by Dr. Jennea Wood, ND Homeopathy is a tool that I use frequently in my practice. It allows me to understand and address the whole pattern of symptoms a person is experiencing with a single remedy that matches that pattern. The homeopathic remedy acts as a catalyst for healing and essentially delivers information to the body about a stuck pattern of symptoms that is playing out over and over. When the right remedy is delivered, the body responds by gently self-correcting. This approach combines well with other naturopathic tools including diet and lifestyle change, herbal medicine, hands on therapies and more, and tends to help the healing process progress more smoothly. I’ll be sharing a series of cases over the next few months illustrating how this works. *Names have been changed to protect confidentiality. Jennifer was a sweet 28-year-old woman with two young children who had been struggling with ever-worsening eczema in large patches covering her wrists, ankles, forearms, and the backs of her hands and feet. By the time she made it in to see me, smaller patches were creeping up her upper arms and legs. The rash was worse on the right and had a burning sensation, like a bad sunburn. She felt generally better and her eczema did better in hot weather. Her skin always tended to get worse in cold, rainy weather. Eczema wasn’t new to her; she had first noticed having a mild version at age 11 that flared seasonally. She had gotten pregnant two years ago with her second child and the eczema got much worse after her son was born. She told me that immediately before her pregnancy, she had developed a urinary tract infection and was treated with antibiotics. This is a common pattern with eczema; When the gut ecosystem of healthy bacteria is disrupted (often by antibiotics), skin conditions like eczema tend to get worse. Jennifer had experimented with a number of diet changes in the past year to try to help, including removing sugar, flour and processed foods from her diet, and switching to a low carb, paleo type diet. These changes hadn’t helped and had even seemed to make things worse. About 6 weeks before coming in to see me, she had traveled to Mexico and experienced 10 days of diarrhea when she came back, with intermittent diarrhea ever since. She started taking bentonite clay and probiotics and her skin continued to worsen to the point that she was developing bacterial infections on her fingers because the skin barrier was so disrupted. When I asked about who she was as a person and her general characteristics, she reported that she was usually an even-tempered though reserved person, but had been feeling quite irritable lately as her eczema worsened. She was now feeling bothered by small things that wouldn’t normally bother her and was less patient than usual. She had intense cravings for sweets and told me that though she was resisting, if she followed her hankerings, she “could eat brownies for every meal of the day.” She hadn’t been sleeping well lately and always felt tired on waking in the morning and had a hard time getting up. Upon further questioning she let me know that she didn’t used to ever get motion sickness, but this had been happening lately, and she had been feeling hungry when she had the bouts of diarrhea. You might notice that I spent a lot of time trying to understand exactly how Jennifer experienced life and how her eczema manifested. These are the types of unique symptoms that can help to determine which remedy a person might need. After studying her case, I found that her symptoms fit the homeopathic remedy Petroleum and I prescribed the remedy petroleum 30c to be taken daily. I also recommended a specialized stool test to look for gut infections contracted during her travels in Mexico and advised her to take zinc and vitamin C supplements to support general skin health. She began taking the homeopathic remedy and other supplements about a week after our visit and when she returned for her follow up visit 1 month later to go over her test results, she reported that her eczema was 80% improved and the diarrhea had resolved. Her gastrointestinal testing revealed an overgrowth of the yeast species Candida albicans. She was still breast-feeding at the time, so I put together a treatment plan including antimicrobial herbs and nutritional supplements to address the yeast overgrowth that was safe for her and her child. I recommended that she follow this plan for 6 weeks, to eat a whole foods diet and to strictly avoid sweets, alcohol and processed carbohydrates, since these things tend to worsen yeast overgrowth. At our next follow up visit 1 month later, she reported that her most recent period had been free of the usual week of irritability preceding it and her cramps had been almost non-existent. In general, her thinking was clearer, her energy was much better and she was waking easily in the mornings, with plenty of energy to start the day. Her skin had continued to improve, but when she had run out of the petroleum homeopathic for 2 days, she had noticed the eczema starting to creep back. We followed up once more, another month later. She had finished up the candida treatment and was experimenting with adding foods back to her diet. Her eczema was completely resolved. All was going well except that she noticed a small flare of eczema when she ate corn, so she had decided to keep this out of her diet. She was still taking the homeopathic remedy, but had started to forget to take it sometimes and hadn’t noticed any return of eczema when she missed a dose. She was ready to move on and was talking with her husband about becoming pregnant again. I love it when I can play a part in helping people move out of a stuck spot in their life where they feel so restricted by their health issues. It’s such a joy to see these folks freed up to get on with living life! You may have noticed that following treatment, Jennifer was healthier on every level. Her cognitive function, energy and mood had all improved in addition to her chief complaint of eczema. This is a very different paradigm than the conventional approach of using steroid cream to suppress eczema. This can sometimes be effective at getting rid of the rash, but over time tends to worsen the person’s overall health. Not all cases are this cut and dried. Some diseases are more complex and require more in-depth and longer treatment. But this is a good succinct example of how homeopathy can be used to promote the healing process.