David Wember, M.D., D.Ht.
(Spring 97 JAIH)
This is the text of a presentation given at the Ohio, Pennsylvania, and
Southern Homeopathic Medical Societies' Annual Meeting in Akron, Ohio, October 1996
Abstract: Dr. Wember provides examples of the deeply curative effects of homeopathic medicine, results which both gratify and constitute the "heart and soul of homeopathy." Additionally, several smaller homeopathic medicines and their corresponding clinical indications are discussed.
Keywords: diarrhea, fibromyalgia, abdominal pains, skin conditions, psoriasis, ringworm, mononucleosis, asthma, COPD, sciatica, Sulphur, Natrum sulphuricum, Croton tiglium, Momordica charanta, Elaterium, Rhamnus california, Rhamnus purshiana, Nuphar luteum, Mercurius corrosivus, Gambogia, Phosphorus, Trombidium, Momordica balsama, Jatropha, Belladonna, Bryonia, Gelsemium, Ginseng, Lachesis, Hydrocotyle, Tellurium, Bacillinum, Iris versicolor, Grindelia, Kali arsenicosum, Senega, Rumex, Chrysophanic acid, Cistus canadensis, Aconitum lycotonin, Lapis alba, Grindelia, Mephitis, Chlorum, Sambucus, Aralia racemosa, Sticta pulmonaria, Antimonium arsenicosum, Squilla maritima, Colocynthis, Phytolacca, Aesculus hippocampus, Rhus toxicodendron, Calcarea phosphorica, Ammonium muriaticum, Staphysagria, Natrum sulphuricum
Thank you for inviting me to speak today. Except for last year, I have been coming to the fall Ohio meetings for the past twenty-one years. Originally, when I was a student of Dr. Panos', the meetings were held in Cincinnati, with the likes of Drs. Dixon, Goldberg, Rood, Junkerman, and Dr. Panos. It was a smaller, more inbred meeting, but we learned many pearls from these masters, and I hope, over time, we have been able to pass some of this knowledge on to you. Akron, may be on the opposite end of the state, but it is still Ohio, and you folks know how to put on a great meeting.
I have practiced homeopathy for the past twenty-two years, and it never ceases to amaze me, the power of the minimal dose. At the same time, I'm often frustrated, knowing the right remedy picture will help solve a difficult case and sometimes not being able to find the right combination of clues to fit together the puzzle to attain a cure or significantly help a case. In the past I have delivered many presentations, often concentrating on the peculiar aspects of small remedies and how they helped patients in specific circumstances. I have tried to bring more repertory and materia medica into play so as to broaden the choices we have in determining the remedies for each case. It has been fun and a joy to experience these remedies and pass them on to you.
My biggest critic is my wife, Lissa. She's involved in helping me structure the papers and type them. She frequently asks me, "Why not talk about the deeper aspects of the remedies and how they affect the nature of the person." So this morning I will attempt to do both . give some more experiences with smaller remedies and discuss the deeper aspects of homeopathy which I call, "The Heart and Soul of Homeopathy."
Irritable bowel syndrome is endemic in our society. There are many reasons, the first of which is stress. Job security and family structure are being eroded. Two income families have less spending potential today than single incomes in the past. I don't envy the young people just entering the job market. Better goal setting, stress reduction, meditation, and exercise are imperative prescriptions for our present generation. More and more food allergies are being implicated in intestinal problems. These have to be ruled out . dairy, wheat, gluten, etc. Sometimes isodes of the offending allergens can be very beneficial. Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional disorder with varied distressing symptoms. Flatulence, cramping, diarrhea and constipation predominate, in various combinations and severity. Morning urging and diarrhea are the most classical symptoms. When the patient is woken out of sleep, early, at five to six a.m., or on awakening is rushed to stool with urging and cramping, then Sulphur is a "Godsend," or Natrum sulphuricum, with its morning aggravation, sensitive-to-touch abdomen, flatulence and very large stools. Forceful or explosive stools aggravated by any food or drink indicate Croton tiglium. A similar remedy with yellow, watery, crampy, explosive stools is Momordica charanta, the Hairy Momordica. Elaterium, the squirting cucumber, which is also in the Momordica family, has forceful watery stools, along with a rheumatic diathesis. Remember Rhamnus california, the California coffee tree, in rheumatic diathesis and fibromyalgia type symptoms, but this is associated with constipation. Even more so, the Rhamnus purshiana, cascara sagrada, has fibromyalgia and constipation. A remedy of recent help to me was Nuphar luteum, the yellow pond Lilly, with yellow, watery diarrhea, worse in the morning. A patient came for impotency. The combination of impotency and irritable bowel syndrome led to Nuphar.
When there is great rectal tenesmus, Mercurius corrosivus gives the best relief. The "Mercuries" seem not to be relieved by stool or urination. Gambogia has great rectal tenesmus after stool. Sometimes there is constipation alternating with diarrhea. Rectal tension often leads to thin or pencil-like stools. Here, Phosphorus comes to the rescue. Remember the left upper quadrant pains of Momordica balsama, the balsam apple, often coming from the back to the front; the left lower quadrant pains of Trombidium; the right upper quadrant pains of Jatropha, similar in its forceful stools to Croton tiglium; the right lower quadrant pains of Belladonna, Bryonia, Mercurius corrosivus (caecal and transverse colon pains), Gelsemium (transverse colon pains), Gambogia (right lower quadrant very sensitive to pressure), Ginseng (pain and rumbling), and surprisingly, Lachesis. Lachesis is predominantly left-sided, but has many right-sided abdominal symptoms.
Skin conditions continue to plague mankind. It is so tempting to use an antihistamine or a steroid cream to get quick results, but continued suppression of an external manifestation of illness in the present, as any homeopath knows, will only lead to more chronic disease in the future. In former papers I have talked about Formica rufa and Skookum chuck in eczema palmeris and plantaris. Boericke says this next remedy is "curative in disorders that exhibit interstitial inflammation and cellular proliferation. Great thickening of epidermoid layer and exfoliation of scales." Whether it be eczema, keratoses or psoriasis, Hydrocotyle, the Indian Pennywort, will afford excellent results. There is often intense itching, redness and scaly skin conditions, or circular spots with scaly edges, as in ringworm. Remember Tellurium for circular, ringworm-type lesions, and especially Bacillinum as the nosode. Classical psoriasis is usually located on the extensor surfaces of the elbows and knees. Kent lists only a few remedies in these rubrics: Phosphorus, Iris, and Kali arsenicosum. Remember Iris for its classical migraine headache symptoms with visual aura. Also, Iris has a strong peptic ulcer diathesis, with severe burning throughout the intestinal tract. Robinia is similar, but has more sourness to the symptoms and is also associated with headaches. Boericke describes Kali arsenicosum as effective for "inveterate skin diseases." The modalities are worse undressing like Rumex, but it is worse warmth, whereas Rumex is worse cold.
Clark describes Chrysophanic acid, from Chrysarobinum, as a powerful irritant to the skin. The main symptoms being eczema behind the ears with oozing and large thick scabs, similar to Oleander or Scrophularia in scrofulous-like children. I have also used it with success in atopic conditions about the face and eyelids.
Speaking of scrofulous conditions reminds me of swollen glands and sore throats and the remedies for mononucleosis. My first choice is often Cistus canadensis, the Rock Rose. Boericke says, "Malignant disease of the glands of the neck," but it has inflamed glands throughout the body. The keynote symptom being extreme sensitivity to cold air. Two other remedies to be considered are Aconitum lycotonin, the Great Yellow Wolfsbane, and Lapis alba, the silico-fluoride of calcium. In Lapis alba the glands are not as hard as Calcarea fluoratum or Cistus. Dr. Somerson wrote about Feldspar and Red Grape Seed as efficacious in mononucleosis. Through the years they have been of help to me when other remedies have failed. Boericke says these remedies should be considered for Hodgkin's. They certainly fit the picture well.
Grindelia has very irritant qualities which cause a Poison ivy-type rash. Thereby, it has been a good remedy in Poison ivy-type rashes. Other aspects of Grindelia make it important in the differential diagnosis of cough and asthma. It is one of the "suffocative" remedies. Thick plugs of mucus obstruct the breathing. The patient wakes suddenly with a feeling of suffocation, soon after falling asleep (Cuprum metallicum is similar but wakes more towards 3 a.m.), gasps for breath, and cannot breathe lying down. Mephitis awakens blue in the face, gasping for breath with difficulty in exhalation, like Chlorum. Sambucus, too, is usually worse expiration, but is also listed in Kent in bold for worse inspiration. Aralia racemosa wakes with cough or asthma in the first sleep, several hours after falling asleep. Sticta pulmonaria coughs in the first sleep, but doesn't necessarily wake the child, only the parents.
Remember Antimonium arsenicosum for more deep seated bronchial conditions like emphysema, where there is dyspnea on even slight exertion and lots of mucus expectoration. Senega is similar. It is said to be the remedy for "old men" with chronic bronchitis and emphysema, but the expectoration is thicker and very difficult to bring up. Squilla maritima is similar. Both Senega and Squilla have the keynote symptom of cough ending in a sneeze, like Agaricus. Squilla is one of the stress incontinence remedies . spurts of urine with each cough.
Back pain is truly a "pain in the neck" wherever the location may be, cervical, dorsal or lumbar. A good spinal adjustment especially after a fall or trauma, like an automobile accident, can speed the recovery. My favorite Sciatica remedies are Colocynthis for pains running down the back of the thigh and Phytolacca for pains running down the lateral aspect of the thigh. You won't find a better remedy for sacroiliac pains than Aesculus hippocampus. Another remedy to think of in the rheumatic diatheses with aggravation in the cold, damp weather (other than Rhus toxicodendron, Dulcamara and Calcarea carbonica ) is Calcarea phosphorica. This remedy is often neglected in back pains. It has the modality of sacroiliac pains "as if broken." If anyone here has experienced low back pain, then you can easily relate to Calcarea phosphorica. When the only relief of pain comes from lying down, then Ammonium muriaticum should be considered. It is the only remedy in bold degree in Kent in the rubric . Sciatica, better lying. It has helped me in many instances.
This is an interesting case of a college student, who had been treated homeopathically for many years. She was one of those chemically sensitive individuals, abbreviated MCS for multiple chemical sensitivities. She ate only organic foods and was bothered by most odors in the environment, like cleaning fluids, perfume, smoke, etc. She called me once saying she felt poisoned from asbestos removal at her apartment complex. She felt numb, as if the brain were swollen, with dizziness and difficulty walking. I told her to take an Alka Seltzer Gold, since it has several minerals in it which seem to help detoxify these kinds of reactions, and it did. However, the main reason for her seeking my help was for severe dysmenorrhea which plagued her since menarche. The pains started just before the flow and lasted twenty-four to forty-eight hours. She was totally disabled. She described stabbing pains over the uterus and ileocaecal areas, which doubled her up and radiated down the thighs. This was accompanied by lumbosacral pains and tight gluteals. The only relief was from very hot applications, and this took the edge off slightly. She often found herself passed out in bed, waking up in agony again. I started her with Colocynthis 30 in water to sip on an as needed basis during the pains. One month later she was five to ten percent better with the last menses. I gave her one dose of Lapis alba 200C and told her to continue the Colocynthis, as before. Two months later she returned saying, "I'm physically, emotionally and atmospherically better." The cramps were steadily getting better. "I'm able to function much better. It's nice after six years to be able to function." The clue to the remedy was a case I remembered from Dr. Richard Moskowitz, with the symptom of faintness from the pain. It is rewarding to be able to help someone to remove a dysfunctional burden so as to be freer for the rest of life's developments. This is the "Heart and Soul of Homeopathy."
In recent years I have had an influx of a "new" disease entity labeled vulvar vestibulitis. There is chronic vulvar discomfort, characterized by burning, irritation or rawness of the female genitalia. Causes are sometimes linked to Herpes, Candida, or Human Papilloma virus, but most often the etiology is elusive. Treatments from Vulvectomy to laser surgery have been used with mostly unsatisfactory results. Antidepressants are often prescribed which seem to help, some. I have had some relief from the use of calendulated oil rubbed on the vulva twice daily. This Spring, a thirty-five year-old married woman came to see me for just such a case. Her history revealed past vaginal Herpes and HPV. She experienced Vulvodynia, since 1989. She had many treatments including antibiotics, antidepressants, cauterization, estrogen cream, acupuncture and Naturopathic treatments, without help. She had a sense of humor, is creative, career-oriented, artistic and worked well with others. However in the past few years she had been tired, emotionally labile, overwhelmed, anxious about death, especially of others, and felt "not good enough." She was somewhat of a perfectionist and did her work well. When asked about why she felt "not good enough," she said she had been ruminating about past situations and how they could have worked out better. She was particularly upset about a project she had been working on for the past year at work. She felt anger and resentment towards the project director, who she felt had usurped her authority. The combination of resentment and the genitourinary focus led to only one remedy, Staphysagria. I gave one dose in the 200C. Three weeks later she returned. She said she felt better. "It couldn't be the remedy, could it?" Her mood and energy were better, and the vaginal pain was less. She could enjoy intercourse with her husband again. The anger and resentment had eased some. Over the next six months she was able to put the resentments behind her, and she continued to improve on the one dose of Staphysagria. This is the "Heart and Soul of Homeopathy."
Recently, a middle-aged man came to see me with the complaint of anxiety and depression. He said, "From time to time I get bouts of depression which are situational." He had always been treated with psychotropic drugs, and the depression would dissipate over time. His present depression started in February 1996 with insomnia and anxiety. He became more and more dysfunctional at work, to the point where he was on sick leave for the month prior to seeing me. He had been on six different antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs with the only effect being side effects of the drugs. The core of the depression stemmed from an incident at work where he felt betrayed. He was extremely upset at the time and still harbored anger and resentment. I gave him a single dose of Staphysagria 1M. At our next appointment, three weeks later, he said he was "much better." His appetite had returned, and he had started to gain back the weight he had lost. He was calmer and sleeping better. He was working full time at home and would go back to the office that next week. I asked him what he had done. He said, "I decided to change my priorities. I will do more things for myself and enjoy life a little more." This is the "Heart and Soul of Homeopathy."
A 55 year-old man came for the first time five months ago. His main complaint was arthritis. He had arthritic symptoms for the past thirty years and, needless to say, had been on allopathic drugs too numerous to count. Surprisingly, he had done quite well, with only mild progression of the illness. Then, five months before our first visit, he started a downward spiral which led to severe debilitating symptoms. He was given stronger allopathic medications, but his condition only worsened. Not only were the physical symptoms increasing, but he had general malaise as well. He was tired, lacked interest in life, was pessimistic, stopped reading, and slept a lot . all symptoms of depression. His most severe symptoms were in the morning, with great stiffness in the hands, hips and knees. Wet weather was his greatest aggravation. In taking the case, the aggravation started with a sprained wrist from overindulging in chopping wood. Ah! the rub.
Aggravation after injury; worse morning and wet weather; hip and knee involvement. One dose of Natrum sulphuricum 10M and in two months he had seventy-five percent less pain and stiffness. Most importantly, he felt well generally. His energy was back and he was enjoying life again. He was doing aerobic walking in the morning and was off allopathic medications. This is the '"Heart and Soul of Homeopathy."
A year ago, a distraught mother brought in her nineteen month-old son. She said her son had a runny nose "ever since birth." He had nine antibiotics in his short life and was on one at the present time. He even had two courses of antibiotics during the summer. He was most frequently diagnosed with recurrent otitis and sinusitis. The congestion often remained even during antibiotic treatment. My first treatment in congestion is to stop dairy products. The mother had already done this, without results. I'm old fashioned, so I started the child on cod liver oil for extra vitamin A and D, and extra vitamin C for the immune system. Because of the persistent congestion, I started the child on Bacillinum to stimulate the respiratory system. There were many phone calls in the next two months because of on and off congestion. I needed to comfort and encourage this mother that ups and downs were inevitable. We used low potency remedies like Pulsatilla, Hepar sulphuris, Kali bichromicum, Ferrum phosphoricum, and others for acute symptoms as indicated. Two months later, the mother said, " A remarkable two months; no antibiotics." It is now one year later and still no antibiotics.
Healthcare is a give and take between doctor and patient. It is an ever growing understanding of the underlying nature of the patient and the homeopathic remedies that can create true changes in healing. This is the " Heart and Soul of Homeopathy."
Last week a desperate mother called me to help her four month old who had a high fever for the preceding 10 days and was on the verge of having more invasive tests and possibly being hospitalized. The whole family had a stomach virus several weeks earlier, and this baby had diarrhea for the previous two weeks. The fever was low grade initially, then was 101 to 104 for the past week. Laboratory tests were negative, and finally the pediatrician found an otitis. However, antibiotics did not reduce the fever. On examination, the child looked peaked and was sluggish in his responsiveness. There was a mild otitis, but no other pathognomonic symptoms. I gave two doses of Pyrogenium, to be given twelve hours apart. The next day the mother called and said there was no improvement the rest of that day, but the child woke up the next morning without fever, and was back to his old normal self. This is the "Heart and Soul of Homeopathy."
Thank you for allowing me to share my experiences with you.