Acute or Chronic – Who Knows?

As homeopaths we use the words acute and chronic a lot.

It can be hard to know what these words mean, and which one applies to you. I hope this information may help you to work this out.

If not, get in touch and I’d be happy to help.


Medically this means something that has a brief duration, rapid onset and severe symptoms.

For us homeopaths the first of these is the most important. That it has a brief duration.

But in reality, what does that look like?

Acute symptoms haven’t been around for long. They may have appeared just a few minutes or hours ago. They many have been around for a few days, or up to a couple of weeks. But that’s about it.

Acute symptoms really can be anything. The most common complaints I find in my practice are cold and flu symptoms, nausea and vomiting, bumps and grazes, headaches and sore throats or sinus complaints.

If you are experiencing something like this and would like to book an acute consultation with me, please go here.

The reason we make the distinction between acute and chronic symptoms, is because our bodies deal with them in different ways. So, as homeopaths, we need to respond to what your body is doing, and must also deal with these symptoms in different ways.


Chronic symptoms, in short, have been going on for more than a couple of weeks. They may well go away and come back later, or have just been around since they came on.

Medically it is described as a disease with a long duration, slow changes and gradual onset. Again, homoeopathically, it is the long duration that is the most characteristic for us. That is the easiest way to tell if you have a chronic or acute complaint.

Who cares?

What difference does this actually make?

In acute symptoms your body has recently been affected by this change, this imbalance. As quickly as the symptoms came, we would hope to be able to get rid of them, or at least move them away in the right direction.

Chronic conditions are a whole different ball game.

The human body is AMAZING. It will do its very best to keep us going, to help us survive. When it can’t cure, it adapts, and compensates, to enable us to carry on.

This means that over time the symptoms change. They become masked and integrated with other symptoms.

Here’s a simplified example of what I mean

A young girl falls off her bike and grazes her knee. Inside the graze is some grit. As the wound heals the grit is still there. But the body needs to protect her system from infection, so its priority is to close the graze. So a scab forms, and eventually over the scab new skin grows. But the grit is still there.

It’s months since her fall. That knee is always painful to kneel on. It has a lump on it, and this lump sometimes flares up, goes red and becomes itchy.

This is a very simple chronic complaint. It started with an acute situation, a sudden onset of symptoms (the bike fall).

If the wound had been cleaned, or homeopathic remedies given at this stage, then it probably wouldn’t have developed into this chronic condition.

But it wasn’t, and the body adapted. It maximised its chance of survival. And the girl was left with other symptoms. All of which the cause was the fall. But its harder to see this cause as her body adapted.

So, what’s this all about?

This chronic situation needs very different treatment than its original acute situation.

The acute needed a good clean, some arnica (for bruising), calendula (for healing) and possibly some silica (to extract the grit if it was hard to get out from cleaning).

This can all be applied at home, with a first aid homeopathy kit, a simple prescribing book or a decent Facebook group to help advise.

The chronic scenario needs a more thorough approach though.

It needs a detailed look at how the symptoms are affecting the girl now. How she is experiencing them and how this process can be undone, so that the original problem can be healed.

For these scenarios, a qualified homeopath’s three years of training (minimum), extensive clinical experience and wide pharmacy of remedies is needed.

If only all chronic cases were this simple!

It is not the case, but a timeline of events really helps us as homeopaths to see where you took a different path.

Working with me I would take your detailed medical and personal history. I would ask what happened, when, and very importantly, how it affected you.

It is amazing what can come from this process, as we try together to help you move onto a new, healthier, path.

To book a free no obligation chat to discuss working with me, please go here.

References: Concise Medical Dictionary, Oxford. 8th edition. 2010.

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