Walk With Me: Curing Lily’s Heartworm Without Drugs | Episode 4

“All Hell Broke Loose”

Lily, the heartworm dog, on her couch

This is as close to “cage rest” as I’m getting, Mom!

Not words I long to hear after I’ve prescribed for a patient, but that’s what Lily went through, starting a day after her dose of mercurius vivus 10M, her third remedy on my quest to cure her of heartworms with homeopathy. Without the nasty poisons that suddenly kill them and make a long “cage rest” lockup necessary.
[You can start at the beginning here, if you are just joining us in Lily’s heartworm treatment saga.]
Cage rest. It sounds kind of pleasant, doesn’t it? Like a dog who has a spa experience or something.
But, for an active little dog like Lily, it’d be a hell all its own.
She’s a Dachshund, wired to move and DO THINGS, and her mama was warned not to get too close to her cage to get her excited, even, you may recall.
Margo figured that kind of treatment was too toxic, risky, and restrictive, so she opted to come for homeopathy’s gentler ways.
But back to her remedy response hell. What did that look like?

Within a day of receiving her dose…she seemed like she was on drugs…not really lethargic, but kind of out of it, like she was hallucinating… She was just WEIRD and she seemed distracted…”

Whoa. That does sound pretty weird. Keep in mind that the remedy itself can’t cause any symptom that’s not in a patient to begin with. But it can “stir the pot” and give us more insight into the patient, as symptoms bubble to the surface.

Get Me Some Dead Eats!

It got weirder.

She became OBSESSED with dead things. The birds around our complex were all busily pushing their babies out of the nest, and the rain early in the month had brought out numerous toads and earthworms who died in inopportune places. Lily chomped these right down. She got hold of an entire dead baby bird and although I tried like heck to get it away from her, she refused and gulped it down. The next day (July 1st) she vomited a huge pile of liquid goo in the house, full of what appeared to be cartilage and bone.”

Was she more hungry than usual?
Was she showing any other signs indicative of pica (craving for indigestibles or strange things, like dirt, rock, paper, or stool)?
But, I learned a side of Lily I didn’t know. When Lily learns something is good, she pursues it almost obsessively. In the past, it was birds. Now it was dead things. She wasn’t giving this up even if Margo tried to wrest it from her tight little jaws!

House Cleaning, Big Time!

Then, two weeks after the eating dead stuff began, Lily’s gut apparently had had it. July 14, she developed explosive diarrhea. She got Margo up at night, sometimes several times, needing to go out and let this horribly loose stool out. Suddenly!
A day or two later, she vomited a couple of times.
Through all this, she remained hungry, but Margo wisely decided a fast was in order until this was past. And she remembered (and I learned for the first time) that years ago she’d done a similar thing.
The only time in her life she’d been sick (before getting vaccinosis recently, after her first rabies vaccination ever), along with her rash, presumably from her polyester sweater and exposure to new carpet, she’s had explosive nighttime diarrhea.
As we spoke two weeks later, all of this had passed, and to Margo and everyone who looked at her, she was now just a healthy, chipper dog.

Good Enough? Not Quite.

As a homeopath, I saw more grist for another prescription in all this. Why the unusual craving all of a sudden? And the odd mental fog briefly?
It’s often the case that when a remedy has been “close” in similarity to the patient’s disease, but not an exact match, some new symptoms may emerge. They are “new” in the sense that we may not have seen them before, but they are now brought to the surface. The new or different symptoms often point to a better fitting, more homeopathic remedy.
A more important question, though, having gone through these symptom changes, is this: is there any strong evidence that Lily is cured? That’s where I look carefully. As the evidence of cure is more than just a happy, shiny dog.
Symptoms are typically absent in one who is cured.
So, what’s left? Here’s what Margo is still seeing periodically in the way of symptoms:

  • She wraps a stool in mucus from time to time.
  • Her anus itches, a bit more of late.
  • Even with a normal appetite, she’s still oddly keen to eat the dead animals she finds.

On the plus side, Lily now:

  • No longer rolls vigorously on her back (no longer itchy).
  • Has normal colored stools (the odd yellow color from earlier is gone).
  • Has lost her weepy left eye (it got that way after her sulphur).
  • Has normal breath, which had gotten bad after her dose of sulphur.

In short, “Lily is just Lily,” says Margo. And people who see her are saying how good she looks. We could stop here, I suppose, but here’s where my dogged (no pun intended) persistence comes to bear.
I want to see the remaining symptoms clear up to have more confidence that Lily is fully, wholly well. Then I will feel more confident that she’ll have cleared her worm burden and rebuilt her resistance.

A New Remedy on the Way

So, I re-analyzed and sent Lily a remedy called graphites, actually made from the substance graphite, a form of carbon. Same stuff that’s in pencils and used as a lock lubricant.

Piece of graphite

I may look like a lump, but in homeopathic form, I’ve cured some serious disease!

Graphites has an affinity for orifices (you may remember Lily has had some symptoms around her anus, both the itch and the odd halo of whitish stuff that appeared).
It’s one of the remedies that fits for female reproductive troubles (which is where this story got its start).
Patients needing graphites are keen to be in fresh air, like Lily, and it’s a prominent worm remedy.
Her latest odd behaviors are also found in the books describing graphites’ symptoms:
“Slow in thought, absent minded.” “INCLINATION TO SIT.” (when symptoms are written in all caps, it indicates a symptom that appeared in most of the provers). “INDOLENCE.”
Appetite in the graphites patient is often ravenous, but it’s more that they have some stomach discomfort that’s relieved by eating something. Anything. So, you’ll see graphites patients eating all manner of odd things, like paper, fabric, grass or indigestibles.
Might this be Lily’s drive to eat all manner of dead stuff?
Graphites patients can get diarrhea easily from, ahem, “dietary indiscretion.” That’s a kind way of saying eating garbage or changing dietary intake. Like all the dead stuff she’s been eating.
And the graphites patient can have this irritability that sends Lily, hackles raised, towards big dogs. She loves people and little dogs are okay, but you big guys, Watch Out!

Heartworm Testing Time

It’s also close to the time to get Lily retested for heartworm, as it’s been five months since she’s been under homeopathic prescribing since her prior test. Margo will get that lined up in another month or so. It’s possible that, even with a few lingering symptoms, Lily has booted out her worms.
All the hell that broke loose likely has a silver lining to it.
I’ll keep you posted right here on the blog. Stay tuned, and check back in another month or so.

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  1. Julie on August 20, 2019 at 8:58 am

    What concentration of Graphites did you give and was it just one dose or multiple?

    • Will Falconer, DVM on August 25, 2019 at 9:06 pm

      That’s a question I’ll choose not to answer, Julie, and here’s the reason why: I don’t want anyone thinking Remedy 200C or whatever is “the cure” for heartworm. That’s a huge mistake. The cure comes from a professional prescriber taking the entire case and managing it as a unique individual responding in his own way to a challenge. Human nature is to look for short cuts, and I don’t want to add to that in any animal who needs medical help, whether homeopathic or allopathic.

      Make sense?

  2. Taryn on August 11, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Hi Dr Falconer:
    I was wondering if you could share which meteria medica(s) you recommend. There are so many, i would appreciate some help in narrowing the field. Are there some better for dogs/animals per say..than a human patient?
    Thank you!

    • Will Falconer, DVM on August 12, 2014 at 4:53 am

      Hi Taryn,
      I use several, but my main one is the Concordant Materia Medica, by Frans Vermeulen. A really nice compact one is Boger’s Synoptic Key.
      Unfortunately, they’re all written about human symptoms, but you can “translate” into animal language, as long as you’re not doing this too heavily in mental or emotional symptoms (which could easily be misinterpreted and lead you astray).

  3. Esther on August 11, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Really good to hear Lily is doing well. But very interesting to read the way you analyzed her case, and then re-analyzed her new symptoms. It is good to know a remedy may bring new symptoms to the surface telling the homeopath a new remedy is needed. I find this very interesting indeed!
    On another note, the writing On the Front Line with Resistance I find it captivating and charming. You have an strength and energy that is admirable. You are doing all this work to deliver your speech in Portland in about 4 weeks, nevertheless you find time to give the Vital Animal Blog some love. I think your energy comes from your drive, you have the need to accomplish this goal thus the energy to go and do what you believe. My admiration goes out to you for this willingness to help animals and therefore the people who love them. Thank your for all your efforts. We really appreciate it. Nice to hear you will show a new tool in homeopathy analysis!

  4. Claire on August 11, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Interesting story about Lily and her appetite for strange things. Our pug, Sophie, has been eating gravel off of the road during our walks for a few weeks now. I pull those suckers out of her mouth when I can, but she often swallows them before I can get to her.
    She’s also been eating mulch when she can find it, but gravel seems to be her favorite. She considers the street her buffet and is obsessed with finding anything inedible to eat.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on August 11, 2014 at 9:53 pm

      Hi Claire,
      Yes, grab them indeed! These could be the cause of very expensive surgery if they don’t pass.
      Be sure we talk about this, called pica, on her next visit. Significant symptom to prescribe on. And I’ve never seen it respond to added minerals, etc. in the diet.

  5. Dr. Mary on August 11, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Hi, Dr. Falconer – I’m loving this series of posts on Lily. I’m a vet relatively new to homeopathy, and I am eating up as many case studies as possible. You provide some really wonderfully detailed analyses, and I so appreciate it – thank you. A few questions sprang to mind as I read this latest post about Lily’s upcoming heartworm test. Will this be the typical antigen test? And would you necessarily expect a negative result immediately after *beginning* homeopathic treatment versus after finding that Lily is no longer having relevant symptoms or clinical signs? And finally, what is your theory about what happens to the adult worms (if there were any) after they are discouraged from persisting due to excellent health? Wouldn’t they still need to die off, however less suddenly, and be disassembled and resorbed by the body? How long would this process reasonably take? Thanks so much for any additional insight you can provide!

    • Will Falconer, DVM on August 11, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      Hi Dr. Mary, and welcome! Great to see a new homeopathic vet who’s hungry for more!
      I’m guessing the test will be an antigen test. Aren’t they the standard now? (you can tell, I don’t do these). I send clients to a more conventional vet to get these done.
      No, I typically don’t expect a patient to test negative until about 6 months in, though Mr. Piggy surprised me. I think he was about 3-4 months in when he went negative.
      There had to have been adults, at least in my read of the parasitologist’s take on the disease, at least 3 adults, in order for a test to go positive (again, the antigen test, right?). And, my best guess is that the adults are just attacked by the immune system and discharged through the lymph, like any foreign material would be. They must die, but in an orderly, intelligent way, as only a healthy body would orchestrate. I’m guessing that whole process is probably done when the test is negative and the patient is leaping tall buildings in single bounds!
      Are you coming the AVH meeting in Portland? I hope to meet you there.

      • Dr. Mary on August 11, 2014 at 5:06 pm

        Thank you so much for your insight! Yes, the standard (common) test is the in-house SNAP test for heartworm antigen.
        Oh, how I would love to be attending the AVH meeting in Portland, but it’s not in the cards for me at this point in time. I do look forward to meeting you at a future national event, though.
        I look forward to reading the rest of Lily’s saga – thank you, and keep up the excellent work!

  6. Natalie D. on August 11, 2014 at 11:46 am

    I’m totally relating to this. As I was reading this post, what did Gulliver do? Pranced across the living room and, for the first time EVER, decided to climb the window sheers. Um, what in the blue hell are you doing, Buddy?” So yeah, adding that to the “notice anything new since remedy received? Roger that…

    • Will Falconer, DVM on August 11, 2014 at 3:11 pm

      Too funny, Nat. Was he reading the blog over the airwaves?

  7. Laure VanAsselt on August 11, 2014 at 9:45 am

    In the above case, eating toads can cause the “weird” hallucinogenic behaviour. As well It can kill a dog.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on August 11, 2014 at 9:58 am

      Good point, Laure, though I’m not sure that’s true in Austin. Hawaii, yes. Toads there are famous for killing dogs.
      And the timing is wrong here as well. The strange, spaced out behavior came before the eating of the dead things came to bear.
      But, Margo, are you reading? May want to work a bit more to keep those away from Lily.

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