Original patient complaint: Down Syndrome
Two Different Peas in the Very Same Pod
One of the most important features of homeopathy, as compared to other forms of medicine, conventional and alternative, is the individualization of medicine selection. Homeopathy treats patients, not diseases. The prescription is based on what is unique about the person, rather than what is common to the disease. In the case of these twins, who actually needed two of the most common medicines, the symptoms of Down Syndrome had nothing to do with the prescriptions. In fact, when we treat children or adults with the same diagnostic label, be it Down Syndrome or Asperger Disorder, we ask ourselves how that child is actually different from other children with the diagnosis, rather than basing the prescription on the common, shared symptoms.
We are not presenting these cases so much because the medicines are unusual (the are not) or because the cases are complicated—to the contrary, there are very few symptoms. But they show that it is possible to marry conventional medicine and homeopathy quite happily in young children with genetic diseases and few unique symptoms. The mother is quite relieved to have both therapies, when needed, although she would rather use homeopathy as often as possible, or in combination with necessary conventional procedures. Both of these children will continue to need allopathic interventions, perhaps lifelong, but homeopathic care has kept them healthier with less invasive interventions.
The first consultation for Lindsay, one year of age, was by phone nearly two years ago. Her mom’s pregnancy had progressed normally until week thirty-five when they discovered fluid around the fetus’ heart, confirmed on ultrasound to be due to a hole. A Caesarean-section was performed the following day and the baby was hospitalized for four and a half weeks, fed exclusively intravenously. Lindsay suffered from constipation until the mom was finally able to discontinue formula and begin regular food. Weight gain was a continual struggle: four pounds eight ounces at birth, six pounds at three months of age, and fourteen pounds at a year. Open-heart surgery was performed to close the holes in the heart, at which time the surgeon found crisscrossed cords opening the valves. Due to the risk of complications, a temporary band was placed on the pulmonary artery and further surgery postponed indefinitely. One week later, Lindsay was diagnosed with RSV (respiratory syncytial virus). Shortly before we first treated her, she developed an E. coli urinary tract infection, as did her sister, both of whom were hospitalized once again.
Lindsay’s mom described her as fun, spunky, and full of life. Her biggest challenge was low muscle tone, which caused her to be developmentally delayed in most areas, including eating, sucking, and she had not yet begun to sit or teethe at one year. A happy, good-natured baby, she suffered from recurrent ear infections, common in Down Syndrome. An audiologist confirmed fluid in the ears a few days prior to the initial visit. Lindsay was more active and determined that her sister. She vomited frequently after eating.
We prescribed Calcarea carbonica (calcium carbonate) 200C, based on the few individualizing symptoms: low muscle tone, determination, and frequent vomiting after ingestion of food. Two weeks later, her mother reported that the symptom picture had subsequently changed. Lindsay had begun to teethe. It is difficult to say whether the Calcarea pushed the teething or not. It is common for growth spurts and other developmental milestones to happen more quickly after homeopathic treatment. A dose of Calcarea carbonica 1M did not help significantly, but combination homeopathic teething tablets which the mother had on hand, containing 3X potencies of Calcarea phosphorica, Chamomilla, Coffea, and Belladonna took the edge off. Nevertheless, Lindsay was again hospitalized, this time for cellulitis of the face, and given IV antibiotics. It is typical for twins with Down Syndrome to experience frequent complications with high levels of allopathic intervention.
Four months after the first phone consultation, Lindsay’s symptom picture was clear enough to prescribe a successful constitutional medicine, the same one that she has needed ever since. The baby had begun to struggle with teething. The mom described her personality, at this time, as spunky and feisty. When interrupted by her mother, she tended to arch her back and “put up a fight.” Teething symptoms, quite pronounced, included crankiness, whining, and interrupted sleep. Her gums appeared to be sore and a blister had erupted on her tongue. We prescribed Chamomilla 200C, the classic remedy for her teething picture.
Two months later, Lindsay’s mom reported that she was doing great and had received a very positive report from the pediatric cardiologist. This was particularly impressive to her given the series of problems previously. The child has needed a total of eleven doses of the Chamomilla, in increasing potencies from 200C to 10M. She has consistently responded well to the medicine. Her mom has grown quite comfortable with homeopathic intervention, rather than drugs, whenever possible, even in situations where another parent might insist on immediate allopathic care. A year ago Lindsay experienced an eczematous rash, not too surprising given that she had recurrent ear infections earlier, also an allergic condition, and that she received formula from the beginning rather than breast milk. We have observed this tendency in many other infants. When the eczema or ear infections are suppressed with hydrocortisone cream or antibiotics, this allergic predisposition can often progress to asthma.
Lindsay will turn three in another month. She is a happy, exploratory, social youngster who enjoys being entertained. She continues to experience periods of fussiness and cough periodically, which are quickly resolved with a dose of Chamomilla. Lindsay continued to experience periodic recurrences of otitis media, eventually leading to the placement of tubes in her ears. We have found this highly unusual with children under homeopathic care, but her mom assures us that this is very typical of Down Syndrome infants and toddlers.
Kate: The Softer Pea
Kate, treated initially at one year as well, had the same beginning as her sister, as well as the low muscle tone and the atrial- and ventricular-septal defects. Hospitalized for only two weeks rather than a month, her mom was able, with the help of a lactation specialist, to pump breast milk and get her to nurse. Kate underwent successful heart surgery three weeks after her sister. Developmentally a bit ahead of Lindsay, Kate was calmer and more easygoing than her twin, though she demonstrated notable stranger anxiety, especially with some men. In addition to fluid in her ears, like Lindsay, Kate also experienced a urinary tract infection a week after her sister and the same vomiting after eating. Her mom described her as “happy, sweet, a nature lover.” Kate was also quite constipated and had a particular affinity for bread. We prescribed Calcarea carbonica 200C, based on her calm demeanor, constipation, stranger anxiety, and low muscle tone. Not much to prescribe on, but that is often the case with babies.
Kate didn’t have much of a response from the Calcarea, nor to Silica. At seventeen months she developed a urinary infection, with a fever of 103F, and became very fussy and whiny. The child was teething at the time and her nose was quite congested with a thick nasal discharge. Although quite thirsty with the fever, Kate was generally not a thirsty child. The only other symptoms were that she loved to be held and was an avid thumb sucker. Again, only a few clues, but we prescribed Pulsatilla 30C. Known for their thirstlessness, kids needing Pulsatilla can be quite thirsty, like Kate, during acute illnesses.
The Pulsatilla took care of the nasal congestion, but the teething-related crankiness persisted. The mom remarked that Kate was quite content to lay on the floor and suck her thumb. She loved attention and was much less demanding than her sister. She also was much less interested than Lindsay in drinking liquids. Pulsatilla also fit the desire for bread, fear of strangers, and fear of men. We raised the potency to 200C.
Two months later, Kate’s mom reported that she was still teething, but overall quite a bit better until the previous week when her coughing and sneezing had returned. We repeated the Pulsatilla 200C and Kate responded nicely. We didn’t have another appointment for her until five months later, at which time she didn’t need a repetition of the medicine. Two and a half months later, Kate had recently become feisty and clingy despite the Pulsatilla 200C given by her mom. She was now drooling and so much wanting to hug and be hugged that she practically smothered her sister. We raised the potency to a 1M. Over the past eight months Kate has received four doses of the 1M, and it continues to be very effective. The last dose was given today. Kate had fallen out of her crib and bumped her face, for which her mom gave her a dose of Arnica. When she became fussier as the day progressed, it was obvious that she needed another dose of the Pulsatilla.
A Population in Need
Relatively few parents of children with genetic disorders ever find their way to the office of a homeopath. Even when periodic surgeries, drugs, and other allopathic interventions are necessary, homeopathy can be a safe, gentle, effective adjunct to, and sometimes substitute, for more invasive therapies. Even though it may not be possible to alter the genetic imbalance, the physical symptoms and behavioral challenges can often be improved significantly with homeopathy.