A woman in her 40’s came to see me for treatment of Raynaud’s syndrome in February 2019, describing her symptoms thus:
It is an overreaction of the capillaries. They behave reactively, without fine control. Reactive, and fearful. It starts when it is cold, and stops when it is warmer. I get chilblains which deform my fingers, and itch and hurt. It is worse when I work outside.
I get fearful when it is cold. It’s a fear of survival. When the sap is rising, and energy changing, it is better. My Chi is slow. I need the heat, and the security it gives me.
Physiologically my body feels toned and tight. It won’t let anything through, or it lets it all through. It’s about boundary control – managing what goes in and out is not well tuned. I had to give myself lots of boundaries to keep myself safe. Restrictions to contain myself. I’m cold, and it doesn’t suit me, because I am a warm person. It distresses me – I am not cold, my heart is warm. It makes me want to cry. Sadness and discomfort. I can’t express the warmth and generosity in my character. I can’t receive, or give what I have.
I am very small and petite. I had an eating disorder when I was young. I was fearful of existing and taking up space. The body dysmorphia is gone. Part of me wishes I was big – big tits and arse. Instead I am tiny and cold. It gives me shame. I have a ghostly experience of myself. I am fascinated by footage of myself – that I am actually a person. In healing, I am getting coloured in. There is a sense of not being here. I make myself small. I do want to be here, to be seen and visible. I got into yoga, etc to give me a sense of my own physical presence.
I don’t breathe well. I breathe shallowly. I am not filling the space I occupy – I am just residing in a little corner of it.
Tell me what this is like? If I go to 5 Rhythms, I will dance in the corner. It is difficult to stride across the room. I’ll be trespassing, intruding, if I step out. Who do I think I am? Not welcome, not wanted. Not belonging. Not claiming a space, or having a right to it.
Not wanted? Dad was/is an alcoholic. His primary love is his work. Mum had her own stuff, mental health issues, she lived with chronic depression. She was not available. She couldn’t receive my energy and love. My gifts were not wanted. My voice too loud, my emotions too much. I was too much for her. A messy noisy ball of inconvenience. I grew up in France with an English family. I came here at 7 – but I wasn’t really English. A round peg in a square hole. I don’t quite belong in the place I’m living. Outside looking in.
I look at what I manifest – but I can’t quite claim it. I can’t be nourished by it, feed on it – I am still empty. I am not solid – not full and generous and corpulent. I have a wiry body – nothing to give, nowhere to receive anything. I want milk, oil, meat, fat, blood to compensate.
I am jumpy, like a coiled spring. I want to feel soft, yielding, spreading. I know I’m not naturally supple. My muscles want to contract.
What is your earliest memory? Being carried into a house in the rain. Feeling like a refugee, not a safe feeling.
Dreams? Weird abstract spatial nightmares. The corner of the room being over there, then here. Not knowing if it was near or far. Being chased in a big house. Having to join the baddies to be safe. Escape, and flying. I’ve learnt how to fly as I’ve grown up. Flying over the school gate and getting clothing caught. Helping my friends to fly. Flying was my gift. I could be myself. Expansive and full. Totally free. Totally myself.
Tell me more about safety? How am I going to survive the cold? Do I have enough resources to be warm and sheltered. Nowhere is safe. Everywhere will require resources. The cold is inescapable – a threat. More about this? Cold kills. A fundamental lack of resources. Panic. Debilitated. A sense of death, winter, no future. No growth. The fear is paralysing.
Where does this feeling take you back to? I always felt like that. I never had enough. I was 15 months younger than my sister – I can’t get what I need.
What is the best thing about belonging? Being able to flourish. Being welcomed. Like a plant – to grow and bloom. What is the experience of this? Like putting my bags down – not being in flight.
Not belonging means? Paranoia, fear, exhaustion. Longing to have what others are having. Being illegitimate – no rights. In the worst case? You won’t survive the night, if there is nowhere to close the door and be safe.
What do you enjoy most? People. When I am able to let them in, and let myself out. When I feel the warmth and nourishment.
More about what this is like? It is love [intense feeling here, and cries]. The only nourishment. Not feeling otherness. Just humanity and connectedness.
Personal history. Menses? Started periods at 16. I was told I had polycystic ovaries at 31. I had a great first pregnancy. With my second child, I wasn’t happy in the pregnancy, but there needed to be more of us, because we weren’t going to be a nuclear family. My periods have been healthiest since then. Now – and I was sad about this a few months ago – my periods are very light. They have always been fairly light. It fed into my feeling of not being full enough, rich enough – not enough blood. Not ready to dry up yet, not before I am properly full. I have not felt the rich abundant fullness enough yet to be able to let it go. A week before my period, I get tender breasts, with red, angry, hard swelling.
Regarding my hands, they are worse for brief cold. Both hands are affected. I am sensitive to everything. I really mind being in a car with the heating on. Breathing hot air is intolerable. I like warm weather, but with fresh air. I am sensitive to changes, and I like consistency in people too.
What about food? I love light food, such as Japanese. I like to feel fed but not full. I sometimes want to eat steak or red wine, nourishing things. Iron-like, with a weight to them. Not doughy things. What do you crave? Fish. I could eat a bucket of fish a day. Whole raw fishes, all day long!
I am easily confused and influenced. I get disorientated, like I don’t know who I am. Like I have lost my tether or my place in the world.
Analysis and remedy
The main theme in the case is one of nourishment. The other themes constellate around this key idea. Themes of belonging and being present (occupying space) relate to incarnating and being welcomed into the world. The opposite state to one of being ‘corpulent’ (ie fleshy and substantial – having ‘substance’) is of being ‘ghostly’ – not present in the world. It is interesting that she describes this sense of not being here as having ‘lost my tether’. She also equates belonging with growth: to ‘flourish, grow and bloom’.
There is a strong theme of survival also, which specifically relates to cold and winter, as distinct from ‘warmth’ and ‘generosity’. There is a feeling of being ‘tiny and cold’, and a strong fear of winter: ‘How am I going to survive the cold? Do I have enough resources to keep warm?’
These core elements – of nourishment, incarnation, belonging and growth, speak to the Matridonal remedies. This group of remedies are made from maternal sarcodes, including Placenta, Lac Humanum, Folliculinum, Vernix caseosa and Amniotic Fluid.
Lac humanum and Placenta speak to the theme of nourishment. In her work on the remedy Placenta, Melissa Assilem tells us: ‘Fear of not having enough is the traditional lesson of the psoric miasm. I see this theme in Placenta, but in a sort of pre-miasmatic form of psora. Not so much as fear but more as a knowing that there is not enough.’ The contrast in this case is between coldness, fragility, and losing one’s ‘tether’, and a striking corporeality described in fleshy terms: meat, fat, blood, corpulence. In addition, Placenta appears in the rubrics:
Extremities; COLDNESS, chilliness; fingers
Extremities; SWELLING; fingers
Extremities; NUMBNESS, insensibility; fingers
I gave Placenta 200c.
Follow up – June 2019
I am dreaming a lot. I hadn’t been dreaming at all before. This happened immediately after the remedy.
I could say I feel softer. Maybe softer and less fearful. I am weighing things up in my life, in terms of work. I don’t want to do too much.
Anything else? How I’m feeling today – I am feeling ‘in’ myself – inhabiting myself well and comfortably.
Dreams? A scary one. There was blood involved…. If I have a bad dream it is usually of this nature. I’m in danger. I knew I’d be able to get away – I fly and get away. I flew a lot as a child in my dreams. My dreams have been very meaty! A couple of erotic dreams.
How have your hands been? They have been fine [NB It is now June in UK so warmer weather generally]. I had to do some work when it was cold and wet. I got one tiny chilblain. I was fine otherwise – I would have expected a flare up. I then had chilblains a couple of weeks ago, for no reason. It hadn’t been cold. They came and went quickly. I wasn’t perturbed by it, and they didn’t make me feel unwell.
My last period – they had been getting lighter – I was sad about that. This one felt more satisfactory. The blood was rich. I love the cramp, it feels good, nourishing. I felt ‘in’ my period for longer. Previously, I felt cheated a bit, like I want my money back!
At the beginning I had a really stressful time, and had to ask for help. I had a bit of a meltdown. I am tired of being on my own, I felt unsupported and alone. I said it out loud – to my friends, to god – I felt better. After that, I have been more content, not feeling the lack.
There are constant challenges, and finding solutions for things. I am aware I am strong – a strong person, strong will. I believe more in myself. There is a question mark over work, and how I earn my money. How I position myself in terms of what I believe, and what I deserve. What do I do that leads more to healing?
I had a big row with my kids’ dad. It doesn’t happen often. He had been away – I get no support from him. I was letting off a lot of steam, expressing a lot. I said what I needed to say. I am disappointed when I lose my cool, it is not very graceful. I had a week of feeling and expressing, having to express. I don’t often express how I feel, but instead suck it up and crack on.
I have been feeling quite connected to people, not trying to do things by myself. I feel less alone. I am finding it easier to ask for help. I am not diminished by it. I’m less scared, more connected.
Update – July 2020
She has continued well to date, repeating the remedy once in March 2020. The Raynaud’s syndrome completely resolved and has not returned.
About the author:
Karen Leadbeater DSH, PCH, RSHom. Studied at The School of Homeopathy, and the Dynamis School for Advanced Homeopathic Studies with Jeremy Sherr. Karen has been in practice for 23 years, and is Registered with the Society of Homeopaths. Karen is a senior lecturer, tutor and clinical supervision assessor with the School of Homeopathy. Her first degree was in English Literature and Philosophy, and a love of language informs Karen’s homeopathy practice, reminding her of the uniqueness of our individual experience and how we express it. She runs a full time homeopathy practice – worldwide via Zoom, and locally in Tavistock, West Devon, UK. http://www.karenleadbeater.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0) 1822 870834 http://www.facebook.com/KarenLeadbeaterHomeopath