Summer is here and wow is it HOT! Everyday for the last week we have had temperatures of 100 degrees F. Lucky for us in the western United States it is not too humid. But the effects of the summer sun and heat can be brutal. Conditions of sunstroke, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and sunburn can create a lot of suffering. Homeopathy can help in many of these acute conditions.
The symptoms of heat exhaustion can come on suddenly. It is usually accompanied with profuse perspiration, confused thinking, slow pulse, anxiety and profound fatigue. A prolonged condition over several days can lead to syncope. In this condition blood pools in the lower extremities producing a drop in temperature and loss of consciousness due to blood loss to the brain. If the person is treated for shock and removed from the heat they will usually recover in a few days. Sunstroke is a form of heat exhaustion that is associated with direct exposure to the sun.
Heatstroke usually is accompanied by the sudden onset of symptoms after an exposure to high heat. Symptoms often include headache, weakness, confusion, convulsions or even loss of consciousness. The person usually is pale. This is because of the body’s inability to regulate heat. Either an increase or decrease in body functions can occur in response to high heat. They may have an increase in body temperature. This could lead to a cascade of symptoms including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. This only compounds the situation by dehydration, mineral depletion and eventually shock. This is a life threatening situation. Medical attention is required immediately. If the body temperature rises above 105 degrees F. the person is approaching critical condition. If it rises as high as 108 degrees F. brain damage can occur.
Sunburn is caused by overexposure to the harmful effects of ultraviolet rays from the sun. These penetrate the skin deeply and can cause damage to the epidermis. Symptoms include inflamation, redness to the skin, pain and blistering in severe cases. If the case is extreme there can be fever, vomiting and collapse.
Common sense says that we should protect ourselves from the harmful effects of intense sun and heat exposure. Due to the degradation of the earth’s ozone layer we are experiencing higher levels of UV exposure. Sunscreens are the best way to protect our skin from the harmful rays. Covering ourselves is also a viable way but unless our culture has developed habits of dress that are appropriate for heat conditions we run the risk of trapping heat close to our body and compounding the situation. Repeated sunburns can effect the DNA deep in our skin and can lead to skin cancers later in life. Genetic susceptibility, skin color and number of exposures all play a part in skin cancers appearance.
First aid in these acute conditions are essential. For heat exhaustion have the person lie on their back with the head resting slightly higher. Replace depleted fluids and salt by giving them orally. Do not overdo the salt, but if available, a teaspoon in a litre of water will help remineralize the person. In heatstroke and sunstroke it is essential to get the persons body temperature lowered quickly. Wrapping the person in wet towels or getting them to a cold bath is important. Core body temperature should be monitored and not allowed to drop precipitously low. Bringing the fever to 101 degrees F. helps the person to stabilize before lowering the temperature farther. Medical attention is necessary.
Sunburns can often be relieved a little by showering and washing the skin. The juice of the succulent plant Aloe Vera is probably the best locally applied topical medication. It is very soothing and can really help prevent peeling later if the sunburn is not too bad. Calendula and Hypericum gels are also very beneficial to sunburn.
Homeopathic remedies taken in potency are very useful in treating heat disorders. Look at the following rubrics; they are useful in repertizing for heat disorders and ailments from exposure to the sun:
- Generalities; sun, from exposure to
- Generalities; sun, sunburn
- Generalities; sun, sunstroke
- Skin; Eruptions, sun, from exposure to
- Head; pain, general, sun, exposure
- Head; sunstroke
The leading remedy useful for heat exhaustion or heatstroke is Veratrum Album if there is a cold sweat and collapse. Other remedies to consider are;
- If the person has a red and hot face, and is hot all over consider Belladonna.
- If there is great fear and sudden onset give Aconite.
- If there is great prostration and shock give Arnica.
- If the person is clammy cold and very pale, yet wants to be fanned give Carbo vegetabilis.
- If the condition is slow onset, the weakness is gradual, lethargic and appearing intoxicated give Gelsemium.
- Natrum Carbonicum is often revitalizing and is useful to the person who is very susceptable to ailments from the sun.
- Antimonium Crudum; headaches, drowsy, do not want to be touched. They can have great sensitivity to light.
The leading remedies useful for sunstroke are Glonoinum and Granatum. Glonoinum will tell you their head is about to explode. Usually their symptoms will improve as the sun is setting. They will have a pale face. Granatum is also very useful in sunstroke. Other remedies include;
- Belladonna; hot, restless, delirium. They will have a red face and worse for sitting or lying.
- Gelsemium will appear droopy, tired and drowsy.
- Arnica when the sunstroke is accompanied by shock and great prostration. They often will tell you that they are OK and nothing is wrong.
- Hyoscyamus if there is mania following sunstroke.
- Aconite is for shock of sunstroke especially if symptoms appear suddenly and there is great fear.
Sunburns can be treated with remedies each depending on the severity of the symptoms;
- Apis; when there are hives and swelling after sunburn especially aggravated by heat or touch.
- Cantharis if the sunburn is very painful with second degee blistering of the skin.
- If the sunburn has produce very small blister that itch Rhus Toxicodendron can be useful.
- Sol, the remedy made from sunlight is very useful in treating any long term effects of sunburn.
- Urtica Urens is also good for minor sunburn with prickling pain or itching.
All acute conditions are best prescribed with the 30C or 200C potencies depending on their severity. In acute life threatening conditions it may be necessary to give the remedy very often, even every minute at times. In less severe conditions the remedy may be repeated hourly to daily. Let the persons response to the remedy tell you what to do next. Above all, seek medical assistance in life threatening situations.
In the summer months it is a good idea to have a collection of remedies on hand to be prepared for any heat related disorders. Knowing and giving first aid is essential. Having remedies available is very helpful. They can make all of the difference and help a person far beyond where first aid stops. Never try to be a hero and neglect proper professional medical assistance. But until help arrives, giving remedies appropriately can help a person in any heat related suffering.