Teenage Problems Part Two
by Bob Leckridge
Acne is common to both boys and girls but is more common in boys. This is because it is particularly provoked by the circulating testosterone levels, which make the skin more greasy and oily. The pores become blocked and infected and so we see the full range of spots, from black-heads to red swellings, to pus-filled eruptions, which cause teenagers such distress. In more severe cases, there can be many spots over the face, the forehead, the chest, and the back, and the most severe ones are quite destructive of the skin leaving deep pits and scars. Whilst even in its milder forms acne can cause great distress, in its most severe forms it leaves permanent scarring.
The orthodox treatments for acne centre around the use of antibiotics, used either in short courses to fight the larger, more painful lesions, or in low doses over longer periods of time to treat chronic acne. The homeopathic approach is to try and stimulate the person’s own healing system to reduce the sensitivity in the skin to the circulating hormones. One good way to do this is to give them their “constitutional” medicine but this is very difficult to work out if you are the parent. It is best to have a full consultation with a homeopathic doctor if you want to take this approach. However, there are some common medicines, which may be indicated on the basis of some of the features of the acne itself.
For the treatment of the bigger spots, which might even be small abscesses, Hepar sulph can be indicated. This is where a lot of pus has gathered, the patient feels chilly and irritable, and there is considerable swelling and tenderness. They might find that putting a hot cloth against the sore bit helps. At an earlier stage to this, where there is just redness, heat and swelling but no pus yet, then Belladonna might be more useful, especially if the patient is agitated, restless and fevered.
When we considered the problems of children in an earlier article, we looked at Sulphur as a common medicine for the restless, inquisitive, messy and disorganised child. Certainly, many teenagers’ rooms look like “Sulphur rooms”! They are messy and chaotic and as they develop many passing fancies with a disposition to collect things, their rooms are really full of “stuff”! These tend to be hot, sweaty teenagers who love nothing better than fast food, like burgers, pizzas and chips. They often have quite bad skin with many red, itchy and hot patches and spots.
Silica is a common remedy in acne. The Silica child tends to be a bit chilly, sensitive, shy and very concerned to do well at school. Indeed, a fear of failure can cause many problems for these patients around examination times. Their skin is unhealthy and injuries, scratches, and inflammation easily become infected with the infections grumbling on for long periods of time. These skin problems are not as dramatic as in the Hepar sulph or the Sulphur states but seem to be more chronic. These are also sweaty kids with, particularly offensive foot sweats.
Kali bromatum is another common acne medicine. This is more commonly indicated in some of the more severe cases of acne, especially with lots of itchy lesions, which are worse before each period. These children are often low in energy, sleepy and worried about not getting on well at school. They are afraid they are not as clever as their friends.
In the early years of a girl’s periods, there are common problems with painful periods and with very irregular periods. In most cases, both of these problems settle down in time and the body adjusts naturally. However, in many girls, the problem is severe enough to cause them to lose time off school and to generally make their lives miserable. Almost the only treatments on offer from the doctor are painkillers and, sometimes, the oral contraceptive pill. Both of these approaches use drugs on a frequent, or even semipermanent basis, and most people would really rather try to find a more natural solution. Here homeopathy has a role to play, in trying to stimulate the natural regulatory systems and resolve the problems without drugs.
One of the most commonly indicated homeopathic medicines for period pain (dysmenorrhoea) is Magnesium phosphoricum (Mag phos). This is indicated when there is severe colicky abdominal pain which forces the girl to bend over or curl up so she can press on the sore part and where the pains are relieved by holding a hot water bottle against the affected area. This is quite common in girls who are sensitive, in fact, maybe even oversensitive to things. They are easily disturbed by scary or violent things on TV and are oversensitive to pain.
Another medicine for dysmenorrhoea is Chamomilla. This is indicated when the girl become extremely irritable with the pain, crying out and shouting out and demanding attention. It is a common remedy for the teething infant, but is often forgotten as a medicine for these girls with their dysmenorrhoea.
Lachesis is often indicated for period pains which are worse in the run up to the period each month but which go away very quickly whenever the bleeding begins. It is indicated in girls who have fiery tempers and who react increasingly aggressively as the period approaches. They are also likely to complain of feeling bloated and have swollen painful breasts in the premenstrual days. Everything instantly gets better when the period begins.
Pulsatilla is a good medicine for girls whose periods tend to be very erratic, sometimes coming too early, sometimes too late. The pattern is constantly changing. This is really a key feature of Pulsatilla – the variability of the symptoms. They become very weepy and emotional before their periods and need to have company and sympathy to feel well. These girls are typically quite shy, although they are very sociable and respond well to the attentions of their friends and family.
Another homeopathic medicine, which can be useful at this time in a girl’s life is China. This is a good remedy for girl’s who get really exhausted after a heavy period. Their periods tend to be heavier than average and are really quite debilitating so that they often lose time off school because they are just so exhausted. In this state they feel very physically weak and can be quite tremulous. This is an oversensitive state, and they are oversensitive to lights, to noise and even to smells.
There are, of course, many other problems, which can be experienced by teenagers, but these descriptions of teenage behavioural changes and some medicines for acne and period problems are all very common patterns and I expect you will recognise at least one of them in a teenager you know.
These can be very difficult and challenging years, but your teenager needs two things from you more than anything else: to know that you still love them (no matter what!) and to feel secure – home can be a safe haven in these troubled times. You might be amazed how your children change when they enter their teens, but the vast majority emerges at the other end of the teens as balanced, and very likeable young adults!
If you are going to use any of the medicines mentioned, unless a specific dose is recommended by your homeopathic doctor, use a 30c strength and repeat the doses as often as is necessary. The rule in homeopathy is to take a dose, experience the improvement, then if the improvement starts to decline, repeat the remedy. If a dose does not produce any improvement, then there is no point in repeating that particular remedy.
Disclaimer: Please remember your Scope of Practice, if you are ever in doubt, please contact your local GP or Qualified Homeopath.
The British Homeopathic Association
About the Author:
Bob Leckridge MBChB FFHom graduated from Edinburgh University in 1978 and worked as a GP until 1995 since when he has worked full-time as a Specialist in Homeopathic Medicine at Glasgow Homoeopathic Hospital. He teaches homeopathy internationally and is the author of Homeopathy in Primary Care. He became President of the Faculty of Homeopathy in 1998.