Five-year-old boy with ADHD and Behavioral Problems: Homeopathic Case Study
Jamie A. Oskin, ND
In January 2010, I walked out to the waiting room to greet a new patient and found a feisty 5-year-old Latin American boy with a Mohawk. Jeremy (not his real name) came into the clinic with his mother who was hoping to get some help with her son’s hyperactive and aggressive behavior. The mother is a non-English speaking Latin American woman who is a single mother and works hard to care for 3 kids all on her own. She brought her older daughter along to translate, since I don’t speak fluent Spanish.
Jeremy is the youngest child in the family, yet when he first came to see me the other siblings were afraid of him. He cruelly bit, hit and kicked his 12-year-old brother and 17-year-old sister. When mom attempted to discipline him, Jeremy screamed and threatened his mother and then would do the exact opposite of what she told him to do. He said things to his mother like, “I don’t love you anymore and you can’t control me. I don’t want to live anymore.” Despite his threats, he did not actually mean that he wanted to die, yet he would use the expression to manipulate his mother.
Mom was concerned because he constantly bit his nails, to the point of leaving marks on the tips of his fingers, and he picked his nose all the time. He wet the bed 4 nights a week, causing mom extra stress with loads of laundry and disrupted sleep. She couldn’t identify what time of night he wet the bed, yet she thought it was more towards the morning because he was often wet with fresh urine when he woke up in the morning.
Jeremy’s behavioral problems were bleeding into the classroom and causing trouble at school. He had difficulty learning and would get frustrated easily. He said things like “I don’t want to go to school because I don’t like it.” He had trouble focusing and would lose his concentration after a few minutes and would throw a temper tantrum at school. He couldn’t follow instructions and would get distracted easily. Mom reported that it was difficult to get him to sit still in his seat because he would fidget, squirm, and was very impatient. It was as if he was always “on the go” like he was “driven by a motor.” He frequently would get in trouble at school because he could not wait his turn, and if another child had a toy he wanted he would go over and take it from them.
When reviewing Jeremy’s general homeopathic symptoms I learned that he craved eggs and would eat them 1-2 times a day. He also craved ice-cold popsicles. He would chew the icy popsicles one after another and if mom gave him an endless supply, he would eat them all day long. At night it was very difficult to get him to go to sleep because he would be wide-awake and want to play until at least 1am, which was exhausting for mom. When he finally fell asleep, he would kick off his covers and tear off all his clothes because he would get hot. He didn’t like to wear shoes around the house because he liked his bare feet on the cold tile. At the time of his initial visit he did not perspire abnormally. He was afraid of the dark so he had to sleep with a night-light on. In the dark he had a fear that there were ghosts under his bed and that he could see their shadow on the wall. In general he preferred to be out in the open air. Jeremy’s mother was beside herself. Her other children all had normal temperaments and she didn’t know what had gone wrong with Jeremy. She couldn’t discipline him because he would be so nasty back to her and the teachers at school were telling her he needed to be on methylphenidate.
From a diagnostic perspective, it appeared to me that Jeremy most likely suffered from ADHD, predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type. And although I’m not a pediatric psychiatrist, I suspected he also suffered from Oppositional Defiant Disorder. These are the kids that I worry will develop conduct disorders and get involved in drug-related or other criminal activity in their teenage years if they don’t get help. The good news is that there are at least 2 solid homeopathy studies, including an outcomes study, comparing homeopathy to methylphenidate, and another double blinded randomized control trial showing positive results with homeopathy treating ADHD.1,2
chose to start the case with a single dose of homeopathic Medorrhinum 200C. I thought the most characteristic symptoms in the case were the biting nails, chewing on ice, fear of the dark and ghosts, and desire to stay up late at night to play. The common ADHD and temper tantrum symptoms were also well covered by Medorrhinum, so I felt that it was a reasonable remedy with which to start the case. See Repertorization 1. I considered other remedies like Cina, Tarentula, and Calcarea carbonica, yet they didn’t match the most characteristic symptoms in the case. I also counseled mom and recommended a parenting book because she asked for parenting advice.
Jeremy returned for his first follow-up on Medorrhinum 200C single dose on February 17th, 2010. He was no longer as aggressive and was not hitting his siblings as much. The restlessness and impatience was improved, he was no longer threatening mom when he got in trouble, and now would respond by apologizing rather than threatening her. She reported that overall Jeremy was much calmer. He was not biting his nails at all anymore and had not wet the bed a single time since taking the medicine. Mom was happy to report that she was getting more sleep now because Jeremy was falling asleep at 11pm every night rather than staying up until 1am to play. Overall he was much better, and although the symptoms were dramatically better, mom felt he was starting to plateau in the last week and was no longer steadily improving. It appeared to me that he reacted positively to Medorrhinum 200C and it was time for another dose, so I had her give him one at this time.
As the case continued I eventually went up in potency to Medorrhinum 1M when he was no longer improving from the 200C. He continued to improve on the 1M potency. As of March 30, 2010 he was much more calm. Many of his symptoms continued to be improved including being less aggressive and no longer threatening his mother. Mom used to have to call his name 4 times before he would acknowledge her and respond. Now he would respond after 2 prompts. Mom was happy to report that he had been more lovable and would now spontaneously come up to her and say, “I love you”, which he never did before.
Although his attention was much improved, he was not yet completely cured. His behavior was much more manageable for mom, yet he still had moments of being really stubborn. At the March 30th visit it was apparent that some of the symptoms had never changed including his cravings for eggs and his fear of the dark. Additionally, he now had a new symptom of profuse perspiration on the scalp and nape of the neck at night when he was sleeping. Since he was continuing to improve, mom and I agreed that we would stay the course on the Medorrhinum for now, yet I informed her that we would likely need to change the remedy soon. I suspect when he’s no longer improving on Medorrhinum, he will respond well to Calcarea carbonica and we will bring his ADHD and behavioral problems much closer to cure. See Repertorization 2.
This is a wonderful case because it has helped the family so dramatically. Homeopathy is a great therapy for children and their parents because it is so safe, gentle and effective, as well as easy to use. Mom had a look of dread on her face when she first brought Jeremy in to see me, and now she has a smile and never misses a follow-up appointment. Cases like this are always so fulfilling to me because I know I’ve helped play a small part to alter the life of a child (and their family) that will help them develop more normally and thrive as they grow into adolescence and adulthood.
Jamie Oskin, ND is a second-year homeopathic specialty resident at the Southwest Naturopathic Medical Center in Scottsdale, Ariz., studying under Stephen Messer, ND, DHANP, MSEd and Eric Udell, ND. The homeopathic specialty residency is fully funded by a generous gift from Standard Homeopathic Co. Oskin graduated in 2008 from SCNM with high honors and completed a one-year general naturopathic family medicine residency.
1. Frei H, Everts R, von Ammon K, et al. Homeopathic treatment of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled crossover trial. Eur J Pediatr. 2005;164(12):758-767.
2. Frei H, Thurneysen A. Treatment for hyperactive children: homeopathy and methylphenidate compared in a family setting. Br Homeopath J. 2001;90(4):183-188.