Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system. In this disease, the body’s own immune system attacks the myelin, the protective sheath that covers the nerve fibres.
Symptoms are related to nerve fibre damage and include fatigue, incoordination, weakness, tingling, lack of sensation, vision problems, bladder problems, cognitive impairment and mood changes.
Ongoing constitutional homeopathic treatment under the guidance of a professional homeopath can often be helpful for the symptoms and can also halt the progression of MS. Homeopathic treatment can be used safely in conjunction with pharmaceutical medications for MS.
Research Study on Homeopathy for Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the most common disease of the central nervous system affecting people between the ages of 20 and 40 years in the UK, Northern Europe and the USA. No definitive treatment yet exists to halt the almost inevitable decline in function and accumulation of disability over the years in sufferers. Management is largely directly of symptoms which arise variably in the course of the condition. Such problems as urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction, cramps and spasms, tremor and trigeminal neuralgia can often be helped to some extent using conventional therapies. These treatments though are not effective in everyone, or cause unacceptable side-effects and there are some commonly reported symptoms, such as fatigue or emotional lability for which there are no generally accepted treatments. Here, a knowledge of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) can bring benefits to the person with MS. CAM is widely used by people with MS and some studies in this area are briefly summarised. It is interesting to reflect what lies behind all this CAM use and what that might tell conventional medicine about just what it is the MS sufferer really wants from their carers. Homeopathy is a form of CAM unique in the UK in having been available in the NHS since the foundation in 1948. Medical homeopaths in the UK have always been concerned with the integration of the best of conventional and complementary treatments for the benefit of their patients. Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital has around 100 admissions each year of people with MS at different stages of the condition and aims at an integrated response to their distress. Different therapeutic modalities are employed, but a homeopathic approach in particular is of benefit in MS. By its nature, it is a whole-person approach and allows for complete individualisation of treatment, taking account of the minutiae of someone’s life. This is discussed and some examples of homeopathic treatments, which seem to be more generalisable for commonly encountered MS symptoms, are given.
When Vicky Smith, 28, from Honiton, Devon was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) two years after the birth of her second child, she was devastated. The condition developed fairly rapidly and within a short time she was confined to a wheelchair or crutches. The prognosis did not look promising when Vicky started to lose her sight. As her condition worsened her doctors told her the nerve damage caused by the MS meant that the possibility of regaining her sight was remote.
Vicky takes up the story: “Not being able to walk was immensely limiting for me but when I changed from a person with 20/20 vision to a virtually blind one, it was a huge shock. My husband had to take charge of much of our domestic life including the childcare as my sight gradually deteriorated from blurry vision to almost complete blindness,” she said.
After advice from her sister, who was studying with us at the Contemporary College of Homoeopathy in Taunton, Vicky decided to visit the clinic. The clinic is run for the benefit of people who want to try homeopathy but may not be able to afford to pay for health care. We encourage referrals from local GPs and hospitals. The clinic is the only one of its kind in the UK, run by qualified and student homeopaths, and it offers free treatment and free remedies.
Up until this point, Vicky had been treated by her doctor and she had not been to see a homeopath before. She says: “The first noticeable difference is the amount of time you are given in the session and then it’s the detail of the symptoms – physical and emotional – which are of interest to them. I really appreciated being able to express my frustrations over not being able to walk and above all not being able to see.”
Vicky’s homeopath was Simone Guest who had not seen a patient with such severe pathology before. She says, “On her first few visits she had to be led into the consulting room; she could not walk unaided and of course her vision was virtually nil. At this time our assessment of her case involved deciding which of her symptoms was the most limiting for her. Her lack of sight and inability to walk were clearly at the top of the list, but in addition she had experienced continuous bleeding since her second child had been born. So here was a patient who, on top of the classic MS symptoms of numbness, pins and needle sensations and pain, was weakened further by a constant, albeit slow, haemorrhage from her uterus.”
Simone prescribed the remedy Phosphorus for Vicky. She was given Phosphorus in an LM potency, which is particularly useful for chronic pathology as the dose is very gradually increased each time it is taken. This avoids aggravations and provides the gentlest homeopathic healing.
Vicky immediately reported that she was experiencing headaches, skin rashes and sudden bright flashes in her eyes. Simone was pleased to hear this since it indicated that the remedies were getting a reaction from Vicky. She noticed that at times the pain in her legs was excruciating, worse than it had been before, but in temperament she felt much calmer. This is a common reaction to homeopathic remedies. Patients will often experience a sense of emotional well-being although some physical symptoms may be worse for a short time.
At her second visit, a month later, Vicky reported being able to distinguish light and dark and then, six weeks after starting the Phosphorus, the bleeding from her uterus stopped. This was a breakthrough and much sooner than we had all expected. A few weeks later Vicky had her first normal period for nearly three years.
The Phosphorus LM was continued along with Avena sativa and Hypericum which were both given as nervous system support remedies. Vicky’s symptoms slowly improved and over the next few months inevitably there were good times and bad times, until one morning, ten months after beginning the treatment, Vicky woke up and could see out of her right eye. “Everything was out of focus – but I could see!” she says. She returned to see Simone at the clinic and six weeks later she woke up, this time from an afternoon sleep, and she could see out of her left eye.
Now Vicky has good vision from both eyes and has confounded her doctors with her recovery as she is also now walking without crutches and she gave birth to her third child in the autumn of this year.
Vicky’s case is one of many heart-warming stories that we have successfully treated at the Contemporary College clinic. Clearly she had age on her side, but before she started homeopathic treatment her prognosis was grim. Now she is able to look after her children and most importantly see them grow and develop.
Many patients of homeopathy, whether suffering with fairly minor complaints such as recurrent sore throats or from a seriously chronic condition, like Vicky’s, express their relief at being able to talk about all aspects of themselves in the consultation and their appreciation that these symptoms are all taken into consideration when the remedy is prescribed.
Some commonly treated conditions using homeopathy include digestive disorders, hormonal imbalances, respiratory conditions, circulatory problems, skin disorders, recurrent infections, stress-related problems, anxiety, grief, depression, chronic conditions, behavioural problems, childbirth, pregnancy, side effects of drug treatments and many more.
Pete, a firefighter, started having symptoms nine years ago. He was a welder at the time. One day, at work, he climbed a ladder. While descending he missed the bottom rung and sharply hit his coccyx on a barrier post. It sent a shock through his body. A week later he started having numbness and tingling in his hands and feet, then in his whole body from the chest down. The numbness was mostly in the front and on the sides, not as much in his back. The sensations subsided within three weeks, but reappeared three more times that year. After that the symptoms mostly went away, but Pete had numbness from time to time in various places.
This year, Pete experienced an intense exacerbation which affected his vision, causing blurring. He had blurred vision twice before, five years ago and six months ago, which was diagnosed as vertigo. Now, when he tilted forward, he got a shocking sensation all through his body. Alarmed, Pete saw a neurologist and had an MRI. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. In the previous two months, Pete’s balance was really affected. He had vertigo, which caused him trouble while walking. He also had developed dry cracking skin on the ends of his fingers and toes, with a loss of sensation. He did not have any muscle weakness, but his muscles did feel more tired than usual.
The most recent onset of symptoms, two months before his first visit, affected his whole body from the chest down. It came on in thirty hours. “I feels like my body is going to sleep,” Pete said. He could not walk heel to toe in the neurologist’s office. It came on this time with a ferociousness he was not used to. He sometimes got a mild exacerbation with a cold or flu. Prior to the recent symptoms he had been taking Echinacea for fatigue. The recent episode came on strongly and quickly, and left just as quickly.
Every now and then, Pete could feel the spot where he had hit his coccyx. X-rays of the coccyx were negative for fracture or displacement. His low back went out from lifting. He lifted a 200-pound guy the wrong way while doing a rescue. His left sacro-iliac joint throbbed and he had sciatica in both buttocks and thighs. The back pain had persisted for more than a year.
Pete also had difficulty starting to urinate. When his M.S. symptoms were aggravated he had to stand and wait for 2-3 minutes before the flow would start. He also had urinary urgency and frequency, which had lingered for weeks.
As a firefighter, Pete worked 24-hour shifts. He came home really tired. He used to have a second job as well, but now he was too tired to do it. He felt better if he went on vacation. Pete had held various jobs as a welder, a courier and a real estate agent and now he was a reluctant firefighter. He had moved from the South to take the job at his wife’s urging. At first he tried it and quit. He went back to welding for a time but returned to firefighting because it paid better.
“I have seen things in a day that no one has seen in a lifetime. There is a stress in the job that goes with you all the time. It gets old. I don’t have a vision for my life. I’m not headed towartd anything. I used to have a vision.” Since moving, Pete missed his family (3), his mother and six brothers and sisters, his church and the warm weather down south. It was hard for him to adjust, even though his wife and kids loved their new home.
“I always wanted to be a highway patrolman. I got washed out because I couldn’t drive well enough. In the fire department you are on a team being told what to do. As a police officer you make the decisions independently.” Pete loved being a welder. “It’s like an art. You are in control here.” “I have to be moving up or moving on,” he reflected.
Growing up, Pete’s mother and father were constantly fighting. His father was alcoholic. Pete’s mother was strong willed and although his father beat her, he stayed with the family. Pete was disciplined for the slightest infraction. He was a shy kid with terrible dental problems as a child. He lost 11 teeth before his teens. “I want to blame my parents for that,” he said. He had a lot of acne at an early age and was very shy. “It made me feel like I didn’t belong.” “I was always left at home to take care of the younger kids. I really wanted to play.”
Pete loved sports, but he gave up football after he strained his achilles tendon. By 19, Pete was lost and disillusioned in college. He had a spiritual rebirth when he “accepted the lord.” It really gave him hope, and his spiritual life continued to be a major focus and he really loved it.
Pete had been married for thirteen years to a strong-willed but very pretty woman. “I felt so unloveable. I had dental problems, acne, and shyness. I was embarrassed about being poor. I have been trying so hard for my family not to experience that.”
Pete desired a number of foods including sweets, fruits, ice cream, citrus, Gala apples, grapes, pork, and vegetables. He hated liver and organ meats. Pete has changed his diet to include less meat and more vegetables and grains. Pete’s blood pressure was borderline hypertensive, but it had improved since the diet change. He was warm in general and preferred cooler weather. Since his symptoms had worsened he had become chillier. He loved the sun, but not the heat.
Pete’s sexual desire had diminished. During the worsening of his symptoms he got numbness and impotence for a few days. His desire was up but he could not perform. Lately his desire was down.
Pete also complained of hayfever in the Spring and occasional sinus headaches.
Pete‘s case might have been approached in several ways, such as focusing on the symptoms of his current exacerbation, his mental state or his original injury nine years ago, which may or not have been connected to his present symptoms. In looking at the case, we chose to focus on the original injury, because it was a possible etiology for the neurological symptoms he was having now.
Pete had not had any neurological problems before his injury, but soon afterward he developed numbness and tingling in most of his body. The numbness was recurrent, but infrequent. Then years later, he became much worse all of a sudden, for no apparent cause.
The most prominent symptoms were numbness, blurred vision and a shocking sensation all through the body when he bent his head forward. These symptoms are typical of multiple sclerosis, a finding which was confirmed by MRI. Some signs of vertigo and blurred vision were noted previously, but had not been diagnosed as M.S.
The etiology and symptoms strongly suggested only one medicine, Hypericum (St. John’s Wort). Hypericum is the number one medicine in homeopathy for injuries to the coccyx and their aftereffects. It was strongly suggested by the sensation of a shock going through Pete’s body when his coccyx was injured. The sensation of a shock going through the body is typical of Hypericum, which is known for shocking or shooting pains, as well as neuritis, numbness and burning pains. The sciatica following injury to the spine or coccyx is also a common symptom for Hypericum patients.
What was interesting about this case was the severity of the pathology which seemed to result from a simple fall on the tailbone.
The fall created an imbalance in the vital force which eventually resulted nine years later in multiple sclerosis. Although an analysis of the current symptoms might have yielded Hypericum as a medicine to consider, the etiology made it the prime candidate.
What is usually considered a first-aid medicine can do deep constitutional healing if the state of the patient stems from a particular event or injury. Arnica, Natrum sulphuricum or Aconite can have a similar use, where the patient has never been well since an accident or trauma, a head injury or a frightening or shocking event.
Pete returned in one month to say that most of his symptoms had disappeared. The feeling returned to his fingers two weeks after the medicine. During a very stressful situation fighting a fire the numbness had started to return but went away quickly. He still had slight numbness on the tips of both ring fingers. His back had not been sore since the medicine was given. He still had a slight shocking sensation on bending his head forward.
Overall, Pete felt more energetic. He could recover better if he lost sleep while working. His vision was normal and he could track well visually. “Even when I’m tired I still feel better,” he reported.
His urination was not as frequent or as urgent. He was drinking more water. The cracking at the ends of his fingers had healed. His sexual energy had also improved and impotence was gone.
Two months later, Pete was still doing very well. He had no hayfever or sinus headaches, with only an occasional sneeze. He had no numbness or tingling. There were no shocks on tilting his head now. His fingers were slightly dry at the trips. His low back went out two weeks ago for a short time, but it responded to aspirin and exercise. His urination was normal with occasional urgency.
In another two months, Pete reported that he was well. He got a brief soreness in the coccyx after a hard day or if he sat too long on a hard surface. “I feel real good now,” he said. There was still no numbness, and his vision was fine. Urination was normal and his sex drive was fully recovered. He has remained well for more than a year now.
Pete’s case shows that homeopathic prescribing is not always complicated when a clear etiology is present, even with serious pathology. As long as the symptoms match the medicine you want to give, you can give it with confidence, just as you would have given Hypericum without hesitation when the injury first occurred.