Strep Throat

Yesterday, a patient I’ve worked with for a number of years reported that he had gum surgery because there was no alternative to repair the erosion of the gum line in his mouth. I suggested that even though it was after the fact, before submitting to the knife he might have considered a relatively simple, more cost effective and much less invasive treatment with Co-Enzyme Q10. I also mentioned that eve after the surgery, it might be a good idea to nourish the gum tissues with the CoQ 10. (The stuff does wonders for the gums, amongst other things.) On hearing my suggestion, he immediately felt regret for not having explored other options before compliantly going along with the standard treatment. Somewhat contritely, he told me, “Why didn’t I think of talking with you?” I couldn’t give him a good answer except to say that in my experience people often compartmentalize their health issues in the same way that modern medicine is compartmentalized.

That is what is modeled by most healthcare professionals, and that is what they are used to. Little thought is given to the possibility that a complaint, say the poor state of one’s gums, is due to inadequate oxygenation of the tissues and that by addressing the underlying deficiency, not only will the gums benefit, but the entire body will.

In this case, the gums and heart originate from the same embryological tissue and there is a correlation between the health of one with the other. It is also the case that while Co Enzyme Q10 oxygenates all cells throughout the body, it has a special affinity for both the gums and heart tissue. So, by being good to the gums, the heart and the rest of the body will derive great benefit.

Educating people to develop a broader perspective in regard to their health is an ongoing challenge. All too often, as in the above example, the situation is presented after the fact and it can become difficult to not become a little over-emphatic about discussing other options ‘next time around’.

Probably the most common arena where this type of issue arises relates to the use of antibiotics. The concept that in an infection where bacteria are involved a cure can only come about by killing them off is deeply imbedded in the belief system of most conventional medical professionals as well as the average layperson. It can be a stretch for a person to feel confident that anything short of a toxic ‘against life’ drug will do the job.

Likewise, it is a hard sell to convince someone that strengthening and regulating the body’s vital energies can result in a more thorough and sometimes quicker cure. While people may have some type of belief system that encompasses some of the concepts underlying wholistic health, when push comes to shove and they are literally feeling the heat – or even worse when their child is showing signs of an inflammatory process – they want the heavy artillery.

There probably is no better illustration of how deeply embedded this belief is than when it comes to the treatment of infections caused by Group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus, otherwise known as ‘strep throat’. Especially when dealing with children, conventional medical practitioners almost universally and reflexively prescribe antibiotics in cases of strep. Often, they the prescription pad will be brought out before test results confirm the suspected diagnosis.

Reflecting the sense of urgency of their conventional physician, parents can have a great deal of trepidation about this illness. Therefore, they commonly go along with this strategy, mistakenly believing that it is the only way to treat the illness, even if they otherwise are inclined toward natural therapies.

The urgency is no doubt rooted in the historical fact that acute rheumatic fever, which would often result in damaged heart valves, was once a common complication of strep throat. But that has not been the case for going on a half-century. Cases of rheumatic fever started dropping before antibiotics were available, and by the 1970’s it was virtually eradicated. According to some medical researchers, those strains of bacteria are not occurring anymore and, interestingly, most of the few cases of rheumatic fever that do occur are not preceded by a sore throat.

Nevertheless, there is this historical memory that compels most medical professions to treat strep aggressively. So, it is also not uncommon that a report about the ‘necessity’ for a course of antibiotics given a child otherwise under my care is presented to me, often after the fact. A suggestion that the next time perhaps it would be best to discuss treatment beforehand is often met with doubt, angst or, at best, a regretful “It didn’t even come to our minds to treat it homeopathically”.



Strep throat is very amenable to homeopathic treatment. Although the diagnosis might cause some anxiety, especially for the parent of a child who has come down with it, prompt homeopathic attention along with adjunctive measures such as dietary modifications and nutritional supplements is a most appropriate way of successfully handling the problem without the side effects of antibiotics.

As with any condition treated with homeopathy, the name of the condition is of much less significance than the actual symptoms that the person is experiencing. Whether there is a diagnosis of strep or not, successful treatment rests upon using a remedy most suitable for the particular conditions of that case.

The symptoms encompass the entire state of the person, including the nature of the sore throat, other physical symptoms that accompany it, general changes in the patient’s state such as alterations in food preferences and sensitivity to temperature, as well as shifts in mood or temperament.

In the first stages of an acute sore throat, the homeopathic remedy Belladonna is often the most effective one. It is, in fact, very useful for all sorts of acute inflammatory conditions where there is a manifestation of localized heat and redness. Usually, there are strong symptoms in the head such as pain, a red puffed face, and throbbing carotids.

Belladonna is the first remedy to think of in high fever, even to the extent of delirium and twitching. It is characteristic that the eyes become red, bloodshot with pupils that first contract and then dilate. Both the mouth and throat become very dry, red, and sometimes greatly swollen. The skin of a Belladonna patient is likewise very red and hot, to the extent that it will radiate heat, burning the hand that touches it.

Most conditions and symptoms that call for Belladonna begin suddenly - and after the remedy will dissipate quickly as well. Belladonna illnesses tend to be worse after 3 PM or after midnight. Another characteristic is that, despite being so hot, the patient is worse from uncovering – or conversely, better when covered up. Lying down also aggravates the condition, so the patient wants to keep the head up high.

Another common group of remedies used to treat sore throats, and by extension, strep throat, are the Mercury salts. In contrast to the dry heat of Belladonna, Mercury is generally indicated by a state of dampness, chill and decay. There is often great swelling of the glands, increased perspiration and salivation, foul smelling discharges.

The throat and mouth are common areas that produce symptoms in Mercury patients. The tongue is swollen and often ‘scalloped’ (showing indentations along the edges), the breath smells putrid, and canker sores appear on the gums or tongue. It is an important remedy for enlarged tonsils. The throat becomes sore, often with a burning sensation and it feels like there is a lump ‘like the core of an apple’. In addition, there can be a lot of mucous, which most often is greenish and foul.

Another interesting very useful remedy for the throat is Lac-Caninum, or dog’s milk. The classic indication for this remedy is that the pain tends to change back and forth from one side of the throat to the other. The throat tends to be very sensitive to touch and swallowing is quite painful. The pain is often has a burning quality and can extend into the ears. The neck and tongue feel stiff as well. Lac-Caninum is a fairly common remedy also for tonsillitis and, in the old days, was effective in many cases of diphtheria.

These are only a few of many remedies that are used to treat the throat. In the homeopathic repertory, the compendium of symptoms and the remedies related to these symptoms, there are 347 different remedies listed for ‘sore throat’. Each one has its own specific indications – either particular characteristics of the throat itself or other characteristics related to the general physical and mental state of the patient.

Obviously, it isn’t easy for a layperson to sort through the particular characteristics of hundreds of remedies to find the best match any given sore throat. But there are a handful of remedies that will cover a high percentage of cases. A layperson can learn the indications for those remedies relatively easily.

Even so, it is important to keep within one’s limits and not go beyond one’s personal comfort level when treating an illness, whether a simple cold or a strep throat, for oneself, a family member or a friend. Past that point, professional homeopathic care is advisable.