A Story of Love, Loss and Redemption

columba palumbus pigeon

Homeopath Anke Zimmermann finds a bird remedy a perfect fit for her patient with painful facial rash.

I first met Diana (not her real name), a charming, beautiful woman in her seventies, who looked much younger than her age, on June 17, 2014. She was stylishly dressed and very well groomed. Her chief complaint was a severe, bumpy red facial rash on her cheeks and jaw line since the fall of 2010. She said it felt as if someone was using a blow torch on her cheeks. At other times it can feel like prickly heat. It flares up a few times a week. She has some of this rash on her fingers and hands as well.

“It is so unsightly, almost like proud flesh,” she says.

Tomatoes seem to aggravate it. She uses Benadryl and topical cortisone cream to control the rash.

The onset of the rash was preceded by a trip to Africa. Asked about what happened before and during her trip to Africa she said that she received several vaccines, including the Yellow Fever shots just before leaving. She also took malaria pills during her trip and for two weeks afterwards. While there she had an accident riding on a bus, where she was thrown forward in her seat and hit got hit hard on the bridge of her nose on the metal seat in front of her.

She also got really sick with diarrhea and was given antibiotics. After she returned home she developed unproductive spasms of the bowel and was diagnosed with colitis due to the antibiotics she had had in Africa. This fortunately improved with probiotics.

“After Africa I didn’t feel myself. I felt depressed and was getting over the loss of my husband.” I asked for details and learned that Diana had actually been married three times and both of her former husbands as well as her last husband had died that same year.

“I took care of my last husband for 25 years. He had a massive stroke just one year into our marriage.”

She had two children with her first husband and two more with her second. They raised the kids together.

“My second husband was the love of my life but betrayed and left me at the end. There was a lot of sadness around that. ” They were married for 25 years.

Her third husband subsequently also developed cancer and Diana nursed him through it until the end. She gave up her job and career to take care of him.

“After my (last) husband died, life as I knew it just ended. I had given up my job to care for him and now I had to move. Nobody seemed to be interested in me. I’ve had several big griefs in my life.”

She described herself as having a very strong faith and of being actively involved in her community. At times she will isolate herself in her apartment for days. She loves her quiet time, likes to meditate and enjoys music. She is very creative and enjoys decorating, the healing arts and event-planning.

All of her children developed serious health problems as did her husbands. She was always the caretaker. To me she appeared very gentle and devoted, strong and caring, without any obvious resentment. She is the middle of three children, with a large age gap on either side. She said that she felt lonely but self-sufficient growing up. Her relationship with her mother was not great.

“My mother insisted that I get married at 17 even though she knew I did not love this young man. I felt my mother just wanted to get rid of me. But I felt pressured and did marry him.

“When I left this husband a few years later I had two little boys. My mother helped me to take care of them. One day I overheard her telling friends that she had advised me against marrying him. That felt like a dagger to the heart. I never forgave her for that comment.

“I could not leave my third husband because he was so sick. I wanted to do the right thing. He was not a very loving husband.

“I could do so much and was so capable but I think that I have been taken advantage of in life.”

She has reactions from fruit; her mouth breaks out from strawberries and oranges and she is not fond of fruit. She gets heart burn if she eats too many sweets or gluten.

She sleeps well. She has had a recurrent dream of being in a very large house, more like a castle. She is the Matron of the house and it is not in this era. There is a huge music room with many instruments, harps and a grand piano. In order to control the climate and humidity in this room a brook and a waterfall are built into it. It is very pleasant.

By now I was considering various grief remedies, especially Natrum mur and Ignatia. She did not seem as closed as Nat-mur and gentler than Ignatia. Ignatia can have an aversion to fruit so I checked for some other symptoms and asked about birds as Ignatia can have a fear of birds.

“I love birds! My son and I call each other the bird-brains and bird-whisperers. We talk to the birds. When I lived in X a robin would knock on my window to visit and follow me around outside. I would talk to the crows about not eating my strawberries and they’d listen to me.” She has owned canaries and budgies in the past.

She is very interested in spiritual matters and has been working with New Age methods and books for 9-10 years.

At this point I was considering bird remedies. She was very gentle, a natural caregiver, yet very strong and with a strong spiritual inclination as well as a history of much grief, betrayal and loss. She was just beautiful inside and out and had a certain natural self-sacrificing air to her which appeared to come from love, devotion and faith. In spite of much loss, grief and feeling that she had been taken advantage of, she did not appear hardened or bitter.

Nonetheless the rash was a sign that not all was well. I did wonder about the vaccines and medications she received prior to and during her trip to Africa as causative factors, but the grief with the loss of her three husbands in one year also stood out. In any case, those were a lot of traumas to her system in one year.

At this point I used some applied kinesiology testing to differentiate between the effects of the above and it pointed more to the grief as a causation.

I chose Columba palumbus, a homeopathic remedy made from a ring dove (woodpigeon) feather for her. When I shared this with her, she looked me straight in the eyes, closed the folder she had open in front of her and pointed to a name tag on its cover. It showed the symbol of a dove next to her name. We both sat there, stunned, for a moment. Then she held out her hands to show me her beautifully manicured fingernails – there was a tiny dove painted on the nails of each ring finger.

columba-palumbus-pigeon

“I’ve used the dove as a symbol for myself for years. It represents the holy spirit for me.”

Plan: Columba palumbus 200CH one dose.

Immediately after this consultation I went to the local grocery store down the street and saw a promotional display for Dove shampoo and conditioner prominently set up in the middle of the store, which was unusual. I bought a bottle of each remembering that I was running low. I had never bought Dove shampoo before. I did not realize until later that it also showed the same symbol that Diana was wearing on her nails. I think the universe was really trying to send me a message that day!

Follow-up July 14/14

“After taking the remedy I had a few very emotional days and cried a lot. A lot of memories came up. Then something in me changed. I started organizing and purging, going through papers, shredding things. My shredder was full twice. I re-arranged my apartment and ordered a special white leather chair that I really wanted, did something just for myself. This was very unusual for me.

“I am coming to grips with things more, accepting things I can’t control. I no longer feel so responsible, including for my children’s life choices and health problems.

“I am feeling more at peace about my mother as well. Intellectually I knew that her intent was not bad, although for a young person it was hard. I used to get a bad reaction in my gut thinking about her, now I don’t.

“My skin is getting better, I am not as aware of it over the past week.”

Assessment: Wonderful emotional release, greater acceptance of circumstances in her life and most of all, she did something very nice for herself by buying an expensive new chair which she would not have done before. Plus, of course, her chief complaint was improving.

Plan: Wait to repeat remedy until she relapses. I gave a dose of Columba 200 CH to take home with her. I also recommended she take Evening Primrose Oil, 3000 mg a day and Citrus Bioflavonoids, 2400 mg a day to further reduce the inflammation.

Follow-up August 22/14

“A lot happened in the past month. I was feeling down about past hurts and losses and a man from the complex knocked on my door and asked if I’d like to go for a walk by the ocean. I had not been by the ocean for five years and agreed to go.

“Then I took the remedy again the Saturday after I saw you and had a big healing crisis two days later. I went to Cattle Point ( a place at the ocean) for 51/2 hours and dealt with an unbelievable amount of pain around my mother.

“The treatment to me has been as if the doors have opened. I released all this pain.

“Now this man has proposed marriage! He gave me a gift, a glass globe with two white doves in it, one of those with snow you can shake and he didn’t even know about the dove story.

“My skin is better than it has ever been in the past four years. I can still feel some dryness but it’s about 75% improved.”

Assessment: Great progress, more emotional release, skin is improving and a marriage proposal!

Plan: Columba 200CH to take if needed.

Shortly after this visit I went to Sidney too see my hair dresser and wandered into a dollar store on the main drag. There I saw a greeting card with two white doves flying in the blue sky and a sun between them. I thought about Diana and her incredible story and bought it with her in mind.

Follow-up September 27/14

Diana repeated the remedy on August 22 and again on September 14. After this she accepted the marriage proposal and she and her fiancée have applied for a couple’s apartment.

“My skin is about 80% improved, there is no comparison!

“And my life has done a 180!

“After the emotional releases and talking to my new partner I realized I no longer wanted to be self-sufficient. I really wanted to share my life with someone. I gave up my wall. Before I felt – nobody is going to get close to me, so I won’t get hurt.”

I gave Diana the little greeting card with the doves and she loved it. Somehow, the image said it all.

Assessment: Awesome result and wonderful synchronicity of events. Truly magical.

Plan: Columba 1M as needed.

Follow-up October 20/14

I received an email with an announcement of her marriage which took place a few days earlier. The email contained an attachment of a photo. She had taken the image of the card I gave her and blended it with a photo of herself and her new husband tenderly kissing at their wedding.

Follow-up December 20/14

I contacted her to ask permission to write up her case history. She gave permission and reported that all was well with her health and life and wrote: “Thank you for enabling me to unburden and be released to enjoy my life.”

Discussion:  This was only the second time that I had given this remedy in my career. I knew about if from Dr. Jonathan Shore’s book on birds in which he reprints some of the proving information conducted by Elizabeth Schulz:

“I feel suppressed anger. Always being a victim. Then my surroundings become a lot clearer. My glance becomes clear and there is a lot of love for humankind . My heart opens and tremendous softness originates, then changes into an incredible anger about the ugly face of the peace dove.” This was the exact feeling, she felt very self-conscious about the rash on her face. The ugly face of the peace dove. This was a woman who took great pride in her appearance and was truly beautiful but hampered by this rash. At the same time she emitted such a wonderful energy of love and gentleness.

“With a lot of effort I succeed in holding my tears back. I am flooded with feelings of  inferiority, I am fat, stupid, ugly.”

“They (the doves) come back to their family, back to the group, no matter what the situation looks like because their longing to be together is very big.” (She was devoted to a very sick husbands and sick children all her life.)

“Energy of grief. Memories of slowly creeping processes that lead to cancer. However, people don’t notice anything. They don’t notice how they continue to suppress. She becomes very peaceful, but she senses that the appearance is deceptive. Softness, tenderness and gentleness are felt.”

Summary by Elizabeth Schulz:

  • I always have to serve.
  • Strong feeling of community.
  • Anger, suppression (similar to Staphysagria)
  • Great sadness,
  • Softness, tenderness, gentleness.
  • Grief and suppression of grief.
  • Ability to console and love even the aggressor.

Dove image:

  • Symbol of holy spirit and divine inspiration.
  • Naivite, harmlessness, innocence, humility

Reference: Birds, Homopeathic Remedies from the Avian Realm by Jonathan Shore, Judy Schriebman and Anneke Hogeland, 2004, published by Homeopathy West.

About the author

Anke Zimmermann

Anke Zimmermann

Dr. Anke Zimmermann, BSc, ND, FCAH, is a naturopathic doctor specializing in homeopathy. She also has a special interest in childhood developmental disorders and CEASE Therapy. Dr. Zimmermann has been in clinical practice for 23 years and works and lives in beautiful Victoria, BC, Canada.

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