2011 November

Chininum sulphuricum: playing chess at a thousand miles per hour

by Gaela Nelson

I first met CM, a 44 year old man, in his home; due to his condition he was not able to drive. It was September of 2007. He had been diagnosed with Ménière’s disease; he had debilitating attacks of extreme vertigo with spinning, during which he would fall down and experience violent vomiting and diarrhea, lasting an hour and a half. He was having four episodes per week at first, although now he is having fewer – perhaps one every week. He takes Gravol (a medication for car sickness), when he feels a certain way in his stomach, his ‘warning sign’. For the last two years, he has had tinnitus with ringing and waves crashing in his ears, with about 25% hearing loss in the right ear. His Eustachian tube collapsed on a flight five years earlier.

My first impression of him was to wonder if he had recently consumed a large amount of coffee – he seemed very excited, spoke quickly, and it was evident that his thought processes were very fast, with many ideas. He told me right away that he is the CEO of several companies, and enjoys playing soccer at a high level, but that all his activities and his social life have had to be curtailed because of his illness.

CM: “It’s debilitating. It affects my lifestyle, I have to stay here (at home); I can’t go and do what I want. It’s the randomness. It happened in the theatre, it could happen anywhere.”

He acknowledged that work stress was probably a factor in his condition, but explained that he enjoyed stress and pressure, and being involved in many things.

CM: “My mind never stops, I don’t know how to shut off my brain; even when I sleep I work, I devour information, I go through stuff. In a typical day, I read a lot; I read the whole Economist from front to back, I consume information. I’m a serial entrepreneur; I like starting things, not operating things. If I have to operate things – that’s not scratching me where I itch, it’s boring…mundane. If I’m not learning, doing something interesting, I’m out. I worked in an accounting firm, I was incredibly bored; I want to keep my mind sharp. Economics is much more theoretical and abstract. Soccer is both physical and cerebral, it’s like playing chess at 1000 miles an hour; you are intellectually stimulated. I read soccer theory books, connecting soccer with globalization. It’s spontaneous, like jazz. I’m focused on health, wealth and self… to make myself happy, to do things that make me happy. I don’t care about status. I’m an easy going boss, let people work at home. I don’t like authority.”

CM described a happy family life and a good relationship with his family and with his wife, who is also independent and a high achiever. They have no children.

He has cravings for sugar and chocolate but tries to maintain a healthy diet, with low salt and lots of veggies and fruits. He enjoys smoothies. He is a hot person and is often restless at night. He likes coffee but can only drink one cup a day.

He feels better when he can keep very still, as moving his head can bring on the feeling of imbalance and vertigo.

He does not have many fears or anxieties; he says he is ‘fearless’ but he doesn’t like to fail, or to disappoint others.

He had some acupuncture, which helped somewhat with the frequency of the attacks, but he stopped going. He was encouraged to take up meditation and yoga but, he said, “It’s like watching paint dry.”

Rubrics (MacRepertory)

Mind, Excitement, as after coffee
Mind, Ideas, abundant
Mind, Theorizing
Vertigo, as if turning in a circle
Vertigo with vomiting
Vertigo, Ménière’s Disease
Vertigo, with tendency to fall
Hearing, Noises, with vertigo
Generalities, Food and drinks, sugar, sweets, desires

The remedies that I compared were: Chininum sulphuricum, Sulphur, China, Crotalus horridus, Phosphorus, Theridion, and Cocculus.

I looked at China Officinalis, which covered many of his symptoms. CM seems to fit well with Sankaran’s description of the malarial miasm and the sensation of China: “His mind is full of many plans but he feels stuck in a position in which he can’t fulfill any of them and, moreover, he has to face attacks from time to time.” (Insight into Plants, Volume II, p. 477)

Yet, there were qualities of his presentation that fitted more with Sulphur; his enjoyment of abstract theorizing, connecting ideas like soccer and globalization, a fair bit of boastfulness, his dislike of authority, and his focus on self. 

Chininum sulphuricum fits best with my overall impression of him. I could see the sensations of the Rubiaceae family, as well as many Sulphur qualities. Stronger than either element singly, the combined salt – China with Sulphur - has a much stronger emphasis on Meniere’s disease. The feeling captured in his words: “Playing chess at 1000 miles per hour” really sums up the qualities of Chininum sulphuricum!


Prescription: Chininum sulphuricum 200CH, one dose.


One month later, he reported feeling somewhat better; he had had no severe attacks, and he had not taken a single Gravol since the remedy. He was feeling some anxiety about a stress test he had taken, and about the health of his heart. He also felt some pain in his left shoulder. He felt slightly imbalanced and was aware of it when walking in the dark.

Two months later, he drove to my office for his follow-up. He had been on a flight to Italy, to visit his family, with no problems. He is playing soccer again and going out. He reported feeling completely better, with only a few moments of ‘imbalance’ here and there. His sleep is better. He said the bad feeling was gone from his stomach – the feeling which had been a warning sign that, if he didn’t take a Gravol, he would soon be vomiting. Now, he has neither taken the Gravol nor has he had the stomach symptoms. He has been able to focus on wrapping up the project which was causing him the most stress. He was very happy with his progress.

One year later, we had a brief telephone conversation in which he stated that he was doing well, with no relapse of symptoms.

In 2011, I telephoned him to ask for his permission to publish this article; he said, “Definitely! I am still feeling great!”

He has never needed to repeat the remedy.

Photos: Wikimedia Commons
Red train rushing through; Orjen
Chess board opening; Staxringold




Keywords: Ménière’s disease, violent vomiting and diarrhea, fast, 1000mph
Remedies: Chininum sulphuricum


Write a comment

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laura coramai
Posts: 8
chininum sulph case
Reply #4 on : Mon May 27, 2013, 22:19:32
Totally liked to read this case Gaela...nice to see MM write up from our literature, i.e. - Clarke, in action or within modern context. So tx lots. Best, Laura Coramai.

Posts: 8
Good case
Reply #3 on : Wed March 28, 2012, 09:25:12
A very good case well presented. I wonder if you have come across some of the other Chininum salts like Chininum Mur, Phos, Nitricum etc? There is not much information in the Materia medica. It would be good to have a compartive study of these salts.

Posts: 8
Well done
Reply #2 on : Wed January 04, 2012, 00:37:39
Well done Gaela. I enjoyed reading this case. It is clearly laid out and well presented. It is giving me some food for thought. Warmly, Meryl

Posts: 8
Chininum sulph case
Reply #1 on : Thu November 10, 2011, 19:14:35
I enjoyed reading this case. Thanks,
Allison Douglas-Tourner