Homeopathic treatment of radiation-induced itching in breast cancer patients


After surgical removal of the primary tumour from a breast, it is standard to irradiate the remaining breast to reduce the risk of tumour recurrence in the affected breast. Towards the end of 3 to 5 weeks of postoperative radiotherapy, many patients‘ breasts show a radiation-induced reaction, usually starting with redness and an increase in skin temperature.

In a study by Balzarini it could be shown that with homeopathic treatment the skin heats less. The homeopathic treatment in Balzarini’s study consisted of Belladonna 7cH, 3 globules twice daily and X-rays 15cH, 3 globules once daily.


The mother tincture of Atropa Belladonna, the Black Belladonna, is prepared from the fresh, wild, whole plant collected at the beginning of flowering. The skin becomes dry and hot when poisoned with belladonna. This is consistent with the appearance of the irradiated skin. Since homeopathy is a therapeutic method based on the law of similars, which treats a clinical picture with a substance that can produce the same clinical picture in a healthy patient, belladonna was chosen for the study.


The skin in the irradiated area dries out due to the postoperative irradiation of the breast. As a result, 14 to 40 days after the start of radiotherapy, itching may occur in the area of the irradiated breast, especially in the upper inner quadrant of the breast. However, in some patients, the itching does not appear until 3 weeks after the end of radiotherapy. Radiation-induced itching can be very uncomfortable and may prevent patients from sleeping at night.

Usually, radiotherapy-induced itching is treated with so-called antihistamines, which are substances that inhibit the effect of histamine, and strong topical cortisone. However, many patients prefer alternatives to cortisone and antihistamines, because antihistamines also make you tired and patients suffer from fatigue during postoperative breast radiotherapy anyway.

Classical homeopathy

In the classical procedure in homeopathy, a homeopathic anamnesis is first taken from the patient. This is followed by the selection of a homeopathic remedy for the patient with the help of the so-called repertorisation. Repertorisation is the process of comparing certain symptoms, personal characteristics and biographical information of an individual patient with the descriptions of the homeopathic remedies. 

Classical homeopathy for itching

Using a classical homeopathic approach, Dr Schlappack was able to show in a study that itching caused by postoperative radiotherapy of the breast can be improved by homeopathic treatment. About half of the patients reported an aggravation of the itching by heat. Other circumstances that aggravated itching were in the evening, at night and sweating. An improvement of the itching by cold was reported by 2 thirds of the patients.

In Dr. Schlappack’s study, the remedy fluoric acid was the most successful. The starting substance of Fluoricum acidum is hydrofluoric acid, the aqueous solution of hydrogen fluoride. Among other things, hydrofluoric acid is used as an etchant for the microstructuring of surfaces. Hydrofluoric acid is immediately absorbed by the skin, so that cauterisation of deeper tissue layers is possible without visibly damaging the skin externally.

Since curing like with like is the basic principle of homeopathy, this explains the effect of the homeopathic remedy, Fluoricum acidum, in the treatment of itching of the skin caused by radiation therapy, because radioactive radiation with high energy can also penetrate into deeper tissue layers of the body without leaving clearly visible traces on the surface.

Homeopathic remedies contain the active substance in a highly diluted form. This minimises the toxic effects of a substance.

Besides the remedy Fluoricum acidum, the remedies Causticum, Ignatia, Psorinum and Kalium bichromicum led to an improvement of the radiation-induced itching. Causticum, a remedy used for skin rashes, helped in the case of radiation-induced itching in 3 female patients who were worried about a close relative.

Ignatia was given to a woman whose brother died recently and to another woman whose husband died of cancer. Ignatia is a homeopathic remedy suitable for the treatment of a complaint, in this case itching, which may occur after bereavement.

In a woman who expressed concern about a feared recurrence of her breast cancer, the homeopathic remedy Psorinum improved her radiotherapy-induced itching. Psorinum is characterised by symptoms of dry skin and itching and a strong anxiety.

A patient who could not sleep because of brooding about her disease was successfully treated with Kalium bichromicum for her radiation-induced itching. In the homeopathic remedy picture of Kalium bichromicum, besides disturbed sleep, the skin is described as hot, dry and red, which improves with cool air.

The above examples show that when something threatening, serious or worrying has happened in patients‘ lives, they may react with itching in the irradiated skin, among other symptoms. 

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If you are interested in homeopathic treatment of your radiotherapy-related consequences, please contact Dr. Schlappack for an online consultation.

To book an online consultation with Dr. Schlappack please call  +43 2714 20074 or send an email to otto@drschlappack.com