Case Quizes Clinical Cases

Revisiting: Kelly’s Mother’s Flu

Written by Elaine Lewis

Flu sends Kelly’s mom to the Emergency Room! Did you find the right remedy for her?

Mom, guess what?

Shana, I’m busy writing my ezine articles.

Mom, this is your ezine article!

Really?  Am I in it?

Alright, I’m just going to ignore you and start with my first announcement.  Billy Joel’s “You May Be Right” from the “Glass Houses” album turned 40 on March 12th, and as you know, I have to document such important anniversaries.

You may be wrong but you may be right…. You may be wrong but you may be right….

Hello!!!  Is anybody listening?

Well aren’t you going to play it?  Why even bring up “You May Be Right” if you’re not going to play it?

I AM going to play it!  But with Elton John!  It was the greatest thing that ever happened in the history of music!

What on earth are you talking about?

Here are Billy Joel and Elton John doing “You May Be Right”:



Sadly, I have a Death to announce.  James Lipton, the host of “Inside the Actor’s Studio”, passed away on March 2nd.

That show will be missed.  He interviewed Billy Joel too, as well as the entire cast of “The Simpsons”.  I looked for the Billy Joel interview but I couldn’t find it.

James Lipton


Shana, if there are no further announcements?  It’s time to start the Quiz!!!!  Everyone will be very happy to know it’s a short quiz this time, and here it is:

Kelly’s Mother’s Flu (as told by Kelly):

Elaine, 8+ hours in the ER with my mom yesterday.  Severe flu, dehydration, dementia or something else?  Hopefully they’ll figure it out today.  She’s actually a pretty healthy 82-year-old and laying in bed is not going to help her!

So, not much change in my mom’s condition.  She’s more alert but still very confused, weak with garbled speech and trouble swallowing.  More testing today but no one thinks it’s a stroke as she doesn’t seem to have any other stroke symptoms.  We will see if she has any more of the intestinal problems which is what precipitated all the current issues.  She’ll likely go to rehab for a bit which I hope will be helpful.

Kelly, try __________________.


Hi Elaine,

Just wanted to let you know that ________________ really helped my mom.  I gave her 2 doses of 30x last night and today she is awake!  Talking, swallowing, eating a little.  Still very weak though.  I gave her another 30x dose this morning.  I was stuck between ___________ or ___________ but you helped make the decision for me!  Thanks!


OK, everybody; that’s the case!  If you know the answer, write to me at [email protected] and let me know.  The answer will be in next month’s ezine.









Hello everybody and welcome back!  How did we do this month?  Who wants to go first?

Hi Elaine, how are you?

Good, thanks!

I think the answer is Gelsemium as It covers the confusion of mind, difficulty in swallowing, speech difficulty and weakness.

You are correct, sir!  I couldn’t have said it better!  Very succinct and, how shall I say….  Perfect!



Who else wants to come up to the microphone?

Hi Elaine and Shana!

Hi Maria!

For this month’s quiz I am between Gels and Ph-ac.

OK, well, listen, let me simplify this for you.  Phos-ac isn’t even a flu remedy.  In fact, I have to tell you the truth here.  I have almost never prescribed Phosphoric acid!  In my article, “Today’s The Day”:

Today’s The Day, Elaine Turns 100!

 which was about the first 100 cases I had posted in the ezine, out of all of them, not one of them is Phosphoric acid!  But, in fact, Gelsemium, on the other hand, came in second.  So, the likelihood that any case is Phosphoric acid is very low!

Ailments from flu, both are 2

I wouldn’t say “ailments from” the flu, Maria; she HAS the flu.

Mind, confusion Gels is a 4. Ph-Ac 3

Incoherent Speech both are 2

Difficult swallowing, Gelsemium 2, Ph-Ac 1

Weakness both are 3

Weakness from flu both are 2

So here is my confusion.

Since etiology overrules symptomatology:

If etiology is loss of vital fluids then Ph-Ac would be the remedy.

If etiology is the flu itself then Gels would be the remedy because ph-ac is not in the flu rubric.

Yes, that’s what I was trying to tell you!  

I will vote for Gelsemium.  I think Kelly had the same confusion between Gels and Ph-ac.

Regarding Phosphoric acid, it’s almost never the remedy, especially if the person has the flu.  If a patient has the flu, the remedy is more likely to be Gelsemium than anything else.  It’s the only “4” under “Influenza”.  Here in this case, we have dehydration, which means the patient is thirstless—at least that’s what it means to me.  What flu remedy is thirstless?  Gelsemium!  We have incoherent speech.  Gelsemium is besotted, stuporous; they don’t finish sentences, they don’t ask for what they want, they’re dull-witted and always seem to be asleep.  Can’t swallow!  Gelsemium, as they say, is the “great paralyzer”; muscles go lax, sag.  Tone is lost.  This is why she can’t swallow.  Even the eyelids droop.  So, everything here points to Gelsemium.  I do recall now that I gave Phos-ac. once to a guy who was losing his hair due to grief.  The rubric is:

Mind, grief, ailments from, hair, falls off–Carc, Nat-mur, Phos-ac.  Apparently it worked, too.

If I am wrong I will try again!

You’re not wrong, so don’t try again!

Tricky quiz Elaine!


I think I see Neil from the UK…

Hi Elaine ,

I was going for Stramonium for this week’s quiz as stramonium scores bold under confused, incoherent speech and difficulty swallowing which are 3 main symptoms listed.

However etiology suggests flu and intestinal origin, although what that means I’m not sure unless its gastric flu as dehydration is mentioned.  So. with those two things in mind and Etiology scoring highest, I’m going for Arsenicum.


Hi Neil.  First of all, don’t confuse etiology with “diagnosis”.  Flu isn’t the etiology, it’s the diagnosis.  She doesn’t have ailments from the flu, she has the flu!  We don’t know the etiology.  We would have to know why she got the flu.  We don’t know.  So we have no etiology.  You’re right about not knowing what Kelly meant by “intestinal problems”, I personally have nooooo idea!  There must have been a reason why I never said, “Kelly, what do you mean by “intestinal problems”?  It must have been that I felt I had all the information I needed from her description:  1. Severe flu.  2. Dehydration (suggesting she was thirstless, not drinking).  3. Confused.  4. Incoherent speech.  5. Trouble swallowing.

So, if we repertorize that….what do we get?  We get–and not surprisingly–Gelsemium.  Can you see the chart below?

Thanks Elaine but i don’t know where you got thirstless from, if i had thought of thirstlessness and flu, Gels would have seemed obvious.  I thought if she had difficulty swallowing that’s maybe why she was dehydrated.

That’s a good thought, Neil.  But, that would have meant that on top of having the flu, Kelly’s mom also would have had some sort of neuro-muscular disorder, like ALS, where people have trouble swallowing and are afraid they’re going to choke if they try to eat or drink.  But, Kelly said, “She’s actually a pretty healthy 82-year-old …” so, there goes that idea.  I took loss of muscle control (in her throat) to be a concomitant in the case, part of the remedy picture; and in the case of Gelsemium, they really do lose muscle tone; their eyelids droop/sag as we all know.  They have loose stools.  They look besotted, sound as if drunk.  They’re weak and wobbly.  Everything in the case looked like Gelsemium, and when you know that Gelsemium is our #1 flu remedy, you should probably start from there and ask:  “Is this a Gelsemium flu?  Well, she’s confused, can’t swallow, dehydrated (so, probably thirstless)… so, yeah, it could easily be Gelsemium.”


Hello Elaine,

I am deeply confused: the case is very short (but I must be honest, the long ones confuse me too!), and I have three issues: flu (really? I wouldn’t say if I didn’t have the title), neurological symptoms (sort of, but not confirmed by diagnosis), and on top of it all, gastrointestinal etiology?  So it could be a dehydration, speech and swallowing impeded by that and not really neurological?  So maybe China?

Anca Ticu

Maybe it will help you if I tell you the “dehydration” suggests that she’s “thirstless”.


I think I see the gang from Slovakia making their way….

Hello, Elaine and Shana

Hi Miroslav and Jitka!!!!

Here are our answers to your short quiz that was difficult enough to solve for us.

Miroslav says: Belladona

It’s hard to grasp the case, there is little information to indicate the remedy.

However, I will try to guess something based on what’s written:

Flu, stomach

Speech, delirium

Throat, swallowing, difficult

It could be Belladonna.

Jitka says: Gelsemium

I couldn’t decide between two remedies Gelsemium and Opium.  Because the old lady had symptoms of both intestinal flu and stroke, first I thought of Gelsemium.  Gelsemium is indicated for stroke symptoms with numbness, weakness  and trembling with lost ability to speak.  If it wasn’t right, then Opium might help her.  Opium is in the rubric for old people, it is also in the rubric for apoplexy and moreover, its general characteristic is painlessness.  I had the feeling that the lady was not in any great pain, when her daughter said she was quite lively.

Lively in health; but not during the illness.

Well, Jitka is right this time, it is Gelsemium!

Regarding Belladonna:  Belladonna is a very intense remedy.  The symptoms are so extreme that the care-giver is usually frantic to do something fast!  There’s sudden violent onset.  High fever.  Blood rushes upward causing congestion, especially in the head, leading to a throbbing sensation.  Extremities are cold, head is hot, upper body is hot, radiating a dry heat.  Our patient, though, is quite the opposite.  The doctors think she’s senile because she’s so confused and dull and not making any sense.  We have a perfect case of Gelsemium here.  First of all, it’s our main remedy for the flu.  The doctors actually ruled out stroke, said there were no symptoms to confirm it.

Actually, my biggest clue to Gelsemium was when I saw, “trouble swallowing”.  This is something Gelsemium is known for because muscles become lax under the influence of Gelsemium.  We all know about the drooping eyelids, right?  So when I heard “trouble swallowing”, my first thought was, “Gelsemium?  Can I confirm Gelsemium here?  Is Gelsemium confused?  Yes!”  And then I heard the word “Dehydration”.  Is Gelsemium thirstless?  Yes!  Does it have the flu?  I got nothing but Yes answers! 


Hi Elaine,

Oh look, it’s Wayne from Australia!

I think the remedy is Arsenicum.


Influenza, infection, stomach, influenza

Influenza, infection; ailments from

No.  It’s not “ailments from” the flu, it’s the flu.  Period!

Dehydration, general, loss of vital fluids, ailments from

No, no, she has the flu with dehydration as a concomitant, suggesting that she hasn’t been drinking.  Meaning she’s thirstless.

Dementia, madness,

No, she’s not suffering from dementia.  There was a big question mark after that, remember?  When the doctors saw that she was confused, and old, their first thought was dementia.

Confusion, mental

Swallowing, general; difficult

Unintelligible, speech

The first 4 rubrics are Veratrum, Arsenicum, Mercurius and Nux Vomica

Some of these rubrics are too large to be finite; however, Arsenicum Alb is prominent and for the remedies under the rubric “Stomach Influenza” is in the top rank.

Right, but, we’re not sure about stomach flu, per se.  Very little information on that.

First of all, there is nothing, and I mean nothing, quite so clear, as the presentation of Arsenicum album in the flu or any flu-like illness.  You could never mistake it.  And what is that presentation?

  1. Restlessness, tossing and turning, moaning and groaning
  2. Anxiety about health, fear, DESPERATE NEED FOR COMPANY and reassurance
  3. Fear of death and begging, pleading for help
  4. Anguish and desperation
  5. 1 a.m. aggravation time
  6. Burning pains
  7. Cold/chilly, desires heat, hot tea
  8. Thirsty for sips at a time
  9. Great prostration

Now, what is the presentation of Kelly’s mother?  Is it anything like the above?  Not at all.  She doesn’t even seem to be “present”.  Here’s what we’ve got:  Severe flu with inability to swallow; confusion, confused speech and thirstlessness (dehydration).  What does this sound like to you?  Right away we should be thinking of Gelsemium! 

T.F. Allen says, regarding Gelsemium:

Swallowing difficult on account of loss of power of the muscles;

 Paralysis of various groups of muscles about the eye, throat, larynx, chest, sphincters, extremities, etc.

 Stupid, intoxicated feeling; Stupid and averse to study: Stupid and disinclined to conversation.

 The patient has lost control of his mental faculties, his ideas flow on in a disconnected fashion…


Gelsemium is famous for thirstlessness, plus it’s our main flu remedy.  So, there you have it, Gelsemium.

I don’t think I will forget what an arsenicum case of flu looks like.

Thinking back there were a couple of red herrings in the case.

Someone who has flu surely couldn’t and shouldn’t be suggested to be a dementia patient.  The dullness, dizziness and drowsiness, should not be so considered.

Well, that’s the medical profession for you!

In Australia a Dementia test costs $500 and this fee is not subject to subsidy from the government and is done by a specialist; it is that hard to determine.

All they saw was an old lady acting confused, therefore, she must be senile!

The supposed etiology was intestinal; that is why I thought of stomach flu.

Stomach flu, or intestinal flu, is not the etiology, it’s the diagnosis, a possible diagnosis.  I say “possible” because Gelsemium can have diarrhea or loose stools too, isn’t that right?  Look at what TF Allen says, “Paralysis of sphincters”.  That can suggest possible loose stools, can’t it?  We don’t know the etiology.  It’s not part of the case.  Maybe there was one but we don’t know what it is.  For example, a typical Gelsemium etiology is “Ailments From bad news.”  “Ailments From heat of the sun” is another.  “Ailments From stage-fright”… in fact, I remember a time when I had to play the guitar on stage.  I remember sitting there, waiting to go on, and suddenly feeling like I was coming down with the flu!  “Oh geez,” I thought, “I don’t think I will be able to go on!  I’m not feeling well; I must be coming down with something!”  No, that was just a typical Gelsemium stage-fright!  (PS, once I got on stage I was fine.) 

Now, let’s say–miracle of miracles–that there was a homeopath there at the time.  “Mr. Homeopath,” I would say, “What do you have for the flu?”  The homeopath would say, “What are your symptoms?  And when did it start?  And what was going on at the time it started?”  And I would say, “It just started, just as I sat down here, while I was waiting to go on stage.”  “Oh!” the homeopath would say.  “So it happened as you were about to go on stage!  Here’s your Gelsemium.”  THAT would be prescribing on the etiology!  Ailments from stage-fright.  It would have over-ruled whatever I said my symptoms were!  But in this case, we don’t know the etiology.  So we can only go by the symptoms.  The most characteristic symptom in the case, believe it or not, is trouble swallowing.  That should tip us off to Gelsemium right away.  Their muscles go lax.  They droop, they sag.  They call Gelsemium “the great paralyzer”.

Dehydration would be better described as thirstless.

We have to infer thirstlessness here because we are told she’s dehydrated.

As I am aware, a Gelsemium flu – I have successfully prescribed Gelsemium for flu – just seems to be transmitted through society.

As I said, not every case has an etiology.  In that case, you have to go by the symptoms.

A correct repertorisation including  thirstless and omitting Dementia, would have made a big difference.

No, you’re not going to be handed every case on a silver platter; you have to learn—we all have to learn—to make inferences from descriptions, words, phrases, that we don’t use as homeopaths.  Doctors have their own language.  We have to be able to translate that into Repertory Language.  Patients have their own language too.  They don’t say things like, “I have ailments from cold/dry winds.”  But they might say, “I got a headache from sitting in front of the air conditioning vent in the restaurant.”  We have to all learn to be translators.

Keep away from the Corona Virus

I’m trying!!!!!

Regards Wayne


Hi Elaine,

Hey, everybody, Vamsi’s in the house!!!

Hope you are doing well.  The Corona scare is really torturing and life has come to standstill.

Yes, I know; that’s cuz they won’t consider any alternative medicine!  

Hope things get better soon at USA , as it is the most affected place now in the world.  We all are locked up at our homes for the past 2 weeks and this is going be extended till things get better in India.

Same here.

(God knows when life will come to normalcy).

But, rain or shine….I would not miss answering your quiz!

I guess that’s all that matters!

Coming over to the quiz, Kelly’s mother is 82 years old and the main prominent symptom which I feel is, she had trouble swallowing.

That’s how I felt too.

Paralysis of independent parts and the severe weakness and also her intestinal problems, prompts me of “CAUSTICUM”.

Please let me know your thoughts.

Ordinarily I would agree with you.  I remember when my mother was staying with us, she mentioned that she was having trouble with food going down, that it seemed to descend down her esophagus very slowly; and I thought, like you, elderly person with paralysis of single parts, Causticum!  And it did seem to help!

But here in this case, we need a flu remedy.  Even the doctors said it was the flu.  So now we have to ask, what flu remedy would also be involved in paralysis of the throat?  And the answer is……….Gelsemium!  They call Gelsemium “the great paralyzer”.  You know, it’s one of our polio remedies too.  Another clue to the remedy: talking gibberish (you know, Gelsemium goes into a kind of stupor) and dehydration (which suggested she was thirstless).  So, I recommended Gelsemium and it seems to have worked.

Yes Elaine, Gelsemium is PERFECT !!!  Covers all the symptoms perfectly..

Somehow I forgot throat paralysis of Gelsimium ….Causticum covers the paralysis
part, but the flu would not have gotten better.  
Gelsemiun is useful in paralytic cases that begin with fevers added to it a
dazed mind ( as quoted by Kent ) ..  A perfect Gelsemium Case...
Thanks for educating us once again…. great quiz once again 




OK, I think it’s time we congratulated our winners.  Who were they?




And thanks to all who voted!  See you again next time!!!


Elaine takes online cases and animal cases too!

Write to her at [email protected]

Visit her website:

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


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