Although there are more than 2,500 remedies in the homeopathic pharmacopoeia, an athlete that knows about half a dozen “sports” remedies will be ahead of the game.
Homeopathic remedies are simple to take they travel well (in small plastic tubes), and can be easily tucked into a sports bag. And far from being bitter medicine to swallow, these remedies, in the form of tiny pellets, taste like sugar and dissolve quickly under the tongue for fast absorption.
How Homeopathy Works
Homeopathy uses microdoses of natural substances that stimulate the body to heal itself. The original substance (from sources such as plants or minerals) is repeatedly diluted in water and succussed (vigorously shaken) until, in most cases, no molecules of the initial substance are left. It seems that some information remains in the water and continues to have a medicinal action despite the absence of these molecules. The liquid “remedies” are then sprayed onto pellets, which are given at various dosing intervals to treat injuries. They will not interfere with conventional drugs, and side-effects are extremely rare. For an injured player, a specific remedy is chosen by matching the pattern of symptoms to the symptom complex the remedy has been known, through past experience, to cure.
Recovery: Phase One
No sports bag should be allowed in the locker room without homeopathic Arnica (mountain daisy) inside. For athletic injuries, Arnica is the invaluable companion of ice, compression and elevation for the treatment of traumas such as blunt blows in rugby, ankle sprains in soccer and strained muscles after 18 holes of golf in the early spring. Bruising and aggravation from movement are the telltale signs of an injury that needs Arnica. It will minimize pain, reduce swelling, help reabsorb bruises and generally speed healing in the first phase of recovery. More people have been made aware of the benefits of homeopathy through the use of Arnica than any other homeopathic remedy. Use it for those special occasions like getting checked into the boards in hockey or using your head to field a cricket ball. It really works.
Some sports injuries can be quite catastrophic in particular concussions or “minimal brain trauma.” These are common in both amateur and professional sports and can lead to residual personality changes and cognitive defects that can end a promising athlete’s career. The aging boxer Mohammed Ali is a good example of this type of recurrent brain damage leading to impairment of mental function. In rare cases, repeated concussions can be fatal. In a recent study of the use of homeopathy after traumatic brain injury, correctly chosen remedies were seen to reverse quite marked pathology, according to the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation (1999; 14:521-542). After any head injury, Arnica should be given right away (if the player is conscious) and, if residual symptoms persist, treatment sought from a professional homeopathic practitioner.
If you are looking for a cream to rub on a sore muscle or ankle, try homeopathic Traumeel. It contains a combination of useful trauma remedies and doesn’t contain camphor or menthol (common in other deep heat rubs), which can work against homeopathy’s action. Many athletes use Arnica cream as an alternative, but Arnica should not be applied to an open wound.
If an injury occurs to a fingertip, lip or an area with a lot of nerve endings (such as the tailbone or coccyx), use homeopathic Hypericum (St. John’s wort) instead of Arnica. It’s more specific for this kind of injury. (One of my patients, with a severely bruised fingertip from a crush injury did well by alternating Arnica and Hypericum.) So, if you fall on your behind on the ice or get a fingertip laceration while rock climbing, reach for Hypericum first.
Fractures that are not displaced or have been set properly will heal faster with a daily dose of homeopathic Symphytum (comfrey). This remedy is known as “knit bone” and will speed the uniting of bone fragments. It will also ease injuries to the periosteum (the tissue next to the bone) and is a great help for the shins of field hockey enthusiasts who like to mix it up. Symphytum is also known as the “Arnica of the eye” and works well for orbital contusions (black eyes).
Recovery: Phase Two
When any injury gets older and applied heat now feels better than cold packs, second phase remedies are needed to finish up the healing process. If the injured part feels like a “rusty gate” (worse after rest, better after continued movement), then Rhus toxicodendron (poison oak) is the remedy of choice. Typically, the stiffness and pain of getting out of bed or a chair is soon relieved by a hot shower and moving around a bit. Then things loosen right up and seem to be relatively pain free. As fatigue sets in at the end of the day, the injured part begins to ache again. This pattern is not infrequently seen in tendon and ligament injuries such as sprained ankles and pulled backs. An old “tossing the caber” strain might call for Rhus tox to complete the cure. Fortunately, 20 per cent of Scottish physicians have integrated homeopathy into their general practices.
If the injured part is better with heat and rest (Remember: Rhus tox is for when it is worse with rest), consider homeopathic Ruta graveolens (rue). Chronic “tennis elbow” or your sore arm on the week after you’ve pitched a no-hitter may call for this remedy.
If you’re facing your first PGA tournament and are next up on the first tee, one dose of homeopathic Gelsemium (yellow jasmine) will ease anticipatory or performance anxiety. (If you use this remedy and beat Tiger Woods to the prize money, don’t forget where you got this excellent advice.) Homeopathy and a good golf swing make a winning combination.
Homeopathy’s greatest advantage is that it has absolutely no side-effects. You can find a wide variety of homeopathic remedies at most health food stores.