Original patient complaint: Psoriasis
Angela, a thirty-two-year-old actress from Los Angeles, first consulted us by phone eight years ago for help with her psoriasis. “My work is really hard on me because it’s so competitive. Working in an industry that is all about image. Trying to have a family and be normal and not get caught up in all of it. I love my art, skills, what I have achieved. It’s a great creative outlet. My husband is from Nicaragua. His family is very supportive- they moved near us just before we got married in order to be close to him and his future children. Their philosophy about family and raising kids is much different from that of my parents. My father died a month before my daughter was born. It was really a hard time for me. Life and death at the same time. That’s when I got psoriasis and when I started noticing allergies. I consulted a naturopathic doctor who put me on an elimination diet. I’ve cut back on corn and wheat. The allergies are better but there was no change in the psoriasis.”
“I’m very accommodating. Sweet and nice. I have a hard time saying what I feel to people. I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I have a very good sense of humor, but if I try to make a joke and it comes out wrong, it can hurt someone’s feelings and they’ll think I’m mean. I get irritable when too much is going on at once- too much noise, stress, heat, or when I feel claustrophobic. My nerves just tighten up. I don’t argue with anybody, even my closest friends. I might lose the friendship. That might mean I wasn’t liked or I had failed in some way.”
“I had a really reckless childhood. I was kicked out of school for talking back to teachers, not listening, leaving the school premises. I threw a chair at a teacher, got into a fist fight with a basketball coach and he pressed charges against me. My husband thinks I’m making it all up, since I’m completely different now. As an adult, I can get along with anybody. I really care a lot about people. I think it’s because my parents got divorced and we moved across the country from my dad. I didn’t have the attention that I needed. That’s why I’m attracted to the closeness of my husband’s family. I actually find it fulfilling that they want to know what’s happening in our lives all the time- comforting and secure knowing they’re close by and we can count on them. My mom was never really interested in my life. She can say one thing and it will set me off. Then I feel guilty afterwards. She is very eccentric, unreasonable, and illogical.”
“I was having some pain with intercourse before we got married. I was finally diagnosed with endometriosis. I got married in February, had the surgery in March, and was pregnant by April. My sexual energy is zero since I got pregnant. We had a wonderful sexual relationship before that. When my dad died, I couldn’t go because I was eight months pregnant.”
“I might have had a little psoriasis during the pregnancy. Right after my daughter’s birth I began to find good acting jobs. I smoked from the time I was fourteen until I got pregnant, then again occasionally after I finished nursing. I went through a period of not feeling happy with myself. The psoriasis was hurting my self-esteem. I was kind of leading this double life- smoking at work, then not from the moment I came in the door at home. “
“I have a really healthy relationship with my husband. He’s quite a romantic. Neither one of us has a schedule. With a two-year-old, everything falls apart at the seams. I feel all over the place. Like I’m constantly trying to organize. Maybe it’s not my nature and I’m trying hard to make it my nature. I have a seriously bad memory. I could go home to get something, then walk out of the house without it. I try to make lists, then I forget to take the list. But I can keep perfect track of scripts and roles for my work.”
“I have this fear and embarrassment in crowds. I get nervous if all eyes are on me. Sweaty, stuttering, and my heart beats fast. My mouth and throat get tight and I have to take a deep breath. I second guess myself and don’t stand my ground. I guess it’s just self-consciousness. It may be that I’m super hard on myself in my career. When you get to be successful in your field, you have to have a name behind you. I want to be everyone’s favorite person. When I’m down, I become afraid that I will lose my acting jobs. There are so many people watching my work and a lot of criticism in the industry.”
“My psoriasis is on my elbows, left knee, and right leg. Without cortisone cream, it is quite painful and bumpy with lots of skin flaking off all the time. It has the appearance of lesions. When I’m working on screen, I can’t show my elbows or knees when were in the tropics. I won’t show it because they would be grossed out. I try to cover it the whole time. One producer asked about it and wondered if it were contagious. They might think if was horrible if anyone saw it on film. So I don’t ever let it show except when I use the steroid cream. The psoriasis has taken a chunk out of my self-esteem. I feel uncomfortable if even a little of it shows. What would they think? Someone would have a negative image of me. I wouldn’t be talked about in a positive light. Maybe not be hired back as an actress.”
At this point, a particular homeopathic remedy was highly indicated, It was one for people who feel very much ashamed, often because of a disfigurement or a visible skin condition, and they feel a strong need to hide it, cover it up. We knew that these people are highly sensitive and can be secretive. There is often something in their past, such as sexual abuse or family secrets, that they have hidden for years. Those needing this remedy often have a history of a sexually transmitted disease, about which they are profoundly embarrassed. We also know that they dare not disclose this information out of shame, so we sometimes need to sensitively question the patient further, delicately and sensitively.
We inquired about Angela’s fears and dreams, often doorways to the underlying, deeper state. “”Having a baby, I think more about death. We knew some people on a flight that went down and I think a lot about what it must have been like for them in their last moments. I’ve stopped watching scary movies. My imagination goes crazy. I have the normal mom fears about my family’s safety.”
Angela mentioned having had some wild, passionate dreams, which were embarrassing to her. That led to confirming the remedy we had in mind. “I used to be quite promiscuous when I was younger. I was going out with a guy who wasn’t right for me and I ended up contracting venereal warts (condylomata) at sixteen or seventeen. It was awful. I had all sorts of treatments. It was degrading because I didn’t feel that he cared very much about me. Maybe I didn’t care enough about myself. I never told anyone about it, even my husband.” We asked Angela whether she had any history of warts, again strongly confirmatory of the medicine we had in mind. “I did have warts on my fingers as a teenager.” She couldn’t remember exactly when the warts began, but we suspect it occurred after the condylomata.
We inquired as to whether Angela had any particular attraction or aversion to onions and garlic. She loved both. And whether there were any history of vaginal infections. These symptoms were also confirmatory of the likely medicine.
Excellent, Long-Term Results from the Tree of Life
Thuja occidentalis (Arbor Vitae, Tree of Life, cedar) fit Angela’s case very well. It is a common homeopathic medicine for sensitive people with warts and is often indicated for patients with a history of condylomata. There is a predominant feeling of embarrassment and shame and a desire and effort to cover up one’s weaknesses. It can be effective for women with cysts and growths, as well as vaginitis, and, in this case, endometriosis. The patient often reports either a strong desire or aversion to onions. Another characteristic feeling, which we did not elicit in this case, but which often arises using our current style of case taking, is of being fragile, like glass about to shatter. For Angela, we prescribed one dose of Thuja 200C.
Angela called seven weeks later to say that she was pregnant. This is not the first time we have seen a patient become pregnant very soon after taking the correct homeopathic medicine, especially in cases of endometriosis. She was thrilled. Her next appointment was one month later.. At this appointment, Angel remarked that she felt better mentally, experienced more energy, enjoyed more sexual activity, and felt more even overall. She was now experiencing classic symptoms for morning sickness: queasy stomach, gagging triggering vomiting, and a jumpy stomach (patients needing Thuja often report a feeling of something alive inside their abdomen). Angela lacked any motivation to do anything. We gave her a dose of Thuja 30C and instructed her to call with an update in seven to ten days. She called two weeks later to say her skin was improving as well as her morning sickness.
Seven months after starting homeopathic treatment, Angela was six months pregnant. The psoriatic patch on her right shin had disappeared and those on her left knee and right elbow were improving. Only her right elbow continued to be much of a problem. The pregnancy had gone very smoothly and Angela was pleasantly surprised that she did not suffer from back fatigue like she did in her previous pregnancy. Her memory was noticeably better, she did not feel as nervous in a crowd, and was no longer second guessing herself for fear of having said the wrong thing. We repeated the Thuja 200C a month later due to her feeling angry and a return of the jumpiness in her gut.
Eleven and a half months after beginning the homeopathy, Angela called again. She was enjoying her ten-week-old son and felt very calm, in contrast to her postpartum anxiety after her daughter was born. Her skin was okay, she felt really good emotionally, confidence was high, the jumpiness in the gut had resolved, and her confidence was greater. We prescribed a dose of Thuja 200C, after which her skin symptoms worsened temporarily (generally a good sign in homeopathy).
Three months later Angela was happy to report that everything was great. Her sexual life was better and her energy amazing. We prescribed Thuja 1M, a higher dose, after which she experienced a worsening of the psoriasis. We realized that the 1M potency was too high for Angela’s level of sensitivity. Following the initial aggravation, her skin did improve again, her sex life continued to be considerably more satisfying, and she reported an overall calmness.
We have continued to have appointments with Angela about every four to six months ever since. It has now been eight years since she her first consultation with us. In fact, she was doing so well recently that there was a one-year interval between her phone appointments. She finally called because the psoriasis had returned shortly after an unpleasant confrontation with her in-laws. Her psoriasis has healed very nicely, except for the times she would relapse and need another dose of the Thuja. In addition, the medicine helps her to feel calmer, more emotionally stable, increased self-confidence, less anxiety in her stomach, greater focus, and less sensitive overall. Angela has needed a total of twenty doses of Thuja over the past seven and a half years (a little less than three doses a year). She is quite satisfied with the results and delighted with her life.