Calcarea carbonica, abbreviated as Calcarea carb., is a homeopathic remedy made from the middle layer of shells. In chemical terms, Calcarea carbonica is impure calcium carbonate, CaCO3. Unlike most homeopathic remedies, which are made from substances soluble in water or alcohol, Calcarea carbonica must be prepared by a process called trituration. Triturated material is ground or pounded until it is reduced to a fine powder. According to one homeopath, the discovery of trituration is a tribute to the genius of Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy. "His method of preparing insoluble substances brought to light in this instance a whole world of therapeutic power formerly unknown."
Calcarea carbonica is a remedy that is given more frequently in so-called constitutional prescribing than to treat acute conditions. In constitutional prescribing, the homeopathic practitioner selects a remedy to treat the patient's complete symptomatology, based on a careful evaluation of his or her overall health. In homeopathy, constitution includes a person's heredity and life history as well as present lifestyle, environment, and medical history in the narrow sense. Constitutional treatment is based on the assumption that chronic or recurrent illnesses reflect a specific weakness or vulnerability in the patient's total constitution. It is intended to stimulate healing at the deepest levels of the person's emotions and psyche as well as physical characteristics.
Calcarea carbonica is one of the three most important remedies, along with Lycopodium and Sulphur in the traditional homeopath's medicine chest because all three are antipsoric remedies. The term antipsoric is derived from Hahnemann's theory of miasms. In homeopathy, a miasm is an inherited fundamental weakness or predisposition to chronic diseases. Hahnemann thought that the most ancient and universal miasm, the one that underlay the majority of the chronic illnesses that afflict humans, is the psoric miasm, or Psora. To define a remedy as antipsoric is to say that it is capable of healing a basic source of constitutional vulnerability to disease. Because Calcarea carbonica is an antipsoric remedy, it is also a polychrest remedy. Polychrest is the term used in home-opathy for a remedy that has many uses. Calcarea carbonica is used to treat a variety of diseases and disorders such as acne, arthritis, vaginal discharges in women, night terrors in children, and ringworm on the scalp.
Calcarea carbonica is in general considered a "chilly" remedy, appropriate for people who suffer keenly from the cold and have difficulty keeping warm. A homeopathic practitioner who is asking a patient about symptoms will inquire about the circumstances (e.g., light or dark, heat or cold, rest or activity, etc.) that make the patient feel better or worse. These factors are called modalities in homeopathy. In terms of modalities, patients who need Calcarea carbonica feel worse when they are cold. They may complain of a cold sensation in the abdomen and cold, clammy feet at night. Dampness, activity, and fright also make them feel worse. They feel better when they are warm and lying down.
Other aspects of Calcarea carbonica patients that are noted in the homeopathic literature are their tendency to tire easily, to move slowly and sluggishly, to sweat readily, and to have poor muscle tone and swollen lymph nodes. As a rule, they are passive, overweight people with fair or chalky complexions, large heads, and large puffy abdomens. They appear to be bloated rather than solidly muscular. Their perspiration and other body discharges often have a sour smell. Women may have excessively heavy menstrual periods (menorrhagia) and sore breasts before the flow begins. Calcarea carbonica patients often crave cold or iced drinks even when they do not have much appetite. On the other hand, they may have cravings for indigestible nonfood items, such as coal or chalk. They may dislike milk or meat, and complain of headaches and nausea after meals.
The intellectual constitution of Calcarea carbonica patients is marked by the same slowness and lack of energy that characterizes their physical movements. They may complain of heaviness or sensations of pressure in the head when they are asked to do anything requiring intellectual effort. Children with a Calcarea carbonica constitution are slow to teethe and to walk, but they are also likely to be stubborn and strong-willed. Emotionally, Calcarea carbonica patients tend to be afraid of the dark, of isolation, of getting sick, and of going insane.
Calcarea carbonica is available in tablet form as a single remedy, and in a number of combination remedies. Since it is a polychrest remedy, it is manufactured by all major suppliers of homeopathic medicines, and can be easily purchased from homeopathic pharmacies or over the Internet.
In homeopathy, most precautions about the remedies concern proper storage and administration rather than excluding certain types of patients. Homeopathic practitioners believe that remedies lose their power from exposure to heat, light, or other substances. Guidelines for proper storage of homeopathic remedies include keeping them away from strong sunlight and high temperatures, keeping them in their original containers, and not storing them near perfumes, bleach, or other strong-smelling substances. In addition, patients under care of a homeopath are instructed to avoid coffee or products containing camphor (lip balms, chest rubs, etc.) during a period of homeopathic treatment and for two days after the last dose. Homeopaths believe that these substances counteract or "antidote" the effects of homeopathic remedies.
Precautions regarding homeopathic remedies also include avoiding contamination of the medicine. The patient should not touch the medicine; it should be dispensed into a cup and tipped directly into the mouth. Homeopathic remedies are not taken with water but allowed to dissolve in the mouth. Patients are asked not to eat or drink for about 20 minutes before and after each dose.
Calcarea carbonica, like other homeopathic remedies, has so little of the original substance in the tablets that it is highly unlikely to produce side effects in the usual sense. In addition, because Calcarea carbonica is given more often for constitutional treatment than for acute illnesses, it is not as likely to produce the temporary worsening of the patient's symptoms known as aggravation.
Homeopathic remedies are so dilute that they are highly unlikely to interact with allopathic medications.
Cummings, Stephen, MD, and Dana Ullman, MPH. Every-body's Guide to Homeopathic Medicines. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1991.
MacEoin, Beth. Homeopathy. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1994.
Stein, Diane. "Homeopathy." All Women Are Healers: A Comprehensive Guide to Natural Healing. Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press, 1996.
Vithoulkas, George. Homeopathy: Medicine of the New Man. New York: Fireside Books, 1992.
Boiron Research Foundation. 1208 Amosland Road, Norwood, PA 19074.
Homeopathic Educational Services. 2124 Kittredge Street, Berkeley, CA 94704. (510) 649-0294 or (800) 359-9051.
International Foundation for the Promotion of Homeopathy. 2366 Eastlake Avenue, East. Suite 301, Seattle, WA 98102. (206) 324-8230.
National Center for Homeopathy (NCH). 801 North Fairfax Street, Suite 306, Alexandria, VA 22314. (703) 548-7790. Fax: (703) 548-7792.
Rebecca J. Frey, PhD