Primary or idiopathic seizures are commonly lumped under the diagnosis of “epilepsy”. Secondary seizures linked to various other pathologies are entirely different, and require different approaches based on treatment of the primary condition. The conventional approach of anti-convulsant drugs may provide a quick solution in that fits are controlled (and clients are happy). However, such treatment can never amount to more than symptomatic control. These drugs must be given for life, with their attendant costs, monitoring requirements and often side effects for the animal. In addition, there are many animals in which, for a variety of reasons, complete control cannot be achieved.
HOMEOPATHY OFFERS POSSIBLE CURE
Homeopathy, on the other hand, offers the possibility of a genuine cure in the majority of cases, and in certain circumstances it can be combined with conventional methodology. There are, however, important differences between these two approaches, and these must be appreciated for the best results.
The first thing to remember is that in homeopathy, there is no such thing as one remedy indicated for every case. Each prescription is individual, and is selected using criteria involving the general characteristics of the patient and the modalities (factors that modify the intensity) of the symptoms not usually considered by the orthodox world. We must also appreciate that from a homeopathic approach, seizures are the acute manifestation of an underlying chronic condition, and the latter must be addressed if there is to be a successful cure.
Even with accurate details of the fi t, it must be remembered that these are essentially local symptoms and must be considered as such. They represent the means whereby the body exteriorises the underlying condition. Too much concentration preventing that manifestation, whether by purely locally-acting remedies or conventional medication, results in suppression of the external symptom, which leads to the disease process either finding another external outlet, or involving the deeper organs of the body.
Controlling seizures may lead to the animal developing chronic skin problems, diarrhea, or in time, an apparently unconnected, deeper and possibly life-threatening condition. Successful homeopathic treatment addresses the underlying chronic condition without merely suppressing external symptoms. The patient will then be free of seizures and healthier overall, with the chance of a longer life. Often, he will not need to stay on medications; conventional drugs can usually be stopped or the dosages dramatically reduced.
CASE TAKING – COLLECTING USEFUL SYMPTOMS TO INDIVIDUALIZE TREATMENT
The first big problem with epilepsy is that animals have fits. The often spontaneous and violent nature of a seizure can lead to outright panic on the part of the animal’s owner. Even without such an extreme reaction, the owner may demand that “something must be done immediately to ensure a fit never happens again”. Unless care is taken, this demand can lead to a concentration on the presenting symptom when selecting treatment. At the same time, amid the general upset and confusion, useful information relating to the nature of the seizure may be missed by the attendants.
The second problem is that most cases of idiopathic epilepsy fall into the homeopathic category of “one-sided diseases”, in which only one symptom presents, or one symptom is so dominant that it overshadows any others that may be present. Homeopathically, this presents a challenge, so different strategies are needed to select the curative remedy.
Taking the case includes the symptoms of the convulsions, possible causes in the individual, and any concomitant symptoms.
CAUSES OF EPILEPSY
Trauma, infection, toxins and hereditary factors are all recognized and easily-understandable causes of epilepsy, but two other causes account for many cases. The first is vaccination, which can cause neurological problems shortly after the vaccine is given. Homeopathic veterinarians recognize seizures as one possible manifestation of this chronic condition, known as vaccinosis. Since over-vaccination can lead to the condition, booster vaccines should not be given unnecessarily. Under no circumstances should a booster be given to an animal with a history of fits from any cause. Primary vaccines given too early, while the animal’s immune system is still extremely immature, can lead to vaccinosis and seizures. The condition can also be triggered by the suppression of a normal acute reaction to the challenge of vaccination, such as a sore ear, patch of eczema or attack of diarrhea appearing shortly after vaccination.
Mental factors such as fright, and particularly grief, can also be significant in triggering fits. It is easy to understand bereavement arising from a death, but it must also be remembered that a separation that’s explicable in human terms may well seem like a bereavement to an animal. The departure of a child to college, for example, while producing a sense of temporary loss in the parents, can produce grief-induced fits in a closely-attached animal who cannot understand what is happening.
Additionally, a history of any skin disease that quickly responded to drug therapy (or even to holistic treatments) can be a clue. When the vital force expresses its imbalance with skin symptoms which are then quickly stopped (suppressed), more serious problems like epilepsy may result.
SELECTING THE HOMEOPATHIC MEDICINE
The goal is to use the collected symptoms to select from over 4,000 homeopathic medicines the one that best matches all the symptoms of the individual animal. Sometimes there will be one clear-cut unique symptom (e.g. seizures only occur at the full moon and/or at night), or else all the symptoms clearly point to one remedy (the similimum). A repertory is used; this is an index of all symptoms of each medicine derived from both testing and clinical practice (a rubric is a list of medicines showing a particular symptom listed under the name of that symptom).
At other times, the homeopathic technique known as “Never Well Since” (NWS) is needed. In these cases, a clear connection between the onset of fits and a particular event can be established; this event must form part of the totality of the case and should be included in the repertorisation (rubrics under “Ailments from” in the repertory). For example, Arnica, Natrum Sulphuricum, Helliborus or Opium may be indicated in cases associated with head trauma; Ignatia or Natrum Muriaticum when there is grief; or Thuja or Silica to counter a vaccinosis (each of these rubrics has a much longer list of possible homeopathic medicines).
If the appropriate remedy is a polycrests (a remedy with a broad symptom picture, multiple indications and deep action), then that single remedy may be all that’s required since it will address both the local and constitutional levels of the case.
Cases in which anti-convulsive drugs have completely or partially controlled the fits pose particular problems because the symptom picture has been supressed or modified, and restoring the genuine picture causes considerable case/client management challenges. NWS can be useful in these situations to select remedies that can influence the cycle before the control provided by drugs is lifted.
Acute-acting remedies (i.e. Belladonna or Aconite) can replace anti-convulsants and gain time in which to address the deeper aspects of a case. The bowel nosode Proteus can be of particular use because its theme of sudden nervous involvement mirrors the broad epilepsy picture; its use will often prevent the seizures and lead to a change in the symptom picture that will indicate a clear choice of a further remedy.
POTENCY AND FREQUENCY OF DOSING
Although the energy of a fit is high, care must be taken with potency selection since an aggravation can trigger a stasis epilepticus situation. Once trained in homeopathy, people develop a preference for administering single doses only, perhaps repeated for a few days to stimulate the curative effect, or repeated liquid dilutions. Since the goal of homeopathy is to stimulate the body to heal itself, to rebalance, remedies should not need to be given for life. If the animal is not getting healthier in addition to not having fits, then any new symptoms should be added to the list and a new similimum selected.
Seizure Case Reports
Rosie was a four-year-old spayed female Labrador who had been living with a couple and their two teenage sons since she was eight weeks old. She was vaccinated and wormed annually. Her first convulsion happened unexpectedly one afternoon, shortly after a walk. Thereafter, they occurred every three to four weeks. They were single fits lasting around three to four minutes, always during the day but with no time pattern. Stimulus from light or noise would trigger further fits. Rosie exhibited spasms and a lot of muscle twitching but no vocalization or incontinence. Recovery was followed by deep sleep if she was left quietly. On two occasions, she vomited while recovering. Her appetite and thirst were average and not affected by the fits. The only other medical history involved occasional patches of eczema (no laterality) during the previous year that responded to local treatment with a steroid/antibiotic cream. Rosie’s seizures were being conventionally treated with phenobarbitone BID for 48 hours following each fit. Homeopathic treatment was sought after the fourth episode.
Rosie was initially treated with Belladonna 200c, to be administered immediately when a fit started. With this, her fifth attack settled in around 1½ minutes. Further investigation revealed a pattern in which the fits occurred on or around the full moon. Rosie was a friendly animal who became nervous in new situations but was upset by nothing when at home. Two weeks after her fifth fit, she was prescribed Calcarea carbornicum 30c BID. A short mild fit occurred day days later (no Belladonna was needed). One week after this short sixth attack, Rosie was given Calcarea carbonicum 30c twice in one day. This resolved the fits; and her eczema, which was not present once the fits started, did not return.
Belladonna: Single fits. Great sensitivity to external stimuli. Heartbeat strong and rapid.
Calcarea carbonicum: The “chronic remedy” to Belladonna. Aggravation at full moon. Love of home. Anxiety in new situations and a need for security.
Smudge was a seven-year-old neutered male domestic shorthaired cat. He lived with a single lady in a small semi-detached house in the suburb of a large city. A cat flap gave him free access to a small garden. His semi-feral mother had given birth in an animal shelter and Smudge had been adopted into his current home at nine weeks of age. He was vaccinated at eight and 11 weeks old, and was regularly boosted and wormed since then. There was no history of major health problems. Smudge had a close bond with the woman, sleeping on her bed and enjoying being fussed over. Around two years before his seizures began, the lady formed a relationship with a man who became an increasingly regular visitor to the house. Smudge seemed quite happy to see him and would accept food and some stroking from him, but he was never as affectionate as he was with the woman. He even seemed indifferent when the man occasionally spent the night.
Smudge’s fits began suddenly about two months after the man moved into the woman’s home. Although he at first occasionally urinated on the man’s possessions, he otherwise appeared unmoved and this behavior ceased after a few weeks. The fits consisted of a cluster of three or four closely-spaced episodes that would occur at any time. Smudge screamed during the seizures, though there was no incontinence. Attempts to comfort him were difficult and to no avail, but did not appear to aggravate the situation. Several clusters could occur over a day, and then none for a week or more.
Staphysagria 200c BID was administered for three days. The pattern of Smudge’s fits changed, becoming single fits at seven- to ten-day intervals. He also developed a distinct facial twitch. He resumed urinating on the man’s possessions, but would now also urinate, in full view, directly on the man. Smudge was prescribed Hyoscyamus 1M, three doses in 24 hours. The fits ceased and so did the direct urination, but the twitch and surreptitious urination continued. Hyoscyamus was repeated after three weeks, and all symptoms resolved over the next month. No further treatment was needed.
Staphysigria: Ailments from anger and humiliation. Sexual passion. Nervous excitability. Sensitivity to insults.
Hoscyamus: Lewd behavior in public. Jealousy. Muscle twitches, especially of face.
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