Mango for chronic joint pain.
Article Type: Case study
Subject: Arthralgia (Case studies)
Arthralgia (Care and treatment)
Mango (Usage)
Mango (Health aspects)
Authors: Reichenberg-Ullman, Judyth
Ullman, Robert
Pub Date: 02/01/2009
Publication: Name: Townsend Letter Publisher: The Townsend Letter Group Audience: General; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 The Townsend Letter Group ISSN: 1940-5464
Issue: Date: Feb-March, 2009 Source Issue: 307-308
Product: Product Code: 0175133 Mangoes NAICS Code: 111339 Other Noncitrus Fruit Farming SIC Code: 0179 Fruits and tree nuts, not elsewhere classified
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 194825360
Full Text: The Cashew Family

If you were to ask any homeopath the number one most common homeopathic medicine for joint pain, the answer would unequivocally be Rhus toxicodendron (poison ivy), a member of the Anacardiaceae (cashew) family. The classic keynote symptoms for someone needing Rhus tox are stiffness, like a rusty gate, exacerbated by sitting for extended periods of time or from overexertion exposure to cold, wet weather or applications, and ameliorated by motion, stretching, and hot baths or showers. Many patients exhibiting these features will benefit dramatically from Rhus tox.


Yet a certain number of others will not improve with this medicine, but instead respond beautifully to other members of the cashew family. These include Rhus radicans (also poison ivy), Rhus venenata (poison elder or swamp sumac), Mangifera (mango), Anacardium (marking nut), Comocladia (guao), and Rhus glabra (smooth sumac). There are a number of other homeopathic medicines made from other Rhus members, including Rhus diversiloba (Californian poison oak). The common sensation of all these homeopathic plant medicines is that of feeling stiff, tight, stuck, tense, immobile, and paralyzed.

In the following case, we first gave the patient Rhus tox, with no beneficial therapeutic effect, then prescribed Mangifera (mango). She has responded remarkably well to ascending LM potencies of the Mangifera for the past three and a half years. No other homeopathic medicine has been required.

'I Stayed Off My Feet For a Year'

Carolina, forty-eight years old, first called us in December 2004. We have treated her regularly by phone consultation since that time.

'I Just Want to Stretch and Feel the Trickle of Hot Water Down My Neck'

When we take a homeopathic case, it is essential to elicit the untreated symptoms, so that we are not confused by effects of medications. Caroline described her joint paint when medication-free:

Carolina also complained of an occasional wart on her left index finger.

The italicized symptoms sounded very much like those of the most common member of the Anacardiaceae family, Rhus toxicodendron. We inquired about previous exposure to poison ivy. Indeed, Carolina confirmed she had been extremely allergic to poison ivy, and possibly poison oak, as a child:

Carolina continued:

A Classic Case of Rhus Tox?

All of the italicized information from Carolina's initial visit would lead nearly any homeopath to prescribe Rhus tox. Most of the classic keynotes of the medicine are there, in addition to her jovial personality and athleticism (desire to be moving and active, even at the scale of knitting). Consequently, we prescribed the medicine in a 30C potency to take in a plussed format up to once daily. (A number of small pellets are placed in liquid [1:3 alcohol to water]; the bottle is shaken before each dose, to gradually increase the potency each time.) We felt confident about the prescription.

Carolina's follow-up appointment occurred two months later. She reported positive changes in her mood: "Things are rolling off my back." However, her joint pain had become a bit worse. Homeopathy is probably the safest medicine on the planet, so we are not accustomed to hearing reports like this one. If the medicine is off the mark, typically there will be no response whatsoever. But a worsening of the joint symptoms? This was very surprising to us.

We gathered more information, but the case was clearly the same. No significant new information was elicited. All of the symptoms still pointed to a member of the cashew family. According to the schema of Dr. Rajan Sankaran, our teacher, Rhus tox falls under the "typhoid" miasm. Miasms are hereditary layers of disposition, and Dr. Sankaran categorizes them based on the way in which the patient copes with the chief complaint and on his/her level of desperation. Individuals belonging to the typhoid miasm respond to their symptomatology with a sudden, intense, do-or-die effort followed by collapse. That was not really the case with Carolina. Her approach to the joint pain was: "I just live with it. Just try to mask it." This tendency to just endure the symptoms, or to hide them, fits into the "sycotic" miasm. The corresponding member of the cashew family is Mangifera, or mango. Other than the musculoskeletal symptoms, Carolina had no real complaints. The only other symptom of homeopathic mango that fit her case was one that we did not discover until the next appointment: a strong desire for mango! Mangifera was not a medicine that we had previously prescribed. We instructed Carolina to take Mangifera LM 3 up to once a day.

Better than Anti-lnflammatories

The initial telephone appointments were less frequent than usual because Carolina was preparing to move to South America. We spoke to her two and a half months after beginning the new medicine. "Now, if I do something strenuous with my elbows, they recover the next day. I'm thinking about lifting weights. My big challenge will be to return to swimming. I'm just really pleased. I'm off all of the lbuprofen and Aleve. I don't need them anymore. I didn't think it was possible." When we informed Carolina about which medicine she was taking, she exclaimed, "I just love mangoes!"

Six weeks later, Carolina was still doing quite well. After three hours of yard work the previous day, her elbows again recovered quickly. We increased the potency of the Mangifera to LM 4. The improvement continued. Six months later, Carolina reported an overall 70% improvement in her joints. Over that period of time, we increased the potency to LM 5, then LM 6. Two months later, Carolina continued to feel quite well. "Physically I am doing really well. The ultimate test is being able to swim for the first time in five years. My elbows do not hurt. I would probably put myself in the 85% improvement category. Before the homeopathy, I think 'fibromyalgia' was on the tip of my doctor's tongue. I feel really good. Thank you so much."

Then, another two and a half months later: "I feel like I'm cured. Not only do I swim, but I am starting to lift weights in my upper body. I would say I'm 95% improved."

Since that time, two years ago, the improvement has continued. Carolina completed a successful five-day hike in New Zealand, swims regularly, and is extremely active. Now fifty-two years old, we have given her nutritional and herbal supplements to relieve her hot flashes, and have increased the potency of the Mangifera to LM 8. Eight months ago she reported an 85% improvement in her elbows and 100% in the rest of her joints.

Some homeopaths have found that any member of the correct family of homeopathic medicines will produce some positive response. That was not the case with Carolina. Rhus tox, although a cashew cousin, was not close enough to help her. Mango, on the other hand, found only thanks to Dr. Sankaran's brilliant schema, was just the ticket.

by Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman, ND, DHANP, LCSW, and Robert Ullman, ND, DHANP

Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman and Robert Ullman are licensed naturopathic physicians board certified in homeopathy. Their books include A Drug-Free Approach to Asperger Syndrome and Autism; Ritalin-Free Kids, Rage-Free Kids; Prozac Free; Homeopathic Self-Care: The Quick and Easy Guide for the Whole Family; Whole Woman Homeopathy; The Patient's Guide to Homeopathic Medicine; and Mystics, Masters, Saints and Sages: Stories of Enlightenment. They have taught and lectured internationally; practice at the Northwest Center for Homeopathic Medicine in Edmonds, Washington; and live part time in Pucon, Chile. They treat patients by telephone as well as in person. They can be reached at 425-774-5599 or
I know I'm heading toward menopause. I see it looming on the horizon.
  But my main problem is a lot of joint pain. I can't believe it. It's
  been five years. The pain started in my feet after a five-mile walk.
  They say it's not plantar fascitis. I feel the pain right in front of
  the sticking-out part of the instep bone on the inside of the foot.
  Orthotics help somewhat. I was at the point where I couldn't walk
  around the block. It is better now. I walked four miles today. I
  stayed off my feet for about a year, watching all my muscles atrophy.
  I got rid of all my shoes. They gave me cortisone shots in both feet.
  The injections relieved the pain for only a couple of weeks. I
  decided to start swimming.

  Then I developed tennis elbow and baseball elbow in both elbows. I
  love to swim. I've done it most of my life. I had only gotten up to
  one mile. Now my elbows are a mess. One day I swam twelve lengths. My
  elbows are still killing me from then. This past summer my left hip
  really hurt after mowing the lawn. The pain is better from
  stretching. I had been taking Aleve for three years--longer than
  they advise. I quit yesterday, when I read that it wasn't good for
  your heart. I live with the pain. I just try to mask it.

  My neck is also bad. There are two spots on either side of the spine
  at the top of the left side of my neck. And my shoulder blades hurt
  on both sides. That's been going on for a year. I've had a change in
  attitude lately, too. I'm much more negative than ever before. I open
  Christmas cards and I don't even have the energy to read them. I have
  no desire to do Christmas this year. I just can't climb back up out
  of this negative thought. I want to be left alone. I feel like I'm
  unleashing it all on my husband.

I visualize it as being really inflamed ... a dull ache. A hurting
  deep down in my bones. I just really want to stretch. Something will
  crack and it will feel better. The pain feels better when my husband
  rubs it really hard. The same is true of my feet. Heat or a hot tub
  feels really good. It helps in the summertime or getting away
  somewhere warm in the winter. So does a hot shower or bath.

  Cold weather aggravates the joint pain. Exercise doesn't affect it
  either way. I am achy on waking--as if I were 100 years old. When I
  climb into that shower, I am so ready to let that hot water trickle
  down my neck. Also, the elbow pain is worse from lifting anything.

  My hip gets stiff if stays in one position for long. I need to switch
  positions frequently, especially if I go to a play or a movie. I
  remember having calf pain growing up--I had to put a heating pad on
  the calves when I was around eight years old. But I was not willing
  to give up walking. I was a very athletic child. I swam from sixth
  grade through high school and ran two miles a day in college. Now I
  do aerobics and go to a health club, as I have for the past
  twenty-one years.

Once it was so bad that my eyes were swollen shut. I had to be led
  around like a blind person. My mother used calamine lotion. From then
  on I just didn't play in the woods. I've only had maybe one bout of
  poison ivy as an adult. My husband and I both had to get shots
  because we couldn't get rid of it. That was in 1993. The itching and
  blistering were severe. Spraying them with Clorox helped. We
  contracted the poison ivy as a result of putting in a sprinkler
  system and pulling out roots.

  I try to stretch three times a week. I must roll over slowly in bed
  or I can hurt my back. It takes me a little while to warm up on
  waking, and I have to take it very slowly to turn over at night in
  bed. It's like rolling over in slow motion so I don't injure myself.
  It seems like my stomach muscles just aren't strong. I could sit in a
  chair and crack my back all day long."

I've always had phlegm in my throat. In fact, my parents tested me
  for cystic fibrosis ... In the wintertime I take on a different
  personality. I move more slowly ... I'm a summer person. In the
  wintertime I just kind of get through it. I get grumpy in cold
  weather ... The less sun, the less energy I have--that has been true
  my whole life. At least this afternoon I'm not taking a nap in the
  afternoon. I don't have as many colds and flu when I walk. I
  developed acne rosaceae, kind of a mask along cheeks and nose, during
  my pregnancies. I looked as if I had a sunglass mark year-round.

  I've always been described as an encourager. I always wake up with a
  song in my head. Unfortunately I haven't had that lately. Generally
  I'm a lot of fun. Quite social. Lately even I don't want to be with
  me! My spiritual life is important to me. That's where I feel useful
  and fulfilled. I adore my extended family. I've been a stay-at-home
  mom. I've done everything June Cleaver would have done. When they
  were little, I dressed like the Clean Room Fairy. I have a rubber
  chicken that goes with me on every women's retreat. I tend to take
  all the blame on myself, but I have really great girlfriends I can
  unload on. I have a great life and a wonderful husband. I enjoy fun,
  adventure, and I knit.
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