Life Stories Installment 2 - Placebo Schmacebo

Our Life Stories Series installments are based on cases from our practice.  Names and geographic details have been changed for anonymity.  The purpose of this series is to share with you some of the wonderful healing we have seen take place with homeopathy and, perhaps, teach you a little about it in the process.

~ Placebo Schmacebo ~

Allison called me one early afternoon, 5 weeks after the birth of her daughter, Lila. 

“She’s got thrush” she said, “and its bad.” 

Allison was very concerned, as Lila had barely nursed in the past 3 days, and mama herself was exhausted from the inability to make her comfortable. 

“I don’t seem to have any symptoms myself,” she said, with the staccato sound of a mama vigorously bouncing an unhappy infant, “which is good, but I just don’t know what to do.  It started out slowly enough, as just a white area in the middle of her tongue, but at this point its just all over.  She seems like she’s in so much pain; its killing me.” Her voice cracked a bit and my heart went out to her.  

I could hear Lila periodically wailing a pitiful cry.  Allison explained that at this point Lila’s tongue was thickly coated white, and she had “white curds coming out the sides of her mouth.” As of that morning she had stopped even trying to nurse, as each time she did Lila would get so upset she was hard to calm.

I asked Allison a few strategic questions to gather information that may help lead me to the right remedy, and ended up with the following specifics*: In addition to the white coating in her mouth and the obvious pain it caused her to try and nurse, Lila had had diarrhea since the thrush began, and a notable waking period between 3 and 5 am (not part of her prior sleep pattern).  She also had a slight fever during this period.  When questioned further about the baby's health in general since birth, Allison explained that Lila frequently had hiccups, “and, oh, I don’t know if it matters, but her hands and feet are a little blue and they’re always cold.  Our pediatrician said it’s nothing to worry about, but it does seem interesting to me.”

*It is part of the homeopathic process to get as many unique details as possible about a patient's symptoms.  It is only with these details that we are able to find what remedy (among many thousands) is precisely the one that will help this unique individual in this particular moment in this particular expression of dis-ease.  

Using the above information, it was clear to me that homeopathic Borax should be a suitable acute remedy in this case**.  Borax is a remedy that is well known for relieving cankers and other issues in the mouth, among other things.

I recommended borax to Allison, which she thankfully found in her home kit, and we signed off with a plan to talk 4 hours after Lila’s first dose. We spoke briefly that evening, Allison said that “Lila’s definitely more eager to try and nurse again, and maybe the white stuff is like a little bit less, less curds, but it is still obviously bothering her.”  Allison gave another dose of the borax and I told her to check in in the morning.

I had an email from Allison first thing in the morning when I turned on my phone: “You’re not gonna believe this,” she said, “but it is totally gone down to a round area on her tongue about the size of my pinky nail.  She nursed a bunch last night, had no fever or issues in the early a.m. like before, and she’s sleeping a ton.”  I told Allison she could give one more dose this morning and she called that afternoon to tell me she could see no white at all in her mouth and that Lila seemed to be “making up for lost time!” with all the nursing. 

Over the course of the next few weeks, even the cyanosis (blueness) of her hands and feet and the frequent hiccuping spells dissipated.  

Beyond all that great news, my favorite part of this particular case is that Allison has been an eager and committed student of homeopathy.

I share this case and infant cases like it when I have students ask about how the placebo effect may play into curative effects from homeopathic remedies.  Now, while I am not one to knock the power of the mind in healing (and getting sick!), the placebo argument is a hard one to defend when we look that the countless cases of infants and animals being helped dramatically (and often immediately) with homeopathic remedies.  I know many vets who use homeopathy with regularity in their practices, and find that the instance of required surgeries and other expensive interventions is greatly reduced. 

**For more information on the history and efficacy of homeopathy, homeopathic philosophy, or the homeopathic process, see this post.