On April 29, 2017 I got an urgent email from Michelle, a married Korean lady studying to be an acupuncturist.
The subject line read: “EMERGENCY.”
“I have excruciating pain on my right side in front of my ear. I cannot chew. It started from yesterday evening, when I tried to have dinner. I baked crispy chicken and tried to bite, then suddenly this pain came. It got better a while later, and I was able to finish dinner. I thought it was okay, but now I am trying to have breakfast and cannot chew. It hurts too much. This never happened before. When I swallow, it hurts also. I don’t know what it is. The pain is in the zygomatic process area or wider.”
Michelle had experienced an attack of herpes zoster of the mouth a few weeks earlier. All the symptoms were gone for at least two weeks before the facial pain occurred.
My diagnosis was trigeminal neuralgia. The trigeminal nerve (fifth cranial nerve) is responsible for sensation in the face and motor functions such as biting and chewing. It has three major branches: the ophthalmic nerve, the maxillary nerve and the mandibular nerve. The ophthalmic and maxillary nerves are purely sensory, whereas the mandibular nerve supplies motor as well as sensory functions.
Symptoms include one or more of the following:
- Episodes of severe, shooting or jabbing pain that feel like an electric shock;
- Spontaneous attacks of pain or attacks triggered by things such as touching the face, chewing, speaking and brushing teeth;
- Bouts of pain lasting from a few seconds to several minutes;
- Constant aching, burning feeling that’s less intense than the spasm-like pain.
Since Michelle’s episodes of acute pain were triggered by chewing and swallowing, clearly the third (mandibular) branch of the trigeminal nerve was affected. Although I had no proof, I suspected that the varicella virus was the culprit.
The beauty of homeopathy is that it does not seek to attack pathogens such as the herpes virus. The immune system is more than capable of defending us against all and any threats, if we know how to release its power. The key is only to apply the universal law of like cures like.
Michelle’s symptoms were keynotes of Spigelia. Boericke writes: “Neuralgia of the fifth [trigeminal] nerve is very prominent in its effects.” Phatak says, “Pains are violent, burning like a hot needle or wire, jerking, tearing, stitching, radiating to other parts. Very sensitive to touch. Worse motion or jar.”
Spigelia typically has left-sided symptoms but not exclusively so.
Rx Spigelia 200C
Follow-up next morning: “It’s still there. I put Frankincense mixed with coconut oil and magnesium on the area. I also took a lot of magnesium. I need to see my dentist and need acupuncture. To me it’s serious. It might be TMJ. I feel better, though. I took the remedy once yesterday and today in the morning.”
Twenty minutes later she wrote again: “Actually I’m eating now. It’s a lot better.”
Follow-up second day: “I think I might not have to see my dentist or acupuncturist. It’s a lot better.”
She has had no return of the neuralgia over the past two years.