunctivitis can be
treated safely at home, it is important to remember that not all red, watery
eyes are due to simple conjunctivitis. Eyes are important; we only have two of
them. If there is a question in your mind as to what you are dealing with, or
if the person is not responding to the treatment (most should see overnight improvement
and progress daily thereafter), please see a doctor.

About the author:
Dr. Timothy R. Dooley is a graduate of National College of Naturopathic Medicine
as well as Oregon Health Sciences University School of Medicine. He practices
homeopathy in San Diego, California, and teaches at the Southwest College of
Naturopathic Medicine and Health Sciences. He is the author of the easy-to-read
introductory book, Homeopathy: Beyond Flat Earth Medicine. The complete
text can be read on-line at http://www.beyondflatearth.com.
For more information, visit http://www.drdooley.net.
He can be reached at (619) 297-8641 or drdooley@drdooley.net.