Writings of Mary Aspinwall

Adoption – A case of situational materia medica?

by Mary Aspinwall

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Background information

Boy aged 5 at first visit

Adopted

Has a sister aged 7, also adopted

Little known about his natural parents

First came for treatment in April 97

Presented with a history of kidney infections

Medical history

At one and a half was wheezy and tended to get ear infections when teething which were > for changing to soya milk.

Since 3 years old has had repeated kidney infections with pain and crying on urination; night fevers; restlessness.

Has been treated with antibiotics three times for this symptom.

Has had a scan and a reflux test both NAD.

Suffers from involuntary nocturnal enuresis during infections.

Has a poor appetite.

Has also complained of tiredness in the legs, although less so recently.

Observation

I try to engage him by coming down to his level, making eye contact explaining that I am like a detective looking for clues and ask if he will help me. He says nothing and goes to sit with his sister and starts drawing. I say that I have to play Snap and try to find exactly the right medicine for him. Will he help? No answer. I say that I will ask Mum and Dad questions can he listen and tell me if they get something wrong? He nods. He looks immaculate. He is extremely neat and wearing very smart clothes.

In the hope that I can entice him to join in I start off by asking what food he likes / dislikes but he is happy just to listen and nod occasionally.

Please note where possible I have used the verbatim comments of his adoptive parents on the following pages. His mother did most of the talking.

Food? Likes starchy food: cereal; bread; biscuits; potato; spaghetti; apples and pears.

Dislikes meat.

Appetite, capricious “ Food is a big issue. He craves biscuits and ice-creams and gets aggravated if we say no.

Mind, tantrums He throws big tantrums. He could spot a sweet a mile away. He keeps saying I’m hungry but only for bread and biscuits.

Mind, avers. He hates trying new food. He tried chicken nuggets and didn’t like them so he cleaned his tongue with a tissue! He likes potatoes but only with gravy – they have to be wet. He is very fussy his tomato ketchup must be in a particular place on the plate. When he was small, he ate anything. Now he’s hungry but he can’t eat when it comes”

Mind, indecisive (Father) “He’s slow to make a decision. Doesn’t know what he wants. He wants to be good, but he really can’t make a decision. He spends ages trying to choose which cereal he wants in the morning…then he’s sorry if it causes an argument”. (His indecision annoys his mother).

Mind, image-conscious “He is very particular about clothes. He likes ‘cool clothes’ with designer labels. He likes baseball caps and he loves footwear.”

Mind, fastidious “Although he doesn’t mind getting dirty, he hates being dirty”

Mind, fearless “He has no fear of danger!”

(Observation) He is burying his head into the neck of his

jumper.

Mind, timid “He’s better when there are lots of people around. He hates feeling he’s being observed or the attention is on him.” (This is why he finds the consultation difficult).

He hates anyone (doctors or us) looking at his genitals …he’s very private.”

“ He hates going to bed even if he is tired”.

“He is fast on figures and sums. He has a brilliant memory for detail”.

“We went to stay at a hotel. He was very excited about going, but he didn’t go into the crèche even though he really wanted to…

Mind, indecisive he just couldn’t make the decision.

For the first time the child speaks he says:

Mind, fear of separation “I just want to be with Mam and Dad”.

His mother says for him it was another “wrench like playschool…He didn’t want to go to playschool”.

Mind, competitive He’s very competitive…has to win. He says to Mind, envious his sister … you have more than me.

He has marvellous co-ordination he learnt to ride a bike in one day. He’s good at climbing and jumping he’s very agile”

“He has an infectious laugh.”

Mind, sensitive, noise “He hates loud noises”.

Feet, oversensitive “He cannot bear anyone to touch his toes. His feet just jump. He feels like he is being tickled when he is only being touched. He likes his boots really tight.”

Generalities, Temperature “He’s always hot, his cheeks are hot with a high colour…but during the kidney infections he complained of being cold.”

Generalities, energy “He has good energy and never gets coughs or colds.”

Bladder, urination

stinging pain at close of “When he has an infection he cries out in pain after he’s had a pee.

Nose, blocked, on rising “He says it feels dry < in the mornings. He picks it”.

Ears, waxy

Legs, calves, eruptions Very itchy slow to clear … in a circle around the shin.

Hands/ feet, nails “…soft and jagged”.

Stomach, nausea, on motion He can get car sick depending on what he has eaten.

Bowels He has two movements a day – very dry stools.

This was a strange case, because I never managed to get Q. (the boy) to talk to me. His (adoptive) mother did nearly all the talking.

What needed to be cured in this case?

This child was paralysed by indecision even in the simplest of choices. In his father’s words: “He wants to be good, but he really can’t make a decision.”

He wants to “be good” and we see this from his neat appearance and his desire for designer gear. He likes to play, but if he gets dirty then he wants to clean himself up soon after. He is not at ease with himself.

He likes to have his boots laced very tightly. I found out only recently from a social worker that this is a common trait amongst children who are in care, fostered or adopted. They are also very reluctant to take their shoes or boots off. Even though I didn’t know this I sensed his wanting the boots tight was a sign of his insecurity which was echoed by the reluctance to be separated from his mother and father (play school / crèche).

Why does he want to be so perfect?

One could speculate that he has a deep memory of having been abandoned by his natural mother and is terrified it will happen again if he makes a mistake, hence his terror of making the ‘wrong’ choice. However Hahnemann warns us against theorising in this way so sticking to what we know to be true…

If we take the presenting complaint, which has a clear modality we find:

BLADDER; PAIN; General; urination; close of, at (2) : apis, cann-s.

BLADDER; URINATION; dysuria; painful; urination; close of, at (1) : sars.

These rubrics are far too small to be reliable and none of the remedies cover the mental state of the child.

So I chose to broaden the rubrics above by including:

BLADDER; PAIN; General; urination; after (16) : berb., brach., calc-p., canth., Caust., echi., epig., equis., fab., lith-c., polyg., ruta, Sars., sep., thuj., uva.

Eliminating repetition by creating a combined rubric ensures no remedy is mentioned twice and given an unnecessarily high weighting:

pain at close or after urination (20) : Caust., Equis., Sars., berb., brach., canth., uva., apis, calc-p., cann-s., echi., epig., fab., lith-c., phos., polyg.,

rhus-t., ruta, sep., thuj.

I briefly considered Phosphorus because he had nausea after eating ice cream and Cannabis sativa as this remedy has fear of going to bed, but I had a strong inclination towards Thuja.

According to Vermeulen the nucleus of Thuja is that they have an ugly, unlovable feeling inside and so present a manufactured image to the world. His source for this is Gray:

“Present a manufactured image to the world which is calculated and formed from childhood. During childhood they had the experience [or delusion] of being neglected or abused. The message the child gets is that they can never be good enough”

Low self-esteem. “They feel UNLOVABLE. They think that if someone knew who they really were they could not possibly love them. Because they feel they can never be loved they make an extra effort to be liked. They look around to see what is most popular, how they walk, dress, what they do, etc., to see what is successful. Then they go about IMITATING this systematically and scientifically, copying what they think works in the world and by adulthood they have the PERFECT IMAGE”. Feeling of UGLINESS inside. SELF-CONTEMPT (perfectly hidden).

Aside from this we have the tree itself with its split trunk highlighting the very marked duality that runs throughout the remedy, as we see from the following references.

All Materia Medica references below are from Complete Rep 4.5 (reversed)unless otherwise stated.

Confusion of mind: identity, as to his: duality, sensation of (Boenninghausen)

DELUSIONS, IMAGINATIONS: CUT: TWO, IN: COULD NOT TELL OF WHICH PART HE HAD POSSESSION ON WAKING.

Delusions, imaginations: divided: two parts, into

Delusions, imaginations: double: he is

Inconstancy.

Thoughts: inconstancy of. (Jahr)

Irresolution, indecision: changeable (Jahr)

Even the smallest things seem to be major decisions:

Trifles: important, seem (Boenninghausen)

It covers his desire to “be good” and how he feels when he can’t decide:

Delusions, imaginations: wrong: he has done.

Reproaches: himself.

It covers his tantrums:

ANGER, IRASCIBILITY: TEMPER TANTRUMS: OPPOSED, WHEN AT THE LEAST.

ANGER, IRASCIBILITY: WILL, IF THINGS DO NOT GO AFTER HIS.

His reluctance to answer me:

Answer, answering, answers: questioned, when: says nothing, indifferent, does not answer. (Hering)

His desire for privacy:

Looked at: cannot bear to be. (Bernice )

His sensitive feet:

Sensitive, oversensitive: sensual impressions, to.

Formication: foot: sole of. (Hahnemann)

Formication: toes.

Also a confirmatory symptom for Thuja is:

Nose, Dryness: inside.

Prescription: Split dose Thuja 30c bedtime and rising. (Note – I have since changed my prescribing habits and nearly always give a single dose these days).

Follow-up (four weeks after remedy) on 13th May 97:

Nose, epistaxis “After the bedtime remedy he had a nosebleed at 4am. He took the next remedy on rising and got another nose bleed. Since then his nose is running, but still feels blocked.”

(proving symptom)

Feet, oversensitive>> “Three days after the remedy his feet stopped jumping. For the first time ever he allowed me to cut his toe nails. He will wear other shoes now… it doesn’t have to be certain boots.”

Generalities, energy “…incredible he still wants to play at 10pm. Although one night he actually asked to go to bed at 7 or 7.30 which is a big change”.

Skin, eruptions, itching “He came out in a lot of spots that started to get itchy. It was remarkable.”

“He was very good for the first week or two, but…

Sleep, difficult The last three or four days he can’t settle in bed. His fussiness about food is back, but not as bad”.

Face, heat>> “His face has cooled down”.

Appetite> “His appetite is good. He really likes raw carrots”.

Bladder, urination, pain “Went of its own accord. It was itchy inside, but only for one day”.

Mind, indecisiveness ? “…much improved”.

Mind, tantrums? “That’s disimproving over the last few days, but it’s not in the same league … before you couldn’t reason with him”.

Prescription: Split dose Thuja 30c bedtime and rising

Decided to re- prescribe because some symptoms have returned in the past few days. He’s having difficulty getting to sleep, he’ more fussy about his food and the tantrums are returning.

Phone call (two weeks after remedy) on 3rd June 97:

Nose, blocked >

Face, redness >

Feet, sensitive? “OK, but not as good as they were”

Sleep “Getting him to go to bed is difficult.”

Mind, “He’s more aggressive than he was. Has to get the last puck in”

“Sometimes he wants his food on separate plates and sometimes he mashes it all together… He won’t try anything not even a banana…”

Prescription: No remedy. Wait. Things are going backwards again but I don’t want to repeat the remedy so soon. I hoped things would be clearer in a couple of weeks and since he has no return of the dysuria there is no great urgency.

Follow-up appointment (eight weeks after remedy) 24thJune 97

Feet, jumping < “Things haven’t gone backward, except he won’t let me cut his toenails. His feet are jumping again. He still wants his boots laced tightly… but not as bad as before. ”

“There was a big overall improvement up to the second week after the remedy(mid-May) and since then his nose is less blocked up and his colour is less high. Otherwise no big change. He’s a little bit more contrary, bullying …uses his elbows a lot!”

Observation He gives his mother a disapproving “look”.

I felt his relationship with her seemed better in that he was less cowed in her presence, although he was still mostly silent throughout

Hands / feet, nails “…still bitty and broken”.

Sleep “good once he gets off.”

Bladder, urination, pain “…mentioned it hurt him to pee once”.

Appetite, capricious “ Still won’t try new things, but he’s not as bad as he was before the remedy”

Mind, indecision? > “Has improved a bit”.

“Since the second week things have just held, not improved. After the first remedy (in April) he was so much calmer from the next day.”

Skin, eruptions itching? “No, his skin has cleared.”

“We have a lot more confrontations.”

Again I took this to be a healthy sign. I was keen to treat the mother too and she finally did become a client about a year ago and is doing well.

Bowels, dry stools? “His stools are occasionally looser than they were”.

Stomach, nausea? “Yes, it is always after he has had ice-cream”.

(Made a note of remedies for this arg-n; ars; kali-ars; puls.

Ars related to Thuja.

Later checked this against Thuja in Materia Medica and found:

Nausea: riding in a carriage or on cars, while. (Borland)

Food and drinks: cold: food: agg.

Food and drinks: cold: food: desires.)

Nose, sniffing “…constantly and rubbing with the back of his hand”.

Prescription: Thuja 200c single dose at bedtime

Follow-up (eight weeks after Thuja 200c) on 21st August 97

Appetite, capricious< “He wouldn’t eat a banana the other day because it was a bit black and …

Feet, oversensitive<< he can’t bear his feet to be touched again. He holds his breath. Everything else is fine though and if this was all he’d had wrong in the first place I wouldn’t have come to you.

Generalities, heat >> One thing I notice is the redness in his cheeks has gone and he has less heat in his system generally …

Perspiration, profuse>> I remember (before the remedies) the sweat used to pour off him. He doesn’t complain of being sick.

Head, eruption I notice he has crusty scabs on his head.

Generalities, energy > He’s full of energy …he leaves a trail of destruction…

He doesn’t want to have his shoes tightened any more.

Nose, coryza His nose runs a bit (< exertion).

He’s had a growth spurt”.

Prescription: Thuja 200c at bedtime. Repeated because the extreme sensitivity of the feet has returned.

In a series of brief telephone follow-ups he has continued to improve and only very rarely had slight twinges on close of urination. The gaps between these incidents continues to widen. He is no longer indecisive. He recently broke his arm and had a tooth abscess and I treated him with first aid remedies. The remedy was repeated in February 1999 as it seemed to have been antidoted by the dentistry. He now wears his boots with the laces completely undone and is less concerned with his appearance. His feet can still be ticklish and he prefers to cut his toe nails himself. His mother says he is in great form and that they are getting on extremely well. However she is now having difficulties in her relationship with her adopted daughter.

Prognosis and obstacles to cure

The prognosis for Q seems good. There has been marked and sustained improvement on all levels. However, even at the last follow-up he spoke very little to me and used his parents as intermediaries, which I hope will change as he grows older and gains confidence.

His mother told me when he broke his arm and was waiting to have a cast put on he had a very fleeting twinge of pain in his penis (not related to urination). This was related to his anxiety and has not returned since.

He seemed slightly off form after the dental treatment he had so the remedy was repeated (Thuja 200c single dose)and his energy and mood improved.

From the outset the main obstacle appeared to me to be his mother. She is an immaculately turned-out, very precise woman who can be very demanding. This gave Q the sense that her love and approval were in some ways conditional and probably contributed to his mental and emotional disturbance. It is interesting to note how, since Q’s treatment, her antipathy for her son has now switched to her older daughter who used to be “the favourite”.

The mother began treatment just over one year ago and is doing well on Tarantula 200c . She hopes to bring her daughter to me at some point, but the daughter is not keen to come at the moment.

Situational Materia Medica – an observation

Some homeopaths believe that a set of circumstances can predispose someone to need a particular remedy. It is an interesting hypothesis (although the whole question of how people attract these situations, in the first instance, is not raised).

I had a second case where an adult woman, who had been adopted as a baby, made contact with her natural mother and father and went into a marked Thuja state becoming obsessed about her appearance and her (scarcely noticeable) warts.

Her natural parents behaved quite inappropriately towards her, yet she still desperately craved their approval. Thuja helped her to regain her centre and she became more circumspect about her newfound parents.

I wonder if adopted children tend to need Thuja more than those who remain with their birth parents? It would be interesting to know if any one else has prescribed Thuja where the situation was similar.

Case Analysis

This was a strange case, because I never managed to get Q. (the boy) to talk to me. His (adoptive) mother did nearly all the talking.

What needed to be cured in this case?

This child was paralysed by indecision even in the simplest of choices. In his father’s words: “He wants to be good, but he really can’t make a decision.He wants to “be good” and we see this from his neat appearance and his desire for designer gear. He likes to play, but if he gets dirty then he wants to clean himself soon after. He is not at ease with himself.

He likes to have his boots laced very tightly. I found out only recently from a social worker that this is a common trait amongst children who are in care, fostered or adopted. They are also very reluctant to take their shoes or boots off. Even though I didn’t know this I sensed his wanting the boots tight was a sign of his insecurity which was echoed by the reluctance to be separated from his mother and father (play school / crèche).Why does he want to be so perfect?

One could speculate that he has a deep memory of having been abandoned by his natural mother and is terrified it will happen again if he makes a mistake, hence his terror of making the ‘wrong’ choice. However Hahnemann warns us against theorising in this way so sticking to what we know to be true…If we take the presenting complaint, which has a clear modality we find:

BLADDER; PAIN; General; urination; close of, at (2) : apis,

cann-s.

BLADDER; URINATION; dysuria; painful; urination; close of, at

(1) : sars.

These rubrics are far too small to be reliable and none of the remedies cover the mental state of the child.

So I chose to broaden the rubrics above by including:

BLADDER; PAIN; General; urination; after (16) : berb., brach., calc-p., canth., Caust., echi., epig., equis., fab., lith-c., polyg., ruta, Sars., sep., thuj., uva.

Eliminating repetition by creating a combined rubric ensures no remedy is mentioned twice and given an unnecessarily high weighting:pain at close or after urination (20) : Caust., Equis., Sars., berb., brach., canth., uva., apis, calc-p., cann-s., echi., epig., fab., lith-c., phos., polyg., rhus-t., ruta, sep., thuj.I briefly considered Phosphorus because he had nausea after eating ice cream and Cannabis sativa as this remedy has fear of going to bed, but I had a strong inclination towards Thuja.

According to Vermeulen the nucleus of Thuja is that they have an ugly, unlovable feeling inside and so present a manufactured image to the world. His source for this is Gray:

“Present a manufactured image to the world which is calculated and formed from childhood. During childhood they had the experience [or delusion] of being neglected or abused. The message the child gets is that they can never be good enough”Low self-esteem. “They feel UNLOVABLE. They think that if someone knew who they really were they could not possibly love them. Because they feel they can never be loved they make an extra effort to be liked. They look around to see what is most popular, how they walk, dress, what they do, etc., to see what is successful. Then they go about IMITATING this systematically and scientifically, copying what they think works in the world and by adulthood they have the PERFECT IMAGE”.

Feeling of UGLINESS inside. SELF-CONTEMPT (perfectly hidden).

Aside from this we have the tree itself with its split trunk highlighting the very marked duality that runs throughout the remedy, as we see from the following references.

All Materia Medica references below are from Complete Rep 4.5 (reversed)unless otherwise stated.

Confusion of mind: identity, as to his: duality, sensation of (Boenninghausen) DELUSIONS, IMAGINATIONS: CUT: TWO, IN: COULD NOT TELL OF WHICH PART HE HAD POSSESSION ON WAKING. Delusions, imaginations: divided: two parts, into Delusions, imaginations: double: he is Inconstancy. Thoughts: inconstancy of. (Jahr) Irresolution, indecision: changeable (Jahr)Even the smallest things seem to be major decisions: Trifles: important, seem (Boenninghausen)It covers his desire to “be good” and how he feels when he can’t decide:Delusions, imaginations: wrong: he has done.Reproaches: himself.It covers his tantrums: ANGER, IRASCIBILITY: TEMPER TANTRUMS: OPPOSED, WHEN AT THE LEAST. ANGER, IRASCIBILITY: WILL, IF THINGS DO NOT GO AFTER HIS.

His reluctance to answer me: Answer, answering, answers: questioned, when: says nothing, indifferent, does not answer. (Hering)His desire for privacy: Looked at: cannot bear to be. (Bernice )His sensitive feet: Sensitive, oversensitive: sensual impressions, to. Formication: foot: sole of. (Hahnemann) Formication: toes.Also a confirmatory symptom for Thuja is:Nose, Dryness: inside.

Prescription: Split dose Thuja 30c bedtime and rising.

(Note – I have since changed my prescribing habits and nearly always give a single dose these days).

Follow-up (four weeks after remedy) on 13th May 97:

Nose, epistaxis “After the bedtime remedy he had a nosebleed at 4am. He took the next remedy on rising and got another nose bleed. Since then his nose is running, but still feels blocked.”

(proving symptom)

Feet, oversensitive>> “Three days after the remedy his feet stopped jumping. For the first time ever he allowed me to cut his toe nails. He will wear other shoes now… it doesn’t have to be certain boots.”Generalities, energy “…incredible he still wants to play at 10pm. Although one night he actually asked to go to bed at 7 or 7.30 which is a big change”.Skin, eruptions, itching “He came out in a lot of spots that started to get itchy. It was remarkable.”

“He was very good for the first week or two, but…Sleep, difficult The last three or four days he can’t settle in bed. His fussiness about food is back, but not as bad”.Face, heat>> “His face has cooled down”.

Appetite> “His appetite is good. He really likes raw carrots”.

Bladder, urination, pain “Went of its own accord. It was itchy inside, but only for one day”.

Mind, indecisiveness ? “…much improved”.Mind, tantrums? “That’s disimproving over the last few days, but it’s not in the same league … before you couldn’t reason with him”.Prescription: Split dose Thuja 30c bedtime and rising

Decided to re- prescribe because some symptoms have returned in the past few days.

He’s having difficulty getting to sleep, he’ more fussy about his food and the tantrums are returning.

Phone call (two weeks after remedy) on 3rd June 97:

Nose, blocked >

Face, redness >

Feet, sensitive? “OK, but not as good as they were”

Sleep “Getting him to go to bed is difficult.”

Mind, “He’s more aggressive than he was. Has to get the last puck in””Sometimes he wants his food on separate plates and sometimes he mashes it all together… He won’t try anything not even a banana…”Prescription: No remedy. Wait. Things are going backwards again but I don’t want to repeat the remedy so soon. I hoped things would be clearer in a couple of weeks and

since he has no return of the dysuria there is no great urgency.

Follow-up appointment (eight weeks after remedy) 24thJune 97

Feet, jumping < “Things haven’t gone backward, except he won’t let me cut his toenails. His feet are jumping again. He still wants his boots laced tightly… but not as bad as before. “”There was a big overall improvement up to the second week after the remedy(mid-May) and since then his nose is less blocked up and his colour is less high. Otherwise no big change. He’s a little bit more contrary, bullying …uses his elbows a lot!”Observation He gives his mother a disapproving “look”. I felt his relationship with her seemed better in that he was less cowed in her presence, although he was still mostly silent throughout Hands / feet, nails “…still bitty and broken”.Sleep “good once he gets off.” Bladder, urination, pain “…mentioned it hurt him to pee once”.Appetite, capricious ” Still won’t try new things, but he’s not as bad as he was before the remedy”Mind, indecision? > “Has improved a bit”.

“Since the second week things have just held, not improved. After the first remedy (in April) he was so much calmer from the next day.”

Skin, eruptions itching? “No, his skin has cleared.”

“We have a lot more confrontations.”

Again I took this to be a healthy sign. I was keen to treat the mother too and she finally

did become a client about a year ago and is doing well.

Bowels, dry stools? “His stools are occasionally looser than they were”.

Stomach, nausea? “Yes, it is always after he has had ice-cream”.

(Made a note of remedies for this arg-n; ars; kali-ars; puls.

Ars related to Thuja.

Later checked this against Thuja in Materia Medica and found:

Nausea: riding in a carriage or on cars, while. (Borland)

Food and drinks: cold: food: agg.

Food and drinks: cold: food: desires.)Nose, sniffing “…constantly and rubbing with the back of his hand”.

Prescription: Thuja 200c single dose at bedtime

Follow-up (eight weeks after Thuja 200c) on 21st August 97

Appetite, capricious< “He wouldn’t eat a banana the other day because it was a bit black and …Feet, oversensitive<< he can’t bear his feet to be touched again. He holds his breath. Everything else is fine though and if this was all he’d had wrong in the first place I wouldn’t have come to you.Generalities, heat >> One thing I notice is the redness in his cheeks has gone and he has less heat in his system generally …Perspiration, profuse>> I remember (before the remedies) the sweat used to pour off him. He doesn’t complain of being sick.Head, eruption I notice he has crusty scabs on his head.

Generalities, energy > He’s full of energy …he leaves a trail of destruction…He doesn’t want to have his shoes tightened any more.Nose, coryza His nose runs a bit (< exertion).

He’s had a growth spurt”.Prescription: Thuja 200c at bedtime. Repeated because the extreme sensitivity of the feet has returned.

In a series of brief telephone follow-ups he has continued to improve and only very rarely had slight twinges on close of urination. The gaps between these incidents continues to widen.

He is no longer indecisive. He recently broke his arm and had a tooth abscess and I treated him with first aid remedies. The remedy was repeated in February 1999 as it seemed to have been antidoted by the dentistry. He now wears his boots with the laces completely undone and is less concerned with his appearance. His feet can still be ticklish and he prefers to cut his

toe nails himself. His mother says he is in great form and that they are getting on extremely well. However she is now having difficulties in her relationship with her adopted daughter.

Prognosis and obstacles to cure

The prognosis for Q seems good. There has been marked and sustained improvement on all levels.

However, even at the last follow-up he spoke very little to me and used his parents as intermediaries,

which I hope will change as he grows older and gains confidence.

His mother told me when he broke his arm and was waiting to have a cast put on he had a very fleeting twinge of pain in his penis (not related to urination). This was related to his anxiety and has not returned since.

He seemed slightly off form after the dental treatment he had so the remedy was repeated (Thuja 200c single dose)and his energy and mood improved.

From the outset the main obstacle appeared to me to be his mother. She is an immaculately turned-out, very precise woman who can be very demanding. This gave Q the sense that her love and approval were in some ways conditional and probably contributed to his mental and emotional disturbance.

It is interesting to note how, since Q’s treatment, her antipathy for her son has now switched to her older daughter who used to be “the favourite”.

The mother began treatment just over one year ago and is doing well on Tarantula 200c .

She hopes to bring her daughter to me at some point, but the daughter is not keen to come at the moment.

Situational Materia Medica – an observation

Some homeopaths believe that a set of circumstances can predispose someone to need a particular remedy. It is an interesting hypothesis (although the whole question of how people attract these situations, in the first instance, is not raised).

I had a second case where an adult woman, who had been adopted as a baby, made contact with her natural mother and father and went into a marked Thuja state becoming obsessed about her appearance and her (scarcely noticeable) warts.

Her natural parents behaved quite inappropriately towards her, yet she still desperately craved their approval. Thuja helped her to regain her centre and she became more circumspect about her

newfound parents.

I wonder if adopted children tend to need Thuja more than those who remain with their birth parents?

It would be interesting to know if any one else has prescribed Thuja where the situation was similar.

© Mary Aspinwall

Ipecac has been used locally and internally for malignant pustule and anthrax in which disease Dr. Edwin Muskett considers it specific. In certain forms of peripheral neuritis it deserves more consideration than has hitherto been allotted to it (Cooper). Ip. has much of the sensitiveness of Chin. There is better by touch. Oversensitiveness to heat and cold. Ipecac according to Hahnemann is a short-acting medicine.

Lachesis

Anthrax – bluish purplish looking carbuncles, with evidences of blood poisoning. Nightly burning, obliging one to rise and wash parts in cold water. Cerebral symptoms.

Merc viv.

Anthrax with other typical Merc viv symptoms,offensive smelly discharge, increased salivation, temperature swings from high to low.

Silica

Boils or carbuncles on nape of neck; anthrax; want of vital warmth; slow progress of disease. Swelling hard, discolored, purplish-red, discharging from an opening near edge, acrid, corroding, stinking, yellowish-green ichor. ~ Carbuncle.

Sulphur

Intermittent fever with anthrax on back of neck.

“The physician’s high and only mission is to restore the sick to health.”

Samuel Hahnemann ~ Founder of Homeopathy.

We hope that such information will never be needed, but wanted to make it freely available. The Double Helix homeopathic medicine kits mentioned here can be used to treat a host of first aid emergencies and acute illnesses. For more details about what you can treat please visit our what you can treat page.

For those reading this who are suffering from anxiety and fear, you may find relief from homeopathic remedies such as Arsenicum and Aconite.

In the event of any other germ warfare threats, this site will be added to.

Birth Revisited

by Mary Aspinwall

Our son Gabriel Luke was born at 11 .14pm on Saturday 30th January 1999 at our home in West Cork. He was delivered in a birthing pool after a fast and feral labour, most of which I spent howling at the (full) moon.

Whereas our daughter, Martha, took three days to labour into this world Gabriel came in only three hours. I knew at about 3:30pm that things were moving, although I had no pain, just regular tightening sensations. I drove into town to get some shopping and met a friend in a cafe for a cuppa. I was feeling greaat and planned to take a long walk on the beach in the twilight with my daughter and her friend, but the heavens opened so we got some videos and headed homeward. I cooked up a huge pot of thick minestrone soup and chose a good bottle of red wine to have with it and lit some candles. We all had supper and then Martha (who was then seven) went to stay with our next-door neighbour’s. She had looked at some birthing pictures and (despite her initial enthusiasm) had decided it was not, after all, for her.

The mild contractions were now coming every five minutes or so lasting up to a minute. We rang the midwife to put her on standby that we might need her as she lives one hour’s drive from us, started filling the pool and then settled down to watch a movie. I assumed I was in for the long haul, but only five minutes into the film I got the first big contraction, swiftly followed by another. We told the midwife to come and my husband, Wayne, began heating up enormous pans of water and kettles… as if we were in some old black and white melodrama. Pools are great, but the average domestic water heating system takes two hours to fill one. To make matters more complicated our stove and the pool were a flight of stairs apart, so there was a lot of toing and froing with steaming cauldrons. During each contraction (every three or four minutes) I needed Wayne to put very firm pressure on my back.

He somehow managed to be in two places at once. Since nearly all the pain was in my lower back I was worried the baby might be posterior. These labours tend to be long and grim. I took Ku/i carb 200 and then a higher dose but I can’t say it did much. The contractions were by now thick and fast and painful, so although the pool was only half full I got in and went on all fours to try to relieve the pressure on my back. Around this time I switched from breathing through contractions to screaming through them. It felt like the only thing to do. In between I came back to focussing on my breath.

Our midwife, Elke Hasner arrived at about 10pm. She walked in on one of my banshee wails and said later she thought to herself: “That sounds good”. She took over back pressing duty so Wayne was able to top up the pool with the various pans and kettles. Between contractions I was able to stand up briefly so Elke could check the baby’s heart once with a sonic aid monitor. It was hale and hearty. The contractions were growing closer and closer together so my breathing time was shorter and shorter. I felt everything was going too fast. It was something I had not prepared for. I asked Elke to make me up a herbal painkiller. I took Aconite 200 to ease my rising sense of panic. I had a list of acupuncture points for speeding up a stalled labour from Steve Gascoigne, the acupuncturist who had been treating me in the run up to the birth. I got Wayne to ring him and ask if there was anyway to slow it down. Steve asked “Why would you want to do that?” I answered “GRRRRRR” and thought uncharitable thoughts about the opposite sex. “You could go to hospital; that would slow it down…”

Once or twice whilst this was going on I felt a fleeting urge to push, but just dismissed it. It just couldn’t be that time already, but the desperation and the out of control feeling was, in fact, transition. I felt the need to take a Pulsatilla 1M in which seemed to help and in no time at all I was pushing.

My waters broke and unlike last time (when they were artificially ruptured) the water was clear and meconium-free. I noticed the water level had gone up in the pool, but it wasn’t until Elke said: “Use him” that I even realised that Wayne had climbed into the pool with me. I hung on to his neck and the change of position and his calm and strength helped me to bear down. Very quickly I could feel the head in the birth canal and put my hand down to help me gauge how hard to push. The water was great for giving a greater sense of control as the force of gravity is so much reduced. Within ten minutes I was able to push just enough to deliver the head and next push launched baby into the water into the waiting arms of Elke who unwound the cord from its neck and swiftly passed my darling to me.

We both just stared in wonder at the wide-eyed beauty before us. For a while I didn’t even think to check whether it was “a boy or a girl”. It just was. I held the baby to my breast, but having just had three huge bowlfuls of minestrone he wasn’t remotely hungry and was more interested in looking around him. Once the cord had stopped pulsing Elke clamped the cord and Wayne cut it. All too soon the third stage started and I passed our boy to his papa and got back on all fours to deliver the placenta. After that I was feeling a bit chilly and I wanted to get out of the pool. Getting out was a real revelation of what the pool had been doing for me. As I stood the force of gravity almost pushed me back down. I felt weak and unsteady. Elke helped me out very gently. Our boy was still enjoying floating around on the palm of his papa’s hand. I put on a nice thick towelling robe and sat down on the bed and looked fbrward to being able to spend a bit of time with our son. I had forgotten that there might be after-pains. I was stunned by the force of them. They felt exactly like the first hour’s contractions and once again I needed very firm pressure on my back. All the pain was in my lower back. I had to focus hard on my breath to stop myself from screaming. Since Kali carb IOm (a high dose) didn’t seem to help at all I worked my way through a few more remedies to no avail. I was sick of feeling pain. I wanted to be with my son. I started thinking laterally and decided to have a large medicinal swig of brandy and a couple of Paracetamol which made me feel better but didn’t really alter the pain. Finally Wayne suggested going back to Kali carb 200 and that worked beautifully. Good to know someone understands minimum dose! I had a shower aiming a very hot jet at my lower back and started to feel human again. So by 3am the placenta and my blood pressure had been checked and we said farewell to Elke. The three of us snuggled into bed together and slept for an unbroken, blissful four hours.

Martha came over next morning to see her baby brother for the first time. She was a little underwhelmed when she realised he only had two modes: suck or sleep, but she is getting the hang of just gazing at him. In the last issue I asked for your thoughts and good wishes around the time of the birth. On the day I went into labour I was almost two weeks overdue and I know many people were thinking of us. Unbeknownst to me the Salmon provers were having a reunion that weekend in England and phoned me on Sunday for news. Apparently Gabriel is the third Salmon prover’s baby to arrive during one of these weekend reunions. Perhaps that was what he was waiting for. I wonder how many of the Salmon babies came on the full moon? Also on that Saturday a friend of mine had organised a day’s meditation retreat and dedicated the practice done that day to us. Many thanks to all of you for making this birth such a healing experience.

In the past year or so three friends have had home births with Elke and it was only as I was reading Midwifery Matters (published by the Association of Radical Midwives) that I realised what rare events home births are in Ireland. There are only thirteen independent midwives currently working in Ireland and in 1996 of 50,390 births only 206 were at home. Sally Millar points out that although women have a legal right to home birth under the 1970 Health Act, the inaction of the Health Boards means there are still areas with no midwife cover.

In addition, those who choose a home birth are penalised financially. Although one now receives a grant of £600, this leaves a shortfall of between £250 and £400 in midwifery fees. If you also opt for a water birth, pool hire costs around £150 for a minimum three week hire period. Having said that, the fees mentioned include not only the delivery itself but also monthly ante-natal checks; and ten consecutive days of post-natal visits. This level of continuity of care is an enormous bonus. After a home birth it is a good idea to ask your local doctor to pay a home visit to check the baby over, particularly the heart and lungs as a midwife may not be trained to do this for you. Home birth was a wonderful experience for all of us and once it was all over we were able to curl up in our own bed with our new-born son and sleep the sleep of angels…

© Mary Aspinwall

A Tale of Bovista – remedy for warriors on the move

by Mary Aspinwall

click here for a pdf version of this article

Side impact protection system? “No way…I’d rather die than drive a Volvo”

A tale of Bovista – remedy for warriors on the move

by Mary Aspinwall

A case history

James

Aged 35

Living with girlfriend and her two children aged 5 and 7 (from previous relationship).Has a stressful managerial job on renewable, temporary one year contracts

Presenting complaints

lots of tension / aches / pains with weakness

weakness worst in the wrist which could suddenly “go” when lifting something, this was always followed by a strained sensation for the next two days

general tiredness

bowel problems: loose stools and flatulence

mental symptoms: very irritable; poor memory

chest: oppressed sensation with breathlessness (smokes roll ups)

Lifestyle (about which James has no complaints)

drinks up to one and a half bottles of wine on a weekday; six or seven pints and a short at weekends; seven or eight coffees and three or four teas per day; loves dark chocolate and eats a whole bar most days

Medical history

Asthma

Stomach ulcers

Developed a stutter at 10 (which he still has occasionally)

Heavy drinking

Family history

Heart attacks (father’s side)Chest complaints (mother)

Arthritis (mother)

Nervous breakdown (sibling)

Alcoholism (sibling)

Hare lip (sibling)

There was a common theme to the modalities for the aches and pains, they were all better for:

“finding the right place” or “clicking into place”

James also had insomnia and couldn’t get off to sleep, he spent ages” twisting and turning … I’m seeking the perfect spot”

The struggle

He had strong reservations about the way his life was going:

“I worry about getting older. I’m at the half-way point in my life. I don’t want to be cozy and cuddly and drive a volvo; I’d rather be dead. I fantasise about becoming a New Age traveller. The freedom, the rebellion, the defiance, struggling against the sterility of how people live. It’s harder now to move, to be free. I’m enjoying my job, but that’s only a one year contract.

The prison<

I’ve got Julia ( partner ) and I feel I should be with her, but I see her as a bit of a jailer to some extent. We’ve talked about it and I’ve told her I wanted us to become New Age travellers, but she said ‘No Way’.I see the relationship as a prison really, but I have to have one. Not being able to move, feeling settled down, I half want to and half don’t want to.”These preoccupations echo the search for the perfect spot and raise a new theme of fighting which James then elaborated on:

” Two weeks ago I had a violent dream and woke up energised, as if I was in a fight”

Choosing the rubrics

It was difficult to find a rubric which adequately conveyed the idea of “finding the perfect spot”, so I opted instead for a large general rubric:

Generals; MOTION, general ameliorates (185 remedies)

James mentioned his desire to be rebellious and struggle defiantly against the status quo and says that he was energised (rather than scared) by his violent dream. I therefore choose the rubric:

Mind; FIGHT, wants to (11 remedies)

I wanted to highlight James’ central dilemma by contrasting this desire to fight with his feeling that he was imprisoned by his relationship and therefore unable to do so. Ideally this should have been a Mind; DELUSION rubric but there was none. I remember Sankaran saying that he felt that dreams and delusions could be used inter-changeably and whilst I was not totally sure I agreed with him I decided to repertorise to see what came up. In the Complete Repertory there was no rubric for imprisonment, only arrest. Murphy did have a rubric for imprisonment, but it only contained two remedies (Bovista and Cervus brasilicus aka Campestris). It seemed likely to be a deficient rubric, but I decided to include it, since the Materia Medica is always the final arbiter. Hence I took:D; DREAMS, imprisonment (2 remedies)

Since I had not managed to find a “perfect spot” rubric I at least wanted to include the physical symptoms to which that modality applied, because this need to find the perfect spot was also so central to the mental picture and James’ dis-ease. Since that modality applied to both his shoulder and knee I decided to take:Extremities; TENSION; Joints (37 remedies)

The materia medica for Bovista rang true to the case.

Later a review of the rubrics containing the remedy Bovista using Mac Repertory’s remedy search facility showed how well the remedy covered James’ numerous ailments:His wrist symptom

EXTREMITIES; WEAKNESS; General; rheumatic* single remedy

EXTREMITIES; WEAKNESS; Hand; afternoon* single remedy

His long-standing stammer

SPEECH & VOICE; SPEECH; stammering**

SPEECH & VOICE; SPEECH; stammering; children, in* (single remedy)

EXTREMITIES; WEAKNESS; Upper Limbs; taking hold of something*

His history of stomach ulcers

STOMACH; PAIN; burning; extending; throat, to*

ABDOMEN; FLATULENCE*

ABDOMEN; PAIN; burning**

GENERALITIES; PAIN; ulcerative; internally*

His flatulence:

ABDOMEN; FLATULENCE*

His respiratory problems:

RESPIRATION; ASTHMATIC**

RESPIRATION; WHEEZING**

His tiredness:

GENERALITIES; WEARINESS*

It also covered…

His search for the perfect spot:

MIND; ANXIETY; driving from place to place*

MIND; FEAR; driving him from place to place*

His simple language ” I feel like a big sponge just taking everything in and giving nothing out”:

EXTREMITIES; ENLARGEMENT; sensation of*

MIND; DELUSIONS; body; enlarged*

MIND; DELUSIONS; body; parts; enlarged*

MIND; DELUSIONS; enlarged*

GENERALITIES; SWOLLEN sensation*

His mental symptoms:

MIND; ANGER, irascibility**

MIND; IRRITABILITY***

MIND; MEMORY; weakness, loss of*

MIND; MEMORY; weakness, loss of for what he has just done

Phatak notes it is characterised by laxity especially if felt in the joints. Nervous and weak jointed. Adapted to stammering children.

Clark adds: “This globular fungus, which, according to report is eaten in Italy before it is ripe, becomes filled , while ripening, with blackish dust that breaks the husk which contains it with a slight noise.” Corresponding to this signature , “bloatedness”, “puffy condition of the body surface” and a sense of “enlargement”, flatulent distension and noisy passage of flatus are leading features of the Bovista pathogenesis.

I prescribed Bovista 30c bedtime and rising. James returned one month later.

“The day after I took the remedy it felt like I had sand in my eyes they were gritty. I’m very sensitive about my eyes and I hate people being near them. When I woke up next day they were stuck together. The discharge was browny yellow and went hard. That lasted two days. When it cleared I felt I could see so much more clearly, everything was brighter afterwards. I started seeing more, noticing more.Bovista has the following rubrics:

EYE; AGGLUTINATED*

EYE; AGGLUTINATED; morning*

EYE; FOREIGN body, sensation of*

EYE; OPENING lids; difficult; morning*

therefore this was probably a proving-cum-spring-clean.

“I feel OK today. I’ve been up and down. Some days neurotic, full of aches and pains, generally left-sided. For the past week I’ve had a new, muscular, pain in my left foot. It feels sore. My heart feels like there is a dull throb in it. My shoulder is sore and still better for finding the right position.I feel so much better for not drinking coffee. More alert, but I’m really tired so I’ve arranged to take time off. My stomach is fine and the flatulence is better. My digestion feels more natural, normal. I’m waking early at about 6.30-7am feeling very restless. Some days I could sleep all day.My sinuses are better, I’m less sniffy and snotty. I’ve had wheezing in the chest, but only occasionally. I’m trying to cut down on smoking. My cough is a bit better. My sense of smell is better and I’ve become conscious of a sticky musky smell.Last week I had a pain in my chest on the left side. I panicked thinking it was a heart attack or a blood clot. I’ve had it before, a long time ago.I’ve had violent, bloody horrid dreams about war. I was involved. It was in a tropical climate. Women were fighting as well. The colours were very strong reds; yellows; greens …very bright. I woke up scared, amazed I had remembered it.I dreamt I was travelling around Ireland with new age travellers. It was pleasant but the farmers were annoyed with us. Then we went to England and the police chased us. I fantasise about being a new age traveller rather than actually doing it. I like the idea of not being tied down.

Being rebellious and questioning.

I went to a pub with some friends on Friday until 6-7am, I felt OK till 3am but then I was just continuing for the sake of it. I just want to go away and sleep for three days. I don’t want to be brain-dead anymore. I’m drinking and smoking less. I’ve started to read again, watching less TV. I still feel imprisoned, but feel more selfish. I just want to do what I want to do. I want to change my lifestyle.I’m less irritable; not losing my temper so quickly. I’m a bit calmer, less fiery, less sarcastic. I’m less argumentative. I don’t just blurt out the first thing on my mind. I make fewer snap judgements than before. I generally find that helpful. I’m not as grumpy, but I worry about the ache around my heart.My knee is better, less stiff. Still better clicking into place.My wrist is an awful lot better. The cold bothers me less than it did. I do feel different.”

I felt the remedy looked promising, but I was moving my practice to Ireland. I recommended a local homoeopath to James and said I would forward his notes, once I heard from her. Just in case he didn’t get around to seeing the person I’d recommended I left him a handful of Bovista 30c with strict instruction for him not to repeat them unless the same symptoms returned strongly. He never contacted the other homoeopath.It is only recently that I heard news of James via a mutual acquaintance. His girlfriend had sold her marital home and they had bought a new place together.

Shortly after moving in they conceived their first child, which was delivered at home in a birthing pool. I rang to speak to James and asked permission to write up his case, at the same time I did a brief follow-up. In two years he had not felt the need to repeat the remedy. All his aches and pains were gone. He and my other far-flung clients bring home to me that although the hardest thing is to do nothing, often it is doing nothing that brings the best results. He was delighted to be a father, waxing lyrical about his new son. He (and his partner) sounded relaxed and happy. Whilst we were speaking he didn’t stammer. The only complaint that still troubled him was a slight chestiness. He was still thinking about giving up roll-ups. Needless to say he hadn’t succumbed to the siren cry of the Volvo. As I was about to say farewell, James mused: “Your in West Cork aren’t you … a lot of New Age travellers there…” .I asked the medical herbalist, Bridget Meagher, who works at The Natural Healing Rooms with me, to do some sleuthing on Bovista for me.

The remedy is made from the spores of.Lycoperdon Bovista, a fungus, it’s common name is (warted) puff-ball. In Roman times Bovista was used to staunch blood and the gypsies of Alsace and Lorraine also used it for this purpose. Lap landers used dried puffballs to cure pain, by heaping torn pieces of them them as close to the seat of pain as possible and lighting them. In burning they blistered up and the watery discharge this produced carried off the pain, apparently quite successfully. The mother tincture was used as a sedative for treating nervous afflictions. The spores are irritating to eyes and nose.When burnt the smoke has a slightly narcotic effect and so it was used to stupefy bees.A 14th century herbalist described it as more perfect than people could imagine.

The “perfect” word again . It comes from the family Gasteromycetes. The hymen remains completely enclosed in a continuous wall of peridium (from the Greek peridoe meaning “I wrap around”) The prison? This membrane has two layers. The outer is whitish and scaly the inner tough and papery. On maturing the outer layer becomes greyer and cracks. It also becomes detached from the bacil and then is rolled about by the wind. Until it finds the perfect spot . They are found singly or in groups of 2 to 3 in open pastures Like New Age travellers ! and especially like light sandy soils.

Culpepper noted that Bovista was ruled by Mercury in Aries, astrologically. It therefore epitomises the warrior on the move.

My thanks to Bridget Meagher for her help.

© Mary Aspinwall

Free Homeopathy and Pregnancy e-book

Your “Guide to Homeopathy for Pregnancy

by Mary Aspinwall

Mary’s 50 page guide on how to use Homeopathy safely and effectively during pregnancy. Includes advice on how to match symptoms and remedies effectively.

– Pregnancy symptoms and their corresponding homeopathic remedies.

– A repertory chart to record symptoms and compare possible remedies.

36 homeopathic “polycrest” remedies and all their uses during pregnancy.

– Information on warning signs and when to seek professional help.

– An article on the use of Arnica and Bellis perennis in pregnancy.

– Birth stories. Natural birthing advice in a nutshell.

– Information on our Childbirth kit and a special discount code for you.

– Breast feeding remedies and how to use them.

– Suggested further reading.

Giving birth to a new medicine

by Mary Aspinwall

click here for a pdf version of this article

For over 200 years homeopaths have been using themselves as guinea pigs…

In 1995 I was doing a post-graduate training course in Homeopathy in London. Part of the course involved taking part in a proving (or testing) of a mystery substance on the group. There were forty of us. Half would take the mystery pills and the other half would monitor us on a daily basis to make sure none of our symptoms, including dreams, thoughts and feelings were missed.

Homeopathy is based on the ancient idea of “Like cures like”. In other words, substances that can produce symptoms in a healthy person can cure those symptoms in an unhealthy person. For over 200 years homeopaths have been using themselves (and sometimes their friends and family!) as guinea pigs, to find out what symptoms substances are capable of producing and carefully recording all the data so it can be used to treat people.

Initially only substances that were known to produce symptoms such as poisons and toxins were tested. Early homeopathic provings were of Belladonna, Arsenic, Hemlock, Lead, Mercury and so on. However, over time, it was realised that every single substance will produce its own distinct set of symptoms. At that point homeopaths began to try to test as many substances as possible from the animal, mineral and vegetable kingdoms.

The great advantage of Homeopathy is that only a tiny amount of the mother tincture( the original undiluted substance) is needed to make thousands and thousands of doses, which means the impact of Homeopathy on the environment is minimal. In fact many medicines are sourced from animal milks, so the animal is not harmed.

Another great advantage is that the preparation of homeopathic medicines involves succussions (a fancy word for shaking and bashing) and very frequent dilutions. So although the medicines produce a host of symptoms in the provers, once the medicines are discontinued the symptoms stop and there are no lasting ill effects. Once all the data is collated the medicines can then be used to treat people.

Nevertheless, as you can imagine, it was a bit daunting to be taking a substance with no idea of what it was or how it might affect all of us. We were all trying to guess what it could be. Just for fun, I will tell you some of the symptoms and phenomena surrounding the proving and see if you can guess what it was we took:

12 of the provers moved house or moved countries, either to return “home” or to a place that they felt more at home in.

Others dreamed of journeys and the sea, or longed to go swimming or to head for the mountains.

Some sat for hours in cool baths, but the bath had to be scrupulously cleaned first.

Many felt they couldn’t get enough oxygen and sought out fresh air.

People got lost and literally went around in circles, or moved their hand around in circles.

Many of the group conceived or fathered children including a grandfather, a woman aged 45 and a couple who had been infertile for 12 years and had had previous failed IVF attempts.

Many provers spoke of the need to find their “soul mate” and felt strong desires to conceive, many dreamt of pregnancy and babies.

Others felt totally cut off from the world, terribly isolated and alone.

At least 3 provers had major floods in there homes, many more had dreams of flooding.

People dreamt of places they had lived years before.

People used the language of struggle and battling against things.

Since then the medicine has been prescribed and it has been shown to be clinically effective in cases of infertility; endometriosis; ovarian cysts; fibroids; goiter; head lice infestation and slow labours.

Have you managed to guess what substance in Nature could produce these effects?

The medicine was made from the egg, semen and a blood sample from Onchorynchus tsawytscha, the largest and rarest of the five species of Pacific Salmon, also known as the Chinook or King Salmon. They travel up to 1,500 miles returning to their “home” estuary to spawn often having to overcome enormous obstacles in their struggle to get there. They are very sensitive to oxygen levels and need clean water in order to thrive, in less than optimal conditions they are prone to parasite infestation.

Salmon is just one of many homeopathic medicines that have helped previously infertile couples to conceive. In order for a homeopathic medicine to work effectively it has to match your individual symptom picture as closely as possible.

If you would like to discuss how Homeopathy can help you with infertility or any other health issue please write to Mary Aspinwall via the contact page.

© Mary Aspinwall

Great Expectations

Homeopathy’s Role in Childbirth

by Mary Aspinwall

The Salmon proving started in 1994, I was one of 20 provers. A recent tally revealed that 10 of these provers (or their partners) had given birth or become pregnant since then. When one thinks of the life story of the Salmon it should come as no surprise that fertility is so central to the remedy. Seven years ago, just before Christmas, I was in the same expectant condition and since Christmas seems an appropriate time for a birth story, here is one I wrote shortly after our beloved first- born arrived:

“GREAT EXPECTATIONS”

Our first baby was to be born in London, at home in our bedroom, with a fire roaring in the grate. Lavender oil would burn soothingly in the background. There would be a constant supply of hot water for long luxurious en-suite baths. Homoeopathic remedies with Alice-in-Wonderland labels stood on the shelf, “Mother weepy…Help me.” ” For second wind.” ” I hate you.” “This is all your fault.” “Don’t touch me.” They said, amongst other things. The bed was thrown out, in case anyone had the temerity to suggest that I lay down on it. This was to be an active birth. My head was full of well-rehearsed yoga positions and breathing, breathing, breathing.Expecting, they say. She’s expecting. I was expecting…but, I wasn’t expecting to be ordered to hospital, to be sliding down the icy pathway in my dressing-gown and slippers, in the thickest pea-souper London had seen for decades, at five in the morning. To be sitting in the back of an ambulance, skidding hither and yon at ten miles an hour. To be taking great lung fulls of gas and air and to be, hush my mouth, enjoying it.The Labour ward was on the thirteenth floor. The gas and air was working so well that I didn’t even fret about the tale I’d heard of the woman who got stuck between floors and was delivered by her husband’s best friend, whilst the husband ran about like a headless chicken trying to find them. Although I gave it a fleeting thought as the porter wheeled me out. Seeing a mother holding her new-born to her breast, I pointed at her like a football hooligan, shouting, “I want one of them.” High spirits. Perhaps because I wasn’t expecting that having already been in labour for two days that there were still another six head-banging hours to go.Coming up for the sixty hour mark, I asked if someone could get the ventouse. I had decided enough already with natural child-birth! There was one, but no-one was quite sure how to use it. They had forceps. At the sight of them, suddenly my resolve returned and I finally remembered the little bottles. I took one “Mother weepy…Help me” (alias Pulsatilla 200c) and one “For second wind” (Arnica 200c) and to everyone’s astonishment a child was born within two minutes.Admittedly a blue one with a nasty-looking ridge in its forehead, who was immediately whisked off to be sorted out, but… A GIRL. She came back to me from the ministrations at the stainless steel table to lie on my belly. Pink now, but the photo opportunity passed us by. The camera poised for action, sat at home on the shelf.

She was named Martha after an old Tim Buckley song that I love, about an old flame that rings up his, by now, married ex and tries to entice her out for coffee with him:

“Those were days of roses,

Of poetry and prose,

And Martha all I had was you,

And all you had was me.

There were no tomorrows,

We packed away our sorrows,

And we saved them for a rainy day.”

Our days of roses had begun, Martha, although for a while I called you Marmoset, because it suited you better.

The coq au vin, put into the oven, on low, with the first strong contractions, had now been cooking for a record three days and I was ready for it. The whole pot. I had missed lunch and turned my nose up at what passes for dinner in such institutions, because I had been expecting they would let me leave at any moment. Within the hour I would be up to my ears in that delicious gravy, mopping it up with chunks of crusty, old, reheated French stick.

I waited obediently for our permission to be excused. Permission denied. Surprise, surprise, I had a temperature. It might have been an infection or it might have been the fact that the place was heated to Finnish sauna level and that having run the equivalent of two full marathons, gynaecologically speaking, I hadn’t had the strength to open the patient- proof windows. I pointed this out, but being on the verge of tears at the thought of my disintegrating Coq au vin, I sounded as weak as the proverbial kitten and did my case no good at all. I was to stay in, at least over-night.I begged pathetically for food and they said, “Haven’t you just had dinner? “, but grudgingly rustled up two tiny packets of Special K low calorie breakfast cereal. It went against the grain to eat it. I munched glumly. All my life I had sought out maximum calorie content, for all I knew I might expend more calories chewing the stuff than I would actually gain.Martha and I spent a fitful night in our own private oven. She in her little see-through plastic box, me precariously perched on my high narrow bed. Occasionally she would wake crying and I would put her tenderly to my breast, where she howled like a banshee. From nowhere, nurses sprang forth offering conflicting advice on how to “latch her on”; proffering bottles of formula; suggesting (horror of horrors) that they take her away to the nursery, so that I could get some well-deserved rest. I explained separation was not an option. We were an item.

At 6 am, just as deep sleep settled upon our weariness, we were woken by the breakfast trolley. Hunger wiped out irritation at the early morning call, but once breakfast had been devoured and temperatures checked, further sleep eluded us. Time crept along. Much later than expected our hero came to rescue us from the fog-bound tower, sheepishly carrying a white plastic laundry basket stuffed with a couple of old blankets. “Sorry I’m late. Couldn’t find the Moses basket any where.” So pleased was I to see our means of escape that I didn’t even snap, but beatifically bestowed my sweetest Madonna (and child) smile. Surely Martha was just as keen as I was to get home. We would both me more relaxed and then the feeding would just…happen.Cut to the living-room. A fire burns brightly in the grate. A mother rocks determinedly back and forth in her nursing chair, a thoughtful gift from her mother-in-law. As she rocks she weeps. From a far-flung corner of the house her daughter weeps too.

This feeding business. This basic, rudimentary feeding business had not just…happened. Martha had only to smell me and she screamed blue murder. When I put her to my breast she notched the volume up to double blue murder. When her Dad took her on endless circuits of her new home the wailing reduced to an almost tolerable level, at least from where I was sitting it did.

We endured this for three days. I narrowly avoided mastitis with a timely dose of Bryonia and then “the milk came in” and saved our collective sanity. From that day forth Martha became a prodigious guzzler, the star turn of the NCT breast-feeding support group. It was easy … no muss, no fuss, if she showed the slightest sign of discontent, I stuck her up my jumper.

Some visitors were surprised by the choice of name. “You don’t hear that very often these days,” they said, then fearing I might take it amiss, added” Lovely old-fashioned name.” One said, “Mary and Martha … the two sisters who cared for Jesus. How biblical. I didn’t think you were particularly religious.” It came to me from the mists of time that Mary was Mary Magdalene, ex-prostitute turned Jesus freak, whose poor sister did all the cooking and cleaning only to be told (rather unfairly, I always felt) that she had her priorities askew. Sure enough when I checked it out in that (never once consulted) Book of Names I found to my consternation that Martha was indeed the patron saint of housewives. I comforted myself with the thought if ever a housewife needed divine intervention, ‘twas I.

HOMOEOPATHY’S ROLE IN CHILDBIRTH.

The truly divine interventions of my story, of course, were those of the remedies and when Martha was two, I designed a kit called “Specifics for Childbirth” to try to encourage more women to turn to homoeopathy to ease the often challenging passage of new lives into this world. My aim was to squeeze the most vital information on to one double-sided A4 sheet and stick it in a box of the most vital Childbirth remedies.

Constitutional treatment during pregnancy is of enormous benefit to both mother and belly-dweller. It is a great preparation for labour and reduces the likelihood of complications. However, it is also wise for the mother to be prepared and have the main acute remedies to hand at least two or three weeks before the due date and to encourage her birth assistant to read through information about the remedies well before labour starts. Below are some excerpts taken from the leaflet, if you are pregnant as you read this please forgive the necessary focus on the dysfunctional!

COMPLAINTS

Before labour:

ANXIETY, anticipatory, Aconite 200, Gelsemium 200

FEAR,after previous bad birth experience,Cimicifuga 200

BREECH presentation, Pulsatilla 200 (at 36th week)

TRANSVERSE lie (at 36th week), Pulsatilla 200, Arnica 200

INDUCTION alternative to, Caulophyllum 200

PANIC about birth, Aconite 200,

During labour:

BLEEDING

bright red, hot, profuse, constant,Ipecac 200

with nausea or gasping for breath, Ipecac 200

alternates with contractions,Pulsatilla 200

dark Gelsemium 200, Ipecac 200, Secale 200

dark and fluid, Secale 20

as a preventative against, in long labours, Arnica 200

CERVIX

fails to dilate, Caulophyllum 200 or Cimicifuga 200

half open or hard, Sepia 200

rigid, Gels 200, Chamomilla 200, Cimi 200, Caul 200

remains tightly closed, Cimicifuga 200

wide open, but contractions stop, Gelsemium 200

CONTRACTIONS

atonic (flabby) weak, Caulophyllum 200 or Gelsemium 200

slow or stop, Caulophyllum 200 or Gelsemium 200

alternate with bleeding, Pulsatilla 200

extend to back, buttocks, Kali Carb 200 or Cimicifuga 200

extend to thighs, Caulophyllum 200 or Cimicifuga 200

move up the back, Gelsemium 200

move from side to side, Cimicifuga 200

finish at the throat with choking sensation, Gelsemium 200

push the baby upwards, Gelsemium 200

prolonged tonic contractions, Secale 200

lack expulsive power (esp. second stage) Pulsatilla 200

fine, needle-like up from cervix, Sepia 200

“hour glass” contractions, Chamomilla 200, Secale 200, Sepia 200

cease and bleeding starts, Cimicifuga 200, Pulsatilla 200, Secale 200

painless, Gelsemium 200

strength weakened by fruitless efforts, Secale 200

EXHAUSTION

with no other symptoms, Kali Phos 200

during long or difficult labours, Arnica 200

causes contractions to stop, Caulophyllum 200

with backache labour, Kali Carb 200

with unbearable pains, Chamomilla 200

with weepiness, Pulsatilla 200

with long contractions, Secale 200

better for moving around, Sepia 200

LABOUR

slow, Caulophyllum 200, Pulsatilla 200 or Sepia 200

slow, long and painful, Arnica 200

too fast or violent, Aconite 200

OXYGEN STARVATION, mother or baby, Carbo Veg 200

POSITION of baby abnormal, Pulsatilla 200 or Aconite 200

POSTERIOR PRESENTATION Kali Carb 200

VIOLENT (fast) labour, Aconite 200

After labour:

AFTER PAINS

after many children, Secale 200

groin area, intense, Cimicifuga 200

long-lasting, Secale 200

extending to hips, buttocks, legs, Kali Carb 200

worse if baby feeds,Arnica 200, Chamomilla 200, Pulsatilla 200, Secale 200

with sore, bruised feeling, Arnica 200

with weepiness, Pulsatilla 200

with disappointment/resentment about the birth, Staphisagria 200 unbearable, Chamomilla 200 or Cimicifuga 200

ANGER (often suppressed) about the birth, Staphisagria 200

BREASTS, painful

radiating pain from nipple, Phytolacca 200

red, hot,throbbing, Belladonna 200/ pale, hot, worse moving Bryonia 200

BRUISING Arnica 200 or Bellis Perennis 200

CAESAREAN, after effects of

Arnica 200, Bellis Per 200, Calendula 200, Hypericum 200

CATHETER, after effects of, Staphisagria 200

CRACKED NIPPLES, Phytolacca 200

DRUGS, after effects of

Morphine or Pethidine, disturbed sleep, irritable Chamomilla 200

Syntometrine, Secale 200 (give asap afterwards as an antidote)

General anaesthetic, Phosphorus 200 (esp. if vomiting)

detoxification, Nux Vomica 6

EPIDURAL,after effects of, Arnica 200, Hypericum 200,

EPISIOTOMY Calendula 200, Hypericum 200, Staphis 200

FORCEPS delivery, after effects of,

Arnica 200, Bellis Per 200, Calendula 200, Staphisagria 200

MILK, too much, Pulsatilla 200/ too little, Dulcamara 200

PLACENTA, retained

with bearing down sensation, Secale 200, Sepia 200

after long exhausting Labour, Arnica 200

contractions weak or nonexistent, Pulsatilla 200

with bleeding, Ipecac 200/ with shaking, Caulophyllum 200, Cimicifuga 200

SYNTOMETRINE antidote Secale 200 (asap)

URINE retention, mother, Arnica 200 / baby, Aconite 200

GENERAL ADVICE

Before the birth:

Practise: breathing (claimed by many to be the most effective method of pain relief) ; relaxation; visualisation; talking to the baby; birth positions; stretching; pelvic floor exercises. Attend a yoga class which puts emphasis on birth or buy The Active Birth Book by Janet Balaskas. Attend ante-natal classes together with your birth assistant. In late pregnancy (but not before the sixth month) try drinking raspberry leaf tea, which reputedly tones up the uterine muscles. Prepare a birth plan and write down any particular wishes you have for the birth, you can discuss this with any one who will be attending the birth, but do so before labour starts if at all possible.

First stage:

Characterised by low adrenalin. A time of waiting whilst the body does the work of opening up. Offer minimum resistance. Don’t make predictions about how dilated you are or how long it will take. Shut out your rational mind. Breathe in as the contraction comes and out during. Ask your birth assistant to remind you if they notice you are forgetting to breathe or holding your breath because of the pain. It may help if they breathe with you. Use a clock with a second hand to time the average length of particularly painful contractions; just knowing how long they will last helps you to pace yourself and to remember that they won’t last forever! Stay upright whenever possible. Keep moving. Minimum distractions and interruptions. Maximum comfort, support, encouragement and reassurance. Sip watered down fruit juice between contractions to keep energy and blood sugar levels up. Remember Rescue Remedy.

Transition:

Point where your cervix is fully dilated and nature of contractions begin to change to those which will push baby out. Potentially the most difficult time because of these conflicting messages. Many feel the need for pain relief at this time. Attendants should reassure; suggest a visit to the toilet (for a change of scene); help with breathing; encourage mother to visualize baby and talk to it. Remember Rescue Remedy.

Second stage:

Characterised by high adrenalin as mother takes a more active role. The pushing will just happen. If for any reason labour seems too fast, get down on all fours with bottom high as possible, head low; panting also helps slow things down. If contractions have many peaks divide your out breath; as if blowing out separate candles.

Third stage:

Particularly in hospital, Syntometrine is routinely injected into the mother to speed up the delivery of the placenta and Vitamin K is given to the baby. If you decide against either or both it is easiest to put it into a written birth plan. It is not unusual for contractions to stop for a while before pushing the placenta out naturally.

Medical Interventions:

Before the birth become as well-informed as possible about the pros and cons. For your own peace of mind, if for any reason intervention is

suggested, rather than requested by you, ask for:

a clear explanation of the problem

information about any possible alternatives

a time limit on your decision that will not endanger either the baby or you.

USEFUL REFERENCES

The kit mentioned above is Specifics for Childbirth (18 Remedies). Available from this site for $49.99.

Homoeopaths (and clients who are pregnant or have a child under one) should check out Miranda Castro’s excellent “Homoeopathy for Mother and Baby” published by Papermac ISBN no 0-333-55748-4. The layout is similar to “The Complete Homoeopathy Handbook” with separate materia medica and repertory sections. It encourages an authentic approach to remedy selection with blank repertorising sheets and example cases. There are sections on preparing for life after birth; pregnancy; birth and the post-natal period. The latter has particularly helpful common sense advice with “dos and don’ts” for a wide-range of possible complaints.

Homoeopaths and other health practitioners would also find Richard Moscowitz’s ” Homoeopathic Medicines for Pregnancy and Childbirth” (published by North Atlantic Books ISBN No. 1-55643-137-6) worth looking at. The first two chapters are dedicated to those with little knowledge of Homoeopathy. These are followed by five chapters on Materia Medica in relation to pregnancy and labour and a further four chapters on Therapeutics. The contents pages and index make this an easy to use reference source.

Less accessible, is Yingling’s “Accoucheurs Manual”. Sadly this is currently out of print, but it is included in Mac Repertory’s Reference Works Professional. This is a very comprehensive 109 remedy Materia Medica (including many little-used small remedies) which concentrates only on Generalities; Pregnancy; Parturition and Lactation. There is a wealth of information here, but the absence of an index of complaints makes it quite difficult to use for acute/emergency prescribing. It would be worth working through it (without pressure of time) and making notes on therapeutic hints for later use.

Murphy’s Repertory has a special section devoted to pregnancy which draws all the rubrics handily together in one place.

*******

So by the time you read this, Christmas will be coming and the goose won’t be the only one who’s getting fat. I plan to take a break at Christmas for three or four months to snuggle up to some huge log fires with my expanding tummy and, later, my expanded family. Your thoughts and good wishes around the arrival in mid-January would be much appreciated. To anyone else out there who is “expecting” I wish you and your little one a joyous birth.

Post script: Our second child, Gabriel Luke, was born at home on January 30th 1999. He entered the world under-water in a birthing pool after a three hour labour.To read his birth story click on Birth Revisited.

Homeopathic treatment of food poisoning

by Mary Aspinwall

Food poisoning has been in the news lately after Spurs were forced to play their final match of the season just hours after 10 of their players had been struck down with it.

Spurs estimate their subsequent defeat will cost them up to £10 million in lost earning potential.

Food poisoning results from eating food contaminated with bacteria (or their toxins) or other pathogens (parasites or viruses). It causes gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. These latter two symptoms are a protective measure. The body is trying to eject the poison as rapidly as possible.

One of the biggest problems with severe diarrhoea and vomiting is the risk of dehydration and for this reason food poisoning is potentially life threatening, especially amongst those who are very young or old and those who are already weakened.

As with all illness, an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure, and as the warmer weather kicks in it is even more vital than ever to ensure food handling and storage is managed safely.

If you are unfortunate enough to get food poisoning a well-selected homeopathic medicine can greatly speed up the D+V that ejects the poisons and, even more importantly, stop them swiftly once their purpose has been served and aid the rehydration process.

It is a great idea to have a homeopathic medicine kit handy for first aid emergencies and acute illnesses. You can buy one and get a free study course on-line from my website www.homeopathyworld.com.

HOMEOPATHIC MEDICINES FOR THE TREATMENT OF FOOD POISONING

These can be taken in either a 6c or 30c potency.

ARSENICUM

No. 1 homeopathic medicine for food poisoning, especially after meat, when there is vomiting and diarrhoea.

Those who need Arsenicum feel physically very weak, but they are so anxious they can’t help but be restless. They are nervous at the thought of being left alone and when feeling at their worst actually feel they are going to die.

Symptoms are often most severe from midnight – 3am.

PULSATILLA

Is helpful after eating bad fish. It’s also good for upsets brought on by too much ice cream.

LYCOPODIUM

Is better suited to poisoning from shellfish.

CHINA

No. 1 homeopathic medicine to promote recovery after dehydration.

Often even after diarrhoea and vomiting has stopped a terrible feeling of weakness remains, due to the effects of dehydration. China can be extremely helpful in these circumstances.

NUX VOMICA

For those times when the food and wine were great, but you just had way too much of one or other or both! This is a fantastic hangover cure, especially suited to those who are literally like bears with sore heads the morning after. If it works well for you, don’t let that be an excuse to go out and abuse your poor body all over again … in the end you will have to pay for it!

In Homeopathy there are only two golden rules for successful prescribing

  1. Match the symptoms carefully to the best homeopathic medicine you can find.
  2. Take one pill. If you feel better there is no need to repeat unless the same symptoms return.

© Mary Aspinwall

HOMEOPATHY – Fact or Fiction?

by Mary Aspinwall

Homeopathy is perhaps one of the most contentious areas in holistic medicine, with opinion polarised into two camps: those who think it is scientifically impossible for homeopathic medicines to work and those who know from direct experience that they do work, we just don’t have a verifiable means of explaining how, as yet.

Homeopathic preparation of medicines involves so much dilution that not even a molecule of the original substance remains. Some scientists, even those openly hostile to Homeopathy, have shown that the dilutants can have ‘a memory’ of the original substance and this may explain how it works. Their findings have been ridiculed and the nay-sayers insist that any benefit derived must be purely down to placebo effect.

Placebo effect is undoubtedly a powerful tool against illness. If someone is convinced a medicine, even a sugar pill, will help them it generally does. Unfortunately, this effect fails to explain why animals, babies, small children and, best of all sceptics, all respond beautifully to a well prescribed homeopathic medicine or why a poorly prescribed medicine has little lasting effect.

To recap from last week:

Homeopathy = Greek for ‘similar suffering’.

So a substance can only be truly homeopathic if it can make a healthy person suffer similar symptoms to the person who is ill.

Many of the trials of homeopathy, including those who found it was beneficial, have so far been unsatisfactory, because the experimenters design double blinds, where the first group takes sugar pills and the second group all take the same homeopathic medicine (e.g. diluted grass pollens to treat hay fever). This is not true homeopathy. A homeopath would interview each member of the second group about the precise symptoms they get and prescribe each with a different medicine accordingly.

Scepticism is healthy, but not if it means you ignore empirical evidence from hundreds of thousands of people who attribute their return to health to Homeopathy. If for over two hundred years that many people kept telling you there was a unicorn at the bottom of your garden, no matter how fantastic that seemed wouldn’t you want to check it out? The healthiest mind is an open one…

© Mary Aspinwall

K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Sweethearts

Simple Language and Simple Gesture in Case Analysis

click here for a pdf version of this article

by Mary Aspinwall

What do you mean ‘deluded’?”

When I first started studying homoeopathy my favourite fungal delusion rubric was:

Mind, delusion: he is commanded to fall on his knees and confess his sins and rip up his bowels by a mushroom.

I thought to myself: “Imagine, someday someone might come in to see me, collapse penitently onto the floor and attempt self-mutilation (at the behest of a fungus) and I’ll say, ‘ I have just the thing for that ’ and pop an Agaricus under their tongue and they’ll live happily ever after.”

But it has yet to happen and I’m not holding my breath.

I think part of my problem was that as a Westerner I had a very circumscribed idea of what constituted a delusion. In the West we tend to associate the word ‘delusion’ with severe mental disturbance.

Howard Hughes, one of the richest men that ever lived, felt so impoverished that he couldn’t bear to part with anything; not even his own urine. After his death, it was found stored in jars all over his home. None of us would have a problem with calling him delusional.

It becomes more complicated when someone says they are always broke or always disappointed in love and this seems to be borne out by their circumstances. Did they unconsciously attract those circumstances to validate their own world view? How would they feel if they won the lotto jackpot or got swept off their feet by the proverbial knight in shining armour? Would they commit acts of sabotage to return to their unhappy, yet familiar, state? Do their repeated difficulties with money or love represent the Universe’s attempt to present them with opportunities to alter their response to situations thereby overcoming obstacles, learning lessons and moving on?

Fascinating as these metaphysical conundrums may be, we do not need to hypothesise or speculate on them to be able to prescribe effectively. However, I do find it a useful strategy to only believe that my clients believe what they are telling me, but thereafter I believe nothing lest I find myself colluding in their delusions. Perhaps one of the main challenges in the quest to become an unprejudiced prescriber is to avoid being sucked in to other people’s perceptions.

I find Sankaran’s writing on ‘delusion’ helpful as he has a broad understanding of the term. In the introduction to “The Substance of Homoeopathy” he writes:

“I also realized the importance of the section on delusions, because a delusion is a false perception of reality, and disease too is a false perception of the present.”

“…impressions from specific situations in the past (or from previous generations) …make a person feel and react as if he is in that situation(delusion)…The whole mental state of a person is an expression of this false perception.”

One could extend this observation to say that spiritual; emotional and physical states may all represent expressions of the sufferer’s false perception.

The Buddhist’s view all life on earth as ‘samsara’ (the realm of illusion). Samsara is all-embracing, Soygal Rinpoche writes in “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying”:

“If we refuse to accept death now, while we are still alive, we will pay dearly throughout our lives, at the moment of death, and thereafter. The effects of this refusal will ravage this life and all the lives to come. We will not be able to live our lives fully; we will remain imprisoned in the aspect of ourselves that has to die. This ignorance will rob us of the basis of the journey to enlightenment, and trap us endlessly in the realm of illusion, the uncontrolled cycle of life and death, that ocean of suffering that we Buddhists call samsara.”

Seen in this light our individual delusions are merely variations on a theme which is common to all. There are many means to debunk these delusions: sometimes they are laid bare by events; by acknowledgement of an inescapable truth; through quiet periods of contemplation, meditation, spiritual practice or through truly holistic medicine. Once cured a delusion is shed, like a skin that no longer fits.

Since few of our clients will come to us in a full-blown state of derangement, it is up to us to become sensitized to the subtle information they are unconsciously trying to give us.In other words don’t wait for the mental man with the malicious mushroom … Gestures which are less dramatic, can be equally revealing: picking off imaginary bits of fluff; running a hand across the face to ‘clear the cobwebs away’; motioning with a hand that something is too big to cope with.

Looking and seeing

Watching Vega Rosenberg in action in Dublin a couple of years ago was a great lesson in how much can be gleaned from body language; choice of clothes and other non-verbal signals. It is all there for us, if we lift the veil from our eyes and our eyes from our note pads. Last week I had a follow-up appointment with a client. She looked different. She was wearing a beautiful two tone silk shirt that looked like a pinky blue opal (changing colour in the light) and had cut glass earrings which acted like prisms. She told me she had been dreaming of rainbows and had rearranged her wardrobe according to the spectrum. I changed her prescription to Iridium.

Hearing and listening

I spent several days struggling with a case recently. It was a case of a four year-old girl with a tubercular gland in her neck.

I repertorised it this way and that; extended the repertorisation using Reference Works and generally worried at it like a dog with a bone.

Finally, I had it narrowed down to Calc-ars or Calc-sulph, so I went into Reference Works Materia Medica and had a look at all the Complete Repertory rubrics for both remedies, starting with Mind. A quick scan told me I had wasted a lot of time, unnecessarily, because I had forgotten something vital … to listen to my client.

This girl had been rather shy and the one and only thing that she had said to me was that she didn’t like birdies and later she whispered the word “birdies” to me again. Both Calc-ars and Calc-sulph are in the small rubric “Fear of birds”.

Instead, I had listened to her mother, “She’s never said that before. There are crows all around our house and she’s never seemed bothered by them. I think she just said the first thing that came into her head.”

…but listening to what?

The first thing that comes into our client’s head is often the thing we most need to hear and yet it is so easy to miss.

I have trained myself to take verbatim notes and to take particular care not to omit the first few words or the last few, as the pen is laid down and the goodbyes are said. These comments are subject to less conscious editing by the client and can often hold the key to the case. Similarly, verbal tics or particular expressions that are oft-repeated and seemingly meaningless fall into the same category. It’s tempting to omit them from the notes, but I try to write them once and then underline them each time they are said.

Jeremy Sherr’s rule has proved true and been of great help:

“If someone says something once they may have an issue with it. If someone says something twice they probably have an issue with it. If they say it three times they definitely have an issue with it.”

I was doing a locum for someone and their client kept saying “You’ll think I’m crazy but…” over and over. She had done well on her ‘constitutional remedy’, but her past notes and prescription weren’t available, so I took the rubric:

Mind, delusions: insane people think she is…

and prescribed Calc. This turned out to be the remedy her regular homoeopath had been prescribing for her, although she had arrived at it by different means.

Simple language and gesture are characterized by their automatic, unconscious nature. It is because of this that they are able to provide the deepest insights into how people truly perceive the world.

Out of the mouths of provers

Of course if taking things down verbatim is invaluable in case-taking it is even more vital during provings. Dynamis and other well-managed provings make a point of recording and publishing the prover’s own words and are all the richer and more accessible for doing so.

I find that if I am really familiar with a proving and it’s language I sometimes recognize the need for that remedy just from the similarities in the client’s language alone, it is then verified by the other aspects of the case. Somehow, for me, it is easier to understand and have a feeling for the newer provings, perhaps because of the richness of the language and the modern provers’ sensitive reporting of the psychological and emotional aspects of their experience.

Reaching the remedy

If the language fails to ring any obvious bells, Reference Works with its massive search engine can instantly match key words and phrases to the same or similar expressions to be found in over 200 sources (be they materia medica; provings; cases or articles) and represents a major breakthrough in finding an accurate match, because it circumvents the repertories. Often the precise language of a proving symptom is watered down or lost in the process of entering it as a rubric in a repertory and, sadly, much clinical information never even makes it into our repertories.

Apart from this direct approach, a great deal of simple language can be translated very effectively into rubrics and used in normal repertorisation. If you have any examples of this I would be grateful if you could send them to me as I hope to publish an expanded version of what follows below, at some stage.

Here are some examples I have taken from a number of different cases which had curative responses to the prescription. The italics are my own. Please note that although the remedy prescribed is given in brackets the prescription was based on additional information not given here. Look on these as…

Sound bites

Cases 1 – 4

“It didn’t dawn on me that I was pregnant”.

“It used to be the end of the world”.

“It had to be a big plan”.

“I’m not reaching my full potential”.(twice)

“My weight goes up and down”.

“When I’m down my confidence is way down”.

“I had a huge thing about my body image”.

“Shopping would be huge if I had PMS”.

“I try to get off the planet for Christmas”

“I make mountains out of molehills”.

“Things get magnified when I’m not on form”.

“I had 10 million things going on”.

“My father did 10 million things”.

(Prescription: Hydrogen)

“Time goes by so quickly”

“Time flies”

“Time goes by so slowly”

“The pace is all wrong”

“I feel spread so thin” (sounds like a gas)

“My child grew up so fast”

“It’s a heavy lung thing”

“I feel like a dried out cinder sitting on top of a nuclear bomb”

“I feel constrained in every way”

(Prescription: Hydrogen)

“My head is going to explode”. (physical)

“I feel low. My energy is very low”.

“Very low around my period”.

“My energy is up and down”.

“I haven’t got much time left” (age 36)

“Felt incredibly heavy”.

“I can’t break free”.

“I’m being dragged down”.

“I stayed up above it all the time”.

(Prescription: Hydrogen)

“Meditating freed me a lot”.

“I’m looking at things from a higher point of view” (as she says this makes a globe shape with both hands)

“He doesn’t drag me down as far, now”.

“My dreams are very ordinary, too narrow and confining”.

“I see myself as part of a whole”.

“Felt spacey/detached”.

“I could climb mountains…I had great plans”.

“I felt above everything”.

“He crushes down on me”.

(Prescription: Hydrogen)

In all of these cases I recognised Hydrogen because I have always felt a great affinity with it; know the proving and have added to it from clinical experience. You can see how well the simple language taken from the proving, matches the language above:

The first word in the proving are:

“It dawned on me…”

“Feeling of expansiveness…” (gas language)

“High one minute and then low”

“…a million times more real” (exaggeration)

“Felt inspired that the potential within is so great…”

“Strong alternation of moods ‘high then low’”

Lots of references to slowness versus speed.

Clinical: client had a dream of riding a bicycle on a motorway. (pace)

It would also have been possible to reach the remedy through the following rubrics:

Delusions, imaginations: detached. (Sherr)

Delusions, imaginations: division between himself and others. (Sherr)

DELUSIONS, IMAGINATIONS: DOWNWARD, HE IS PULLED. (Sherr )

Delusions, imaginations: enlarged. (Sherr)

DELUSIONS, IMAGINATIONS: OLD, BEING. (Sherr)

DELUSIONS, IMAGINATIONS: SEPARATED: WORLD, FROM THE, THAT HE IS. (Sherr )

DELUSIONS, IMAGINATIONS: SOUL, BODY IS TOO SMALL FOR, OR THAT IT IS SEPARATED FROM. (Sherr )

Delusions, imaginations: time: exaggeration of. (Sherr)

(Interesting to note that Hydrogen is not in either Delusions: time passes too quickly or too slowly but I feel it probably should be).

Although none of the language actually related to dreams these dream rubrics give further insights into the suitability of the remedy:

Dreams: ascending a height. (Sherr)

DREAMS: HELPLESS FEELING, AS IF THE END OF THE WORLD. (Sherr)

DREAMS: HIGH PLACES. (Sherr )

Dreams: hurried. (Sherr)

Dreams: pregnant, of being.(Sherr)

Similarly with this next case I recognised the remedy from reading the proving, listening to a Jeremy Sherr lecture on Germanium and from reading an article called “Emerging from the war zone” by Marie Doyle published in the Homoeopathic Times (Vol 2, no.1 pub. Spring 98):

Case 5

“I felt as if I’d been shot, as if I’d been in a war”.

“Something in my core was damaged, something very deep.”

“I would like to get into my core somehow. I’m a powerful person, but I can’t tap into it”.

Proving: Four provers had dreams of war. Another prover makes several entries on the theme of power. For example:

“Feel I have no power when I meet people …Yet I feel I have great power inside…”

(Prescription: Germanium)

Proving a remedy is one way to get to know it intimately. It is also fascinating that people who need a new (unpublished) remedy seem to be drawn to its provers when seeking a homoeopath. One in particular who had been recommended to see a local homoeopath made a long journey specifically to see me. When I asked why she said she just “knew” that I was the person she had to see:

Cases 6 – 8

“What you really create is the fertility”.

(Prescription: Salmon)

“On the full moon I thought I was being called by name, then I felt as if I’d been hit on the back of the head”. (Salmon get swiped by hungry bears at full moon)

“Words are fucking useless”. (used this expletive many times – as did many a formerly demure salmon prover!)

(Makes circling motion with hands)

“I’m not going to be defeated”

(Prescription: Salmon)

Most of this language refers to difficulties related to infertility:

“Feels like I’m pushing a rock up a hill”.

“It’s like a huge wall that I can’t get over”.

“It’s like a test…a battle.”

“I’m into absolutes..it’s all or nothing.”

“I’ve moved forward”.

“Where do I want to get to?”

“I don’t want to go down that road again”.

“It’s a struggle…we’ll fight this together”.

“We’re both on journeys”.

“There’s a battle going on between work and home life”.

“Sometimes I over eat…then I beat myself up”.

(Prescription: Salmon)

Once again, we should thank Marie Doyle whose article “Salmon of Knowledge” (Homoeopathic Times Volume 2, No.2 Summer 98) gave a foretaste of the proving to come in her list of Salmon themes. Here we have the language of fertility; sexual intercourse; journeys; moving in circles; struggle; endurance; violence and battle. In two cases I have found the language of “walls”, which is curious as the Salmon remedy was made from the egg, blood and semen of Salmon who are unable to return to spawn without human assistance as a huge dam has been built across their river.

Moving on from the more recently-proven remedies. I found this remedy through a combination of repertorising, Reference Works and poetic licence:

Case 9

“I want to be on a more professional level career-wise” (twice)

“When people thank me I feel appreciated; it puts me on a different level”.

I took :

Delusions, imaginations: appreciated, that she is not. {1> 3> 0}

“It feels like my blood is boiling”. (physical)

I repertorised with the rubrics:

Chest, boiling in heart region – glon, lachn, (neither appealed)

Then I tried:

Generalities, Blood, burning in veins, as if – bry, (still not happy)

so then I tried Reference Works and got 74 references to 17 different remedies and settled on Roberts Repertory Heart Blood: as if were boiling in body. {0> 3> 0} , aur.

The following line being, for me, the clincher:

“I put my heart and soul into it”.

(Prescription: Aurum)

Case 10

“I have to divide myself”.

“I have to split myself”.

Reference works was also helpful in this case as a search on the word:

“divide” led me to these comments by Zaren:

“In Anacardium individuals, there is a tendency to divide and sever under stress. In the healthy state, the two sides of the psyche work in tandem, creating a cohesive whole. The divided self — the schism of Anacardium — defines a vacillating and tumultuous path of life. In the attempts of Anacardium individuals to control or balance their deep insecurity and aggression, they create a pattern of behavior that is self-defeating.”

They seemed to sum up the case well and Anacardium repertorised well for the other symptoms.

(Prescription: Anacardium)

Case 11

“Things rear their ugly heads at night-time”.

I decided to take this literally and searched for the closest rubrics I could find, combining them:

DELUSIONS,IMAGINATIONS:FACES,SEES:DARK,IN THE.

Delusions, imaginations: faces, sees: distorted. (Kent MM)

Delusions, imaginations: faces, sees: hideous.

“If I tell my boss I like something I know they (colleagues)think I’m just saying it (to please the boss)”

DELUSIONS, IMAGINATIONS: LIE, ALL SHE SAID IS A.

“People want to pull you down”

Delusions, downward, he is pulled, has only one remedy (Hydrogen) which did not fit the case.

Where to now? As luck would have it some time before I had had a (Lachesis) client who used to repeatedly say:

“Everything’s up in the air” I had done a (Reference Works) word search on the expression “up in the air” and found an article written by Berkeley Digby entitled:

“Lac Caninum (Self Disgust)”:

“They are so up in the air, and off the ground that they feel as if floating. The light headed, floating sensations (Lachesis, Cann. Indica), makes them feel as if they are going to faint.”

This made me think of two other aspects of this case: Firstly, self-disgust (“I hate how I look, I hate what’s inside me”) and secondly, disconnection (“I’m trying to switch off, pull away…I don’t have contact”). On the theme of disconnection I also had notes from a lecture by Jeremy Sherr on Lac can in which he demonstrated the central theme was: “too connected / must disconnect”. He showed how this can be seen throughout the remedy. The delusion of floating is disconnection from the ground; “at times she cannot bear the clothes to touch the abdomen”(Allen) ie. must disconnect from her own clothing; “during nervous attacks she must keep the fingers separated, cannot bear them to touch each other”(Allen) must even disconnect from her own body.

(Prescription: Lac can)

Case 12

Paces the room up and down very fast.

A word search in the Complete Repertory brings up nothing for “pace”. Any of the following rubrics would work:

Anguish: driving from place to place, with restlessness (Knerr)

Anxiety: driving from place to place (Jahr)

Fear: driving from place to place (Jahr)

“I don’t want to go to school” (many times, relates to bullying)

“I don’t want to be seven”. (many times)

“I don’t want to be a daddy, I don’t want to leave you mammy”.

Anxiety: future, about

“I love you desperate”

“I’m desperate happy”

Mind, ailments from joy excessive

One could also consider the more generalised rubric:

Anguish in children (Jahr) it has only eight remedies (acon., aeth., ars., bufo., cina, hyos., nux-v., samb.)

(Prescription: Aconite)

Case 13

Describing severe rectal pain:

“It’s like a red hot poker stuck up there”.(physical)

The Complete Repertory has the rubric:

RECTUM: HEAT: RED HOT IRON, AS IF (Clarke)

This has only two remedies in it kali-ars and merc-pr-r

Reference works found 314 references to either pokers or hot irons covering 68 remedies. However the only ones relating to the rectum were the same two remedies kali-ars, merc-pr-r

(Prescription: Kali-ars)

Case 14

“I want to be older so I can kiss a boy”. (She is nine)

Observations: Can’t keep still; writhes and wriggles in the chair.

Spends almost the whole time talking about colours she likes/dislikes.

Wears a t-shirt with a spider’s web on the front.

Although I was pretty sure of the remedy I found this interesting article in Reference Works that added to my understanding of the case and the remedy:

“Sankaran offers an interesting interpretation of the desire for music, dancing, and colour, together with deceitfulness and cunning, as an idiosyncratic need to attract sexual attention based on the essence of Tarantula being that of ailments from unrequited love (only remedy listed in the Complete Repertory) This leads the patient to act as if he was fixed in a state of unrequited love even though this is not so objectively. The Tarantula patient can exhibit erotic hysteria and mania which is very aggressive sexually. Ailments from disappointed love, grief. This may be causation. ”

The Homœopath, (Vol 12.4 1994) “Tarantula hispanica , Lycosa tarantula, the Wolf Spider” by Greg Bedayn.

  • §§§§§§§§§§§§§

I would like to finish with Nyoshul Khenpo’s beautiful poem, which entreats us to:

“Rest in natural great peace

This exhausted mind

Beaten helpless by karma and neurotic thought,

Like the relentless fury of the pounding waves

In the infinite ocean of samsara.”

How to spot Simple Language

Often it’s the very first and the very last thing said

Something that just “pops into the mind”

Anything said automatically, unthinkingly

Anything that is repeated, especially if more than once

Phrases, expressions, verbal tics

Descriptive, colourful, vibrant languageSimiles (“It’s like…” ) and metaphors

Simple Language, NOT

Jargon

Psycho babble

Diagnostic labels

Dry, dull, dead language

Intellectualising / Theorising

Anything carefully premeditated / prepared

How to get from Simple Language to the Remedy

  1. You get lucky and the language leads you straight to a remedy you know well and whose language you recognise.
  2. You select a key word or phrase and search the Materia Medica to find a match. You can use your knowledge of Materia Medica or a computer search programme (Reference Works).
  3. You “translate” the language into repertory speak (ie. a rubric) as accurately as possible. The Mind, delusions section will be of most frequent use. Sankaran uses Mind, delusion and Mind, dreams interchangeably. If you can’t find a match in delusions it’s worth checking dreams for a likely remedy. Don’t ignore physicals when it comes to simple language (see Cases 3,9,12,14).

Footnote:

Further reading

If you would like to explore some of the points raised here you might like to read the story of The Boy and the Billionaire on page 289 of “The Substance of Homoeopathy” by Rajan Sankaran and “The Roots of Suffering: Buddhism and Miasms” by Misha Norland (the Homoeopath Volume 11 No 3 pub.1991).

©Mary Aspinwall

The Waiting Game

by Mary Aspinwall

click here for a pdf version of this article

How long should one wait on a remedy? I know it is part of my pathology to want everything to happen instantly, if not sooner. I am sure I have often changed my prescription too hastily and messed things up. At other times I have had to make a concious effort to sit on my hands. Once again, this question has come to the fore because of a case of asthma / eczema, that I have been treating.

Roisin’s CaseAge: 13

History of eczema and asthma since the age of 3.

Treated with liquid Ventalin from 3 years old. Skin condition improved but asthma worsened. Changed to Becotide and Ventalin inhalers at the age of 6. Skin flared up again at age 11 treated with Betnovate (topical hydrocortisone cream). At the time of her first visit she was taking both inhalers at night and two or three times a day on any physical exertion (sports etc).

Roisin came with her mother. Relations between them seemed tense. Her mother said she was nervous and asked a lot of questions (to reassure herself). I observed she became flushed very easily. She found it very difficult to speak to me or answer any of my questions and gave each one a lot of thought before answering. She said she wanted to be sure to give the correct answers. I found the initial case-taking session fairly excrutiating…like getting blood from the proverbial stone. I had the sense that she was very disconnected from her own emotions. Her most common response was: “I don’t know” and I believed her. At times she seemed on the verge of tears and her eyes watered. At other times she appeared almost zombified. She was afraid of the dark, tunnels and cows.Her skin had recently become very itchy again and had a piercing sensation after swimming. She had red bleeding blotches in the crook of her elbows, at her wrists and behind her knees. Her sleep was so restless that she always ended up sleeping on the floor, which she found cooler (it was then February). The heat of the bed was very irritating to her skin. Her skin was also much worse for eating tomatoes.

Her main greivance, the only one she was really able to articulate, was that she was not allowed to do things that her sister (who was 3 years older than her) was allowed to do. Yet her other sister who was eighteen months younger than her was allowed to do everything that she was allowed to do. She was jealous of her younger sister who was generally considered more able than her. Her mother felt this gave Roisin a low sense of self-esteem. She had a stutter, which was worse reading aloud. Her main refrain was: “It’s not fair”.She had a great strange, rare and peculiar symptom, whenever she got chesty she felt as if she had a fan engine turning around in her stomach. Sadly I never managed to track that down, so I stuck with what I felt was the core of the case. For me, this was her preoccupation with her status within the family.

I prescribed Veratrum LM1 (one drop daily).

A month later there was an improvement in her asthma, she didn’t need her inhalers at night. She still relied on them for sports. Her skin had got worse, with a rare outbreak on her face and neck, then better by about 5%. The eruptions still bled. I had explained from the start that any improvement in her asthma would probably mean a (temporary) worsening of the eczema and that this would be a very good sign that things were moving in the right direction. The main change at the follow-up was that she had been able to stay asleep in her bed and was no longer aggravated by heat. Her mother said she seemed less worried. This was all encouraging, but this follow-up session was,in many ways, as difficult as our first encounter.There was still no real improvement in her ability to connect to her own feelings.A recurrent argument at home was that her mother felt she spent to much time out of the house. Roisin disagreed and felt she was too restricted. She became very angry if she was not allowed to go out, shouting and slamming doors. Close questioning revealed that she was rarely at home unless eating or sleeping. Bearing in mind the respiratory complaint, her bad temper and her desire to be out and about I prescribed a nosode, Tuberculinum 30c. She continued to take Veratrum LM1 daily, until two weeks later when she smashed the bottle. Two weeks after that she was much worse, she was still off inhalers at night, but using them more than ever before during the day and her skin was very bad. On the plus side, she was still less worried and the “fan engine” had gone. Her desire to go out had eased a little. I gave her a fresh bottle of LM1 and told her to increase to 5 drops daily.

A month later her asthma was better and she hadn’t used her inhalers at all for two days and “didn’t get puffed out”. Her skin was worse, but the eruption had moved to her feet and between her finger (this was new). I suppose I should have been happy with this and it’s hard to put into words why I wasn’t. I just couldn’t sense any deep change in her being. Her lack of energy and confidence was still much in evidence. I found her inability to communicate with me very frustrating. I was itchy to do something more to push the case. Throughout this I felt sure that Veratrum was still the most appropriate remedy and she continued to take it, 5 drops daily, but I felt I had to do something more. Bearing in mind the long history of suppressive medication and the almost palpable atmosphere of suppression that I still sensed during our sessions, I decided to give Carcinosin 30c as an intercurrent.A month later things on the inhaler front were much the same, she had managed two completely free days. She had eczema all over her body (for the first time)and a chesty cold with coryza and blueness around the lips. Once again the session was heavy-going. I didn’t feel the Carcinosin had done much and still felt disheartened by her progress, despite the physical shift.Then, just a few weeks ago her mother came to tell me that Roisin was away on holiday and would I mind if she took her appointment? I was very happy to treat her as I subscribe heartily to the Chinese saying: “If the child is sick, treat the mother”. Before we began with her case I asked after Roisin. To my astonishment she had been off both her inhalers for weeks. Her eczema, not suprisingly, was worse, but she was fairly stoical about it .

So after five months there was a significant improvement. The changes I was hoping for on a deeper level have still not happened, although I was rewarded with an amazing smile last visit. Perhaps the key to those deep changes will be stopping the inhalers. An end to ten years of systematic suppression. Looking back, it’s hard to know if the nosodes were necessary or not. Veratrum could have done all the work and maybe I was tinkering to make myself feel better, rather than Roisin.After this case, I hope I would have the confidence to stick with a soundly-prescribed remedy longer, particularly if there was a history of long-term, suppressive medication. Perhaps it is easy to under-estimate the damage that this persistent squashing of the vital force can do. The miracle is that given sufficient time the vital force will start to return things to order.If these cases are tough on homoeopaths they are tougher still on the poor souls they treat. Homoeopathy is not an easy therapy in these situations. It follows that what has been pushed in, given the right remedy, will re-emerge. I have always found it helpful to point this out at the outset by explaining the likely direction of cure and indicating that the process of treatment may be a long one.

I was speaking to one colleague recently. She has been a homoeopath for many years and has a very busy practice. She now screens her clients. Prior to the initial case-taking session, she has a short interview with them and points out the probable level of commitment they will need. They can then make an informed choice about whether to go ahead or not. She says she has been getting much better results since introducing this system and does not get frustrated by clients dropping out, feeling disillusioned, in the middle of their treatment.

Once a well-informed client has made a decision to stick with the healing process through thick and thin they can be little short of heroic, as this next case shows:

Hannah’s caseHannah came to see me almost two years ago. She had suffered from appalling eczema on her hands and feet for the past twenty years, which had been controlled by steroid-based creams. However these had gradually become less effective and the eczema was returning. Her hands were swollen and puffy. The skin was desquamating and very itchy and much worse for water. She could have got a higher strength cream, but was reluctant to do so because she had noticed her skin was becoming very thin and papery (a side effect of conventional treatment with topical steroids). In addition her energy had been poor since her child’s birth two years before and she was prone to severe piercing pre-menstrual headaches with nausea, lasting up to four days.I felt it only fair to warn Hannah that with an accurate homoeopathic prescription her severe skin symptoms were almost certain to return. Also, because of the long history of the complaint and the suppressive nature of the conventional medication she had used her homoeopathic treatment would need to continue over a long period. She decided she would still like to go ahead.

In Hannah’s case a recurrent dream of being abandoned; a love of company; her sweet nature; a desire to defer decision-making to others and to be generally looked after; all led me to prescribe Pulsatilla.As I had expected her energy and mood improved; her headaches stopped and all hell broke loose in her hands. Doing a passable imitation of a creature from a Hammer Horror movie, she wandered around town, wearing fresh dressings that were very soon oozing with pus. I winced when she recounted to me that a check-out woman at the supermarket had been so concerned about her state she had said she should get treatment; at which Hannah had beamed and reassured her she was having treatment…homoeopathy.

This terrible state of affairs went on for nearly five months. She couldn’t do any housework; drive a car (her hands were too swollen to hold the wheel); pick up her young child or wash her own hair. Friends and family rallied round to help her and she enjoyed the company and the attention. Every time she came for a follow-up her hands were (literally) a sickening, swollen, putrid mess. The skin seemed to shed itself in waves. I would not have blamed her if she had given up and it shames me to think I cannot honestly say I would have stuck it out in her place.Vega Rosenberg said on a recent visit to Dublin that he had had to give up treating homoeopathic students in the States (and now had to be activel y persuaded to treat them elsewhere) because they never stayed the course and would commit sabotage by taking self-prescribed remedies to suppress curative responses. He made the point that homoeopaths, of all people, should be able to understand and honour the process of cure, but they seemed somehow less able than the public at large.

What shone through in Hannah’s case was the amazing improvement in her energy and her sense of mental and emotional well-being. She seemed completely unphased by her helplessness and intense discomfort. I felt confident that the prescription was correct and that she would be rewarded for her immense patience.The Pulsatilla was repeated, when indicated, at intervals and the skin very gradually improved until after five months she was able to shower every other day without aggravation. At the end of the sixth month she came with beautifully manicured, immaculate hands. The new skin was fresh and soft as a baby’s. She joined the local pool-cum-gym and went regularly, losing quite a lot of weight (she had been two stone heavier since the birth of her child). She looked fit and well. I can only hope that the woman at the supermarket check-out got to see the horror story’s happy ending.When I feel a case is progressing too slowly and I’m getting jumpy, I try to remind myself of cases like these. There are often great rewards to be had from being patient and giving clients sufficient information so that they can chose to be “patient patients” . After all, the impossible homoeopathy can do…but miracles may take a little longer.Mary Aspinwall practices in Clonakilty Co. Cork Republic of Ireland.

“I’ve been saying for a thousand years that there must be something somewhere on the earth to cure everyone if we could find it”.

©Mary Aspinwall

Three Generations of Hydrogen

by Mary Aspinwall

click here for a pdf version of this article

It is always fascinating when one has the opportunity to treat an entire family spanning three or more generations. Often the same remedy may be needed within the family and in practice I find this happens most frequently with the parent-child relationship. I have also observed that the level of pathology seems to deepen and show itself sooner with each successive generation. Whereas the great-grandparents and grandparents have often died of old age after enjoying reasonably good health, this is less often true of the parents whose health is already deteriorating by middle age and the children may show symptoms earlier still. The following cases illustrate these points and at the same time give some fascinating insights into one of our greatest new remedies – Hydrogen. What I considered to be the simple language or themes of Hydrogen are highlighted with italics. Underlining indicates that the same phrase was repeated.

THE MOTHER

Aged 64 but looks much older. Heavy build. Very pale, almost ghostly, with thinning grey hair. She cannot sit in the consulting chair, she needs a higher chair to be comfortable. She is wearing a plain silver cross on her lapel.

First visit: 4/9/97

PC (Presenting Complaint): Severe rheumatoid arthritis, which began 35 years earlier.

Medical history:

History of very painful menses prior to birth of her daughter and cystitis. In her early 20s had severe back pain and foot pain which was treated with steroid injections. Tendency to cold sores. Rheumatoid arthritis which started when she was 29 (6 weeks after the birth of her only daughter). Ectopic pregnancy at 32. In her late 40s, had to have her knee drained. Treated with cortisone. Two years later broke both her tibia and fibula. In her early SOs had a knee replacement. Smoker until 52. Widowed at 60 when her alcoholic husband had a brain haemorrhage.

Said she was told after the diagnosis (of RA) that she would end up in a wheelchair, to which she replied: “I won’t”. She has had a lot of alternative therapy in the past, but no classical homoeopathic treatment.The rheumatoid arthritis symptoms are now as follows:

Shoulder, no power, sore < moving it a certain way. L. arm, swollen and stiff. R. elbow, loose and hard to hold up R. forearm (she has to use her L hand). R-sided neck pain, severe and sharp when turning head. Mind, fear of losing balance. Generalities, < standing up. R. wrist, swollen and terribly sore. Fingers hard to bend > constant exercise. Generalities, stiffness and energy both < damp, can predict the rain.

Above symptoms. ameliorated most by aspirin.

Generals, energy only 3/10. Has a nap l-3pm. Has lie-ins.. “Can’t get weight off me – I’m too greedy” in relation to this lack of will power she says: “I could kill myself / I could kick myself”. Female ; vagina; dryness.(RA started in her R. big toe joint. Then R&L ankles.)

No strength to pick grandchild up. “…would love to be able to then she wouldn’t get away so fast.””I’d love to be more useful. Years go by so fast. Lucky I was a sit at home person. I’m happy if I can get from A–Z” (note not the usual A-B!). Of her suffering she says: “It’s made me more sympathetic””I looked after homeless lads, liked giving a helping hand; the worse they were the easier I found them.” (Ran large hostel for the social services, had to give it up after a recent burglary because her daughter was so concerned for her welfare. She now lives with her daughter, son-in-law and grandchild).

“I like a very simple ljfe; being alone; doing what I want to; just the basics. Don’t want a holiday or a new dress. I feel strongly about people telling tales; I’d never repeat stories.””Recently I had a dream of a horse trying to break in.” (She believes this represents hasty news). Her dead husband was trying to pull the horse back and she was trying to latch the door .

(I thought this might be a presentiment of her own death).

THE AUNT

Whilst taking down the family history the strange tale of her sister emerged. She (“was different from me, very glamorous and liked fancy clothes and fast cars”) got some rare disease started to go blind and “in one year aged to become a little old woman; then she died.”

The mother’s disease was so crippling that it had also made her old before her time.Her daughter came to see me a few days later and told me the extent of her mother’s good works. She devoted her life to looking after everyone at the hostel. She regularly lent the men money and paid their court fines to stop them being imprisoned, She also said her mother had had a severe episode of depression about a tax bill. The problem had seemed huge to her and she had got very low.

THE GRANDPARENTS

Interestingly, the daughter also told me her mother’s parents “never knew there was any evil in the world”. They were very poor because they used to work for no pay. Eventually her mother’s father took to his bed with depression because he felt he couldn’t do anything and was no longer useful . He died in his 70s. It seemed likely that her mother’s father, the sister (who aged and died prematurely) and possibly her mother too all needed the same remedy… Hydrogen.Prescribed split dose of Hydrogen 30c bedtime and rising.

Rubrics

Mind;Time passes too quickly, appears shorter

Mind; Benevolence

(possibly) Mind; Dreams of animals (because of the connection with haste)

Follow-up 2/10/97

Shoulder, Definitely stronger, but pain no >. L. Arm, still painful. R. Elbow a bit >, can lift it without it flopping. R-sided neck pain, a lot >. Mind, fear of losing balance >. Not as frightened of falling. A lot > and standing up is easier. R, wrist, less swollen and not as painful. Fingers fine, except middle finger R. hand, easier to bend. Generalites, no change in the fact both stiffness and energy < damp and can still predict the rain. Generalities, energy now 6/10 (ie. Double). Female ; vagina; dryness >> Feet and ankles were stiff after rx but a lot > now.

New symptom: Joints are creaking.

Also: Sleep is >, doesn’t take so long to get off. Very exciting dream of winning a prize on a white horse.”Forgot to mention I had restless feet with sensation as if electricity running through them” this has totally >>. I have found this symptom of electrical sensations in two other Hydrogen cases.

28/11/97

Repeated remedy as she got a cold with pains in ears, face and chest all >>.

Follow up 13/11/97

“Fine. Still have ‘a chest’ but I feel freer, not stitched up. I have a red patch under my L. arm (new symptom) hoping it’s the thing coming out (she is well-versed in the direction of cure!) that shoulder is a lot freer. Just itchy, not painful.”Also slight eruption (under the R. axilla) and a few blotches on her chest. “Sleep was a little restless last night for the first time in a long time, but I’ve been a thousand times worse than I am now”. A further improvement in balance. Indigestion is less than before.”I’d definitely say it’s working, when I first came in my R. hip and knee seemed to be getting worse but they’re fine now. When I came in I was going down.” Energy? 6/10. Power returning to R. shoulder and elbow. Severe neck pain >>Action: No remedy, wait.

Follow-ups 11/12/97 & 29/1/98 & 18/5/98

Eruptions on upper body clearing now, similar eruptions on the ankles. Continues to make steady progress; more freedom of movement with less pain. “Everyday I’m not suffering as much.” She is able to play with her grand-daughter. Says she used to feel terrible if she caught a cold, but catches them less frequently and doesn’t feel bad in herself. She “got over the Winter” and feels really pleased about it. She has given up taking Bicarb. (no more indigestion). She still occasionally has trouble sleeping if she has an appointment early the next day. When I ask her for permission to write up her case she is very enthusiastic about it “I’d love to be of some use. I’m thinking of donating my carcass to medical students when I go.” Before she leaves she says: “I’ve been saying for a thousand years that there must be something somewhere on the earth to cure everyone if we could find it.”The following week I took her daughter’s case:

DAUGHTER

Aged 35, married with 4 year old daughter.

Striking similarities in the case. Severe stabbing back pain in herearly 20s. History of cystitis and dysmenorrhea > since birth of daughter (menses now regular, light and short). Reproductive problems (9 years trying to conceive, finally managed it with fertility treatment: Clomed; IUI and injections). Caesarean delivery, lost 2 pints of blood. Followed by severe post-natal depression (treated with Gamanil). PC: Having difficulty conceiving second child.

Begins by telling me what it was like growing up in a hostel with 20 homeless men, including a schizophrenic who had changed his name by deed poll to Jimmy Gibberish. He had the room next to hers and used to speak nonsense to himself all night.

She says “There are a billion stories. That’s only the tip of the iceberg. My father (an ex-boxer) would get angry and shout at them. There was a lot of tension trying to keep the peace.”Has never been well since birth of her daughter. No interest in anything and desires to be left alone. Libido is poor, but has intercourse two or three times per month around ovulation time to try to conceive again. Energy is better now than during the post-natal depression.

She feels < at night and tends to “whinge” then. She gets cravings for chocolates, biscuits and crisps at night (2-3am). It is comfort eating and gets < when her daughter won’t sleep. (Her daughter has eczema and often has restless nights). “During post-natal depression had suicidal thoughts and would put my foot down in the car and drive recklessly. Thought I might take pills, I was too much of a coward to do anything physical.” A concomitant symptom of the depression was a very itchy scalp and itchy eyes. (She laughs) “I’m a person with everything really, very privileged compared to so many, so lucky really. Felt guilty about giving up work. Worthlessness. Was offered a job share said ‘No’, but thought other people can cope.” Spells out words in shorthand on her fingers as we talk. (I later notice her mother does the same thing although she doesn’t know shorthand, she says she is counting) I ask what she’s spelling. It is: “I’m spelling words”. It is an involuntary nervous habit that can get very repetitive.She learnt shorthand when she was a secretary in London. During that time other colleagues were on strike and she often had to cross a picket line. She said it was horrible because she felt such sympathy for the strikers. She also says how very sorry she feels for the Royal Family (it is just after Diana’s death). She co-facilitates a bible study evening with a nun. She finds this very difficult as she feels “unworthy in front of the group. I think about giving up but then I’m racked with guilt and feel I’m letting everyone down.””My mother killed a duck once and I asked her why she had done it and she said ‘why did it come to me?’ My mother hated animals.” (Hydrogen has Dreams; animals suffering and eating live animals. I also have one other case of Hydrogen with cruelty to animals).”I had two strong parents and I’m all wibbly wobbly. My cousins are very assertive and unshockable; they’re not panicky, not all up in the air””I’m over-sensitive to what people say, I misconstrue and ponder on things.” If she is worrying (eg. if she has to play music at an event next day) she sometimes can’t sleep until the dawn. She dreams frequently of: being unprepared for exams; travelling to get away from something or someone; someone is in pursuit and I’m trying to go fast, I’m often on a boat too near the water or hanging on outside the boat (the land is close by); riding a bike on the motorway (represents problems with speed/pace of life); I have a bad sense of direction and I’m trying to find my way home.Ear, right, noises in, as if someone is crinkling paper. This gets much worse if there is loud noise and laughter.

During her pregnancy she felt miserable and had a metallic taste in her mouth from Day 1. She had sickness and vomiting all the time. She also had a pain at the top of her right leg which meant she couldn’t swim or walk.”I’m a very untidy person, but obsessive about cleaning . My mother is very unmaterialistic and the worse (i.e. the more messy) a place is, the better I feel.”I didn’t actually repertorise this case as I was confident from her use of language and the similarities between her case and her mother’s that Hydrogen was the right choice.Remedy Hydrogen 30c Bedtime and rising.

Follow-up 7/10/97

“Feel quite well in myself and able to cope with it all. I let things wash over me instead of reacting badly. After the remedy I got itchy eyes for a few days (with blistery eruptions near the canthi)”. This is a return of an old symptom. Libido? ” (sex) wasn’t a chore”. Energy? “I’m not needing to sleep during the day. I’m able to get up and not feel shattered. I tend to do things where before I’d rest. I feel if I had another baby, I’d cope better. I feel more positive. (Her mother has tried to dissuade her from having another child because of her previous post-natal depression). I have a strong feeling for another baby, a girl, “I know her name – I’ve had the name ready for a long time.” Her daughter was given a completely different name at the last minute. The daughter and her father are both doing well on Veratrum, so there is a break in the pattern. She is perhaps saving the name for a Hydrogen child.”My memory is terrible for where I’ve put things and people’s names, even ones I know well. I get words mixed up and transpose letters.”She was more at ease with the bible study group, the spelling on the fingers is >> and so is the desire for snacks at 2am. The noises in the ear are duller as if further back.

Action: No remedy, wait.

Follow-up 4/11/97

Eyes, itching >. Head was v. itchy week before, now >. Memory where I put things >, recent past >, names no > the spelling fingers are coming back. Ear, noises in >>

Action: repeat remedy. Taking the fingers (simple unconscious gesture) as an indicator that the last remedy is running out.

Follow-up 17/12/97

“I’m very well really. My tolerance is better and I’ve got more energy. Before my last period had these sudden mood swings, both at night-time (midnight -2am). I was very tearful. Looking at things blackly. Haven’t been put down or felt I have been. That’s an improvement.” Fingers, spelling on >> Ear, noises in >> Memory >, names still difficult. Do feel > on the whole. Action: No remedy .Wait.Phone call to get permission to do this article and get an update. 12/5/98 Continues to feel well. No sign of the (Hydrogen?) child yet, though.

HYDROGEN.

…a few thoughts from the millions of things there are to be said! Hydrogen can be seen as representing the beginning of creation. Prior to the Big Bang we are told 99.99% of the Universe was Hydrogen (who was there to count, I wonder?). The Universe is still 75% Hydrogen with most of the remainder made up of Helium and all other substances account for only 1% of the total. Because Hydrogen was the first element to come from the pre-existing cosmic soup it can be said to represent a link with “the time which was before”. H. is the lightest remedy – gravity can’t hold it down. It’s the hottest when burning (like inflammable air) some say it should be named Pyrogen; it is the most explosive and expansive element. As a gas it has the qualities of being spacey, expansive, cool, airy and light. From its lofty standpoint it sees and understands the whole Universe. It focuses on the big picture. In relation to our understanding of death gleaned from NDEs (near death experiences), we know in the first stage of death the soul leaves the body and floats around; in the second stage it spins through a narrow tunnel and during the third stage emerges to a place of light, love oneness and connection with the “light of a million suns”. Hydrogen corresponds to this third stage. Hydrogen takes us higher and further than any other remedy… into the realm of God, deep into the cosmos. Hydrogen represents Spirit and Scholten says the question centres on “to be or not to be” whether to incarnate or not, whereas Helium’s conundrum accepts incarnation as a given and moves on to the next question “What is my purpose on this earth?”So if you are in this state of oneness with the Universe why in heaven’s name would you need a remedy?

To quote Jeremy Sherr: “Pathology is the right thing at the wrong time and place”. If someone who is incarnate believes themselves to be an inseparable part of the blissful cosmic soup they may soon find themselves at odds with the rest of humanity. Once they are put into a situation where they are forced to acknowledge the polarity, the dark side, the suffering they experience is too great to quantify.Quote from proving:

“There is a very fine line at this time between enlightenment and insanity – a split consciousness. The dark side is horrendous, but the positive side of the proving has been well worth it. The positive aspects are beautiful. It’s a shame we need to come down. I guess the price of going into the heavens is a trip to hell.”To get a true sense of the remedy it is best to read the entire proving. Much of the remedy gets lost if one just looks at the Repertory, but here are some edited highlights to whet the appetite!

MIND; AWARENESS heightened*

MIND; CONFLICT between higher consciousness and worldly existence*

MIND; UNIFICATION, higher consciousness with*

MIND; DELUSIONS; God; presence of God, that he is in the*

MIND; DREAMS; ascending a height*

MIND; DREAMS; high places**

MIND; LOVE; overflowing, for humanity*

MIND; DELUSIONS; beautiful; things look*

MIND; DELUSIONS; enlarged; distances are*

MIND; DELUSIONS; body; enlarged*

MIND; SPACED-out feeling***

Here we see the heavenly aspect. A joyous sense of unity and pure love. The flip side, “the trip to hell”, is the loss of the oneness, the separation, the paradise lost, the fall from grace.

Hence we find the rubrics:

MIND; DELUSIONS; downward, as if the mind were pulled*

MIND; DELUSIONS; hell; in, is

MIND; DELUSIONS; separated; world, from the, that he is

MIND; DELUSIONS; detached*

MIND; DELUSIONS; soul, fancied body was too small for, or

that it was separated from**

MIND; SUICIDAL disposition; throwing himself from; a height

MIND; DELUSIONS; dirt, dirty; that he is

MIND; DELUSIONS; diminished*

MIND; DELUSIONS; despised, *

MIND; DELUSIONS; betrayed, that she is

For this reason the remedy may suit those who have huge mood swings from high to low (it’s an up/down remedy).Hydrogen is timeless; it has only one shell and therefore almost no boundaries. Once boundaries are introduced they create a sense of hurriedness as timelessness gives way to the constraints of time in daily life. This is very well illustrated by the cases of the mother and the aunt.

MIND; POSTPONING everything to next day*

MIND; MISTAKES, makes; time, in*

MIND; DREAMS; hurried”’Other themes that come through very strongly in these cases are:the desire to be of service to others and the feelings of guilt and unworthiness if they are unable to fulfill this purpose; the belief in humanity; the lack of interest in material possessions; and the big, huge, nay dare I say, massive use of language. You can tell a Hydrogen not to exaggerate a million times and it makes no difference!

Comparative Materia Medica

Remedies that could look like Hydrogen: Thuja; Cann-I; Cocculus; Sepia.

My thanks to Jeremy Sherr and The Dynamis School for Hydrogen and their many other provings and to all those who have produced provings. I hope this quote will inspire us all to take part in many more:

“I’ve been saying for a thousand years that there must besomething somewhere on the earth to cure everyone if we could find it”.

©Mary Aspinwall

Winter advice

by Mary Aspinwall

Heading away for a much-deserved winter break? Perhaps you are making for colder climes and a spot of skiing or jetting off to a tropical island in search of warmth. Here are a few suggestions regarding winter body care whether at home or abroad.

The skin is our largest organ; it forms a vital barrier between our inner organs and our environment. Related directly to the immune system, the skin is a reflection of our health.

Some of you may be suffering at the moment with Chilblains, a common winter ailment, they occur on the hands and feet or very occasionally on the ears. They can become terribly painful when the affected area gets cold. Miranda Castro best selling author of “The Complete Homeopathic Handbook” gives some helpful dos and don’ts.

DO:

  • keep affected limbs warm and dry.
  • take regular exercise to improve circulation.

DON’T:

  • subject your feet/hands to extreme changes in temperature, for example putting icy feet into hot water.
  • expose the hands or feet to unnecessary cold.

Agaricus Muscarius (Agar.) is the number 1 homeopathic remedy for chilblains where the symptoms are worse for cold and chilblains are burning, itching and red. Symptoms for Petroleum (Petr.) are chilblains on feet, hands and toes that become inflamed. Feet become cold and ‘fall asleep’ easily, and the hands become cold and chapped. These chilblains are painful and itching and occur in winter during cold weather. Pulsatilla (Puls.) is another remedy that may also be indicated where chilblains on feet, hands and toes are inflamed and itching.

Cold sores are another common blight at this time of year. They generally pop up when you are under stress or have been overdoing things, so think of them as a little red warning light reminding you to slow down and take more care of yourself.

Natrum Muriaticum (Nat. Mur.) is the major cold sore remedy. A Nat Mur person will often produce cold sores after a disappointment or a grief that they weren’t able to express, or even after over-exposure to sun (skiers are particularly prone to this). The sores are usually sited around the mouth on the lips and will often be found at the corners of the mouth.

Rhus Tox and Sepia are also recommended where sores appear on the lips. As a general rule a homeopathic medicine is more likely to be effective if it matches other aspects of the person. For example, those needing Rhus tox, may also be prone to joint pains and stiffness, whilst Sepia types often feel worn out, dragged down and very prone to hormonal mood swings.

If chilblains or cold sores persist, it is always worth having a full consultation with a Homeopath. Constitutional treatment strengthens your overall well being, making unpleasant symptoms like these much less likely to occur.

Every individual is unique and responds differently to his or her environment and so does their skin. Even though you may be sallow skinned, don’t be fooled, your skin still needs protection from the sun and other elements. While most of us are pretty good for taking care of the skin on our faces, when it comes to our bodies most of us don’t think about skincare until the warmer weather and our summer wardrobes come round again. So even though it may seem early to be discussing this, it is important to be aware that whether you’re in Austria, Allicante or Adrigole your skin needs some form of protection and nourishment all year round.

We all of course need sunlight, without its rays there would be no life on earth. The sun lifts our spirits and activates the vital production of vitamin D in the body, so heading away on a sun holiday is a great idea at this time of year.

On the other hand, the sun’s ultra violet rays are what cause our skin to burn. Young skin, in particular, is especially delicate and develops sun damage very easily. Experts believe that having sunburn during childhood can significantly increase your risk of malignant melanoma and research shows that 80% of all skin damage has already occurred by the time we are 18 years old. It is difficult to over-state the importance of protecting yourself and your little ones when on a sun holiday.

After sun exposure the skin requires special care, while sunburn is always better prevented than treated Mary Aspinwall, Registered Homeopath advises the following for those of you who haven’t been careful enough.

  • When sunburned try to keep the skin cool by applying tepid compresses or taking a tepid shower, do not have the water very cold though as this can cause shock to the skin.
  • Drink a glass of water with half a teaspoon of salt added to reduce the risks related to dehydration and keep out of sun until healed.
  • Use one of the following remedies to treat the condition, the correct homeopathic remedy can eliminate the pain within minutes and erase the redness within just 24 hours.

Cantharis is the No.1 remedy for the intense pain of burns. Use this when the pain is cutting and burning, where the patient has a burning intense thirst, but are worse after drinking (especially cold drinks). Better: cold applications; Worse: touch.

Arsenicum is another good remedy to choose for sunburn when: Better for warm applications; there is blistering. Repeat remedies if there is an improvement followed by a relapse.

Belladonna is indicated for sunburn with sunstroke, where the skin is red, hot, throbbing and may be accompanied by a throbbing headache. Sunstroke can be fatal, so begin rehydration and seek professional medical help immediately.

For those of you wishing to take the necessary precautions I’d recommend the Dr Hauschka Holistic Sun Care range, which is free from synthetic sunscreens, fragrances and preservatives. They have chosen a mineral pigment found in nature, titanium dioxide, which acts as protection against the sun’s harmful rays by reflecting them away from the skin. Unlike synthetic sunscreens, mineral sunscreens begin protecting immediately upon application to the skin and are ideal for children because there are no irritating, synthetic chemicals to disturb a child’s delicate skin. The range contains a children’s sun spray with an SPF of 22, suncreams with SPF’s of 20, 15 or 8 are also available as is an excellent SPF 30 suncare stick ideal for sensitive ears, lips, cheeks and noses when skiing. Applying a good quality lotion after sunbathing, such as Dr Hauschka’s After-Sun Lotion, is also very important, to stop the skin from drying out.

If you’re staying in Ireland, you probably won’t be needing sunscreen just yet, but your skin will reward you later if you give just a little TLC now. Using body oil regularly is a good start; plain oils such as almond or wheat-germ will nourish the skin. Massaging while you apply, can improve the circulation and texture of the skin.

You may like to treat yourself to an oil that has that little “something extra”. A good winter oil is Dr Hauschka’s Rosemary oil, with its intensive warming properties and refreshing aroma; it enlivens the senses, helps reduce the appearance of cellulite and invigorates the body. Another oil beneficial for this time of year is Dr Hauschka’s Blackthorn body oil, like the rosemary oil this too is very warming, but the blackthorn also has extracts of St John’s Worth and birch, so that it envelopes the body with a protective feeling during what can seem a bleak time of year. The toning properties of the blackthorn oil make it good for refining stretch marks as well as smoothing and toning mature skin.

In the last issue I mentioned dry skin brushing and that suggestion still applies. Get a routine of skin brushing going, showering then massaging your chosen oil into the body. It may seem like an effort, but once you start it really takes very little extra time and you’ll feel so much the better for it.

© Mary Aspinwall

Zincum Metallicum

An analysis of Materia Medica

by Mary Aspinwall

click here for a pdf version of this article

Background information

Zinc belongs to the Magnesium group of metals. It is frequently combined with copper to make brass. Zinc coatings are often applied to iron and steel to prevent corrosion. Its other main use industrially is in batteries. It is a reducing agent, which dissolves in acids and bases. For hundreds of years zinc-based ointments have been used to suppress skin eruptions.

Clark gives details of symptoms of poisoning suffered by cows who were grazing beside a Zinc-smelter, including emaciation; drawing back of eyes into their orbits; milk drying up and finally death from total prostration.

Sensation and function

My aim in this article is to demonstrate that the common themes running through the Materia Medica of Zincum Metallicum can be summarised as:

Sensation: under attack. Function: must retreat.

The following rubrics, taken from the Complete Repertory, show the nature of the perceived attack. It is interesting to note that many of these refer to being attacked by those in authority.

MIND; DELUSIONS; accused, thinks she is

MIND; DELUSIONS; pursued, he was; police, by

MIND; DELUSIONS; arrested, is about to be

MIND; DELUSIONS; crime; committed, as if he had

MIND; DELUSIONS; called before court, on account of wicked actions, during climaxis

MIND; DELUSIONS; devils; after her, during climaxis

MIND; DELUSIONS; murdered; he would be

MIND; DELUSIONS; persecuted, that he is

MIND; DELUSIONS; pursued, he was; enemies, by

MIND; DELUSIONS; voices, hears; abusive and filthy language, voices from within him speaking in

Suppression as an inimical force to life

It can be argued that Zinc’s well-known ability to suppress physical symptoms (particularly eruptions and discharges) is only the most obvious form of its ability to suppress the life force in general.

According to Hering’s observations on the direction of cure, the ultimate outcome of driving in dis-ease will be death. This view of suppression as an inimical force to life extends beyond ointments and injections to factors that can suppress spiritually, mentally and emotionally. In the case of Zinc the strongest factor mentioned in the Repertory is authority (be it the legal system or those in charge of the hell realms) and the power to exact punishment.This sensation of being attacked extends to ordinary stimuli, which are also perceived as assaults. The irritability and over-sensitivity of Zinc to pain, noise, touch and sensual impressions is a pervasive theme in the Materia Medica.

One of the key passages to understanding Zinc comes in Kent’s Materia Medica p.1015.” You will find some deep-seated brain troubles that will try your patience. Some cases go slowly and gradually into unconsciousness; rolling of the head for days; eyes lustreless; body emaciated; involuntary discharges of faeces and urine in the bed; tongue dry and parched, so shrivelled that it looks like leather, lips also; face withered and every day looks older; paralysis of one hand or one foot, or it seems the whole muscular system is paralysed …

A dose of Zinc will sometimes bring this patient back to life. In a few days after the remedy there will be a jerking and a quivering in the parts that were motionless, or its action will be shown in a copious sweat, much vomiting; sudden arousing that is alarming for it looks like a threatened sinking, but this is the beginning of a reaction. Now, for days and nights while this little one is coming back to consciousness, the restoration of sensation in the parts is accompanied with the most tormenting formication, tingling, prickling, creeping and crawling … This suffering is but the awakening to life.”

Hering (p.485-6) gives the symptoms:

“Thinks of death calmly…” and

“Quiet thoughts of death in the afternoon, with weakness.”Hence, there is a distinct polarity between:

life which represents suffering; intolerable enervation; being attacked and

death which represents calm and peace; an end to suffering through retreat.

In physical terms the retreat involves a receding, a movement from without to within. Indeed the case cited above by Kent is one of

“deep-seated brain troubles”. Since this withdrawal is opposite to the direction of cure, the ultimate result of such a retreat will be death. With this polarity in mind we can divide symptoms into two distinct and opposing categories.

They represent either:

a retreat into death or a return to life.

lack of reaction //overreaction

unconsciousness //over-sensitivityparalysis restlessness //numbness formication

reflexes abolished //jerking / twitching

suppression //eruption

dryness //discharges

silent //vociferous complaints

thickening of eyes (conjunctival lids) //intense photophobia

sexual desire suppressed //intense sexual desire

chilliness //intense burning

menses absent //flow ameliorates

During the “retreat into death” the vital force recedes from the body into the central nervous system and then moves up the spine to the brain and in the “return to life” this process is reversed. There are symptoms that give us hints of this:

SKIN; BENEATH, sensations are just

SKIN; FORMICATION; under skin

SKIN; FORMICATION; flesh, between and

SKIN; INACTIVITY

BACK; PAIN; burning; Spine; sitting, while

BACK; PAIN; burning; Spine; walking amel.

CHEST; CHILLINESS in

CHEST; CEASE; sensation as if heart; had ceased

CHEST; HANGING by a thread, as if heart

HEAD; TINGLING; speaking aloud, on

HEAD; HEAT; coldness of, with; feet*

As part of this process we see the head and brain becoming over-loaded:

HEAD; CONSTRICTION

HEAD; CONSTRICTION; band or hoop

HEAD; FORMICATION

HEAD; HEAVINESS

HEAD; HOLD up head; unable to

HEAD; HYDROCEPHALUS

HEAD; INFLAMMATION, of; Brain

HEAD; INFLAMMATION, of; meninges, meningitis

the attack continues:

HEAD; CRASH, explosion in

HEAD; CRACKLING sensation in

HEAD; NOISES in; roaring

HEAD; SHOCKS

and so does the retreat:

HEAD; BORES head in pillow

HEAD; FALLING of head; backward

HEAD; DRAWN; backward

A further confirmation of this hypothesis comes from the strange, rare and peculiar symptoms relating to urination, for which Zinc is the single remedy. The first is the desire to keep moving the legs, for fear of losing urine. This shows up that unless the vital force is dissuaded from its retreat into death, through a conscious focussing of activity in the extremities, then involuntary urination, which is ordinarily a characteristic of death, will ensue. Yet the reverse is also true. When urination is retarded, allowing the retreat to occur facilitates the passing of urine. Hence we have the symptoms; must sit bent backward to ameliorate retarded urination and dysuria.

ZINC

A case history

Female. Married with 2 children. Office worker. NBWS 18 years of age.

First appointment April 1997

Presenting complaint: Migraine.

Appearance: Petite woman. Looks drawn and tired, sits with her arms folded across her body.

In the last 12 months had been taking 2 Solpadine every day, whether or not she had a headache, to try to prevent an attack from starting (suppression).

She gets headaches very frequently. The pain is throbbing, located over eyes < travelling by car; < bright lights (at 18 she went to work in an office with a lot of glass windows); < stuffy rooms; < day before menses; > going to bed; >> during pregnancies. Concomitant nausea and loss of appetite, yet > eating; > fresh air. Likely to start if she was “flustered, stressed out… I can’t take the pressure.”H/O delayed menses, occurring only 3 or 4 times per year. At 19 menses were so painful that she often fainted from cramping pains around half an hour from onset. Had miscarried her first child at between 2 and 3 months. Her children were born 3 and 6 weeks premature respectively. Since her pregnancies menses come every 5-6 weeks.

Family history:

Maternal grandmother died in her 50s from TB.

Maternal grandfather died shortly after of a broken heart (also in his 50s).

Maternal aunt had migraines.

Mother had toxaemia whilst pregnant with her brother.

One brother has migraine.

Paternal grandmother suffered from headaches all her life.

Father had rheumatic and muscular complaints. Alcoholic.

After describing her symptoms she continues:

“My mother is very religious and as I was the eldest girl and closest to her I was more affected by it. When I was 9 or 10 my father touched me… in a sexual way. I felt it was a huge thing to me. For years I lived in dread of it. He never did it again, but he fancied me. I felt total distrust. When I was 18 I met my current partner. We got engaged when I was 23, but at 24 I realised I couldn’t face a sexual relationship and postponed the marriage for a year. During this time I had acne and intense depression. I was moody. Extremely low.My partner encouraged me to see someone. I went to the Rape Crisis Centre in Cork, but the counsellor couldn’t understand my problem she said maybe I hadn’t found the right relationship. I came away desperate I thought: ‘no one can help me’. I have very mixed feelings towards my father. When he’s sober he’s so different. I should be more angry. I started watching a film about incest a while ago and I couldn’t watch it. I had a happy childhood, but it could have been better. (She begins to weep). My husband says I’m not as demonstrative as I could be.I worry about our finances. Everything (financially) is a lot tighter (she repeats this three times).

My energy is iffy lately. If I’m out with friends I can fall asleep in public (!) at around 10pm. Its hard to wake up in the morning. My sleep is not refreshing.In the past week I’ve had new symptoms. I get dizzy, it’s worse if I turn my head then turn it back suddenly. I can see these tingly balls. Like blue speckles in front of you.I get tingling in my fingers on the left if I sleep on that hand.

Occasionally, if I’ve eaten out and had alcohol, I get cramps during the night, then vomiting and diarrhoea then I pass out. A year ago this happened about 3 or 4 times in 6 months, but its less frequent now.”I asked her to describe herself for me, she replied:

“I’m trustworthy, genuine, I hate people who are two-faced. I’m not laid back.”She was quite a closed patient and found it difficult to describe her feelings about the abuse incident. One could not say she was suffering from suppressed anger, because she didn’t feel angry with her father. She did say, however, I should feel angry. By saying this she is making the judgment that her reaction to the event is inappropriate. One of the first things she speaks of is her mother’s religious nature and says this affected her most. From this I deduced that she felt ashamed or mortified by the incident with her father. In “The Mind Defined” by Laurol Part and Rebecca Preston mortification is described as:”n. : humiliation or vexation; the state of being humbled or depressed by disappointment, vexation, crosses or anything that wounds or abases pride. Generally, deprivation or depression of self-approval; chagrin.”

The italicised aspects of this definition seem to fit the situation well.

Hence a useful rubric would be:

MIND; AILMENTS from; mortification, humiliation, chagrin* (57 remedies)

Next, I wanted to stress the persistent nature of the headaches.

HEAD PAIN; GENERAL; chronic* (36 remedies)

The fact that the head pain was always worst the day before menses served to link the complaint with the sexual sphere, where I felt the dis-ease had originated:

HEAD PAIN; GENERAL; menses; before*(76 remedies)

Another symptom that had been linked to menses was fainting and this was still a feature of the case although now it related to the vomiting episodes

GENERALITIES; FAINTNESS, fainting*(303 remedies)

Another example of this sudden loss of consciousness was her tendency to fall asleep in public

SLEEP; SLEEPINESS; overpowering* (92 remedies)

These were all fairly large rubrics so the polychrests were likely to dominate the repertorisation, so I tried it first with all remedies. Then using my computer programme I a eliminated ten polychrests to see what emerged.

Zinc was not the first remedy to come up, but I always pay more attention to the number of rubrics a remedy covers than to the total scores. This is because although only one prover may have experienced a particular symptom, qualitatively it might be a more characteristic symptom of the remedy than one experienced by many provers.

I was drawn to Zinc because the case seemed to fit my understanding of the remedy. What struck me initially about this case was the determination to suppress symptoms, to the extent that she would take painkillers, whether or not they were needed, on a prophylactic basis. I felt her symptoms were related to the sexual abuse she experienced at 9 or 10. Following this, post-menarche, her menses had frequently been absent (retreat). When she was 18 she started working in an office with huge windows and the headaches started (return to life). This might have been due to the sun and indeed Zinc appears in the rubric: Head pain, general, exposure to sun, but perhaps more significantly she met her future husband and began “awakening to life”. They had no sexual relationship during their courtship and she so dreaded the prospect of having one that it caused her to postpone their wedding. Although she managed to overcome this dread, with his help and patience, her husband said that she was “not as demonstrative as she could be”. Her dysmenorrhea and fainting (retreat) during menses also seemed to indicate a strong connection with the sexual sphere. Apart from her headaches and dizzy spells (complete with tingly balls affecting her vision) the tingling she experienced in her fingers also indicated an attempt to return to life.

Remedy: Zincum metallicum 30c (Bedtime and Rising) with spares to hold.

Follow up appointment 4 weeks after remedy: May 1997

“Improved vastly. Not a single migraine, when I was off work, for a whole week.(She job shares a week on, a week off). They came back at work, but not every day and were > after only one Solpadine (used to take two). In the third week I had no migraine at all. I still had a migraine before my period. I had a migraine yesterday, but it was less painful. When it’s like that I can go without Solpadine. I have a nagging sensation in my jaw. I know its in my jaw now. Before I couldn’t differentiate if it was my jaw; my mouth or my wisdom teeth. I grit my teeth a lot. The dizzy spells with the spots (alias tingly balls) in front of my eyes have gone. So has the tingling in my fingers. I’m maybe not as tired. Haven’t fallen asleep in public. It’s a bit easier to get up.”No remedy. Wait.

Second follow up: June 1997

“I’m much > had three migraines in the past month. They tend to be on Sunday or Monday (before work). Repeated remedy Zinc 30c. I had blisters on my gums but they’re gone now. The nagging sensation in my jaw is >. I feel a lot >. Happier. In > spirits. Don’t let things get me down. My energy is good I’m able to stay awake > than before”Dizzy spells still>> and Fingers, LH side, tingling >>

Third follow up: late August 97

” Had a period at end of June. We were on holiday in a mobile home. Had headaches every day, maybe from gas fumes? (Husband and two small children in a confined space- maybe too much life?) Rest of July wasn’t great. Took Zinc 30c twice. Had headaches again at the end of July with my period. August I was very bad at the beginning of the month. I had headaches every second day and had to take two Solpadine each time. (On the 18/8/97 I sent Zinc 200c) Took Zinc 200c on 20/8/97, that seemed to work, I’ve only had two mild headaches since then. Still clenching my teeth a lot at night. After work I used to be more inclined to visit someone, now I prefer to stay at home and wind down. I like to get organised and then relax. (Energy?) It’s grand.Phone call: November 1997

“Just ringing to tell you I’m pregnant again, so I’m fine. I never get headaches when I’m pregnant.”

SOURCE MATERIAL:

Complete Repertory, Roger van Zandvoort

Materia Medica, James Tyler Kent

The Guiding Symptoms of our Materia Medica,

Constantine Hering

A Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica,

John Henry Clarke

© Mary Aspinwall

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