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by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 27 - April 1998

One of the cruelest things about the skin condition, psoriasis, is that it can go on to cause a particularly destructive form of arthritis, known as "psoriatic arthropathy". Peter a pharmaceutical salesman, came to see me, seeking help with this condition which had troubled him intermittently for about 5 years but had recently become far, far worse.

Peter's psoriasis had started in his teenage years and had affected mainly the scalp and the skin around the waist. Then, two years ago, it started spreading. He developed thickening scaly patches over his elbows, armpits, back and ankles. His nails also started to look pock-marked – an appearance known as "pitting" – and his toenails also thickened markedly. He experienced some minor back pain but nothing that an occasional visit to an osteopath could not put right.

A year after the deterioration in the skin condition, Peter began to develop more serious joint pain. He found that his back and feet were stiff in the morning or after sitting down for a while. Before long, he was forced to spend some time confined to bed because of the severity of the pain. Hips, knees, fingers, neck and shoulders were also succumbing and Peter began to fear that he was going to be crippled. Many of the affected joints were visibly swollen and work was now out of the question, partly because of pain and immobility and partly because Peter had become, understandably, extremely depressed and felt completely exhausted, both physically and emotionally, most of the time.

Peter's doctor decided to refer him to a rheumatologist who confirmed that Peter had developed "psoriatic arthropathy" and commenced him on an immunosuppressive drug called methotrexate. This treatment improved the situation slightly, such that Peter could also get around fairly well although he still could not walk more than 100 yards without pain. Glad as he was to feel better, Peter had a lifelong aversion to tablets and resented greatly the whole concept of how ill he had become. He decided to seek help from homoeopathy in the hope that his condition would improve more rapidly and he would be able to stop the methotrexate.

When I spoke to Peter, it was striking to see how miserable he was. He was flat and depressed, and seemed to be bubbling with frustration and resentment. In fact, he admitted to feeling very bitter and angry. It was so unfair to feel 100 years old when only 30! He did not find it easy to talk about himself and said that he found it difficult to ask for help. Above all, he hated a fuss and even when he was confined to bed, refused any aid to get to the bathroom etc. "I am the world's worst patient," he said.

Regarding other medical conditions, Peter denied headaches but did suffer from hay fever with asthma although, interestingly, this had been less severe since the arthritis had flared up! He could be easily nauseated by smells but had no digestive or bowel complaints. On closer questioning, however, it transpired that he was chronically constipated, opening the bowels perhaps twice a week. This was a lifelong pattern and did not respond to changes in diet etc.

Psoriasis featured in his family history with an affected sister and grandmother. Peter enjoyed spicy foods, crisps and chocolate and felt that he was addicted to salt. His partner, Steve was constantly exhorting him to pour less of it on his food but Peter maintained that he could not taste it and indeed seemed to have a physical craving. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he was a thirsty person and drank large amounts of cold, though not necessarily ice-cold water.

Steve was very keen to relate that Peter had seemed to change in his character since Steve had been severely injured in an industrial accident almost three years earlier For a while, at that time, it had been unclear whether Steve would survive. However, he had ultimately made a good recovery from his injuries. Peter had been very upset by the whole experience and had not seemed the same since. He had lost his sparkle, no longer seemed to enjoy life in the same way, had lost a lot of his motivation to do anything other than work, even before the onset of the arthritis. Steve wondered if these events had had something to do with Peter's declining health.

On analysing Peter's case, there were, to me, three outstanding elements: firstly, the association between the shock and grief surrounding his partner's accident and the subsequent onset of arthritis; secondly, that the over-riding emotional response to his ill-health was one of resentment and bitterness and thirdly, a very marked craving for salt. All of these elements point to the prescription of Natrum muriaticum which is potentised common salt. I gave Peter three doses of the thirtieth centesimal potency and reviewed him after five weeks.

When I next saw Peter, I was disappointed to note that he was still limping as he entered the room. However, there was something about his appearance that was different – a sunny relaxed smile had replaced his grim and guarded countenance on our previous meeting. He told me that within twenty-four hours of taking the medication, he had felt entirely different "in himself". He had felt cheerful and motivated. He had completed a number of odd jobs which he had left unfinished for several months and had gone out for several long walks. He explained that his joints had still felt painful but that he had felt differently about the situation so that the pain became less important. This added up to a significant improvement in his quality of life and the improvement had been maintained for four weeks after which time, it had worn off somewhat. However, he had not returned to his original state. I suggested that we should repeat the dose in view of the good initial response.

Peter's next visit was very pleasing. He had responded again to the medicine, was feeling well emotionally and his joint pain had improved gradually over the weeks since the dose. Interestingly, his skin was also improving with all the patches thinning out and becoming less scaly. As the situation was still improving at this stage, we did not repeat the dose until a month later when there was the beginning of a deterioration. The third dose of Natrum mur 30c has given another `tranch' of improvement on all fronts. Interestingly, we are still progressing with Peter's case without having had to increase the potency.

In the referral letter which I received from Peter's doctor, it was stated that Peter did not expect a miracle but would be glad for any improvement that could be effected in terms of quality of life. We have certainly achieved a good deal according to these criteria despite the fact that Peter has remained on his immunosuppressive medication throughout. Both Peter and I are very pleased with progress so far and it only remains to be seen how far that careful administration of this remarkable medication will take us! Watch this space...


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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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