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A Mercurial Cure for Colitis

by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 39 - April 1999

Joan had suffered from ulcerative colitis for sixteen years when she came to see me. This particularly nasty bowel disease causes heavily blood-laden diarrhoea and can necessitate total removal of the large bowel in severe cases. It can even be fatal as it can be complicated by perforation of the colon and peritonitis.

Fortunately, Joan's colitis was under reasonable control and only flared up every few years or so. She then needed steroid enemas directly into the back passage and medication to settle things down. On the most recent occasion, however, things had not gone according to plan. Despite the usual treatment, and then doubling the usual treatment, the colitis was not coming under control. Joan was passing several bloody stools per day and had a niggling pain in her lower abdomen. The first stool came as soon as she got out of bed in the morning but, luckily, her nights were undisturbed.

In addition, Joan was increasingly troubled by arthritis. This affected chiefly the knees, neck and spine. The pains in her back and joints had led to several falls and Joan felt that the misery and humiliation that these falls had caused her had played a part in triggering the present attack. The catch was that any arthritis medication, of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory kind, was bound to worsen her colitis.

She was forced to choose between the pain in her joints and the pain in her bowel – not a pleasant choice.

Joan had suffered from breast cancer twenty years earlier and had a mastectomy and radiotherapy. She also had mild psoriasis and catarrh. She was not prone to perspiration nor especially susceptible to hot or cold. She liked all sorts of food and was moderately thirsty, especially for tea. She was a particular sea lover and also tended to wake up in the evening – something of a "night person".

I wondered if Joan might be of a personality which would respond to the medicine Medorrhinum. I suggested a single dose but a month later, things had not improved. In fact, things had worsened within a week of the medicine and were showing no sign of an upturn. Her energy was unchanged and rather poor. The bowels had deteriorated and the medical treatment had been stepped up again.

Joan told me more about herself at the follow up appointment. One often finds this with homoeopathic consultations. Even with an hour for an initial consultation, one cannot possibly cover every aspect of an adult's case. Often, useful information will come out at the second consultation, sometimes as a result of the patient thinking over the original encounter with the homoeopath and becoming aware of the type of information one requires.

Joan described herself as straightforward and forthright. She denied bottling in emotions but still felt deeply bereaved about the death of her husband ten years previously. Apart from this grief, Joan felt that she was not particularly emotional and sometimes felt guilty for not feeling things more! However, it did not seem to me that grief was a significant trigger in Joan's history. The time relationship of her illness was not strongly linked with her husband's death and her symptoms were not typical of any of the grief medicines.

I decided to give Joan Mercurius solubilis. This is a well-known medicine for colitis where there is bloody diarrhoea (one of the symptoms of mercury poisoning). A week after a single dose of the 30c potency, Joan reported feeling edgier, thirstier and slightly more panicky than before. Her bowel action was less bloody. I felt that there may have been a slight aggravation on the emotional level from the Mercury and advised a further dose if the bowels deteriorated again.

The following week, she had taken a further dose and noticed an improvement in the thirst and her energy as well as another improvement in the stools. We decided on a policy of taking one dose every time the energy dipped and on this basis, Joan needed a dose every five days over the following month. However, the colitis was settling and the conventional medicine was being weaned down. Her doctor was very pleased as he had been predicting that steroids by mouth were going to be necessary to abort the attack.

I felt that the frequency of administration of the Mercury should be reduced now as there was less disease activity to "absorb" the medicine. Joan started increasing the gap between doses by one day every time and has now settled on a monthly dose despite a complete withdrawal of her conventional medication. Furthermore, her arthritis was far less troublesome, both in her knees and her back. As a result of these improvements, she was slowly getting her confidence back.

As usual, when using homeopathy in a complementary as opposed to an alternative way, it is difficult to prove absolutely whether the homeopathy or the conventional treatment was responsible for the improvement. The only comment I can make on this matter is that I definitely had the impression that the Mercurius solubilis had a positive benefit and so did both Joan and her GP.

The Mercury was prescribed in a so called "local" way, in that the symptoms taken for the prescription were mainly those of the bowel problem. The medicine was not linked to Joan's overall constitution. Nonetheless, it was beneficial. This demonstrates that homoeopathic prescriptions based on local symptoms can be successful.

Ulcerative colitis, as I mentioned earlier, is an extremely serious condition and can kill if mishandled. If Joan had failed to settle, she would have needed high doses of steroid medication to save her life. Happily, homoeopathy helped to avoid this turn of event; I say happily because steroids have nasty long term side effects and need to be avoided if at all possible. I feel that I can safely say that, in Joan's case, it would not have been possible to avoid the steroids without this extra string to the therapeutic bow that is homoeopathy!


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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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