Albuminuria of pregnancy is one of the terrors of the obstetrician. It is one of the great danger signals, one of the signs that the strain is telling on the mother, and through her on the child. It is the precuRsor of convulsions with all their horrors and anxieties.
The orthodox treatment consists of the taking of salts, drinking of large quantities of bland fluids to try to eliminate, the toxic materials, and the restriction of the diet to white foods, semi-solids or fluids, according to the severity of the case, in order to minimize the strain on the kidneys, those excretory organs which get rid of the body’s waste products. And yet, in different cases, I have seen APIS PLUMBUM, ACIDUM PHOSPHORICUM or TEREBINTHINA remove the albumin from the urine, without any purgation, and with the patient taking a full diet.
Constipation in pregnancy is a common trouble. Where it exist toxic absorption is bound to follow, and while it persists the patient is in danger of the severer complications due to infection by the Bacillus coil. The treatment of constipation has greatly improved during the last few years, but still leaves much to be desired. In the great majority of cases a few doses of NUX VOMICA, OPIUM or ALUMINA will put matters right, provided the mother’s diet is rational.
Diarrhoea in pregnancy is always a serious matter, and if not speedily relieved may lead to miscarriage. Is the allopathic administration of a dose of Olium ricini whether or not followed by intestinal sedative to be preferred to gentle action of a small dose of ALOE, PODOPHYLLUM or MERCURIUS with its instantaneous sense of relief?
Rubella, or German measles if acquired during pregnancy, especially during the first four months, may have an adverse effect on the unborn child. In the event of exposure to infection during pregnancy it would be wise to prescribe the RUBELLA NOSODE.
On the Mental Side the effects of morbid states in the mother have a very definite effect on the foetus. One has only to study the children of the war years to see what effects these can produce on the unborn child. The ordinary treatment consists of the administration of regular doses of bromide or more probably a barbiturate in the fond belief that it has no effect on the child, I have seen the child of a mother so treated covered with bromide rash, a sign of bromide poisoning, within a week of its birth. Surely there is more to be done than that!
The morbid depression will fade away after the judicious administration of PULSATILLA, AURUM or SEPIA.
Fears lose their terror under the action of ACONITUM NAPELLUS, ARSENICUM ALBUM, ARGENTUM NITRICUM, IGNATIA AMARA or one of the kindred drugs. Sleep returns to the weary mother helped by ACONITUM NAPELLUS, BELLADONNA, COFFEA CRUDA, NUX VOMICA etc. and the fright loses its evil effect under the sedative influences of ACONITUM NAPELLUS, IGNATIA AMARA, OPIUM, PHOSPHORUS, PULSATILLA NIGRICANS, etc. The mother’s nervous system has not been dulled, nor has the unborn infant been poisoned by any of these drugs.
With the intercurrent ailments, influenzas, coughs, pneumonias, etc., to which all of us are prone, we have, in exaggerated form, the question of the relative value of homoeopathy and orthodox medicine in the treatment of acute disease.
The next factor seriously affecting the well-being of the child in its birth. Here there are great possibility of injury; unavoidable injury at the hands of most skilful attendant, due to the necessity for manipulation of instruments, or injury due to due to prolonged and difficult labour, without any outside interference. These injuries may be to limbs or, much more serious, may involve intracranial haemorrhages and consequent brain damage.
There are two problems to be considered here; How to avoid the risk, if possible; and what can be done for the infant who is suffering from the effects of a difficult labour.
It is an experience common to homoeopathic doctors everywhere, who are conducting a general practice, that their patients do not suffer from difficult labour. That does not prove anything, but it is a fortune fact for the patients. There are two factors which have a bearing on this happy experience; A pregnant woman who is treated throughout her pregnancy with homoeopathic medicine will approach her confinement freed from the physical and mental ailments which so often are factors in the production of an unsatisfactory confinement; and, there is a drug, CAULOPHYLLUM, which has the power of regulating the processes of labour, a fact which was known and used by homoeopaths many years ago, and is equally true to-day.
I have a patient, recently confined of her first child. Years ago her mother was given CAULOPHYLLUM before this patient was born. Now the patient herself was put on CAULOPHYLLUM before the birth of her child. During her confinement she was attended by an obstetrician of very wide experience. She had a large child and it was her first pregnancy, labour had started, and she was examined. The attending woman gynaecologist said that everything was going well, but that many hours must elapse before anything could be done to help, and went off home.
An Expected Coincidence
She got into her own door as the telephone bell rang, asking
her to return at once, and got back to the nursing home just in time to see the child born. The mother was saved trouble, forceps delivery, hours of suffering, and prolonged labour with its increased danger for the child. She had been taking some doses of CAULOPHYLLUM daily for a month before. Coincidence, perhaps, but a coincidence one has come to expect.
The unfortunate children, born after a difficult labour, fall roughly into two classes – the blue or asphyxiated, and the pale or collapsed.
The child with blue asphyxia has no mechanical obstruction, but he does not breathe. Surface stimulation does not produce the desired effect, or does this for a very short time only. Very soon the pulse begins to fail. Everyone is becoming anxious. Unpleasant thoughts begin to suggest themselves; thoughts of the mother and all she has just come through, thoughts of the father waiting for news, begin to force their way through. A dose of LAUROCERASUS and the whole scene is changed, the child breathes and then cries.
The pale, collapsed child is less dramatic and more pitiful. It lies limp, flaccid, cold. Its heart sounds are hardly to be heard. It is all but dead. Warmth, stimulants, friction, seem to produce no response. The child lies as one drowned. CARBO VEGETABILIS will give child back, alive, into its mother’s arms.
There is yet another condition sometimes met with. The child is born after some difficulty, and seems to be doing well, but in a few days it is reported to be not quite right. It may be that an arm or a leg is rather limp, is not used properly, or the face seems somewhat asymmetrical, or there is some difficulty in sucking. There has been some intracranial haemorrhage. ARNICA will help the absorption of the blood
and induce the maximum recovery of the damaged nerve tissue.
Now that the child has entered the world, the first consideration is the supply of suitable nourishment. Everyone is agreed that, where possible, breast-feeding is the ideal for the new-born infant. There are many mothers who with the best will in the world have been unable to nurse their babies.
The trouble may be due to scanty secretion, milk of low grade, or milk which is poisonous to the child, and this may persist in spite of all accessory measures which are employed to help matters. And yet BELLADONNA, PHYTOLACCA, or PULSATILLA is often all that is necessary to establish a free flow of healthy, nourishing milk; or CALCAREA or LAC DEFLORATUM all that is required to bring the milk which was so poor in quality up to the required standard; or NATRUM CARBONICUM, or SILICEA all that the mother needs to change her milk from poison to food.
In the first few months of life the difficulties with which one is liable to have to contend are mainly digestive. They take the form of inability to digest satisfactorily ordinary milk, as shown by vomiting, diarrhoea, or constipation. The amount of labour and skill which is expended in trying to find a suitable food mixture for the child with a delicate digestion is almost beyond belief. We are never without some such cases in hospital. And yet these infants, I should say without exception, go home taking a milk mixture, not a patent food.
They have been carefully fed, but in addition they have had homoeopathic treatment, which enables them to take normal food. I have lost count of the infants of whom it was said that milk upset them, and who have gone straight ahead on a milk diet with AETHUSA, SILICEA, NATRUM CARBONICUM or CALCAREA CARBONICUM. The vomiting ceases, the stools become normal, and the constipation disappears.
Of all the ailments of early life the most deadly is acute infantile diarrhoea. The number of its victims must run into thousands each year. I remember looking at an infant shortly after its admission to the ward with acute diarrhoea, and remarking that I did not like its chances. I was looked at with surprise, and greeted with the remark, “But we don’t lose acute diarrhoeas.” The statement was not strictly accurate, but a knowledge of the power of homoeopathic drugs does remove the dread with which one would otherwise approach an epidemic of these cases.
I have seen an infant admitted to the ward when it seemed hardly worth while to attempt to do anything at all, and in a few hours, under the action of minute doses of ARSENICUM ALBUM, the child has improved beyond recognition. So often has this happened that no case can be looked as hopeless so long as one knows of the powers of such drugs as ALOE, ARSENICUM ALBUM,CROTON TIGLIUM, MERCURIUS, PODOPHYLLUM and SULPHUR when administered according to homoeopathic indications.
In the course of development of the infant the next milestone is the eruption of the first tooth. Teething, in the healthy child, is a perfectly natural process and is unaccompanied by any disturbance. Unfortunately the majority of the children who come under the observation of the physician are not perfectly healthy, and teething is liable to be accompanied by all sorts of disturbances.
We are all familiar with the teething child with swollen tender gums, who salivates freely, and whose fingers and hand at times it looks almost as if the whole arm, are pushed into its mouth for relief. Or the child may be so desperately irritable that the whole household is distracted. Incision of the swollen gums and the administration of sedatives cannot be compared with the immediate and lasting change produced by the action of a little homoeopathic CHAMOMILLA.
There is another ailment of childhood which can shatter the morale of a whole family – infantile croup. It is a fear-some spectacle. The child sitting up in terror, rapidly becoming purple, blue or black in the face, unable to draw a breath, starting to twitch, it may be becoming convulsed. No wonder the family is terrified, especially as the attack tends to recur.
The ordinary treatment of such a condition consists in the administration of an emetic, hot fomentations applied to the neck and the use of a steam kettle. Instead, after the administration of ACONITUM, HEPAR SULPHURIS, or SPONGIA, the infant will be peacefully asleep in a few minutes and the attack will not recur.
In a similar way one might take up and consider the other illness of infancy such as bronchitis, pneumonia, the various skin diseases, and the acute infections, and contrast the methods of treatment in the two schools of medicine.
Until quite recently the infant who was not suffering from any recognisable disease, but who, in spite of that, was not developing properly, had been the despair of the physician. Advice was given as to diet, hygiene, general management, but still the results were far from satisfactory. In recent years there has been some advance in dealing with some cases. A small proportion of them are due to disturbance of the internal secretions, and a lot of excellent work has been done in the study of such cases and their treatment with preparations of the appropriate gland extract.
Absence of Vitamins
Others again have been found to be due to the absence of one or other of the vitamins from the diet. Along these lines, also, good work is being done, while yet others have been found to respond to a certain extent to treatment with ultra-violet rays. There has been a definite advance, but the vast majority of case do not come into any one of the classes and so for them orthodox medicine does absolutely nothing beyond the general advice. Cases of this type may, for simplicity, be grouped under two headings; Those in which the mental development is disturbed.
Those in which the physical development is faulty.
Under the first heading we place all degrees of mental disturbance. There is the case of the infant who is merely backward. He is slow in learning to walk, though without any physical weakness, and slow in learning to speak. His attention wanders easily and he does not appear to take notice of things and people as the normal infant does. Yet there does not seem to be anything radically wrong, and the parents are advised not to worry; that he is only a little slow in developing and will get all right. Too often that is merely a pious hope.
Unemployable or Criminal
This is the type of child which not uncommonly in later years is found to have developed into the unemployable, or the criminal adult. On the other hand, under the action of BARYTA CARB., BORAX, NATRUM MUR., or one of the other kindred drugs, in a very short times these children become perfectly normal.
There is the more marked case of the definite mentally defective. There appears to have been a complete lack somewhere in the brain and the child fails to show any ordinary intelligence. It is a pitiful sight; unable to speak or to understand, the infant remains as helpless as at the day of its birth. The usual advice given is to have it sent to a mentally defectives home, where, with infinite patience, it may be possible to do something in the way of educating the child to be clean, and perhaps to feed and clothe itself. And yet I have seen cases. Such as these become normal children who later have been able to attend an ordinary school and take their place with ordinary children, after careful homoeopathic treatment.
Another type of disturbance which is extremely common these days is what is known as the nervous child. It is afraid to be left alone, is afraid of the dark, terrified to traffic, afraid of animals, liable to suffer from sleeplessness and night terrors; he is a misery to himself and a torture to his parents. A wealth of literature exists on the subject of the nervous child, full of excellent advice as to the general management of such cases, but with directions as to medicinal treatment confined to the use of sedatives. On these lines the acute symptoms can be controlled, but the unstable nervous system remains untouched.
Consideration of the environment in which the child is living is important, but consideration of the nervous make-up of the child is vital. Otherwise it will show signs of nerve strain if subjected to adverse conditions in later life. Homoeopathy can take hold of that unstable nervous system. It can control the immediate symptoms with ease, and, what is of infinitely more value, it can modify and strengthen the whole nervous system, so that all signs and symptoms of instability will disappear.
On the physical side the problems are very similar. Here we meet with acute conditions, not as separate isolated facts but as indications of some deeper underlying weakness. This is a type of the story that one so commonly hears. The infant appeared healthy at birth. The first sign of any trouble was when it was cutting the first teeth. Then the child had a digestive upset, attended by a little diarrhoea, or a little vomiting, or perhaps a mild convulsion. Shortly after it developed a mild attack of bronchitis, and since that time it has never, for many weeks together been free from cold, and these colds always have tendency to settle on its chest.
The next step in the history is enlargement of the tonsils and adenoids, perhaps an acute earache followed by a discharge from the ear and more or less marked deafness, and finally, enlargement of the glands of the neck with or without abscess formation. That is the kind of history I have heard, with minor variations, scores of times in the out-patient department. Each of the episodes has been dealt with as it arose.
A course of grey powder has corrected digestive disturbance and prevented the return of convulsions. An expectorant mixture and vigorous application of camphorated oil have cured the bronchitis. The enlarged tonsils and adenoids and the discharging ear about to be dealt with by the surgeon. The enlarged glands are what usually cause the children to be brought to us.
That is one type of history, and there are many others, all differing considerably in their symptoms, but each of them so constant that one can foretell what their medical history will be; they are certain to develop this, that, or the other acute illness. To the parents the acute illness is the whole story, but to the physician it should be but one item in a connected history.
It is here that homoeopathy can do some of its greatest work. It depends, in some degree, on the point in the history at which the child comes under treatment as to how much can be done; but no matter at what point the treatment starts, it is aimed at eradicating the underlying weakness, and not merely at removing the acute symptoms of the moment; and, what is more, it succeeds and nothing else does.
CHILDBEARING MEDICINES (Brief Drug Pictures)
The following supplements Dr. Borland’s article with brief drug pictures for comparison with the patient’s symptoms. They should render the choice of the remedy more easy and more certain; remembering always that mental symptoms, corresponding in drug and patient, are the most important indications for the employment of any drug.