2010 Mars

Some thoughts on Carbo vegetabilis: two cases

de Deborah Collins

Mrs. M. was 37 years old, when she came for a consultation for digestive problems. She complained of distension in her belly; a rumbling gut full of “wind”.

“It feels like I’m pregnant, my belly is so swollen. It is much worse with anything fatty or heavy, so I can’t eat cakes, let alone fried food. Food just sits undigested in my stomach and gives a feeling of pressure. My stools are hard and I have problems pushing them out.”

“I have had migraines since puberty but they have more to do with my digestion than with my menstrual periods.  The headaches are situated in my right temple and right eye, and my head feels very cold at that time. My neck and shoulders are stiff, tense, and my head only feels good when I can lean it against something.  During headaches I am cold all over, worse than usual. Not even an electric blanket can warm me up. In general, I am chilly, with freezing hands and feet, and I’m much worse for cold damp weather. Despite the cold I really need fresh air, otherwise I feel suffocated. In the car, I always put the fan on and at home, I have the windows open and lots of sweaters on!” 

“I have skin complaints: cracks, eczema in the creases of my elbows and knees since childhood.”  

“I’m always tired and I feel like I’m continually depressed. I don’t know why I’m always so discontented; I have a good life and a nice family. Six years ago, we moved house and I can’t adjust to this one. I keep looking for the house in which I can feel happy, somewhere cheerful and homey. I’m very sensitive to atmosphere, I feel things that other people do not feel, like ghosts, and I respond to them. I’d like to be with lots of people in a friendly environment, helping people but I’m so shy and uncertain of myself. I always ask myself ‘Am I doing it right?’ I’m afraid of getting it all wrong.”

“I was the last of six children and I have always felt like an outsider in the family. My parents were church people, well-meaning but I never really had a good contact with my mother. She was so domineering, I felt like I was always being criticized by her. We could never talk things out and I felt like I was never really heard. It was quite freeing to leave home; a breath of fresh air.”

 In the past, she has been given Calcium Muriaticum and Graphites, with little result. This seems to be a classic Carbo vegetablis case, with the digestive complaints worse from fat, the chilliness, the air hunger, and the tiredness. She responded beautifully to repeated doses over the next months.

“My headaches are completely gone and my head feels so much clearer than before, as if it is unclogged. My stomach complaints have cleared up completely, I don’t need Norit anymore” (a charcoal tablet used for digestion, which she had not mentioned using).

“I have warmed up, too; my hands and feet are not nearly as cold. The black cloud of depression has lifted, I don’t make such a big issue of things anymore; I just get onto it instead of lazing about and not wanting to get up in the mornings. I am somehow more content to be living where I am and I am going out into the community more, making friends. I feel like I belong.”


Mrs. E. 35 years old, came for digestive problems; she had been diagnosed with spastic colon. Lycopodium had been somewhat helpful but she still suffered from indigestion, especially from fatty foods, and from headaches and lethargy.

“Everything feels so heavy and stagnant, even more so around my menstrual periods; my uterus feels so heavy, a drawing sensation like a prolapse. As a child, I often had belly aches and would have to stay home from school, and when my menses came it was worse. These days, I become tired and irritated during the menses and I take it out on the children. I have frequent vaginal thrush and no desire for sex at all, though I do like cuddles.”

“I have to watch what I eat, not too much fatty or spicy food, otherwise I become bloated, constipated, and I lose my appetite. It is as though my stomach just stops working.  Everything goes so slowly, my digestion, my circulation, my concentration, I have to push myself forward and that wears me out. I’m always cold, even in warm weather. I wear socks in bed, even in summer, and have plenty of clothes on when others are wearing summer skirts and dresses but I can’t stand the windows being closed. Lack of air gives me a headache and makes me feel dull in my head. That’s when I become short-fused with the children: “just leave me alone!”

“As a child, I was shy, uncertain, and afraid of a lot of things. I was afraid of fires, of drowning, and of quicksand. I had nightmares of being pursued and I felt ghosts in the room, which made me completely panicky. I didn’t have much contact with my mother. I wanted to be cuddled and cared for but she wasn’t the type to do that. In my teens, I sought the coziness, the friendliness that I didn’t receive at home elsewhere and my parents regarded me as difficult. I still get irritated with my mother, we just don’t get along. I depend heavily on my husband and have the feeling that he needs to help me with everything because I can’t manage on my own. When I am feeling unwell, all the old fears come up again and I feel things that others don’t feel. I am sensitive to atmosphere and I just want to stay at home, where it is safe and cozy.”  

This case looks like a combination of Sepia (menstrual complaints, prolapse, fat aggravates) and Calcium Carbonicum (fears, chilliness, tiredness, constipation) but the most specific remedy is Carbo vegetablis. As it turns out, she, too, used Norit (charcoal tablets) to ease her stomach complaints. Little by little, with repeated doses of Carbo vegetabilis, her energy improved as did her mood. The digestive problems ceased and her periods were no longer a time of tiredness and frustration.

“What is even nicer for me, and for my husband, is that I don’t feel so heavy and depressed. I feel more independent, less anxious and needy, as though I am growing up!”

Carbon remedies belong to the second row of the periodic table, where one is still dealing with childhood issues; attaining a sense of security in one’s own body. In both of these cases, the women still felt childlike in certain aspects, with their fears, their insecurities, and their dependence on a stronger figure. They felt that their mother had not given them the care they desired, that which would have made them feel welcome. It is as though they were not fully incarnated and were therefore much more in touch with the unseen world of ghosts than with the visible world around them. Carbo vegetabilis, the “corpse reviver”, can help certain people come into the land of the living, warming them up and making them less susceptible to invisible influences.     


Mots clés: stomach complaints, insecurity, ghosts
Remèdes: Carbo vegetabilis

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