WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation, Inc.
Homeopathic First Aid Used with a Sample of Wildlife Cases
by Shirley J. Casey and Therese Bush
Wildlife rehabilitators have shown increasing interest in using homeopathic first aid for wildlife (Blackmer 1998). Homeopathy is the second most popular health care modality used around the world According to the World Health Organization (McCluggage 1999). Homeopathy has been a primary health care modality for humans and captive animals for over 200 years in a variety of countries (Vithoulkas 1981). While fewer people in North America are familiar with homeopathy, it is rapidly growing in popularity for humans and domestic animals (Blackmer 1998).
Rehabilitators are encouraged to carefully study the homeopathic approach to medical care in order to understand when and how it may be considered for wildlife and how to use it appropriately. Such study is necessary because homeopathy, which focuses on helping the body to heal itself, is significantly different from conventional allopathic treatments. Rehabilitators are encouraged to work closely with veterinarians, especially holistic veterinarians, whether using allopathic or homeopathic medicine.
A growing number of rehabilitators and veterinarians have found homeopathy, when used appropriately, to show dramatic and rapid responses with wildlife. Homeopathy can be used to successfully treat some conditions that are difficult to treat with conventional methods (e.g., nerve and muscle damage, stress, fear, grief) (Hamilton 1999). While homeopathy can be a very powerful and safe modality in the hands of trained and qualified practitioners, it may not be effective if used inappropriately (Blackmer 1999). The authors do not recommend excluding all other medical treatments, but rather suggest homeopathy be considered as a complementary modality.
Homeopathy is Different
Homeopathy and conventional allopathic medicine are different in many ways (Vithoulkas 1980; Jonas 1996). Classical homeopathy works on very different principles such as like cures like, the whole person axiom, the minimum dose, and the single medicine. Homeopathic medicines are chosen based on the full range of physical, emotional, and mental symptoms of the patient. Potencies of homeopathic medicines are made very differently from conventional medicines (using the dilution and succussion method).
Homeopathic medicine selection and potency determination are based on extremely different factors than those used in conventional medications. Application of the principle of the minimum dose means that the frequency and dosage of medications is also quite different (may just be administered one time) and, if given inappropriately, can result in some difficulties. Homeopathic medicines maybe be can-celled or interfered with by different factors than those affecting conventional allopathic medications. These include touch, some plants (such as eucalyptus or mint), some strong scents (including tea tree oil), X rays, and other homeopathic medicines.
The process for using homeopathy varies from the process of using allopathic medicine. While both demand case taking, homeopathy requires far more extensive and detailed case taking and documentation of physical, emotional, and mental symptoms, including etiology and periodicity, than conventional medicine. After symptoms and their priorities are identified, the complete symptoms are looked up in a homeopathic repertory (large book of symptoms) to identify the potential homeopathic medicines that might match the full case (called repertorizing). The use of a more complete homeopathic repertory, such as Kents (1945) Repertory of the Materia Medica, is strongly encouraged over the shorter repertories. While Kents Repertory of the Materia Medica, with over 1,550 pages, seems intimidating at first, with training and study it can become an extremely useful tool. It costs about $24 US.
The homeopathic medicines found to be the closest match to the majority of symptoms are reviewed in a homeopathic materia medica (like an encyclopedia of homeopathic medicines). Again, the authors encourage use of a more comprehensive materia medica, such as Boerickes (1927) Materia Medica with Repertory with basic descrip-tions of approximately 600 homeopathic medicines, instead of one of the shorter materia medicas. Boerickes Materia Medica with Repertory provides considerable information on the commonly used homeopathic medicines as well as information on trauma and acute conditions. It costs about US$15.
The homeopathic medicine which is found to be the closest match to the symptoms is then selected, with consideration given to the sequence and interaction. Potency is selected according to a variety of factors, which do not include weight or size of the patient. Homeopathic medicines are given based on symptoms, not on a set schedule. There are differences in the potencies used in trauma with wildlife as compared to those used with acute flareups of chronic conditions in domestic animals, which most homeopathic veterinarians are accustomed to treating, or even humans.
The caregiver must closely observe any changes in symptoms to determine if any repetition of a homeopathic medicine is needed and if and when it might be changed. If the healing is well underway and continues, no further action is needed (the minimum dose principle).
Homeopathy is a very different type of modality than many North American wildlife rehabilitators have used. Rehabilitators wanting to use homeopathy need to have as much training and knowledge about homeopathy as possible. They should work closely with a veterinarian, preferably one trained in homeopathy, in order to achieve the most effective treatment for wildlife and to avoid doing harm.
Examples of wildlife cases provided by fellow wildlife rehabilitators are presented. Each of the rehabilitators who submitted cases had attended homeopathy workshops specifically for wildlife trauma, owned a variety of homeopathic resource books, were advised by homeopathic veterinarians, and followed the basic processes mentioned above (detailed case taking, repertorizing, review of homeopathic medicines in the materia medica, etc.). In each case, homeopathy was used along with effective basic rehabilitation practice (appropriate diet, caging, etc.) as well as some conventional medical care (heat, quiet, fluids, etc.).
American robin hit window. After hearing something hit a window of the house, the homeowner found an American Robin (Turdus migrato rius), limp and unconscious below the window. He put the bird in a shoe box and put it in a warm place. When checked an hour later, the bird was still unconscious, so it was taken to a wildlife rehabilitator.
The rehabilitator examined the bird and found it to have a small bump or swelling on the top of the head and a small amount of blood on the beak. While the bird had opened its eyes, it was cool, limp, and somewhat unresponsive. Fractures and other injuries or problems were not apparent. The rehabilitator put the robin on heat in a quiet, secure place. She wrote down all the symptoms and then looked them up in the homeopathic repertory (the technique of repertorizing). She considered the following symptoms found in the repertory: Head, injuries, after; Head, concussion; Generalities, heat, vital, lack of; Mind, dullness, injuries of the head, after. Although there were dozens of medicines that could have been considered, she focused on the nine that got the highest ratings.
She read those nine descriptions in a homeopathic materia medica. One of the homeopathic medicines, Arnica montana, was considered excellent for blows, falls, bruising, head injury, and general trauma. Since the bird had hit the window and then fallen, the rehabilitator felt the etiology, head injury, and general trauma were a match. She quickly checked her decision with a homeopathic veterinarian who said to use a high potency administered just one time. She administered the dry homeopathic medicine to the bird according to specific homeopathic protocols and put it back on heat.
When the rehabilitator checked the bird one hour later, the bird was standing and alert. The bird was monitored hourly for several hours. The bird was eating and trying to escape. Later that afternoon, she put the bird in the flight cage where it demonstrated excellent flying skills. The next morning, to all appearances, the bird seemed fully recovered and was very eager to leave confinement. Approximately 24 hours after the bird had been admitted, the rehabilitator was able to release the bird at the location where it had been found.
Fawn with a fractured leg. A Black-tailed fawn (Odocoileus hemionus) was found by the side of a road. A rehabilitator responded and recognized the fawns wide eyes and rapid open-mouth breathing as signs of severe stress. The rehabilitator had seen these symptoms before and had experience repertorizing them. She gave the fawn a homeopathic medicine used for severe fear in humans. The fawn calmed down immediately. The fawn was taken to an emergency veterinarian who diagnosed a fractured back left leg. The veterinarian applied a cast and indicated that the rehabilitator should watch for swelling and use whatever homeopathic medicine was appropriate.
The fawns symptoms were repertorized (Generalities, injuries) and 49 homeopathic medicines were listed as possibilities. The rehabilitator read the descriptions in a materia medica of the seven homeopathic medicines that seemed to be the most likely choices based on the rating system. One of those medicines, Arnica montana, was cited as extremely effective after traumatic injuries, blows, and falls. A single dose of that homeopathic medicine at a high potency was selected and administered according to homeopathic protocols. The bruising in-creased temporarily as part of the healing process; then the swelling decreased.
The rehabilitator again repertorized the fawns symptoms, this time emphasizing the broken leg (Generalities, injuries, bones) and selected a homeopathic medicine that was cited as effective with fractures as well as injuries to tendons and periosteum. That homeopathic medicine was given once (medium potency) to stimulate healing of the leg. The fracture healed in half the time the veterinarian expected. The fawn recovered fully, was placed with other fawns of comparable age, and was released at the appropriate time.
House sparrow with a slow to empty crop. A nestling house sparrow (Passer domesticus) was found in parking lot. The bird was slightly dehydrated, had normal weight, gaped normally, and had no injuries. It was placed on heat, rehydrated, and then started on an appropriate diet. Within a few hours it was noticed that the birds crop was slow to empty. The amount of food was decreased and time between feedings lengthened. The crop was sluggish and the bird seemed to have bloat and alternating constipation and diarrhea. Changes were made with the frequency of feeding and the amount of food offered, but there was still no improvement after 24 hours.
A rehabilitator familiar with homeopathy then became involved and observed and documented the full case. She repertorized all the symptoms in the homeopathic repertory and reviewed the eight homeopathic medicines that received the highest ratings in a materia medica. After reviewing the homeopathic medicines, it was still rather difficult to decide which to use. One homeopathic medicine, Lycopodium, was indicated for symptoms of weak digestion, bloat, and both constipation and diarrhea. She selected that homeopathic medicine and gave it once at a medium potency. Within 30 minutes the birds digestive system returned to normal and the bird was placed back on the 20- to 30-minute feeding schedule. The bird developed normally and was released in a normal time frame.
Stellers jay with eye discharge. An adult Stellers jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) was rescued from a cat. Its right eye was bruised, closed, and swollen, but no other injuries were apparent. The bird was taken to an avian veterinarian who prescribed topical eye antibiotic ointment and warm compress. The rehabilitator administered the antibiotic ointment and compresses as directed. The swelling decreased, but the eye stayed closed. Two weeks later the eye opened and oozed clear liquid. The veterinarian prescribed more antibiotic ointment. The oozing stopped for two days and then restarted more profusely.
A rehabilitator familiar with homeopathy then repertorized the birds complete symptoms in the homeopathic repertory. Several homeopathic medicines appeared to have some relevance to the birds symptoms. She then read about the medicines in a homeopathic materia medica. She identified a homeopathic medicine that seemed to be a match for the birds complete symptoms. After discussing the case with a homeopathic veterinarian, she gave homeopathic medicine for trauma to eye. However, there was no improvement.
The bird was examined again by the conventional allopathic veterinarian. The examination showed no infection. The veterinarian said no further treatment could help. The rehabilitator repertorized the case again, this time emphasizing the heavy tearing and clear drainage. She then read about the medicines in a homeopathic materia medica and identified a homeopathic medicine that seemed to be the closest match for the birds complete symptoms. After checking her decision with a homeopathic veterinarian and receiving support for her decision, she gave the homeopathic medicine. The tearing started reducing within 24 hours of administration of the homeopathic medicine. After a couple of days the improvement stalled, so the homeopathic medicine was repeated a second time according to homeopathic protocols. The bird recovered fully and was released.
Additional cases. Other cases of successful use of homeopathy include a litter of neonate eastern cottontails (Sylvilagus floridanus) with diarrhea, a juvenile raccoon (Procyon lotor) with neurological symptoms, and a gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) with multiple traumas.
These cases demonstrated that homeopathy, used according to the principles of classical homeopathy and in conjunction with good rehabilitation practices and conventional medical care, resulted in the animals recovery and release back to the wild.
Applying homeopathic first aid and trauma care is a relatively new approach for wildlife care. As rehabilitators have become trained in the use of homeopathic first aid and trauma care and have worked with homeopathic veterinarians, they have found homeopathy can be a highly effective complementary modality. Homeopathy is not used as a substitute for allopathic medical techniques such as keeping animals warm, providing fluids, splinting fractures, or surgically removing foreign objects. However, homeopathy is an additional tool that can be considered.
In practice, homeopathy is quite different from conventional allopathic medicine. The case taking is more extensive and considers a wider variety of factors. The wildlife rehabilitator must then review the complete symptoms in a homeopathic repertory and determine which homeopathic medicines might be a match. The rehabilitator reads about the homeopathic medicines in a materia medica to determine which homeopathic medicines might be the closest match. The potency of the medicine must be selected based on a variety of factors that are different from the criteria used in calculating doses of allopathic medicines. After administering the single dose in a very specific way, the rehabilitator continues to monitor the case and determine if and what other steps might be needed. Rehabilitators are strongly urged to work closely with homeopathic veterinarians in order to most effectively follow the appropriate protocols.
Rehabilitators interested in learning more about homeopathy are encouraged to review the resource list and seek additional training. WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation and a homeopathic veterinarian conduct regular seminars around North America on homeopathic first aid and trauma care for wildlife. These seminars are designed specifically for wildlife rehabilitators to use with wildlife trauma and offered at rates comparable to other wildlife rehabilitation training. Other courses on homeopathy with animals generally focus on domestic animals and chronic conditions, as opposed to trauma, and may cost from $400 to $3,000. The authors will gladly provide further information on homeopathic training opportunities on request.
References and Literature Cited
Blackmer, R., A. Casey, and S. Casey. 1997. Beyond conventional allopathic medicine: options considered by wildlife rehabilitators. Journal of Wild-life
Rehabilitation, Winter: 713.
Blackmer, R., J. Facinelli, A. Casey, and S. Casey. 1997. Exploring the concept of the minimum dose: wildlife rehabilitators consider homeopathy.
Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation, Spring: 1421.
Blackmer, R., A. Casey, and S. Casey. 1999. Considering homeopathic first aid for wildlife. NWRA Quarterly Journal, Autumn: 1416.
Boericke, W. 1927. Materia Medica with Repertory. Boericke and Tafel, Santa
Rosa, CA. Online version: http://www.homeoint.org/books/boericmm/index.htm
Casey, S., and A. Casey. First Aid and Trauma Care for Wildlife Seminar. Two-day seminar offered to rehabilitators by WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation and homeopathic veterinarians at various locations. 303-670-3309.
Dooley, T. 1995. Homeopathy: Beyond Flat Earth Medicine. Timing Publications, San Diego, CA.
Facinelli, J., A. Casey, and S. Casey. 1997. Finding and using holistic veterinary services. Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation, Winter: 1419.
Hamilton, D. 1999. Homeopathic Care for Dogs and Cats. North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA.
Jonas, W., and J. Jacobs. 1996. Healing with Homeopathy: The Complete Guide. Warner Books. New York, NY.
Kent, J. T. 1945. Repertory of the Homeopathic Materia Medica. Homeopathic
Publications, New Delhi, India. Online version: http://www.homeoint.org/books/kentrep/index.htm
McCluggage, D., and P. Higdon. 1999. Holistic Care for Birds. Howell Book House, New York, NY.
Morgan, L. 1989. Homeopathic Medicine: First Aid and Emergency Care. Healing Arts Press, Rochester, VT.
Vithoulkas, G. 1980. The Science of Homeopathy. Grove Press, New York, NY.
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