“Jordan, has been coughing a lot, feels like a lot of mucous is in her throat, and has post nasal drip causing stomach-ache and chest pain. It started suddenly this AM. Not sure if its allergy related or not. On a scale of 1-10 it’s a “9” when moving around but a “6” when she’s relaxing and not moving.
Also, Jordan’s great-grandmother is very ill and may not be with us much longer. We will be going out of town soon to say goodbye. I bring this up only because it is undoubtedly causing Jordan stress, even though she can hide it well.
She feels discomfort in the back of her throat and in her chest and stomach. She complains that her throat hurts, and it hurts to cough or take a deep breath.
Nothing unusual about her appearance.
She’s worse from cold air and moving around. Better relaxing and not moving around.
No discharges. Not thirsty. She was craving rice earlier, but not anymore.
She feels chilly.
Her energy is moderate. Emotional state: normal.
She has a wet cough from mucus in the throat.”
Rx: Rhus-t 30 tid
Follow up two days later: “Jordan seems much worse today. White spots have appeared all over the back of her throat. She has a fever, and her throat feels worse.
She has been drinking a lot of water but won’t eat. She was coughing up phlegm but is having trouble getting it up now.
She has taken 5 doses of Rhus tox so far.
Her breath is almost rancid.”
Plan: stop Rhus-t
Follow-up next day: “Jordan is feeling much, much better today. Thanks!”
Follow-up four days: “Jordan has been feeling much better each day. I am still giving her the ________, since she says she feels better after having it. She hasn’t had any today, though.
She has no complaints of sore throat but she does have a cough. The cough is pulling up mucus. Her voice is lower than normal. Otherwise, she’s in good spirits and has an appetite.”
Follow-up one week: “She’s back to 100%. Her last dose was on day 5.”
Each year during the cold/flu season I get dozens of such cases by email or phone. Often the symptoms are few and commonplace, as in this case, and I have to wrack my brains to come up with a suggestion.
It would be tempting to assume an etiology of grief over the illness of Jordan’s great grandmother, but there is no corroborating evidence. We have a few modalities, such as worse moving and cold air, but they are not pronounced or peculiar.
Rhus tox is one of my sheet anchors in cases of influenza, but Jordan has no fever, body aches or other flu symptoms, so it is not surprising that Rhus failed.
The one symptom that struck me as a bit unusual was the white spots on the back of her throat. Could that lead anywhere? I found a rubric (in Murphy): Throat, Discoloration, white spots: bry, iod, kali-p, mur-ac, nit-ac. Of these, Bryonia fit the best because of the aggravation from movement, but there were no confirmations such as irritability, pain or thirst, and Bryonia is not usually chilly in the acute stage.
At this point I felt I needed more biomedical knowledge. What the heck were those white spots, anyway? Did they mean anything?
On the internet I found the following:
Very red throat with white or yellow spots at its back are typical for inflamed throat, caused by bacterial infections. Such inflammation develops fast, tonsils swell, get irritated and sensitive, and you may also have a fever or a headache.
So it was reasonable to conclude that I was dealing with a bacterial and not a viral infection. I remembered hearing herbalist Michael Tierra describe his experience of living in a hippie farm commune back in the 1970’s. As the only member of the commune with any knowledge of herbal medicine, Michael became the “go to” person for everyone’s health problems. One of his first challenges was to find a remedy for strep and staph infections. After a lot of research he came up with Echinacea.
Since that time Echinacea has become popularized as an “immune booster,” which of course it is not. But research has shown that it inhibits the action of hyaluronidase, an enzyme secreted by bacteria to break down cell walls. Echinacea does not kill bacteria, then, but makes them starve to death. Although we do not prescribe homeopathic medicines on pathophysiological grounds, we can certainly say that Echinacea has a strong affinity for bacterial infections.
A proving of Echinacea by J.C. Fahnestock in 1899 established that it is a chilly remedy, worse after physical or mental labor and better at rest. Potentized echinacea is not available in most health food stores, but one can usually find the mother tincture, typically a blend of Echinacea purpura and E. angustifolia.
Rx Echin Φ 10 drops in 1 ounce water or juice, 3x/day
After treating Jordan I got several more cases that responded equally well to Echinacea. In one of these cases there was just a single white spot in the back of the throat, and in another, all I got was the following: “I woke up today with a sore throat. Hurts to swallow a little. No other real symptoms other than sneezing fits maybe once a day yesterday and day before. Any suggestions?”