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Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Bronchitis. Is conventional or homeopathic treatment best?

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the air passages between the nose and the lungs, the bronchial tubes. People with bronchitis usually cough up thickened mucus, which can be discoloured. Acute, short-term bronchitis is usually caused by a viral infection, and usually heals without complication. Chronic, or long-term bronchitis is a sign of serious lung disease for which conventional medicine has no cure.

Conventional Medical Treatment for Bronchitis
NHS Choices says that “most cases of bronchitis do not require treatment from a GP, and the symptoms can be easily managed at home” and that “there is no cure for chronic bronchitis, but healthy living will help”. The advice is to stop smoking, get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, and use painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen to manage headaches, fever, and aches and pains. They say, quite correctly, that cough medicine do not work, and that in any case the drug regulator, MHRA, has recommended that cough medicine should not be given to children under six. It recommends, itself, to “try making your own mixture of honey and lemon, which can help soothe a sore throat and ease your cough”.

NHS Choices goes on to recommend Antibiotic drugs, even though this illness is usually caused by a virus, despite the dangers of these drugs, and growing resistance to them because of overuse, and misuse. The side-affects admitted are  nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

For chronic bronchitis NHS Choices say it is treated in the same way as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (or COPD). This includes
  • an exercise programme known as pulmonary rehabilitation can help you cope better with your symptoms
  • Drugs call Mucolytics, which make mucus easier to cough up. NHS Choices mentions no side effects, but the website states that some people have reported bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract, and that they should not be taken if you develop black stools, as this is a sign of bleeding from the gut.
The Homeopathic Treatment of Bronchitis

Note. Homeopathy does not treat illness or diseases. It treats an individual who has been diagnosed with a particular illness or disease. The distinction is important. Click here to read more about “Illness Diagnosis”. 

Homeopathy works by matching the symptoms of illness with the known symptoms of remedies. These short remedy descriptions may guide you to a remedy that can work for you, but consulting with a qualified homeopath will enhance the chances of a good match. When a close match is found the remedy will work successfully, without any side effects, or adverse reactions.

These remedy descriptions are taken from the Hpathy website, and can be used for both acute and chronic bronchitis.

The sphere of Aconite in bronchitis is limited to the onset of the affection, and here it must be distinguished carefully from other remedies also suitable to this stage. When, as a result of checked perspiration, exposure to cold, drafts or dry, cold winds,a cold is taken starting in with a coryza, frequent sneezing, chilliness, restless sleep, full, hard pulse, and the characteristic mental condition, Aconite will come in, though its stage is a brief one is usually over before the physician sees the case. It is of use, therefore,only before the inflammation is localized. If the cases are characterised by lassitude and physical weakness and indisposition with a full flowing pulse and moderate congestion, then Aconite is supplanted by Gelsemium. Often times it is difficult to determine which of these remedies is indicated, when Ferrum phos must be considered, and more especially so in the bronchitis of children,where it will often check the trouble. It stands therefore midway between Aconite and Gelsemium, with less restlessness and bounding pulse than the former and less flowing pulse and drowsiness than the latter remedy. It corresponds to cases where every little cold adds to trouble, the cough is short and dry, the lungs are sore, and the breathing is somewhat oppressed. Veratrum viride suits violent cases from the first where there is high temperature, full, hard rapid pulse, and great heat of the body. It differs from Aconite in having no anxiety and no restlessness. When the arterial turgescence is over its period of usefulness is past.

Belladonna suits cases of bronchitis with a violent fever, short, dry, continual, distressing cough, worse at night and on lying down,where the breathing is irregular and hurried, no expectoration, or ,if present, it is apt to be blood-streaked, fulness in chest without any pain, though children will cry when coughing,the skin is hot and inclined to moisture, not dry like Aconite or Veratrum viride. There is a tendency to drowsiness, the patient does not sleep, but dozes in semiconscious manner and starts frequently. Do not be too great hurry a change to another remedy when the cough is spasmodic and the child cries after each paroxysm. Belladonna is still the remedy.

Probably this remedy is seldom indicated in pure bronchitis, though very frequently given. It is of especial good service when the cough is very severe, hurting the head and distant parts of the body. The patient presses the hands on the sides of the chest while coughing to relieve the pain. There is great pressure over the sternum, dyspnoea, and a dry cough,which seems to start from the stomach. It is worse after a meal and there is but little expectoration. The cough is more the result of an irritation in the larger bronchi than in the finger tubes, and the hacking produces sore spots in the trachea and chest. Stitching pains in the sides, of course, further indicate Bryonia. The cough is aggravated by coming into a warm room from the cold air. Hughes says that it is the best remedy after Aconite for what is known as a cold on the chest. If the expectoration becomes copious, loose, thick and muco-purulent, Pulsatilla may be indicated. If accompanied by nausea and vomiting of mucus, then give Ipecacuanha. When bronchitis follows measles and whooping cough, Chelidonium is an excellent remedy.

Especially suitable to sub-acute and lingering cases in delicate, tall, slender, overgrown or phthisical subjects. It thus suits non- resistant individuals. There is a paroxysmal cough with pain under the sternum, suffocative pressure in the upper part of the chest with constriction of the larynx, hoarseness, mucous rales, bloody and mucous sputum or purulent, having a salty or sweetish taste; patient better after sleep. The respiration is embarrassed and the tendency is toward pneumonia. Rumex has a tickling in the supra-sternal fossa; any change in breathing causes cough; must breathe warm air to avoid coughing. With Phosphorus the cough is worse after meals, and a guiding symptom is soreness and rawness of the chest; the cough is also worse going into the open air, being the reverse of Bryonia. Talking, or any use of the voice, aggravates the cough. 

Hepar sulph
When the cough begins to loosen and becomes rattling, fatiguing and choking, with moist rales, Hepar will be the remedy. “Coughing into a choke” is a valuable indication for this remedy. It corresponds more closely to subacute cases. It is particularly adapted to dyscrasias, herein differing from Pulsatilla. Kali carbonicum is also valuable in capillary bronchitis with dyspnoea,a choking cough, and sharp stitches in the chest. The 12x potency is perhaps the best.

The sovereign remedy in inflammatory bronchial catarrh; there is roughness and soreness from the fauces down through the middle of the chest, a dry, raw concussive cough, which is very exhausting ;sputum watery, saliva-like,or yellow and muco-purulent. There is fever and alternation of hills and heat, desire for cold drinks, which aggravate the cough. and pasty sweat without relief. Kali bich has for its indication the tough,tenacious,glutinous character of the expectoration; it can be drawn out in long strings. Hughes considers it useful when bronchitis lingers long in a sub-acute condition. The expectoration may also be of bluish lumps, and the cough is especially troublesome towards morning, the tightness seems to be at the epigastrium.

Antimonium tart
This remedy corresponds to two stages of bronchitis, an early one and a late one. In the beginning of capillary bronchitis in young infants, or in old people, this remedy stands most prominent. There are sub- crepitant rales throughout the chest, wheezing breathing, the cough sounds loose, but no phlegm is raised. In children the cough is infrequent, and the child becomes drowsy, the respiration is superficial, requiring laboured efforts of the respiratory muscles, and vomiting of food and mucus may be present. In these cases carbon dioxide poisoning threatens, and the patient’s own mucous secretion drown him. These are clear indication of Antimonium tartaricum. Ipecacuanha is the most similar drug; the rales are louder and coarser, there is much coughing, but the patient raises little phlegm of infants, the prostration not being as marked as with Antimonium tartaricum. There is great accumulation of mucus, spasmodic cough, nausea and vomiting, and difficulty in breathing. After its use the expectoration becomes less tenacious which permits it to be raised more easily. Baryta carbonica has loud rattling in the chest, but the patient cannot raise. Ammonium causticum has also a copious accumulation of mucus in the lungs with incessant cough. Antimonium arsenicosum is also a most useful remedy and corresponds to dangerous types of capillary bronchitis.

Sulphur corresponds well to inveterate cases of chronic bronchitis, and brilliant results are here obtained. Its catarrh of the bronchial mucous membranes is accompanied with loud rales, a persistent, profuse, thick, muco-purulent expectoration and attended by suffocative attacks. Bronchial catarrh, with loud rales and profuse expectoration; both this remedy and Pix liquida have expectoration of purulent matter. Bacillinum is a remedy highly spoken of by some competent observers; it seems to suit especially individuals who are constantly catching cold, one is hardly gotten rid of before another is contracted. The irritation locates itself in the bronchial mucous membrane leaving troublesome cough.

Carbo veg
Bronchitis of old people with profuse, yellow, foetid expectoration, dyspnoea, much rattling in the chest, and burning calls for this remedy. Among other remedies suiting bronchial troubles in old people are Senega, where the cough is irritating and the phlegm is especially adhesive and the patient complains of a pressing pain in the chest, when respiring, moving or coughing. Lachesis where the cough comes on when the patient is about to drop of to sleep; Arsenicum, fatiguing suffocative cough with violent dyspnoea; Scilla, obstinate chronic coughs with stitches in the chest, expectoration transparent or muco-purulent, easy at times, hard at others; Nux vomica, Rhus Tox and Veratrum album. Dulcamara is a valuable remedy for bronchial catarrhs of old people with a very free greenish expectoration, worse from change of weather to cold and wet.

Randomised Controlled Tests (RCTs)
Information taken from the abstract:

          Homeopathic products are often employed by patients to treat cough, but the evidence on their efficacy is scarce. Thus, we tested the efficacy of a homeopathic syrup in treating cough arising from URTIs with a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial. Patients were treated with either the homeopathic syrup or a placebo for a week, and recorded cough severity in a diary by means of a verbal category-descriptive score for two weeks……. Sputum was collected from 53 patients: in both groups its viscosity significantly decreased after 4 days of treatment; however, viscosity was significantly lower in the homeopathic group. Instead, the subjective evaluation did not significantly differ between the two groups. No adverse events related to any treatment were reported. We concluded that the homeopathic syrup employed in the study was able to effectively reduce cough severity and sputum viscosity, thereby representing a valid remedy for the management of acute cough induced by URTIs.