Courtesy :Homeopathy in practice Winter/Spring 2013
Frequently one hears people joking about their ‘senior moments’ but, often, these moments cannot be laughed off any longer. Sometimes, family members ignore the early signs of dementia as these signs are not seen as ‘signals’. This is because they may alternate with periods of lucidity. There are occasions, however, when sudden mental decline slips in. Whether the onset is slow or rapid, this state is regarded as irredeemable by mainstream medicine.
The reason why it is extremely difficult to address dementia with any system of medicine is because one has no access to the pre-verbal period of sufferers’ early life. It is actually during this time when one’s ability to modulate stress is established.
Taking up the challenge
Homeopathy is one system of medicine, however, which may be able to address these states if:
1) Treatment commences as early as possible.
2) A friend or relative can explain the level and nature of trauma in the background, which correlates with the level of suffering. (Gabriel Garcia Marquez speaks of ‘the inseparability of past, present, and future’.)
3) A drug or toxicity layer can be exposed and removed through treatment.
4) A physical contributing factor is identified, such as a history of hysterectomy, insomnia, malnutrition, obesity, osteoporosis (on a physical level) or depression and grief (on an emotional one). Note that insomnia is an important trigger as not only can it influence obesity but also bone formation through its adverse effect on the adrenals.
5) Maintaining causes can be removed, for example isolation, junk food diet, sedentary lifestyle, lack of mental stimulation, stress.
6) A family history is elicited (miasmatic inheritance plays a vital role).
I would emphasise the much-used adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ in dementia, as it applies in such related diseases as diabetes. In fact, the latest research even goes so far as to describe Alzheimer’s disease (the most extreme form of dementia) as ‘diabetes type 3’ (arising through the same misguided lifestyle and emerging on the same trajectory).
According to an article in the ‘Review’ section of The Guardian on 28 August 2012, a report is quoted that states the following: Due to the fact that people are now living much longer (after all, the ‘baby boomers’ are coming of age at this time!) and, with the population explosion, degenerative brain illnesses presents a ‘national crisis’ (to quote David Cameron). Furthermore, he goes on to add that caring for these people has become ‘one of the greatest challenges of our time’.
The tip of the iceberg –
One of the reasons why Alumina has become such a ‘polychrest’ in these states is due to its ability to antidote the effects of aluminium in the organism. After all, it is only in recent years that aluminum has been phased out of cookware and utensils (it may still be contained in some allopathic medications).
A remedy, which closely resembles Alumina in its passive state, is Nux moschata. In Nux moschata, there is a more comatose state, but the same level of sluggishness exists. This is mirrored in both remedies through stasis of the bowels. There is a shared slow response when answering questions and a type of regression commonly seen in dementia. Many of the remedies discussed here cover this theme, although it is most marked in the Baryta salts.
The causative factor in Nux moschata could be ‘disappointed love’ and the confusion in this remedy often relates to finding locations – a type of disorientation (rubric ‘confusion, loses his way in well-known streets’). Glonoine is the main remedy in this rubric, which indicates its connection to Nux moschata. Therefore, Glonoine could easily be a satellite of Nux moschata if hypertension prevails.
Both Alumina and Nux moschata have a dryness running through them, shown in lack of perspiration, dry skin eruptions, and thirstiness. These symptoms indicate that dehydration has a major effect on the functioning of the brain (after all, the brain is composed of 80% water).
Alumina is a syphilitic remedy, and has more depression than Nux moschata, as demonstrated in the rubrics ‘smiling, never smiles’ and ‘repulsive mood’. The emotional causation could be scorn – see rubric ‘ailments from being scorned’, as opposed to ‘ailments from disappointed love’, reflected in Natrum muriaticum.
The Baryta salts are indicated in the passive state of dementia. Of course, these remedies are the main ones indicated for childishness (see rubric ‘childish behaviour in elderly people’). Often, the Baryta patient hides behind a carer or relative. There may be accompanying physical pathology such as hypertension or sclerotic changes (the latter especially in Baryta muriaticum). The timidity in the Baryta remedies is more marked than in Alumina. There is a similar sense of disorientation here, as seen in Alumina as well as Nux moschata. In Alumina, one sees ‘delusion, everything seems unreal’. In the Baryta salts there is ‘delusion, everything is changed’, and ‘delusion, familiar things seem strange’. In Nux moschata, this delusion is more exaggerated, as expressed in ‘delusion, familiar things are ludicrous’.
Plumbum metallicum is closely related to both Alumina and the Baryta salts. The Metallicum remedies are known for their marked level of weakness; so, if the patient is very weak and has not responded to one of the above indicated remedies, then consider giving Plumbum metallicum. Note that this remedy is contained in the rubric ‘repulsive mood’ alongside Alumina (as well as Ambra grisea and Conium to be discussed later).
If there is physical pathology, Plumbum metallicum is more likely to affect the upper extremities, whereas Alumina relates to the lower extremities. This remedy is well known for Parkinson’s disease, when everything literally slips out of the hands (a symptom which is very symbolic of old age) and reminds one of the related remedy Conium maculatum. This disease can affect the functioning of the brain structures, with its depletion of dopamine (the ‘feel good’ neuro- transmitter).
So, dementia, in these cases, could be covered by this level of undermining. The stasis seen here reflects on the bowels in an even more extreme way than seen in Alumina and Nux moschata. Sometimes, there is complete impaction, and only manual evacuation will relieve the patient. I should point out that, as long as there is weak elimination in any remedy picture, the mood will be low and the cognition will directly suffer the consequences.
A type of paranoia can erupt in Plumbum metallicum – reflected in ‘delusion, everyone around him (see box below) is a murderer’, and ‘delusion, he is about to be arrested’. The extreme confusion can lead to ‘errors of personal identity’ (like Alumina and Kali bromatum). However, in Plumbum metallicum this state is more extreme – see rubric ‘delusion, errors of personal identity, thinks she* is someone else’. Like the Barytas, there is dislike of being alone (Alumina and Nux moschata are, opposedly, averse to company).
* Kent was a little confused about genders in his description of rubrics, although more women than men succumb to the disease.
After a lifetime of burning the candle at both ends in the style of Medorrhinum or Tuberculinum, the Conium maculatum state can develop. How can old age be embraced when the whole focus has, till now, been so materialistically based? This culminates in difficult understanding and an indifference to the environment (like Helleborus niger). In the same way as depicted in the related Baryta salts, imbecility can take over. Other remedies mentioned here which are also black type in the repertory under ‘imbecility’ include Alumina, Ambra grisea, Hyoscyamus, Nux moschata, and Opium. Note that Conium maculatum can secure the work of the Barytas if the action of the latter salt does not hold or work in the first place. The arteriosclerosis noted in this remedy becomes reflected onto the emotional level in its hardening. This could be due to loss of property (the latter symptom also seen in Aurum metallicum and Kali bromatum), effects of alcoholism (Anacardium and Hyoscyamus are also noted here) or cessation of sexual activity.
The disappointed love seen in Conium maculatum overlaps with Natrum muriaticum and the marked guilt parallels that seen in Aurum metallicum and Kali bromatum. Conium maculatum resembles Plumbum metallicum in its inclination to sit – see rubric ‘sit, inclination to’ – and slowness in motion – see rubric ‘slowness in motion’. Constipation is a theme seen in this remedy, alongside many of the other remedies mentioned here.
The Kali bromatum state can emanate from many different causations, ranging from strokes on a physical level, to business failure, death of friends, loss of property, or reputation, on an emotional level.
There is a type of regression that occurs, as in the Baryta salts. In Kali bromatum, it is accompanied by a sense of foreboding, seen in the ‘delusion, of being doomed’. (Hyoscyamus and Opium have this symptom to a lesser degree.) They can also have the ‘delusion of being pursued’ (like Anacardium, Hyoscyamus, and Plumbum metallicum). It could be the outcome of a religious crisis in Kali bromatum (as seen in Aurum metallicum). Being a deeply syphilitic remedy, insomnia can prevail and an extreme sensitivity to pain (as opposed to Opium’s indifference to pain).