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An Homeopathic Footnote

by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in skincare, originally published in issue 26 - March 1998

Tim is forty eight years of age and a successful businessman. He set up his own financial advice service ten years ago after being made redundant from his previous employment in insurance. He now employs thirty people and business is booming.

He came to see me a year ago having had problems with his feet for the previous eight years. After an episode of excessive exposure to sun, his feet had blistered. The blisters healed satisfactorily everywhere except along the sides of the feet and, ever since, he had suffered from recurrent lesions on the feet which were now spreading to the hands also.

The lesions started as something akin to a boil, containing pus which had been tested by his doctor and found to be sterile, that is, containing no infection. The "boils" were severely itchy and painful to pressure. This would, understandably, make walking very difficult. The "boils" would then burst and form a scab, at which point the itching and pain would decrease. The scab eventually came away to leave a marked area of skin which would be vulnerable to a later attack.

Tim had coped with his foot problems over the years. The dermatologist made a diagnosis of pustular psoriasis and had treated him over the years with topical and, at times, oral steroids. He had limped along, literally (!) until similar problems started on his hands. At this point, Tim felt that the steroid treatment, although offering some symptomatic relief, was not getting to the root of the problem. He decided to seek help from homoeopathy.

Tim had had other skin problems in the past. Up until the time that the pustular psoriasis began, he had had a form of eczema on the legs which had settled with the use of hydrocortisone cream. Soon after this, the pustules began on his feet. Homoeopaths sometimes attribute this kind of phenomenon to a concept called "suppression" whereby the use of steroid creams to treat a rash seem to almost "force" the eruption into the body again, only for it to erupt again elsewhere, often in a more severe form. Alternatively, the problem when suppressed, may come out in another illness altogether, a concept which is familiar to most doctors in the well-known alternation between asthma and eczema in susceptible subjects.

Coming back to Tim, his skin problems were the most significant medical history. He also admitted to a year-round tendency to rhinitis whereby his nose runs "like a tap", presumably due to some kind of allergy. He also suffers from burning pains in the chest with belching. These have been investigated and found to be due to a hiatus hernia (a mild displacement of the stomach which allows stomach acid to burn the gullet).

As a homoeopath, one cannot afford to simply assess the patient's symptoms at face value. The response of the symptoms to physical and emotional factors (the so-called "modalities") are vital in choosing a remedy, as are the patient's individual characteristics. I found that Tim's foot rash was far more painful and itchy if subjected to direct radiant heat.

It was eased by cool ice bags, but not by bathing. The itch was eased by scratching, albeit temporarily.

Tim was generally a "hot" person, liking fresh air and averse to hot atmospheres. He often perspired profusely from the head and back and tended to throw the bed clothes off at night. He was a restless, light sleeper, finding his brain to be very active when trying to get to sleep. He liked highly-seasoned, spicy food, sweet and salt things but interestingly he was averse to meat fat but liked butter. He was also very thirsty.

Personality-wise, Tim was clearly an energetic, "driven" type and admitted to often feeling hurried as if there were more things to do in the day than there was time for. He was an avid reader, devouring books of any kind and described himself as impatient but caring. He hated lying around in the sun and a beach holiday to him was the epitome of hell, although he likes boats and harbours and the sea-faring atmosphere.

I decided that Tim, with his hot-bloodedness and raw energy was probably going to respond to the homoeopathic medicine, Sulphur. The only "fly-in-the-ointment" was his aversion to fat. Sulphur subjects usually love fat. However, Tim was very averse to fat and this can sometimes occur in homoeopathic prescribing. So, Tim had three doses of Sulphur at the thirtieth centesimal potency.

Six weeks later, he returned with good news. The lesions were now less frequent, less varied in size and were acting slightly differently in that, after the scabs fell away, clean pink skin was appearing instead of the scarred susceptible skin. His hands had cleared almost completely and he was very pleased and encouraged with the result. Since then, he has needed only one further set of three tablets over twelve months and is virtually symptom free. Incidentally, his heartburn and rhinitis have also improved!

Pustular psoriasis is a notoriously difficult condition to treat. This is the only case to have presented to me in practice and the result was spectacularly good, largely because Tim was such a typical Sulphur case and also, probably, because he had always instinctively, kept his steroid usage to a minimum. It would be interesting to see if most cases of this condition did occur in Sulphur-types or if, in fact, different medicines would be required in other cases. 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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