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A Case of Complete Exhaustion

by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 38 - March 1999

As a general practitioner, I frequently have patients whose chief complaint is that they are tired all the time. As you can perhaps imagine, it is a symptom to strike horror into the heart of any busy GP, who instantly knows that this will not be a quick consultation.

Worse still, even after the usual battery of investigations that this presentation engenders, one rarely uncovers a treatable cause. The most that one is able to offer is that there does not seem to be "anything serious" wrong.

Yet, I am always aware that this leaves the patient somewhat high and dry, with the same symptoms as before and no suggestions as to how to alleviate the tiredness. A few patients will end up on Prozac when the tiredness is either due to depression, or has so wrecked their lives that it has caused depression. Others struggle manfully with various relaxation or exercise regimes. Some may seek help through nutritional supplements or alternative therapies. The sad truth is that there is definitely something wrong with the exhausted people but that conventional medicine cannot give it a diagnostic label and, therefore, cannot offer an effective solution.

Ruby was just such a lady. She told me that she had felt exhausted for the better part of her life, and at the time she came to see me, she was sixty four years old! The effort of just walking around would bring her out in a sweat, a cold, clammy sweat which was particularly severe on climbing hills, or even the stairs. She felt cold all the time, especially the feet and legs and felt tired even on waking up.

Ruby knew about ill-health. She had had Crohn's disease for five years and had the right hand half of her large bowel removed three years earlier. In fact, she was sure that the Crohn's was present thirty years ago when the children were young, as she'd had terrible bouts of diarrhoea and weight loss even then. However, it had settled spontaneously after the third and last pregnancy. She knew when her symptoms were due to an exacerbation of the inflammatory bowel disease and was quite certain that her general fatigue was unrelated.

Apart from the longstanding tiredness and lack of energy, she was also troubled by aching joints especially the fingers, wrists, elbows, knees and feet. These aches were accompanied by morning stiffness and swelling and were much better for warm applications like a heat pad or hot water bottle. She also suffered from chronic catarrh and post nasal drip and itchy skin especially at night. She had suffered from eczema as a baby.

Generally, Ruby was a chilly mortal. She felt the cold greatly, although when the weakness was at its worst, she would sometimes feel hot and sweaty. She admitted to a very sweet tooth and a liking for salt and chocolate. She denied any fastidious tendencies but was very fussy indeed about hygiene. The dark could make her frightened; in fact she was quite a frightened person, being particularly anxious about financial affairs, although her husband was a well-respected professional and she had no real worries on that front.

Her spare time interests were diverse and were more intellectual than creative. She felt that she was too easy-going in one sense, being willing to do almost anything for a quiet life. On the other hand, she recognised a doggedness in her nature that meant that she would plod on, despite feeling rotten and unwell, in order to finish a task that she had set herself.

There was a good deal of ischaemic heart disease, cancer and diabetes in the family history and I felt that Ruby might well end up with the nosode Medorrhinum at some point in her treatment. However, it was not indicated at the outset as she was generally too chilly, and it is also not a particularly good idea to open a case with a nosode unless the patient has a very full symptom picture of the nosode to justify the prescription.

In fact, Ruby's case seemed to be crying out for the medicine, Calcarea carbonica. This is derived from the soft crumbly chalky layer inside an oyster shell. The predominant chemical is calcium carbonate. However, if chemically-pure calcium carbonate is used to produce the medicine, it is not effective! There seems to be something about this naturally-occurring substance that is special and which, when diluted to a homeopathic potency, is very powerful in the right patient.

Ruby was indeed the right patient. All her symptoms fitted, from the weakness, the chilliness and the sweating to the exhaustion on climbing stairs. One month after taking the first dose of Calcarea carbonica 30c she returned and reported a dramatic improvement. Her symptoms had started to improve after about three days in that she felt generally better. Her energy levels had gradually improved; she felt stronger and less exhausted. This was all despite having had to contend with a major bereavement in the family which would previously have left her flattened both emotionally and physically.

I gave Ruby another dose of tablets to take as soon as her condition started to flag and she returned, two months later, having needed one further dose after a total of six weeks from the original. She was still improving and her joint pains had more or less settled. Both she and her husband were delighted – as she said herself, "I cannot remember ever having felt so well."

This all occurred over a year ago and Ruby has taken three sets of medicine altogether. She continues to make steady progress and is, to all intents and purposes, a new woman. I have to say that one rarely sees such a miraculous and complete improvement in a case such as this, especially in an older patient. One factor in Ruby's favour may be that she had taken very little conventional medication over the years and, as such, represented a remarkably "pure" case. She had probably been of the Calcarea carbonica constitution all her life and all that had been required to restore her to health was a dose of the "simillimum" or similar medicine. If only all cases were as successful, and as beautifully simple...

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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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