As published in the December 2009 issue of Vitality Magazine
“So, who is the pain in your neck?” I playfully asked one patient complaining of chronic neck pain and stiffness. Appearing a little confused, he went on to elaborate on his symptoms and discomforts. Stressing the word “who,” I repeated the question. “Who is the pain in your neck?” He smiled knowingly this time and replied, “That would be my boss.” Further questioning revealed the huge resistance my patient felt towards his employer’s ideas on running the business.
Holistic healers and educators have long been advocating the connection between physical ailments and their corresponding emotional roots. There is often an obvious symbolic connection between the two. For example, constipation represents “holding on” or the inability to “let go.” Similarly arthritis, which causes stiffness and immobility, symbolizes unwavering or stiff attitudes, coupled with feeling stuck and unable to move forward. In some cases of chronic illness, the emotional disturbance is not always so obvious and can date back to childhood. What triggers anger or resentment today may be a catalyst for the unresolved emotions from a distant past. One connection that I notice frequently is the conscious or unconscious resistance to change, or the inability to “go with the flow.”
Diagnosed with this autoimmune disease three years prior to seeking homeopathic treatment, Meghan, a 41-year-old accountant, was convinced she had minimal emotional tension in her life. Her chief complaint was knee pain, shooting down to her left ankle. The pain was aggravated by sitting for longer than 10 minutes or bending her leg. Her secondary complaint was soreness in knuckles and wrists, worse in the morning and improving slightly as the day progressed.
Meghan’s other complaints included difficulty falling asleep, migraine headaches during weather changes, increased appetite late in the evenings, especially for salty snacks. Her medical history included non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at 27. While the chemotherapy and radiation had helped eradicate the cancer, they had also contributed to early menopause and infertility.
When I asked Meghan to talk about her stresses in life, she told me she never gets angry and has no reason to. She felt her life was normal and there was no reason to complain. When I probed further into her childhood experiences, huge disturbance in family life was uncovered. Meghan described her father as dominating and difficult to talk to. She felt she often disappointed him by not trying harder or being better at something. Her mother was an alcoholic, and one never knew when she would drink and behave inappropriately, embarrassing Meghan in front of her friends.
The homeopathic remedy Natrum Muriaticum, known for addressing “suppression” issues, launched Meghan’s journey of self-discovery and healing. She reported improvements month after month, as her knee pain gradually disappeared, her fingers and wrists returned to normal and her sense of self-awareness and expression was aroused.
Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis are the most common of the more than 100 different types known. Others include gout, bursitis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, systemic lupus, fibromyalgia, to name a few. While types and symptoms vary greatly, there are certain symptoms that all arthritics have in common. All types of arthritis affect the musculoskeletal system and all have stiffness in the joints and swelling in the cartilage. If left unhealed, the joint cartilage begins to deteriorate and the bones rub against each other. Such damage can end up leading to physical deformities.
Often thought of as a disease of the elderly, arthritis can develop at any age. Children are diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid arthritis as young as six months. The onset of Rheumatoid arthritis is usually diagnosed in people between 20 and 40 years old, while Osteoarthritis is viewed to be an inevitable part of aging or wear and tear. While symptoms of arthritis can happen in any part of the body that includes a joint, most affected are the fingers, knees, feet, back, shoulders, hips and neck.
Arthritis can result from traumatic injury to a joint, such as from a car accident, or as progressive disease. It can have a genetic base or a combination of genetics combined with lifestyle choices and attitudes. One contributing factor is a highly acidic diet. By embracing a more alkaline diet, one can reverse milder forms of arthritis – or at least experience some improvement of symptoms. Another contributing factor is a highly acidic or negative attitude, which can also be unknowingly inherited.
Feelings of rejection in early childhood can contribute to physical ailments in later life. Feelings of rejection can stem from physical, emotional and sexual abuse, neglect, trauma, great loss or abandonment. One’s responses to these early childhood experiences include anger, anxiety, shame, guilt and hatred for self and others, causing intense negative thoughts and feelings. When left unresolved, these negative feelings find expression through physical ailments, such as many forms of arthritis.
Arthritis is experienced differently by each sufferer. For example, joint pain can be made worse from heat or cold, in humidity or dry weather, from certain foods or drinks, sitting or bending a certain way and so on. Similarly, emotions are also expressed differently by people. For example, some people express anger with violent acts, while others walk away and suppress their feelings. The unique symptoms and behaviours displayed by each individual determine their biological and psychological type – known as constitution. Based on careful consideration of a person’s symptoms, a homeopath arrives at the indicated constitutional remedy.
Known as the “Father of Modern Medicine,” Sir William Osler is famous for saying: “When an arthritis patient walks in the front door, I feel like leaving through the back door.” The reason for this statement is that there is little modern medicine can offer arthritis sufferers. Drugs are prescribed for temporary relief of pain, which come with side effects followed by stronger drugs, and so on. Homeopathy, on the other hand, stimulates the innate healing intelligence of the body and helps reverse illness. In order to come up with the constitutional remedy, a homeopath is interested in every minute detail of your arthritic pains and discomforts. This information is combined with past medical history, personality, temperament, fears, anxieties, desires, sleep patterns, appetite and all other bodily functions. The homeopath will then choose one out of a hundred or more possible homeopathic remedies for arthritis.
Below are eight remedies I have used successfully in treating arthritis conditions. Please note the descriptions below cover a very small portion of the actual case:
Calcarea carbonicum was used for an overweight and chilly person, with clammy perspiration and rheumatoid pains that were worse in damp weather. She had many fears about health and safety.
Calcarea fluorica was used for chronic inflammation in the knee joint and bursitis. Ligaments and muscles were easily injured due to weakness. This is typically an indecisive person with fluctuations in energy and spirits.
Cuprum metallicum was used for cramps in toes and calves. Uneasy personality (strong sense of justice) with muscle stiffness and aches starting at a young age.
Ledum palustre was used for gouty pains shooting through small joints. Patient felt better from cold application to painful parts. Limbs felt hot, but were cold to the touch. This person had an aversion to company – wanted to be alone.
Bryonia alba was used for red, hot and swollen joints, painful from least pressure and movement. This was an unemotional person concerned with business and money matters.
Arsenicum album was used for Rheumatism in the fingers and hands with burning pains. The person was anxious, perfectionistic, preoccupied with health matters, money and self-preservation.
Benzoic acid was used for acute attacks of gout pain.
Causticum was used for arthritis pains, stiffness and paralysis of single body parts that felt better in humidity and warmth. This was an extremely sympathetic person with rigid views of social justice and injustice. (Activist type.)
Homeopathic remedies can help release stored emotions from the body, bringing awareness and initiating positive change. As the emotions are acknowledged and released, physical ailments also start to heal. The resistance to change is interrupted and the flow of life resumed. It is interesting to watch how resistance to change can cause ill health, even simple ailments. Try this exercise next time you come down with the common cold or get a headache. Ask yourself, “What am I resisting?”
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