Special thanks to Caroline Rich, Justin’s mother, for sharing her son’s story.
The following is a letter sent to me by Caroline Rich, the mother of a 14-month-old boy whom I treated with homeopathy. She told me that she wanted to convey Justin’s story to other parents who are told that there is “nothing wrong” with their babyâ€”when their child is obviously very sick. The fear and frustration parents feel when doctors find no cause for their child’s disease can be profoundly debilitating.
She wrote: “My husband and I were planning to take our 14-month-old son on a family vacation to Ireland. A bit worried about the plane ride in view of our baby’s chronic ear infections, I took Justin for a check-up the week before we left. He received a clean bill of health from his pediatrician.”
“Four days into the trip, Justin woke up with a fever. A few hours later he vomited twice. By midnight I found myself in an emergency room with a baby burning with fever. On examination, the doctor determined that Justin had otitis media in both ears. She prescribed an antibiotic, Augmentin, as well as a pain reliever, Motrin.”
“Five days later we were on a plane back to New York. The day after we arrived home, I took Justin to the pediatrician to re-evaluate the condition of his ears. I was told that his ears looked great and there was no sign of infection.”
A nightmare begins
“A few hours later the nightmare began; I noticed a change in Justin’s gait and balance. He appeared ‘drunk’â€”clumsy, veering from side-to-side, and throwing his head and neck back when he walked. Naturally, I became very frightened and rushed him back to the pediatrician who said the condition was probably related to jetlag or the ear infection he had had on vacation. Reluctantly, I took my baby home and began the long wait to see if the problem would resolve itself.”
“Four days later I had seen no improvement, so I took Justin to see a pediatric Ear-Nose-Throat specialist. After a thorough examination this doctor told me the baby’s ears looked ‘great’ and he had found nothing unusual. I left that office feeling frustrated and very scared.”
“The weekend passed and Justin’s symptoms continued. He was clumsy and falling all the time. A deeper fear began to grow within my husband and me. Monday I took Justin back to our pediatrician for a second opinion and was told to take him immediately to the emergency room for a CAT scan of the brain. The CAT scan results were all normal.”
“The next day, Justin was examined by a neurologist who tested him but found nothing abnormal. The neurologist could see his condition but could not give us a diagnosis. MRIs of the brain and inner ear were ordered, and again the results were normal. Justin was seen by at least ten different physicians, each one unable to diagnose the problem. One physician did indicate that this condition could be the result of a bizarre virus that moved through our baby’s systemâ€”maybe the condition that had landed him in the hospital in Irelandâ€”and affected his gait and balance.”
“Frustrated and out of ideas I decided to turn to our family chiropractor who is also a homeopath. I reasoned that if this condition could not be diagnosed by all the tests already performed on Justin, the ‘virus possibility’ was the only thing I had to go on. Because a virus cannot be treated with conventional medicine and had not even been confirmed in Justin’s case, I decided to try homeopathy.”
“We began our first visit with the homeopath by reviewing the events of the past weeks with her, and indeed came to the conclusion that Justin’s condition could be the result of a nasty virus. Because our homeopath has known Justin since he was six months oldâ€”his moods, his constitution, and his gaitâ€”she was able to see the difference in him immediately.”
“She spent quite a bit of time gathering as much information about our baby’s condition as possible from my husband and me. On this particular day, Justin’s symptoms changed. While walking across the floor in the office, our baby’s knees buckled and he fell to the ground. He had now developed what looked like a lower extremity weakness. At home the next day, he looked pale and felt limp when I picked him up.”
A remedy for post-viral weakness
When Justin came to see me, I conducted a thorough neurological evaluation, which showed that Justin’s deep tendon reflexes were intact, his pupils were equal and active, and all his sensory and vibration tests were normal. In light of this and the previous doctors’ reports, I felt confident that this was indeed a post-viral syndrome. I chose the following symptoms in order to find a homeopathic remedy:
â€¢ General symptoms: Great fatigue and weakness. (Morrison, Desktop Guide)
â€¢ General symptoms: Trembling. (Morrison, Desktop Guide) [Justin’s mother had told me that during the initial fever episode and afterwards, he trembled so much that she had to hold him tightly against her chest to still him, and if she let go, he would scream.] â€¢ General symptoms: Appearance; “worn out” expression. (Morrison, Desktop Guide)
â€¢ Head: Heavy head, feels as though he can hardly lift it. (Morrison, Desktop Guide)
â€¢ Eyes: Heavy, drooping eyelids. (Murphy’s Materia Medica) [People would stop the mother in a store to say how tired her baby looked.] â€¢ Limbs: Loss of power or muscular control. Excessive trembling and weakness of the limbs. Heavy lower limbs. Knees weak, tottering gait, cannot direct his legs. (Murphy’s Materia Medica)
â€¢ Temperature: Influenza. Wants to be held because he shakes so. (Murphy’s Materia Medica)
â€¢ Modalities: Complaints from sudden change from hot to damp air [Ireland]. Worse damp weather [Ireland]. (Murphy’s Materia Medica)
The above symptoms all pointed to Gelsemium. Gelsemium’s keynote symptom of weakness after a virus was also obvious. I prescribed one dose of Gelsemium 30C for Justin.
Justin gets stronger
Justin’s mother reported: “We gave Justin two pellets of Gelsemium 30C that evening. The next morning I immediately noticed some improvement. When I picked him up, he didn’t feel so limp. He had a little strength and some resistance in his musclesâ€”he didn’t feel like jelly anymore. So we repeated the remedy that evening, the next morning, and the next evening. Each day, Justin was showing improvement. His color came back, his eyes looked more alive, and his episodes of leg weakness became less and less frequent.”
“Justin had an EEG [electroencephalogram to test electrical activity of the brain] a few days later, which was normal. At a follow-up visit with the neurologist, he also saw an improvement in the baby’s condition. He advised us against any further testing saying that this condition would resolve on its own.”
A relapse and a fever
A week later, the mother telephoned me to say that Justin’s problem was starting again. He was bending at the knees, walking backwards, losing balance, and had a tottering gait. I told her to give him another dose of Gelsemium 30C.
She called me the next morning and left a message on my answering machine saying that she didn’t see much improvement and that Justin now had a low grade fever of about 100–100.5°F. She suspected another ear infection and was going to bring him to the pediatrician. By the time I received this message, the visit to the pediatrician was a fait accompli, so I waited in anticipation to hear back from her, hoping that Justin had not received another antibiotic from the pediatrician. That afternoon Justin’s mother called to report that she had given him another dose of Gelsemium 30C that morning, and by the time they had arrived at the pediatrician, he was fine. There was no fever, no ear infection, and nothing to prescribe on. The pediatrician told her that the walking imbalance was probably behavioral.
What had happened?
From a homeopathic perspective of healing, Justin’s relapse with fever was probably a good signâ€”it was likely a revisiting of the initial episode he’d had in Ireland. This time, he did not take antibiotics but allowed his body to go through the process of fighting on its own inherent strength (helped along by the homeopathic remedy Gelsemium). He won the battle! Justin’s condition completely resolved.
George Vithoulkas, in The Science of Homeopathy explains this process beautifully. “From the moment of onset of infection … the defense mechanism calls into action the normal mechanisms of fever, cough, etc. … and the patient goes to the doctor. If the defense mechanism is strong, it eventually re-establishes an equilibrium and corrects the changes in vibration rate caused by the bacteria and the antibiotic. If, on the other hand, the defense mechanism is not quite strong enough … the vibration rate does not return to normal and is altered even more deeply by the antibiotic. Since the problem is fundamentally not one of a particular microorganism but rather a weakness of the defense mechanism of the patient, antibiotic therapy cannot be expected to work. The antibiotic is a further noxious stimulus with which the defense mechanism must cope, and the vibratory level inevitably progresses deeper and deeper. The continued suppression of the defense mechanism … leads to progressive weakness. A therapy must be applied which strengthens the resonant frequency of the entire organism. Once this occurs, the defense mechanism can function effectively and progress will proceed in reverse order through previous vibratory levels.”