Petite bully in princess' clothing: a case of Lycopodium
A new practitioner, sailing on the vast homeopathic sea, must first learn how to navigate in all sorts of weather. Sometimes it is calm, sometimes turbulent, and sometimes it is quite a challenge when you get into an area where the winds are competing for the sails.
For one thing, there are so many ways to practice this art, some of which diverge pretty radically from others. From one great homeopath to another, from one school to another, from one approach to the other, the ways of practicing can be radically opposed but equally justifiable at root. And what is more, these different strands can be intertwined with one another. There are homeopaths who give a single dose and wait, wait, wait. Others give a dose of the remedy and repeat, repeat, repeat.
In the 90s, a doctor prescribed two polycrests for me, to be alternated, every two weeks. I did this for 4 years! It was not until the third year that a patch of eczema on my ankle started to heal.
Often, we do not quite know how to set the rudder to steer us toward the desired destination. Some say, we should stick to (return to) Hahnemann and strictly follow his teachings. Others say that homeopathy is always evolving and that we should embrace the work of Scholten, Sankaran, Smits, and others - that we should not be afraid of plunging into the infinite depths of the memory of water.
If Hahnemann had lived to be 200 years old, how many more versions of the Organon would he have written? Up to what point, would his practice have continued to evolve, he who never stopped questioning and perfecting?
These are the thoughts of a navigator who feels he has as yet little delved into an immense sea, a sea in which he sometimes feels he has just dipped his paddles. But it is with great pleasure that this navigator shares one of his successful expeditions - especially with those also new to this craft, who do not have the charts of remedies that more seasoned practitioners can draw upon.
A four year old girl comes with her mother to consult with me about her asthma. Every cold she gets turns into asthma and always ends in a trip to Emergency. Her very experienced pulmonologist says that the young girl is one of the most difficult cases she has seen in her long career.
The first thing I notice about her is her beauty, her radiant and somewhat timid smile and her thick hair. She is petite and not a bit affected, even though she likes to play princess. Everyone always tell her how beautiful she is. In spite of that, she often asks her father if she is pretty. Is that a need for admiration, with an underlying insecurity? Beauty seems to be a major concern in her daily life. She always tries to look pretty and she stubbornly refuses help from anyone else in choosing what she will wear.
She is very thin. Her muscles are not well-developed. However, she has lots of energy and is very physical. She loves to dance and to do gymnastics. While her mum and I are talking, she is busily going through her moves. She seems able to amuse herself without needing my attention. Or is that a ploy?
Her mother says that she concentrates well. She is clearly precocious and intelligent, and was able to solve a 100-piece puzzle when she was 3 years old. She loves learning and enjoys intellectual exercises. Ironically, her speech is delayed. She mumbles and has trouble forming complete sentences.
Seeing her kind, and somewhat luminous, qualities, I immediately thought of Phosphorus. There is, however, another side to her personality, one that drowned out this first intuition pretty quickly. When children at her daycare try to take her toys, she hits them. She ignores her teachers when they ask her to stop. At home, she is also very hard on her little brother and she fights quite a lot with him.
Faced with a new challenge, she says “I can’t”. She also takes care to observe a lot before she gets involved in any new situation.
She has difficulty getting to sleep at night. She gets up, whining, saying she has a stomachache, wants to watch television, etc. She also often needs to eat in the night. When she gets up in the morning, she is in a good mood.
She has little appetite, likes to snack, loves sugar, and drinks a lot of juice. At mealtime, she is a picky eater.
Other symptoms to note:
- smelly foot sweat
- bad breath (according to her mother)
- chronic runny nose
- eczema in the folds of her elbows; very dry skin
- marked constipation
- very sensitive to having her mother brush her hair
What strikes me, in retrospect, is that I was so blinded by her presentation as “princess” that I overlooked the fact that she was also a bully who does not hesitate to hit and push others around. On the other hand, I perceived both her stubbornness and her hesitation to engage in new activities. These two key elements, and her big craving for sugar, led me to explore Lycopodium. In Jacques Lamothe’s Pediatric Materia Medica, I found several indications that this could be the right remedy. These were the most notable:
- need for admiration
- hard on younger children
- precocious, active, an achiever
- language delays
- problems in physical development; underweight; undeveloped muscles
These symptoms seemed to confirm the picture of this child. I still worried away at some loose ends, mainly because she had central features that seemed completely contradictory to the remedy, as I understood it. For instance, she is very physical and is most often in a good mood, especially in the morning, two major elements that really do not belong to this remedy, as I saw it.
Accordingly, it was with some reservations that I prescribed Lycopodium. I chose a 15 CH, to play it safe. Liquid dosage, every two weeks, to be spaced as soon as improvements are witnessed.
May and July 2011
No asthma attacks at all, for the first four months of treatment, despite her having had fevers twice, one of which was very high and was accompanied by a cough. She has never expressed a fever before, so I saw this as positive. The vital force was recovering some stamina.
There were great improvements in her behaviour. At daycare, she now does what the teachers tell her to; she is able to wait and she is less rude with other children. At home, she is nicer to her little brother and even hugs him. She is also less whiney and less of a “princess”.
Other improvements: her chronic rhinitis disappeared; her appetite is better and less finicky; getting her to sleep is easier; constipation is improved; no more bad breath (and no coated tongue); and her smelly foot sweat has gone. Also, she is less sensitive to having her hair brushed. Her eczema comes and goes, but overall her skin is much less dry.
However, her mother felt that her daughter’s symptoms were beginning to return when I saw her in July. She is becoming impatient, she is refusing to put away her toys, and she is pickier at mealtimes.
Since she has responded well to the remedy at this potency, and there are still improvements in the picture, I recommended Lycopodium 15C to be repeated as needed.
She and her mother visited the pulmonologist 2 weeks ago. The tests showed that the child’s ‘pulmonary resistance’ had improved and so the doctor will no longer need to see her every 6 months. The doctor is amazed at this improvement and cannot understand how she could possibly be doing so well.
For a month, now, she has been coughing. Repeating the remedy more frequently has not helped.
She has improved in several other areas, including a clear improvement in her speech.
Several physical symptoms have recently returned, including her foot odour, and on a behavioural level she wants to be number one, and at daycare is pushing when in line.
This time, she mentions her fear of skeletons.
The Lycopodium 15C has worn out its action. One option is to raise it to a 30C.
Some approaches favour waiting for signs of miasmatic blockage before prescribing a nosode. Others prescribe during treatment, when there is some clear expression of the miasm involved. At this point in my practice, I usually opt for the latter. So, I gave her a dose of Psorinum (thinness, foot odour, asthma, eczema, fear of skeletons).
Lycopodium 30C, followed two weeks later by Psorinum30C one dose.
Informal Follow-up (early January 2012)
There have been major family upsets in the last month. Her father has left to do military training and her mother and the children have returned to live with the mother’s parents in another city. The little girl says she wants her whole family together, living in their own home. She is having nightmares and a bit of constipation. On the other hand, she has had no coughs.
Lycopodium 30C, to be repeated, if needed.
Observation: In the 4 to 6 weeks preceding this informal follow-up, corresponding to the time period where she took the Lycopodium 30c and the Psorinum, I would have thought she might suffer major setbacks with all she has gone through. I thought, especially, that her asthma might return or at the least that the recurrent cough would not subside. However, there has been nothing of this nature. The little girl is working through the imbalances in her life - both verbally, by expressing her unhappiness, and through dreams.
I have to say, in the beginning, that I felt the picture of this child was miles away from the difficult, combative, unhappy child that we associate – maybe complacently - with Lycopodium.
If we consider, though, that inside this remedy lurks the feeling of being small, then it follows that it would work for children who are upset about being little, and who are seeking ways and means to mask their vulnerability. Does it not make sense, then, that Lycopodium, in pursuit of such stature, might climb into the shoes of a princess?
Paul Labrèche pratices in Montreal, Canada and on Skype. Website: www.facebook.com/PaulLabrecheHomeo
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The stag's horn clubmoss, Lycopodium clavatum; Christian Fisher
Keywords: asthma, timidity, princess, insecurity, precocity, language delays, underdeveloped muscles
Remedies: Lycopodium, Psorinum