Judy had been diagnosed with a thyroid problem a year ago. “Your
thyroid is enlarged, with nodules,” her endocrinologist told her, and
prescribed synthroid. Now the nodules were smaller and her thyroid less
enlarged, but it worried her. She didn’t want to take thyroid medication for
the rest of her life.
She also had a past history of fibroids and Thallasemia minor and occasional
heart palpitations. Judy felt really hot during her sleep; otherwise she was
chilly(2), especially when she dealt with her emotions.
As she spoke about her condition, Judy seemed anxious and nervous. She sat on
the edge of her seat looking tense. An attractive woman with dark hair, her
large brown eyes darted around the room, as if to look for hidden danger.
“Doctors terrify me!”, she said. When she was six years old she had a growth
removed from her leg. In the hospital she felt horribly abandoned. When her
mother had left for the night, she cried loudly and a nurse slapped her instead
of comforting her. It shocked her deeply and led to a deep distrust of doctors,
nurses and medical settings (3).
Judy suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder for the past five years. She
had a terrible fear of germs (3) at the doctor or dentists office. To make
things worse, the psychiatrist who treated her for the obsessive-compulsive
disorder was verbally abusive to her. Her trust of doctors had disappeared
completely(3), but she felt she had to take their advice because they knew more
about her problems than she did.
Judy moved to Seattle from a small city in Montana while she was pregnant.
Seattle was overwhelming and terrifying to her, especially driving around in
unfamiliar places. She gradually got used to it and could now drive freely.
Weight had been an issue for Judy since she was 14. Her desire for sex
fluctuated with her body image, and she had a mild eating disorder. Her mother
was 100 pound overweight. Judy had a critical voice inside which said she could
only be loved if she was perfect. She had to give up who she was in order to be
loved, and to be perfect for her father, who would always tell her that things
were her fault. He was angry, verbally abusive and intensely critical. She
could never say how she felt around him because he would ridicule her and tell
her she was too serious. Anger was terrifying in her house and now she turned
anger into anxiety. Her inner voice said things like “I’m unloveable” and “I’m
not good enough”. She was the appeaser for her father, who would rant and rave
and throw things when he was angry.
Her father was also obsessive-compulsive and used to wash his hands over and
over. At the height of her own compulsive behavior Judy also had a handwashing
compulsion (2) and checked over and over to see if she had done things like
locking the door and turning off the stove (3). The sight of blood was very
disturbing to her (2) and she had a terrible fear of germs (3). The ideas of
having her blood drawn in a doctor’s office, with the possibility being
contaminated by a needle was almost more than she could bear. As a school
teacher, she worried about a child having a bloody nose.
Judy feared not being careful enough. Being responsible for twentyfour
children in school was frightening for her. She recently saw a used condom
while walking at the lake with her daughter. It made her feel she couldn’t be
too careful. She thought, “what if my daughter picked it up and died?.” When
she was pregnant she feared she would hurt her baby with a knife. She worried
now about hidden asbestos in her house during remodeling. She thought, “It’s my
fault, we are all going to get sick because I didn’t do it correctly.”
A teenager broke into her house in Montana with a rifle one night while she
was in bed, and attempted rape. She fought and disarmed him, but was deeply
shaken by the assault. She felt the world wasn’t safe after that. She still
woke between 2 and 4 A.M. and had trouble getting back to sleep.
When she pressed charges, Judy was shunned in her small town , causing her to
move to the city. She had always lived her life by her family’s standards and
didn’t know what she was capable of doing until she moved away.
Judy desired bread (2), potatoes (2) and chocolate(1).
Now analyze the case and decide what remedy fits Judy’s symptoms the best.
Turn to page ____ for follow-up and discussion.
The remedy for Judy’s case was not immediately obvious. Strong
consideration was given to Arsenicum, Alumina and Syphilinum. It
was clear that Judy needed a remedy with a strong focus on obsessive compulsive
behaviors. Syphilinum is a remedy which has a strong fear of contagion
and germs, which often leads to compulsive handwashing. Arsenicum is
very fastidious, has strong anxiety about health and has insomnia after
midnight. Alumina has loss of personal identity and fears and impulses
to hurt themselves or others upon seeing a knife or blood, as well as a desire
for starch and potatoes. The remedy that we chose, however, was Iodum.
It was the presenting complaint of thyroid problems that first drew our
attention to the remedy Iodum. Iodum is the element iodine. As a
necessary element in the diet for the prevention of goitre and hypothyroidism,
iodine is needed for the manufacture of the thyroid hormone, thyroxine. It
forms an integral part of the precursor for this hormone, triiodothyronine.
Thyroid hormone is necessary for the regulation of metabolism throughout the
body. A deficiency of thyroxine (hypothyroidism) slows metabolism, causing
weight gain, hair loss and dryness, while an excess causes hyperthyroidism,
with increased metabolism, heat, anxiety, protrusion of the eyeballs,
restlessness. palpitations and hunger.
These symptoms of hyperthyroidism are the very symptoms typically found in the
homeopathic picture of Iodum, and the remedy has very successfully
treated many cases of Grave’s disease, and other forms of hyperthyroidism. It
may also be used, however, in hypothyroid or euthyroid states if other
characteristic symptoms are present, showing the polarity which often exists in
James Tyler Kent describes the Iodum mental state as characterized by
“… excitement, anxiety, impulses, melancholy; he wants to do something, wants
to hurry; he has impulses to kill. The impulse to do violence is sudden.” The
impulse to run is very strong for Iodum patients, as well as the sudden
impulse to kill. Iodum may suddenly feel the urge to kill someone, or
even himself, without really knowing why. There is a driven quality to
Iodum, as though the person has too much energy, and the energy is
expressed as impulsive behavior.
According to proving symptoms collected by Rajan Sankaran, reported in his
book The Substance of Homeopathy, Iodum has an inner feeling of sudden
intense danger which needs urgent action to deal with it. There is also a
“…feeling like that of being starved by one’s own parents, with a tremendous
sense of betrayal, shock and disappointment.” This is a feeling of being
betrayed, let down or hurt by those on whom you depend, demanding urgent, even
violent action in response.
Iodum has many fears. They have fears of death, insanity, accidents,
misfortunes, evil, and water. They can have the delusion that they are sick,
but they fear doctors, and like Arnica patients, may claim that they are
well. They fear something will happen and imagine the worst.
They always feel as if they have forgotten something, and so they repeatedly
check things like the stove or door locks to make sure they are okay. They
leave their purchases on the store counter, and forget what they were about to
say and do.
Although the driven, hurried quality was not so strong for Judy
as it is in many Iodum patients, she did have the extreme fear of
doctors. She worried about everything, and especially felt like she had to
check things to make sure she had not made a mistake for which she would be
blamed. The feeling of the need for urgent action in the face of sudden danger
that Sankaran describes was the feeling Judy had when she saw the attacker
enter her house and try to rape her. She took action and survived.
Food plays a big role in the life of Iodums. The classic Iodum
state is one of great hunger with emaciation. For Judy it was the feeling that
she had to be thin. Her desire to be thin may have been a reaction to her
mother’s obesity. She also felt betrayed by her father, who always expected her
to be perfect and never let her be herself.
People with eating disorders commonly have other obsessive and compulsive
behaviors as well.
Although Judy was not hyperthyroid, she had many of the mental features of the
Iodum state and the remedy worked very well, as we shall see.
When Judy returned after six weeks, she was feeling quite well. She was
sleeping much better. She was only occasionally hot during sleep now. Her
thyroid was normal sized and free from palpable nodules. She said her period
seemed more normal, not as light. She felt neither chilly or too warm.
She felt comfortable coming to the doctor’s office now, something which had
terrified her on her first visit. She seemed relaxed and calm. She said her day
to day feelings were more serene.
Her major emotional issues were coming up. She was becoming less critical of
herself. She was working on her issues about body image and learning more about
her eating and relationship to food. She realized that she had felt
self-disgust for liking sex in the past, but it felt okay now. An ache in her
hip joints went away with that realization. Judy was more in touch with her
feelings. She was playing more, feeling more connected and letting go more
She no longer had any obsessive thoughts or excessive fears. Blood did not
bother her nearly as much, and she was able to have her blood drawn for testing
with only a little nervousness. She had less desire for chocolate, but still a
strong craving for potatoes (2).
Judy returned six weeks later. Her health was fine. She said she needed to
live by the ocean, after traveling to Maine for two weeks.
She was reading a book about anger and abandonment. She realized her strong
feeling of abandonment as a child, and the unfairness of her parents in
requiring her to be the perfect child.
She wasn’t so concerned about germs. She was able to go to the dentist with
only a little anxiety about contamination. She was sleeping through the night
mostly, though she was aware of some jaw clenching when she woke up.
She looked at food now and asked herself, “What does my body really want?” She
desired salads (1), apricots, fruit (2), and coffee. She felt less jittery
since stopping coffee.
Judy has continued to do well on one dose of Iodum. Her obsessiveness
is gone and she finally feels that she is integrating the negative experiences
of her childhood and her assault. She is living life more freely and with much
less guilt, knowing that it is okay to be herself.
Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman and Robert Ullman are board certified diplomates
of the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians. They are President and
Vice-President, respectively, of the International Foundation for Homeopathy
(IFH) and teach in the IFH Professional Course Levels I and II. They practice
at the Northwest Center for Homeopathic Medicine in Edmonds, WA. They can be
reached at 131 3rd Ave., N., Edmonds, WA 98020. (206) 774-5599. Their new book,
The Patient’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicine, is now available from
Picnic Point Press, (206) 233-1155.