Homeopathy in Africa: Part 3
We had a case come back that we had given Stannum to one month ago. She came with this chronic cough which was worse for exertion, bending forward and any walking at all. She would hold her chest when coughing and would get a headache from it. She could cough non-stop it seemed for hours. She was extremely short of breathing made < by the least exertion and by coughing. The cough was dry, with little expectoration brought up. I suspected she had bronchietasis. This was not just a simple cough and therefore the remedy had to cover the depth of the pathology. From this description I suspected Stannum and so asked a leading question. I wondered whether she had a hollow sensation in the chest. She said she did and for me that was enough. One month later, she is doing much better. She still coughs some but her breathing is better and she can walk further than before. I told her it would take six months to really make a difference and that she should come back each month for more medicine.
Notes: Stannum is made from simple tin, and in homeopathy tin is an important remedy for all kinds of chest conditions, including chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, Tuberculosis and any residual weakness from any chest condition. It has this characteristic symptom of a hollow feeling in the body, especially the chest, like an empty tin can.
One woman came to the clinic recently. She was 52 and complained of trembling of the head with palpitation. She has 5 children but her husband died a long time ago. The palpitations only started in the last day and she also had nausea and vomiting. She said the palpitations would get better after she vomited. She said one week ago she had a fever, was tested for malaria, which was negative but then the fever continued all week. However, when her temperature was taken last week, it was only 36.9, so we weren’t sure it was actual fever. She said the palpitations only began in the last day when she was considering going to the hospital and how she was going to pay for it. She said that in the last days she has felt dizziness, with the feeling as if she’s drunk. She has nausea with the dizziness.
That was basically it and this took me about 20 minutes to get when including all the translating. (I learnt later that she is being pursued emotionally by a man who is already married, but who has left his wife and children and his wife is bringing legal action against him. But she is letting herself be involved with him.) The only other observation about her is that she seemed exhausted, sitting back in the chair with her head resting or leaning forward against a low wall.
There are times in cases where it seems all the questions that can be asked have been asked and yet it is really not enough. Some cases here simply do not offer the opportunity for more chronic or constitutional style of prescribing and one has to give a remedy based on what one has. Also, it is in these cases where some kind of intuition can kick in, however inconsistent this may be. In this case, I looked up Head, trembling and shaking, and then Vertigo, as if intoxicated and also with nausea. The remedy had to ideally have a couple of these symptoms in it and also cover her general exhausted state. Gelsemium came to mind initially but when she said the dizziness was as if she was drunk, Cocculus also needs considering, which was then confirmed with the trembling of the head. I have often found Gelsemium and Cocculus to be similar and needing differentiation. Both have the weakness, heaviness, neurological conditions and an over emotional condition. Cocculus in particular can be impressionable to emotions, worries, and becomes weak and worn out easily, for example, from night-watching, which is looking after people and not being able to sleep.
Notes: Cocculus is also known as Indian Cockle and is a member of the menispermacae botanical family. It is one of the main remedies for exhausted states from too much worry and emotional upset, even to suffering paralystic weakness. People needing this remedy suffer easily from too much strain and in this case, her concern of going to the hospital was like the mental symptom “thoughts fixed on one unpleasant subject, sits as if absorbed in deep and sad thoughts and observes nothing about her” which is how the books describe the person. Cocculus in particular has the vertigo as if drunk and it has dizziness, with nausea and with palpitation. So Cocculus was given in this case.
Another case came to us. A 40 year old woman who was holding a cloth to her left eye. She said she had eye pain, as if the eye would come out of the skull. She said nothing went in the eye, no injury or anything. This has been happening 6 days now, not all the time but in the last 24 hours it has been fairly constant. The pain is bursting and a feeling of the eye coming out. She also has a pain above the left eyebrow. The pain is also sharp. Even though she puts pressure on the eye, it doesn’t relieve. There is no lachrymation or bloodshot eye. She has some blurred vision in the left eye. Again, that was it. It didn’t seem connected to a chronic headache, to any other condition and was more likely a case of ciliary neuralgia. Based on this, my main differentiation was between Spigelia and Prunus Spinosa. Spigelia is found in the rubric, eye, pain, pressing outward, and Prunus in the rubric eye, pain, bursting although Prunus in the materia medica has the pressing outward pain. Spigelia has more affinity for the left and Prunus for the right. However, I chose to give Prunus spinosa. I wanted more sharp, stitching pain for Spigelia and she distinctly said it was a bursting feeling.
Notes: This case shows some of the challenges in finding an exact remedy. Some of the smaller remedies have an affinity for particular organs and conditions and have small but precise symptom pictures. Spigelia is also called Pinkroot and is the Loganiaceae family, similar to Nux vomica. It has an affinity for the eyes, with neuralgic pains, often along with migraine headaches. It is also a good heart remedy and all pains are sharp and shooting in quality. Prunus spinosa is also called Black thorn and is in the Rosaceae family. It is one of the great remedies in homeopathy for neuralgic pains around the eyes and other neuralgic conditions, such as shingles.
An 85 year old man came to us with vertigo. A farmer, he seemed in remarkably good shape for his age. But 3 months ago, he developed vertigo which is worse if he sits up in a chair. He can go blank and fall sideways to the ground. It is worse in the morning if he’s hungry or forgets to eat much. It first began one year ago, at a funeral, where he drank some liquor and didn’t eat. He suddenly fell to the ground and since then has had these symptoms, but only every few months. His wife died some years ago and he now has responsibility for everything. He used to drink a lot of liquor, especially at funerals. The vertigo is also worse lying on the left side. He has no other complaints.
So, I looked up the modalities of the vertigo, especially being worse from hunger, from lying on left side, with tendency to fall, especially to the side and nausea with vertigo. I also used the rubric, generalities, fasting agg. So, based on the etiology of fasting and alcohol and the falling to the side, I decided to give Nux vomica. No other medicine seemed indicated.
One other case which was rather difficult was a 25 year old woman who came with a dry,scaly skin eruption which was on her arms, back and chest. It is very itchy and worse from hot water and bathing in general. The skin feels very dry. She also gets body pain, with itching and burning. She got one boil on the arm from scratching which got infected. This is all she could give us. But when I asked about her general situation, she told us that her husband has married another woman and she doesn’t agree with this. She has six children with this man and he is now living with this other woman. She is feeling angry with her husband about this. Even getting this much information was hard. She didn’t want to tell us anything about it and after telling us this much, she basically didn’t have more to say. But at least we had something to go on. The skin symptoms alone were not enough to lead us to a remedy but the last information made us consider Staphysagria for her. It covers the skin symptoms and obviously is indicated for the type of personal situation this woman finds herself in.
Notes: In this case, I had to dig deeper to get any symptoms from her. It is often the case in Africa, that people can be reluctant to tell you some information, especially of a more personal nature. Sometimes they simply don’t think it is relevant but in homeopathy we have to get all the important information to find the remedy. In this case, the underlying emotional picture was crucial in finding the remedy for her.
Emperor, our Ghanaian homeopath had this case yesterday, of a 15 year old girl who came with an intense skin condition. Someone had sprinkled some powder on the skin, which comes from a bush with seeds that creates intense skin symptoms. She had such bad itching and she wanted to scratch herself naked. She was crying intensely. He gave her Aconite 10m and it stopped immediately. She immediately fell asleep and woke up 30 minutes later, feeling better. He gave it to her because of the fright she felt.
Notes: Aconite is a remedy known to help when any serious fright has occurred, even to being afraid that he/she may die. Aconite is also called Monkshood and is in the Ranunculaceae family. In physical doses it is a strong poison whereas in homeopathic doses it is one of our great remedies for many acute conditions.
I had a case come of a woman with an intense back pain. She was carried in by two people and was lying on the bed in the room, in terrible pain. She was brought by her husband’s brother. She had worked on the farm the day before, but nothing happened, there was no trauma. She said one week ago she bled and that she was 3 months pregnant. We suspected that she had miscarried. But there was no other symptoms. She said the pain was worse for motion but other than that she couldn’t say anything. The pain was obviously very intense. I gave her one dose of Bryonia 1m. Immediately she became restless and this continued for 15 minutes, but there was no improvement. I then gave her Rhus tox 200c, one dose. She continued to be restless and the pain seemed to get worse over a 15 minute period. She then started weeping with pain and was extremely restless. I chose to give Coffea then based on the severity of the pain and gave her one dose of 200c. Within one minute she stopped weeping and became quiet. Within another few minutes, she fell asleep and stayed there for about two hours. When she woke up, she was much better. We then took her temperature, which was high and did a malaria test, which was negative. She then went home.
Notes: This is a good example of having to find the right remedy to have any effect. In homeopathy, if the wrong remedy is given, nothing happens. Bryonia was initially given based on the pains being worse from any motion, but it didn’t work. Coffea, which is made from crude coffee is excellent in many types of pains, whether tooth, abdomen or nerve pains. It is strongly indicated when there is weeping and restlessness from pain.
We saw the return of a patient, a 50 year old man, who gets a recurrent bout of diarrhea, about once a month. It comes mostly at night and he will go many times in the night. If he doesn’t take medications it can continue for days, if not weeks and is like dysentery. He takes flagyl and antibiotics. It began 18 months ago. He gets frequent urging and the stool is watery, occasional bloody, but not that offensive. He can have an urge to go even after going. He has wind and gas with stool. He used to have gurgling in the abdomen and then urging to go. The stools at times can be explosive. His other symptom is a chronic headache that he gets mostly days. The pain is in the forehead. When the pain is intense, he says he can’t talk. The headache can come on worse at night and he will wake at 2-3am and take painkillers. There were no other modalities. He came across as a pleasant, easy going man. The most obvious remedy to consider here was Podophylum. However, given the history of drug use and my basic “instinct” about the man, I chose to give Sulphur LM1 which he took for 10 days. When he returned two months later, he said he only had two mild bouts of the diarrhea and didn’t need to take any medication. This is the best it’s been in a long time. The headaches are still there though, no change there. I decided to give Sulphur LM2 single dose daily for 2-3 weeks and then come back. It could be the headaches are connected to a history of malaria and therefore remedies like China, China sulph or Gelsemium could be considered. Two months later, his bowel symptoms are still much better and his headaches somewhat less.
Notes: Again, this shows the importance of finding the exact remedy. Homeopaths have to be like detectives, sieving through information until the picture becomes clear and the best choice can be made. It is always satisfying to find a good remedy after looking at the case in every way.