October 2014

Keeping her head above water: a case of Menyanthes trifoliata

by Hélène Renoux

The first time I saw Josette, she was only forty-seven but looked quite a bit older due to the toll alcohol had taken on her beauty.

She was so weak at that time that I had to visit her in her impoverished flat, with bottles hidden under the bed and dirt and disorder in all the rooms. This disorder was a reflection of her inner disorder.

A photograph on the wall showed her some ten years previously, a beautiful, thin, black haired woman, like a Modigliani painting, with absent eyes looking into the distance, a terrible reproach to what she would become.

She lived with her husband and son. She should have left her violent husband but stayed because of the child. An atmosphere of hatred was floating in the entire flat.

It took me years to try to help her, mainly remaining the spectator of her slow and implacable fall, with her abusive husband, her selfish son, and last but not least, her employer. Fearing to lose her job, she had to work endlessly, from early morning until late in the evening, with illegal timetables, unable to react. Her only faithful friend was alcohol.

Like a leitmotiv, coldness was around each time she came to my office; like an icy blowing wind entering my room. She was always complaining of coldness with all her troubles. An inner feeling of ice accompanied each flu, rhinitis or enteritis.

When her husband retired, he finally decided to leave Paris and live in his parents’ house, which he had just inherited. This gave some freedom to Josette, who decided to move to a new flat with her son, and began an affair with a new friend. She felt much better, and recovered some beauty and sense of quiet despite her employer, who continued to abuse her time and threatened her each time she was sick; he even called my office to collect some “information” on her. Once I had to call myself to tell him that Josette was unable to come to work. She was both frightened and delighted to hear me explaining firmly that privacy laws did not allow me to discuss her condition. I had a rude person on the phone and look at a very small and terrified Josette in front of me whispering “I hope he won’t take revenge afterward…”

woman underwaterThe happiness of her new life did not last long. A few months later, her own parents died. Her son demanded that they move to their old house; when she saw all the expenses involved with this move, it became too much again.

She explained that she was drinking so much because life had become too hard for her: “Life is unbearable, I really want it to finish now!” She fell down her stairs, drunk. Her hands and feet were as cold as ice and her back was so painful that she could not even put her head up. It was already that way before the fall, but worsened afterwards. Her neck was very stiff, painful and heavy, nearly paralyzed.

She looked like a withered plant, with her swollen and icy feet stuck on the floor, her painful neck orienting her sight downward. Unable to fight adversity, unable to stand up strongly, she was just blown away by some cold wave. This gave me the idea of a remedy for her, and for the first time after all these years, I was able to help her.

Prescription: Menyanthes trifoliata

Follow-up
She immediately stopped drinking and slowly recovered the self-esteem necessary to face the abusive situations in her life. I still see her from time to time, when she comes for a repeat of the remedy if she feels she is sliding back into alcohol abuse. She has learned to say “No” to her son and to her employer, and she has not lost their respect or love.

Menyanthes trifoliate
Also called buck-bean or bogbean, it grows in boggy places. The whole plant is immersed in cold water, leaving only the head – the delicate flower – floating, twisting its neck to reach out to the sun, while cold water is tugging at the roots (the “feet”).

Many symptoms are better bending the head, like in submissive behaviour. A sensation of ‘cold wind’ goes through the whole body, even through the brain.

A strange, peculiar symptom describes the skin feeling too tight; as if the whole body was too tight.

Some characteristic symptoms in the repertory:
GENERALS - COLD - feeling - Tips of fingers, toes and nose
SKIN - SMALL; he were crowded in a skin several times too
BACK - PAIN - Cervical region - Nape of neck - paralyzed; as if
BACK - TENSION - Cervical region - Nape of neck

Menyanthes is a beautiful flower, simple, and weak, using its energy to keep its head above the water’s surface, needing warmth while it lives in a cold environment. It has been proved by Hahnemann himself and was proposed to cure intermittent fevers when fingers, toes, and nose are icy, as well as for cramps in legs.

We can consider that this feeling of weakness and the endeavor to reach the surface are meaningful indications of this remedy. My patient knows now that she has enough inner strength to face the hardness of life and to hold up her head in the face of it.

Menyanthes could be a remedy helping to “keep one’s head above water.”

Photo: Shutterstock
Portrait of a woman face underwater; Daniel Korzeniewski

Categories: Cases
Keywords: alcoholism, coldness, icy sensation, weakness, painful stiff neck, violent husband
Remedies: Menyanthes trifoliata

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