Parents on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown:Treating Irritability in Children

Many children have nightmares. Some children are
nightmares. At least for a few years. Of course, their parents love them. But
these children tease, hit, kick, scream, defy, torture the family pets, and
provide a constant challenge to their parents’ patience. Some of these
parents, in desperation, find themselves in the office of a homeopath.
Homeopathy is often of great service to these contrary children and provides
much needed relief to their battle weary parents. So it was with these two

Case l: Alan

Alan was five and had sandy blonde hair, a freckled face, and a
generally mischievous look. His mother was at her wit’s end. She hoped that
homeopathy could solve his behavior problems. She described her son as
disobedient (3). He didn’t like to listen (3). Alan’s parents had tried many
different parenting techniques to no avail. He balked (3) no matter what
approach they tried. It took him 30 to 45 minutes to get dressed. He would
stop, then start, then ask questions. There was no getting through to him. He
could not focus (3). If Alan’s parents said “no, you can’t”, he would “lose it”
and become hysterical (3). He screamed (3), cried (3), and threw things (3). He
was very stubborn (3), “He could go from black to white in a matter of seconds.
Something snaps.”

Alan engaged in slugging matches with his mother. He yelled at her “in a
cursing tone but without the four letter words”. He threw tantrums in public
(3) during which he would push his mother and assert that he was not afraid of
her. He told her loudly and repeatedly that she was “a mean, bad mommy”. It
embarrassed her terribly. Alan was defiant (3). He pushed and hit others, but
when they did the same to him, he’d complain “It’s not fair”. He got along
better with other kids when he was in charge. He liked to wrestle and play

Alan had a fixaton on violence (2) and weapons (2). He had no fears.

He was terrible with animals (2). His parents had to tell him ten times a day
to leave the cat and dog alone. He liked to be “on the go”. He had an
incredible memory and vocabulary and a very quick mind, which he used to his
advantage. He was very interested in tools and mechanical things. Alan was bold
(2) and liked to climb up high.

He could be very talkative (3) for hours on end and loved to play “Guess
what?” forever. Loud noises really bothered him (2). He was lanky, strong, and
the height of a six and a half year old. He had grown a lot over the past four
months and was complaining of his bones aching (1).

Alan’s mother had a good pregnancy, nursed him until he was 19 months, and did
not introduce dairy into his diet until10 months. He walked at 11 months and
talked at 18 months. He developed a severe otitis media at ten months following
a DPT immunization.

He had a habit of grinding his teeth at night (3) so loudly that he awakened
his parents in the next room. His sleep was restless (2). He flailed his arms
and legs and awakened “upside down”. He salivated (3) constantly since birth.
He habitually lapped his tongue (3), resulting in scabs below his lips. He
picked his nose a lot (2 and had a lot of gas (2).

When asked about pruritis, his mother confirmed that he did have periods of
intense anal itching but was never tested for pinworms. Alan had warts on his
left sole under the big toe (2) which were starting to be painful.

Alan loved noodles (3), bread and butter (2), sweets (3), and salt (2), which
he sometimes licked off his hand. His appetite was huge (3) recently. He
complained of being “hungry to death”.

Case 2: Brent

Brent was a homeopathy baby. What we mean by this is that his mother
became pregnant with him shortly after being given Lycopodium for her
endometriosis-related infertility. She first brought Brent to see us when he
was ten months old. His chief complaint was otitis media and recurrent colds.
At four months he took a trip to Connecticut with his parents. Since that time
he suffered from cold after cold. A month before we first saw him, he was
treated with Amoxycillin for otitis. He was unresponsive to treatment and was
subsequently given Sulfa for two weeks, which resulted in a rash.

Brent was born with a right-sided bronchial cleft cyst (2).He was circumcised
when he was one day old. He had received all of his immunizations. There was no
family history of cancer, gonorrhea, or TB. Brent’s mother’s was still
breastfeeding him four times a day at the time of his first visit. The otitis
developed immediately after they fed him cheese. He had received an HIB
immunization the day before, which produced a welt. He was at the 50th
percentile of height and weight levels He had a huge head. Brent was late to
teethe and slow to walk.

Brent’s otitis was bilateral. He yawned for two days, then developed a 102
degrees F fever three days later. He became irritable and fussy. He wanted to
be carried all the time or he cried. During the otits, he was generally more
easily frustrated. He started drooling at nine months and continued to do so
during the otitis. The otitis was resolved by the time she brought Brent to see
us, however she wanted him to be treated homeopathically to prevent future
episodes and to help his behavioral problems.

Brent became moody (2), screamed (2), and was very contrary (2). He stopped
crying when his mother carried him (2). Some days he would experience five to
ten little screaming fits a day. His mother first noticed this tendency at two
months and it became progressively worse over the past two months. He had
little patience (1). He didn’t like to be alone (2) and cried when strangers
came too close (2).

He was a picky eater. He liked apple sauce (2), cheese (3), and salty foods
(2). He was not very thirsty nor was he a particularly enthusiastic nurser. He
slept fourteen hours a day, lying on his abdomen or side.

Now, study both of these cases, then turn to page ___ for the case


We gave Alan one dose of Cina 200C. Cina (Worm-seed) is
a well-known homeopathic remedy for children who are cross, contrary, and
disobedient. It is said that these children have the most difficult behavior or
any child except those needing Stramonium. Stramonium children
are even more violent and malicious. Boericke describes Cina children as
having an “abnormal consciousness, as if having committed some evil deed”. They
are capricious and like to be rocked and carried, as does Chamomilla.
Cina is often associated with pinworms, causing anal itching. Children
needing Cina often grind their teeth, have ravenous appetites and
sometimes large bellies, and may have seizures. These children also bore their
fingers into their noses and ears to relieve the itching. They desire sweets.
Cina children can salivate, but not as prominently as those needing

At his next appointment six and a half weeks later, the warts on the bottom of
his foot were completely gone. Alan’s mother considered the disappearance of
the warts “amazing in itself”. His teeth grinding was much reduced. His mother
described now him as “your normal average kid”. There were no more slugging
matches or temper tantrums. He was less defiant. He had heavy deep breathing
when he didn’t get his way, but no longer said he had a bad mommy. The
salivation was much better and the nose picking improved by 80%. He went
through a really hungry period for about one week after the remedy during which
his appetite could not be satisfied. He was no longer fixated on violence. He
was not complaining of bone aching. He had no gas. He still talked loudly (2).
He experienced anal itching only twice.

Two months later, when Alan’s mother brought him in, “he was doing terrific.
As perfect as a boy can be.” The warts were still gone. The teeth grinding was
slight. His attitude had improved considerably. He had occasional temper
tantrums, but nothing compared to before. He was not as rebellious and defiant.
There was no salivation. The nose picking was occasional. He had a much better
relationship with his dog and the other farm animals. He no longer had problems
with sensitivity to noise, even hearing the chain saw. His appetite was strong
and he had begun to try a lot of new foods. He had no bone aching, though he
did experience it briefly. There was no anal itching. He had gas and diarrhea
every once in a while.

Now, five and a half months later, Alan continues to do “great” and has not
needed a repetition of the Cina.


We gave Brent Chamomilla 200C in a single dose.
Chamomilla is the first remedy to consider for fussy, contrary children
whose crying and irritability is relieved by being carried. It is an important
remedy for otitis which occurs during teething. Chamomilla children
become easily frustrated and tend to be whiny, complaining, and restless. They
are characteristically thirsty, which was not true of Brent. During a fever,
they may have one cold, pale cheek and the other hot and red.

and Cina often present very similarly regarding irritability and
contrariness. Chamomilla is more prominent for teething and otitis. Also
typical of Chamomilla is green diarrhea.

Brent’s mother wrote us one week later to say he was doing much better. He was
extremely irritable for two days after taking the remedy, but improved steadily
since. She mentioned a few things that she had forgotten to tell me. He had
milia on his nose from birth to 6 months. He suffered from periodic diaper
rashes in which his buttocks appeared chapped. He also had occasional,
transient bright red rashes on is back and upper arms.

Four and a half weeks after the remedy his mother called to report that she
had “gotten her baby back”. Brent’s behavior was much improved.

He had no more otitis. He had a runny nose which he had caught from another
baby. He had decreased his nursing to only twice a day. We waited. One month
later, his mother called to say his symptoms were returning, so we repeated
Chamomilla 200C. This effect of this dose lasted only briefly. Two and a
half weeks later, his mother called to say he was pulling on his ears, fussy,
and teething. We sent another dose of Chamomilla 200C to take and a
dose of Chamomilla 1M in case the 200C didn’t act.

Brent did not respond to the Chamomilla 200C, but the 1M potency
worked well. We did not see him again until nine months later. He was now 22
months old. We immediately noticed that he had a kind of tough guy look on his
face, kind of like someone owed him a favor. His mother reported that he had a
couple of bouts of otitis over the past year for which she had sought
allopathic treatment. She felt that she had gotten “off the track” of treating
him homeopathically and wanted now to get back on course.

He was very irritable (3). “A tough child”. (3) He overreacted to things (3).
If he was playing with other children and another child touched him, he’d whine
(2) and cry (2). If he didn’t get his way, he’d cry (3), writhe on the ground
(3), and throw a temper tantrum (3). This could happen up to seven times a day,
but usually twice. He had an overall “Don’t mess with me!” attitude (3). Brent
became angry whenever he lost control (2). When outraged, he would yell “My
turn, my turn!” The night before, when his mother tried to brush his teeth, he
“went berserk”.

He had to do things his own way (3) and was very obstinate (3).

When reprimanded or sad, he would repeat his name over and over again (2). He
wept from anger or frustration (2). His parents tried to set limits, but his
outbursts were so strong that the attempts were unsuccessful. He had very
little patience (3). He repeated his requests many times (3). He became easily
frustrated, like when he tried to put together a puzzle, and gave up.

He thrashed when angry (3) and did not want consolation (2). They only thing
which would stop his crying was to give him what he wanted. He loved to sit in
the rocking chair when his mother put on his shoes.

He had a recent bout of otitis media when his most recent teeth came in. He
was teething very slowly (3). He still had ten teeth to go. His height and
weight were now at the 20th percentile and his head size was 90%.

Brent now desired cookies (3), apples (3), cheese (3), scrambled eggs (2) and
juice (2). He was a thirsty child (2). We gave him another dose of
Chamomilla 1M.

He had a good response to the remedy. Within four days his mucus and
irritability were 90% better. The following week his appetite increased, he was
more independent, and played more creatively. He continued to do well until
three weeks later when he was exposed to eucalyptus. Several days later his
runny nose and irritability returned.

He was again very sensitive to being touched (3) and was “whining big time”
(3). If he didn’t get what he wanted in an instant, he yelled loudly.

His was oversensitive (3) and easily upset by the slightest thing (3). He was
given Chamomilla 10M.

Brent’s temperament again evened out. He was still uncomfortable with other
kids getting too close, but no longer screamed at them if they brushed against
him. All the rest of his teeth came in. He only whined when tired. He now
exploded quickly, then was fine. He needed another dose of Chamomilla
10M five months later after an exposure to menthol.

Both of these children were enough to drive their parents to despair, yet
relatively sweet and manageable after homeopathic treatment. Their temperaments
were quite similar in many ways. They represent clear remedy pictures of
Cina and Chamomilla, two remedies to consider for very irritable
children. Other remedies to strongly consider in such cases are
Stramonium, Nux vomica, Tuberculinum, and

Dr. Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman and Dr. Robert Ullman are licensed
naturopathic physicians and are board certified in homeopathy. They are
President and Vice President of the International Foundation for Homeopathy
where they teach homeopathy to licensed health care professionals. They
practice in Edmonds, WA at 131 3rd Ave., N., Edmonds, WA 98020 and can be
reached at (206) 774-5599. Their new book, The Patient’s Guide to Homeopathic
Medicine, is now available.

Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman ND MSW Written by Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman ND MSW

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