When the school calls in the middle of the day, my stomach jumps into my throat. “Oh no – something’s terribly wrong!” While my bit of panic is certainly justified – usually a phone call means a sick kiddo means a trip to the hospital – this time it was far more benign: “Jimmy’s got a touch of pink eye so we have to send him home.” Blessed relief! Pink eye, that’s it? “Awesome! I’ll be right there!”
Maybe she thought my enthusiasm was misplaced. Pink eye, formally known as conjunctivitis, is no fun at all. You get the “glue eye” effect where crusty discharges can literally glue the eyelids shut, the crusty, weepy, crunchy around the eyes and under the nose, pink inflammation around the rims of the eyelids (hence the “pink” eye) and a hoarse, rattly cough to boot. Poor kiddo!
While conjunctivitis is highly contagious and can linger for over a week, this diagnosis is no cause for alarm, and certainly does not justify a trip to the hospital. Denver Children’s Hospital – a place we frequent more than we’d like – always asks us these questions before we load up the car and make the two hour treck down the hill with a sick kiddo:
- Is he vomiting? Does he have diarrhea? (looking for significant fluid loss)
- Does he have a fever? Is he lethargic or acting unusual? (looking for definitive symptoms of an emergency such as axillary temperature over 101 F, pre-epileptic tics or twitches, weakness indicative of paralysis)
- When was his last intake? (is he tolerating fluids or food? Fluid intake is most important, and we don’t get really concerned until he is unable to drink anything for several hours with significant fluid loss)
But driving all the way to Denver (over 100 miles round trip) is certainly not justified for a minor inconvenience like pink eye. And frankly, it is not even necessary to bother his pediatrician at the clinic in town for pink eye, either. All he would do is tell us to keep it clean, to wash our hands frequently – especially after touching Jimmy’s face – and he would probably give us some antibiotics.
But this mommy knows better – and there’s not one Doc or institution who would argue that home is the best place for healing. So, while we are interred together – Jimmy with his crusty eyes and me with a cough – I want to share with you how we are clearing up the pink eye quickly, safely and naturally while also strengthening his immune system!
The first Homeopathic remedy to consider with eye infections of any sort is Euphrasia (renowned in the herbal world for treating similar complaints, commonly called Eyebright):
“One of our most important coryza and hay fever remedies is Euphrasia. We think of Euphrasia when we find a case of coryza or allergy which is centered especially in the eyes.” – Roger Morrison’s Desktop Guide
If you were to walk into a homeopathic clinic with allergies, colds, conjunctivitis, iritis, pertussis, or even measles Euphrasia is likely to be one of the first remedies you would receive. But I felt like there was more to Jimmy’s case – and I wanted to treat the whole picture and not just the acute. So I considered the different aspects of his eye infection, what seemed to make it better or worse, and I also looked at his behavior and energy level.
Often a case of pink eye presents with the following rubrics:
- eye, discharges, yellow-green
- eye, agglutinated
- nose, coryza, green
- nose, coryza accompanied with cough
- cough, rattly, suffocative
- generals, fatigue
- generals, worse right side
These rubrics will paint a beautiful picture of conjunctivitis, giving you remedies that speak to the overall symptom picture for your kiddo. For Jimmy, I added the details that he generally does not agree with cow’s milk, and even refused breast milk as an infant; the fact that he gets really clingy to mommy when he’s on the verge of getting sick; and the interesting detail that he craves peanut butter (just like his mommy…hmmmm…).
This deeper analysis yielded remedies like Thuja (more often considered when symptoms are a reaction to vaccination); Lycopodium (a remedy with strong psychological insecurities); Calcarea (a classic remedy for kiddos who seem tired all the time and are prone to frequent bouts of cold and flu); Silica (especially for marked vertigo with sinus problems, acute and chronic otitis media, sinusitis and “chronic, dry dasal obstruction”). Pulsatilla, however, was the only remedy that featured the unique qualities of clinginess, craves peanut butter and sleeps on his tummy with the ability to treat conjunctivitis.
So, Jimmy received two doses, one hour apart of Pulsatilla 30c. His energy perked up and he became less clingy. But still the crusty, weepy, drippy continued, unabated. I decided Silica would be a close second for Jimmy because he really is prone to every little bug that goes around. The constant routine of hospitalizations and antibiotics during his first year and a half of life did considerable damage to his immune system, no doubt.
Two doses of Silica 30c one hour apart seemed to dissolve the crusts, and Jimmy’s nose and eyes were streaming profusely with clear to yellow mucus, thank God it wasn’t green anymore. His cough also worsened, I believe this was from an excess of drainage and he’s not old enough to blow his nose quite yet.
Right before bed, the crusties returned – though just about everything else had improved. Time to break out the Euphrasia. One dose of 12c before bed and he slept soundly most of the night – waking up to cough a bit and then rolling over and falling right back to sleep. The next morning his eyes were not nearly as bad as the previous day – no pink-ness or inflammation – and significantly less crusty. But as the morning wore on, the crusts became thicker and he was peeling at his eyelashes to clear them. One dose of Euphrasia 30c (the next highest potency) stopped the progression of sinus discharges and started giving some movement to the phlegm in his chest.
Now, for the herbal protocol:
If I had Eyebright in my herbal apothecary, I would have used it first thing. But I was feeling under the weather myself, and not up for a trip to town to track some down. Instead, as my mentor always reminded me, “the best remedy is the one you have at hand”. So I found some powdered goldenseal and made a diluted eye-wash with warm water (about 1/2 cup) to 1/8 teaspoon of goldenseal powder. Stir well, dip a clean clean clean washcloth in the solution and apply the opposite side to the eyes (to prevent the gritty goldenseal from getting in the eyes, you can also strain the solution before applying to the washcloth). I washed his face 2 to 3 times a day, or as needed to clear out the build-up, and also to take advantage of goldenseal’s powerful anti-microbial properties.
“Wicks” is the name my partner gave to my natural, homemade version of Vicks chest rub. This rub alleviates congestion and has the added benefits of anti-bacterial and anti-viral essential oils. To one Tablespoon of Organic Raw Unrefined Coconut Oil I added three drops each of Eucalyptus, Peppermint and Spearmint essential oil. I also mixed in one clove of freshly minced raw garlic for good measure. This gets massaged into Jimmy’s feet and onto his chest several times a day, as well.
It is important to note that the herbal treatments recommended here are not compatible with the homeopathic protocol. Herbs like mint and eucalyptus, and strong tinctures or oils will negate the energy of a homeopathic. With my little one, I always start with the homeopathics first. He is so good at taking the tiny sugar pills and the response should be noticeable within an hour. Herbal remedies, on the other hand require more time – their benefit is cumulative.
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