Belladonna in Chronic Disease
Jeff Levy, DVM

The acute picture of belladonna is well known, with its characteristic heat, redness, dryness, suddenness, violence, and intensity resembling atropine poisoning. Belladonna has been considered primarily an 'acute' remedy by many, appropriate to high fevers, encephalitis, and other inflammatory physical conditions.

     In acute/chronic remedy relations, oftentimes the 'acute' is a plant remedy and the 'chronic' a mineral. Take, for example, pulsatilla and silica, aconite and sulphur, or belladonna and calcarea carbonica. Yet the so-called 'acute' remedy, say pulsatilla, can fit a chronic disease state, and the so-called 'chronic' remedy can fit an acute disease state. It would probably be better to simply consider them to be complementary to one another.

     Whereas mineral remedies, when accurately prescribed, tend to stimulate deeper, longer lasting curative responses than plant remedies in general, certainly plant remedies, accurately prescribed, can stimulate a deeply curative response in chronic disease.

     I assume (that is, hope) that it is now widely recognized among veterinary homeopaths that rabies miasm is quite common and often predominant in dogs. If belladonna was originally an 'acute' remedy in clinical rabies, and we now have a well-defined canine rabies miasm, it follows that Belladonna is an important chronic remedy in dogs. Experience has shown me clearly that it is.


The Chronic Belladonna Picture

As belladonna is one of the major rabies remedies, it has many clinical features that are characteristic of rabies miasm, and shared with other rabies remedies. (I again assume that this is familiar to most of you, and so will touch on the subject only briefly.) Neurological symptoms predominate. Seizures of all sorts, whether grand mal, fly biting, biting at water from a garden hose, or one of many other possibilities. The basic underlying pattern that I see here is a sort of mental 'switch' that, when triggered, snaps the dog into an altered mental state. It is a form of delirium that typically comes and goes instantaneously. This is perhaps best illustrated by a dog walking in the woods who sees a deer and immediately goes after it. (The trigger is often visual.) The dog will typically be unresponsive to any verbal command, and will, in fact, be totally unaware of anything except catching that deer. This is a milder chronic form of the mental derangement that is seen in the encephalomyelitis of rabid dogs.

     With regard to the chronic belladonna state specifically, it has the same general features as the acute, mentioned above, but in a low-grade chronic form. They tend to have compulsive behaviors, such as chasing a ball until they drop or compulsive licking of people or objects. There is a driven quality to these behaviors, as if survival depended on it. A peculiar example of this is a generally thirsty dog who would absolutely refuse to drink water until his people came home, and then would excitedly drain the bowl.

     They tend to be excitable, intense, even hyperactive. There is a hyperacuity of the senses, which can lead to loss of senses, often deafness or blindness, usually without obvious physical pathology. [Vision: Acute. Eye: Photophobia. Eye: Paralysis, optic nerve, amaurosis.] [Hearing: Acute. Hearing: Impaired. Hearing: Lost.] It is as if the sensory organs are cranked too high and just burn out.

     Just as the sensory organs are sensitive, there is also often sensitivity to pain. Overreaction in general. [Generalities: Reactions, violent.] They tend to be very alert, reacting quickly and strongly to the least alarm, such as barking at noises outside the house, or being spooked by a silhouette in dim twilight outdoors.

     Despite the fact that belladonna has so much heat in it, it is an empty heat, a false yang. As such, they can be quite chilly in the chronic state. However, I have not found temperature preference to be a strong feature. Only once have I seen the keynote craving for lemons in a dog.

     Some specific physical symptoms that have been repeatedly cured by belladonna include aural hematoma, and cervical disc prolapse with either back pain or hind leg weakness and ataxia or paralysis. Interestingly, both conditions appear to be acute, but are actually symptoms of chronic disease.

     Although I do not advise prescribing based on personality, it can be useful in confirming the remedy choice. Belladonna patients tend to be quite pleasant and agreeable, somewhat like phosphorus. They are animated, as you might expect, and often described as being charismatic. They can even sometimes be a bit 'goofy', with clown-like behavior. Still, you can always see the driven quality behind their actions.

     All of the above is a description of how belladonna cases can look. It is not meant to be comprehensive, and it is far from an attempt to describe the essence of belladonna. That would require careful examination of the nature of the fear and the response to it. However, I hope you can get a feel for how the acute hot, dry, red, sudden, violent qualities can look when they move into a chronic state.


Clinical case

Nikki, 18 month old spayed female German Shepherd.

     Chief complaint was aggressive behavior. She would protect her food bowl. She had started to growl at strangers, < with men. With the wife of the family, more submissive, fearful, would pull away. She was very intense. She would compulsively lunge and bark at people while leashed on a walk. Restless and anxious. Jealous. Impulsive. Submissive urination, had previously been < with men. She had killed a squirrel, and as a puppy had been destructive, tearing up anything in her crate. Since puppyhood, could be very sweet and very submissive.

     Tended to get diarrhea with lethargy, inappetance and thirst. She would be frantic before a bowel movement with this diarrhea. Had gotten the diarrhea after rabies vaccination, and after boarding. Did not like changes, or new people in general. However, she was perfectly fine with some people. If the person gave attention to the other dog, Molly, Nikki would attack Molly. In general, Nikki dominated Molly. (Molly responded very well to staphysagria.) With other dogs outside, acted dominant at a distance, fearful and submissive up close. Still, would be dominant with some dogs, e.g., puppies.

     Other physical symptoms: appetite either ravenous or inappetant. Appetite worse when more restless, pacing, intense.

     Coprophagy: cat stool. Would eat paper, used tampons. Would carry around dirty socks, preferably the husband's.

     Had started scratching around her head, and chewing her lower legs. No fleas. Would rub her head, especially the top of her head, on the carpet, and make a low growl and bark. Didn't seem angry or aggressive. (Voluptuous itching?)

     Hated to have her feet wiped, would pull away. Very sensitive.

     Intensely interested in any woman urinating. Would stick her nose in the woman's crotch. Also menstruating women.

     Fascinated by water, flushing toilet, would snap at dripping water or stream of water from garden hose. Would chase stream of water from garden hose.

     She had been on homeopathic treatment by another veterinarian for 16 months, and had received thuja, sulphur, nux-v, sepia, and lachesis, all in high potency. Towards the end of this time, the aggressive behavior towards people had become alarming, and there was concern that she might ultimately have to be euthanized.

     Nikki was given one dose at a time of belladonna 30C up through 50M, over the course of one year. It is worthy of note that despite the deeply curative nature of the response, the duration of response at each potency level was relatively short.

    During that time, her personality completely changed. The aggressive and bullying behaviors went away, as did the restless anxiety. Jealousy nearly gone. In fact, most of the symptoms were either gone or much better. The veterinarian who had previously treated her said that she was "a different dog". Curiously, the desire to carry around the husband's socks did not change.

     One day after receiving the dose of 50M, she had a severe bout of diarrhea at night with sudden urging, frantic behavior, crying, and stool shooting out. With this she had tremendous thirst, and was clingy. These were exactly the symptoms she had had as a puppy after rabies vaccination. I took it to be the return of the original pattern of symptoms, as the vaccination probably induced the belladonna state to begin with. The diarrhea resolved without treatment in a few days, and within 8 weeks, all of the belladonna issues were resolved, and she had moved into a calc-c state. She has been responding very well to that remedy for the past five months.


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