Sunstroke (a type of heatstroke) occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can dissipate. Its most frequent victims include older individuals, infants, and anyone who exercises on a hot day. Though sunstroke is the most dangerous, three heat-related illnesses can affect anyone.
Heat cramps are painful muscle spasms lasting only a few minutes. Consider heat cramps a sign that you need to get indoors or in the shade, and drink some water.
Heat exhaustion results from dehydration and an increase in body temperature. Problems arise when body heat can't dissipate because of extreme environmental conditions or increased heat production in the body. Symptoms include rapid heartbeat, falling blood pressure, and pale skin. The person may sweat and feel faint or nauseated. Move the person to a cool place, give fluids, and gently cool the body by applying ice packs to neck, groin, or armpits. Severe cases should be treated immediately by medical professionals.
Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency. When the heat-regulating mechanisms of the body fail, a high fever (104º or higher) can result. The skin is red, rather than pale, and hot. Perspiration may be absent at some times but profuse at others. The pulse is fast and forceful. Confusion, stupor, and even unconsciousness are common. The person may complain of headache, nausea, or visual disturbances.
Heatstroke requires immediate attention. Call 9-1-1, and while waiting for medical assistance to arrive, have the affected person lie down in a cool place with the feet slightly elevated. Gently apply cool water to the skin, followed by fanning. Also apply ice packs as directed above.
When treating people suffering or recovering from an acute case of a heat-related ailment, give a homeopathic medicine as frequently as every 15 to 30 minutes for the first couple of hours. Then cut back to every hour or every other hour as the person recovers, stopping altogether after 12 to 24 hours. Later, constitutional homeopathic treatment from a professional can help reduce abnormal sensitivity to heat.
Belladonna (deadly nightshade): This is the leading homeopathic remedy for people with a rapid onset of fever, throbbing headache, reddened face, dilated pupils, and stupor. People who need Belladonna tend to have greater burning of the skin than people who need Glonoine, another leading homeopathic remedy for heat-related complaints. People who require Belladon-na exhibit symptoms that are improved by bending the head backward, sitting silently, and keeping the head uncovered. This remedy is also helpful for heat cramps when they affect the hands, legs, feet, or abdomen and have some of the above symptoms.
Glonoine (nitroglycerin): People who need this remedy may have symptoms similar to those that require Belladonna, but these people tend to feel worse when they bend their head backward and when applying cold water (which sometimes causes spasms). They feel better by removing excess clothing and being in the open air.
Aconitum (monkshood): This medicine is useful in sunstroke when there's a rapid onset of fever, a powerful headache, sensitivity to light, and a constriction of the pupils.
Don't forget that heatstroke can be life-threatening, and anyone with a severe fever should be taken to the emergency room immediately. However, by adding these remedies to your first-aid kit, you may be able to help relieve acute symptoms.
"Are You Ready? Extreme Heat," www.fema.gov, 3/21/06 Essential Homeopathy by Dana Ullman, MPH ($10.95, New World Library, 2002) "Extreme Heat: A Prevention Guide to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov, 6/15/05 Homeopathy A-Z by Dana Ullman, MPH ($19.95, Hay House, 1999)
Nature has provided an abundance of remedies and cures for many different medical conditions and ailments. Before pharmaceuticals, herbal medicine was the standard form of healing, not the alternative form we know today.
When modern medicine first began the use of prescription drugs, most of the medicines created were based on therapies from the plant kingdom.
Once you discover how wonderful herbal remedies can be, you may go overboard stocking your medicine cabinet with herbs you will probably never need. In your efforts you may overlook the basics of what you should have.