Vanadium Metallicum - a second remedy from the periodic table for the time of Covid
Recently, as the pandemic digs deeper and the effects continue to take their psychological and emotional toll, especially on young people who have struggled so profoundly during this time, my thoughts are again drawn towards the periodic table. The remedies contained within often act in a more penetrating way than others used on a regular basis in times which are more predictable.
I started off exploring Cuprum Metallicum as one of three articles I want to share that present remedies made from elements because I see their potential to aid resolution of conditions prominent as a result of repeated and protracted lockdowns. Now, my thoughts veer towar Vanadium Metallicum as the next remedy to come under scrutiny for my appraisal in the context laid out above.
Vanadium Metallicum, (like Cuprum Metallicum) is in the Ferrum series of remedies from the periodic table. This series is connected with duty, work, perfectionism, routine, order, and control, as well as failure. Vanadium Metallicum complies with stage 5 which is about ‘preparation’ and ‘doubt’. Cuprum Metallicum complies with stage 11 which is more about ‘protection’ as well as ‘expansion’. (1)
I initially came across this remedy in 1993 when Jan Scholten first exposed it in his book -
‘Homeopathy and Minerals’. (2) Apparently, Boericke and Clarke had touched on it in their earlier writings. However, here perceived in the context of the periodic table, it took on a whole new meaning for me in the context of modern-day society.
In a study by the psychologist Suniya Luthar, it was found the cause of isolation in young people from their parents lies in the relentless pressure to succeed which many children cannot live up to. (3) This background replicates the picture of Vanadium Metallicum where eating disorders may result from such influences.
It would seem that young people’s mental health is particularly affected by the restrictions.
It has recently been revealed how much their mental health has especially suffered as a result of the restrictions imposed since the pandemic first appeared. Due to reduced access to support and face-to-face consultations during the pandemic, young people are becoming more severely ill by the time they are seen, experts have warned, as waiting lists often become swamped with the numbers who sign up to be seen. In fact, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have warned that eating disorders in children have soared during this time and experts are now going so far as to advise parents to be vigilant. Even within the space of one year, eating disorders have apparently startlingly quadrupled in numbers. (4)
I would point out that eating disorders in young people (mostly anorexia and bulimia) have become an issue over the last 30 years but never to the extent which is now reported to exist. This can very much be attributed in the picture of the remedy - Vanadium Metallicum - to the perfectionism the sufferer manifests in their routines and in the time of the pandemic the evident lack of control over their own lives they now experience. I have found rubrics are lacking in the repertory for this particular remedy but the ones cited here stand out to define its distinctive picture.
Often, in the background of the Vanadium patient, it is the family and/or society at large which pressurise them to excel. This can be seen on social media sites where children are almost being coaxed into an unattainable lifestyle. This in turn acts to trigger a slide into this type of neurosis. The perfectionism in this remedy is illustrated in the fear of failure, as well as of criticism. Here, there are parallels with Aurum Metallicum (as well as Carcinosin which is also reputed for eating disorders). However, the Vanadium Metallicum patient presents in a much more rigid and dogmatic manner. This is a reflection of its hardness as a substance in its original form through the concept of the ‘Doctrine of Signatures’.
Maintaining causes during the pandemic to this state include:-
Isolation from friends / over-exposure to the intensity of family dynamics.
Cancellation of regular tuition / exams which have been scheduled.
Loss of extra-curricular activities such as hobbies or sport (where social life plays an important role alongside).
Increased use of social media. (Extended exposure to the internet can affect the frontal cortex - the brain structure which only completes its full formation during the teenage years*)
Anxiety about their own health or that of family members.
Financial worries/tensions in the family.
It is during the teenage years that the brain structure - the frontal cortex - which is responsible for cognition and memory as well as consciousness - completes its formation. Until that time, all the other brain structures have become fully formed*. (5) It is concerning that such protracted trauma as created by the pandemic could affect the longer term outcome for this vital brain structure in the life ahead of that person, which could include a progression to any State on the Spectrum such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or - in later years - Alzheimer’s disease. This applies unless it is addressed at an early stage, as suggested here. Not only is that individual processing the trauma within their own timeline, but also on the collective timeline of those around them who are equally affected in their own way by this crisis.
The way one reacts during the teenage years depends very much on the level of attachment formed with one’s parents in infancy. (6) The teenage years are vital for individuation and for finding one’s place within the pecking order. The enforced proximity for all family members the pandemic has created means the ongoing dynamics are often played out more intensely within each individual. Without the intimacy of close friendships this very vital ‘right of passage’ is lost and no amount of internet connection can replace this necessary human contact as the different milestones of life continue to be reached. It cannot be overlooked that direct eye contact and human touch are essential aspects of survival in this time of enforced separation - all generations are affected.
In the Vanadium Metallicum picture, the child strives to be perfect without knowing why. They may well focus on food - one area they can control - sub-consciously resisting growing into the form pubescence brings, so that they no longer need to meet the aspirations of the parents - this way they can remain a small child in their eyes. This demonstrates how eating disorders can be a family issue, the pivot often residing in a parent rather than the child who acts out the collective dysfunction in this way. It is no coincidence therefore, that the remedy, Vanadium Metallicum, appears in the Mind section of the repertory with the rubrics - ‘anorexia, nervosa’, ‘childish, behaviour’, as well as ‘fear, failure, of’. (7)
I believe Vanadium Metallicum will become a major polychrest for new generations because of today’s parental pressures for academic excellence, which can be applied to a child regardless of their individual interests and potentials. It cannot be forgotten now that during the pandemic many careers have been affected and it is possible the thwarted ambition of the parents can unconsciously project onto the child in this way, thus compounding any such pressure which may have pre-existed.
Sometimes, the only escape for such oppressive influences is for that individual to flee the nest and discover their own autonomy. This can occur when the defence mechanism would no longer rely on the protection the disorder allows them. This is an example where the philosophy of ‘maintaining causes’ holds so true in homeopathy. However, with the current pressures on society brought to bear by lockdowns, this is becoming increasingly impossible for now.
Behind anorexia, there is often a mental make-up of depression combined with obsession. The beauty of this remedy is that it acts on both the emotional and physical levels simultaneously, thus addressing the manic depression behind the eating disorder and, at the same time, enabling the tissues to take up the missing nutrients which undermine the organism in such a destructive way. This is a very significant factor to bear in mind. However, I believe this remedy could also come into its own without the manifestation of eating disorders within the presenting patient. With everything else having been stripped away, they may relate the urge to focus solely on their work to an extreme degree as a sublimation.
As mentioned above, the Internet age does not make this any easier, where much resilience is needed to withstand the pressures from, not only one’s peers, but also one’s role models in society. Hence, I believe this remedy steps up ideally to this backdrop, revealed by the pressures of the pandemic which have proved overwhelming in so many aspects of society. This in turn has filtered down to young people who are increasingly acting out the collective distress with this very definitive and disturbing manifestation.
Scholten, Jan (2008), Element Theory, Stichting, Alonissos,
Scholten, Jan (1993), Homeopathy and Minerals, Stichting, Alonissos,
Luthar, Suniya, (2003), The Culture of Affluence: Psychological Costs of Material Wealth, Child Development, 74:1581-93.
Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, (28.12.2020), Paediatricians Warn Parents to be Alert to Signs of Eating Disorders over the Holiday’, rcpch.ac.uk.
Adalian, Elizabeth, (Winter 2010), Sculpting the ‘Software’: Targeting Specific Brain Structures’, Homeopathy in Practice, The Journal of the Alliance of Registered Homeopaths.
Adalian, Elizabeth, (2017), Touching Base with Trauma: Reaching Across the Generations - a Three-Dimensional Homeopathic Perspective, Writersworld.
Murphy, Robin, N.D., 2005, Homeopathic Clinical Repertory, Third Edition, Lotus Health Institute.