A Teenager on the Go Go Go
Sixteen-year-old Sherrie was referred to us by her family practice physician because of a five-year history of ADD. She had been on Ritalin since the sixth grade. In kindergarten Sherrie was sent out of the classroom for talking too much. An aunt and a cousin on both sides of the family had also been diagnosed as hyperactive. Her father and maternal aunt suffered from manic depression. Without her Ritalin, she was unable to focus. Easily distracted by noise or movement, Sherrie found it very difficult to concentrate while taking tests. Paying attention in conversation was also a challenge. Sherrie complained of talking without listening and often found herself staring off into space in mid-sentence. No matter how much she told herself to be quiet, she blurted out her thoughts or feelings anyway. It was embarrassing at times, though much of the time she had little, if any, awareness of how she affected other people. Sherrie was used to her friends asking her to be quiet. She had a reputation among her friends of acting immaturely and of being the last one to catch on to a joke. While driving, she often daydreamed. She would become confused when she saw a car in another lane, as if she did not
believe she was seeing it.
Sherrie was very antsy, always fidgeting and fiddling. Clicking her nails against her teeth and tapping her fingers was a perpetual occupation. Sherrie’s poking, hugging, and pulling at other people was a constant annoyance to them, but she could not keep her hands to herself. Sherrie was always moving some part of her body. She would skip down the hall to release her pent-up energy. Without having a way to let it out, she felt that she would scream. “The energy is trapped inside of me and has to be pushed out. It’s all out of control,” she explained.
Ritalin gave Sherrie hives and made her feel like she did not know herself. Her habit of being “a major procrastinator” was not affected by the Ritalin. With or without medication, she asked lots of “dumb questions” even though she maintained a 3.8 grade-point average.
Sherrie had a passion for pickles. She ate them straight from the jar. She also liked to suck on ice. Her fingers and toes became extremely cold when she skied.
Sherrie’s defining features were her extreme restlessness and ceaseless activity. We gave her Veratrum album, mentioned earlier in Jill’s case of adult ADD. Again notice the strong desire for sour foods. These people are generally good-natured and helpful but overexuberant. Their energy oozes out around the edges. As is frequently the case in treating children, we gave Sherrie a single dose of the medicine and asked her to return in five weeks.
When we saw her again, she was very happy with her progress. She had informed her psychiatrist that she wanted to discontinue the Ritalin before taking the homeopathic medicine. When she came for her followup visit, Sherrie found our parking lot without directions, something she could normally do only with the help of Ritalin. Her grades were better, in contrast to her previous efforts to discontinue Ritalin, when her grades plummeted to all F’s.
Her parents also reported that Sherrie’s behavior had drastically improved. She no longer stared blankly. Her friends told her that she “wasn’t as crazy” as she used to be. No longer antsy, she felt a lot more controlled. The urge to poke, hug, and pull at other people had stopped plaguing her. Sherrie’s leg no longer moved restlessly, nor was she clicking her nails against her teeth. Sherrie remarked that she was not as depressed as she had been, although she had not actually described herself that way previously.
Sherrie now had “a real appetite” instead of sporadic urges. She no longer experienced “that special taste for pickles.” Sherrie needed two doses of the
Veratrum over the next year and a half, then discontinued treatment because she felt well. She did not resume taking Ritalin. As her treatment progressed, Sherrie was able to notice whenever she felt even a little hyperactive and could stop it by telling herself to relax. Before beginning homeopathic treatment, Sherrie had been unable to notice or control her behavior patterns. Now she became fidgety only once in a while instead of all the time. When her voice became loud, she quieted down, which was also impossible in the past. “It’s like somebody opened the curtains and let me see.”
The Dijeridu Kid from Down Under
Angela’s mother brought her to see us when she was twenty-two months old. The Australian family was visiting the United States during Angela’s father’s didgeridoo concert tour. The didgeridoo is a rhythmic Aboriginal instrument. Angela had a red rash on her face. She had not gotten one good night’s sleep (nor had her parents!) since birth. When her mother weaned her at seven months, Angela refused cow’s milk. Angela had a pattern of waking in the middle of the night crying, distressed, and disoriented. Her parents tried to soothe her despair by letting her sleep with them; otherwise she woke repeatedly crying for her mother. She fought for hours against going to sleep. Her mother described her as being “in a frenzy every night.” Angela’s exhausted parents had even resorted unsuccessfully to giving their little darling sleeping pills.
Angela was extremely willful. It was extremely nerve wracking to travel with her, which was a conflict with her father’s entertainment career. Angela screamed at the top of her lungs during most of our interview with her. She became inconsolable. Even when her mother offered her a bottle of her favorite juice, she refused. She had the habit of throwing herself on the floor when unhappy.
Angela loved people. She was a very lively baby and did not want to nap. She lived in a busy household where friends and family members were always coming and going. She had walked at nine months and ran at ten. She climbed fearlessly on anything within her reach. She loved playing with animals and putting on her mother’s lipstick. When we inquired about Angela’s musical affinity, her mother told us that as soon as the music came on, Angela squirmed and danced. Even at her very young age, she sat at the piano bench and tried to bang on the keys. She loved to play her father’s guitar when he held her on his knee. Family friends often commented on the child’s rhythmical talents.
Angela had been diagnosed with an unusual skin condition called dermatomyositis, which showed up as purplish, red, scarred areas on her fingers resembling tiny splinters.
We gave Angela one dose of homeopathic Tarentula. This medicine, made from the Spanish spider, is for overactive children who are extremely lively, love to be the center of attention, climb like little spiders, and love dancing and rhythmic music. They can have tantrums and fits and often have a mischievous, manipulative quality. It is understandable that Angela, raised in an environment of music and dance, needed this lively medicine. A well respected Italian homeopathic physician, Massimo Mangialavori, recounts a story of a small southern village in
Tarentula hispanica (tarantula spider)
Tarentula children have rhythm. Their active, climbing, jumping restlessness mimics animal behavior. They love music and rhythmic activities like dancing, tapping, or drumming, and it soothes them. Cunning and mischievous, they play tricks on their parents and other children, tell lies, and love to hide. They are very hurried and impatient. Often destructive, they have to be watched very closely, as they are capable of breaking anything they get their hands on. They are very impulsive and distractible. Twitching and jerking of the muscles is a common symptom. They are often attracted to bright colors.
Italy near the seaport of Tarent. A group of girls in the village suffered from a hysterical type of insanity which was only relieved when they danced in a type of frenzy and cut with knives or swords.3 Although it did not come up in Angela’s case, many children needing Tarentula do have an urge to wildly
cut clothing and other things during their rages.
Angela’s mother called from Australia five weeks after she took the medicine. Angela had no further tantrums or extreme moodiness; “just the odd two-yearold stuff.” Her mother had no complaints about Angela’s behavior compared to before she took the Tarentula. Now she was much more easily managed when she became upset. She jumped up and down occasionally when her mother said no, but would settle down. Angela was much more easily entertained. It was much easier for her to sit in a car, which had been a major problem previously. Her teeth grinding, which her mother forgot to mention in the first interview, was 90 percent improved. The redness and scarring on her hands were also better. Angela’s mother added that prior to the homeopathy, her daughter was forever tapping, teasing, and getting into mischief. These behaviors had also improved. “Looks like Miss Spider’s working,” her mother exclaimed.
Angela needed one more dose of the Tarentula five months later because some of her symptoms had returned, though to a much lesser degree than before the homeopathic treatment. Angela’s dermatologist was quite surprised that the redness and inflammation of her fingers had improved significantly.
3 Pelt, M., “Spiders in Nature and Homeopathy: Mangialavore in Wageningen, Autumn 1993 and 1994,” Homeopathic Links, 8(3), 1995, p. 45-46.
The Little Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still
Six-year-old Sumi was a very cute little girl with honeycolored hair, green eyes, and gold skin. Her striking features resulted from her Japanese and Northern European heritage. We first interviewed Sumi and her family at a poolside table at a California hotel where we were speaking at a conference on homeopathy. What was most notable about Sumi was that she could not sit still for more than five minutes. She ran around the table, became easily distracted by the children in the swimming pool, or whispered something into her mother’s ear. It seemed literally impossible for her to stay in one place.
Sumi was calm and sweet when she was an infant. She had suffered from ear infections, debilitating diarrhea, profuse perspiration, and lethargy. Sumi’s speech was delayed. Her mother sought out homeopathic treatment for her now because of her restlessness. Sumi kissed, poked, prodded, and pulled. She was very affectionate. She blurted things out loudly. School was a struggle because of her difficulty concentrating, following directions, and staying at her desk. She wandered around and was always busy. Her verbal skills lagged far behind the other children at her grade level. It was particularly hard for her to remember words.
This sweet child seemed to lack any awareness of how her behavior affected others. She often came on too strongly, but did not realize it. She bit her nails down to the quick and even nibbled her toenails. Sumi loved cucumbers and liked to chew on ice.
Sumi may sound very similar to Sherrie and Jill, because of her relentless motion. They all needed the same medicine, Veratrum album. We first treated Sumi two and a half years ago. She is literally a different child now. Just weeks after starting homeopathy, Sumi began making excellent progress with her speech. She spent less time searching for words and her focus was greatly improved. She did not stumble or rush so much. Before she could only color one page at a time in a coloring book; within three weeks of taking the Veratrum, she was completing eight pages.
Over time, Sumi’s progress continued. Her nailbiting diminished. She no longer kissed all the time. Her actions became more purposeful and centered and she became more aware of her impact on others. Sumi’s teachers no longer complained about her disruptive behavior. Rather than the word-salad she used to communicate previously, now she could connect phrases and her vocabulary was growing. She remembered the names of her classmates whereas before she had been oblivious to such details. Sumi’s parents were pleasantly surprised that she could handle kindergarten so well. During the next year, she grew five inches. Growth spurts often occur soon after a child takes a homeopathic medicine.
One curious aspect of homeopathic treatment is what is called a return of old symptoms. This means that a particular symptom that an individual had in the past may briefly reappear in the process of healing. This occurred with Sumi. She briefly developed a small swelling in her breast just as she did at two months of age when she developed a breast bud. Her mother reported that it was at this time that her health problems originally began. During the course of homeopathic treatment, Sumi also broke out once in large blisters on her right ribs and back. They looked a lot like shingles. Sumi’s mother had had herpes during her pregnancy. Both of these skin eruptions might seem like coincidence to the average person, but to the homeopath they are recognizable as a return of old symptoms, which is often necessary for deep and lasting healing.