June 2015

The pain of adolescence; a growing problem

by Judy Coldicott

According to National Health Service figures, the number of 10- to 19-year-olds in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who had to be hospitalised after self-harming is dramatically on the rise. Respected children’s charities have carried out their own studies and found that 50 per cent of children aged 11 to 14 have either tried to harm themselves or know a child who has.

Today’s world is fast, unpredictable and ruthless. It is no place for fragile souls. Internet sites and -relationships corrupt impressionable minds, the young are pushed and pulled by hideous competitiveness and are losing autonomous selfhood. The youngsters believe they are what others say they are and must do what others do. [1]

Wherever in the world you live, I am sure this will be a familiar story; as a homeopath you have probably treated a teenager suffering extreme emotional pain – the pain of living in a world where they feel unhappy, disconnected and dissatisfied with their self-image. Pain is expressed in many ways: isolation, lack of self-care, overindulgence in drugs and alcohol, eating disorders, self-harm and in desperation, suicide.

As homeopaths, the issues confronting us are severe and complex; they carry with them a weight of responsibility in the face of potentially fatal symptoms. One of the more difficult aspects in such cases is that often the help is sought by the parent/caregiver when the teenager is in such deep distress that they might be isolating themselves, unwilling or unable to speak frankly about their deeper issues. This makes our task even more difficult; however, a certain amount can be achieved through the observations of a parent in assisting in our remedy choice.


Case: E. fourteen-year-old girl

Background – I have treated E. for five years, usually with little direct input from her but mainly from her mother, who is desperate to alleviate E.’s anxiety and self-esteem issues. We have tried many remedies, the best results being with Carcinosin, which she has responded well to at different times.

Her mother has given her Sepia, Lachesis and Aurum in the intervening time, with limited success, and has not brought her for an appointment as E. is so insular and unwilling to talk.

Now, though, with E. at age fourteen, she is deeply worried and asks for an appointment with me to discuss her daughter who, although willing to take the remedies, does not wish to come. Past experience shows that she will often sit and not participate in the discussion.

E. is depressed. She has left school to be homeschooled due to her poor mood and extremely low energy (this in discussion with counselors, psychiatric assessment and the parents). She is sensitive to comments from others and avoids her friends even though they ask her out. She is extremely tired, though medical tests show nothing out of the ordinary.

She pushes her mother way and is irritable with her and other family members. She puts a complete barrier around herself and hates any show of emotions.  She is flat and serious, apart from odd occasions when she will put on a show of cheerfulness for her friends. E. has put on a lot of weight; she hates her body and feels ashamed of her looks. She doesn’t like going out in public with her friends unless this cannot be avoided. She has told her mother she doesn’t want her friends to know how she is feeling, as this attracts unwanted attention from them. When she was at school, she flitted between groups of friends to avoid getting too close to anyone. She told her mother she hates school, she wants to "escape from her life and feels dead inside.” 

E.’s menstrual cycle has become protracted – approx forty days, and E’s mood is low from about day 12-15 of her cycle until the start of the menses. She is slightly better for a week after menses.

E.’s mother is desperate to at least be able to have more connection and for E  to begin to express herself a little more.

Prescription: Buddleia 30C twice daily for three days

Remedy selected for the following reasons: [2]

  • Deep sense of separation
  • Brings clarity and calm, puts you back on the path when feeling lost
  • Connects body’s energies and opens up the heart chakra
  • Works to release trauma or fear
  • Anticipatory anxiety, fear, tension, foreboding, fear of being oneself
  • Detachment from emotions, hides in order to grow
  • Heals effects of criticism, helps feel safe and wanted
  • For those who are self critical, never good enough, and find it difficult to cry
  • Helps  to strengthen, brings light in the gloom, protects and brings playfulness and joyfulness
  • A good remedy when patients cannot express their symptoms

Follow up

E. showed some improvement on Buddleia 30C then 200C over the next three months. She began speaking more with her mother, but the effects did not hold on repetition. Her moods were still fluctuating, so E.’s mother and I discussed the situation further.

Mother says that at her worst, E. is withdrawn and uncommunicative; she is angry, will not get out of bed, will not be touched and pushes family members away. She refuses to do her homeschooling (she is only engrossed in reading), and parents are unwilling to push her too hard, fearful of what she will do. She refuses all invitations to go out with friends, is sullen and silent at the table and won’t speak or do anything with the family. 

When E. does speak she says she hates herself, her personality, hair and the way she looks, finding herself too fat.  She loathes her braces, but wants her teeth fixed. She refuses to eat much (she has lost some weight and mother says she is looking good) but says she cannot even bear to look in the mirror. Her mother has recently discovered that she has been cutting herself on her wrists and inner thighs since before Buddleia and is now extremely fearful that her self-harming could end in a life-threatening bleed. Mother believes that Buddleia has enabled E. to be truthful about the cutting, which is also her cry for help; she has laid down some rules about checking her cutting. On the face of it, E. has accepted this and says she wants help to stop as she is becoming scared, too. The mother feels “as if I am fighting for my daughter’s life.”


I looked at a few specific rubrics in Synthesis:

Mind, Delusions, Body ugly, body looks too fat

Mind, Injuring himself

Mind, Company, Aversion to, desire for solitude

Mind, Despair, life of

Lac humanum was the only remedy to appear in all of these rubrics. I re-read a range of literature, some of the other high scoring remedies and differentiations between Lac humanum and Lac maternum. I ultimately selected Lac maternum.

Prescription: Lac maternum 1M

Remedy selected for the following reasons: [3]

  • Lack of incarnation/ unawareness of true identity – out of body experiences, not feeling one’s body anymore
  • Anxiety at accepting the physical state
  • Not centered/ energy easily disturbed by energy of others and surroundings and contributes to emotional instability
  • Lack of energy/ confidence, easily overwhelmed
  • Bad relationship with food and eating
  • Sadness and lack of joy in life, indifference – doesn’t care about self or the household
  • A desire to read – escape from reality – lives in an imaginary world, doesn’t answer when spoken to, fear of finishing study and having to perform
  • Issues around being touched – desires it, or the polarity of not wanting to be touched

Patricia Hatherly says the following about this remedy:

“For those in need of this remedy, the patterns of escape are therefore easily recognizable in the lifestyle choices and activities which reflect a constant desire to return to the state of seemingly unfettered freedom from the demands of physicality.”

Follow up

E. took Lac maternum 1M regularly over the next three months. E.’s mother is familiar with homeopathy, knowing when to repeat the remedy. When E.’s moods deteriorated, she would ring me to discuss the situation. Lac maternum seemed to lift E.’s mood each time she took it.

She has stopped cutting and now allows her mother to check this occasionally. She is more prone to outbursts of anger rather than the severe disconnection that was present before. Her mother says that she will sometimes talk and laugh and has apologized for being so selfish at times. Her wall has become penetrable and she is able to express herself more easily. She still does not accept physical comfort from others and has periods where she wants to be alone, which is not unusual for a teenager, but she is slowly making good progress. She has managed to hold down a part time job two hours per day, which is a huge shift in her motivation and desire to connect; she is more comfortable about leaving the house.

At times, she is still feeling depressed around her menses, but now she confides in her mother when this happens and sometimes has a cry.

E.’s mother is delighted that there is now a line of communication with her daughter and although things are not perfect, she feels happy that E. is now not in extreme danger anymore.

The case is obviously ongoing, but illustrates the enormous potential of homeopathy even in desperate circumstances.

Photos: Shutterstock
Self-harming woman; Miroslaw Dziadkowiec

[1]THE INDEPENDENT, WED March 18, 2015; The pressures for success on our teenage daughters are driving them to self-harm; Yasmin Alibhai Brown; http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-pressures-for-success-on-our-teenage-daughters-are-driving-them-to-selfharm-10109675.html

[2] Meditative Provings Vol 2: Madeline Evans

[3]The Materia Medica Of Milk – Collected Articles, Homeopathic Links; Lac Maternum and mother Earth, Tinus Smits; Homeolinks Pub, Aug 2002

Keywords: adolescence, self-harm, isolation, teenager, emotional pain, withdrawn
Remedies: Buddleia, Lac maternum


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Rhoda Ui Chonaire
Posts: 1
Reply #1 on : Mon June 01, 2015, 09:49:38
A wonderful case! I thought Buddleia would do it but great learning for me in the Lac Humanum element. Thanks to you and your patient for sharing.