2012 December

I am too shocked to breathe: a case of Laurocerasus

by Laurie Dack

This is the case of an eight year old girl, one of twins. She is completely different from her brother, who is robust, big and strong; G. is small, delicate and frail. She comes for asthma and perhaps allergies. She is continually sighing and gasping for air. Her mother, when describing her daughter, gives a big sigh, too. She tells about her daughter’s first episode of breathlessness, which happened when the girl’s father put her on the grass when she was small. She fell over – it was a small incident but she went limp, couldn’t be roused and her breathing was shallow.  She was gasping for air and was icy cold. It looked as though she had been stung by a bee, but there was no anaphylaxis. The doctors suggested a possible cardiac insufficiency, noting a small heart murmur. The parents were always “holding their breath” around her, fearing she could die. Heart medication was prescribed.

On observing the girl one saw a tiny, almost translucent child who hardly moved; it was almost as though one could put hands right through her. She was hospitalised on three different occasions for minor events, each time with shallow breathing and lifelessness. Her mother noted that it happened suddenly and unexpectedly each time: “I turn my head and she is gone – she goes for up to 15 minutes.” She was quickly revived, though. She plays, and then is suddenly unable to catch her breath, as though suffocating. She collapses and wilts to the floor as though fainting suddenly.  She does not react to anything, does not fuss and does not burst into tears, although she is delicate. She does not scream like her much bigger brother.

“How was the pregnancy?”
G.’s mother heaved a big sigh. “I became pregnant out of the blue. We had only been together for three weeks. I almost died when I realised I was pregnant – it was a real shock. I wanted to run away. I didn’t know whether to tell the father or not, we hardly knew each other. I could hardly breathe. It pierced all the plans I had made for my life. We were in a bubble of being in love. I wanted to race out of my life as soon as possible. I fled to Costa Rica, but of course you can’t escape. I had so many plans, high ideals. It would have been a huge shock for my mother. I thought of all the things I would be giving up. I was so anxious about telling her, it took my breath away. It was like being pinched or pricked. I hoped I might miscarry and I went into a deep depression. I wanted to isolate myself, like I usually do when I’m depressed. I felt so stupid – how could I have done this? How can I achieve my ideals? The sharp pains took my breath away. I became sleepless, and had disturbed sleep and many dreams:  dreams of being high up on a weak scaffolding where everything could collapse. Dreams of losing my boyfriend if I told him I was pregnant. The next shock: discovering I was to have twins!!! I collapsed and needed oxygen. It was as if everything was pressing in on me, inward, heavy. Now I had to tell people, but how could I tell my mother?

“Why was it so hard to tell your mother?”
“She had become unexpectedly pregnant with me, I changed the course of her life. I’ve never known my father. But she overcame her initial shock and was helpful and supportive of me. My partner was shocked, but he has reluctantly decided to stay with me and the kids. Our daughter and her illness keep us all together.

My mother died just before the twins were born; it was an inconceivable grief for me. She was young and in good health, there was no warning. I was so upset, I couldn’t breathe. She was the only person in my life. A terrible sadness pierces everything, even through the lovely moments with the children. When she was cremated I couldn’t breathe. It was a though the walls were coming in. I still see her sliding into the flames. I feel the weight pushing down, like I had pushed the button myself and she was spit into the fire. I used to be very afraid of being pushed under water – “you can’t breathe, it’s a heavy weight.”

“How was the birth?”
“I was devastated, sad at the loss of my mother, barely alive. I was certainly not in a state to give birth to twins. My son came out healthy and I was relieved that it was over. But I had to do it all over again! G. did not come out for a long time; it was like painful needles piercing upwards. Thoughts of my mother kept filling me, seeing her shooting into the fire. I didn’t have the strength to push G. out. Labour stopped and I blacked out. She was born tiny and blue, she needed resuscitation. We all held our breath.”


There is a clear line between the grandmother, the mother and the child: both G. and her mother tended to hold their breaths and collapse, and both the mother and grandmother had become pregnant out of wedlock, with the possibility (or fact) of thereby losing one’s partner. Both of these situations point to Laurocerasus, of the rose family.

collapse, cyanosis in infants, faintness, lack of reaction, gasping – lying ameliorates , respiration sighing, respiration difficult in heart complaints. Pregnancy: ailments form death of a parent. Forsaken. Sadness, respiration impeded. Dreams of fire, delusion sees fire. Dreams of scaffolding. Pains: stitching, shooting, pinching. Delusion suffocating. Birth: cyanosis in infants. Blue babies. Faintness with pain.

Laurocerasus 1M
The sensation of the rose family is: pinching, pressing, compressed. The passive reaction to the situation is: collapse. Laurocerasus belongs to the leprosy miasm of rose family. Phatak writes: “long lasting faints. Affects from fright. Asphyxia neonatorum”.
A case is sometimes like a microcosm of a much bigger picture. This girl’s favourite toy was Russian dolls – one doll within another, like her and her mother and grandmother.

After two months: no more emergencies.                                                                                            
In the course of the next four years, G. has made significant progress. There have been no more episodes of loss of consciousness, and no need for hospitalisation. She has begun to play well and to eat more, putting on weight and engaging with the world (in her mother’s words). Her mother describes her as “coming into herself, incarnating”.  She has had no signs of asthma, although she has twice had bronchitis bordering on pneumonia in the fall/winter – at these times she has responded very well to Laurocerasus  1M. These days she is a happy, healthy little girl. At school, she can “hold her own”, as her mother says, able to deal with the bumps and bruises of day to day life. In the course of four years, she has received four doses of Laurocerasus 1M.
Her mother has also come for treatment, and has also been given Laurocerasus, with good results.

Presented at the WISH congress in Germany October 2012.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Laurocerasus; Karduelis


Categories: Cases
Keywords: cyanosis, fainting spells, loss of breath, loss of partner, weakness
Remedies: Laurocerasus


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Posts: 2
Reply #2 on : Mon April 22, 2013, 07:16:16
It seems a book picture case. Even with clear presentation of the plant family rosaceae. I had prescribed prunus spinosa to one of my patient
who described his colic as pinching and suffocating.
He even described it like a weight in the chest.
It belongs to the malarial miasm. It is a good colicky remedy.

Posts: 2
Reply #1 on : Sat December 01, 2012, 17:03:08
Thanks for the very clear case of laurocerasus, Laurie. It really helps to bring the book descriptions to life.