Everything is too much: three cases of Vernix caseosa
This remedy has been created by Tinus Smits from Holland, who introduced a number of new remedies into homeopathy. It is made from the white, fatty substance found on the skin of newborn babies, especially in their skin folds. The longer the pregnancy lasts, the less vernix is present.
Vernix is made from the 20th week of pregnancy onwards. It consists of 80% water, 10% fats and 10% proteins. The fats are produced by the sebaceous glands, which are relatively active in babies. Most of the proteins are part of the natural immunity: antibacterial proteins such as alfa-defensins (human neutrophil peptides).
The function of vernix
Vernix is, as far as known, only produced in humans. It protects the foetus from any harmful effects of meconium and amniotic fluid. The presence of antibacterial proteins seems to point to a function in the protection against infections after birth.
as homeopathic remedy
Tinus Smits described the following characteristics in the remedy picture of Vernix:
- Comparable to Phosphorus and Lac maternum
- A very unprotected person, insufficiently protected against the outside world. They are easily disturbed, and have the feeling that they are “naked”, lacking a skin
- They experience the outside world as a threat. Everything comes directly inside, and the outside world is experienced as being too intense. They are over-sensitive to everything
- A guilty feeling, with the feeling of not doing enough for others. It is impossible to say “no”
- Sensitive to noise and smells
- Desire to be held; desire to be swaddled
- Feeling of fragility
- They need to develop contact with their own needs and feelings
- Uncentered. Centred in the outer world rather than within themselves. They are strongly affected by suffering of other people and of the world at large, since they cannot create a healthy distance
Case 1: “Everything comes into me” by Deborah Collins
The patient is a twenty-year old Maori woman, mother of two children, who arrives with her own mother to the consultation. She bursts into tears as she talks: “Everything is too much for me. I am taking anti-depressants because I just can’t cope; I can’t manage my children or even the small daily things of running a household, so my mother has to do a lot for me. But this bothers me too – everything gets on my nerves. Not only that, every emotion, even the emotions of others, seems to come right into me. If I walk down the street or try to go shopping, I feel invaded by sounds, sights, smells, and other people’s stuff, their feelings. It is as though I have no skin. Nothing stays on the outside, I can’t protect myself.”
She is very expressive, going from tears to
laughter easily, and constantly making a motion as though she is shielding herself.
She has something very child-like, although she is a mother herself.
“I can’t deal with the children. When they cry, I feel their pain or their hurt, and it is too much for me. I just want to curl up in bed, pull the blankets over me and let everything pass. I have no motivation at all; it is really hard to get up in the morning and organise my day. My marriage is falling apart, too.
“If my mother has been visiting someone sick and then she comes to my place, I can feel what my mother has been through with her friend, and I can feel what her friend is going through during her illness. All those emotions just overwhelm me. I end up crying or shouting. These days, I am drowning myself in alcohol, and I am afraid that it could become a real problem. I just don’t want to feel so much, I can’t cope.”
Her mother speaks up for the first time: “When I was pregnant with her, I knew I had twins, and that one of them died. When my daughter was born, she cried in such a heart-wrenching way, I have hardly ever heard a baby cry like that. I knew that she was crying for her dead sister. She was born a bit early, but she still had no “coating” – she was red and wrinkled and irritable, crying inconsolably all the time.”
Her mother had just given the hint for the remedy that would help her daughter: Vernix caseosa, the protective grease that coats babies in the womb. When I told her what I was planning to give her, she beamed: “Yes, that is just what I need, something to buffer me, protect me.”
Prescription: one dose of Vernix caseosa 200C worked miracles. A month later, she returned smiling. “I am more in charge of my life now. I feel motivated to get up and go about my household tasks. It feels like I have a buffer, something that helps me to stay in my own centre instead of taking in everything that goes on. I have stopped drinking; I just don’t need it anymore. And I’ve stopped the anti-depressants – they weren’t helping me at all, just making me feel even sicker.”
One dose of the remedy was enough, although in some cases, several doses are necessary. She returned from time to time for consultations with her children, but felt no need for a consultation for herself, or a repeat of the remedy. Several months later, she showed up for herself again, but this time the picture was different. She no longer talked of “everything coming into her,” and she spoke in a more mature manner. Her next remedy was Calcium muriaticum, as she felt uncomfortable about what other people thought of her and her mothering skills. “I have always been worried about what people think of me and how I cope. But now, at least, it is just that one part that is bothering me, and not the whole of life overwhelming me. I think I am growing up.” Her mother confirmed this, saying that that she no longer had to take over the household on a regular basis, as in the past. As is often the case, Vernix healed an essential aspect, and paved the way for the next remedy, a more “common” one, relating to the building of relationships, and no longer of problems of the intrauterine period.
Case 2: “Too fragile” by Alex Leupen
David’s mother has brought him to the practice because he is not doing well. I see a finely built young boy of four, who looks at me with wide open eyes. The word “fragile” occurs to me. He is going to primary school since one month, and he finds it very distressing. He does not dare to shake the teacher’s hand when he comes in, and sometimes, he is literally bent over from tension. In the class, he goes into a corner and he does not dare to play with unknown children. He does not dare to put up his hand. At kindergarten, he played the clown, but in this new environment he has become very introverted.
I ask about the pregnancy. His mother had a lot of problems with nausea and vomiting, and also from her pelvis. He was born eleven days later than the planned date; the waters broke spontaneously. Due to meconium in the amniotic fluid, he was taken immediately to hospital. The mother was anesthetised, and the dilation was stuck at 8 cm. The mother “pushed him out on her own power”. The placenta had to be removed under anaesthetics, and then finally, there was a forth degree tear.
This is a case where one could think of Opium. Still, I had the feeling that this was not the right remedy. David feels very unsafe at school, is very shy, and recoils into himself. He is almost stiff from tension. I had the feeling that he needed a buffer in all this cacophony of stimuli.
Prescription: Vernix 30C, 2 pilules weekly.
Follow-up: I saw him again last week, a month after the first contact. His mother says that he is a completely different child. At school, he shakes the teacher’s hand when he comes in, and he plays with the other children. He is now relaxed and you could say that the first school months are now “running smoothly”.
Case 3: “Everything is getting on my nerves” by Alex Leupen
Mrs. R. is thirty-seven-years old when she comes in October 2009 due to nervousness. She has reacted well to Vanadium in the past for other emotional complaints. She is the mother of a small child, and she has a business together with her husband. As soon as she starts to talk, she begins to cry: “I am a nervous wreck; everything is getting on my nerves.” Her daughter often has otitis, which means that she loses a lot of sleep. She wants to have another child, but until now she has not been able to get pregnant. She is often depressed. Her daughter demands so much of her time that she has not enough time left for her work. Her mother was seriously depressed after her birth; she suffers from bi-polar disorder. For the first months after her birth, she was cared for by her aunt, who has always played a large role in her life; her aunt is much more of a “mother” to her than her own mother.
Prescription: Vernix 30C, twice per week: Vernix as a “balm for the soul”. It seems as though she needs a protective layer. Motherhood is too demanding for her, especially since her own mother was absent during her own baby time.
Follow-up: after six weeks, she comes back saying that she is feeling emotionally stronger. She wants to continue with this remedy. In March 2012, she has the beginning of sinusitis, like a toothache, above her right eye. She is still feeling better emotionally. I give her Lac maternum 200K, 2 days in a row. After the second dose, her sinusitis complaints disappear, and have not come back to date. I saw her again recently – she was asking for assistance in stopping with smoking. She feels physically and emotionally well-balanced.
I often give Vernix as an intercurrent remedy, if the child or adult is in a situation of oversensitivity: everything comes in and gets on their nerves. It is like the situation of a small unprotected child in the crib. Vernix works as a balm for the soul in such cases – it gives them a protective layer. One could think of the first school weeks of a small child, or a woman who has just become mother of a baby who cries all the time.
Flickr: Fragile; Milknosugar; Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
Flickr; Something's wrong; Adrien Leguay; Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic
Keywords: unprotected, naked, vulnerable, hypersensitive, overwrought
Remedies: Vernix caseosa