Homeopathic Treatment of Children
Shahram Ayoubzadeh, ND
Homeopathy can be considered the treatment of choice for pregnancy, lactation, and all stages of infancy and child development. Homeopathic remedies are among the most harmless of all ingestible substances. In light of its profound effect on the maturation of the immune system and its influence on all stages of the emotional and intellectual developmental growth of children, homeopathy should be considered one of the best tools for helping children to thrive.
Treating children homeopathically, however, presents challenges because of the inherent difficulties in communicating with babies, infants, toddlers, and reluctant kids. This challenge can last in some cases until the teenage years or until they can effectively describe their feelings and sensations and communicate what is particular in their condition. In light of this, it is imperative that the professional homeopath have various tools and techniques at his or her disposal when treating children.
Because of a paucity of subjective symptoms with most children younger than 2 years, observing the child becomes a vital source of information in case taking. Observation begins in the waiting room. Is the child sitting alone? Is he or she on one of her parent’s knees, which parent, and restlessly or quietly? How does the child react to the physician’s presence and to your questions? For all states related to these observations, the appropriate rubrics need to be considered. The anamnesis should include family medical history, peculiar physical and emotional symptoms of the mother during pregnancy (including cravings and aversions), her dreams and new fears, her changes in energy patterns, temperature and perspiration, medications used, and any significant trauma during pregnancy, labor, and delivery, as well as the infant’s disposition since birth.
I will present 4 main approaches I have successfully used to gather information to make the proper remedy selection for children. Also, I will present an informative case example for each approach.
Understanding Parents as a Means to Understanding Children
Often, children require a remedy that is unique unto themselves, but in a large percentage of cases, the child requires a remedy that is the same (or within the same subgroup) as that of their parents. If there are not enough observable differentiating symptoms in a child, we can consider the chief complaint of the child in conjunction with the heredity from the side of the family these symptoms are most prominent in. The remedy (or a remedy from that remedy subgroup) prescribed to the parent from which the pathologic condition was inherited can be prescribed to the child. I have noticed that, if both sides of the family need a similar remedy, then the child has much deeper pathologic conditions, but fortunately the parents’ remedy acts very quickly and deeply on the child.
As a case example, I prescribed Natrum muriaticum for Angela, a 7-year-old girl with scleroderma affecting the muscles of her right thigh. Within a few days, it had a very profound effect on her. It helped her to open up emotionally, stopped the progression of her scleroderma, and then gradually reduced it, and it prevented the typical flare-up with acute infections and emotional stresses. Both her mother and her father’s mother presented a classic picture of Natrum muriaticum. Also, this remedy had a remarkable pain-relieving effect for her father, who suffered from ankylosing spondylitis.
Doctrine of Signature
Although the doctrine of signature is very controversial within the homeopathic community, it is sometimes one of the most useful tools in selecting a remedy. Overusing this doctrine can be as deleterious as abandoning it altogether. We are an extension and expression of nature. Under stress, we easily revert back to our more instinctive primitive state, which is not that dissimilar to more primitive life forms. We are made of minerals and are bathed in an ocean of microorganisms. We have a neurovegetative system similar to that of plants, which is responsible for all automated bodily functions. We have a spinal cord, a reptilian brain, and a mammalian brain in common with various animals. Under prolonged stress, rather than the prefrontal neocortex, the uniquely human part of the brain, taking charge, another instinctive part of our defensive system, the most appropriate to the situation, gets into gear, and that part becomes the loudest voice in the person. As seen in the previous case example, this tendency, or state of imbalance, can be genetically transmitted to offspring.
A case example of the use of doctrine of signature was in 5-year-old Mukesh, who was diagnosed as having autism when he was 3 years old. The following is part of his mother’s narration:
He is very hyperactive, runs around, and doesn’t sit still. Speech delayed; does not form sentences. He doesn’t understand so many questions or doesn’t pay attention. When he focuses on one task, he can do it. He draws suns and smiley faces. Sometimes squares or circles. Lines and circles. Uses all bright colors. He is attracted to the alphabet and numbers. Socially with other kids, he is very poor. Most of the time he teases them. He loves to snatch something from them and then give them back. Running around is the biggest issue. He feels everyone has to go and catch him. That is the only thing he likes to do. He runs after kids, teases them, and wants kids to run after him. He goes to the trampoline and jumps a lot. He is in a special autistic class. He loves to play with this girl, but he snatches her stuff and runs and then comes back and gives it to her. He does it with all the kids at school. Taps someone’s head. Pulling someone’s shirt. Sometimes he takes a lady’s purse and runs away with it.
Mukesh manifested this same behavior during the consultation. He constantly ran back and forth between me and his parents and hid behind them, taking things from my desk and shelves to tease me, with a charming smile on his face.
I had watched a clip of a monkey taunting tigers on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qqdovHOgvUa) a few months before this consultation. As I listened to Mukesh’s case, I could not stop thinking about this video clip. I decided to give him Lac rhesus. Mukesh responded well to the remedy. Within a few days, he started speaking in full sentences, became obedient, and sat at a ceremony for 10 minutes without moving. His teachers and the priest were astounded by his changes. At the second consultation, I revealed, on his parents’ request, the name of the remedy. His astonished mother exclaimed, “That explains why all he wants to eat is banana!”
Miasmatic Effects of Major Infectious Disease Either Inherited or Acquired
The use of nosodes in homeopathic healing is often overlooked. Sometimes, these nosode states constitute the actual constitutional makeup of the individual, but very often they should be used as intermittent remedies for the proper “unlocking” of a system. These states include strong reactions to vaccines by the child (or by the parents if the child is not vaccinated), reactions to or long-term use of antibiotics during pregnancy or the early stages of the life of the child, and any other chronic infectious disease that had deeply affected the health of the parents or grandparents. I have seen many children respond incredibly well to Penicillinum, Monilia, Streptococcinum, Pneumococcinum, nosodes of vaccines, Medorrhinum, and Tuberculinum.
As a case example, Alexandra, a 3-year-old girl, had strong allergic reactions to many foods and had a very restricted diet. Her body was covered with atopic dermatitis, and she suffered from chronic diarrhea for more than a year. On examination, I noticed a big scar from a bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccination on her arm that was still reddish. When she was 1 year old, she had been vaccinated in Russia for tuberculosis, and the site of the vaccine took almost a year to stop oozing. Also, her grandmother had suffered from a severe case of tuberculosis as a teenager. One dose of Tuberculinum 30C stopped the diarrhea within 48 hours. Within a month, her skin was completely healed. A few repetitions of the remedy at the higher potencies had a dramatic effect on her emotional and physical health.
Using the Amazing Power of Children’s Imagination and Fantasy
By the time we see an adult patient, many mechanisms of compensation and intellectualizations may have veiled his or her inner state. Children are more “raw” and open, especially if they are in the room alone with us. Children’s dreams are often rich with archetypal themes, their interests or hobbies and cravings are not yet altered, and their acute symptoms are more intense. Their artistic capacities and tendencies, although primitive, are a good expression of their inner states. It is important to know why a child always watches a specific show, what his or her favorite stories or books are, who her favorite person is and why, and what images or patterns appear in her artistic expressions (drawings, dance patterns, poetry, or sculpture). Understanding why a child always draws, for example, a shark, a flower, or a butterfly is often relevant. Artistic expressions are often an excellent tool to see the inner state of a child fully expressed.
A case example was Ryan, an 11-year-old gifted child with learning disabilities, who felt bullied at school. He became so frustrated that he became verbally and physically violent and was suspended from school. He suffered from anxiety and insomnia. He explained: “Everything is confusing. I cannot focus on anything. It goes on and on, one thing after another thing, and then mom gives me a list of other things to do, and it takes so long to get everything done.” His hand was going around in a circular motion: “I cannot concentrate, and I cannot close my eyes. It gets bigger and bigger till it wants to explode.”
He had nightmares. In his parent’s words: “He came to our bed at 2 am. He was very tense, looking around. He sees things in the dark. His muscles were all tensing up. Very scared. The whole incident took about 3 hours, and he finally fell asleep.” Ryan explained, “It was the shadow of a big snake on the fan, a noise coming from the kitchen and downstairs; this Inca guy, this golden thing on his head, had a rippled hand. He was just in front of me.”
I asked him to draw for me. He drew a person with bows and arrows on top of a fortress, which was surrounded by big-headed monsters with many arms and legs.
I asked him to draw his biggest fears, and he drew the earth exploding. He explained that the earth explodes “because its center gets so hot.” Ryan is hot and often wants a fan to blow on his head. He often explodes with anger and escapes from the house, and his family looks for him and brings him home.
Ryan’s first drawing indicates the themes of the Solanaceae family, such as being alone in terror and surrounded by animal-like monsters. It reveals the acute miasm of imminent danger. The second drawing expresses the intense heat at the core, suggesting Belladonna. Belladonna has since allowed him a steady improvement with respect to his heat, anger, and outbursts, as well as his concentration and confusion.
In conclusion, as evidenced in these case studies, different tools in our homeopathic arsenal can be highly effective in supporting the healthy development of young patients. Yet, every case is unique and may require a different approach, and we need to be as creative and uninhibited as our young patients in bringing out the deepest state of a child for a proper prescription.
Shahram Ayoubzadeh, ND studied conventional medicine and specialized in infectious disease and tropical medicine. His doctoral thesis on the healing effect of the doctor-patient relationship led to in-depth study of the placebo effect and eventually to mind-body medicine, which has defined his career. This led him to get a degree as a Naturopathic Doctor from Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and then specialize in homeopathy. He has been the clinical director of Integral Health Clinic since 1991 and the founder of the Canadian Homeopathic Institute, where he has taught aspiring homeopaths for over a decade.