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What a Headache!

by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 52 - May 2000

Fiona had finally had enough of her headaches. She had suffered with them for years and years and always took her maximum daily allowance of 8 co-codamol tablets. She described them as 'tension' in the front and back of her head, especially marked at the temples.

There was no associated nausea and the headaches did not favour one side of the head. Thus, they were unlikely to be due to migraine.

In fact, there were few exciting or useful symptoms on which a homoeopath could base a prescription.

In these circumstances, one has to hope that a clear constitutional picture is going to reveal itself. In Fiona's case, we were in luck! Her description of herself and of her symptoms and general reactions were very suggestive of a certain medicine, one which I find that I am using more and more in practice, and which I have described in these pages before. I wonder if you will spot it?

Fiona liked warm sunny weather and had an element of SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, in that she felt low and depressed in the winter. She was sensitive to thunderstorms, being able to tell when they were approaching. However, rather than being frightened by thunder and lightning, she was rather exhilarated by it. Perspiration was profuse with exercise and mostly axillary (from the armpits).

She did not get sweaty feet or hands. In fact, her feet were cold and yet, contrarily, she liked to be barefoot, disliking the constriction of shoes. As a rule, she was not keen on any restrictive clothing such as scarves or polo necks or tight trousers.

Fiona was not especially thirsty but preferred cold to hot drinks. She liked spicy food and adored all 'junk' food with loads of salt, sugar and fat – not a recipe for healthy arteries!! Having said all that, Fiona actually ate quite a healthy diet, despite her unhealthy urges, which was probably just as well! Her sleep pattern was fairly erratic, often snoozing off for catnaps in her chair in the evening. She would wake at 3 or 4 am most nights but managed to get to sleep again fairly easily. Her favourite sleeping position was on her stomach.

Apart from her headaches, Fiona suffered from a chronically blocked nose. She used a proprietary decongestant twice a day, every day and her symptoms sounded like a nasal allergic condition called perennial rhinitis. She obviously had a tendency to allergy, having had eczema as a child, but did not now suffer from skin problems or from asthma. Her only other complaint was a slight tendency to constipation if she was not careful with her diet.

Her family history was quite revealing. Her father and her paternal grandparents were a healthy family, the latter having died in advanced years of 'old age'. However, on her mother's side, there was a strong history of chronic disease with cases of thyroid trouble, heart attacks, glaucoma and cancer. It is interesting to note, when taking homoeopathic histories how often one comes across families that are basically healthy and others that seem to carry a heavy load of ill health. No doubt the genetic research that is going on at the moment will give us the answers as to why this may be, in due course. However, as homoeopaths we can actually use this information to help in the decision as to which medicine may be therapeutic.

In Fiona's case, I was pretty sure that she was going to respond to the homeopathic medicine, Carcinosinum. This was confirmed by her psychological profile: fussiness and fastidiousness, a tendency to anticipatory anxiety (in other words, something of a worrier if she had something difficult coming up), and most of all, hypersensitivity to criticism. She also was sensitive regarding other's feelings and often worried in case she had upset someone. She could be resentful and was capable of bearing a grudge for a while, but rarely for very long.

One often sees elements of several medicines in a patient who is going to respond to Carcinosinum. I call it my 'multimedia' remedy. I feel that it reflects the many and complex influences to which modern people are exposed. Those people who are most impressionable and sensitive tend to take far more 'on board' and to suffer, as a result, from numerous so-called 'stress-related' complaints. A significant group of these people will have a strong family history of chronic disease and, strangely enough, they often sleep comfortably on their stomachs.

In Fiona's case, although she had symptoms suggestive of Phosphorus and of Natrum mur and possibly of Sepia also, I decided that Carcinosinum was the medicine of choice and gave her three 30c tablets to be taken before breakfast, lunch and tea on a single day.

She returned after a month to report that, after only one or two days, she had detected a definite improvement.

She could open her eyes again properly. Her headache disappeared, her rhinitis settled and she felt really well for three weeks. The headaches started to creep back again thereafter and were back to 50% after four weeks.

This was a very encouraging result. In general, Carcinosinum is used at three monthly intervals but I often find that in the initial stages of treatment, the dose needs to be repeated more often. I would discourage use more often than monthly very strongly, but every six or eight weeks for the first 3 doses is acceptable. After this accelerated start, the patient usually finds that a three-monthly dose will keep them well. On reflection, it sounds funny to call the taking of a dose of medicine every six weeks 'accelerated'. This use of words stresses that we are dealing with a very different process here from conventional pharmaceutical dosing. In homoeopathic treatment, we are continuously looking at the interaction between the patient and the medicine, at a process rather than at an event.

This does mean that progress can appear slow at times as the homoeopathic practitioner assesses how different doses of different medicines are affecting the patient. On the other hand, it also means that any change that occurs is a true alteration in the patient's health, rather than an artificial drug-induced state which will cease or relapse as soon as the drug is discontinued.

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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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