First this one morning, a man made his way into the clinic leaning heavily on the shoulder of a young boy. As he entered, my attention, initially grabbed by the brilliant violet tunic top he wore, subsequently fell on the telltale curl of his left arm and the dragging of his left leg.
Falling into a chair, he explained that in the night he awoke with the sensation that the left side of his body was heavy and weak. Now, he was breathless, dizzy, his head hurt and his heart felt too large for his chest. There was also a burning sensation internally and especially in the left thigh.
Patient number 182111 - the 111th patient seen at the clinic in 2018 in the month of February - was a 61 year old farmer with 11 children named Francis who came from a neighbouring village. As he was already caring for a brother who had a stroke some years before, he knew well what had befallen him. A week or so before, he had run out of his blood pressure and diabetes medications, and had neglected to refill the prescriptions - most likely for financial reasons.
Perhaps because he wanted to avoid the scolding if he had returned to the hospital in nearby Adedome - the doctors at the government hospitals in Ghana, all overworked and underpaid, do not have a reputation for being compassionate, Francis preferred treatment at the Hope Homeopathy Clinic instead.
The first step was to check his blood pressure, which was still precariously high, 191 over 111. His blood sugar though was only moderately elevated. For the last year, Francis explained that even on his medications, his energy was flagging, he felt dizzy on and off, his mouth had been tingling, and that his body felt overheated both internally and externally.
It would be safe to say that today homeopaths in the developed world rarely have the opportunity to handle such cases. But in times past as well as currently in India and other developing countries throughout the world where homeopathy flourishes, this was and is not such an unusual occurrence. More importantly, it is quite an effective treatment modality in these instances.
Francis was prescribed homeopathic Arnica in high potency to be taken three times over the next 24 hours, and asked to return the next day if possible - or, at least, send back word about his condition.
The king of trauma remedies, Arnica is famous for treating injuries. Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy describing its curative powers two centuries ago, wrote that it is "very beneficial not only in injuries caused by severe contusions and lacerations of fibres, but also in the most severe wounds by bullets an blunt weapons: in the pains and other ailments consequent on extracting the teeth, and other surgical operations, whereby sensitive parts have been violently stretched: as also after dislocations of joints, after setting fractures of bones, etc..."1
But it also has a powerful effect on the blood vessels to regulate circulation. A cerebral vascular accident is nothing but trauma to the brain and blood vessels, making Arnica one of the most effective remedies in strokes and for the paralysis that arises afterward.
The next morning, he showed up first thing again reporting that his headache and dizziness had subsided, and that his arm was a bit more mobile. There was only minimal change in the leg and he still felt weak. His blood pressure had almost normalized, dropping to 135/85. Francis was given three more doses of Arnica to be taken once daily for the next three days, and told to come back after that.
At his next visit, there was no dramatic improvement in his condition. The headache and vertigo had not returned, and his breathlessness was also better, but the paralysis of the left leg was unchanged and the mobility of his left arm seemed similar to the previous visit. His limbs still felt weak and the only burning he felt was on the top of his left foot. More importantly, the blood pressure had deteriorated somewhat to 143/100.
Surmising that the Arnica had done its work, Francis was given three doses of Lachesis - a homeopathic medicine derived from the venom of the Bushmaster snake. Like many snake venoms, which as a poison destroy blood platelets resulting in hemorrhage, Lachesis in homeopathic doses reverses such damage. It thus is a frequently used remedy for strokes (and bleeds of many kinds), with one of its chief indications being left sided paralysis.
Francis returned a week later - but this time without his son to lean on and reported that he was feeling much better. The walking had greatly improved and the arm felt stronger as well. His energy was better and there was no more burning. Instead, he had begun experiencing itching on the sole of his left foot - a sign that the circulation was returning. Despite these improvements, his blood pressure had not changed from the last time, but his blood sugar was now reading in the normal range. He was instructed to continue with the Lachesis for several more days.
The last time I saw him, a week later and a few days before returning home, Francis was gaining in strength and mobility. There still remained some heaviness in the left leg, but his complaints were of a more commonplace nature - back pain extending into his thighs. Most worrisome though was that his blood pressure was still too high. This, of course, was the underlying chronic condition that preceded the whole episode.
Thus, having managed the acute phase of his illness, he was prescribed homeopathic preparation of Sulphur, a remedy for his chronic or constitutional state with the objective of further increasing his vitality as well as normalizing his blood pressure.
I heard that about six weeks afterward, Francis visited the Clinic again. His blood pressure had improved to 138/90 and that aside from a sensation of heat in his feet, he reported feeling well.
1. Dr. Margaret Tyler, "Homeopathic Drug Pictures"