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Homoeopathy and Grief

by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 11 - April 1996

One of the problems with being a homoeopath is that, so often, patients approach you as a last resort. By the time they reach your door, they have explored many avenues both conventional and alternative and are desperate to find a solution to their problem. I find this aspect of my practice particularly stressful. However, the other side of the coin is the joy when homoeopathic treatment succeeds where all else has failed.

Emrys came to see me very much as a desperation measure. A maintenance fitter in a local manufacturing community, his troubles had begun about fifteen years earlier when out with his wife at a local Harvester restaurant. Not that there was anything wrong with the food, I hasten to add! It was just that this was the first time that he experienced what he described as one of his "spasms". Suddenly, during the meal, he felt a sudden choking sensation, extremely intense, as if there were an absolute airlock in his chest. He was unable to breathe and had to leave the table. In the toilet, he found relief eventually by inducing vomiting. The food had lodged, fortunately not in his windpipe, but in his gullet.

These unpleasant episodes were repeated over the intervening years, at fairly frequent intervals. Dry meat, especially white meat, seemed to be the worst precipitant. Eventually, eating out became impossible as Emrys was too frightened to risk it, lest an attack should occur. He decided to seek help from his GP and was sent for a series of tests including barium x ray of the gullet, stomach and duodenum, which revealed no abnormality, and subsequently, an endoscopic examination of the same areas which showed an acid attack on the lower gullet. The specialist felt that this area of erosion from acid may have been triggering Emrys' spasms and prescribed the most powerful healing agent available at the time, known as Losec or omeprazole.

Initially, Emrys responded well and during the six months of treatment, the spasms improved significantly. However, as soon as the treatment was discontinued, the problem recurred and was now accompanied by unpleasant acidic burning in the chest, often waking him in the early hours. Further courses of omeprazole and a more modern equivalent failed to bring the problem under control. Now in despair, Emrys decided to try homoeopathy.

Further questioning revealed a generally healthy man, with seasonal hay fever symptoms and occasional wheezing when the air quality was poor. He could be troubled by severe night cramps in the right calf. He had been in a serious road traffic accident while in his twenties, about thirty years previously. He had sustained nasty facial injuries and although he acknowledged that the cosmetic result was very good, he admitted that he had probably never got over the shock.

A hardworking and resourceful man, he had overcome setbacks in the form of six redundancies over his working life and had never been out of work for more than a few weeks. Something of a perfectionist, he worked hard at home as well, maintaining and improving his home constantly, driven by a perceived pressure within himself to keep on top of things.

It was when we came to the subject of his family history that cracks began to appear. With tears in his eyes he related the deaths of his parents, whom, as the only child, he had cared for conscientiously, throughout their lives. His mother had died fifteen years previously of lung cancer and his father twelve years later of emphysema.

Thoughts of his loss pervaded his mind for substantial periods of the day and he had never resumed his hobby of creative woodwork after their deaths, even though time would have permitted.

By this stage in the interview, Emrys was very shamefaced at what he saw as a demonstration of weakness and emotional behaviour.

I, by contrast, was elated. I felt sure that we had uncovered the source of his problems and knew straight away that the remedy Ignatia stood a very good chance of helping him and I prescribed three doses of an M potency.

One month later, Emrys returned. After the third dose, Emrys had felt a fierce griping pain in his chest "as if something moved". He had then experienced a calmness which he had not felt for many years and this had persisted for about three weeks. Since the Ignatia he had not needed any gastric or hay fever medication.

After a further four weeks, there had still been no bad attacks.

However, his anxiety and depression was recurring, and we repeated the dose of Ignatia as before. On this occasion, Emrys experienced an immediate deterioration. He developed constant gastric acidity and heartburn and, before long, the spasms were back. As well as having a new "terrible" pain under the ribcage, he was becoming increasingly anxious and irritable. He was frightened that he could have cancer and was desperately disappointed that out initial success had now turned to failure.

I must admit that I was disappointed too. Concentrating on the new burning pain that Emrys was describing, I noticed the remedy Aurum metallicum mentioned in the texts. Another important grief remedy, Aurum is suitable for those who have reached a state of despair and for whom the thought of death has become a welcome one. I sent three doses of Aurum metallicum 30c to Emrys and heard no more for three months, by which time I felt sure that Emrys had decided not to return for any more homoeopathy.

Then, just before Christmas came a phone call. All was well – Emrys had experienced an immediate relief from his heartburn and swallowing problems. His mental state was much improved and he had gone back to his woodwork. Finally he was off all medication.

Stunned and delighted as I was by this news, I fell to wondering if Emrys would have responded to the Aurum at the outset or whether he did indeed need the initial prescription of Ignatia to tackle the spasm problem and to prepare the ground, as it were, for the Aurum.

We will never know the answer to this question and, in the end, the main thing is that, once again, Homoeopathy successfully treated a condition that had proved refractory to the best that conventional medicine could offer.


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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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