Clinical Cases

A Case of Overactive Gag Reflex

Written by Rachel Levine

Rachel Levine presents a case of overactive gag reflex.


Initial Case Taken February 2015

Jane was age 63 when we started to work together. She had high blood pressure (HBP), but more striking, she had a severe overactive gag reflex.  This was an old symptom.  Jane was a retired teacher. When she started teaching in her 20’s, the sudden gagging and vomiting appeared and it went away soon after.

Fast track thirty years later at the start of menopause, Jane was diagnosed with HBP and her overactive gag reflex came back with a vengeance. For the last ten years she has been struggling with it. She saw countless doctors and naturopaths, with little results and took hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for three years.

In many ways this was a Boenninghausen style case. She didn’t recall any major trauma in her early life, had a good home life and as an adult, had a successful marriage, home life and no financial stress. Her only concerns were about how her adult children were doing.

She gags from strong odors. She will be speaking on the phone having a normal conversation and will start gagging or vomiting.

Since Menopause she can’t wear turtlenecks or scarves (2).  She can’t have her husband come close to her neck or she starts to gag (2). If there is sadness or a bit of emotion when seeing friends or saying good-bye to loved ones, she will often have to run and vomit (2)

Since starting menopause ten years before, she had hot flushes. She often perspired on her stomach and chest (1) (it would come on randomly during the day).

She has a history of cold sores that would come on twice a year since being pregnant.  They were < left side and upper lip (2)

She was never on the birth control pill, never had an abortion or miscarriage.

She can’t swallow pills.

She constantly feels that her throat is dry and always carries water with her.

She takes frequent sips of water (2).  She wakes up in the night to drink and will have to go to the washroom at 2am (2).  Her sleep is quite good, but she grinds her teeth (1).  She feels refreshed in the morning on waking.

The gagging will sometimes be pronounced on rising in the morning (2).

It all really centers around the throat (1).  She can brush her teeth, but can’t floss.

She can’t handle foul odors, so her own bowel movements will trigger vomiting  (2). She often bites the inside of her lip.

Food/Drinks: She eats meat, salads and farinaceous foods. Desires cookies and pastries (2). She prefers ice cold water (2).  She is more thirsty than hungry (1)

She has osteoarthritis and had a hip replacement a year before we started working together. She would get pain in her groin which extended downwards on the thigh.

No Fears or Phobias.  She is fastidious and systematic (2).  Her father had bone cancer and died in his 80’s. She finds thunderstorms exciting . She had painful but regular menses.

She gets nervous with public speaking, but can accomplish it (2).

She does not gag with needles or at the sight of blood.  She is sensitive to coffee or wine (stimulants).  She loves to dance (2)

Her father was a functioning alcoholic.

First Prescription – March 2015

There was little information to work with. I started with Lachesis 200 CH and Sulphur 200CH as an intercurrent in a 1/2 cup of water,  one dose a day apart.

There were two weeks where she felt no gagging. She would be on the phone and nothing happened. The stiffness in her back and neck was completely gone.

She usually has pain in the hip bones turning over in bed which was 80% gone.

Still going to washroom at 2am.  Her hot flushes reduced. She had not been anxious at all.  She was not gagging if her husband came close to her.

Second Prescription

May 2015

I re-dosed her as her gagging was starting to present itself again.  The remedies didn’t hold as well. The gagging increased and she started perspiring more.

When in enclosed spaces she threw up. The odor of a candle made her throw up.

Having dinner with a group of people she suddenly had to throw up. She started having burning in the chest (2). Hot flushes increased again with perspiring on chest.

No presentation of cold sores since working together.  No change in libido and it is quite diminished.

Third Prescription and Onwards  -June 2015 – Present

I changed remedies and gave her Colchicum 200CH in water once every two weeks – two doses total.  She said “This remedy “is working for me.” My energy is good. I don’t feel like I need to nap every day. She had one gagging session in a month and said “I am feeling excellent.” Burning in chest decreased by 80%

Hot flushes have greatly improved and no perspiration on chest.  She can have her husband close to her neck.

I have re-dosed with Colchicum twice and it is working beautifully. The only shift that has not occurred is her libido. I gave her a dose of Sulphur to take as an intercurrent to address this. The Overactive gagging has improved by 98%.

Repertory’s Used: Synthesis 9.1 and Complete Repertory

Rubrics Used

Generalities odors strong agg,,  Food/Drinks Farinaceous, Generalities Food/Drinks Sweets, Dainties. , External Throat Constriction

External Throat Sensitive slightest touch; to, Stomach gagging, retching

Mind Anxiety Anticipation

Mind Alcoholism (Since father was an alcoholic, must take into consideration)

Mind Fastidious

Smell Acute

Smell Acute odors for offensive

Smell sensitive to odors food

Smell sensitive to odors strong odors (combined with unpleasant odors)

Female Sexual Desire Diminished.

Sleep Waking Night, Midnight after Two Am

Stomach retching, gagging, vomiting after

Smell Acute Everything Smells too strong

About the author

Rachel Levine

Rachel Levine, MSc (cand), DSHomMed is a homeopathic physician. She is a graduate from the Canadian College of Homeopathic Medicine and is an MSc candidate from the University of Central Lancashire in Integrative Health with a focus on Homeopathic Research. She is an externship supervisor at the Canadian College of Homeopathic Medicine and her work has been published in the Journal of Complementary Medicine and Integrative Health and Homeopathy. She has presented her work in Israel, Toronto and forthcoming in Paris.

1 Comment

  • Excellent one.
    Only the patient knows how embarrassing and worry sum the gaf is. I am 46 and I feel gag due to anxity when I hv to catch a flight or train. I always feel anxiety of losing a train or flight. Even I cant keep my denture in my mouth.

    Do you suggest the same to follow for this ?

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