Successful homeopathic treatment of ulcerative colitis.
Homeopathy (Health aspects)
Ulcerative colitis (Care and treatment)
Ulcerative colitis (Case studies)
Homeopathy (Materia medica and therapeutics)
|Publication:||Name: Townsend Letter Publisher: The Townsend Letter Group Audience: General; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 The Townsend Letter Group ISSN: 1940-5464|
|Issue:||Date: Feb-March, 2008 Source Issue: 295-296|
|Topic:||Event Code: 200 Management dynamics|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States|
We chose to present the following cases for several reasons: 1) ulcerative colitis is a chronic, often debilitating condition not always successfully addressed by conventional medicine; 2) conventional medicine often resorts to using strong medications, including steroids, to treat this condition, and, as in this case, Methotrexate; 3) we have found homeopathy to often be very effective in treating ulcerative colitis; and 4) this is a case in which two analogous remedies from two different kingdoms, mineral and plant, were both quite helpful to the patient.
Ellie, a thirty-five-year-old biologist, was new to homeopathy. She was certainly not new, however, to gastrointestinal problems. The first words out of her mouth upon entering our office were the following:
Ellie's diarrhea and severe abdominal cramping began to interfere progressively with her daily life. She followed the recommendations of a naturopathic doctor for a year, eliminating wheat and sugar, with no real relief. Then, three and a-half years prior to consulting us, Ellie lost 20 pounds over a short period of time, and the frequency of her bowel movements increased considerably. Her mother was quite sick at the time, and Ellie was finishing a doctoral dissertation. She was diagnosed, on endoscopy and colonoscopy, with ulcerative colitis of the left side of the bowel, resulting in a prescription of Prednisone. She also tried non-specific anti-inflammatory drugs, which caused "absolutely unbearable cramping." Imuran (Methotrexate) was not helpful either. The only source of relief, though partial, was soaking in a hot bath. Ellie discontinued all of her medications, and her condition slowly began to improve. Over another three years, she regained the weight she had lost and returned to running, skiing, and working out at the gym.
Five months prior to consulting with us, she began to bleed rectally, and her stools suddenly became very loose. The bleeding continued for two months, and a second colonoscopy revealed colitis all the way up to the transverse colon. The procedure was stopped at that point because Ellie had not been anesthetized, so the colitis may have extended even further. A high dose of Prednisone was administered.
At the time we first saw Ellie, she complained of frequent, severe diarrhea, worse from changing positions, during sleep, standing upon rising in the morning, and soon after eating and drinking. Laboratory tests indicated a low hematocrit and hemoglobin, as well as low serum magnesium. Ellie had again suffered a 20-pound weight loss, carrying only 132 pounds on her five-foot, ten-inch frame. Ellie emphasized the urgency of her stool along with sudden burning pain, cramping, a sensation of a gas bubble moving through the intestines, and either very loose or watery stools. The stools contained particles of undigested food and emitted a putrid odor. "Sometimes it feels like I have gerbils in my stomach." Amytriptyline at bedtime and Vicodin as needed provided some symptom relief.
We further explored the specific sensation that Ellie experienced with the colitis:
Given the cramping quality described by Ellie, the connection of the symptoms with her menstrual cycle, and her mother's history of endometriosis, we inquired about her periods. "I've always had cramps, just like my mom. Heat then grabbing and spasming around the ovaries. It is only relieved by having a bowel movement." Generally the same sensation runs through most or all of a patient's symptoms, and this was true for Ellie. The sensation of spasm occurred both with the gastrointestinal and the menstrual symptoms.
We further investigated what Ellie meant by cramping:
When asked to describe her original Giardia symptoms, she replied, "diarrhea, weight loss, frequent bowel movements, and the same cramping pain."
Satisfied that we delved sufficiently into the sensation of the chief complaint, we asked Ellie to tell us more about herself:
Case Analysis and Prescription
Based on the Sankaran method of identifying the sensation of the chief complaint in order to arrive at a prescription, it was clear that the sensation was that of cramping and spasm. Ellie used these words again and again to describe not only her bowel symptoms but also her menses. This generalization of the sensation from the chief complaint to other pathology is a confirmation that it indeed is the sensation.
Once having identified the sensation, before we can find a remedy, we need to identify the kingdom: mineral, plant, or animal. In this case, the emphasis on achievement, expectations, performance, and the sphere of work led us to the mineral kingdom. We chose the medicine, Cuprum metallicum (copper), which is well-known to address cramping and spasms anywhere in the body, but very much in the gastrointestinal tract. Historically, Cuprum was one of the three remedies that had the most dramatic effect of the debilitating bowel symptoms during epidemics of cholera. The main psychological theme of those needing Cuprum is control. Cuprum, like other metal remedies, is characterized by very high performance, evidenced by Ellie' strong athletic drive as well as her ambition in the workplace. These individuals are known for being highly competent and organized and are often in positions of leadership or authority.
We often use an LM potency with patients with severe pathology, those who are coffee drinkers, or those who prefer to take a homeopathic medicine on a daily basis. We prescribed Cuprum metallicum LM2 as well as Floradix, an excellent herbal liquid combination for iron-deficiency anemia.
Five weeks: "Five days after beginning the Cuprum, I awoke ravenous. As if I were starving to death. I started eating more than I had for months and months. I've gained eight pounds in the past five weeks. That first week, I just ate morning to night. I stopped doing the whole wheat-free, sugar-free thing. I'm continuing to get better. I still have urgency but only one to two bowel movements a day instead of eight to ten. My energy is better. I went on a six-mile hike, which is really something since a couple of months ago even mowing the lawn exhausted me." Ellie estimated her bowel symptoms to be 75% improved. The cramping and squeezing were significantly less. Her recent menstrual period, the first in five months, was less painful, and she did not need to take Vicodin. The leg cramps were gone, and she was sleeping well. "I'm becoming myself again, which is Type A." She continued to take the Cuprum as before.
Nine weeks: Still doing really well. Additional two-pound weight gain. Urgency continues to improve. Not waking as much at night with urgency for stool. Still not needing Vicodin for menses. Stools are formed. Overall, 75% to 80% better.
Thirteen weeks: Still better but plateaued. Cuprum LM3 once a day.
Five-and-a-half months: Was 80% to 85% better. Now back to 75%. Menstrual cramping continues. Not sleeping well for a month now. Spasms in colon a couple of times a week. We changed the prescription to Cuprum 10M, increased to once a week.
Seven months: Slight regression so went back to Cuprum LM3 daily.
Eight-and-a-half months: Although Ellie continued to report a 75% improvement from prior to homeopathic treatment, she seemed to have plateaued on the Cuprum, even with the higher dose. We decided to change the prescription to a plant medicine, Nux vomica, in an LM1 potency. The two medicines are so similar that they can be considered analogous remedies from different kingdoms. Both fit the picture of ambition and work-driven tendency, and the two also share the sensation of cramping and spasming. Nux vomica is a member of the Loganaceae family and belongs to the typhoid miasm. The coping mechanism of this miasm is concentrated effort followed by rest, which fit Ellie's modus operandi.
One year: Ellie had been busy with projects, her condition had been stable, and she saw no need for a follow-up appointment for four months. The frequency of the stools, gas, abdominal distention, and urgency have all been diminished. The biggest change, however, has been a decrease in her Type A mentality. "The other day I asked someone, 'What would be wrong with just having a mediocre career?'"
One year, four months: "I am the most stable I've been since I started homeopathic treatment. I'm back to running two to three miles three times a week the past two months. I am more laid back lately. All in all, I'm very pleased with my progress."
It is important to be flexible in case management. More than one homeopathic medicine, even from different kingdoms or miasms, can work well with a given patient. The homeopath needs to remain open-minded at each visit, assessing the patient's progress change medicines or prescription when necessary.
Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman, ND, DHANP, LCSW and Robert Ullman, ND, DHANP are licensed naturopathic physicians board certified in homeopathy. In practice for nearly 25 years, they practice at the Northwest Center for Homeopathic Medicine in Edmonds, Washington and treat patients by telephone and video consultations as well as in person. They are co-authors of eight books, including the best-selling Ritalin-Free Kids, Rage-Free Kids; Prozac Free; A Drug-Free Approach to Asperger Syndrome and Autism; Whole Woman Homeopathy; Homeopathic Self-Care, The Patient's Guide to Homeopathic Medicine; and Mystics, Masters, Saints, and Sages: Stories of Enlightenment. They have taught internationally and live on Whidbey Island, Washington and in Pucon, Chile; they can be reached at 425-774-5599 or at www.healthyhomeopathy.com.
by Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman, ND, DHANP, LCSW and Robert Ullman, ND, DHANP
I've had GI problems most of my life. It started with stomachaches as a kid. In my mid-twenties, they began to interfere with my life. I contracted Giardia while backpacking in the Sierras. That seemed to off my symptoms even more. They gave me Flagyl. Three years ago, I was was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome [IBS]. My symptoms were relieved by taking the birth control pill for a year and a half. Then I developed migraines. The IBS was much worse before ovulation. My mom had endometriosis, but they never did a laparoscopy on me.
It is a squeezing. A tightness. Being on fire. Hot. So tight and squeezing. As if there were a concrete wall inside ... A hardness. My colon is actually like if you clench your fists. [This description was accompanied by a hand gesture of clenched fists.] Spasming. Like a constant spasm. It just won't relax. A hard clenching, gripping, spasming. Like when you clench your muscles really hard. They grab and let go, grab and let go. It gives me the feeling of needing to go to the bathroom, even if there is nothing to come out, if feels better to push. I actually threw out a rib not too long ago from pushing so hard, and the pushing has caused some pretty bad hemorrhoids.
Holding too hard. Spastic. Not relaxing. Hyper. With a powerful muscle. Grabbing and letting go. Grabbing and letting go. Lately I'm in constant pain. The cramping is so bad that I can barely move, even going back and forth to the bathroom. It is exhausting.
I am your quintessential Type A personality. I have very high expectations of myself and of anyone close to me. I'm quite hard on myself. I was always taught to be self-reliant. I'm a perfectionist. A neat freak. I am very ambitious. It is hard to relax because I'm always thinking about what I should be achieving. My career defines who I am. Failure is my biggest fear. Once I complete a project, I check it off my list and move on to the next rather than taking time to sit back and appreciate what we finished. It can be exhausting being so much in my head.
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