Homeopathy For Children: Comparing Pulsatilla and Chamomilla
When it comes to alternative medicine for children, nothing beats the safety and effectiveness of homeopathy.
Homeopathic remedies are nontoxic, easy to use, and pose no risk of side effects… so even if you offer your child the wrong remedy when fumbling around in the middle of the night, no one will be the worse for it. And children respond exceptionally well to homeopathic treatment, even better than adults!
The one drawback to homeopathy, though, is that it’s easy to be overwhelmed sorting through virtually thousands of remedies for just that perfect one to relieve your child’s symptoms. And if you’re dealing with an ailing infant, it can seem impossible to gauge what’s really wrong!
The good news is that when it comes to childhood illness there are two leading remedies that stand out above all the rest: Pulsatilla Nigricans and Chamomilla Vulgaris.
Understanding the basic characteristics of these two remedies can be tremendously helpful for identifying the right remedy to effectively provide comfort and relief.
Homeopathy: A Quick Overview
Homeopathic medicine follows the doctrine of “like cures like”. You can read in more detail about homeopathy and how it works here, but the basic principle is that a given substance (like Chamomile, for instance) which produces certain symptoms in a healthy being (if taken in noxious amounts) can, in fact, cure those same symptoms in the sick when taken in diluted amounts.
Consequently, the trick to successful homeopathic home health care is to pay close attention to the clues your child provides regarding the way they feel so that you can best match their symptoms with the correct remedy.
As a parent it’s helpful to ask yourself questions like these:
- How/When did the problem start?
- What was the first symptom the child complained about?
- How are they behaving? How are they different than normal?
- Do they want to eat or drink?
- What are they asking for?
- Are they chilly or hot?
- and, What seems to make them feel better?
Answering these basic questions can be enough to determine a good homeopathic remedy to try. Even infants provide many of the necessary clues to help you select the homeopathic remedy needed to facilitate relief.
While there are thousands of remedies in the homeopathic Materia Medica, I find two are sufficient for 80% of my children’s care.
Both are well indicated remedies for a plethora of children’s ailments, including symptoms of colds, flus, and earaches. But they are quite unique in the behavioral characteristics that indicate their use for an ailment.
Let’s unravel the mystery of chamomilla and pulsatilla.
Chamomilla Vulgaris, the German Daisy
Chamomilla, an ultra-diluted homeopathic preparation of the herb, chamomile, has long been termed “the parents’ friend” but is considered one of the “ugliest” remedies, too. That’s because it is characterized by anger.
The child who needs chamomilla is the one who can be heard down the hall and behind closed doors. They’re irritable. They’re impatient. They don’t like pain. And they want to be sure you know it! Their crying sets your teeth on edge and makes you desperate to find some way to calm them.
One of the great markers for the chamomilla child is their fickleness and restlessness. They don’t know what they want. They scream for a toy and you oblige… and then they promptly throw it to the ground. Infants seem to want to be held, but that doesn’t satisfy them either. They want something new every minute.
When not sick, the behavior of the chamomilla child is often a sign of not getting enough attention; they tend to react with loud shrieking and demanding behavior.
The chamomilla child is very sensitive to pain, especially when teething. That is what makes this remedy “the parents’ friend”; it can take an otherwise hysterical child and relax them within minutes. It’s amazing.
Pulsatilla Nigricans, the Wind Flower
Pulsatilla is a homeopathic preparation of a plant called the Wind Flower. Like chamomile, it is suitable for cranky and tearful children. Whereas the chamomilla child has an angry cry that makes you pull your hair out, the pulsatilla child will move you to pity. The cry of the pulsatilla child is a pathetic one that makes you want to cuddle them and tell them everything is going to be all right.
As master homeopath James Tyler Kent put it when discussing the differences between the two remedies: “you want to caress the one and spank the other.”
The pulsatilla child wants your sympathy and feels improved once they receive it. They are happy to be carried and snuggled all the time, partly because they have a tendency to be chilly.
And heaven forbid momma should leave their sight; this child is exceptionally clingy.
Honestly, if you have more than one female child in the house chances are you’ll find plenty of uses for pulsatilla. It’s a very “girly” remedy that is characterized by “change”: sudden swings in emotion, changes in pain, temperature, etc. But that doesn’t mean it’s just for girls.
My son went through a very “pulsatilla” phase when he was about 18 months old. I was very new to homeopathy and had remarked to my homeopathic instructor that his teething issues seemed unrelieved by chamomilla. She asked me his behavior and I responded that he would just hang on my legs constantly when I was trying to get dinner and do other household tasks. Of course she recommended pulsatilla and true to form his clinginess stopped after a few doses.
Aside from the behavioral differences of chamomilla and pulsatilla, there are also notable differences in their symptom affinity for relieving ailments.
To help with this, I created a reference guide to help differentiate between the two:
Dosing for Homeopathic Remedies
Although homeopathic tablets can be given to older babies (I’ve always given tablets to even my infants… they love the sweet taste!), the best way to give a remedy to a baby is to dissolve 4–8 pellets in a quarter-cup water by stirring vigorously. One dose = one teaspoonful.
However, you really don’t need to be too concerned with the potency. Should you have a higher or lower potency on hand you can always use them, just use less frequent dosing for higher potencies and more frequent for lower potencies.
Frequency: The frequency at which you give your child a remedy should correlate with their symptoms. For severe symptoms, offer one dose (teaspoon or pellet) every 5 minutes, 3 times in a row. Then every couple of hours as needed until symptoms improve. For mild symptoms, offer one dose every couple of hours, as need.
As your child’s symptoms improve, give the remedy less frequently.
If your child does not seem improved by the remedy you’ve chosen, stop using it. Either select another or seek professional care.
Recommended Homeopathic Products
There are a plethora of reputable homeopathic companies that market quality products. Here in the U.S. Hyland’s is the most well recognized company, but Boiron, Washington Homeopathic Products and Heel are good choices, too.
At the End of the Day…
One of the many wonderful things about homeopathy is it’s ability to empower parents to take charge of their children’s health and well-being.
The two remedies we’ve discussed here are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to homeopathic medicines that can benefit your family, particularly your children. I encourage you to explore the world of homeopathy further and identify other popular remedies that would be ideal additions to your family medicine cabinet.
As with any form of alternative medicine, practice common sense for identifying when to use homeopathic remedies at home and when to seek the care of a trained medical professional.
One word of caution: be prepared to fall in love with the effectiveness and ease of homeopathy!
Homeopathy for Pregnancy, Birth, and Your Baby’s First Year by Miranda Castro
Homeopathic Medicine for Children and Infants by Dana Ullman