Homeopathic physicians used calendula during the Civil War as an antiseptic or antibiotic to effectively treat war wounds and gangrene.
Leonard Torok, M.D., a retired orthopedic surgeon, joined his wife Helen Torok's Medina, Ohio, dermatology practice three years ago, as medical director for the practice's holistic medicine division. Dr. Torok has acquired years of training in holistic medicine and used it to aid in the wound healing of his orthopedic patients. He says homeopathic remedies can help prevent problems and are therapeutic in the area of wound healing.
"It is the homeopathic remedy used to prevent bruising, swelling and pain from injury - particularly to the deeper structures of the skin," Dr. Torok says. "After injury or surgery, it will normally speed healing time and prevent a lot of the discomfort, bleeding and swelling."
Dermatologists can use arnica Montana as a topical preparation, if the skin is intact. For broken skin or for use after incisional surgery or skin excision, Dr. Torok says that the remedy is better administered as a sublingual pellet.
"You can give it immediately before surgery to prevent bleeding during surgery and, in my surgical practice, we gave it during the operation, to control bleeding and post-surgery to help in healing," he says.
Calendula, the homeopathic preparation made from the marigold plant, is an antiseptic.
Homeopathic physicians used calendula during the Civil War as an antiseptic or antibiotic to effectively treat war wounds and gangrene, according to Dr. Torok.
"If you have a wound that could become infected or is (already) infected, calendula gets rid of the redness and infection. It gets rid of the discomfort in a wound that has some sepsis," he says.
Dr. Torok applies calendula directly to the wound as a topical or has patients take it as a sublingual pellet.
"You can also take the pellet and dilute it in warm water. Any three of those mechanisms of applying it will work well," he says.
Blister beetle, stinging nettles
Another tool in the dermatologist's homeopathic war chest is cantharis, taken from the blister beetle.
Homeopaths realized that this type of beetle secreted cantharidin, a poisonous chemical that causes blistering, skin irritation, burning and painful swelling, and use it as an antidote to treat burns.
Dr. Torok says he uses it in the dermatology practice after intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments, to diminish skin soreness and take the place of analgesics and ice.
The homeopathic remedy made from stinging nettles, a plant that, if one rubs up against it, causes a red, burning, blistery, painful skin rash, offers the same benefits to dermatology patients.
"It is one of our standard homeopathic remedies for the treatment of burns," he says.
Dr. Torok usually uses the pellets, versus topical cantharis or stinging nettles options.
"It is a common remedy we use in dermatology," he says.
The homeopathic form of the poison ivy plant, called rhus tox, speeds healing of poison ivy skin rash.
Dr. Torok also uses it as a preventive therapy for those who might be exposed, and to treat psoriatic arthritis.
Side effects and other downsides of using homeopathic remedies in wound healing are slim to none, according to Dr. Torok.
Dermatologists can get their feet wet in homeopathy, he says, using treatments like these in acute situations, such as wound healing; then, progress to chronic conditions, such as psoriasis.
"It is an opportunity to experience something you did not learn in medical school and see its power," he says. "It is seeing the reality of a field of energy medicine as opposed to a field of pharmaceutical medicine."
Disclosure: Dr. Torok reports no conflicts of interest relative to this article.