A Nightmare of a Case: Homeopathic Approaches to Sleep Issues in Children

Anke Zimmermann, BSc, ND, FCAH

Sleep issues, including nightmares and sleep-walking, are a common problem in children. Sleep and dream symptoms are generally a clear expression of the vital force and can often lead to wonderfully accurate prescriptions that can relieve much more than just bad dreams. This will be illustrated by the following 3 cases.

Case 1: Who is the Monster?

Zoe is an engaging and lively 11-year-old girl who was initially seen on December 20, 2014. Concerns included increasingly vivid, recurring nightmares which were beginning to spill over into her waking life.

“I dream about weird creatures the size of bears, but in human form,” Zoe cheerily told me. “They can change their shape. I often see 2 creatures – one a monster in human form, and the other a real human. They argue about who is the human and who is the monster. Both are trying to convince me that they are the human and ask me to pick the right one. I always end up picking the monster, who then turns against me and chases me over a cliff… The creatures can access your mind and change you into one of them, too. They tickle you and you are sucked into darkness. As they tickle you, it feels like being rolled into a black hole and it hurts. Once in the black hole, I’ll suddenly wake up, all hot.”

Shape-shifting Creatures

“They can run really fast and take advantage of cornering you. They can hover over the ground like aliens. They can also take the form of animals. One might take the form of an innocent little hatchling during the day, but at night it wanders into your home and transforms back into a monster… The creatures can transform themselves into demons and go into my stuffies… Sometimes the demons take over our dog, Maxi, and she will growl at me or even snap at me. She is nice to my Dad but not to me… The monsters can also transform themselves into ordinary things, such as flowers or sidewalks. I know in my head it’s not real, but I see it anyway… I feel like something is watching me, like a million eyes.”

Zoe was adopted from another country when she was 3 years old. She had lived on the streets with her mother for the first 18 months of her life. Her mother repeatedly abandoned her in various places. Zoe ultimately ended up in an orphanage.

Her adoptive parents had heard her moaning in her sleep from the time they first had her. She began to tell them about her the nightmares when she was about 5 or 6 years old.

“Zoe always seems to be jumpy,” her mother said. “She is scared and startles easily, even with me walking into her room at night. She will be instantly awake. She reacts dramatically to being touched – laughing, screaming, freaking out, not necessarily upset, just dramatic. And she is often awake in the middle of the night for 2 or 3 hours at a time, looking out of the window, watching for stalkers.”

Zoe is slow to wake up and complains about lack of energy. Due to her fatigue, she is unwilling to participate in physical education or join clubs.

Zoe still wets her bed about once a week.

Assessment & Plan

Zoe is a lively and engaging 11-year-old girl with increasingly vivid nightmares of shape-shifting creatures and monsters, as well as a nighttime fear of stalkers and beginning daytime delusions of persecution.

I used the following rubrics in MacRepertory:

Mind, forsaken feeling

Mind, fear of dark

Mind, fear of animals

Mind, fear, attacked, is going to be

Mind, delusion, imaginations, attacked, is going to be

Mind, thoughts, persistent

Mind, abuse, agg, ailments from

Mind, delusion, imaginations, watched, that she is being

Analysis highlighted Stramonium, Pulsatilla, Hyoscyamus, and Lyssinum. I chose Lyssinum, as the focus of her dreams and delusions was shape-shifting monsters who could turn you into one of them, not unlike the disease rabies.

Plan: Lyssinum 1M

One-Month Follow-up (February 5, 2015)

There are no more nightmares or monsters. I feel I’m safe and I’m loved.

The mother reported that Zoe still gets up with a flashlight at night to look at the lawn and that the bedwetting has not changed.

Assessment: Good improvement

Plan: Wait

Two-Month Follow-up (March 5, 2015)

There are no more bad dreams, but I have ‘glitches’ during the day. I am walking with friends and suddenly my neck muscles lock, my head is pulled sideways, and I walk into a tree. While hiking I was suddenly really scared that I would trip and fall and break my neck. I can see myself stumbling and dying in my head.”

Apparently she has felt this before, about once a month.

“I still have a feeling that there is a stalker outside the window, but only for 2 or 3 minutes at a time.”

“This used to keep her up for hours at night,” her mother said.

“I no longer see shape-shifting flowers or sidewalks. Sometimes I have visions of my brother being attacked. I can hear him screaming.”

The bedwetting at first improved, and then relapsed a bit over the last month.

Assessment: Continued improvement and addition of previously unreported symptoms that confirm the remedy, as Lyssinum has locking and paralysis of muscles, as well as a fear of dying.

Plan: Lyssinum 10M, 1 dose

Further Follow-up

Zoe received 3 more doses of Lyssinum 10M over the next 12 months, whenever her nightmares or bedwetting recurred. Most recently, she had a dose of the remedy on April 8, 2016. The daytime delusions and fear of stalkers totally resolved. Her sleep vastly improved, and she now has energy during the day, allowing her to focus in school and to participate in sports.

Also of note was that the family’s dog stopped biting her – very interesting correlation.

Discussion

Lyssinum, also known as Lyssin or Hydrophobinum, is a homeopathic remedy made from the saliva of a rabid dog.

The creatures in Zoe’s dreams were shape-shifters, sometimes human, sometimes monsters. I thought this was interesting, as the rabies virus can turn a normally-timid wild animal, docile house pet, or even human, into a ferocious monster.

This remedy can be wonderfully healing for victims of abuse and torture. One of the first symptoms a rabies victim experiences is an overwhelming sense of anticipatory anxiety and a feeling of doom.

Lyssinum can also be used to treat problems arising after dog bites, especially, but not necessarily, if the dog has been recently vaccinated against rabies. It can also be used for bad effects of rabies vaccinations in both animals and humans.

We don’t know if this child was bitten by dogs, abused, or witnessed abuse, but we do know that she was repeatedly abandoned as an infant on the streets in a 3rd-world country.

What was concerning about this case was that her dreams were beginning to carry over into her waking life via delusions, possibly indicating the onset of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. The homeopathic remedy improved all aspects of her health and well-being, and perhaps saved her from a lifetime of mental illness.

Case 2: Creativity Unleashed

Travis, a quiet 12-year-old boy, was initially brought to my office on March 1, 2014. His parents were concerned about his focus and attention in school. They described him as very bright and doing well academically but having trouble getting larger school projects started and finished. He easily felt overwhelmed, and both parents regularly helped him with his work.

The teachers have commented that he tends to get distracted, drift off in the classroom, and is too chatty and social.

Travis doesn’t like busy places and too many people. He also has some anxiety around sleepovers and trying new things.

I inquired about his sleep and the plot thickened:

“He can’t sleep in past 5:30-6 AM. And he sleepwalks 2 nights a week, dreams a lot, and sometimes has nightmares. He wakes up drenched in sweat; in fact, his clothes and sheets are just soaked every night. This has been going on for at least 3 years.”

Chronic Hidden Infections & Night Sweats

I was instantly suspicious of the chronic night sweats – something unusual in a child. This could point to a hidden, chronic infection.

The parents thought that the sleepwalking and night sweats started around age 7-8. He appears to be disturbed at the time, and is sometimes arguing with someone.

When he was around 10 years old, he had frequent nightmares about bears and dreams of falling.

The pregnancy was great: his mother was happy, exercised regularly, ate very well, and took her prenatal vitamins. Labor and delivery were normal and natural, and Travis was breastfed for 1 year. He slept very well as a baby, for 10-12 hours straight, and still had 2 naps per day until he was 5 years old.

He has had all regular vaccinations.

A quick calculation on my part brought the thought that the changes in his sleep and the timing of his booster vaccines at around age 5 might be related. I was also concerned about the boy’s sensitivity to busy environments, which, based on my experience, can point to a vaccine injury.

Chronic infection, vaccines… why not use some applied kinesiology testing?

He tested positive for a viral infection.

I knew that the MMR and chickenpox vaccines contained live viruses and that he would have had a booster around age 5. I used homeopathic remedies made from the vaccines to test against his viral reflex, and voila! Positive for chickenpox!

Assessment & Plan

Travis is a bright 11-year-old boy with chronic, severe night sweats and frequent sleepwalking. There are concerns with focus and attention in school (not surprising with such disturbed sleep). A chronic viral infection might be the culprit.

Plan: Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, 30C, 2 pellets on Mondays and Thursdays for 2 weeks, followed by Varicella 200C in the same manner.

I also recommended that he take a daily multi, vitamin D (4000 IU/day), vitamin A (20 000 IU/day), selenium (200 µg/day), and fish oil (1500 mg/day) to support his immune system.

Six-week Follow-up (April 17, 2014)

“He has not had 1 single episode since he started the treatment – no sleepwalking or night sweats at all. Not even talking at night!”

Assessment: Damn! Hypothesis confirmed! I love this job.

I decided to continue with the Varicella vaccine remedy in higher potency as per the CEASE therapy method by Dr Tinus Smits.

Plan: Varicella 1M, 2 pellets twice a week for 2 weeks, followed by Varicella 10M in the same way

Follow-up 1 Month Later (May 17, 2014)

“He has become much more open artistically and is drawing continuously. We’ve never seen anything from him that was really him; he didn’t have any real passions. And he is catching himself now and processing things differently, not just reacting.”

“Now his self-confidence has sky-rocketed.”

There have been no more episodes of sleepwalking or night sweats.

Assessment: Beautiful result! Amazingly, not only is his sleep better, he is becoming more himself and expressing his creativity for the first time in his life. This is what I live for. Amen!

Plan: Wait, and come in if symptoms recur

Three-Month Follow-up (June 4, 2014, 3 mos after initial appointment)

Travis has had 3 night sweats over the past 2 weeks.

Plan: Varicella 10M 2 pellets twice a week for 3 weeks

Email from Parents on August 12, 2014

“Travis has had no more episodes since his last remedy. Thank you for doing what you do so well!”

Email from Parents on January 20, 2014 (10 mos after initial appointment)

“Travis is still doing very well, with no night sweats. His focus has improved and his artistic abilities are shining through. He recently won an art contest for a logo for his school, which will be transferred to a large plaque to go on the wall of his school forever. We are so proud!!”

Discussion

What is most remarkable about this case was the unfolding of this young man’s self-confidence and artistic expression. The parents had commented that they had “never seen anything from him that was really him before.”

This child could have been diagnosed with ADHD, possibly medicated, and never been well in his life, all due to a vaccine injury.

I have seen creativity, self-expression, and confidence bloom many times after vaccine clearings.

This is a truly remarkable case, which made me wonder how many other children may be affected in a similar way.

Case 3: Two Brains and Nothing Feels Right

I first saw David, a well-grown 11-year-old boy, on May 9, 2011. His mother reported that for the past several months he has been suffering from intense agitation and restlessness on going to bed at night.

“He complains that ‘nothing feels right,’ and will become increasingly frustrated, to the point of hitting himself to distract himself from this feeling. The only thing that helps him is reading or watching some TV.”

“I’m bothered by little things,” David explains. “Maybe a piece of sand from the dog is on my bed, or I see a piece of paper at an angle on my desk and it bugs me and bugs me. I have to get up and fix it and then I can’t get comfortable again. Or everything that I’m touching is not right; nothing I’m touching feels nice; it’s like sandpaper, or the pillow is not right, or the room is not the right temperature… I become impatient, and I feel like I’m being filled with compressed air from an air compressor until I’ll pop! I feel like tearing my hair out!”

He has also been complaining bitterly for several months about disturbing dreams and nightmares.

“Some of them are really gruesome. One time I got trapped in a mine and crocodiles came and killed everybody, including me. Once a crocodile bit my legs off at the thighs. Another time a dog tried to bite my carotid artery but I punched him… Once I was running from a bunch of bees. They were stinging me and I got these huge lumps on my back. I was trying to get away and then a car pulls up. I think they’re trying to help me, but they kidnap me instead… It feels as if I’ve got 2 brains in my dreams – one brain is doing something and the other is just watching.”

The mother says that he gets very distraught about those dreams and doesn’t want to go to sleep because of them.

In addition, David is getting bad stomach aches at bedtime: “I feel like my stomach is full of sand, gravel or rocks, heavy and hurting. It goes with those dreams.”

David also often feels sore and achy to an unusual degree, and that his muscles are very tight. He becomes easily exhausted after vigorous play, taking a whole day to recover.

Unwell from Birth

“David has never been totally well,” his mother said. “He cried a lot as a baby and was stressed very easily. He has always been very demanding and sensitive to many things, including change of any kind and noise.

“He is not easy to get along with, and doesn’t fit in well with other kids or at home, causing frustration for us and for his peers. He can be overly rough when playing with others.

“He has always had emotional and behavioral issues, is very intolerant of others, and does not like many people. At the same time, he is very attached to me and hates to leave my side; in fact, he hates to spend any time alone.

“He also hates to get rid of anything, and hoards things.

“David is obsessive about washing his hands. He really scrubs his hands, then says he does not feel as if they are clean.”

Knives & Swords

“He also has an obsession with knives and swords, and has quite a collection which he keeps meticulously organized. He will get very upset if they are out of order. He also collects and organizes model airplanes and cars.”

Deep water and new places frighten him. He will get a stomach ache if he has to go somewhere unfamiliar.

He only learned to talk at age 3, and was not dry during the night until age 5.

He loves butter (3), salty foods (3), especially potato chips (3), potatoes (2), cheese (2), tofu (2), noodles, waffles, and pancakes. He dislikes the taste of meat, soup, stews, casseroles, vinegar, and ketchup… The smell of perfume and meat makes him gag.

The pregnancy with David was normal, but he was born via C-section. He ate a mostly organic diet and was never vaccinated.

Assessment & Plan

This young man is clearly is suffering from obsessive-compulsive anxiety, as well as nightmares and many sensory issues.

I did not repertorize the case, as the symptoms were rather obvious. David was aggravated at night and had an obsession with hand-washing and knives. In addition, he was antisocial, had many fears, and violent dreams.

These symptoms all pointed to Syphilinum, a homeopathic remedy made from syphilis.

This was actually a rather alarming case. Could these be early signs of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder? What would happen if high doses of testosterone were added to the mix with puberty?

Plan: Syphilinum 200 C, 1 dose

One-Week Follow-up (May 16, 2011)

The day after David took the remedy, he had a severe stomach ache and a single extremely restless evening.

“The last 2 nights have been much better. He is possibly washing his hands a bit less. He is perspiring more… Two days after the remedy, he dreamt that relatives were being held hostage in a filthy house. The windows were mucked up, there were holes everywhere, and the panels were falling off. But the farmland around the house was pristine.”

Assessment: I thought this dream was highly symbolic. To me, the house represented his miasmatic, syphilitic state. The pristine farmland was a glimmer of hope.

Plan: Wait 

Six-Week Follow-up (June 2011)

David’s feeling of nothing being right has cleared up; in fact, everything is all right now. He has become a lot more tolerant and is not as easily irritated. His dreams have improved and he is not afraid to fall asleep any more. He no longer has dreams of having 2 brains.

The hand-washing is clearly reduced, and his muscles are much less sore.

David still likes his knives.

He recently agreed to get rid of some belongings, which is rather unusual for him. In the past he felt very anxious about this.

Assessment: He has done very well on this remedy in only 6 weeks.

Further Follow-up

David’s sleep issues and OCD tendencies completely cleared over the course of a year, with 3 more doses of Syphilinum in 1M and 10M potency. His sensitivity to smells also improved.

I have continued to follow David for some other concerns, such as growing pains and minor injuries, for the past 5 years.

In March of 2016, I contacted the mother to ask for permission to publish his case, and received the following update:

“It was interesting to read David’s history, as I’d blissfully forgotten many of these issues. He is doing very well. Socially he has come a long way. He is easy to get along with now, and also has become a lot more independent. Sleeping poses no issues anymore. Thank you for all your help through the years.”

This was a classic miasmatic case of a family history of syphilis, dating back who knows how many generations.

Closing Comments

Homeopathy is a wonderful tool to help children with various sleep issues. These may be indicative of very serious disturbances. I have tried to show that the right remedy may be found in various ways and may free these children from a lifetime of mental health problems.

Consider advertising help for sleep problems in your practice, and you may see many more of these types of children and be able to provide tremendous relief for them. Their families and possibly future generations to come will thank you.


ZimmermanAnke Zimmermann, BSc, ND, FCAH, is a naturopathic physician with a special interest in childhood and developmental disorders. Her practice focuses on homeopathy and CEASE Therapy. She graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in 1991 and lives in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia.

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