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Never Well Since...

by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 32 - September 1998

As a conventionally-trained doctor, the concept of "never well since" was one of the aspects of homoeopathy that first appealed to me, and it remains, for me, one of the most valuable tools in the therapeutic process. Most doctors will admit that life events have an effect on health. It has been proven in studies that rates of illness increase after bereavement, divorce or other negative occurrences. Yet, in conventional terms, this knowledge cannot be translated into a specific therapeutic intervention. When your patient tells you that she has never been right since her child died from leukaemia, the nearest thing to a specific response might be to reach for the antidepressants.

However, in homoeopathy, the concept of "never well since" is well developed. There are medicines to be considered for illnesses that originated in events as varied as an experience of grief and getting soaking wet! Furthermore, the ensuing illness does not have to be the obvious one, such as depression in the former case or pneumonia in the latter. Once tuned in to the concept, one realises, from listening to patients, that the entire physical system can be disrupted by adverse events, leading to all sorts of physical manifestations, from sinusitis to cancer.

Helen came to see me for her heavy and painful periods. Her menstruation had always been heavy but not troublesome until eighteen months previously when they began to be accompanied by severe pain, associated with passage of clots of blood and flooding.

Her general practitioner examined her and checked her smear test. On finding no abnormality, he referred her to the gynaecologist who performed a "D and C", a surgical procedure where the lining of the womb is scraped out under anaesthetic to make sure there are no abnormal cells to account for the bleeding. The result of this examination was normal, although Helen bled heavily for over a fortnight and became anaemic, requiring iron tablets. Hormone and painkilling tablets were then prescribed, without significant benefit and Helen decided to try homeopathy as she was becoming disillusioned and desperate. She did not wish to have to take tablets every month for the foreseeable future.

Listening to Helen's story, I had a strong feeling that something must have triggered this sudden change in her previously stable periods.

When I asked her if anything had happened to her when this problem started, she gave me a strange look. Her whole bright expression was transformed into a picture of pain and after a deep sigh, she told me that eighteen months ago, she had discovered that her husband was having an extramarital affair. Although it had been a mere fling and had stopped immediately, she was shocked and saddened. Her main feelings were of hurt and betrayal. Anger was also present but she kept this under tight control, rather than expressing it in shouting or throwing things. Hurt, rather than resentment, was the predominant emotion.

Helen's pains were spasmodic, mainly on days 3, 4, and 5 of the period. She also experienced a severe premenstrual syndrome consisting of panic attacks and low energy a week before the period.

She would wake into the panic attacks, feeling that she could not breathe due to a tight feeling of spasm in her chest and throat. A long term sinus problem from which she suffered, also worsened premenstrually. Also, she was having a short painless bleed at mid-cycle.

In the past, Helen had had a bad dose of arthritis at the age of 21 which settled down eventually. She suffered from contact dermatitis, which also worsened with stress. She had some gallstones, but these did not trouble her as she was on a low fat diet. Generally speaking, she was a chilly individual but also hated feeling hot, She abhorred stuffy atmospheres and slept with the window open. She was thirsty for cold drinks and loved sweet, spicy and salty food. She also liked fat and meat.

Helen described herself as outgoing and extrovert, kind and a good listener. She thought she was well liked and sensitive. She felt herself to be psychically gifted, describing several experiences which she thought to be clairvoyant. She was also frightened of thunder and lightning and not too keen on the dark.

I analysed Helen's case as a basically Phosphorus constitution which had been plunged into an Ignatia state by the experience of discovering her husband's infidelity. The sensitive and psychic aspects of Helen's character as well as her thirst and her fears were all typical of the Phosphorus constitution. However, the spasmodic nature of her present symptoms suggested that Ignatia, which contains strychnine-like substances which cause intense painful muscle spasm, might be of benefit. This was well supported by the overwhelming emotion of hurt which Helen was experiencing. Ignatia is one of the main medicines which helps illnesses which arise from a grief, especially when the grief is still relatively new. For these reasons, I gave Helen three tablets of Ignatia 30c to take over a 24 hour period at mid-cycle.

On follow up after the next menstrual period, it was obvious that Helen was much improved. She was sparkling and her eyes were shining rather than dull and clouded. Her last period had been far better with only one day of pain, and the intensity of the pain was much decreased. She had had no mid cycle bleeding and no appreciable premenstrual syndrome. The panic attacks had settled and her sleep was much improved. Best of all, though, Helen told me, with a smile, that she could think about her husband now without feeling angry.

It was clear to both Helen and myself that the Ignatia had acted in a very positive way, reducing the symptoms due to muscle spasm and changing her emotional response to the events of the previous months. It was almost as if she had been "stuck" in her grief and anger, and the Ignatia had "unstuck" her and allowed her to move on.

We decided to wait a month and see if the Ignatia would help any further. However, the next period was slightly worse again, although nothing approaching the original problem. Therefore, I decided to give Helen a monthly dose for three months and to review the situation at that point.

She has not returned yet and I await events. I would not be surprised if Helen ultimately needed a dose of Phosphorus to complete the case. She is almost certainly of a Phosphorus constitution. Giving the constitutional medicine has the effect of raising a person's general level of health. After the draining experiences that Helen has been through over the last eighteen months, it is quite likely that she will need and benefit from this therapeutic manoeuvre and that this will help restore her to physical and emotional health. This is, in the words of Samuel Hahnemann, founder of homoeopathic medicine, "the physician's highest calling".

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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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