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How can this be used as evidence?

by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 42 - July 1999

Simon did not feel well. He found it difficult to describe, to explain or quantify; he just did not feel well. He had felt like this on and off for almost as long as he could remember, even as a child. He was now going through a particularly bad patch and was finding it increasingly difficult to cope at work where he was under considerable stress. When he felt well, the stress did not bother him – he thrived on it, in fact – but now he feared that he might lose his job through his inability to cope.

Simon's doctor was a good and sympathetic practitioner who had supported him well over the years. He had always been reluctant to take medication in case it affected his ability to work – a not unreasonable fear, given the warnings on the patient leaflets given out with most antidepressants. As this present bout was resulting in time off work anyway, the doctor argued that it would be worth trying one of the newer breed of antidepressants which are far less sedative and have a good track record in chronic depression. Simon was still not keen and so his doctor pulled the last rabbit out of the hat and suggested a referral to a homoeopath.

He had obviously thought hard about how to describe his illness. This was a great advantage to me, as half the battle in making a good homoeopathic prescription is to obtain a good description of the symptoms. He started by describing an occasion the previous year when he had simply "blown a gasket" at work, got in his car and drove home. He was off work for two weeks, a major disaster in his books, although a relatively short time in cases of stress-related illness in general.

When he was unwell, he experienced a feeling of "mental block", as if he simply could not do any more. It would come over him like a wave of overwhelming sadness. He would often feel like crying, but did not actually weep. The sad feelings would last for a few hours and he would feel an immense emotional turmoil but no physical symptoms at all.

After this had passed, Simon would be left with an "empty joyless feeling" which persisted for days or weeks. He would get no enjoyment out of life at all and felt he was working at enjoying himself rather than feeling anything spontaneously. He would feel irritated by the slightest thing and described himself as "hypersensitive" and "constantly annoyed about something". His wife, although generally very supportive would find these times extremely trying, and Simon worried about the long term stresses that his condition was putting on his marriage.

Apart from these emotional symptoms, Simon was generally fit. His only other complaint was of headaches triggered by rice! He was generally a warm-blooded individual, hating warm rooms and particularly averse to stuffiness. He always had to have the window open, as he felt claustrophobic and trapped with it shut. He overheated at night also and tended to throw the covers off. However, despite this great internal heat, he was not especially prone to perspiration.

Simon could be very thirsty in general and preferred cold drinks. His food preferences were for spicy food and fatty things. He also liked milk but was not excessively fond of salt or sweet things. His hobbies were reading fantasy novels and "finding things out" on the Internet.

As a person, Simon described himself as very hard-working and conscientious. He was keen on good time-keeping and was a perfectionist to a point, although not to the point of fastidiousness. He denied internal bitterness or grudge-holding, fears or phobias (apart from the tendency to claustrophobia mentioned above). His conscientiousness led to anxiety and stress, which can build to a crescendo and he described a fear that one day he would just walk out on the whole situation and disappear. This did not represent a suicidal tendency but rather a desire to escape the stressful situation and go somewhere else.

I felt that Simon had elements of a few different medicines in his case. The hopeless and irritable state which he often found himself in would probably respond to Aurum metallicum, a medicine prepared from pure metallic gold. However, his basic makeup seemed to be that of a Sulphur, that is, a Sulphur on the tidy end of the spectrum rather than the typical "ragged philosopher" stereotype. This was evidenced by his tendency to internal heat, his food preferences and his general approach to life – in particular his interest in finding out about things and understanding things.

At follow up, six weeks later, Simon was very pleased with the response. He had noticed a curious reaction within half an hour of taking the tablets whereby his legs went "odd" and he felt "stupidly happy and giggly" – a most unusual sensation for this unusually serious young man. Since then, he had felt quite normal, had had no bouts of illness and was coping very well at work. This was the best he had felt for years.

How does one interpret this reaction in these days of evidence-based medical care? It is very tricky as, for a start, Simon did not have a diagnosable disorder, even though he felt very ill and was close to losing his job and walking out on his family. Yet, a single dose of homoeopathically-prepared Sulphur (30c) made him feel completely different. Was he responding to the nature of the consultation? I doubt it, as the consultation was not an especially cathartic event. Was this simply a placebo response? It is impossible to say, but it was a healing response and as such, a successful medical intervention. Hopefully, one day, homeopathy will be able to record these interventions and offer them as incontrovertible evidence to the purchasers of healthcare, so that more homeopathy can be made available to all on the NHS.

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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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