Intermittent discharge of runny or viscous fluid from the nose brought on by viral or bacterial infection, Allergy, chemical irritants, or dry air, all of which irritate or inflame the mucous membranes lining the nasal cavity, and sometimes the sinuses as well. Result is a stuffy, blocked-up nose, and also coughing if catarrh drips down back of throat and onto vocal cords. Homeopathic medicine regards chronic catarrh - catarrh not obviously due to any of the causes mentioned above - as a symptom of general toxicity of the body; catarrh is the body's attempt to rid itself of toxins which are not being adequately dealt with by the liver or properly excreted by the kidneys, bowels, and skin.
Catarrh can be a symptom of Colds (watery discharge which then becomes thick and yellow, mild or moderate fever), Hay Fever & Allergic Rhinitis (clear discharge, repeated sneezing, itchy eyes and throat), a food Allergy, Nasal Polyps (impaired sense of smell, sometimes facial pain), Influenza (aching joints, fever, coughing, headache), or Sinusitis (pain and tenderness in cheeks, or headache above one or both eyes). It can also be a reaction to spicy foods, dust, cigarette smoke and other chemical irritants, gas or oil fires, central heating and over-dry air, certain drugs, and cold or damp.
A large number of homeopathic remedies have catarrh as one of their symptoms, which is why very skilled prescribing is needed to clear up chronic catarrh. However, in acute cases a remedy can be chosen from the list below.
Specific remedies to be given 4 times daily for up to 14 days
- Profuse, thick, yellowish discharge, inside of nose sore and ulcerated, sneezing makes symptoms worse Arsenicum iod. 6c
- Sore scabs and fissures inside nose, made worse by blowing, sense of smell so abnormally acute that even the scent of flowers is unbearable Graphites 6c
- Nose running all the time, constant blowing, discharge from nose thin and burning but mucous dripping down back of throat thick, small ulcers on septum Hydrastis 6c
- Catarrh ropy, stretchy and white, feeling of pressure around bridge of nose Kali bichrom. 6c
- Catarrh looks like raw egg white, nose dry and sore, loss of smell and taste Natrum mur. 6c
- Profuse, offensive, yellow catarrh, nose feels dry and hot, frequent sneezing Sanguinaria 6c
- Yellow catarrh which smells offensive, person very hungry Calcarea 6c
- Dry scabs inside nose which bleed easily, nose stuffier indoors than out of doors, cold sores on outside of nose Sulphur 6c
- Yellow or green bland catarrh, worse in stuffy room, person weepy Pulsatilla 6c
Self-help: Always blow your nose gently, one nostril at a time, keeping your mouth open; if you blow both nostrils together, catarrh may be forced up eustachian tube and cause Middle Ear Infection, and if you keep your mouth closed air may be pushed up the eustachian tube with such force that it ruptures the eardrum. Inhaling hot steam helps to decongest the airways, but do not use Friar’s balsam or other additives as these may antidote whatever homeopathic remedy you are taking; by the same token, dry air is bad for a stuffed up nose, so make an effort to humidify the rooms where you work or sleep, especially if they have central heating.
If your catarrh is caused by dust or pollens, an ioniser may be helpful. If you smoke, try to stop, and avoid smoke-filled air. If you suffer from constant catarrh, you might gain some relief by sniffing water up the nose to prevent the inside from drying out; make sure the water is warm, sniff it half-way up the nose, then blow it out; do not draw the water all the way up the nose and into the back of the throat as this may force water into the sinuses and lead to infection. Over-the-counter nasal sprays or drops should only be used if stuffiness prevents you sleeping or if you suffer from pressurization problems when flying; they can be given to babies if catarrh is causing feeding or sleeping difficulties, but make sure they are the right strength and use them very sparingly as they can damage the sensitive lining of the nose. Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C, zinc, and iron are recommended. A combination of ‘Q’ tissue salts and Potters Antifect are of value in some people. Some people find benefit from eating horseradish and increasing the amount of liquids they drink.