Crohns Disease

Dr Andrea Wiessner discusses the homeopathic treatment of one of her patients

Crohn’s disease is a chronic  inflam­matory gastro-intestinal disease that can affect the whole  digestive tract from mouth to anus but favours the lower part of the  small bowels. It can cause symptoms of bowel inflammation, such as  abdominal pain, diarrhoea and general malaise and it can cause  ulcer­ations in the mouth or anus and anal fissures. But it is also  sometimes accom­panied by manifestations outside of the digestive tract,  such as arthritis, inflam­mation of the eyes, inflammation of the  sacroiliac joint and skin rashes. One of its complications is the  stricture of parts of the bowels due to long standing in­flammation  which then usually requires surgical intervention. Acute episodes are  usually treated with oral steroids and long-term maintenance treatment  often consists of immuno-suppressive agents and medicines used in the  treatment of some forms of cancer.

Pauline

Referred to me by her GP in November 2003, Pauline had been  diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2000 but her GP men­tioned in his  letter that she probably had already suffered symptoms due to the  disease in 1993. Pauline was 39 when I met her first and she told me that she had  severe backaches with shooting pains in her 20s. The slightest movement  would aggra­vate her pain. As she had injured her back as a child, she  always thought the pain was due to this.Ten years ago, she developed an anal fissure with severe pains  passing stools. This was eventually operated on in 2000, but three weeks  after the opera­tion she again started to have severe pain when passing  stools and had ulcers in the back passage. She also had mouth ulcers at  the time with extreme pain and she could hardly eat or drink. She  started to feel unwell generally, had a high tem­perature, plus  diarrhoea and stiff joints. Her ankles were swollen and she could hardly  move or walk. Pauline had to stay off work for three months. At that  stage she was referred to a specialist and diag­nosed with Crohn’s  disease. Since then she has had several flare-ups  when she always has similar symp­toms. The first sign is usually that  she develops back pain and stiffness. Her joints swell up and become  stiff and painful, which makes it very difficult for her to move. She  also develops loose and foul smelling bowel motions, lately with blood  and mucus. She has abdominal cramps and a permanent sense of a lump in  her stomach. She sometimes loses con­trol over her bladder and bowels  and has had some accidents and feels extremely tired and exhausted and  gen­erally unwell. Pauline feels that these episodes can be triggered by stress and her  symptoms can be aggravated by dairy produce. She frequently has night  sweats and she also had episodes of iritis, inflammation of her eyes, in  the past. She has already excluded dairy produce which has been beneficial. Her  consultant had put her on Mercaptopurin daily which is a medicine also  used in the treatment of leukaemia and Dexameth­asone eye drops for  episodes of iritis. Pauline lives with her partner and eight year-old son and works in  cus­tomer service for a company selling legal books. She loves her job  and loves speak­ing to the customers on the phone. She feels this is  “fantastic”.Having a very bubbly personality, Pauline describes herself as  over-enthu­siastic and excitable and quite a happy person who loves to  talk a lot. She says people sometimes find her “too much”. She is very  impatient and can be short-tempered. She dislikes to be told things and  dislikes change. She is a kind per­son and feels anxious if she has to  speak in public.Of her general symptoms, she says that she is a chilly person,  disliking the cold and that she perspires easily. She craves cheese and  sweets and does not tolerate dairy produce. She needs a lot of sleep,  often waking up at 2am but sleeps quite deeply on her right side. She  talks during her sleep and her eyes are often half-open. She dreams a  lot, recur­rently of houses and rooms but also about teeth.

Treatment

When considering her case, I was mainly thinking of remedies such as  Phosphorus and Sepia, but Nux vomica, Causticum and Thuja were also  ones I considered for her constitutionally. The last as her son, whom I  treated for asthma, had a good response to Thuja and sometimes children  and their parents, in particular mother and child, can respond to the  same remedy.Nevertheless, I eventually decided to give her Sepia. What swayed me  was the strong focus on her back pain, which is very typical for Sepia,  and symptoms such as the lump sensation in her stomach. I gave her Sepia  200c, three single doses within 24 hours. However, as Phosphorus is a  good remedy for inflammatory bowel disease, I prescribed Phosphorus 30c  twice weekly in four weeks’ time, more on a symptomatic level.When I saw her again two months later, she was already much better.  Her energy levels had improved, her joints weren’t aching and the night  sweats were better too. She could sleep through the night and had been  able to stop Mercap­topurin one month before without any negative  effects. This had not been pos­sible in the past. She had noticed the  improvement after the Sepia, but the night sweats improved when taking  Phosphorus and did come back when she omitted a dose. Over the next six  months she required two more doses of Sepia 200c and I advised her to  continue with the Phosphorus regularly.

Recurrence

She then came back with a flare-up of her Crohn’s disease,  experiencing burn­ing pain in her abdomen, pain and stiff­ness in her  back and hips, iritis and low energy levels. When I asked what had  happened, she told me that she had applied for a better paid job in her  com­pany but that she didn’t get it. She was very angry, feeling it was  terribly unfair and that people were conspiring against her. She just  couldn’t understand why they hadn’t given her the job but did not talk  to anyone about it.I told her to increase Phosphorus to once daily doses until her  symptoms had settled and to repeat Sepia in the next higher potency, 1M  at that stage. How­ever, I told her to use her conventional medication  if symptoms did not settle quickly. I also prescribed Mercurius sol 6c  three times per day, when required, for her iritis.When I saw her next, two months later, she had much improved. The  pain had settled, her joints and back were fine and her energy levels  better. She had taken Mercaptopurin for ten days but stopped it again  and had been well.Over the following two years, she had been really well apart from one  chest and throat infection. She continued with Phosphorus 30c once  weekly and Sepia 1M every few months.A year ago she came to see me with severe back pain again, associated  with stiffness and pain in her hip. She had been run down and felt this  might be a precursor for the Crohn’s again. She had already tried  Sepia, but this time it did not seem to affect her symptoms. I  prescribed Rhus tox 30c once daily until the back pain had settled and  told her to then take Phosphorus 200c, three sin­gle doses within 24  hours. She has been fine since with one more minor episode of back pain,  which responded well again to Rhus tox. She now takes Phosphorus 200c  every few months if her general well-being deteriorates.

The remedies

The remedies that helped Pauline most were Sepia, the ink of the  cuttle fish, and Phosphorus, a remedy from the mineral kingdom and an  element from the peri­odic table. On first glance, this seems strange as  they come from completely different sources. However, patients who  require Sepia sometimes appear quite “phosphoric” and this might be due  to the fact that the cuttle fish itself contains a lot of Phosphorus.In retrospect, I would say that Pauline  is probably more of a Phosphorus type constitutionally. However, she had  good responses to Sepia initially, possibly due to the overlapping  symptoms of both remedies. The question why she respond­ed and which one  is her constitutional remedy is probably quite academic though, as the  main thing is that Pauline’s symptoms improved and that she is on her  path to health.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus means the “light-bringer” (the Greek word “phos” means light  and “phoros” means bringing or bearing). Phosphorus is a poisonous  substance and reacts violently. It is used in the man­ufacture of safety  matches. On a phys­ical level, Phosphorus’s destructive processes  dominate the homeopathic picture, such as irritation and inflam­mation  of the lining of organs, inflam­mation of nerves and the spinal cord and  destruction of bones. Its picture also con­tains haemorrhages and  general weak­ness. But just like the fire, destructive as it can be, it  also brings warmth, light and sustains life. As Phosphorus brings light in the physical sense, the Phosphorus type  of person is a light-bringer in other ways. He or she is a very open  and extrovert person who makes you feel good in their presence. Often,  when they enter the room you have a sense that the light has been  switched on. No wonder that during homeopathic training, when everyone  is usually eager to find his or her own constitutional remedy, everyone  wants to be a “Phosphorus”! These individuals are very warm, sociable  and sympathetic and very sensitive to all impressions. They are often  quite artistic and imag­inative but can also be full of fears and  anxieties.I always find it fascinating how the richness of nature, contained  within our remedies, if matched to the richness of life within our  patients, can stimulate growth, health and wellbeing!

Andrea Wiessner T(GP)  MD MFHom RCST trained as a GP but has been practising homeopathy  full-time for nine years. She has been working at the Royal London  Homeopathic Hospital and in private practice.