Clinical Cases

A Chronic Cough of 27 years

Written by Pauline Wilson

Homeopath Pauline Wilson carefully works a case of chronic cough with the Sensation method and finds the simillimum.

cough“It’s lying there waiting to come up….” a chronic cough of 27years.

This case was worked according to Sankaran’s analysis. There was no “prelude’ as such, as the client gave a brief history and then immediately began describing her symptoms at sensation level, then deepening to source. I was in unfamiliar territory and could only be patient and trust the client would describe her remedy in full as indeed she did.

3/2011  “D”, a female age 47yrs, presented with a deep-seated daily phlegmy cough and chest congestion which she had since age 20.  Previously D consulted me once over 10 years ago for the cough, with no improvement. D also tried numerous treatments since: reflux medicines, lozenges, expectorants and an asthma inhaler, all with no relief. Her GP now advises a respiratory specialist. Chest X ray is normal.

“Very heavy in chest with yellow/green/brown expectoration. It rises up, very hard to get it out, it’s very thick. I feel it dripping down my throat and swallow it. It rises up, I’m drowning in it. It’s settled on everything. I wish I had a big syringe to suck it out.  I’m a well person and it’s holding me back, embarrassing at the office, and irritating. It’s a heaviness, it’s waiting to try and come out. When I exhale I feel it rattling around. It bubbles away. I know it’s there waiting to come up. Nothing shifts it. When I’m by myself I have a big exhale which makes it bubble up. I can bring a little up, some amelioration. It’s very thick, spongy and sticky, as if it’s gripping on the sides; it’s so hard to come up. When I lie down it’s a lake, a settlement of this stuff, waiting to drown me.

There’s a tight feeling in my chest, restrictive, a sideways tightness, a pulling. An urging process, I am not at comfort. As if vapour is rising up – stuff that is given off, the first stage of the process. It takes up the whole area up to my throat, the vapour fills it up, all together it takes up that space. Gas fills the space and creates the urge to cough. I swallow stuff, but other stuff is coming up.

D is describing her experience as if it is something not part of herself trying to come out. Terms like gripping, vapour, gas and lake are unusual words to describe a phlegmy cough.

“I have recently changed jobs and all stress has gone. I’m sensitive; keep things on board, worry how people feel and think, with high expectations of myself. I’m worse from confrontation; I have a responsibility to my employer and to the customer – opposing sets of what’s going on. Create a barrier to it, by giving an answer, which impacts on what the customer wants to do.

It’s stopped; vapour may pass through barrier so it may rise up; it’s as if there are little hairs with water droplets on, the air has got to go past to get up. The movement creates an existence that shouldn’t be there. Tiny fine misty droplets sitting on little hairs, creating some resistance to the air; when I finish breathing in, there’s a catch, which is the urge to cough.”

D is sensitive to confrontation which alerts us to the plant family perhaps, the opposing sets mirrors her comment of swallowing stuff, but other stuff is coming up, along with the idea of a barrier and resistance. The mucus drips down and forms a lake, while at the same time there’s a sensation of an existence rising up and wanting to come out.“Creates an existence” points again to something “other” – some “thing” that shouldn’t be there. D creates a barrier by answering a customer, while the vapour passes through a barrier as it rises. The response of the physical symptoms is the same as D’s response to managing opposing sets of circumstances highlighting the significance of these symptoms to the case.

“Childhood recurring dream: a cord being pinched together, a string. I could see it, squeeze it and it would be gone. My response is puzzlement, a hollow white tube, like rubber hosing, spongy, like rubber. Tacky when it moves together, it’s a closed position, sticks then moves back out again. Smooth and flat and raised like a mound, not holey like a sponge. Its strong, it has its ‘ownness’ to it, a solid mass, green yellow brown colour. A definiteness about it, solid, thick, sticky and doesn’t want to come out. It’s being made somehow, something is making that stuff. Maybe I’m eating something it doesn’t like. There’s something in my environment that’s causing it to be made.

Like a dollop of custard. It’s lying there waiting to come up, always rising up. There’s residual stuff clung on, taking up room in the passage, not at rest. A clear piece of tube would be at rest. It’s housing something that shouldn’t be there…definitely an on-going process. “

A defiant dollop of custard! Custard with a mind of its own indicates an animal remedy. Again mention of a process…talk of her environment also points to animal or plant sensitivity.

Sankaran “ An animal remedy will not come down to one pattern, but a process. “First I fly, then I grip, then I run, then I eat, then I get trapped, and then I try to free myself.” That is the whole story. That is the difference between plants, animals, and minerals. In animals there will be multiplicity of sensations and there will be a process unfolding which we can discern as case taking progresses.” From “Survival – The Mollusc” 2008 p 27-28.

I am listening to a description of something trying to get up and out; there is vapour, a lake and drowning. I visualize a trapped insect in a carnivorous plant trying to save itself from drowning.

The opposing forces – animal and plant indicate the process occurring with D – her cough is an attempt to expel the intruder, while the insect tries desperately not to drop into the lake and drown.

3/2011 Rx :  Sarracenia  1M SD

Sankaran’s Plants Vol 111. P 1538 . Passive pitfall traps – Sarracenia purpurea. Prey is lured to enter a water holding pitcher, and then cannot escape usually due to wax that impedes getting a footing. The downward-pointing hairs on the slippery walls then prevent the insect from crawling out. Malaria miasm- persecuted by trapped, constricted and spasmodic sensations.

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Confirmatory symptoms from written cases. P 1544       

“Like a graph- the beats drop and rise, like expansion- contraction’s dropping, it’s rising.”

“A mound- like a tiny bag filled with pus- fat? It’s more solid than pus”

“molasses”  “sticky, gooey” “ like a sticky dessert- it sticks and it’s hard to get off and it keeps things stuck together and it’s hard to move.”

 “I can’t figure out which way is up or down, helpless like I’m drowning” 

“Vaporized, stuck in a bubble, like formaldehyde”

Rubrics from Complete Repertory – Proving by Porcher, Duncan and Thomas. Tincture made from whole fresh plant, and root.

Delusion – is heavy                 Heaviness- internal

Anxiety of conscience           Oversensitive to all external impressions

Cough- in catarrh, exhausting, hard, paroxysmal, racking, expectoration>   Mucus tenacious, viscid

Chest: constriction, as if with wire, lying >, oppression

Water- sensation of water dashing against inner parts

Follow up 5 weeks:  “Maybe a little better, no major coughing fits, no dry retching episodes to the point I’m in tears. Now goes to lunchtime when needs a good cough. No sense of drowning sensation on lying down at night; now aware of a pool not a lake. Heaviness is there, builds up after lunchtime. Dreaming of best friend, three of us and one person is left out. Known her since age 2yrs- I lost her when she married my ex-husband. Sadness/loss that there is no other friend.”

Rx Sarracenia 1M SD

5/2011 Follow-up- 7 weeks   “Really good progress, amazingly good to be free of it; the heaviness/vapour is gone. No cough at all. No tightness in chest. Lying in bed – it’s wider; I can breathe deep, no sense of anything rattling around. Still congested in nose; in the last 1-2 weeks a little bit back, not a lake there, mucus coming up is stringy, not the same. Feels more acute-  just a cold.

No dreams, less feeling of loss, not bogging me down.”

Rx Sarracenia 1M SD

Follow-up 9/2011 – 4 months.   “Chesty cough, whole household down with colds, brought the cough back again. Could do with a booster. Heaviness, vapour back, dry retch to get congestion out, was literally free of it. Sometimes lots of mucus, not as solid, jellylike. Lake sensation back, not as much. For 2 nights woke coughing, had all gone previously.

Rx  Sarracenia 1M SD

Follow-up 5/2012- 7months since last Rx

Son and people at work all had colds which I got. Cough and chestiness stayed once the cold goes though it’s milder. Constant urge to cough – not as far down as it used to be.  All good, Rx worked so well, a miracle cure, totally clear.”

Rx  Sarracenia 1M SD

Follow-up 8/2013 15 months since last Rx. Cough again, no obvious cause. Busy looking after father takes up a lot of time. Also doing up house – exposed to sanding dust from time to time. Sensation of a lake not there, its thick spongy phlegm rather than liquid, looks like its back in its classic form.  The Rx works so well – it’s changed my life.

Rx Sarracenia 1M SD

7/14 -9/2014 D brought her son for treatment. No cough since last Rx a year ago.

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About the author

Pauline Wilson

Pauline Wilson LCH graduated from the London School of Homeopathy in 1985 and has been in practice in Wellington, New Zealand ever since. She was a tutor at the Wellington College of Homeopathy for 21 years. For Pauline, case-taking is the heart and soul of homeopathic healing, indispensible to finding the true simillimum. Pauline is grateful for her inspiring teachers Vithoulkas, Sherr, Sankaran and the Bombay School, and her clients whom she continually learns from. Pauline’s experience is that when the remedy is given, a powerful transformative process occurs, constantly renewing her passion for homeopathy. Visit Pauline at her website:



    • Thank you. It would be interesting I am sure for you to share the research information you mention about Sarracenia being valuable for lung congestion. perhaps it could be published in this e journal? Pauline

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