When I met 11-month-old Stephen*, I was struck by his easy-going personality. He entered my home with a smile on his face, and was ready to explore his surroundings. Right away, Stephen started playing with toys and was content while I talked with his mother Melanie for nearly an hour.
Stephen was largely breastfed, but had started some solid foods at the age of 9 months old. For the last 2-3 months, Stephen had been severely constipated, only having a bowel movement once a week, and doing so with much straining, screaming, and even some blood. Melanie had tried everything she could think of: doctors, chiropractic treatments, and dietary changes. But Stephen's constipation persisted despite all of these efforts.
Melanie contacted me to see if there were any homeopathic remedies that might help Stephen. I've been studying homeopathy for nearly two years now, and actively working on homeopathic cases for the last 6 months, so Melanie was referred to me by a mutual friend.** I was happy to guide her in finding a remedy to help Stephen.
How Remedies are SelectedI use classical homeopathic methodology to aid in the selection of remedies. There are many different homeopathic remedies that can help with constipation, but what sets homeopathy apart is that remedy selection must be individualized for each person.
In classical homeopathy, the goal is to find a single remedy that matches the totality of a person's symptoms. Thus, classical homeopathy takes into account much more than just the main complaint (which in this case was constipation). Symptoms relating to the physical body are just one part of the total symptom picture; understanding the totality of symptoms must encompass mental and emotional symptoms as well.
The total symptom picture is used as a guide to point to the correct homeopathic remedy. Each remedy is well understood in terms of what specific symptoms it can affect. Each remedy has its own set of very specific symptoms (as defined in homeopathic repertories), and even its own personality (as defined in homeopathic materia medica). In chronic cases such as this, the homeopath strives to match up the total symptom picture and personality of the person to the remedy.
Guiding SymptomsIn selecting a remedy for Stephen, I sought to understand the total picture of his symptoms and personality.
- Main complaint: constipation
- infrequent stools passed with much difficulty
- much pain during bowel movements
- Other physical complaints:
- dry, red skin
- dairy intolerance (even when breastfeeding mother consumed dairy)
- diaper rashes
- redness around anus
- Mental/emotional characteristics:
- happy-go-lucky personality
- very curious
- excess energy before bedtime
- hates having diaper changed or getting dressed
- has to be forced to get into bath, but loves it once he is there
In "Homeopathic Treatment of Children", Paul Herscu describes the "happy-go-lucky, smiling type" of Sulphur child. This child has a "winsome personality" and is "curious". This type of child also may "kick and fight any time a parent tries to change the diapers. They may likewise to bathe and will put up a fight until dragged into the bathtub; then they often love it."
Sulphur is also a well-known homeopathic remedy for skin eruptions of all kinds, including the red anus, dry red skin, and diaper rashes that Stephen exhibited. I told Melanie about Sulphur and how well it matched Stephen's overall symptom picture and personality. She decided to give it a try.
Did it Work?Stephen reacted very well to homeopathic Sulphur 30c. In fact, with just a few doses, he had a non-painful bowel movement for the first time in months. At that time, I recommended that Melanie watch-and-wait before giving any more remedy.
Ideally, homeopathic remedies are given only as often as needed, and not more than needed. The general rule of thumb is that, whenever there is obvious improvement, watch-and-wait to see if any more remedy is needed (as indicated by a plateau in healing or by any regression).
Within a couple weeks, Stephen had established a pattern of daily bowel movements with no pain or discomfort. As of now, he has had painless daily bowel movements for several months with no need for further doses of homeopathic Sulphur.
In addition to the dramatic healing of Stephen's constipation, he has also experienced other significant long-term improvements: Stephen no longer has dry, red skin and he has stopped fighting about having his diapers changed. The correct homeopathic remedy, chosen individually to match the totality of symptoms, can be amazing!
*This is a true story, but I have changed the names to protect privacy.
**I am not a physician or licensed healthcare practitioner. The information I provide is intended to educate, and should not be construed as a prescription.