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The Power of Constitutional Medicine

by Dr Angela Jones(more info)

listed in homeopathy, originally published in issue 51 - April 2000

I have treated Elizabeth for over five years now, on an intermittent basis. She first came to see me for her arthritis, which was causing her absolute misery. It affected her chiefly in the neck and this was resulting in great difficulty because of her occupation. She and her husband run a convenience store with minimal extra help, meaning long hours and heavy lifting. But worst of all for Elizabeth, working in the shop means draughts. Every time a customer comes in, a blast of cold air comes in with them and hits Elizabeth in the back of the neck. She was sure that the draught was a major factor in her neck trouble and despite her efforts to keep it off her, with scarves, mufflers and polo necks, she was finding her shifts on the till absolute purgatory.

Listening to Elizabeth for a while, it transpired that, like many people, her presenting complaint was not the only problem. She had pains in other joints including fingers and hips. She was also having difficulty sleeping and, eventually, admitted to periods of low mood which were difficult to shake off. They were sometimes caused by money worries or anxiety related to the business. However, they were frequently triggered by an intense response to a desperate situation, which she had read about in the news or heard about from her customers.

Once Elizabeth had been upset by one of these stories, she found it extremely hard to get it out of her mind. She would be in such a sensitive state that she could not bear to hear a child crying or a dog whimpering. You can imagine how hard it was to survive in the shop under these circumstances. She became more and more tense, her neck would hurt more, the door would open and make it hurt more, a child would be told off for knocking over the biscuits and would cry etc. etc. …for up to twelve hours at a stretch. No wonder that she felt that she could no longer cope.

On further enquiry. I was able to establish that Elizabeth was basically a chilly mortal and felt the cold as well as draughts. Having said that, she was not overly fond of hot weather either. Her favourite weather was warm gentle rain and she would actually go out and walk in the rain if she had a chance and if it was not windy. She could tell when this weather was on the way because her joints would feel better. Her favourite food was bacon butties and she was quite thirsty, enjoying cold cans of drink from the chiller cabinet in the shop. However, she thought that they sometimes gave her a bad stomach.

The combination of rheumatic symptoms, extreme sensitivity to draughts, preference for wet weather and food preferences made me think of the homoeopathic medicine, Causticum. It is a chemical salt developed by the founder of homoeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann, who was, as well as a doctor, an accomplished chemist. The feature which clinched this decision in Elizabeth's case was her extreme sensitivity to injustice, especially related to animals and children. People with a Causticum constitution have a very strong sense of justice and I suspect that they are well represented among the ranks of those taking direct action.

Elizabeth had several doses of Causticum 30c over the next few months and found it helpful in easing her neck pain and helping her to cope with the work in the shop. I did not see her for over a year and when she returned, it was because she was having trouble shaking off a cold and chest infection. The most miserable aspect of her cough was that, every time she coughed, she wet herself slightly. This was very difficult for her as you can imagine, stuck behind the counter and unable to go and change her underwear.

Interestingly, Causticum is useful for this complaint, which is known as stress incontinence, especially if it is only apparent if there is a chest infection. More advanced cases of stress incontinence may respond to specialised physiotherapy and may require surgery. However, Elizabeth's problem was new and clearly triggered by her cough. I suggested that she took another dose of her Causticum 30c, feeling sure that it would do the trick. However, she rang back a week later to report that there had been no improvement. It seemed that the 30c potency was no longer helping her, so we decided to increase the potency to 200c. One dose of Causticum 200c restored her bladder to normal and the cough resolved.

I heard no more for over two years. One evening, while on call, I called in to the shop for milk and noticed that Elizabeth was looking very tired. There was no one else in the shop and we chatted for a while. Elizabeth had developed restless legs, a miserable complaint which causes discomfort and sometimes cramp in the lower limbs at night. She was not sleeping because of this and neither was her husband. Magnesium supplements had been recommended to her by a customer, and she had tried them, but to no avail. "Do you think the Causticum would help?" she asked. Well, restless legs is known to respond to Causticum and I recommended a further dose of 200c. A phone call a week later confirmed success.

Most recently, Causticum has helped Elizabeth with a pain in the ankle around the Achilles tendon. She has come to rely on 'her remedy' for the various health problems which afflict her from time to time. It is fascinating to observe how she seems to develop illnesses almost entirely within the Causticum picture. She is running 'true to type' and indeed, this is a pattern that, as homoeopathic doctors, we sometimes come across. Not everyone has a 'constitutional medicine' which covers all their symptoms, and most patients will need a few different medicines to cover the different pictures that appear as treatment progresses. However, when it is appropriate, this constitutional approach is not only intriguing, but also very powerful.

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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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