Spring has returned to my part of the world. The tulips are up, trees have their leaves and the lilacs are in bloom. The air is fresh and everything is new again. Glorious!!
This month’s edition of Interhomeopathy celebrates spring with cases of familiar remedies seen in a new way. As I have journeyed through 21 years of practice- always learning of new remedies, I find that I sometimes neglect the tried and true polychrests. At times, much to my dismay, I over-complicate a case, prescribing 2 or 3 remedies before I finally recognize it as a classic case of Sulphur or Pulsatilla or Lycopodium! In this edition, we present four wonderful cases by Kelly Callahan, Julie Matthews, Laura Coramai and Lynn Comeau of Hypericum, Calcarea carbonicum, Indigo and Veratrum album. Read them carefully, they may give you a new perspective on some of our best known remedies!
We then follow with the new and the daring. John Ourant shares a fascinating case of Spectrum; a remedy made from light shown through a prism. Marty Begin and Pascaline Phillips introduce a brand new proving and an amazing case of Yellow Box fish or Ostracion cubicus. Lastly, Pat Maher presents a case of a depressed woman who has been heavily medicated for years. In order to see the underlying case clearly, Pat prepares a remedy from one of the powerful pharmaceutical drugs the patient had been prescribed and successfully strips away a layer of side effects! Brilliant!
Whether it is spring or fall in your part of the world, I hope you enjoy reading these new and lively offerings as much as we have enjoyed bringing them to you!
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Beet mit Tulpen und Stiefmütterchen; 3268zauber
E.B is a thin, dark haired woman with big, brown eyes that are round and protrude from her angular face. She is extremely witty and quick, and down to earth. Aside from seeing her in the office, we cross paths in overlapping social circles and she often has women around her in stitches.
She started out her consultation by talking about her temper, which is quick and hot, and about her desire to slow down. “It’s hard to focus. I can’t get into my rhythm and figure out what’s next.” She said the effects are mostly felt in her relationships and those who she’s close to. “It’s hard for me to ask for help. If I'm drowning, I would probably ask, but I would hate for them to just throw me a line. It’s hard to admit I can't do it on my own. I'm a bit controlling. It's kind of challenging to think about it.
“I'll rant and rave, be pissed off and angry; often I'll be able to say, “OK, I feel anxious”, but along the way, things get damaged. Internally, I feel hot, will spout off and then realize that isn't what I need. If I can find time alone or walk away, I can sort it out. I can't always find a way out; find space, breathe, whatever.”
E.B. grew up in the American Midwest, with one full, and two half siblings. Her older sisters were 10 and 12 years older, and her mother was 21 when she became their stepmother. She says her mother wasn’t ready at that age, and she doesn’t remember her as a calm, nurturing presence.
“I’m close to them (sisters) in a superficial way… they are very different from me: consumers, fancy houses. I didn’t want to be a part of that. I never felt acceptance or encouragement to find another way.
“When I was 18, I was in a car accident. It was bad, I lost a lot of my memory (she starts crying) I don’t remember. It’s kind of hard sometimes. I don’t think I have an overall sense, just bits and pieces. I will remember instances, but it's not a clear vision. It's been a side effect… I flew out of the back of the car, which flipped numerous times. I broke my jaw, shoulder, ribs, collapsed one lung, broke my pelvis in four places, and crushed my tailbone. I had a head injury; swelling, but no need for surgery. They induced a coma for 3-4 days. No internal injuries other than the lung collapse. I was lucky. I missed most of my senior year of high school but had enough credits to graduate with a tutor. I went to college for two years. The first year I was heavily addicted to painkillers. My mom came to college and took everything away. She helped me to get off that addiction. It was a long road, years.
“I haven't taken any painkillers since. I have chronic backache days; it still hurts so bad to get out of bed. It is tender. Childbirth was painful. I haven’t taken anything since then; I manage with Arnica and Advil… I’m terrified. I don't think I would take any meds, but it was such a scary point in my life, like any addict. Once you break the habit, it's terrifying to think you would go back down that road.”
Her mom was recently diagnosed with lung cancer, and said she has recently come to the point where she realizes that her mom is going to die. She mentions that her daughter is old enough to have memories, but “I don’t really have the memories. I often put up this big, hard exterior…that maybe isn’t always the truth, but you just got to go through things. It doesn't work for me. I don’t want to do that anymore.”
When I ask her if she cries easily, she responded, “Never. I haven't cried once with my mom or sisters. Instead, I get angry, it’s my crutch. I will feel overwhelmed and sad, and on those days I am pissed off with my husband, kids, sister, and mom. I can't just say “I need to go take a walk, I’m having a bad day.” Instead, I'll just make bedtime a miserable thing. My husband has many flaws like they all do, but he loves me and would do anything for me. He's like a loyal Labrador dog. I could count on one hand how many times I’ve cried with him. I would like to be able to figure out what I need from him for support. What I want to see, not what I don't and focus the energy there.”
In her health history, EB reported that she had multiple ear infections as a child and was doused with antibiotics and sick all the time. Although she was vaccinated, she still got chicken pox, measles, mumps, and rubella.
She was a collegiate level competitive gymnast before her car accident, and had broken her right wrist twice, and her left once, as well as her left elbow and right knee.
“I am competitive. I like to win, be right. I love being physical, sweating profusely… I need to work out; otherwise I get edgy.”
Family history: multiple cancers, so it was tempting to focus on the indications for Carcinosin but I was struck by the story of her accident, and that it brought her to tears in the office. Tears, she admitted, she does not usually shed. The fact that she is living with chronic back pain, as the mother of two young girls with all of the carrying and hauling that can come with that role made me think further.
Hypericum came up high in repertorizing; especially the physicals. It covered many of her injuries from the car accident: crushed tailbone, head injury, and loss of memory. It is also found it in the rubrics:
MIND: Speech, sharp
MIND: Activity, mental, increased
MIND: Mocking behavior, sarcasm
MIND: Thoughts, general – rush, flow of
I felt that EB’s feeling of “not getting into a rhythm” and spouting off before she takes the time to stop and figure out what she needs, were good indications for Hypericum, given her injuries and current pain. I was not sure whether a remedy that is typically used acutely would touch effects that were over 15 years old, but I decided to start there anyway.
Prescription: Hypericum LM1 daily
The initial prescription was made in mid-June.
July: “I feel good. I went on vacation to see my family in Michigan; I slept on an air mattress and felt great, which was unusual. Traveling and sitting usually throws my back out. I did well, felt great and present. I had one or two emotional releases, but didn't need to hole it up; it just came out. Then, I went home and we had a family vacation. I felt not so great; had a lot of stuff coming up. I stopped the remedy. I've started taking it again at home. There's stuff coming up, but I'm in a better place to deal with it. It's been great. I don't have a sense of chronic pain. It's helped…the pain in my hips is gone; there’s no more shooting pain.”
On being asked about her sense of speed and hurriedness:
“It’s little better. The last couple of days have been packed, I’ve got a lot on my plate. My heart is not racing anymore, like I can't figure out what to do next. I’m able to get to the next step, not spin out about things way ahead. I'm worrying, but pragmatic. I feel emotionally steady.”
September: “I took the remedy every day for 4 weeks. I've been running about 15 miles a week, sometimes up to 20 miles. I feel great. I had started to plateau with the remedy… pain still feels 100% more manageable than before. A little PMS right now, but I don't have that every day feeling of not wanting to get up and I don’t go to bed in pain. I like having it (the remedy) around. The busyness and hurriedness are a lot less. I enjoy having time to myself in the morning… I don’t feel the unevenness. I run without headphones now; it's therapeutic. I would forget things that were happening; blank on doing stuff before. That's not happening as much. I stopped drinking as much coffee. The remedy was enough to get me to do what I needed to do. I learned I don't need more energy.
Since then, she has taken Hypericum LM 2 and continues to do well.
Photo: Wikimedia commons
Hypericum perforatum; RA Nonenmacher
Three cases in companion animals: Calcarea carbonica and cancer of the bladder
by Julie Matthews
Urinary bladder cancer in dogs and cats is fairly uncommon, although certain breeds such as the Airedale terrier, Beagle, Collie, and Sheltie have a higher incidence than other breeds. Tumors are typically transitional cell carcinomas and are fairly aggressive, spreading within the bladder and metastasizing to adjacent lymph nodes, as well as lung and bone. Typical location for these tumors is the trigone area at the neck of the bladder, where it joins with the urethra. Symptoms of bladder cancer in small animals include difficulty in passing urine, dribbling urine, and bladder infections due to failure to empty the bladder.
Unlike humans, in which bladder cancer is often discovered in situ, most cases of bladder cancer in dogs and cats are discovered when tumors are fairly large, have already invaded the muscular layer of the bladder, and are obstructing the urine outflow from the bladder. At this advanced stage, surgery is usually not successful due to the aggressive nature of these tumors, as well as the location, since the neck of the bladder is essential for continence and micturation.
Conventional treatment options for dogs include surgery and chemotherapy. Median survival time with surgery is 86 days, with tumor recurrence common. Median survival time with piroxicam (oral NSAID that reduces inflammation and slows tumor growth) is 180 days. Median survival time with aggressive chemotherapy is 350 days with only a 35 % response rate. Side effects from the treatment are common and cost is often prohibitive. Without any treatment most animals are euthanized within a few weeks of diagnosis because of the inability to pass urine.
Feline bladder cancer is less common than canine and not as well understood. The prognosis is worse for cats, with a median survival time with aggressive treatment less than 7 months.
This article describes two dogs and one cat who were prescribed the remedy Calcarea carbonica after diagnosis of advanced bladder cancer as described above. All three animals regained the ability to urinate immediately after starting the remedy, and experienced a good quality of life free of symptoms for many months.
Boru - DSH cat, DOB 2/1997
Boru was adopted by his owner in 2009 at the age of 12 years. In December 2010, Boru was diagnosed with bladder cancer after repeated bouts of blood in the urine, straining to urinate and recurrent bladder infections. Meloxicam and antibiotics were prescribed, but no improvement in either straining or blood in the urine were noted after three weeks of treatment. Calcarea carbonica 30C was prescribed once monthly. Symptoms resolved within days of the remedy. Repeat ultrasound in June 2011 was performed to assess tumor progression because an increased frequency of urination was observed. The original tumor had not increased in size, but a second tumor was found in the small intestine. This tumor appeared to arise from the muscular layer of the intestine and was thought to be a leiomyoma. Based on increased frequency of urination the potency of Calcarea carbonica was increased to 200C monthly. In September 2011, bloody urine and increased frequency of urination were again noted; potency of Calcarea carbonica was increased to 1M monthly. In December 2011, one year after diagnosis, Boru's owner opted for humane euthanasia due to deterioration in his overall health. Interestingly, his bladder symptoms had not recurred, but the tumor in the small intestine had progressed to obstruction and inability to eat.
Survival time after diagnosis: 1 year Kelly - Miniature Collie, DOB 1/1/2001
In late August 2010, Kelly presented with symptoms of urinary accidents in the house and recurrent urinary tract infections. Ultrasound of the bladder showed a small irregular area of mucosa adjacent to the trigone (neck) of the bladder. At that time, Kelly's owners opted for conservative treatment with piroxicam and antibiotics. Since Kelly's cancer was diagnosed early, this controlled his symptoms for the next eight months. In April 2011, Kelly started to experience more difficulty urinating as well as difficulty defecating.
In August 2011, Kelly's family moved to Maine and he was seen at our hospital. Kelly's symptoms on presentation consisted of severe difficulty in passing urine, dribbling of urine, difficulty and straining to defecate with soft stools, and water dripping from his nose when straining to urinate and defecate. On physical examination, Kelly had a palpable bladder mass as well as a rectal mass on digital rectal exam. The size of the bladder tumor was estimated to be about 4 cm with a slightly larger rectal mass. It was apparent that the bladder tumor had grown substantially since diagnosis and was now obstructing the urinary outflow tract. In addition, it had metastasized to the lymph nodes in the sublumbar area, obstructing fecal passage in the colon. Kelly's medications at the time consisted of piroxicam, prazosin (to try and help assist in urine outflow), and sucralfate (to protect the stomach lining from ulceration on the piroxicam). A radiograph showed a moderate sized bladder after Kelly had attempted to empty his bladder. Urinalysis showed blood in the urine but no infection.
Kelly's owners were considering euthanasia, but were interested in anything additional they could do to help ease his symptoms and improve his quality of life. Calcarea carbonica 30C was administered in the office. For six days after this dose, Kelly’s energy increased while his difficulty urinating and defecating decreased. On the seventh day, Kelly was observed to be straining again and exhibiting signs of discomfort. Calcarea carbonica 30C was prescribed once weekly. Kelly did well until November 2011m when his owners called to report he was starting to strain and act uncomfortable again. Calcarea carbonica potency was increased to 200C weekly. Kelly improved once the potency was increased. This improvement persisted until January 2012, when Kelly once again exhibited difficulty urinating and defecating, as well as trouble rising and intermittent leakage of urine. Calcarea carbonica 1M was prescribed weekly and Kelly did well until March 2012.
In March 2012, Kelly's owners reported that he seemed to be in pain, groaning at times and showing difficulty in lying down. New symptoms of restlessness and increased thirst with decreased appetite were noted. Modalities noted at that time were amelioration of symptoms after a bowel movement, aggravation at 6-8 am and 8-10 pm, amelioration from pressure on the hind end, and better with movement. Based on these symptoms and the observation that Kelly was nearing the end, the remedy was changed to Arsenicum 30C daily. Over the next four months, Kelly's symptoms were palliated by this remedy, with necessary increases in potency periodically. In July 2012, Kelly was humanely euthanized.
Survival time after diagnosis: 2 years
Bebe -Airedale Terrier, DOB 8/30/2002
Bebe was adopted by her current owner in 2009. In February 2012, Bebe exhibited symptoms of increased frequency of urination, straining, and persistent urinary tract infection. In March 2012, bladder ultrasound revealed a large bladder tumor in the trigone area obstructing the neck of the bladder, as well as partially obstructing both ureters as they entered the bladder. As a result, the renal pelvis of the left kidney showed mild dilation, indicating that urine was backing up into the kidney from the bladder. Renal values were normal at the time but it was feared that kidney failure was imminent due to the size and location of the bladder tumor.
Calcarea carbonica 30C was given in the office on March 7, 2012. One week later, Bebe's owner reported that her urine flow was much better and she was no longer straining to urinate. Urinalysis at that time showed resolution of infection. On April 13, 2012 Bebe had gained weight but was observed to have decreased frequency of urination. Urinalysis showed blood and recurrence of infection. Calcarea carbonica 30C was repeated. Bebe did well for the next month, at which time her owner thought she was taking longer to empty her bladder. A follow up ultrasound in May 2012 showed a slight increase in tumor (4 cm x 4.2 cm) size, but no progression in obstruction of the ureters. Calcarea carbonica 30C was repeated. Three weeks later, Bebe's owner observed that she was having difficulty initiating a urine stream. Calcarea carbonica 200C was administered, to be repeated as needed. The straining resolved, responding to Calcarea carbonica 200C every 2 weeks, until July 2012 when the frequency was increased to weekly. Bebe did well until October 2012, when her owner observed her to only release a few drops of urine at a time with much straining. Calcarea carbonica potency was increased to 1M and improvement was noted within 24 hours. This was repeated at three week intervals until mid November, when symptoms of straining to urinate recurred. Calcarea carbonica LM 1 daily was prescribed with improvement within 48 hours.
One month later, Bebe's owner reported that she was doing very well on the LM, once she got over her fear of her owner banging the bottle and her dislike of the taste (it had no alcohol in it, just water!) Bebe has continued to do very well on Calcarea carbonica LM daily. As of this report, May 2013, Bebe continues to be symptom free and have a good quality of life.
Survival time after diagnosis: 15 months at present
Arguably, prescribing based on pathology is allopathic in nature and contrary to homeopathy. Interestingly, pathology of the bladder is found in Kent's repertory. The rubric bladder, tumors has only one remedy: Calcarea carbonica. Certain other physical symptoms are common to these three cases, which further justifies the prescription of Calcarea carbonica. These include straining to urinate, difficulty in passing urine, increased frequency of urination, bloody urine, and tenesmus persisting after urination. In addition, all three of these animals exhibited characteristics typical of calcarea carbonica, such as soft, flabby bodies, and mild temperaments with extreme reliance on their owners.
Calcarea carbonica is one of the best known and most prescribed remedies in the materia medica. Proven by Hahnemann, Calcarea carbonica is lime from the middle layer of the oyster shell. Oysters use their shell to protect their soft, delicate body. Individuals who need this remedy are often soft and sensitive, and rely on the safety provided by their home or family. Calcarea carbonica types are often stout, with soft, flabby connective tissue, and an equally soft, usually good-natured character. Calcarea carbonica is a constitutional remedy which is a polychrest and ranks at the head of the anti-psorics along with Sulphur and Lycopodium. The chief action of Calcium carbonicum is centered in the vegetative sphere, the keynote being impaired nutrition, the glands, skin and bone instrumental in the changes wrought. Calcium metabolism is active during childhood and becomes defective after middle age. A myriad of bladder symptoms are found in the materia medica for Calcarea carbonica. Tumors, especially of the trigone area, bloody and abnormal urine, and urging and straining with little production of urine are a few which are pertinent to this report.
In comparison to conventional therapy, homeopathic treatment with Calcarea carbonica had no side effects, rapidly alleviated symptoms, was much less expensive and invasive, and resulted in improved longevity in all three cases reported here.
Boru- cat, taken by Amy Allenwood; Kelly- Sheltie- taken by Gail Littlefield; Bebe- Airedale- taken by Julie Matthews
Keywords: veterinary medicine, bladder cancer, straining to urinate, difficulty in passing urine, increased frequency of urination, bloody urine, tenesmus persisting after urination
Remedies: Calcarea carbonica
Indigo blues: a case of ancestral grief
by Laura Coramai
"Yet, blue isn’t just a hue…of course, one of America’s signature sounds is blues music, which became the foundation for jazz, rhythm and blues, rock and roll and hip-hop. Many Americans realize that the blues emerged from African-American gospel and work songs, but not many realize that the color blue is also directly linked to the African-American experience and slavery. The link is a deep blue natural dye, indigo." The Devil’s Blue Dye: Indigo and Slavery, Jean M. West, 2012
This is a case of a patient who came to me in April 2012 for unresolved grief over a breakup with a boyfriend. D. is in her late 30’s, born in North America of African-European heritage; she is a massage therapist who has suffered from anxiety and depression, and has a history of digestive system complaints. Once her remedy Indigo was found, a small but very significant physical complaint was seen in the context of her whole story. The symptom was right hip pain. Her remedy proved to be “ancestral” in nature, healing a legacy of oppressive suffering for a people who have a huge history related to it as a substance.
D. spoke of having her trust broken and how “abandonment issues” came up for her when she realized that she was lied to: she thought her boyfriend was going to make an effort to work things out in their relationship. D. talked about how she has blurred boundaries in business and friendship.
She had intense right hip pain that she had not had before, starting 2 months after the breakup, but fading afterwards. She also had this hip pain resurface not long afterwards, when she had a sense of betrayal again with a female friend/business partner.
The man was black and there were oppressive issues in their relationship relating to gender – his liking porn for example. Even with the friend, who was white, D. also had the right hip pain. She spoke about a race-related dynamic that made it a difficult friendship. D. had thought that this friend could be an ally with her and perhaps understand her issues as a coloured woman. They were working on a project with others to start up a healing centre with yoga and other modalities (stage 7 placement of Indigo in the Fabaceae family is reflected here).
Her mother is white, of American Mormon background, while her father is a black man with roots in the United States going back to the Caribbean, and naturally Africa. After taking the remedy, D. reveals that mother was sexually abused by her father for 12 years of her childhood; when her mother’s mother found out, the situation did not change in any way.
D. grew up as the youngest of four siblings, with two brothers and a sister. The siblings, like herself, were all very exceptionally athletic – her eldest brother was in several Olympic games for Track and Field. He was a star, especially in their own small North American community and, naturally, in the whole country. They were almost the only black family in their all-white community.
In summary, D.’s siblings all have a variety of issues related to race, gender, etc., with D. having strained relationships with each of them. For example, she always wanted the approval of her eldest brother, and in her relationships with men, she expressed that perhaps not getting her brother’s attention (due to his own “disconnected” feelings/behaviours) she may have lacked the ability to connect and maintain her boundaries in her intimate relationships (on saying this she cries, and wonders aloud if her older brother might have molested her at some point – she seems horrified to vocalize this).
During early adolescence she was sent to spend a summer with family friends, a family in a distant city. The fathers were colleagues in a school where they had taught together. She was sexually assaulted by the father of that family when she was napping one afternoon; she awoke to find him lying next to her and… “he was moving and had an erection.” It made her “… feel dirty and like an object.” To this day, she does not know if this man realises that she knew what was happening. The secret, hidden aspect of this incident adds, naturally, to the shame and so too does the fact that she did not tell her own family upon returning home.
Hence, the incident at that age is symbolic in many ways of the pain and suffering that are hers from her place in her family, of her family’s cultural, political and historical place, and the ancestors who she represents. Being a mixed-race woman of African and European descent is very significant. I feel the legacy of Indigo as a commodity or representative of the impact of slavery in her families’ past is captured by her need for this remedy.
Incidentally, when still wondering on the remedy, I asked some confirmatory questions of the patient and she answered to my inquiry on her favourite colour: Indigo!
Food cravings/aversions: meat, sometimes desires red meat. She mentions spontaneously that she hates gristle (cartilage in meats) and had very small appetite as child. She has always loved to eat fruit. Desires dark chocolate.
Prescription: Indigo 30C, taken June 8th, 2012
She was not told the name of the remedy but I mentioned that I felt it could be deemed “Ancestral in nature”.