This paper deals with a homeopath’s clinical experience with a case most practitioners consider extremely difficult or even incurable. Besides sharing practical tips with fellow homeopaths, the aim of this paper is to encourage them to rely not only on their experience, intuition and knowledge, but also on the well-known and established tools, including both the good old repertory and new approaches, such as the Sankaran’s Method. Ultimately – and ideally – this paper will build fellow practitioners’ confidence in their everyday work and encourage homeopaths to take up more and more challenging cases until they realize that homeopathy brings some improvement in any case. The case presented is that of a baby girl born on 24 December 2009. She was eight months old when her mother brought her to my practice because of West’s Syndrome and I also learned then that she had a healthy twin sister.
The Initial Interview on 26 August 2010
Homeopath: What brings you to a homeopathy session?
Mother: The problem that brought us here started in her sixth month of life. But even during my pregnancy there were always contradictory opinions of the state of the twins. The opinions were either that they were doing great or that their condition was terrible. She has always been the bigger twin. She was 1,800 g (approx. 3.5 lbs) at birth and her sister was 1,400 g. They were born in their 34th week. She was in a terrible state at birth and she had to be resuscitated several times right then and there. They said that she was stuck in the birth canal. Her heart was enlarged at birth. She has been constantly falling behind in her development ever since. We are doing Vojta’s exercises. We have a special schedule in our home in order to manage everything. Her current major problem is having epileptic seizures and the West Syndrome diagnosis.
(Note: While we are talking the baby looks sleepy in her mother’s lap and seems unresponsive to her environment. Her head is tilted backwards. Her mouth is half-open and she is salivating profusely.)
Mother: Her muscles are constantly hypertoned. Her body often tenses and her head jerks backwards. Her fists are then clenched. Muscular hypertony is observable even before the fits have started.
Homeopath: Please tell me a bit more about the fits themselves.
Mother: The fits come in series. The most fits I counted was 137 in a series. The least was five. Her head moves towards her chest then, as if to bow; her arms get raised sideways. The look in her eyes freezes. She remains conscious, but after a series of fits she seems absent. She gets exhausted afterwards and then falls asleep. Before she falls asleep she seems uninvolved and calm. She does not cry and is not afraid. Her prescribed medicine is 500 mg of Sabril. However, although she has been taking it for a month now her fits have not subsided. The first fits appeared on 25 July 2010. The fits have been happening daily ever since. She becomes calm before a fit. Sometimes the fits start during the exercises or during a massage. During the first fit she usually exhales. Three weeks before the first fits she was on antibiotics, because she had a cold. She had a CT scan done recently and they found calcifications in her brain in several places.
Homeopath: Tell me more about your child.
Mother: She is calm and I used to sleep a lot during my pregnancy. I could sleep even after breakfast. I felt weak all the time. The fatigue would come over me suddenly and I had to sleep. My daughter insists to sleep on her belly. Her left arm is always stretched out and her right one is bent even during fits. She is warm. She sweats all over her body except her little legs. She is very emotional and calm.
(Note: The fits have started at this point. It seems that she keeps losing her consciousness during this series of fits, but I am not certain. With no prior indication or change in her bahavior she keeps bowing her head repeatedly while raising her little arms. Her left arm is constantly stretched out while the right one is flexed.)
Homeopath: Please tell me more about your pregnancy.
Mother: It was a major change for me: I moved from a big town to a village. I was very, very lonely. My relationship with my best friend also broke. I was hypersensitive in that unfamiliar surroundings. That was a different world with strange people. I felt abandoned in that village, with no feeling of belonging. Initially, the pregnancy was normal, but later I started getting different opinions from the same physicians: at one point they would say everything was fine, and at another that it wasn’t. I had an insatiable thirst for beer during my pregnancy. I felt sick and I vomited a lot.
Homeopath: How did you feel during your pregnancy?
Mother: I fought with my mother-in-law. She had sudden fits of anger. She yelled at me for no apparent reason. Everything bothered her. She used to barge in on us into our apartment and take it out on me. As if the woman lived in another world. She used to phone me and then she would hang up on me.
Homeopath: And how did it make you feel?
Mother: I was dumbfounded. I felt as if somebody had beaten me up. After her fits of anger I didn’t know what to make of them and what was the reason for them.
Homeopath: How did you feel?
Mother: I felt as if my mother-in-law had beaten me. I felt that I had been hit repeatedly. It’s like when somebody beats you up for no reason and then leaves you.
(Note: The consultation lasted for no less than 70 minutes, while during the last 35 minutes the child had a series of fits that did not cease even as two of them were leaving the consultation room.)
This is one of the rare cases, if not the only one, in which I phoned the mother after the consultation to check whether she was aware of her daughter’s diagnosis and what it implied. I simply could not believe that anything could be done to help the child. I also wanted to ask the mother what she was expecting from me as her daughter’s therapist. I took the case with my colleague Mrs. Biserka Jelcic, MD, a pediatrician. Though an eternal optimist, Mrs. Jelcic thought that there was barely – if anything at all – that we could do to help this child. Honestly, I also did not believe that we could help this baby at all. It was a case of a malignant form of epilepsy, rarely reacting to classical medical treatment. It often happens that such children get fully anesthetised in order to stop the fits. Once we had taken the case, my line of thinking was the following:
Being a follower and practitioner of Sankaran’s method, the idea of prescribing a remedy from the Compositae family was logical. The Compositae family’s basic theme is trauma, injury and hitting. However, I could not prescribe Arnica or Bellis perennis bacause my experience and practice had taught me that physical pathology reflects a person’s soul. I knew that Sankaran’s scheme did not contain what I was looking for.
The Compositae family listed in Sankaran’s scheme are the following:
Arnica – Hematoma resulting from being hit;
Calendula – Healing wounds;
Chamomilla – Teething, colic and diarrhea;
Cina – Worms;
Eupatorium perfoliatum – The flu;
Taraxacum – Liver;
Senecio – Female and urinary organs;
Abrotanum – Malnutrition;
Bellis perennis – Deep tissue injury;
Inula – Coughing;
Lactuca virosa – Lactation;
Echinaceae – Sepsis.
Then I turned to the homeopathic Bible – the repertory – and decided to take the following rubrics:
Generals – Convulsions – Children in – Infants in
To take this rubric seemed both logical and completely senseless at the same time. I did not think this rubric would get me anywhere.
Mind – Unconsciousness – Frequent Spells of Unconsciousness
As I was watching the baby’s fits one after the other, it seemed to me – though there was no way I could have been certain – that the baby kept losing her consciousness for an instant with every fit.
Extremities – Jerking – Left Side Paralyzed, Right Side Convulsed
The strangest thing with this baby was that her left arm was constantly stretched out, as if paralyzed, while the right one was flexed all the time. She would raise them in this position even during her fits. To the eye it looked like her upper extremities were jerking.
Head – Draw – Backwards
Before the fits would start it was obvious that her head was tilting backwards. This was what made it logical to me to take this rubric.
Sleep – Falling Asleep – Convulsions After
The mother said that the child was very tired after the fits and that she always fell asleep afterwards.
Generals – Convulsions – Epileptic – Aura – Absent
The fits started with no aura or any prior indication.
Generals – Convulsions – Injuries From
I took this rubric for two reasons: The first because there had definitely been some trauma during the childbirth, while the other was the mother’s feeling of being hit or injured during her pregnancy.
Then I took a better look at my repertory. I realized that all the rubrics contained one common homeopathic remedy. It was Artemia vulgaris, an unfamiliar remedy to me. The first thing I checked in the Synoptic Materia Medica 2 by Frans Vermeulen was whether this plant belonged to the Compositae family. It did and my satisfaction was even greater.
(Note: I greatly appreciate situations when I end up with the same remedy both by a classical case analysis using a repertory and by using Sankaran’s Method. To my understanding such a situation is the peak of homeopathic philosophy and approach in practice.)
I prescribed a daily dosage of two drops of Artemisia vulgaris 6X diluted in water because I thought that with her daily dosage of Sabril she also needed daily homeopathic therapy. The LM potency was not an option here since I hold that LM cannot be followed with people on allopathic therapy. With LM doses the deterioration occurs before healing, so in combination with allopathy this moment (i.e. healing) would never occur.
The First Follow-Up on 30 September 2010
Homeopath: How is the baby?
Mother: She has had no fits ever since the first evening of taking her homeopathic remedy. I really don’t know whether it is possible that it is due to the drops she has been taking. The day before we gave her the drops she had 200 fits in a series, and she had none at all after the drops. A week after she had taken the first dose we went to a hospital checkup on 8 September 2010. The EEG indicated only seven fits, though looking at the baby they were completely unapparent. The doctor was very pleased and she suggested an increased dose of Sabril over the next six months.
Homeopath: Have you noticed any other changes besides this one?
Mother: She has changed drastically. As if it was a different child we brought with us to you today. She is much more cheerful and happy: she often laughs out loud and gets delighted with things. She started sitting and crawling and uses vowels in her vocalization. Her head turns in the direction of my call with much less delay. She has started playing with toys and exploring, although she is slower than her sister. She is nine months old now. We do exercises every day because any kind of stimulation is important to her. She is eating well. Generally speaking, I am very content with her progress. She used to have difficulty waking up, but now she is awake in an instant.
The Second Follow-Up on 25 January 2011
Homeopath: How are you?
Mother: She fell ill on 1 January 2011. She had fever, 38oC. She had unproductive cough and was vomiting. Her nose was runny. Her breathing was heavy and shallow with the cough. We went straight to the hospital where we were admitted so therapy could be administered to her. She got antibiotics.
Homeopath: Why didn’t you me then?
Mother: I don’t know. We’re coming to you because of her epilepsy.
(Note: I got absolutely frustrated at this point by this response and the situation I have just learnt about.)
Homeopath: Is there anything else you would like to tell me?
Mother: We’re exercising regularly. She has been fit-free ever since 1 September 2010. We did another EEG and they told us the results were excellent, showing no pathological changes. The MRI has been scheduled for 27 May 2011 and from March her dose of Sabril will be reduced by 25 percent because of such good findings. Her muscle tone is still slightly increased. She started standing on her toes. She used to wake up at night, but after a couple of days we realized it was because she was hungry. Then we started giving her milk and now she is falling asleep right after she has drunk it.
Homeopath: Have you noticed any other changes?
Mother: Yes, she is now seeking attention from us. She wants to play. She does not want to be alone, whereas before she didn’t really care. She shouts at us when she wants to play. From the quiet baby she became quite a lively one. She is asking for stimulation and is a cheerful and positive baby.
Artemisia vulgaris (mugwort or common wormwood) belongs to the Compositae or flowering plants (commonly referred to as the aster, daisy, or sunflower family). It grows all over Europe along deserted roads, in isolated places and from cracks in the ruins. The Compositae or wormwood family members are remedies for people feeling abandoned and with no will for life.
(Note: The mother moved from a town to a village and she mentioned several times during the interview that she felt lonely and abandoned during her pregnancy.)
The ancients believed that wormwood inspires dreaming and there was a tradition of putting it under the pillow for sweet dreams.
(Note: The baby was in a world of her own during the interview, as if she had been absent all the time. There was no eye , no crying or laughing; she just sat there in her mother’s lap. She seemed limp, as if she had no muscles in her body.)
Before hops, wormwood was used to enhance the taste of drinks, especially beer. (Note: Interestingly enough, the mother, who is not a beer drinker, had a craving for beer during her pregnancy.)
The name Artemisia probably came from Artemis, the Ancient Greek goddess of hunting and chastity. She was a twin sister of Apollo, the god of light and the Sun. She would punish the lawbreakers by shooting them with her arrows and is one of the rare ancient female divinities who never got married. Throughout the reign of her cult she was worshipped as a virgin goddess. Since her brother was the god of the Sun, she became the goddess of the Moon, and as the goddess of nature she became also the goddess of its fertility, childbirth falling thus in her field of protection.
(Note: The baby girl definitely had a trauma during her birth: she had been resuscitated several times then and must have been bearing consequences of these procedures ever since.)
In phytotherapy, wormwood is a women’s plant. It is used with absolutely all gynecological problems: irregular and painful periods, infertility, menopause related discomforts, etc. Just like any other Artemisia, homeopathically speaking, this remedy has a significant place in healing convulsive diseases, especially with female babies and girls in puberty with epilepsy causing irregular periods. The fits indicative of Artemisia vulgaris treatment are often accompanied with profuse foul sweat smelling of garlic. The whole body breaks out in warm sweat, especially the back of the head. Sweating is the sign of relief. The fits often repeat themselves, followed by a long interval of rest. After the fits the person falls into a deep sleep and sleeps for a long time. The convulsions happen one after the other. The epilepsy is with no aura. The right side of the body is in convulsion, while the left is paralyzed. Epilepsy could be happening alongside teething. The patients could be excited and irritable prior to the fits. Epilepsy often occurs after an experience of fear or sorrow, after a blow to the head, or after masturbation along with seminal ejaculation. It can cause night-time pollution, or chorea accompanied by inability to swallow food in spite of hunger, so the food keeps falling out of the mouth. It can cause unintelligible speech, with a word or two uttered, but with great difficulty. Further symptoms could be tilting one’s head backwards or sideways with spasmodic jerks, tongue-biting during spasms, jaw movements resembling chewing, teeth-gritting. It could be accompanied with profuse yellowish urination, while with children, urination could be persistent yet difficult. Urination and defecation might happen during spasms, as well as diarrhea with green stool.
In my practice I had at least three baby girls with a similar picture of disease, behavior and birth trauma history. I used to give them mostly Opium, Helleborus or Cuprum with no major success thinking that it is actually impossible to help such children.
The girl in this paper recovered almost completely, some would say miraculously. Today she walks, speaks, runs and laughs. Her classical medical therapy was stopped in March 2011.
My position today is, naturally, completely different. Homeopathy does indeed offer miraculous solutions, but we, the practitioners of this art of healing, are often limited in our perception of the potential of the science we are practicing on a daily basis.