2012 February

Snakes in my bed: a case of Funiculus umbilicus humanum

by Doug Brown

Are the treasures of homeopathy found in the answers it provides, or in the questions it raises? Is the power of the homeopathic remedy confined and unique to the process of trituration and succussion? What do we do when we “know” what remedy is needed, but it is not readily available?

I never tire of asking the question, “What is a remedy?” It seems to me that a remedy is a kind of mirror which transforms a turbulent stream of experience - perceived by the patient as suffering - into a deep river of well-being. When we witness the suffering experienced by another, we aim to perceive that which unites every symptom and experience into an indivisible, holistic (Whole) understanding. This holistic understanding, linked in consciousness to the field of meaning of an identified phenomenon (mineral, plant, animal, nosode, sarcode, imponderable, etc.), is that which transforms suffering into coherence, health, and resolution. As homeopaths, we use the end product of a process of trituration, dilution, and succussion to bring the patient into contact with the field of meaning, the consciousness, of the remedy. But what if the remedy has not been prepared? Are there other ways to initiate healing, to link the Noetic Field of the remedy to the evolving stream of consciousness of the patient?

At the Himalayan Sensation Seminar organized by Rebecca Williams, I witnessed beautiful live cases taken by Dinesh Chauhan and Jayesh Shah. Both of these great healers, in their own distinctive ways, have demonstrated how allowing time and space for awareness within the case-witnessing process itself can, in itself, catalyze the beginning of healing. In this case, I would like to demonstrate the value of another, quite simple way, to remedy a state when “no remedy” is available (or when the practitioner is unaware of any homeopathic preparation of the indicated remedy).

The Case

In May 2010, H., a 7 year old girl, was brought to me by both parents, with a chief complaint of anxiety and fear of sleeping alone. The first two remedies I gave had no effect, and for ease of reading I will combine the relevant information from the first three sessions below.

I first met with H. alone. The most noticeable characteristic is her somewhat sing-song, baby-like speech, of which she seems to be not fully aware, i.e. it does not seem affected.

She talks about secrets, about liking to write. She gives an example of her writing, in which hot dogs say hello to each other, and go home to sleep. In another, “I opened the door to my house, but it wasn’t my house. It was a museum. Mom and Dad were in it. I said ‘Let’s get out.’ There were weird creatures in the museum; little thingies crawling around. Like little dolphins – all blue.”

While telling another story (about a bunny who loved her Mom and Dad, loved to go on trips) she spontaneously covers her ears while coughing. She explains, “That’s very loud. My ears are very sensitive.” She also says she has to stretch.

What would happen if you couldnt stretch?

H: “That would hurt. Ouchie. You would die. Without my lunch box I could starve!

“I love animals! (energized): bunnies, doggies, foxes. Only the cute kids, the babies.

“When I sit for a long time, my legs hurt. I feel like I’m going to break open. It’s like a heart breaking.

“I don’t have dreams. Sometimes, though, I have scary thoughts. Like a bear trying to eat me. Not one of those cute bears, the cubs but a big brown bear.”

Parents: “She’s been difficult ever since birth. She wants us by her all the time. She wants to come in to our room. She screams, hits us in the middle of the night. She can be up from a few minutes to over an hour or two. She’ll wake up in the middle of the night and go into a full-blown tantrum. She’s completely unable to self-soothe. There’s not much self-reflection the next day. She’s got a really strong connection with her Mom. She really wants us close. She works herself into a tantrum, can’t calm herself down. She fears (father) and I will leave after she goes to sleep. Needs lots and lots of soothing; kisses at bedtime. She needs to know one of us is nearby on the first floor. She gets defiant, worked up. She has a fear of us leaving, a fear of throwing up. She sings a lot to herself. She’ll wake up, screaming of pain in her legs. She gets really outside of herself, and can’t stop. She keeps us up for hours.”

When H’s anxiety is intense, she won’t let her mother go downstairs to check laundry. She has to know where her mother is at all times. She’s “freaked out” by her mother’s cough. She’s very sensitive to temperature, gets cold easily.

H: “It’s scary going to bed when there’s no light. There’re snakes coming into my bed!”

During the pregnancy, the father lost his job, felt anger and anxiety. H’s mother was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. “The trauma was that they put me on insulin. I had been controlling it with exercise. We were in an adoptive pool when I got pregnant. There was unexplained infertility. Going on insulin was a huge disappointment, a failure. I was so determined to control it with diet and exercise.”

Father: “We had tried so hard – to be wonderful parents. Waiting for divorce (of previous marriages) to be over. There was frustration. We wished we had met ten years earlier, to have more time together to start a family.”

Both parents are highly educated social service professionals. They seem very empathic and skilled as parents.

H. re-enters the room, begins to talk about a family vacation.

H: “I want you, Mom, to tell.”

Mother: “We all slept in one room; so that made it easy for H. We rented a house, and we all had to share a room again. H. loved that! We still have gone through some troubles with Dad putting her to bed. We had a talk about it, we explained that Dad would put her to bed some nights, after some tantrums.

“Since returning home she’s scared to sleep in her room, comes and sleeps on the floor of our room. She’s scared to sleep in her bed. Even talking about her room is too scary.”

When youre in the same room as Mom and Dad, what does that feel like? Can you describe that nice feeling?

H: “It’s happy. ‘Cuz I’m close to them (arms around shins, biting her dress).”

What does it feel like when youre close to your parents at night?

H: “Happy when they’re close to you. It’s like when you’re this close together (shows her two fingers close together).” 

What have been the scariest things that come into your mind?

H: “People trying to take me (spreads arms out). Sometimes, I like to curl up like this (curls up).”

Can you go out to the waiting room, draw a picture, and come back and show it to me?

Mother: “She doesn’t even want to go now to the waiting room. This summer, she’s been literally right under foot. I turn around and she’s there. There was a time when she wouldn’t even go to other kids’ houses for play dates. This sleeping in our room, I don’t know what else to do. It takes her such a long time to adjust back (after trips and sleeping in same room). As a baby, all the stars had to be aligned for her to sleep through the night.

“She’d spend time with her cousins; likes to play, but wants to know where I’m going to be. Her aunt is special to her.”

H. returns, with a picture of a heart and the word “Love”.

H: “I’m more attached to mother. I spent time in my mother’s tummy. I like to hear stories about birth.

“I love to swing, hate elevators. I got to hold on. I’m scared of floods, fires, thunderstorms. In the elevator I could be trapped. Everything is closed. I feel locked out.

“Mummy’s tummy was my first bedroom. It was fun. I was growing into a big humungous body. In there, there’s a little snake that attaches you to your Mommy. Or maybe it’s a thin, rolled-up piece of paper.”

More about this snake?

H: “Sometimes, snakes are scary. But this is what attaches me to my Mommy.”


The characteristic features of the case are:

Insecure attachment
Excessive sensitivity, similar to 2nd series Elements (corresponding to the birth process)
Images of mammals (bears, dogs, bunnies, foxes), with a split between the baby (cute) and the adult (scary) forms
Images of hearts, of hearts breaking
Snake (scary) vs.Thing that attaches me to my Mommy (Umbilical Cord)

The human umbilical cord is a mammal remedy, a sarcode, and the biological manifestation of fetal attachment to, and dependence on, the mother. It is critical for survival, an organ of fetal nutrition (and excretion); it resembles a snake, and is identified by our patient as that which attaches her to her mother.

Prescription: I decided to give H. Funiculus umbilicalis humanum. As far as I knew at the time, this remedy was only available as a combination product from Heel, and Heel was unable to provide it to me as a single remedy. (I have since found out that both Helios and Freemans stock it.) Therefore, I wrote a label with the words “Funiculus umb. humanum LM5” on a paper label, which I taped to a 1 oz. dropper bottle, and gave it to H.’s parents as a Noetic Remedy on Sept. 3rd, 2010. They were instructed to give H. the remedy daily, as if it were an LM remedy from the pharmacy.

“Paper” remedies – and the controversy surrounding them - are not new in homeopathy. See, for example, http://freehomeopathy.findtalk.net/

I prefer the term ‘Noetic Remedy’, since of course it is not the paper that is the remedy. Rather, it is the Noetic Field, the field of consciousness of the substance that is the remedy. Masaru Emoto has demonstrated that water rearranges its molecular structure to reflect the meaning of words written on its container. In any case, it makes sense that the process of serial dilution and agitation invented by Hahnemann, although elegant and highly efficacious, is not the only way to access the spiritual powers all around us. The shamans of indigenous peoples, still connected spiritually to the places from which they spring forth, have refined their consciousness to make direct contact with the spirit world, and they do so without necessarily using a mortar and pestle.

First follow-up Oct. 4, 2010 (one month later)

H: “Good! It’s easier to go to sleep. In the school playground, I play mother and baby. I pretend that everybody else in the playground is part of our family.

“If I got a dog, I would never be bored. Someone to walk, walk with to school. It’s fun to watch how big a poop a dog can make.”

Dream: me as a princess. A kiss that’s yucky-pucky, disgusting, slimy.

Plan: Continue same remedy.

Jan. 4, 2011 (after four months on remedy)

“I’m happy! Bedtime is much easier. Dad is fun! I had a dream of a person on a big ship, with a humungous dog. The person and the dog wanted to sail the ship together. The ship floated down the river by itself. Happy feeling.”

Mother: “She’s much more helpful and loving. She’s cleaning her own room, being responsible. She’s grown up so much. She has a close friend she calls her sister. She’s excitable at bedtime, but not giving us a hard time about going to sleep.”

Plan: Continue remedy as needed. No follow-up scheduled.

Telephone call to mother Dec. 9, 2011 (after 14 months on remedy): The symptoms of anxiety, fear, clinging, and sleep have all resolved. H. is doing great. “We’re very grateful”.


There are many remedies that immediately come to mind, when considering cases of insecure attachment and fear, for example, Chocolate, Stramonium, Hyoscyamus, Gallic acid. But Hahnemann’s injunction to be “free of prejudice” can never be forgotten. The patient will inevitably lead us to the needed remedy, if we can only quiet the voices of our “knowing” and activate our attentiveness to what our patients are saying.

Furthermore, it is time to honor the spirits of the remedies themselves, and to recognize the fact of their enthusiastic willingness to enter into the water all around us to serve us in our quest to heal. If for practical reasons we cannot obtain them through trituration and succussion, why not just write an invitation? The spirits are alive and well, and they are our friends!

Doug Brown lives and practices in Portland, Oregon. Website: www.homeopathichealing.org

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Knotted umbilical cord; Shokohäubchen

Keywords: Noetic Field, separation anxiety, excessive sensitivity, survival
Remedies: Funiculus umbilicalis humanum


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Showing comments 1 to 10 of 12 | Next | Last

Posts: 22
Alize Timmerman triturated remedies
Reply #12 on : Thu April 25, 2013, 13:32:30
Beautiful case. When I needed to prescribe Umbilical Cord I also wondered where to get it. The pharmacy stocks remedies made from the umbilical cord of specific named individuals. I went to Alize Timmerman of the Hahnemann Instituut in Netherlands who has led research and trituration provings of the matridonal birth remedies and made remedies. So there may be a European supplier of these remedies.

Posts: 22
Reply to Doug
Reply #11 on : Sat December 22, 2012, 17:39:51
Thank you for your reply and I am glad you recognize that homeopathy contains both the shamanic and the scientific poles. My point in my reply was not to criticize your work as such, but only the way it was reported. The convention in homeopathy is to give a remedy and not just to evoke it shamanistically, and therefore a departure from this convention needs to be stated upfront starting from the title and first paragraph. As it stands the case passes as a conventional one (for example, it may be taken by others as an actual representation of the remedy), which celebrates the shamanistic pole of homeopathy (which I myself uphold, contrary perhaps to what may be concluded from my previous words) but overlooks its systematic, scientific pole. In other words, the scientific ideal of clear presentation of evidence shouldn't be abandoned even when reporting content that lies outside of convention -- to the contrary, it is best to apply extra rigor in such cases.

Posts: 22
Reply #10 on : Sat March 03, 2012, 15:18:26
First I would like to thank Jenni, Ben, Angela, Urvi, Atul, Paul, Christiane, and Shreya for your kind and supportive words. It is so gratifying to be able to share this mystery and wonder with colleagues who resonate at similar vibrations! Which brings me to my gratitude to the editors of Interhomeopathy, Sally Williams, Pat Deacon, Deborah Collins, Patricia Maché, who work so hard to provide this medium of collegial exchange to homeopaths from all over the world.
David, I would also like to thank you for your honest reaction to my article. I am sure you speak for many who remain silent but disturbed, for you are giving voice to an important and essential stream within our profession: the passion to develop our work into a science, with consistent laws and patterns which may be described, reproduced, and relied upon as a means to rise above the foibles of individual human subjectivity. Others have written about this tension between the “Shamanistic” and “Scientific” impulses within our community: one can liken it to an almost Hegelian struggle between “Thesis” and “Antithesis”. I trust that a Synthesis will emerge, if we can only hold this tension with continued respect and open-mindedness not only within our community, but also within our individual psyches as we struggle to make sense of our individual experiences.
As for myself, I have by no means come to any fixed conclusions as to the place of “Noetic remedies” within homeopathy and my practice. I continue to experiment, to observe, to look for patterns and counter-examples. I share this case not out of a spirit of proclamation of discovery, but rather as one of invitation to join me in wonder, experimentation, and celebration of our successes.

Posts: 22
Unscientific conclusions
Reply #9 on : Thu March 01, 2012, 17:13:27
I liked the case presentation until I discovered that no actual remedy was given. While this case is a nice anecdotal report, I am dismayed at the fact that it is presented as a case of a remedy that was never given: even if we accept that a remedy can be given in thought only (which makes our use of actual remedies quite suspect, besides that fact that many homeopaths would decline to accept paper remedies), there is no guarantee that one's thoughts about a certain remedy will match those of another, and hence giving a paper remedy is about as reproducible as grabbing a random remedy off the pharmacy shelf.

In my opinion there is room for such reporting in a homeopathy journal under a speculative heading, but no room whatsoever to claim that this is a case of Umbilical Cord.

Posts: 22
Wonderful case
Reply #8 on : Wed February 15, 2012, 13:45:06
Awesomely described case for a relatively rare remedy. Thank you so much for this insightful post!

Posts: 22
funiculus ubilicalis humanum
Reply #7 on : Sat February 11, 2012, 19:06:47
Thanks for the very interesting case and for knowing where to find the remedy.

Posts: 22
This case
Reply #6 on : Fri February 03, 2012, 01:46:11

I just love how the whole thing just unfold itself. And i had heard of «paper remedies» before but i had never give it any kind of attention or credibility. Your case is a true eye opener since the two first remedies had not given any results.

As i was reading, i was thinking about Lac Maternum described by Tinus Smits and wondering how this remedy would have a worked its way.

Thank you.

Posts: 22
Funiculus umbilicalis humanum case
Reply #5 on : Thu February 02, 2012, 17:17:20
Thank you Doug,

What an interesting case! One would have easily thought of a 2nd series remedy. This case goes to show how much the bit that does not fit holds importance in understanding the case. It shows how the basic foundation and understanding of kingdoms and materia medica can stimulate the mind to think beyond and out of the box and make it easy to apply the thought process. Rare remedies nowadays do wonders frequently....

Last Edit: February 02, 2012, 18:19:26 by *  

Posts: 22
Noetic, field,
Reply #4 on : Thu February 02, 2012, 09:30:24
"It seems to me that a remedy is a kind of mirror which transforms a turbulent stream of experience - perceived by the patient as suffering - into a deep river of well-being." - wonderfully perceived and said. these words opens great possibilities for homeopathic research and mode of dispensing homeopathic medicines. and Doug very nice insight into the case. thank you for lovely insights.

Posts: 22
Umbilical Cord
Reply #3 on : Wed February 01, 2012, 20:15:24
Thanks for this lovely story Doug. These remedies of the 'Mother' (as Alize Timmerman call them) have transformed my practice and are often called for in treatment. I have found this remedy also helpful for children who are deeply connected to friends who suddenly leave or die. In my experience at some time in chronic treatment people may start to manifest the 'Mother' remedies as a layer, just as we may see a miasmatic nosode emerge at same stage in treatment. It is beautiful when the person comes to this layer of the Mother for they feel deeply connected, strong and stable after taking these remedies.
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