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A Case for Tarentula hispanica

by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 50 - March 2000

Every now and again, even homeopaths are amazed at the response of patients to homoeopathic medicines. Recently, I was privileged to treat a woman who had been through one of the worst forms of hell that one can imagine – the hell of serious mental illness. She had suddenly and totally, out of the blue, become seriously depressed and had, in fact, made a deliberate attempt to kill herself. This having failed, she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for her own safety as she was considered to be at a significant risk of suicide.

Her treatment in hospital consisted of antidepressant medication in high dosage, in an attempt to raise her mood, and also electroconvulsive therapy owing to her poor and slow response to medication. She eventually came out of the complete black despair of her initial condition; however she failed to make any further improvement and became convinced that the incarceration, as she saw it, in this locked ward was holding her back from recovery. She pleaded with the consultant to allow her to go home and eventually persuaded him that it was in her best interests.

Once out of hospital, she weaned herself off the medication as she felt that it was not helping her, and started her own regime of exercise and diet in order to promote her own recovery. By running, swimming and eating a wholefood diet, she felt that she was beginning to gain ground. However, she still suffered from terrible bouts of mood change, which threatened her ability to make and sustain relationships. It was these mood swings which she sought to improve with homeopathy.

This is how she described what was happening to her. She would suddenly become irrationally insecure and angry. Overwhelmed with obsessional jealousy, she would rant and rave at her partner, often throw and smash things or cut up his clothes, hit him or, more often, herself. During these bouts, which could last most of a night, she would be uncontrollably restless, unable to sit still, feel extremely hot and be completely unable to sleep. She would often drink a large amount of whisky, which acted as a sedative and calmed her down until the bout wore off. This kind of episode was occurring several times per week and having an understandably negative effect on her life, relationships and ability to hold down her job.

In between bouts, she was becoming more and more weary and despondent. The sheer loss of sleep and massive energy expenditure during the attacks were leaving her increasingly drained. She feared that she would never get better and that her partner would leave her because no-one could, or should, put up with that kind of thing in the long term. Thoughts of suicide persisted at her lowest moments, but she did not know what else she could do to help herself. She had thought about psychoanalysis but was fairly sure that there were no buried traumas lurking in the background. Her childhood had been extremely happy and she was on good terms with her parents and family. She had a successful and fulfilling career, which she had managed to reactivate after her release from hospital.

General symptoms included a strong thirst, some abdominal bloating, reminiscent of irritable bowel syndrome, and mild acne. She had suffered no other major illnesses, although there was a fairly strong family history of cancer. She had a tendency to catch colds easily and often developed a sore throat if she was stressed or tired. She described herself as an outdoor country person (which made the hospital stay all the more of an agony) and as loving animals. She admitted to being extremely sensitive and felt that this often triggered off one of her bouts of jealous rage.

Analysing this case was interesting, as one had to decide whether to treat the overall picture of her personality and system (her 'constitutional' picture) or the picture during the 'bouts'. The so-called constitutional remedy applied to a patient is used to raise their general level of health and can help with specific symptoms, if they fall within the picture of that medicine. However, as in this case, the pathological picture can be so unlike the patient's usual state that it needs a medicine in its own right. The markedly disturbed behaviour of the bouts required one of the homeopathic medicines that cover this kind of extreme state. In this case, the nearest 'match' of medicine to symptoms was Tarentula hispanica. This medicine is made up of the venom of a poisonous spider whose bite sends victims into a form of delirium. The characteristics of this delirium are very similar to those described by my patient, in particular the marked restlessness, the destructive impulses (particularly cutting or tearing clothes) and the tendency to hit or harm herself.

I was telling her about the medicine and mentioned that one of the features is kleptomania. At this, she was amazed and related that she had found herself unaccountably drawn to take things from shops and beauty salons recently. Due to her strong natural sense of right and wrong, she had not done so; however, she could not remember ever having these kind of urges before. Another strong feature of Tarantula is that the patients love swimming and this was certainly the case with my patient.

I arranged for her to have some Tarentula hispanica 30c and to take a dose whenever necessary. She reported a marked benefit, finding that the bouts were far less serious and became fewer and farther between as time went on. Sadly, I then lost touch with her. I would have liked to try her on the constitutional medicine that seemed to match her – Carcinosinum. However, it is possible that, once the bouts settled down, her own healing powers were sufficient to restore the balance and return her to health. After all, people can get better on their own as well as with homoeopathy! Having said that though, I cannot think of another therapy which could have addressed this symptom picture as precisely and as effectively as homoeopathy. It makes one wonder how many other patients with mental illness could obtain this very specific type of benefit if homoeopathy were available to them as part of their treatment programme.

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About Dr Angela Jones

Dr Angela Jones works in NHS general practice and also privately, using homeopathy alongside conventional medicine. Dr Jones can be contacted via the Faculty of Homeopathy on Tel: 020-7566 7800.

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