A family came to me asking for help with the chronic asthma of their twins. It was two weeks after their 3rd birthday and both had been suffering with asthma for over 2 years. Their son had his first attack at about 8 months of age. He was rushed to hospital and put on emergency medication. The daughter soon followed the same route, with her first asthma attack and hospitalisation at 9 months of age.
After this, the twins continued to suffer from incidents of acute continuous coughing, laboured breathing and additional respiratory infections that were treated with emergency inhalers and antibiotics each time. At age two and a half, these incidents had become so frequent and intense, that both children were put on daily steroid inhalers am and pm. The episodes of acute illness, however, continued, with each child being ill once every 6-8 weeks for 1-3 weeks each time. Whereas the boy seemed to cope a little better, the little girl found it hard to shake off any illness and recently had to have 4 courses of various antibiotics for acute pneumonia. Needless to say, Calpol had also become a staple.
The twins were conceived by IVF after 10 years of fertility treatments that included several cycles of Clomid, several IVF attempts, gynaecological operations and thyroid investigations and treatment. The pregnancy was traumatic with bleeding and cramping almost throughout, and was kept going by continuous medications and treatments. The children were born at 28 weeks by emergency C-section. Whereas the baby boy weighed only 925g and was kept in hospital for 2 months, his sister weighed 1097g and needed to stay in hospital for 3 months.
By this point, the parents, having experienced 10 years of intense yearning for children, had been through a most traumatic 10 months with uncertainty and emotional trauma hanging over them on a daily basis. What followed were three more years of constant illness, doctor’s visits and emergency hospitalisations. Needless to say, they both described their state as being one of complete exhaustion and intense anxiety.
Their children, however, ran into my office and proceeded to turn upside down and inside out anything not safely fixed to the wall, whilst making more noise than a gaggle of excited geese. It was almost impossible to proceed with a normal consultation. We managed somehow and so I extracted the following additional information relevant to the case:
Both children’s sleep was a disastrous affair. To start with, they both slept in their parents’ rather large bed, for reasons of understandable parental anxiety finding a perfect match in the natural manipulation skills of their rather cute charge. The boy needed very little sleep. He went to sleep late and woke early. He was a restless sleeper, kicking and moving around a lot, but mostly staying on his belly, bottom up in the air. The girl also slept late and only if her head was elevated on one of her parents’ bellies. Otherwise there was no sleep at all.
When it came to food, the girl was not fussy and ate well, but the boy was reluctant to eat anything that was not mashed, and he had not gained weight in more than 1 year. In fact his sister was taller and stronger built than he.
Both children had been subjected to extensive vaccinations. These included the 5-in-1, Prevenar, Men C, Hep B, MMR, BCG and chickenpox. They were given at the usual ages, with no time allowed for prematurity.
In the family medical history there was hypothyroidism for two generations on the mother’s side and autoimmunity (MS, psoriasis and arthritis) on the father’s. The mother also showed a strong sycotic side inherent in her system and showing through PCOS. This tendency was artificially reinforced by the various fertility treatments.
Other noteworthy facts were the complete absence of shyness in the parents as well as the children. There was liveliness and charm on all sides, and obvious affection and generosity going around, from parent to child and back. The little boy was quite determined to make an impression, in contrast to his small and slight stature. However, his speech seemed a little delayed, but in both children I put this down to bilingualism at this stage. The girl, I was told, could be very clingy, cranky and hysterical at the drop of a hat, often when there was too much attention given to her brother. She had spent her first 3 months crying continuously and now still spent a disproportionate part of her day howling hysterically. I have to this day never been a witness to this, as the behaviour is reserved for Mummy and Daddy only.
I noted in both children the slight mono-brow. This being a symptom of Medorrhinum or Carcinosinum, it would not on its own lead to me to consider these remedies, but would perhaps serve as the final piece completing the puzzle.
To give a brief analysis of the case, my thoughts went at first to the enormous amount of medical procedure these children had been exposed to, pre-conceptually, in utero and since birth. The fertility treatments, vaccinations and asthma and infection treatments, would possibly have left both children with drug layers that would make improvement difficult. On the other hand, here were two lively and happy children, who in spite of “pharma-overload” displayed distinct personalities, if not even clear homeopathic totality pictures of possibly Phosphorus in the boy and perhaps Ignatia in the girl.
I also observed the level of anxiety the parents had been carrying around for years, and I wondered how they would be able to deal with aggravations and fevers without opening the domestic medicine cupboard, thus jeopardising any slight improvements. In order to help the children, I would therefore have to help the parents. This was important as I have noticed that often the administration of medication to children increases in direct proportion to the level of anxiety felt by a parent.
Going back to what the parents actually wanted from me, an analysis of the presenting complaint from a medical point of view, shows that what needed to be cured was atopy. Atopy is characterised by an imbalance of the inflammatory pathways, and it displays on skin; either outer or inner skin. In atopy the body produces inflammation without good reason and it indefinitely continues doing so without good reason. This is what needed to be treated in these children. In trying to find the simillimum, one could consider emotional aetiologies or perhaps food allergies, or perhaps go straight to the constitutional remedy if one prescribed to this idea. However, in this case, I was struck by the overwhelming amount of pharmaceuticals that had been administered and I felt that any emotional or other factors were nowhere near as prominent. At the beginning of the treatment, I therefore had to concentrate on removing the drug layer. One of the best remedies for this is Carcinosinum and so I decided to check whether his remedy would at least do no harm to other aspects of the case.
Looking at the miasmatic state of the children, I considered either a tri-miasmatic inheritance, or a slant towards Sycosis. However, I concluded that the children themselves were dominated by the Cancer miasm. This was because, on the one hand, they had a noticeably tri-miasmatic inheritance. But mostly because in my understanding, a state of atopy as severe and all-encompassing as theirs, is by default a Cancer condition.
There are cases where atopic conditions are just part of the larger picture, such as perhaps in mild infantile eczema or adult hay fever. In these cases there may be other prominent features like severe reflux in the infant, or periodic migraines in the adult, asking for the prescription of polychrests. Although showing active states of Psora or Tuberculosis respectively, there would be no need to use nosodes. In these cases the atopy has not taken over and the vital force is displaying it just as one puzzle piece of a polychrest picture. But in my twins, the vital force was insisting on showing only atopy in all its force and in its worst manifestation (asthma being one of three known atopic states; eczema and hay fever the other two). The minor symptoms of the sleep and eating disturbance were in my eyes side-effects from use of steroids, and so were just collateral damage. I even consider the recurrent respiratory infections as side-effects from the medications. If one dealt with the drug layer, the infections should reduce to normal age-appropriate levels (I consider 2-3 infections per year normal for a 3 year old). On the other hand, recurrent infections per se are also an indication for Carcinosinum.
To summarize, because of the severe atopy, the tri-miasmatic inheritance, the exhaustive vaccination schedule (Carcinosinum being a major remedy for ailments from vaccinations) and the suppressive asthma medications, I considered Carcinosinum to be the appropriate remedy in this case. This would also have been in line with Gordon Sambidge’s asthma treatment program, the idea of which is that steroids produce a drug layer that needs to be lifted before any totality treatment would work. Gordon uses several months of Carcinosinum and Cortisone in potency to break through the steroid drug layer.
I proceeded to prescribe Carcinosinum 12c and Cortisone 12c both in liquid potency; the former to be given in the morning, the latter in the evening. These bottled remedies are made up similarly to LMs. A 30ml dropper bottle is filled with filtered water and a few grains of 12c are added and dissolved. The remedies are administered by hitting the bottle (succussion) and giving drops into the mouth. The advantage is that the dosage can be adjusted to suit the patient, and in this way aggravations can be minimised. This method was used by Hahnemann in later years, but was subsequently overshadowed by Kent’s continuing adherence to the single dose of Organon 4.
The asthma inhalers were to be continued as before.
After about 2 weeks both children developed a cold with cough. The drops were stopped so that any elimination could proceed gently. Luckily, in both children the cough was not asthmatic, but during coughing episodes the parents became quite anxious and immediately resorted to the emergency inhaler. I was on their case soon enough and suggested using Lobelia in dry dose instead. This worked for the little boy, and strangely his sister did not need it. In fact, the cold passed without further trouble and at the end the drops were started up again, but reduced to alternate days, to lessen the chance of further aggravation.
After two further weeks, at the first follow-up consultation, I increased the potencies of both remedies to 30c and asked to continue these on alternated days.
One month later, at the second follow-up consultation, the mother reported that she had forgotten to give the steroid inhaler and had also not needed to give any other medication or remedies for acute colds or coughs. In effect, the steroid had been stopped about 7 weeks after the first consultation.
The children remained in treatment – particularly noteworthy was a bout of Drosera/Pertussin coughs this spring. This made me think that perhaps the first coughing/asthmatic episodes at age 8 and 9 months may have been due to the whooping cough vaccination. Perhaps the whole asthmatic scenario may have been prevented had these remedies been given at that time (Gordon Sambidge recommends Drosera and Pertussin for daily chronic non-asthmatic coughing in children).
At times I had to conduct home visits. I clearly remember one evening with my husband waiting in the car on the way to the cinema. These home visits were an absolutely essential part of the treatment. On the one hand I got a clearer picture of the acute situation and on the other hand, I managed to calm down the parents, who often greeted me at the front door with the Calpol bottle at the ready. Interestingly, once I was present, the tension and anxiety dissolved.
Once, the situation was more serious with the little girl developing what I suspected was acute bronchitis with fever around 40C for several days. This was during heavy snowfall and so the parents were unable to drive to the doctor or anywhere else. Luckily, I had provided the family with emergency remedies such as Phosphorus and Bryonia as well as Belladonna. With the help of these three remedies we managed to get through without antibiotics. I believe that this was a most important turning point in the parents’ thinking and feeling as they clearly witnessed the body’s innate healing power during what was quite an extreme situation. There was a noticeable lessening of general anxiety after this event and this was most beneficial for their children’s health in general.
To this day the twins have not had any further administration of steroids nor ventolin or other asthma medication. Both have needed antibiotics only once while away on another continent and out of my reach. By the third appointment both started sleeping in their own beds (in relatively normal positions) and both were eating age-appropriate foods.
Two years on, they are at school. The little boy has become a very well-spoken and charming child. The little girl remains a prima-donna, but a rather handsome one and a pleasure to behold.