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Two Intractable Complaints

by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in heart, originally published in issue 31 - August 1998

I have just heard about the death of one of my patients. Even homeopathy cannot prevent this inevitable event. Sarah was seventy-five, alert and active. She suffered a massive heart attack while cooking Sunday lunch for her family, a characteristically homely task.

Her family take comfort from the thought that she was probably happy and content in this activity, right up until the moment she died.

I would like to tell you Sarah's story, not because of its startling success, but because it illustrates how even small improvements in miserable chronic complaints can mean a great deal to people. Sarah came to see me in the middle of 1995 because her sight was failing.

Eighteen month previously, she had experienced a sudden reduction in the vision in her right eye. She had awoken with a black shadow in her visual field. This resolved gradually over a few months but the vision remained blurred. The specialist at the hospital clinic diagnosed macular degeneration and delivered the depressing news that there was no cure. All that could be done was to provide special magnifiers and other visual aids.

Sarah was devastated because her right eye had always been her best eye. She also had diabetes and this had also affected her eyes, requiring laser therapy a few years earlier. Now she had to give up her beloved handicrafts and was unable to read. Both these losses had a very negative effect on her quality of life.

Other problems emerged during the interview with Sarah. She had nasty pains in her feet associated with numbness and shooting exacerbations that spread up her shin, sometimes waking her from sleep at night. Her doctor had attributed this pain to nerve damage from the diabetes. She also suffered from "restless legs". Since a teenager, she had been troubled by discomfort and jumping of the legs especially when sitting or lying still. This was very annoying and had been happening ever since she was frightened by a bomb dropping very close to her house during the Second World War.

Finally, she had occasional flitting joint pains, but without stiffness or swelling.

Sarah described herself as a determined person who reacted calmly to life. She did not panic nor worry excessively and tended to accept events, helped in this by a strong religious faith. She tended to bottle up emotions, preferring to cry alone at night than to show that she was upset. Her husband had died fifteen years earlier and she had been too busy to grieve, looking after her large family and only crying in the night when she was alone. She could be irritable and verbally aggressive but never threw things.

Sarah was generally a warm blooded person and hated having the windows closed at any time of year. She was not especially thirsty and lived to eat fruit, vegetables and chocolate. She did not like fat or shellfish. She slept well after initial difficulty in getting off, and tended to rest on her left side. However, she could be disturbed by the restless legs.

On studying Sarah's case, it seemed that the eyes and the legs were the main areas that needed attention. Indeed, they were having an adverse effect on each other in that she used to be able to alleviate the leg symptoms by becoming engrossed in her crochet or reading, activities which she could no longer perform because she could not see.

Looking through the list of medicines for restless legs, the medicine Ruta caught my eye. It is based on the rue plant, a herb that was widely used in former times by artists to improve their vision. It is said to be useful in homeopathy for any ailments arising from overuse especially those affecting the eyes or the tendons and joints.

Perhaps, in the best traditions of homeopathic treatment, we can help both of Sarah's complaints with a single medicine. I gave Sarah three tablets of Ruta 30c to be taken at twelve hourly intervals.

On review six weeks later, Sarah reported no change in the left eye (which had a long standing weakness), however, the right eye had improved! Where previously, she had no useful vision, she now could read large letters. We repeated the dose and after a further two months, she could read in daylight without a magnifier using both eyes. With the right eye alone, she could now make out faces quite clearly clearly. A recent hospital appointment confirmed that the expected overall deterioration in vision had not occurred.

However, the "restless legs" had become worse and were waking her regularly at night. They were better for walking around and a warm bath gave temporary ease only, I decided to add in one tablet of Zincum metallicum daily to counteract these symptoms. Sarah found these very beneficial and her symptoms reduced to a bearable level within a month.

In the end, we settled into a routine of treatment for Sarah, taking Ruta 30c, three tablets once a month and intermittent courses of Zincum met 30c when symptoms recurred. She was very happy with the results and her quality of life during her final two years of life was, I am sure, much enhanced thanks to the help that homoeopathy could give her with conditions where conventional medicine had nothing to offer. Her case taught me that one does not necessarily have to have dramatic "cures" in order to make a big difference to patients. Sometimes, a simple approach based on the physical symptoms of the patient can give very gratifying results and this approach is one that can be used, even in the busy life of an NHS general practitioner where hour long consultations are not an option.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if every general practice had a doctor with some expertise in homoeopathy so that the benefits that homoeopathy can offer were more widely available?


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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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