Clinical Cases

A Case with Pericarditis and Pleuritis

Dr. Douglas Falkner analyzes a case of Systemic Lupus and finds a remedy at the heart of the case.

This case concerns a woman in her early 30’s whom I have been working with for several years, and who had been diagnosed with Systemic Lupus. Over the years, she had done very well with several remedies, including Lycopodium clavatum, Argentum nitricum, Natrum muriaticum, and Palladium metallicum.

My approach to patients has always been to keep things simple. Rather than utilize external complex systems that categorize patients and remedies into kingdoms, classes, categories, pictures, types, miasms, etc., I have always found that a basic understanding of the core disturbance, as exhibited by clearly described characteristic symptoms, nearly always leads to the best remedy in each case.

Staying open, impartial, and unprejudiced, as Hahnemann exhorts, is paramount to “seeing” into the heart of the case, and identifying the important characteristics that lead easily, with the simple tools of repertory and materia medica, to the curative remedy.

In this particular case, even though all her laboratory indicators for Lupus had normalized over the years, showing no more signs of her disease from a conventional perspective, she continued to experience unexpected flares in various parts of her body, including skin, pleura (lining of the lungs) and pericardium.

With her last flare, which involved both the pleura and her pericardium, the usual remedies, which had helped in the past, were no longer effective. In an effort to clarify her case and identify a new remedy that would not only help her to recover from this flare-up, but also to “annihilate” once and for all the underlying vital disturbance causing her symptoms, I asked her to email me a written report describing everything and anything that was on her mind about herself, on any level of her being.

I sometimes ask my patients to use other formats besides verbal communication to acquire information or new perspectives that have not been forthcoming in the more conventional spoken interview. I have found that often I will learn things that never came to light before, thereby unlocking a stuck case.

At the time of this active crisis, here is what this patient wrote to me in an email, sent from, of all things, her iPhone (thank you Steve Jobs and Apple!):

“I feel like I’m loosing faith and it’s not me (her flare-up), I usually try everything. I want it all, I want to stay home, I want to be famous, I want nice things. My feet are always freezing.

“The throat throbbing feels like someone threw a ball or hit me in the Adams apple. Or choked. When I take a deep breath my shoulders and throat hurt. My throat hurts like the throbbing and I feel like my breaths are more quick and not as calm and relaxed. (This is typical in pleuritis/pericarditis)

“I also feel very tense. My muscles. My cycle is also very off, it has been since before Kevin (her 3 year old son) but getting more annoying. I spot for a few days then get my period- very heavy for 7 days and spot again. Everything lasting 2 and a half weeks!

“I have been also thinking, I in no way want to go back to the hospital, but I like the point in the ER when things are calming down with my heart rate or whatever and I breath a sigh of relief and watch something I like on TV.

“I’ve been there on Friday nights, so I like say yes to the dress. I don’t want to go back, but I like that feeling. I don’t like that people think I’m a sick person and expect me in the hospital.

“My sister and my Sis in law said something and everyone is always asking how I am. There was a time around last Christmas, the first time I wore my hair down and lost lots of weight. Feeling very good about myself and then Kevin and I were hit again and all this started a few weeks later. I don’t like the way I feel about myself and not used to it. All growing up I liked the way I looked and flaunted it, and now I cover up and it’s not me.

“I also like to wear expensive clothes. I like getting a good deal but I like the designers. I also wanted designer underwear and bras, I wear good ones but wanted La Perla- crazy expensive and didn’t get it, but thought I would feel better wearing it. I do feel better wearing things I like- not always expensive.

“I’ve been reading 50 Shades of Gray, and I wish I was like that woman. I don’t have those feelings she has, and it makes me sad because I want that kind of love and I want to feel adored and cherished.

“I feel a lot like I want to re-do things, even go back to high school even though I didn’t have a great experience, re-do college and spend more time with my friends and date more. I wish I could re-do my wedding, I would do things so differently. I didn’t want to say too much because my parents were paying, but my sister spoke up and got what she wanted.

“When we go to Hershey park lately or Disney I feel I want to re- do and go more slowly and kiss Kevin more. I always wonder did I kiss him enough, did I give him enough attention or was I taking too many pictures and not being as involved. It all makes me feel sad.

“I know deep inside I truly want to be home and wish I had the connection with my husband. When my sister said she was pregnant, I was so happy for her, but it brought up feelings about me wanting to be pregnant too.”


What really stands out here in her writing is her longing for appreciation and her sadness or regret about how she had done things in the past. The character in 50 Shades of Gray, with whom she so deeply identifies, was absolutely adored! This is what she is missing.

Remedies such as Lycopodium and Palladium, which moved her case forward somewhat over the past few years, share some of the longing for attention and appreciation, but neither remedy has this deeper quality of wanting to be totally adored in its very core.

In the Complete 2012 Repertory we have the following symptoms:

mind; APPRECIATION, desires (38)

mind; FINERY, luxurious clothing, wants (19)

mind; SADNESS; events, over past or finished (8)

The remedy that carries through is Placenta Humanum. Reading through the materia medica of this remedy, it easily becomes apparent that this remedy matches this patient profoundly on all levels, and may actually have been the remedy needed all along.

Unfortunately, I had been using the Complete 2009 Repertory for many years while treating this case, and Placenta humanum was only listed in a very few rubrics, making it virtually impossible to find it through standard reportorial methods. Once I updated my repertory to the Complete 2012, the full remedy information was included, so this remedy figured clearly in my latest analysis and shone like a glaring light.

In addition to the specific symptoms used to repertorize the case, the materia medica describes all of her symptoms including the cold feet, chest and throat sensations, her irritations surrounding her husband, and her enmeshments with her mother.

It is not surprising to find that in the proving of this remedy, Placenta humanum, we find issues surrounding love and nurturance, and the drive to birth things into the world, be it an actual baby or some personal creation from the heart. This patient’s ongoing struggle to receive the nurturing she believed she needed to feel whole and complete in her life, is being addressed and healed by the mysterious powers of her individual similimum. With Placenta humanum, she is being restored to health, “cured, as it is termed.”


Within hours of receiving the remedy, her more than 2 week flare, untouched by other seemingly indicated remedies, began to palpably subside. After only 24 hours, her condition was over 50% better, and the healing continued from there. Months later, she is now symptom free in terms of her pleuritis/pericarditis.

As with any case receiving the similimum, my patient has been experiencing shifts on more than just the physical level. She is seeing things resolve in her life that have been concerning her for many many years, especially in her family relationships. She has been physically stable for quite some time, and I am confident that with the help of Placenta humanum she will find her way to fully embracing herself and her life, without the need to project herself into storybook characters, who seem to have everything she thinks she wants.

As a teacher and creator of the “Homeopathy Through Simplicity” approach and practitioner training program, I have found that being able to clearly perceive without prejudice, and having the simple tools of a good repertory and a large materia medica data base, are generally sufficient to find the best and deepest acting remedies in most, if not virtually all cases that one engages. Complex systems of thought are no substitute for grounded, clear perception and a complete and deep understanding of the case.

Refining our ability to connect to our own unique inner guidance and individual genius and gifts are more central to successful prescribing than all the learning and memorization of external systems of thought. The homeopath him or herself, in the final analysis, is the most powerful and essential tool in this awesome art and science we call Homeopathy.


Note: Dr.Falkner is currently registering students for his next practitioner training program starting in September 2012. Please visit for more information or to see a brochure, or contact Dr. Falkner at [email protected] or 541-552-1400 for further inquiries.

About the author

Douglas Falkner

Douglas Falkner, MD, MHom is the Founder and Chief Instructor at The Falkner School for Homeopathy, which offers practitioner training programs at both beginning and more advanced levels, all interactive, live and online. Dr. Falkner is a fully trained Emergency Medicine Physician, Clinical Emergency Medicine Instructor, and Homeopath. With extensive training in both conventional western medicine and homeopathy, Dr. Falkner combines his knowledge of modern medical science with a deep understanding of the homeopathic healing art. He maintains a busy homeopathy practice in Ashland, Oregon, and also offers phone consultations nationally and internationally. For more info: [email protected] and


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