Learn how to treat Colic with homeopathy. Acute emergencies like Colic can be managed with homeopathic remedies….

Acute colic.

In case of acute colic, renal hepatic or intestinal one can give relief by fairly snapshot prescribing. When you go to such a case and know that morphia and atropine will relieve the spasms it is very tempting to use them. If you cannot get your homoeopathic drug in a snapshot way I think you are bound to give the patient relief with your hypodermic. To my mind the disadvantage that after such relief, it is necessary to begin to treat the case now masked if not actually complicated by the action of the morphia. Secondly, there is always the danger that in an acute case of this kind the morphia may conceal the development of a surgical emergency which in consequence may be missed. Suppose you have a hepatic colic it is quite likely to be due to a stone pressing down into the bile ducts, which may perforate. If morphia has been used it is quite possible one has seen it happen that owing to the sedative, indications of the perforation are not detected for hours afterwards. The clinical picture is masked and you are exposing the patient to a very grave risk. So if there is a method of dealing with these colics apart from morphia I think it is wise to use it. But, as I say, you are only justified in using it if you are getting relief; the patient need not suffer merely because you would prefer using a homoeopathic drug to a sedative. Fortunately the indications in these colics are usually pretty definite.

If you have a case of a first attack of whether it be hepatic or renal it is a very devastating experience for the patient and he is usually terrified.

The pains are usually extreme and nearly drive the patient crazy and if in addition, the patient feels frightfully cold very anxious faint whenever he sits up or stands up and yet cannot bear the room being hot Aconite will usually give relief within a couple of minutes.

You will seldom get indications for Aconite in repeated attacks. The patient somehow begin to realise that although the condition is frightfully painful it is not mortal so the mental does not seem to act.

Another case having repeated attacks each short in duration developing quite suddenly stopping as suddenly associated with a feeling of fullness in the epigastrium, and any fluid and accompanied by flushing of the face dilated pupils and a full bounding pulse, Belladonna relieves them almost immediately.

Consider another patient who has had liver symptoms for some time, just vague discomfort slight fullness in the right hypochondrium a good deal of flatulence intolerance of fats, and who is losing condition becoming sallow and slightly yellow. He develops an acute hepatic colic, with violent shoots of pain going right through to the back particularly to the angle of right scapula, which subside and leave a constant ache in the hepatic region, and then he gets another violent colicky attack. These attacks are relieved by very hot applications or the drinking of water as hot as it can be swallowed. Chelidonium relieves these attacks in the most astonishing way.

In the cases, X-rays usually reveal a number of gallstones. And in contrast with what happens with morphia has been given frequently show that one or more of these gallstones have passed almost painlessly. So with Chelidonium you are well under way with your treatment of the gallstones whereas with morphia and atropine you merely relieve the acute attack of pain.

In other words you have already taken a long step in the treatment of that patient towards clearing the condition altogether. That is one point to be said in favour of your homoeopathic treatment rather than the merely sedative relief.

There are quite a number of other drugs for these colics, some of them hepatic some renal and some intestinal and they all have their own individual points which are very easy to pick up at the bedside. If one memorizes them in this way it is astonishing the ease of your work in acute cases. You see I am not giving you the full description of these drugs, I am picking out only the points which apply to this type of case. That is how you have to do i tin practice, but you must remember that these drugs I am giving you for these conditions are the common ones, and that every now and then you meet a case which appears to call for one of these drugs and yet the patient does not respond. There are certain homoeopathic physicians who sometimes call me out in consultation for acute cases and I know perfectly well before I leave my room that it is no use my thinking of these drugs as they will already have been given and what I have to get is something that is not common but out of the way. I remember seeing a case of not common but out of the way. I remember seeing a case of gallstone colic with one of out very good physicians. It was an elderly woman, and she had that typical chelidonium picture. Of course she had Chelidonium already but without benefit. The doctor said, “I don’t understand this case at all; I think she must have a malignant liver.” I asked why, and he said, “Because she has all the chelidonium indications and she does not respond.” This is the sort of odd case you will meet with so if that should happen to be your first one do not think therefore that Homeopathy does not work; you will find that as time goes on you get more and more cases that do work and the exceptions are fewer and fewer. As a matter of fact that particular case responded to a dose of one of the snake poisons but I have never seen another case that had a snake poisons for that condition and one gave it purely because she had already had her chelidonium; had I seen the case in the first instance.

I should certainly have given Chelidonium. In spite of the odd cases it is cases it is worth while getting these ordinary drugs at your finger ends so that when cases crop up you can prescribe easily on the few indications of the acute condition as presented to you.

There are one or two other drugs that I can touch on which you will find very helpful in these colics.

For instance, Berberis, which is extremely useful in colics whether renal or gallstone. The outstanding point about the Berberis colic, no mater its situation is that from one centre the pain radiates in all directions. suppose you have a renal colic and when Berberis is indicated I think it is more commonly on the left side than the right you will find that where you get indications for Berberis the colicky pain starting is the renal region, or in the course of the ureter, there is one centre of acute pain, and from that centre the pain radiates in all directions. If you have a hepatic colic you get the centre of acute intensity in the gallbladder and from there that pain radiates in all directions, it goes through to the back, into the chest, into the abdomen. That is the outstanding point about these Berberis colics.

In addition to the where you are dealing with a renal colic you almost always get an acute urging to urinate and a good deal of pain on urination. Where you are dealing with a biliary colic it is usually accompanied by a very marked aggravation from any movement; this is present to a slight extent in the renal colics, but it is not so marked; and in both the patient is very distressed and has a pale, earthy looking complexion. The pallor, I think is more marked in the renal cases, and where there has been a previous gallstone colic you may get a jaundiced tinge in the hepatic cases.

It is a very useful drug and I do not know any other which has the extent of radiation of pain that you get in Berberis. It is surprising how widespread the area of tenderness can be which is associated with a Berberis colic, so much so that in gallstone attacks you get so much tenderness and resistance that you are very afraid of a perforated gall-bladder –

you get such a resistant right upper rectus and you may be very suspicious of a peri-renal cases again because of the extreme resistance of the muscles on the side of the abdomen.

In Berberis renal case the urine is as rule rather suggestive. More commonly it is not bloodstained, but contains a quantity of greyish-white deposit which may be pure pus, but mostly contains pus and a quantity of amorphous material usually phosphates sometimes urates. Although it is a very dirty looking urine it is surprisingly inoffensive.

There are two drugs which one always thinks of for colics of any kind and they are Colocynth and mag. phos. It does not matter where the colic; is when you have an acute abdominal colic of any kind one always thinks of the possibility of either colocynth or Mag-phos. Both remedies are often useful for colic in any area uterine, intestinal bile ducts, or renal it does not matter which it is. The point about these drugs is that they are almost identical, that always in doubled up with pain. In both cases the pains are relieved by external pressure and by heat. In Mag phos there is rather more relief from rubbing than there is in colocynth, which prefers steady, hard pressure.

The next thing about them is that their colics are intermitting. The patients get spasms of pain which come up to head and then subside.

There are one or two distinguishing points which help you to choose between Colocynth and Mag-phos. With Colocynth in the attacks of colic you always find the patient intensely irritable. He is frightfully impatient wants something done at once wants immediate relief, and is liable to be violently angry if the relief is not forthcoming. In Mag-phos there is not the same degree of irritability and the patient is distraught because of the intensity of the pain rather than violently angry.

Another point that sometimes helps in your selection is that Colocynth tends to have a slightly coated tongue, particularly if it is in the digestive tract that is upset whereas when mag-phos is indicated it usually is clean.

Both these drugs have a marked aggravation from cold a little more marked in Mag-phos than in colocynth. For instance, Mag-phos is exceedingly sensitive to a draught on the area whereas colocynth though it likes hot applications, is not so extremely sensitive to cold air in its neighbourhood.

Another distinguishing point between the two is that in Colocynth there is apt to be a tendency to giddiness, particularly on turning more especially to the left but this is not present in Mag-phos.

Where distinguishing point between the two is that in Colocynth there is apt to be a tendency to giddiness, particularly on turning more especially to the left but this is not present in Mag-phos.

Where you have a report that the colic and I think this applies much more commonly to uterine than to intestinal colic has followed on an attack of anger it is almost certainly Colocynth you require.

If the colic is the result of over-indulgence in cheese it is Colocynth that is indicated not mag-phos. It the pain is the result of exposure to cold either a dysmenorrhoea or an abdominal colic, it is much more likely to be mag-phos than Colocynth.

These are two of the most useful drugs in the Materia medica for colics, and it is surprising the relief you can get, even in cases of intestinal obstruction from the administration of Colocynth or Mag-phos I have seen cases of intestinal carcinoma with partial obstruction in which the patients were suffering from intense recurring colicky pains coming to a head and then subsiding mag-phos has give the most astonishing relief. Less commonly in such cases where there has been marked irritability in addition to the local symptoms Colocynth has also done wonders. Very often one or other of these drugs has kept a patient in a surprising degree of comfort till death supervened. In these malignant colic I never go high a 30th potency is sufficient. In an ordinary acute colic say dysmenorrhoea, I give a 10 M and the relief is almost immediate and the same applies to intestinal colics.

There is another drug which is very useful as a contrast to these two and it has very much the same sort of pain a very violent spasmodic colic coming on quite suddenly rising up to head then subsiding and that is Dioscorea.

Dioscorea has the same relief from applied heat and it is sometimes more comfortable for firm pressure but in contra-distinction to the other two drugs instead of the patients being doubled up with pain they are hyper-extended you find them bending back as far as possible. And the only drug I know which has that violent abdominal colic which does get relief from extreme extension is Dioscorea. I have seen it useful in gall- bladder attacks in a few intestinal colics and in a case of violent dysmenorrhoea. I have never tried it in a renal case. Where you get that extreme extension of the spine you can give Dioscorea every time without asking any further questions.

There is one other drug I want to mention because one tends to forget it as a colic medicine, and that is Ipecacuanha. Ipecac is one of the most useful colic drugs we have, and the indications for it are very clear and definite.

The character of the pain described in Ipecac. is much more cutting tan the acute spasmodic pain occurring in most other drugs. But the outstanding feature of Ipecac. is the feeling of intense nausea which develops with each spasm of pain. Accompanying that nausea is the other Ipecac. Characteristic that in spite of that feeling of deathly sickness the patient has a clean tongue. You will see quite a number of adolescent girls who get most violent dysmenorrhoea, they are rather warm-blooded people and with the spasm of pain they very often describe it as cutting pain in the lower abdomen they get hot and sweaty and deadly sick so that they cannot stand up and any movement makes them worse. They have a perfectly clean tongue and a normal temperature and very often Ipecac will stop the attack and even the tendency to dysmenorrhoea altogether. It is one of the very useful drugs and as I say one of the ones one tends to overlook.

I have seen several cases of renal colic, associated with the same intense nausea, which have responded to Ipecac., but I think that is more rare it is more commonly in uterine cases that you get indications for it.

There are three drugs I always tend to associate in my own mind for colic; Lycopodium Raphanus and Opium the reason being that in all three the colic is accompanied by violent abdominal flatulence. It is always an intestinal colic in which I expect to find indications for one or other of these drugs. It may be associated with a gall-bladder disturbance of the other two.

In all three there is a tendency for the flatulence to be stuck in various pockets in the abdomen that is to say, you get irregular areas of distension. In all three you are likely to get indications of the bowel. Where you have definite paralytic conditions like a paralytic ileus following abdominal section you are more likely to get indications for Raphanus and opium than for Lycopodium but if the paralytic condition happens to be more in the region of the caecum the indications are probably for Lycopodium rather than for the other two.

That is the general picture and there are one or two distinguishing points which help you. For instance, in Lycopodium the colicky pain is likely to start on the right side of the abdomen down towards the right iliac fossa and spread over to the left side, whereas in the other two it remains more or less localised in the one definite area.

In Lycopodium you are very liable to get a late afternoon period of extreme distress, the ordinary 4 to 8 p.m. aggravation of Lycopodium. There is likely to be very much ore rumbling and gurgling in the abdomen in Lycopodium, and there is more tendency to eructation whereas in the other two the patient does not seem to get the wind up to the same extent. Where there is eructation the patient usually complain of a very sour taste in Lycopodium cases.

In Lycopodium you usually have a somewhat emaciated patient with a rather sallow pale complexion.

There are one or two points that lead you to opium instead of the other two. In opium, as I said, there is apt to be a definite area of distension and the patient may say that he gets a feeling as if everything simply churned up to one point and could not get past it, or as if something were trying to squeeze the intestinal contents past some obstructing band or as if something were being forced through a very narrow opening.

Another point that leads to the selection of opium is that with these attacks of colic the Opium patient tends to become very flushed and hot feels the bed abominably hot wants to push the blankets off, and after the spasm has subsided tends to become very pale limp and often stuporous.

The area of distension in Opium is likely to be in the centre of th abdomen rather than in the right iliac fossa, and it is one of the most commonly indicated drugs in a paralytic ileus.

Another point that sometimes puts you on to Opium is that when the pains are developing and coming up to a head the opium patients develop an extreme hyperaesthesia to noise. I remember one patient who had a paralytic ileus after an abdominal section and as he was working up to another attack of vomiting he had that hyperaesthesia to noise more marked than I have ever seen it. If the nurse in the room happened to jangle the basin into which he was going to be sick he nearly went off his head and he turned and fairly cursed her. That hyperaesthesia to noise make me think of Opium and it completely controlled his attack and the whole condition subsided. This hyperaesthesia is worth remembering as it is so different from the sluggish condition induced by the administration of Opium in material doses.

The Raphanus type of post-operative colic is again slightly different. Instead of getting the right side of the abdomen distended as in Lycopodium or the swelling up in the middle as in Opium in Raphanus you gets get pocket of wind a small area coming up in one place getting quite hard and then subsiding. followed by fresh areas doing exactly the same.

These pockets of wind may be in any part of the abdomen. In the acute attacks of pain the patients tend to get a little flushed but not so flushed as the Opium patients and they do not they the tendency to eructation that one associates with Lycopodium in fact they do not seem to be able to get to rid of their wind at all either upwards or downwards. But it is these small isolated pockets coming up in irregular areas throughout the abdomen which give you your main lead in Raphanus cases and I have seen quite a number of them now, post-operative cases and it is astonishing how quickly after a dose of this remedy the disturbance subsides and the patient begins to pass flatulence quite comfortably.

In post operative cases I usually give Lycopodium i 200th potency. In Raphanus I always use the 200s having found this potency worked I have stuck to it. In Opium I usually give a higher potency because these cases are pretty extreme.

There are of course endless other drugs which have colic but I am trying to pick out those most useful in emergencies. There is one other which you ought to know podophyllum. Podophyllum you will find useful in hepatic colics mainly. It is helpful in intestinal colics associated with diarrhoea. I mean with acute diarrhoea. but then you prescribe it much more on the diarrhoea symptoms than on those of the colic. But you do get indications for it in hepatic colics purely on the local symptoms.

I think in these cases where you have Podophyllum indicated in hepatic colic you always have a degree of infection of the gall-bladder and one of the first things that makes you think of the possibility of podophyllum is the fact that the maximum temperature is in the morning and not in the evening. It has a 7 O’clock in the morning peak temperature.

In addition to that the podophyllum patients are very miserable and almost disgusted with life.

There is always a degree of jaundice in the gall-bladder cases, and it may be pretty marked.

In the majority of these cases the pain in not definitely localized in the gall-bladder it is more in the epigastrium as a whole, and tends to spread across from the middle of the epigastrium towards the liver region. The pains are twisting in character and they are much aggravated by taking food.

Douglas Borland
Douglas Borland M.D. was a leading British homeopath in the early 1900s. In 1908, he studied with Kent in Chicago, and was known to be one of those from England who brought Kentian homeopathy back to his motherland.
He wrote a number of books: Children's Types, Digestive Drugs, Pneumonias
Douglas Borland died November 29, 1960.