Unlike conventional medications, which only control seizure symptoms in dogs and cats, homeopathy offers the possibility of a genuine cure in the majority of cases.
Having your dog or cat diagnosed with a seizure disorder can be scary. What are the treatment options? Will he have to be on drugs for the rest of his life? Are there any alternative therapies that might help? Turns out, homeopathy is one modality that can be effective for seizures.
Not all seizure disorders are the same
- Primary or idiopathic seizures in pets and people are commonly lumped under the diagnosis of “epilepsy”.
- Secondary seizures linked to various other pathologies are entirely different, and require different approaches based on treatment of the primary condition.
The conventional approach of anti-convulsant drugs may provide a quick solution in that the animal’s fits are controlled. However, such treatment can never amount to more than symptomatic control. These drugs must be given for life, with their attendant costs, monitoring requirements and often side effects for the animal. In addition, there are many animals in which, for a variety of reasons, complete control cannot be achieved.
Homeopathy offers a possible cure
Homeopathy, on the other hand, offers the possibility of a genuine cure in the majority of cases, and in certain circumstances it can be combined with conventional methodology. There are, however, important differences between these two approaches, and these must be appreciated for the best results.
- The first thing to remember is that in homeopathy, there is no such thing as one remedy indicated for every case. Each prescription is individual, and is selected using criteria involving the general characteristics of the dog or cat and the factors that modify the intensity of the symptoms, which are not usually considered by the orthodox world.
- We must also appreciate that from a homeopathic approach, seizures are the acute manifestation of an underlying chronic condition, and the latter must be addressed if there is to be a successful cure.
Even with accurate details of the fit, it must be remembered that these are essentially local symptoms. They represent the means whereby the body exteriorises the underlying condition. Too much concentration preventing that manifestation, whether by purely locally-acting remedies or conventional medication, results in suppression of the external symptom, which leads to the disease process either finding another external outlet, or involving the deeper organs of the body.
Controlling seizures may lead to the animal developing chronic skin problems, diarrhea, or in time, an apparently unconnected, deeper and possibly life-threatening condition.
Successful homeopathic treatment prescribed by a vet well-versed in this approach addresses the underlying chronic condition without merely suppressing external symptoms. The animal will then be free of seizures and healthier overall, with the chance of a longer life. Often, he will not need to stay on medications; conventional drugs can usually be stopped or the dosages dramatically reduced.
Selecting homeopathic medicine
It is imperative to work with an integrative or holistic veterinarian who is experienced and knowledgeable in homeopathy. The goal is to select from over 4,000 homeopathic medicines the one that best matches all the symptoms of your individual animal. Sometimes there will be one clear-cut unique symptom (e.g. seizures only occur at the full moon and/or at night), or else all the symptoms clearly point to one remedy (the similimum).
At other times, the homeopathic technique known as “Never Well Since” (NWS) is needed. In these cases, a clear connection between the onset of fits and a particular event can be established. For example, Arnica, Natrum Sulphuricum, Helliborus or Opium may be indicated in cases associated with head trauma; Ignatia or Natrum Muriaticum when there is grief; or Thuja or Silica to counter a vaccinosis (each of these rubrics has a much longer list of possible homeopathic medicines).
Cases in which anti-convulsive drugs have completely or partially controlled the fits pose particular problems because the symptom picture has been supressed or modified, and restoring the genuine picture causes considerable case/client management challenges. NWS can be useful in these situations to select remedies that can influence the cycle before the control provided by drugs is lifted.
Acute-acting remedies (i.e. Belladonna or Aconite) can replace anti-convulsants and gain time in which to address the deeper aspects of a case. The bowel nosode Proteus can be of particular use because its theme of sudden nervous involvement mirrors the broad epilepsy picture; its use will often prevent seizures and lead to a change in the symptom picture that will indicate a clear choice of a further remedy.
Potency and frequency of dosing
Although the energy of a fit is high, care must be taken with potency selection since an aggravation can trigger a stasis epilepticus situation. Once trained in homeopathy, a practitioner develops a preference for administering single doses only, perhaps repeated for a few days to stimulate the curative effect, or repeated liquid dilutions. Since the goal of homeopathy is to stimulate the body to heal itself, to rebalance, remedies should not need to be given for life. If the animal is not getting healthier in addition to not having fits, then any new symptoms should be added to the list and a new similimum selected.
While it’s natural to panic when your pet seizures, it’s important to take your time when talking to the vet so that he or she can build up a full picture of your dog or cat’s symptoms before making a diagnosis and creating a treatment plan. This is especially true for homeopathy, which while effective, requires a holistic approach that includes not only immediate symptoms, but also your pet’s medical history, other health problems, his environment and other factors.
Causes of epilepsy
Trauma, infection, toxins and hereditary factors are all recognized and easily-understandable causes of epilepsy, but two other causes account for many cases.
- The first is vaccination, which can cause neurological problems shortly after the vaccine is given. Homeopathic veterinarians recognize seizures as one possible manifestation of vaccinosis. Since over-vaccination can lead to the condition, booster vaccines should not be given unnecessarily. Under no circumstances should a booster be given to an animal with a history of fits from any cause. Primary vaccines given too early, while the animal’s immune system is still extremely immature, can lead to vaccinosis and seizures. The condition can also be triggered by the suppression of a normal acute reaction to the challenge of vaccination, such as a sore ear, patch of eczema or attack of diarrhea appearing shortly after vaccination.
- Mental factors such as fright, and particularly grief, can also be significant in triggering fits. It is easy to understand bereavement arising from a death, but it must also be remembered that a separation that’s explicable in human terms may well seem like a bereavement to an animal. The departure of a child to college, for example, while producing a sense of temporary loss in the parents, can produce grief-induced fits in a closely-attached animal who cannot understand what is happening.
Additionally, a history of any skin disease that quickly responded to drug therapy (or even to holistic treatments) can be a clue. When the vital force expresses its imbalance with skin symptoms which are then quickly stopped (suppressed), more serious problems like epilepsy may result.
Case report — Rosie
Rosie was a four-year-old spayed female Labrador who had been living with a couple and their two teenage sons since she was eight weeks old. She was vaccinated and wormed annually.
Her first convulsion happened unexpectedly one afternoon, shortly after a walk. Thereafter, they occurred every three to four weeks. They were single seizures lasting around three to four minutes, always during the day but with no time pattern. Stimulus from light or noise would trigger further fits. Rosie exhibited spasms and a lot of muscle twitching but no vocalization or incontinence.
Recovery was followed by deep sleep if she was left quietly. On two occasions, she vomited while recovering. Her appetite and thirst were average and not affected by the fits.
The only other medical history involved occasional patches of eczema during the previous year that responded to local treatment with a steroid/antibiotic cream. Rosie’s seizures were being conventionally treated with phenobarbitone BID for 48 hours following each fit. Homeopathic treatment was sought after the fourth episode.
Rosie was initially treated with Belladonna 200c, to be administered immediately when a fit started. With this, her fifth attack settled in around 1½ minutes. Further investigation revealed a pattern in which the fits occurred on or around the full moon.
Rosie was a friendly animal who became nervous in new situations but was upset by nothing when at home. Two weeks after her fifth fit, she was prescribed Calcarea carbornicum 30c BID. A short mild fit occurred several days later (no Belladonna was needed). One week after this short sixth attack, Rosie was given Calcarea carbonicum 30c twice in one day. This resolved the fits; and her eczema, which was not present once the seizures started, did not return.
Belladonna: Single fits. Great sensitivity to external stimuli. Heartbeat strong and rapid.
Calcarea carbonicum: The “chronic remedy” to Belladonna. Aggravation at full moon. Love of home. Anxiety in new situations and a need for security.