Hands up for those of you who were taught in your training that no one can “do” Phosphorus like a Thuja? That’s one of the few things that crossed my mind when I met Chelsea. She was expressive, had a kind big smile, sparkling eyes, a contagious laugh and a great sense of humor. Just listening to her was both entertaining and thought provoking with her champagne resembling loquacity. In fact, in consultations I would have to scrape for physical symptoms because she was so introspective and philosophical. She would effortlessly tie future and past to the present. The relationships with her parents and how they affected her emotional and physical health were always hot topics. Rarely would I have to offer her insights; she figured them all out by herself just by talking. She “just felt” like what I expected a Phosphorus to feel like. Surely it could not be that simple?
Path to PCOS
Well indeed it wasn’t that simple. Chelsea came to me for help with her PCOS symptoms. Having read plenty of material from integrative medicine specialists saying that PCOS is reversible (Northrup 2006; Glenville 2012), I happily joined her on her journey towards healing. Chelsea struggled with all the classic symptoms; hirsuitism, insulin resistance, weight gain, and menstrual irregularities (Northrup 2006). She suffered especially from candida overgrowth despite having completely changed her diet several months before and having done a candida cleanse. Her menses were so debilitating due to fatigue that she’d have to take off work several days around her period.
Whenever we spoke, she every so often would squint her eyes. When I asked her about it she replied: “Oh, I picked that up from a boy that I once liked..”.
However, I noticed that it would happen more when we spoke about emotional things. Such when she nonchalantly told me that she didn’t get into drama school when she was 21 but that it hadn’t surprised her because clearly she hadn’t been ready.
She described herself as having been an extremely sensitive child but having an aggressive dad. One day – she was then a tween – she stuck up for her sister while the whole family was in the car and dad reached back and smacked her.
“I decided then and there to never love my dad again as he clearly didn’t love me”.
– “So did the weight gain start shortly after this or before?”, I asked,
“Shortly after come to think of it”, she replied.
She shared how looking back that was when the emotional eating started which lead to hating her body. She hated it to this day. It didn’t help that mom would say how much Chelsea was like her. Mom was obese herself and the last thing Chelsea wanted to be was obese.
At 16 she was diagnosed with PCOS.
Thuja after all
The self reproach, ovarian cysts, candida overgrowth and desire to hide screamed Thuja to me despite her long reflections when answering my questions and her overwhelming Phosphorus demeanor and appearance. Of course I decided to repertorize (Murphy 2005) which gave me Sepia and Thuja with the following rubrics:
- Food – sweets, general, desires, agg., which
- Mind – disgust, feelings, body, with one’s own
- Mind – answers, general, reflects, long
- Skin – hairs, skin, excessive growth
- Eyes – close, eyes, general, involuntary
- Tongue – coated, tongue
- Female – menses, general, weakness, during
- Female – cysts, genitalia, ovarian
- Female -vaginal, discharge, leucorrhea, candida, albicans
Seeing Chelsea’s strong feelings of self-contempt and the apparent aetiology of feeling unloved – key characteristics of the Thuja picture (Vermeulen 2004; Murphy 2006) – I prescribed Thuja 200c twice a week.
Perhaps they were right in college? Nobody can do a Phosphorus like a Thuja?
Soon after that prescription Chelsea’s belly-button discharged a viscous, stringy fluid that she described as smelling very “fungussy”. I left it alone, interpreting it as good reaction which it indeed turned out to be because it resolved quickly. Her skin cleared up much after that and the constant bad taste she had before, went away too. She also remembered that she had small warts on her fingers as a child which sometimes would have a hair in the middle. Thuja was not such a bad choice indeed..
With a couple of Thuja repetitions, going up in potency the following few months, the candida resolved completely as well as the fatigue around menses. She developed healthy cervical mucus, her cycles balanced out, and some cycles she would even ovulate. The sugar cravings went but carbohydrate cravings were up and down. Slowly even the squinting went away, and when I mentioned it, Chelsea let out a disarming “Oh yeah!”.
On and off Chelsea would retreat, away from people, to recharge. She would tell me: “It feels like the pain I feel is not mine. It is an overwhelming fog, suffocating.”
“At the moment I feel like best and the worst ever at the same time.”
She would share how she struggled with confronting friends and family about issues that bothered her, but then she would go and confront them anyway with her Thuja as her encourager. She was very brave that way.
The emotional root of PCOS
We would talk about the emotional root of PCOS. How its symptoms make women unattractive and unfeminine, often for a reason that started on the emotional level in the first place (Northrup 2006; Glenville 2012). We would also talk about how the suppression of ovulation in PCOS is in a sense a suppression of creativity (Shapiro 1996). Chelsea worked hard, did her homework and continued to embrace her feminity and started to express herself more creatively. She started to play netball which she had wanted to do for years but had been scared to do.
Then one day – after we had gone up to 1M the month before – she said that she was finally ready to start applying for jobs that were a challenge to her. She was done with being bored and struggling financially. She was done with pushing men away by hiding in an overweight body.
“I can’t carry on not telling people how I feel. And oh by the way, I started a stand-up class now, and I turn out to be pretty good!”
Needless to say, I was over the moon.
Chelsea landed a great job that was as challenging as hoped for, and although she enjoyed it, it exhausted her and so she dipped in her health. Her menstrual fatigue returned, she feared not falling asleep and being too tired the next day, and even avoided meeting up with people because of that. She also complained about not being able to come up with words at times and frequently struggling with indecision.
I prescribed Phosphoric Acid 30 twice daily until improvement set in. Carefully I wondered if underneath the Thuja was a Phosphorus after all…
The Phosphorus under Thuja
Chelsea continued to take Phosphoric Acid over the months that followed whenever she was tired, overworked, had the brain fog and was hunting for words. Slowly however her remedy picture started to change and when she developed a cold that went to her lungs and it lingered for several weeks, it was evident that she needed a new remedy. The consultation revealed how much her picture had really changed. After having spoken before about the role of suppressed femininity in PCOS cases, she now shared that she actually always saw herself as extremely sexual compared to other people but that she had never had a serious relationship. Ever so carefully she told me that she would masturbate frequently and although she had rejected that about herself before, she now embraced her sexuality instead. As far as generals she was feeling much warmer and had started to crave ice cold drinks with her cough.
The repertory (Murphy 2005) gave me Phosphorus for the first time in this case, followed by Pulsatilla and Phosphoric Acid.
- Food – cold, drinks, water, desires, ice, cold
- Mind – answers, general, reflects, long
- Mind – fears, phobias, general, unlovable, of being
- Female – sex, female, suppressed, desire
- Female – masturbation, disposition
- Female – menses, general, amelioration, during
- Lungs – expectoration, lungs, discharges, taste, sputum, sweetish
- Lungs – expectoration, lungs, discharges, yellow, morning
Based on the clear lung symptoms which her vital force was communicating to me – including the sudden craving of ice cold drinks – I should have prescribed Phosphorus straight away. However, fearing I was repertorizing towards that one remedy, I decided to play it safe and go with good old Pulsatilla as a lovely therapeutic for colds gone down to the lungs, worse in the morning.
Pulsatilla however didn’t do much so I went back to my initial repertorization, dove back into my materia medica and of course then there was no doubt in my mind that Chelsea needed her Phosphorus at last. I prescribed 1M single dose which cleared her cough within a day.
Why Thuja’s do Phosphorus so well
Chelsea and I are still working together and the next ovarian scan she will get will be a big deal. However, seeing her inner healing she has achieved already – the by far hardest bit – gives faith that her body will soon get the memo too.
It is cases like these that make me question my beliefs on remedies, whether they have been passed on to me or whether they were born out of my own experiences. Is it really true that no one does a Phosphorus better than a Thuja and is a case like this one the black swan amongst the many white? The exception that proves the rule, so to speak. Or is this one of the homeopathic myths passed on to me and that I risk passing onto future generations of homeopaths?
What if in fact many Thuja‘s really are Phosphorus underneath. Is the vivacious, creative, vulnerable Phosphorus always at risk of being pushed into a Thuja state in our current society? A society that loves and celebrates some Phosphorus characteristics but abuses her sensitivity or shames her lack of boundaries into suppression of her sexuality… the quintessential aetiology of Thuja?
Glenville, M., 2012. Natural Solutions to PCOS. London: Macmillan Publishers.
Murphy, R., 2005. Homeopathic Clinical Repertory. Third edition. Blacksburg: R.R. Donnelley and Sons.
Murphy, R., 2006. Nature’s Materia Medica. Third ed. Blacksburg: R.R. Donnelley and Sons.
Northrup, C., 2006. Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. London: Piatkus
Shapiro, D., 1996. Your Body Speaks Your Mind. London, Piatkus.
Vermeulen, F., 2004. Prisma: The Arcana of Materia Medica Illuminated. Third ed. Haarlem: Emryss bv Publishers.