Clinical Cases

Revisiting: Halloween Remedy Casts Kelly’s Toothache Clear To The Cosmos

Written by Elaine Lewis

Kelly had a decayed tooth that was causing her pain, did you guess the right remedy?

Who remembers last month’s spell-binding Halloween quiz?  If you’ve forgotten it, here it is again with the answer to follow.


Kelly, you don’t look like yourself; and what’s with the pointy hat?

It’s Halloween, Elaine…!!!!  Unfortunately, this picture you’re seeing of me was taken while I had a toothache.  Was I ever desperate!  Too disoriented to remember my incantations, my potions all went up in smoke, I wasn’t myself!

Did you try calling Dr. Bombay? 

I got his nurse.  Dr. Bombay was skiing in the Alps.  Then I remembered your toothache article!  I went back and reread it; it was inspiring: “If Elaine can use homeopathy to cure a toothache, why can’t I?”  Then I remembered why.  I’m not a homeopath!  So, I got in touch with Elaine.

Yes, I still have the emails:

Help me or else!—Kelly

Why haven’t you answered me yet, it’s been 5 minutes!—Kelly.

Oh Elaine, you kept them!

Just call me a sentimental fool!

Do you have his number?

I hear Endora takes a dim view of bad jokes!


Yikes!  I’ll just proceed with my case then!  Ahem!  “My Toothache”, by Kelly Young.

One sunny, yet bleak, afternoon, a dull pain began in my right lower molar.  Chewing made it worse, so did both hot and cold drinks.  I wasn’t surprised as the tooth was decayed and my dentist had suggested a root canal a while back and being no fan of the dentist, I put it off.

Kelly, you’re setting a bad example for our adult readers.

I’ll give a boring speech at the end about the importance of regular dental visits along with brushing and flossing and sub-gingival irrigation with baking soda and peroxide to prevent periodontal disease, OK?  Elaine?  Oh geez, she’s nodded off again like the Dormouse in Alice In Wonderland!  Oh well, to continue… I noticed that before the daily tooth pain became severe, I often had a headache that was made somewhat better when I rubbed my temples.  The episodes started typically in the afternoon, growing steadily worse through the evening.  Usually I felt better in the morning.

After reading the uplifting articles on her own dental debacles, I contacted my ever-helpful

…and cheap…

…homeopath.  Hey, I thought you were asleep!


I was just saying that you suggested three remedies, that you couldn’t decide among the three, but said to try one and if that didn’t work to try the other; so, I tried the first remedy which gave a little relief but nothing more, even after taking it more often and plussing the bottle; so decided to move on to remedy #2 and I could tell by the second 30c dose that, amazingly, it was working!

Unfortunately, the next day things took a bizarre turn.  Part of the tooth had broken off!  It felt funny.  There was a sensation of pressure and an odd pain.

I succussed the bottle and kept taking ___________ with only minor relief.  I was quite confused at this point!  However, the next morning the truth came out.  The earlier broken-off piece had lodged itself between the tooth and the gum and was causing the pressure feeling!  But I didn’t know that then!  I didn’t know what was going on, I only knew the tooth had broken off.  So I kept taking _____________over and over again and much to my dismay the pain got worse!

No way!

Yes, way!  (I’m glad to see you’re back with us!)  I felt like I had relapsed to square-one!  Then it occurred to me that this was an aggravation!  Thankfully, from reading these wonderful pages, I knew how to do the “Aggravation Zapper” (thank you, Elaine Lewis and Diane Fuller!!!) and things settled down really quickly.  Whew!

Now here ‘s the funny thing.  When the aggravation went away, I started probing the area and that was when the broken piece fell out!  I looked at it and it was all decayed!  The remedy actually did dental surgery!  Now I was completely pain free and have been ever since, proving once and for all that seeing your dentist is a complete waste of time!

What about the speech you were going to give at the end?

That was it!


OK!  So, how exactly did we do?  Remember when we were here a month ago discussing the Gelsemium “Mission Impossible” case?  Remember I said to our friend Rajiv that the mistake he made was in “repertorizing”?  Well, this is a perfect example of a case that DOES need repertorizing! But oddly enough, no one did!  The votes I got were mostly for the common mouth and teeth remedies: Mercury, Silica, Hepar sulph ….

It’s understandable that people would gravitate towards these remedies but when we’ve got a case consisting mainly of local symptoms, all with equal value, repertorizing is essential because there is no etiology, no strange/rare/peculiar, no mentals, no generals, no concomitants and no keynotes of a remedy.  It is incumbent upon us, therefore, to repertorize!  There is no way for us to “intuit” a remedy here, there is no remedy picture, there is no “essence” to capture our attention, and the state (tooth decay) covers so many remedies, over 100, that we’re not going to get any help from that angle either.

So, in a case like this where you have to repertorize, you will be shocked when you see the remedies that come up!  I remember repertorizing a toothache for myself once, only to have the remedy turn out to be Rhus tox!  I said, “What does Rhus tox have to do with a toothache?”  But it worked!  The remedy that worked for Kelly will astound you too!

But what is the case here, that is the question!  There is really not a lot to go on!  There are only four symptoms really.  Putting them into Repertory language, they are:

  • Teeth, pain, toothache, chewing, from.
  • Teeth, pain, toothache, hot food, from (I combined this with: “Hot drinks agg.”)
  • Teeth, pain, toothache, cold, from anything
  • Teeth, decayed

That’s it!  Stated simply in layman’s terms: toothache from tooth decay: worse chewing, worse heat and worse cold.  It’s not a whole lot, is it.

Some of you felt it was much more than that!  Examples of symptoms you wrote down were:

Slow onset, night time agg., morning amel., inflammation of roots of teeth, pain extends to temple, etc.

In fact, there were so many symptom-suggestions that I feel compelled to start a section called:

Things Worth Forgetting!

First of all, if your symptom is based on an assumption or a conclusion you’re drawing, like “inflammation of roots of teeth”, forget about it!  Kelly never said that!  She also never said that her toothache extended to her temple, nor that rubbing helped her toothache, nor are we really sure that her headache had anything to do with her toothache at all as it seemed to disappear before the toothache became severe; so, I ignored the headache completely.

“Slow onset” is irrelevant here as tooth decay is a slow process by definition!

Some people thought Kelly was “confused” because she said she was “confused” by the presence of pain after initially feeling better.  When confusion is normal or expected, it’s not a symptom!

Some people thought that Kelly had actually written emails threatening to kill me; hence, the remedy Mercury (desire to kill).  I am ordering you people to get counseling immediately because I fear there is no hope!

Some of you thought that because the case started with, “One sunny yet bleak afternoon…” that one of the symptoms was,”sun aggravates”.  (OMG!)

Finally, large rubrics like “night time agg.”, with 250 remedies, isn’t going to help us in the least.  I’m not even sure that this was part of the case anyway.

When looking for rubrics, don’t forget to find the MODALITIES—the things that aggravate and ameliorate the patient.  Notice how our rubric choices here in Kelly’s case consist almost entirely of modalities! 

Make sure your patient understands the sort of information we’re looking for when we say, “What makes your complaint better or worse?”  We’re interested in the aggravation time, the weather, temperature, motion/lack of motion, position of body, stimuli like: noise, conversation, touch, pressure, music, light, darkness, company, sympathy, food and drink.

For instance, let’s say a person tells you he has a horribly itchy rash.  Your first thought should be, what are the modalities?  Better for hot bathing/hot applications?  Cold bathing/cold compresses?  Humidity?  Scratching?  Indoor air?  Outdoor air?  If the patient says, “Oh, I’m sooooo much better for hot applications, as hot as I can stand it!” there you are at Rhus tox!  You could never give Apis to this patient, nor Sulphur as they are so much worse for heat.  Don’t give a remedy that contradicts the modalities!  Don’t give Sulphur knowing they’re worse from heat!  “He seems like a Sulphur: a bit of a slob, kind of bossy, likes sweets, sweats a lot…sure he’s better from heat and Sulphur hates the heat, but, that’s just one symptom, all the rest seem to fit!”  No!  The “rest” could fit anybody!  The only significant symptom here is “eruptions, itching, better heat”, which rules out Sulphur!  The modalities, people, make sure they fit!  Pay attention to them.

Kelly’s bad tooth was on the right side, but don’t say, “I’m going to use the rubric, “Right-sided complaints”.  Sides of the body are important but not in this case.  For all we know, she might have more bad teeth on the left side; and let’s face it, she probably does!

What’s “peculiar” is important; if the patient’s symptoms are common for the disease, that will not help you narrow down your remedy choice.

If your symptom is common in general, like “better from sleep”; this will not help you.  Who isn’t better from sleep?  However, if your patient is worse from sleep?  This is peculiar and worth repertorizing.

If you spot remedy “keynotes” in a case, that’s very important!  Robin Murphy used to say, “If you see a keynote of a remedy, give the remedy!”  

So, I repertorized the only symptoms that appeared to be in this case (again: toothache worse chewing, worse heat and worse cold and tooth decay thrown in for good measure), and here’s what came up:

Kali carb., Phosphorus and Carbo veg.

Carbo veg?  Yes, Carbo veg!  And that was the remedy that worked!  Can you believe it?  Carbo veg, the remedy we associate with burping.  What can I say?

Well, nobody won this time, but I think we may have encouraged people to try homeopathy the next time they have a toothache.


Elaine Lewis, DHom, CHom

Elaine takes online cases.  Write to her: [email protected]

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About the author

Elaine Lewis

Elaine Lewis, D.Hom., C.Hom.
Elaine is a passionate homeopath, helping people offline as well as online. Contact her at [email protected]
Elaine is a graduate of Robin Murphy's Hahnemann Academy of North America and author of many articles on homeopathy including her monthly feature in the Hpathy ezine, "The Quiz". Visit her website at: and

1 Comment

  • Elaine, here it is 2023 and I just read this case from 2009. I’m glad you don’t take down your older articles. I think Kelly’s tooth was also likely “worse from sugar” (if that’s even a rubric) because it was, after all, Halloween and she most likely got into the candy. I currently have a toothache and I realized it started after I ate some candy. Thanks for posting this article!

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