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Monday, 10 February 2014

Pleurisy. Homeopathic vs Conventional Treatment

Pleurisy (often now called pleuritis) is a condition in which the layer covering the lungs, called the pleura, becomes inflamed. The most common symptom of pleurisy is sudden pain in the chest, which is made worse with deep breathing, coughing, and moving the chest. The pain may also be felt in the shoulders, the lower chest, even the neck or abdomen. A full description of Pleurisy can be found on this Hpathy website.


According to the NHS Choices website, the “treatment for pleurisy usually involves relieving pain and treating the underlying cause of the condition.

The treatment recommended for pain are NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs), including Ibuprofen, Paracetamol or Nurofen and Codeine. The dangers of these painkilling drugs can be seen by clicking on these links, and of course, they only deal with the pain.

NHS Choices mentions several possible ‘underlying causes’ for pleurisy:

A Bacterial Infection - the treatment for which is “a combination of different antibiotics”. Despite the fact that conventional medicine continues to recommend them for a wide variety of illnesses, the adverse reactions of, and the increasing resistance to Antibiotic drugs is becoming increasingly apparent.

A Viral Infection - the NHS merely says that treatment “may not be required because the infection will usually resolve on its own after a few days” - which suggests that there is no available treatment! It says that hospitalisation may be necessary if the symptoms don’t resolve on their own.

Pleural effusion - the NHS Choices website that this happens when there is “a build up of excess fluid around the lungs called pleural effusion”, with the main symptom being shortness of breath that gets progressively worse. Treatment for this is to insert a tube, with a general anaesthetic, to drain away the fluid.

There is probably good reason to seek to avoid all this treatment, and homeopathy can help in doing so.

This description of the homeopathic treatment of Pleurisy is taken from two Hpathy websites. This one. And this one

In homeopathy the selection of remedy is based upon the symptoms of the individual. As always, the aim of homeopathy is not only to treat the individual’s symptoms of pleurisy, but also his or her susceptibilities to pleurisy. In more serious, or long-standing cases of pleurisy the patient should consult a qualified homeopath. However, these remedies are known to treat people suffering from pleurisy if they match closely the individual’s symptom picture:

Aconite. This remedy for the chills, high fever, sharply defined chill; but it is only useful in the first stage before the exudation has taken place; there may be sharp stitches in the chest from the intense congestion, but these,if marked, usually indicate Bryonia. An additional indication for Aconite would be in case the attack arose from a chill following a checked perspiration. The good effects of the remedy are usually manifested promptly. 

This remedy often follows Aconite, and suits most cases of pleurisy as its symptom picture mirrors this disease more closely than any other remedy. It should be given after the stage of exudation has arrived and the fever has abated somewhat, though the fever may still be considerable. There are short, sharp, stitching pains, worse from the slightest motion; even breathing is painful and the patient lies on the painful side to relieve the pain.

Ranunculus Bulbosus. 
Sharp, stitching pains in the chest,worse on the right side. It is often found useful to absorb the effusion. 

Knife-like pains in the left axilla. 

A pleuritic remedy where there is a dry, hacking cough, scanty expectoration, pains relieved by bending forward; the suffering is intense. Hale says: " It seems to be a lesser Bryonia and is probably not adapted to serve cases."

Pleurisy with exudation, hydrothorax ; a useful remedy in the stage of effusion after the fever has abated and the pains have disappeared. Sulphur suits all forms of exudation; there is a sharp, stitching pain through the left lung to the back, worse lying on back and from least motion. It follows Aconite and Bryonia well. It is one of our most valuable absorbents. 

Hepar Sulph.
Where there is purulent exudation ; also an excellent remedy in pleurisy complicated with bronchitis. It will hardly ever fail in plastic pleurisy when its specific indications are present. It will often clear up cases of purulent pleurisy which tend to induce consumption.

Pleurisy in children of the congestive type, often ushered in by convulsions rather than fever. 

Pleuritis arising from external injury, and where pain continues. It is useful in traumatic and haemorrhagic (bleeding) cases.

A valuable remedy in the treatment of ‘wet’ pleurisy, is indicated by dyspnoea (difficulty in breathing), palpitation, profuse sweats, weakness, tendency to fainting with scanty and albuminous urine. Dr.Jousset accounts Cantharis a leading drug in pleurisy with effusion. It has caused this condition in animals.

Serous pleurisy; it can promptly relieves the painful asthmatic respiration when there is a large accumulation of fluid, and prostration. It usually is a quick acting remedy. 

Ascl Tub
An early stage remedy where there is a dry hacking cough, scanty expectoration, and where pains are relieved by bending forward. This remedy is next to Bryonia in severity and intensity.

A remedy to be used where there is sharp stitching pain through the left lung to the back, where it is worse lying on the back, and from the least motion. This remedy follows Aconite and Bryonia well, especially when chosen remedies fail to improve the patient.

Other homeopathic remedies that are often used to treat pleurisy are Abrotanum, Carbo Veg, Mercurius, Nitric acid and Sabadilla.


To date, I know of no RCTs done on Pleurisy. The evidence for the homeopathic treatment of this illness is entirely clinical, that is, the successful treatment of this condition by homeopaths over the last 200 years. See Homeopathy Evidence Base.