Case study of Joe, 6, with hyperactivity and behavioural problems
Diagnoses of hyperactivity or ADHD in children have risen in the past ten-twenty years. Some researchers explain this with the increased presence of artificial additives in our food, some with deficiencies of essential nutrients in our diet. Nutritional therapy therefore often helps to improve the condition. Besides behavioural therapies, conventional medicine offers drugs but these can often have unwanted side effects including weight gain and agitation. Symptoms of ADHD include impulsive behaviour, loss of concentration, some form of breakdown of social interaction (loss of friends or aggression in interactions).
Joe was first brought to me by his Mum to address his hyperactivity, extreme restlessness and difficult concentration. He was a shy and anxious boy, which showed in his habit of chewing on his clothes and fingers. He kept limited eye-contact. He was starting to have problems with concentration at school, which his teachers were concerned about. Physically, he had eczema on his fingers and was diagnosed asthmatic at age 2, for which he has been using an inhaler every day.
Joe’s parents first became concerned about his delayed speech/language development when Joe was 2 years old. Joe then had several ear infections before he was 3, which kept recurring. At around 3 years old he started to become over-active and had difficulty going to sleep.
Professional assessment confirmed speech/language developmental delay (he was 1 year behind expected), hyperactivity (problems sitting still, staying on task) and restless-impulsive behaviour.
Social interaction issues followed and Joe was now considered to be on the autism spectrum, although not considered fully autistic. ADHD was never formally diagnosed or treated but was always talked about. Joe appeared to have a mixture of mild autism spectrum and ADHD symptoms.
With the help of a speech therapist, Joe has made good progress in his language/speech skills, but his behavioural and social interaction problems remained and he still had difficulty making friends.
At the first appointment, having listened to his story, I decided to give Joe a remedy that is usually prescribed for shy and fragile-looking children with recurring ear infections, as well as stubborn children who don’t like their plans changed, as this is what stood out most about this boy’s behaviour. Children needing this remedy may present additionally with profuse sweating of the head at night and eczema specifically on the fingers.
At the next appointment 6 weeks later Joe stepped into the clinic, held out his hand for a handshake and looked me directly in the eye, smiling. This was a big improvement compared to last time. Mum was beaming with excitement and reported a big change in Joe’s behaviour since the remedy (Mum's own words in quotation marks):
"His eye contact is better, clearer. His sleep has improved. His anxious chewing decreased. It has become much easier to get him to sit down and concentrate on his reading every night - less battles". He even got a part in the school play as Tin man. “It was as if his behaviour got toned down, he was still the same boy but much better behaved, and everything’s more relaxed, calmer”. Joe also had a successful school ice-skating trip. Previously he was afraid to skate but “this time he went into middle of rink immediately and only cried afterwards – a release of emotion, I think”.
Mum also reported a nosebleed and a short-lived worsening of Joe’s eczema after the remedy, after which the fingers improved. Joe showed his fingers to me “look, they don’t hurt anymore”.
This was an all round excellent reaction to the remedy, common with children. Homeopaths judge a short and temporary worsening of symptoms, called an aggravation (as in Joe's eczema) as a positive sign that the body is working itself back to a healthier state before the condition began.
Discharges such as bleeding or nasal discharge are also considered a way of the body clearing out toxicity. The release of pent-up emotions in the form of ‘crying for no reason’ is a common reaction to the well-chosen remedy and patients feel released afterwards. Joe’s body and mind were healing. I decided to wait and not to prescribe anything this time as I judged that the original remedy was still acting.
1 month later Mum reported that Joe’s eczema was starting to get worse again, although this time it is only on the thumb of the right hand. He also started to chew his clothes again. Whilst he is crying less and is more assertive with his brother, he often gets angry: "as if his sadness has been replaced by anger"- said Mum.
Joe was moving in the right direction - in the naturapathic view, anger is healthier than sadness because it’s a more active, dynamic reaction - but the remedy seems to have run out of steam which is why his physical problems started to re-appear. N.b. observe how Joe's whole state is being considered and treated, mental and physical complaints alike. I decided to repeat the original remedy in a stronger dose.
2 weeks later Joe’s hand was totally clear of eczema, and mentally he was back to his calmer, more self-assured self. Unprompted, his teachers reported a positive change in his concentration and therefore his schoolwork.
We agreed that Joe was now ok and doesn't need any more consultations at this stage, but Mum would contact me if he got worse again.
In Joe’s case only one so-called constitutional remedy was necessary during his treatment, in repeated, increasingly stronger doses. This is common among reasonably healthy children who are still relatively close to their natural, healthy state. Adults usually require more remedies due to accumulated toxicity on both the physical level, such as after medical treatment (synthetic drugs and X-rays), vaccinations (eg. travel jabs), diet (additives, sweeteners), dental treatment (amalgam/heavy metals) as well as on an emotional level, which we commonly refer to as ‘our baggage’.
The remedy Joe was given is frequently used for stubborn children of slim build and recurring ear problems. Interestingly, it is also often used to detoxify the body from the negative side-effects of vaccinations. Although my prescribing strategy in this case wasn’t aimed specifically at vaccine detox, Joe might have benefited from it anyway because the children who need his remedy are often more vulnerable to the side-effects of childhood jabs. In addition, Joe’s problems started at approximately at age 2, having finished his vaccination programme at 18 months consisting of approximately 25 jabs since he was born, and he had repeated ear infections after that age, which homeopaths like Smits below consider to be a potential sign of post vaccination syndrome.
Note: not all children react adversely to vaccinations and the link between childhood jabs and childhood neurological conditions such as ADHD and autism has not been proven. However, in the instance that there is a link in certain sensitive individuals, homeopaths have the tools to deal with the consequences in the form of vaccine-detox programmes i.e. the original vaccinations given back to the child highly diluted, in globule form, as homeopathic preparations. This vaccine detox technique is widely known and used among homeopaths and originates from the late Dr Tinus Smits, Dutch homeopath and doctor, who treated 300 cases of autistic children with outstanding results of 60-100% cure. Many homeopaths follow his programme today. Had Joe not responded well to the remedy given, I would have considered a vaccine detox programme next.
Joe had a period of worsening symptoms immediately following his grandmother’s death, whom he was very close to. At this time the family were at home in the USA. Via skype, I suggested a remedy commonly prescribed in situations of acute grief. Joe has responded well and his complaints eased again.
Homeopaths always investigate the possible triggering factors called aetiologies of the disease when selecting a remedy. This time, Joe's complaints worsened as a result of grief, so I gave him a remedy strongly used for this aetiology instead of his usual personal remedy.
At this point I moved from Moscow following my husband’s work and had to close my clinic there. However, I have kept in touch with Mum and Joe has been doing well.
Homeopaths often suggest supplementary remedies that work well with homeopathic remedies, such as herbal tinctures or nutritional supplements. Cases where individualised nutritional help is required are referred to a nutritionist. In this case Joe’s Mum was already supplementing Joe’s diet with Omega essential oils, a good all-round tonic for the nervous system, and the homeopathic treatment worked well enough that other advice was not needed.
Homeopaths also have a range of prescribing strategies to choose from and it is not always evident at the start which one will be successful. They start with the one most likely to shift the patient’s condition based on the information they’ve been given and work from there. One strategy usually works when others fail.
This case study has been published with the kind permission of Joe’s parents. For the purposes of anonymity, names have been changed.
If you have a child with a similar chronic condition and you would like to discuss his/her case, contact me.