2013 July August

A hot fluid stifling the joints; a case of Benzinum nitricum

by Elizabeth Thompson

This is a case of a hydrocarbon remedy used to treat a patient with ovarian cancer, where inflammation was the marker for recurrence. I offer this case not because it was clear to me at the time which remedy she needed, but because I could not help but be impressed by the way her recurrent cancer settled down when prescribed this remedy. The case represents many years of me seeing her in the Integrative Cancer Care service at the Bristol Homeopathic Hospital. We believe passionately in offering the best of homeopathic and conventional care.

Words in bold strike me as important for the carbon or hydrocarbons group. Words in bold italics are indicative of the nitricum part of the remedy.

Presenting complaint: ovarian cancer

AL was referred with Stage IIIB carcinoma of the ovary in June 2006. Her cancer diagnosis was preceded by a very dry cough; when she lay down, it would stop, as soon as she got up, it started. She would cough to exhaustion. She developed crippling abdominal pain, her bowels flared up after full hysterectomy, with bile coming up. Ten days after chemotherapy, following surgery, she had gripping sharp pains and developed a urine infection. She was violently sick with chemotherapy with itching, prickling, burning skin reaction. She had an allergy to Taxol medication.

Occupation: child protection. Having worked as a childcare inspector for ten years protecting, keeping children safe, that role was transferred to Ofsted; she felt she lost support and was powerless.Children are vulnerable and can’t speak up for themselves and need someone to fight the battle for them.”

She likes to live in an organised way and cannot cope with mess. She feels irritated with mess and is a perfectionist. Carbon theme: her father could not tolerate anyone who could not do everything 100% right. There was always a need to do her very best and for others to approve her. Her father had a vicious temper

Mind: Claustrophobia. I hate feeling I can’t escape. If someone shuts me in I feel underground. I need to take a deep breath.” 

She enjoys nature, loves animals (rabbits), and is thrilled when she sees wild animals.

Dreams: she dreams of going along into fields and is left in the middle of nowhere. She also dreamt of the President of USA, that he should send a conker in the war against Iraq.

Remedy: Carcinosin 

Carcinosin: fastidiousness, the need to do everything 100%, care for others. 

Then, Manganum. Keynote: a cough relieved by lying. Then, Baryta muriaticum: I could see issues of power but didn’t know how to make sense of it.

With each recurrence, she had a rise in inflammatory markers, which is unusual, and arthralgia with a raised CRP. 

There was a recurrence of terrible pain in her rectum. She had a sensation in the bowel, as if she had been punched. She cannot bear anything tight around her. Hot flushes, a horrible feeling that she cannot escape. She needs to be outside, where she has space and freedom, otherwise she panics.

“I feel I have not got air, I have to break out of it. I have to get out. They are not harming me but I will have to push out.”

“Water and air are the most important things to me. There is a barrier between my space and freedom. I love trees. I love to see them move in the wind. They are natural and they are still free. Wild flowers are perfect, they are natural. I hate caged animals, anything enclosed, like the wren. I love to see any bird and the space around it. I dream of protecting animals. Dogs don’t have to be in a cage, they can enjoy companionship, but wild animals need freedom.”

Dream: she dreamt she was in charge of a crèche and the Ofsted inspectors criticised everything she was doing.

I give a bird remedy, Erithacus rubrum (blackbird), because of the energy of her father and the authority of Ofsted. Then, the mineral remedies: Magnesium iodatum, Magnesium nitricum, Cadmium sulph, when she has chemotherapy.

In September 2005, she has intense hunger that cannot be satisfied. 

July 2006, recurrence of the cancer with a rise in CRP. She has arthralgia, an inflammatory process associated with cancer. I focus on a dynamic symptom as the presenting complaint. She gives the sensation.

P: “I have aches and pains, worse when sitting down. For the first dozen steps, I am completely stiff, the knee throbs. It is worse in the night, wrists hurt, elbow, neck. It feels as though the joints are inflamed, swollen, throbbing inflammation. Something is lying around the joint. It is hard to move, painful to move. It gets stuck if I stop. It will ease if I can move. Something is laying there accumulating around the joint.”

Describe something is hanging on preventing you.

P: “Something is in the way, like an inflammation that is stuck. I want to move it out of the way of the joint. It is like a hot fluid that wants to be attracted to the joint like a magnet. It gets in the way, it can’t move, there is no flexibility. It is like it is stifled with the fluid. It is hanging on, closing in. It is a pressure.”

Describe stifled.

P: “I struggle to walk. It is a total rigidness. The joint won’t move. It is inflamed and hot, stiff, stops you moving. It is stifling the joint, smothered and stifled, numb, nothing there. My sinuses fill up, shooting pain in my head into my teeth, a nerve pain. I used to get abscesses in the root canal. Very blocked with tenderness around the eyes, catarrh, sinusitis, thick and yellow

Tell me more about smothered and stifled?

P: “It won’t move, it’s hanging on to the joint. I move it to disperse it. It is like a fluid hanging onto the joint, and then, it disperses. I dreamt about the MRI scan. I get very claustrophobic. I dreamt I was closed in, closed in a tunnel, with a thin cloth over my head.”

What is the experience with this thin cloth?

P: “No control. I don’t like things too close to me. I need my personal space, I go into a state of panic. It is an invasion of my privacy. I need to breathe. I need a sense of freedom. A small space makes it worse, I don’t have any space. I need air, otherwise I am closed in, out of control.

“Something is getting to me where I have no say, my influence in the world, my destiny. The values and standards are for myself. It is like this illness, it is controlling me. It has taken over my body and I can’t control it. You should be able to (she weeps) but it is an invasion. It knows where it wants to grow and I am constantly having to a battle with it. It’s horrible, overwhelming. I have a right to my space. It has no right to invade my personal space”.

What is the experience when your space is invaded?

“It is a shock reaction. I have to make space. I am hemmed in, claustrophobic. It is panic. I have got to have air and space. It is a panic, like this cloth over me, closed on me. The tunnel is getting smaller. It is covering me. I am suffocated. It was a fine cloth stopping the air that I breathe, cutting off what I need, this air, and this space. Cutting off my air, my life. It’s a smothering feeling. I am losing control. My personal space is invaded. I panic – I need that to survive. I can’t function. The air to breathe; anything that gets too close, cuts off my air supply. I’m hot and flustered, battling and fighting to get air.”

What about your dreams?

P: “I push to get my space, my freedom, my air. I am hemmed in. It makes me panic.”


The case looks like the cancer miasm. In terms of the periodic table, it is describing the birth process, “They are not harming me but I will have to push out… the tunnel is narrow.” It could be carbon or nitrogen. “My oxygen is being cut off. Can I survive?” 

In November, the CT scan is clear but ESR is rising again, suggestive of recurrence.

Describe this fatigue.

P: “It is a drunk feeling, like the inflammation is everywhere and it is settles. It is heavy when I move.

Describe this settling.

P: “It is heavy, sediment. When you lie down, it finds its own level.”

Describe sediment.

P: “It is heavy, sludgy, stagnant. It makes me unwell. I only feel it when the cancer comes back, then it triggers in my mind. It is invading my body, I have to make myself move.”

What is the experience when it is invading your body?

P: “It is dulling my senses. I have a distance feeling. If I pinched myself I would feel dull and distant, as if I am not connecting with reality.”

Just come back to this stagnant, this sediment.

P: “It is heavy and cloudy. Lighter at the top and heavier at the bottom. It is like sludge at the bottom. It needs something hard to move it. The sediment doesn’t flow easily. It needs force to move it. It wouldn’t flow naturally. It’s within a cavity.”

Describe this cavity.

P: “It is like a pipe or a tunnel. The cavity is half the size of the pipe and it’s heavy at the bottom and flowing freely at the top. It can flow over the edge but at the bottom it needs force. At the top, it will spill over.”

She describes the sensation and the source, she is relating the oil, the oil pipeline and the birth process.

Do you remember describing this claustrophobic sensation?

P: “It’s like I need to breathe to move the sediment, so it won’t close over me. I need space, I am panicking. The first thing I need is air. I can’t bear to be closed in. It’s overwhelming, it’s a panic. My throat feels swollen. I am closed in and there is this sediment. I can’t move. I can’t get away to have freedom. This sediment is weighing me down. I lose all control, I am hyperventilating. I have to move. It closes in. I can’t shift the sediment. I can’t free myself. I have to move. I will die. I will be suffocated.”

At this point, although her case is very confusing, I can see the shock, the confusion, the disconnection and the vital sensation of what looks like a petroleum-like substance that is found in the natural state, with a heavier substance towards the bottom and a lighter volatile state at the top. I also saw the nitrogen element, so I wanted a hydrocarbon with a lot of nitrogen.

Remedy: Benzene nitricum 30C, three doses, 12 hours apart then fortnightly

Follow-up, January 2008

P: “I am feeling very good now. The colonoscopy and endoscopy were normal.  They aspirated the bowel, it was clear. The CRP and ESR have come right down.  The bowel is lazy. I cut down on green tea in case it was inflaming the bowel. The joint pain is much better.”

What about this experience of sediment?

P: “It’s nowhere near as bad. My only problem now is bladder weakness. By the way, I have had eczema on the top of my head, I haven’t had this for four to five years; I am sleeping much better.”

I ask her not to put any steroids on her scalp.

Remedy: continue Benzene nitricum 30C

I stayed with Benzene nitricum, and she has had no further recurrence since 2008 and remains well.

Substance: a group of the carbons with nitrate themes of control, cancer, suffocation. Both carbon and nitrogen can feel hemmed in, so this aspect is emphasized in the case. It is a carcinogenic substance used in the production of dyes, aniline and paracetamol like pharmaceuticals.

Pipe and tunnel relate to the oil pipelines of the source and also to the second series’ themes of the birth process from Jan Scholten’s perspective on the periodic table.

Themes of Carbon and Nitrogen

This is the second series of the periodic table which relates to the birth process.

There is an aversion to tight things, claustrophobia, suffocation, as if in a tunnel (birth canal).

Carbon has to get out. Nitrogen is bursting to get out, even if it is dangerous or explosive.

In addition, we can see how the tunnel and sediment also relates to the oil pipeline.

Photos: Wikimedia Commons
Tunnel de Malpas; Matthieu Gauvin
Solid benzene; Edimion17

Categories: Cases
Keywords: hydrocarbon, petrochemical, aromatic carbon, oil spill, inflammation, volatile, sludgy, panic, claustrophobia, stifling, smothered, throbbing, pressure, cancer
Remedies: Benzinum nitricum


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