“…No external malady…can arise, persist or even grow worse without some internal cause, without the co-operation of the whole organism…” Following Hahnemann’s dictum, an epithelioma in a 7 yr old horse is treated with a constitutional remedy.
A FAIR HAIRED GIRL
Iris moved into my barn in the summer of 2008 as a temporary boarder, and immediately I was struck by her beauty. She was such a pretty thing, slender and graceful, with finely shaped legs. A 7-year-old overo paint horse (overo is a color pattern usually having a light-colored face and irregular, scattered body markings). Iris had blue eyes in a predominantly white face. She couldn’t have been more agreeable when I met her. But there was one thing that affected her appearance.
A growth on the eyelid
Around her right eye, Iris had a growth that had originally affected both the upper and the lower eyelid. The growth on the upper lid had been surgically removed, and no eyelashes remained where this had taken place. There was an obvious lesion on the lower lid. This was not excised, probably because of its location and size, as a surgical removal could leave the eye unprotected. The owner was told this was an epithelioma, which is a tumor originating in the epithelial (in this case, skin and mucous membrane) tissue and which can be either benign or malignant. One form of epithelioma is a Basal Cell Carcinoma – the same kind we people, especially if we are fair skinned, are told to protect ourselves from by staying out of the sun.
Aside from being unsightly, the problem with an eyelid tumor in a grazing animal such as a horse is that the eyelid protects the eye from the many perils of grass – sharp blades, dry stick-like stems that might scratch an eye if it hit it just right. Here in Florida, our Bahia pasture grass with long and strong stems can be particularly hard on eyes. As a tumor grows, it can prevent the eyelid from closing, which leaves the eye unprotected and dry.
Homeopathically, we understand that everything that occurs in a living organism comes from the activity of the vital force, as Hahnemann explains in the Organon of Medicine. Like all symptoms, tumors demonstrate a mistunement of the vital force. A skin tumor presents us with visible evidence of the mistunement that we can watch to evaluate the effects of treatment.
Iris would be staying at our barn for a few months, and I was asked to treat her. As Hahnneman states in the Organon (Aph 189): “…no external malady…can arise, persist or even grow worse without some internal cause, without the co-operation of the whole organism…” Hence it seemed that Iris would benefit from a “whole horse” remedy. If I could follow the clues to identify a remedy that addressed Iris as a whole, it would “tune” her vital force and thereby resolve the tumor.
Iris appeared healthy in all other ways, so I had no other physical symptoms to guide me. There was nothing remarkable about the tumor itself to point to a particular remedy. I would have to know all about Iris – her habits, her personality, her likes and dislikes, etc. – to find a remedy to strengthen her as a whole.
I had many questions about Iris. What was her behavior within the herd when she had been pastured with a group of horses at her last home? What was her behavior when being ridden? What else did the owner have to tell me about her? The answers gave me the information to identify the correct remedy for Iris.
The case of the fair haired girl
I learned that Iris was a bossy mare in the field with other horses – she would bite or kick to “get her way.” She was always scanning her environment, as if looking for the next surprise. In her stall, she was “spooky,” startling noticeably, especially at strange or loud noises around the barn.
Paradoxically, while being ridden, Iris was known for her obedience. She was of average friendliness to people and expressed periodic interest in the barn “goings on” by sticking her head out of her stall door to investigate. She was very sensitive to the sun, and her pink nose was always peeling from sunburn as a result, even though she only went out to pasture early and late in the day. There was no further history available, as is often the case when horses have changed hands in the past.
Paint horses have various color presentations, but all have sizable areas of white hair over unpigmented (pink) skin. Paint horses may be prone to sunburn on the white parts, especially if the white is on the face and nose as Iris’ was. The human equivalent would be a very fair skinned person. Horses in Florida are exposed to a lot of sun, so Iris’ coloration was a vulnerable spot for her.
Since Iris’ coloring seemed to be a contributing factor, I thought of vitiligo, a human disorder characterized by pigment loss that produces milky-white patches (depigmentation) on the skin. It is associated with auto-immune diseases, including cancer, and the white areas are sun sensitive. Along with this, I chose the following rubrics:
After a review of the materia medica, I chose Lycopodium. This remedy has an affinity for the skin, and has been known to be successful in carcinoma. Iris’ tumor was on the right side, as are many symptoms that Lycopodium addresses. In addition, this remedy covers her apprehensiveness and the surprising fact that, though Iris started at noises, she was not bothered by thunderstorms. People who respond well to Lycopodium are reassured to know there is someone in the house with them; the horse world’s equivalent would be living in a barn, where Iris was very content. Lycopodium is known for bullying, domineering behavior to family and those with less authority (the other horses in the field), and obsequious to superiors (the rider), so Iris’ social behaviors pointed to this remedy as well.
Although Natrum carbonicum was a close second, Iris did not demonstrate the mild kindness so characteristic of those who need Natrum Carb. She was too bossy with other horses!
I put Lycopodium 30C in Iris’ water bucket. (see sidebar)
Watching the tumor change
The next day, the area around the tumor became reddened and spread further. I interpreted this as a good sign, since the temporary intensification of existing symptoms after a remedy often means that healing will follow. Iris’ right eye wept for two weeks. During this time, the skin surrounding the tumor started to look more normal. Remarkably, despite the earlier surgery there, Iris’ eyelashes started to grow back on her upper lid.
In three weeks’ time, the improvement seemed to have stopped. I put Lycopodium 30C in her water again. On the third day, the eye started to tear again, and the tumor became red. Over the next few days, the surrounding skin began to look completely normal and the tumor itself started to decrease in size and become flatter.
Three weeks later, the reaction had ceased again, and I put another dose in her water. Over the next three weeks, the tumor continued to reduce in size and get flatter, and an area of normal skin appeared within the tumor itself.
In another three weeks, when the reaction ceased again, I gave Iris a dose of Lycopodium 200C as she would soon be moving on to another barn. My hope was that the higher potency remedy would work longer and complete the cure even without further doses. During the time that remained for me to observe her, the affected area continued to get smaller and was now flesh colored. One end of the tumor disappeared. Iris also became noticeably friendlier in the barn, having her head out of the stall door more often. She left two weeks later.
Seven months later, I found Iris again and was able to get a photograph of her eye. You can see the final result. And by the way, Iris was out in the field in the sun, and was not suffering from sunburn on her nose!
This case was a thrill for me as there was no other treatment that would have eliminated this tumor except more surgery, which might well have caused more problems. The presence of a tumor that can be cancerous could have led to further disease in organs we cannot see. Even better was helping this animal with a rapid and gentle cure of a problem that had developed over a long time. It was a real experience in resonance: a correct remedy will “work,” even in relatively low potency, and even on a thousand-pound horse!
Polly Millet, M.S.N., A.R.N.P. began her study of homeopathy with the Lake County (FL) Study Group, affiliated with the National Center for Homeopathy, in 2002. She got “hooked”, and graduated in 2009 from the Florida Academy of Classical Homeopathy. Having served for three decades as a professor of nursing, Polly teaches Human Health Sciences at the Academy.
In our barn, the buckets are never shared, so I could safely put Iris’ remedy in her bucket. I also knew that the remedy would become a little stronger each day, in the horse barn equivalent of what homeopaths call “potentization” (successive steps of diluting and shaking). Our buckets are thoroughly cleaned once a week and are refilled from a hose several times a day. Essentially, Iris got a more and more dilute solution for a week after the remedy was added. Since horses really mess with their water when they drink, and the pressure from the hose “shakes up” the water, it may well have been a little more potentized each time she drank, as well!
For humans, it is recommended that we treat all containers used to hold remedies with a high temperature (boiling water) to eliminate any traces of the remedy. In treating livestock, the realities of the environment are quite different. Boiling buckets is not possible, but between horses, our buckets are thoroughly cleaned and put in the sun for several days. I have treated several animals in this way and have not had any problems.
This article first appeared in Homeopathy Today, Summer 2009, and is republished here by permission.