Priscilla Rowbottom on Homoeopathy and the Nation-State

Now where did homoeopathy go, I'm sure I put it down somewhere...

Now where did homoeopathy go, I’m sure I put it down somewhere…

And now another post from my highly erudite colleague and close – but not too close – friend…to be taken with many grains of salt while the tongue is firmly embedded in the cheek…In the interests of political correctness, no offence is intended to any nation, state, or to anyone who happens to be called Priscilla Rowbottom…

Well, the day has come! I have finally had my homoeopathic epiphany! The trumpets sounded, the sea of confusion parted, and the glorious light of …enlightenment seared my vision…

We have been doing homoeopathy all wrong.

How could I have been so wrong? How didn’t I see it before?

I know you’re all excited, you’re thinking maybe I found the hidden 7th edition of the Organon (shhhh… I have but I’m not telling….), maybe I met with Hahnemann on the astral plane (I tried, but he wasn’t in even though I knocked and knocked),  maybe I overdosed on Opium 10M…

No my friends… the secret to correct practice of homoeopathy is – wait for it – the United Nations. Well, not the UN per se, but the individual nations that populate our planet. After all, we all know that homoeopathy works on essences of personality, don’t we? And we all know that every nation, obviously, has its own personality? Except for those living near disputed borders, who are obviously either schizophrenic or multiples. Just look at those poor souls living in Alsace Lorraine…

So now, finally, we can take all – well, most – complexity out of prescribing. Yes, we can…

The Brits – well obviously, so “what-will-others-think”, it’s Calc Carb for you… all of you…except perhaps the exhibitionists…

The Scots – all that swearin’, drinkin’, fightin’, hmm, let’s go for Glenfiddich 10M

The French – birthplace of Bridgitte Bardot? Say no more, Hyos 50M for the lot of -em…

The Germans – so intent, so focused, I mean, just look at Hahnemann.  It’s Nux-vomica for you, and you, and you… oh, but lots of you are blond…so perhaps Pulsatilla…

The Americans – well, saving the world for…Microsoft? Wallmart?  well, saviours anyway, so obviously Veratrum all the way…

See just how easy it is? And those I mentioned before, the Alsace Lorrainians? We just treat them with combinations! A combo of Nux-V, Pulsatilla and Hyos! How very delicious! A few drops in the choucroute and everyone will be healthy…

What about people who’ve moved from country to country, I hear you asking. Easy peasy! I say…

Here’s an example – someone moved from Saudi Arabia to Ireland? Well, Saudi Arabia, that’s a monarchy, there’s kings and such, so give ’em all Aurum! (Come to think of it – give all the Monarchies Aurum, can’t get easier than that!)  And Ireland – well that’s very green, plus there’s Guinness, so how about Aur-Guinn (or is it Guinn-Aur) in – let’s be original here, LM475 and a half.

And Bob’s your uncle!

What? What’s that you say? Prescribing symptoms? Nope, sorry, can’t hear you…anyway – b-o-o-o-r-r-r-ing…

Well, tara then, I’m off to prepare a special new remedy – Iceberg 50C – which will do wonders for all that ails them in Iceland…I’ve been offered new offices for my clinic in the UN building, how wonderful!



The “Aggravation Quiz” results

First of all, I acknowledge that the quiz I posted was essentially superficial.  My objective was to see what people out there think about aggravations in homoeopathic treatment.

Over the years I have heard so many people panic over new symptoms (OMG! it’s a proving…!), over extreme aggravations (what do I do?! what have I done?!) and more.  I have heard people express sentiments like “it’s just an aggravation, it will get better..” without thinking properly about what is happening to their patient.  I have heard of situations where patients were told “it’s just an aggravation” and landed up in the emergency room.  None of this does homoeopathy any good.

So, some comments on the questions and results:

1. Why does Hahnemann refer to aggravations as “so-called”?
54% of you said because they are really substance symptoms, not disease symptoms. I would go with that as the best answer although let’s look at the others.

23% of you said it’s because aggravation is really a good thing. Aggravation can be helpful in determining the value of the remedy, but the first answer is the most precise.

The problematic response in this question is “because they’re really provings.” The 8% who chose this response get the following punishment which is really a reward: read the Organon carefully, with focus on the aphorisms relating to how a proving is carried out, and to the reason for and nature of new or accessory symptoms in case management.

2. What are aggravations?  The most precise response is the first one – aggravations are usually an immune system response, and it can be good when the immune system responds.

Sadly 46% of the people who answered this question went for “aggravations are a good thing – the only way to see if a remedy is working.” A brief initial aggravation can indicate a good response – if it is brief and the patient moves on towards improvement. Sometimes a patient will only get aggravations from a remedy with no improvements whatsoever, however much the dose and potency are changed, even if it seems the remedy is the best homoeopathic fit for the disease state. Improvement is really the ultimate measurement for whether a remedy is working…

There is another option which for some reason rarely gets mentioned: The patient does not turn into a “still life” when he sits down in the clinic. His disease does not magically stop progressing during case-taking. It is possible that worsening of symptoms simply means worsening of the natural disease, and that our remedy did nothing to abate its progress. Which may lead us to the “call 911″ option in another question.

3. Can you have good homoeopathic treatment without aggravations?

I would be interested to know more about the 15% who reported that their patients never get aggravations.

Most agreed that sometimes treatment without aggravations is possible, depending on the sensitivity of the patient and the size of the dose. I have known patients to aggravate from LM’s in triple dilution glasses, and even from olfaction. However, since this issue depends so much on sensitivity and size of dose, it should be possible to have good homoeopathic treatment with minimal aggravations if we keep to the minimum dose and assess the patient’s sensitivity as accurately as possible.

I have often heard those more spiritually inclined talking about deep, painful, healing processes required along the hard road to healing. I don’t buy it. The deep, painful healing processes usually involve someone talking codswallop to cover up the fact that they gave too large a dose, and possibly of the wrong remedy.

4. New symptoms may be pointing to a new remedy, or may simply be accessory symptoms due to inexactness of a good remedy. So it’s reassuring that most of you went for one of these answers. Those who chose “proving” are referred the the same punishment/reward mentioned above.

5. If an aggravation is really really bad, you may want to consider going the emergency conventional route. Do you know exactly what is happening? Is it possible the natural disease is simply getting worse? It’s important to maintain common sense and a sense of perspective with patients, especially with those middle-of-the night urgent texts. In cases of what looks like extreme aggravation, make sure the patient is checked out medically – by you if you’re an MD or be someone else wielding a stethoscope and a tongue depressor.

The coffee option – although it may have seemed like a joke – is also an option if you’re sure it’s the right remedy, but the dose may have been too strong (in triple dilution rather than quadruple).  A latte or espresso will muddy the case much less than an inappropriately given so-called antidote remedy.  And on the plus side, our (frequently) caffeine-deprived patients will be buoyed up by the prospect of a spark of joy in a dulled coffee-less existence.

A more suitable remedy is always a better option than an antidote. With a more suitable remedy, your case continues. When choosing a remedy purely to antidote another, you risk muddying the case.  A reward/punishment for those 60% (gasp) of you recommending antidotes – read the Organon on case management.  Perhaps my anti-antidoting stance will be more palatable to the 60 percenters if I reframe it as follows: a more suitable remedy will usually act as a case-specific antidote to a less suitable remedy.

More on aggravations and antidotes in future posts.  In the meantime, your mission if you accept it is to read the Organon on case management!

So-called aggravations, in the words of someone who really knows…

Kangaroo with Pouch Resident

and where do you keep your copy of the Organon…

So there I was, working on an extremely erudite article on so-called aggravations, mildly and elegantly nuanced with subtle humour, sharp wit and penetrating wisdom…. And then I realized there was really not much point (actually I think I looked up and asked myself a question beginning with WT…). Because it has all been said before, by someone who knows the subject much better than I do (I think perhaps I win points on the subtle humour bit, but he has me beat on the sharp wit…) Continue reading

A quiz on aggravations – or an aggravating quiz?

sherlock holmesThe following is a rather unwieldy way of presenting a quiz on aggravations.  The responses are anonymous – but I thought it would be interesting to see what y’all think about aggravations before planned upcoming articles on… aggravations…

The answers aren’t straightforward, and sometimes more than one answer may seem to fit – if so, look for the most suitable answer and choose that one. Continue reading

Vive la Difference…

so many colours...

so many colours…

Individuality is being outlawed.

Many people don’t enjoy birthdays. Many people go to parties and don’t enjoy themselves, or don’t go at all. Many people attend activities which others think enjoyable, but they don’t agree. When the mob comes out in favour of certain films, certain books, specific celebrities – not everyone falls into line.

Many people are unhappy at some stage in their lives.
Many people prefer to be alone than with others.
Many people don’t make friends easily.
Many people have opinions which go against “conventional wisdom”.

Is any of this pathological? In Western kindergartens, a child who does not make friends easily may find himself on track for psychological surveillance from the tender age of four or five. In homoeopathic usage, this only becomes relevant if it is something that has changed. And even then we must explore why it has changed and how, before accepting it as a prescribing symptom.

In common conventional usage – it is not socially acceptable to be different, to behave differently, especially in the area of being happy or contented on demand. A “different” child is the label hammered onto a child who does not fit the norm, physically or socially. And with all this our society praises originality – in a form which is really just as original and norm defying as wearing jeans…

One of the most common forms of drugging we see today are anti-depressants and other psychiatric drugs. Misery of any form is not to be tolerated, even momentarily. It is not “normal”.

What’s the point? You may ask. I’m getting there.

I work a lot in my clinic with patients experiencing anxiety which interferes with function. Some are already taking psychiatric medications and wish to stop, and some have been told they have to start taking such medications and don’t wish to start.   Homoeopathy works wonders with such cases.

However, invariably I receive calls and texts along the lines of “the anxiety came back today! Should I redose?” Sometimes the tone is calm – “I’m waiting for your instructions and am confident…” But often, especially at the beginning of treatment, the tone is anxious verging on hysterical. “It’s coming back! Nothing helps! I have to take medicine!”

It is a central challenge for the homoeopath, one that has been written about in the literature since Hahnemann’s time, to prescribe based on proper case management rather than on pressure from the patient or his/her family. Those hysterical or furious complaints have driven all of us, at some time or another, to prescribe based on patient prompting in a way that we have not been happy with.

We see this in mental/emotional cases just as we do in physical cases. And I really don’t blame the patients for their reaction – it is instilled in all of us from the moment we become aware of ourselves. The body is treated as if it were a car, a simple mechanism, without the ability to heal itself. More and more medicines are developed to take over activities the organism should be doing, and the negative feedback loop that occurs when it senses the need has already been filled by an external drug means the organism stops producing oestrogen, stops taking care of its own thyroid hormone production, stops producing its own defences against common diseases – . On a mental and emotional level, we stop dealing with our issues, preferring to resort to drugs to do the job. As with muscles – what doesn’t get used atrophies over time.

In cases where norms are defined regarding how human nature should be; where no actual self-harm or harm to the public is involved; where we are merely dealing with a child or an adult who makes others around him or her feel uncomfortable – the nature of the drugging that is becoming almost mandatory in our society has already gone far beyond the science fiction novels I read in the seventies. And if the trend continues in seeing physical, mental and emotional health in adults as something that must be fixed from the outside, where the human being is seen as lacking in an inherent “self-fixing” program, truth will soon outstrip fiction, if it hasn’t done so already.

If a patient is experiencing a symptom again, whether mental or physical, the first response should be to see if their own vital force can handle it now it has been made more aware by the previous remedy. Often symptoms come and go during treatment – especially where physical symptoms are triggered during emotional drama. We cannot remove our patients from their lives, from abusive family members, from humiliating work experiences – but we can work with the nature of their response to that drama. We can help them become stronger, less debilitated by that response.

Really the yardstick is time and intensity. If a patient is upset that they are feeling something of their previous depression, or experiences echoes of previous disassociation, anger, panic attacks or more, it is important to know how intense it was. Whether it was the same as before. How long did it last. Our patients are literally programmed by modern medicine to assume every reappearance of a symptom requires drugging. It is at least part of our job, I believe, to help them realize that they do not have to conform to some kind of happiness norm in order to be healthy, and that they possess innate remarkable abilities of self-healing in physical, mental and emotional ailments, and that those abilities can be nurtured and strengthened through treatment with homoeopathy.

Our natural world in its healthy state presents us with immeasurable hues of colour. Not liking a colour does not mean something is unhealthy about a plant or flower. By the same token, not liking someone’s behaviour does not make it pathological…

Case quiz: eruptions on the tongue – ANSWERS


Case quiz: eruptions on the tongue

tongue case

just for illustration, not a pic of the patient!

The patient presented with an eruption on the left side of the tongue.   There was a small spot just under the tip of the tongue, and what looked like small flat red circles on the tongue itself. The area under the tongue on the right side was very dark red. The tongue itself was slightly white coated, but the patient said she had not yet eaten and that may be why.

The patient said the tongue felt like it was burning, and was especially aggravated by hot drinks, and eating in general. She said when anything touched the spot on the tongue the pain was excruciating.  She said her tongue felt very rough against her teeth, giving a sensation that the teeth were not clean, when they had just been cleaned.

Several remedies were prescribed, which all helped slightly but did not hold. The patient then reported a change in symptoms. There were now two spots on the tongue, one under the tip and one on the edge of the right side of the tongue, both extremely painful and white-ish in colour, and the tongue had become mapped.

Remedy 1 was prescribed and the condition improved significantly. The pain diminished by around 50% after the first dose, even though the spots were still present on the tongue. By the following morning, after three doses of Remedy 1, the tongue was clear, the discolouration had disappeared, and the patient was pain free.

At this point a further symptom appeared, which was not helped by Remedy 1. The patient reported a sensation of mouth ulcers inside the lower lip and then the upper lip on the left hand side. A further ulcer was reported the following day on the inside of the upper lip on the right hand side. The ulcers were hardly visible, and the lips were slightly swollen on the inside. The swelling in the lips felt firm but not hard. The patient reported that the ulcerated areas felt dry and reported discomfort when the areas touched the teeth and on pursing the lips. There may have been a slight discolouration on the ulcerated areas but the patient was not sure. The area was completely flat, not raised at all.

In addition, the patient reported a deep crack on her tongue, along the centre towards the tip.

Remedy 2 was given and the ulcers cleared significantly within a day, and completely within two days, after two doses.

What were the two remedies?


Thanks to all those who actively contributed to this discussion, and to those who worked on the case even if you didn’t chose to comment online.

Arsenicum seemed so certain for this case, that it briefly shook my confidence in homoeopathy, Hahnemann, Boeninghausen, the prescribing pharmacy and myself when  it didn’t hold… Carbo-v also looked good, but did not help. Phosphorous came up, but on checking the materia medica did not look right.

The white spots (P&W’s TPB no. 1579) narrowed the choice down to 8 remedies: Alum, Am-c, ARS, Carb-an, Phos, Sep, SIL, Sulph

I checked the other remedies in the materia medica, and since Arsenicum clearly was not working, Sepia looked like the next best candidate. I have also seen Sepia working very well in previous cases where a central presenting symptom was white apthae in the mouth.

The patient wrote after receiving the Sepia: “I had felt as if my tongue was held in pincers, almost as if there was a crab latched on to my tongue! With the first dose of the Sepia it was if it had loosened its grip, the pain eased a lot, and gradually disappeared.”

I must admit I was glad she didn’t say anything about crabs and pincers during the intake or following phone calls – it was so much easier just to look for white spots…

Remedy 2 was indeed Mercury. I used:

Face, sensations lips (247)
Ulcers, flat (26)
Aggravation, motion of affected part (2227)

Belladonna did show up in grades 4, 2, and 3. Mercury however presented here in even grades of 3 and checking in Materia Medica confirmed the prescription.

Mental/emotional symptoms in context


Also a form of treatment for mental/emotional symptoms…

The debate regarding emotional case-taking (double entendre fully intended) rages (or meows) around mistaken understanding of the therapeutic and seems to coalesce into the belief (equally mistaken) that one must choose between two approaches: Continue reading