Homeopathic survival kit for families under lockdown
This is the second blog I have written since the outbreak of the coronavirus and a sequel to the first: ‘Building Resilience in Critical Times’ (28.3.20.), both of which set out to address the longer-term effects of the collective trauma on the family dynamic and beyond.
Recently, a fellow homeopath and friend consulted me regarding an enquiry she had received from a colleague who is a psychiatrist. This concerned the observation that his non-neurotypical child patients had started to manifest issues of violence in their adjustment to lockdown since the outbreak of Covid-19 and cessation of their regular schooling. Even at the best of times, suddenly losing one's routine would be extremely challenging to any child and finding oneself without warning having to be taught by one's parents could easily push those who are vulnerable over the edge. After all, parents are seen in a different light by children and not as the main instillers of education! This is not also without emphasising the already-existing strain on the parents of dealing with the collective trauma the constraints of the Covid-19 restrictions have put on them as well as the change it may easily have affected to their pre-existing financial and working security.
I offered to compile a group of remedies for children who would find this adjustment so particularly challenging. I decided to focus on six remedies all reconciling different stages of development, but all comprising a marked level of maladjustment under such unprecedented circumstances. I point out that generally the way one reacts to each developmental stage is very much based on the level of attachment secured as an infant. If the message from the parents or primary caregivers is one of generalised danger, which could so easily be the case during the current crisis, then the outlook in the child could be afflicted accordingly.
Young children may pick up on their parents' preoccupations and act them out in a destructive way as the necessary vocabulary to deal with such news would not yet have been set in place. Older children could be more conscious of their own concerns regarding the longer-term implications of the virus on their lives as they look ahead. This could present an added preoccupation on top of the sudden prospect of home schooling. Losing out on one’s daily peer group friendships, which are so important to learn about conflict resolution as one matures, could create an extra pressure and omission in their development.
Conversely, puberty is normally a time of individuation and forging one's own separate identity. If the protection of the family is unnaturally prolonged, as is now having to be enforced in different countries, the world may appear even more threatening to the victim than is potentially the case in the longer term picture. In addition, male role models in today's family structures are often lacking which could offer children a very much needed backbone at this time.
Tracing back along the trajectory of those remedies I have selected, one can see strong triggering emotions which are often rooted in the original early family dynamic. Examples include elements such as: abandonment, abuse, disappointed love, domination, or suppressed anger in their pictures of health. As the remedies act to address the resulting violence in the individual child, they have the potential to reconcile the very dynamic which is playing out here. In this way, the beneficial effect of the remedy on the child can act in a vicarious way to, not only heal the fundamental influence on their destructive behaviour, but this very contributing dynamic, at source.
The six remedies I have selected are ones I have highlighted in my book - ‘Touching Base with Trauma: Reaching Across the Generations: - a Three-Dimensional Homeopathic Perspective’ (1) and include:
Anacardium Orientale (Marking nut)
This remedy is derived from the marking nut - a close analogue of Hura Brasiliensis and Nux Vomica - which are both remedies derived from nut sources.
In my practice, I have noticed that Anacardium Orientale seems to stretch across all ‘states on the spectrum’ occurring at all stages of development from early life right through to adulthood, with a particular indication in puberty. Persistent states of anxiety often lie behind ‘states on the spectrum’, which are a growing issue in today’s culture. These ‘states’ include: attention deficit disorder, autism, obsessive deficit disorder, addiction, and schizophrenia. The psychological effect of the pandemic can only push this potential into higher definition in the susceptible individual.
The word ‘spectrum’ indicates that these ‘states’ can vary considerably in their manifestation, meaning that some sufferers are entirely limited and defined by their diagnosis. This is in contrast to others on the spectrum who operate in the mainstream world with very little awareness either from themselves or others that they may be compromised in this way. The main brain structure affected in this remedy picture is the combined frontal and pre-frontal cortex, which shows rapid development from the teenage years onwards. It is very vulnerable to the effects of early trauma. The behaviour connected to these lobes is seen in the traditional signs of attention hyperactivity disorder, including addictions and obsessive compulsive disorder. Anacardium Orientale is a deeply syphilitic remedy, like Androdoctonus Amurreuxi, and also covers aspects such as easy distraction, impulsivity, and indecision. Similar syphilitic remedies covering this range of symptoms include Iodum and Mercurius Vivus.
The temporal lobes represent the other brain structure which may be afflicted in this remedy (like Androdoctonus Amurreuxi, Lyssin, and Stramonium). This can result from abuse in the early development and lead to a strong sense of paranoia and suspicion. Head injury may lie in the background, alongside Hyoscyamus Niger and Stramonium. It is vital that it is recognised how much head injury can alter the perceptions of a patient. This may be subtle as the original wound may have occurred years before.
This is the main remedy for a ‘split’ (similar to Stramonium) which can prevent the full-blown symptoms of schizophrenia from presenting. Its well known rubric ‘delusion, devil, fearing of being taken by’ is shared by Stramonium to a lesser-degree. Like Hyoscyamus Niger and Stramonium, other remedies often called for in puberty, Anacardium Orientale has strong emotional root causes such as abuse, grief, jealousy and mortification. These triggers, especially if occurring during early life, are likely to propel the patient towards extreme states such as schizophrenia. (2).
This type of background leads to great undermining of the patient’s self-confidence. Concentration and memory can become impaired from a young age, compounding the pre-existing low self-confidence which has been instilled in them. The brain may become weakened by the overuse of alcohol or recreational drugs, the need for which is a reflection of their avoidant tendencies. The fact that they are susceptible to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder could be another reason undermining their academic ability.
Similar to Stramonium, the Anacardium child can start acting out their distress at their growing awareness of their academic shortcomings which is highlighted under lockdown. Dyslexia is increasingly recognised these days and Anacardium is a significant remedy for the learning difficulties building up to this outcome. This is highlighted in the home teaching environment where the expertise is not in place to deal with this blockage. Also, the respect between child and parent could be sadly lacking in these cases due to their joint history.
Like Androdoctonus Amurreuxi, the adrenal imbalance occurring in this remedy picture, can undermine the gut (nowadays commonly referred to as ‘the microbiome’). The rectum can become inactive with a plug-like sensation. The modality - better for eating - is distinctive in this remedy picture, showing the opposite manifestation seen in Hyoscyamus Niger, where anorexia can prevail.
Androdoctonus Amurreuxi (Scorpion)
Animal remedies such as Androdoctonus Amurreuxi, Apis Mel, Bufo Rana, and Lyssin (Hydrophobinum) manifest very basic behaviour.
There are few more emotive animals in the materia medica than the scorpion. The brain structure responsible for mood regulation (the amygdala) and that for impulse control (the anterior cingulate gyrus) are especially damaged in this remedy picture. However, it is a remedy which, it could be speculated, transcends all the different brain structures when it comes to early damage in their formation - along with Hyoscyamus Niger, Lyssin (Hydrophobinum), and Stramonium among the remedies highlighted in this blog. This damage could indicate a history of extreme duress endured by the mother in pregnancy or by both parents before conception, as well as contributing events in the early life development of the child.
I have observed in my practice children showing this remedy picture could resist lessons at the best of times due to a possible predilection for video games. This could have contributed to a hostile interpretation of outside events and a certain level of paranoia developing as a consequence. It could also cancel out any ability to interact on a one-to-one basis in any setting (let alone with parents in a newly instated classroom setting). Their sleep patterns may have become unsynchronised as a result of their close visual proximity to the blue light emitted by the computer screen, as well as the flashing images. This only serves to compound the already compromised brain structure in the presenting case. It is as if they are struggling with permanent jet-lag as the pineal gland becomes increasingly damaged by these influences.
The brain becomes dull and the outlook more and more gloomy as the external pressures intensify. This stage often occurs at the crucial time of brain development when the dreaded influences of the teenage years take their toll.
When the routine becomes disrupted, as has taken place as a result of the current restrictions, panic and temper outbursts can erupt out of the blue in children matching this remedy picture. Adrenal imbalance can occur as a result which reflects quite markedly on the microbiome (see Anacardium Orientale above).
Bufo Rana (Toad poison)
As mentioned under Androdoctonus Amurreuxi, animal remedies such as Bufo Rana manifest very basic behaviour, alongside Apis Mel and Lyssin (Hydrophobinum).
Bufo Rana is known for brain softening which is accounted for by damage to the anterior cingulate gyrus - the brain structure which stimulates primitive emotions. This often triggers an unbridled knee-jerk reaction to perceived threats, as illustrated by the sudden cessation of academic routine. This area can be affected due to low levels of serotonin which might relate back to the mother’s pregnancy when marked depression could have left its mark on the growing embryo. This brain structure can be adversely affected also in the remedy picture of Androdoctonus Amurreuxi.
As a result of the degree of brain impairment seen in Bufo Rana, the patient’s behaviour is unconscious and indelible without the intervention of such a specifically targeted remedy. The tendency towards imbecility seen in this remedy picture is such that there may be manifestations of random violence provoked by the new situation of home schooling. Educating these children is challenging at the best of times - even within a school setting.
Patients needing this remedy may have low thyroid levels which could have existed in their own individual history (or could have existed in the mother during pregnancy, as mentioned above). This not only directly impacts the child’s development, but also affects the bonding process between mother and child, such is the possible degree of detachment induced by the condition. Despite its lowly origins, this remedy can act very deeply in raising cognitive awareness in the recipient and normalising their intellectual acuity.
A helpful confirmatory mental symptom of Bufo is ‘anger, misunderstood,when’, like Anacardium Orientale and Ignatia. This represents a reflection of the ‘Doctrine of Signatures’ of the toad’s likely responses to its life in the wild when provoked.
Hyoscyamus Niger (Henbane)
The temporal lobes represent the main brain structure which could have been damaged in Hyoscyamus Niger (like in Anacardium Orientale, Androdoctonus Amurreuxi, Lyssin, and Stramonium). This may result from a background of abuse which can create a strong sense of paranoia and suspicion. This could manifest in religious fanaticism as the child develops, similar to Anacardium Orientale and Stramonium. The other brain structure which could be damaged is the anterior cingulate gyrus (as in Anacardium Orientale, Androdoctonus Amurreuxi, Bufo Rana, Lyssin, and Stramonium). Of the six remedies highlighted in this blog, Hyoscyamus Niger is the most likely to express anorexic symptoms (with Anacardium Orientale more likely to conversely gain relief from eating).
Hyoscyamus Niger - henbane - is part of a well known triad of mania remedies including Belladonna and Stramonium where symptoms can overlap to some degree in the corresponding remedy pictures, being derived from the same Solanacae family of plants. Concomitant to the mania seen in Hyoscyamus Niger, is a certain degree of frenzy involving possible aggression and sexual provocation, whereas in Stramonium, there is more manifestation of anxiety. Of the remedies explored in this blog, Anacardium Orientale can also present with mania as well as both Bufo Rana and Lyssin to a lesser degree.
There may be a history of head injury which has contributed to the mental state of paranoia and suspicion mentioned here in this remedy picture. There is an overlap here with Anacardium Orientale and Stramonium. Head injuries can easily go unnoticed in the recording of the medical history of the patient but, when taken into account, can address such deep emotional disturbance as portrayed in these symptoms.
In the younger child who has yet to become emotionally articulate, they may resort to biting.
In the older child, there may be a background of alcoholism and drug addiction which has distorted their behaviour in the way described here - other remedies to share this type of history include Bufo Rana and Stramonium.
Spatial awareness can be compromised and there may be inappropriate invasion of other people’s space - this also occurs in Lyssin but Hyoscyamus Niger has a more overtly sexualised expression of this symptom.
As mentioned under Androdoctonus Amurreuxi and Bufo Rana, such animal remedies manifest very basic behaviour, alongside Apis Mel as well as Lyssin (Hydrophobinum).
Lyssin, like Androdoctonus Amurreuxi and most markedly Bufo Rana, appertains to the brain structure - the anterior cingulate gyrus - with its knee-jerk reactions as well as the temporal lobes and with its possible history of abuse (like Anacardium Orientale, Androdoctonus Amurreuxi, and Stramonium). Lyssin is derived from the saliva of a rabid dog which has a very emblematic ‘Doctrine of Signatures’. Anacardium Orientale and Staphysagria are the main remedies which are known for suppressed anger but the reaction in those remedies is milder by comparison to that seen in the Lyssin response - see rubric ‘humiliation, mortification, ailments from’ even though Lyssin only appears in italics alongside Staphysagria in black type. Being a deeply syphilitic remedy, the reactions in the Lyssin patient are ferocious to witness, especially under provocation. They may even resort to biting when the perceived threat becomes overwhelming to them. This is more marked than seen in Bufo Rana, Hyoscyamus, and Stramonium and could create a sense of terror in surrounding family members, especially in the scenario currently being inflicted upon them with the restrictions of the lockdown and the recommendation of home schooling.
The parent may be intimidated to persist with this endeavour under this type of duress from the child - especially if the child resorts to self-mutilation which is a possibility in the sphere of action of this remedy. They may even turn the knife on the person they perceive to be testing them - in this case their parent - to their very over-strained capacity. The extent of the exaggeration in their mind of this sense of intolerance is seen in so many overlapping rubrics such as ‘delusion, injured, being’,’delusion, insulted, thinks he is’, delusion,tormented, thinks he is’, ‘delusion, wrong, he, has suffered a’ (Anacardium Orientale, Hyoscyamus Niger, and Stramonium are more predictable in their responses).
In one case, a five-year old boy was about to be expelled from school until he was given this remedy. His mother had been ill in the pregnancy and, as a result, was unable to bond with him at birth. His spatial awareness was weak and he would invade other children’s space with his overtly provocative behaviour. This manifests in a similar way in Hyoscyamus Niger (among remedies discussed in this blog), although it is less sexualised in Lyssin in its presentation than seen in Hyoscyamus Niger.
The gloom of Syphilinum can be detected in Lyssin - ‘delusion, happen, something terrible is going to’. This means the case may have to be opened up with a dose of Syphilinum to secure a cure, especially if maintaining causes remain strong, as endured under the new recommendations inflicted on families regarding home schooling. Another syphilitic aspect seen in this remedy is ritualistic behaviour which is often illustrated in cases with a history of abuse or neglect. See rubric ‘ritualistic, behaviour’. This is often indicative of the difficulty in adapting to the type of unexpected circumstances in which they now find themselves under lockdown.
These are the children who would most markedly pick up on the distress of their parents at this time. This is portrayed in the rubric - ‘sympathetic, empathy, feels same pains as others’.
This may require some dialogue to explain to the child (at their individual level of understanding) what the background circumstances may be and what type of adjustment may be realistically needed for all those involved. The vicarious effect on the family dynamic can then be more easily recognised through this shared approach to the presenting challenge.
Stramonium (Jimson weed)
This plant is derived from jimson weed which grows in wasteland or graveyards. This is emblematic of the background to the nature of the patient needing this remedy, who is perpetually drawn to the ‘dark side’. It belongs to a triad of mania remedies including Belladonna and Stramonium. Other mania remedies included in this blog are Ancardium Orientale, Bufo Rana, Lyssin, and Stramonium. There are many delusions in this remedy - the unique one is ‘delusion, alone, wilderness, in a’. This could be rooted in a background of abuse - along with Anacardium Orientale, as well as Hyoscyamus Niger and Stramonium to a lesser degree.
The main brain structure affected in this remedy is the amygdala - the one which is fully formed at birth and where early trauma leaves such an indelible mark, as well as the temporal lobes where abuse is often rooted (see Anacardium Orientale, Hyoscyamus Niger, and Lyssin (Hydrophobinum). In fact, with the strong documented link between abuse and the later onset of schizophrenia (2), this remedy is a good prophylactic in cases on this trajectory who display a very needy and clinging nature. This could certainly affect any possibly successful teaching dynamic between parent and child and may thrust the patient into this scenario ahead of time if handled badly. In order for such a deep disease to be triggered, the level of early trauma must have been severe, whether physically or psychologically triggered. In extremis, the patient may start hearing voices - see rubric ‘delusion, voices, hears’.
Anacardium Orientale is another remedy with a ‘split’ in its picture, which can prevent the full-blown symptoms of schizophrenia from developing. In the famous rubric - ‘delusion, possessed, as if, by a devil’, it should be noted that Stramonium is the only other black type remedy in this rubric apart from Anacardium Orientale, for which it is so markedly reputed.
Stammering may occur in this remedy, alongside Mercurius Viv, another remedy where communication skills could have been compromised through early trauma.
The isolation seen in Stramonium can date back to the womb and birthing experience when connection to the maternal source might have been broken - perhaps the umbilical cord was tied round the neck at birth or there was early separation for other health reasons that required incubation. If this essential initial contact between mother and child is missing, a gaping hole leaves the patient exposed and vulnerable to repeated re-traumatisation in a resonant scenario.
This remedy has been extensively discussed in my previous blog - ‘Building Resilience in Critical Times’, (3). It could well be that the other family members require a remedy mentioned there.
In conclusion, when the parent and the child can both be secured by the similimum in the extraneous circumstances they and their fellow family members are currently facing, the pre-existing contributing states can be reconciled. At the same time, the individual family members can move forward and, in the process, find a deeper way to heal the collective dynamic which so often lies beneath the fundamental obstacles to learning which can present themselves for cure in this way. After all, my researches show that it is only after the early family dynamic has been addressed through individually targeted homeopathic treatment that collective cure can be achieved . What better opportunity than through this extraordinary situation where each family member is forced to expose their ‘uncompensated state’ under such marked constraints.
To summarise with one quote which greatly influenced me in the writing of this blog is:
“It is possible to trace the root cause of an illness to our ancestors: their unresolved psychic distress can become part of the cellular memory we inherit. Until addressed, it will continue to trigger illness in the generations that follows….Illness is a physical response to past emotional trauma, either experienced by the patient or an ancestor”. (4). The author refers to ‘occulted emotions’ and this expression really struck a chord with me. The word ‘occult’ evokes a sense of mystery as well as hiddenness from the sufferer and those around them. This represents the underpinning issue creating a block to true cure and is therefore requisite of the transgenerational healing approach for resolution of cases.
The materia medica used as a base for this blog is from Robin Murphy’s ‘Nature’s Materia Medica Third Edition’ (5) and the rubrics from his ‘Homeopathic Clinical Repertory Third Edition’ (6).
Adalian, Elizabeth, ‘Touching Base with Trauma - Reaching Across the Generations: A Three-Dimensional Homeopathic Perspective’, (2017), Writersworld.
Sideli, Lucia et al, ‘Do Child Abuse and Maltreatment Increase the Risk of Schizophrenia?’, (2012), Psychiatry Investigation , 9 (2): 87-99,
Adalian, Elizabeth, blog - ‘Building Resilience in Critical Times’, 28.3.20, adalian.uk.
Obissier, Patrick, ‘Biogenealogy: Decoding the Psychic Roots of Illness - Freedom from the Ancestral Origins of Disease’, (2005), Healing Arts Press.
Murphy, Robin, ‘Nature’s Materia Medica’ Third Edition, 2006, Lotus Health Institute.
Murphy, Robin, ‘Homeopathic Clinical Repertory’ Third Edition, 2005, Lotus Health Institute.