Homeopathy in Pediatrics: A Case of Chronic Digestive Disorder
SHAHRAM AYOUBZADEH ND, MD, HOM
Despite increasing numbers of positive studies validating homeopathy, the medical community continues to consider it as nothing more than a placebo. This is likely why increasing numbers of naturopathic doctors distance themselves from homeopathy and why naturopathic institutions offer it only as an elective. Yet, anyone who has used homeopathic remedies in children and infants can attest to its amazing effect, often described as miraculous by the parents.
Maya’s case is a live testimony to this. She is 11 years old and had suffered from abdominal pain for 5 years. She had been treated by 2 different gastroenterologists and a few ER physicians for the acutes, 2 naturopathic doctors, an acupuncturist, and a chiropractor, all with minimal or no results. The only time she had experienced temporary relief was the previous spring, when she was on a gluten- and dairy-free diet, eating a vegetarian diet on the weekdays, and eating animal proteins only on the weekend. The improvement also coincided with her March 2020 school break, followed by not going back to school as a result of the COVID pandemic. (During previous summers and March breaks, being home did not bring relief).
After 3 months of feeling better, the family had a homemade BBQ party. She got severe diarrhea, and the abdominal pain returned with a vengeance despite following the same diet and not returning to school. Parents were worried about food poisoning, but no one else got sick. After that, she ended up in the hospital a few times for diarrhea and severe abdominal pain, including the weekend before her initial visit in November of 2020.
Over the years, various practitioners had diagnosed Maya with gastroparesis, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal migraines, and migrating motor complex disorder of the small intestine.
Below is a summary of my consultation with Maya and her mother, via Zoom. Her mother was conducting the consultation, while Maya was busy at a separate table doing artwork.
Her mom had stayed home with the children since her second daughter was born 5 years prior. Her father was self-employed and extremely busy.
Her mother said, “Maya’s abdominal gas pain has been almost daily since she was 6 years old, except for a brief period last spring. It can be anytime. It’s worse after lunch, until bedtime. It’s worse with exercise, heat, and after meals, but the pain is constant. Her stools are usually normal, about 1-2 times a day. But every 3 weeks, she suffers from 3-4 days of intense pain and diarrhea with nausea. Stool doesn’t relieve the pain. I have not found anything that makes it better.”
I asked her about the pain. “It’s as if she is going to puke, but she doesn’t. It’s sharp, with nausea. The intensity of the nausea is proportionate to the intensity of pain.
“Last year she had a 20-pound weight gain out of nowhere, and that was good, as she has lost a lot of weight. She always liked meat more than fruits and vegetables. I wondered if it was the hormones in the meat.
“I kept bringing her to the doctor. We saw a few naturopaths and a Chinese doctor. Nothing worked. For many years, we stuck to a gluten-free diet. Once in a while, she had wheat, but mostly gluten-free and healthy food. But Maya still complained about having stomach pain.
“The biggest worsening happened after an ear infection 2 years ago. She received an antibiotic. The day she stopped it, she got a strep throat. Then she was given another course of antibiotics. And then her stomach hurt much more. She had many antibiotics before that, at least once a year. She also was given Tamiflu when she was 6 years old. They didn’t know about SIBO, and wanted to put her on a PPI. She was not doing well, had nagging abdominal pain. All that weight gain happened after that antibiotic.
“Maya has a wonderful appetite and wants to eat all the time, but she gets sick often. Usually, the pain is 3-4 out of 10. She can do her crafts and she can cope with it, except for every few weeks, when she gets 3-4 days of pain that are 9-10 out of 10. The doctor thought it might be abdominal migraines. Tylenol didn’t work.
“Last Friday, she ate some gluten-free muffins. She was so sick with nausea, and she had considerable gas pain that didn’t go away. She got diarrhea a few times, which burned her anus the entire time.”
I asked Maya to tell me about her pain. She said, “Pain doesn’t wake me up, but anytime I wake up, I have the pain, and anytime I eat, it gets worse. Sometimes it’s acidy. It’s no exact time. It’s worse when I’m hungry, but also worse after eating.”
I asked her what bothered her the most in her life. “My sister. She is annoying and likes to steal my stuff. And she wants to hurt me, and likes to get angry over anything, and likes to be bossy. She messes up everything after I clean things. And she likes to turn around and make a lot of noise and sing. She likes to play music all the time and forces me to play with her, and if I don’t want to play with her, she screams at me. The first time I saw her, I didn’t want her.”
When I asked Maya what the most painful thing was about having a sister, she said, “She steals my stuff and is always doing the opposite of what I want. She’s destroyed my life since her birth.”
I asked her how she reacts to her sister. “She steals my things while I am not there. And I get angry and aggressive. She gets all the attention. I want to do something, and Mom has to go to change her diapers. And that is what she used to do when she was little: cry and steal all the attention.”
More from the Mom
“Maya digs her nails into her sister and grabs her arms extremely hard. She is quick to anger. The pain started right around the time her sister was born. A few months later, they both got the hand-mouth-foot disease, and since then, she can’t tolerate heat. She never had problems going outside or being active before that, and now she turns into a lobster if she’s exposed to the sun. But even in winter, exercise would make her get nauseated and have gas pain in the ice-skating rink. Her reaction to sun and exertion has been much worse since that food poisoning in late spring.
“The pain is so severe, it’s like giving birth. Maya cries and feels as if she is going to die. It’s always in the evening, though last time it was in the morning. She starts feeling a bit better, and then she eats and feels worse.
“When her sister was born, she didn’t want to deal with her, and had a lot of animosity towards her. She got lots of attention before that, as she was the only child, but when her sister was born, the attention went away. Dad is a workaholic and is never here, and suddenly she was not getting any. I was nervous about Maya helping with the baby because I was afraid of her dropping her. I tried to incorporate her, could have done more, and after a while, she did not want to do anything.
“She often says, ‘That’s not fair!’ And I tell them ‘I love you’ equally. I don’t know if she believes it. Anytime Maya comes for a snuggle, her sister comes and pushes her away to get snuggles.
“The baby was incredibly challenging for a new mom – never stopped crying. But I wouldn’t let her cry it out. She learned she was the boss and she knew how to work everyone in the family. She was spoiled with attention and love and things ever since she was born.”
Case (“Cause”) Analysis
It is quite obvious that the beginning of Maya’s abdominal pain coincided with the arrival of her baby sister. She had all the attention from parents and relatives, and then her world fell apart (“she destroyed my life”) once the baby arrived.
This brings us to the most crucial question: What needs to be cured in her? What is the Real Cause?
The “Real Cause” concept has intrigued the human mind since the beginning of medicine. We all know that even though there are many ways to “treat” a patient, there is only 1 way to “cure”: to identify the “real” Cause and remove it. Even though we are not allowed to use the word “cure” in our profession, this is still what we all aspire to, and this is indeed what every patient expects from us.
But, of course, there is no universal definition of what we mean by “Cause” among health professionals. There is no doubt that if a patient with a simple recurring headache visits a chiropractor, nutritionist, herbalist, acupuncturist, psychologist, osteopath, naturopathic doctor, neurologist, etc, he or she will hear many different “reasons” as the Cause of the headache. So, it looks like Cause means different things to different practitioners.
The Cause is also often confused with triggers, and whenever we think we are looking for a cause, we may actually be looking for triggers without realizing it. Another, even more important, question is this: If a patient suffers from multiple syndromes (eg, migraine, asthma, arthritis, depression, and high blood pressure), are we going to look for different causes? Or is it possible that there is only 1 Cause?
For all of us practicing wholistic medicine, the answers are clear: Human beings are not machines and are not made of parts, even though we have many parts. We are only made of 1 single cell that multiplied itself to billions and shared that original DNA with every single cell in our body. So, we know that everything is very deeply connected. Therefore, it is highly possible that hypertension and arthritis and asthma in a patient can have 1 common Cause. Humans are more like a tree than a car. A tree is a living biologic complex, starting from 1 seed and producing hundreds of branches, but all deeply connected to a common trunk. So, what really needs to be cured in a patient is what connects everything and is responsible for all our disorders, be it physical, emotional, cognitive, or energetic. The “real” Cause is therefore very internal, and is that 1 thing that is responsible for everything that we suffer from. Cause is the common denominator of all our symptoms at any given time.
Back to Maya… So, what is that 1 thing that can explain everything? It is her whole state, which is an inherited disposition and a survival defense mechanism responsible for how she reacts to her external world. What is that state? Through provings and cured cases, homeopathy looks for a substance that has been shown to either create or cure this unique combination of abdominal issues alongside jealousy toward her sister. Nux vomica connects all the dots, as per the repertorizations shown in Figures 1 and 2.
Repertorization & Treatment
Figure 1 shows the remedies related to Maya’s physical symptoms, while Figure 2 shows the remedies related to her mental symptoms.
Figure 1. Repertorization, Physical Rubrics
Figure 2. Repertorization, Mental Rubrics
In both figures, we can see how Nux vomica nicely covers her most important physical and emotional issues. It belongs to the Loganiaceae family, having the central theme of being shattered after an emotional shock. Ignatia, also frequently used for losses and griefs, belongs to the same family, and it is our best-known remedy (along with Hyoscyamus) for ailments due to the arrival of a newborn. As Nux vomica best covers her physical symptoms, it was chosen over Ignatia.
Maya took Nux vomica 30c daily, and was asked to stop as soon as there was a change. Within 3 doses, her abdominal pain almost disappeared, but it returned after a week. A 200c potency, repeated as needed, was then used every 10-15 days until January. Then 1M was used every 4-6 weeks with any return of digestive or emotional symptoms.
Maya healed very rapidly from her abdominal pain, and her relationship with her sister has improved considerably. Whenever there is an expression of jealousy or lasting conflict between them, a repetition of Nux vomica 1M helps her within a day. She will likely benefit from 10M, 50M, and maybe even 100M, in the future for a full recovery.
Shahram Ayoubzadeh, ND, MD, Hom became an MD in 1986, and then specialized in infectious and tropical diseases. 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. Shahram graduated as a naturopathic doctor from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in 1990, and then specialized in homeopathy, studying with world-renowned master homeopaths. With over 30 years of clinical experience, Shahram is presently the clinical director of Integral Health Clinic and the dean of the Canadian College of Homeopathic Medicine, both in Toronto, Canada.