Case Of Angela

Words: Dr Julian JONAS

Angela was a bubbly, sensitive and anxious eight-year-old whose parents first sought out homeopathic treatment for her about a year ago. A half-year earlier, she suddenly developed a throat clearing tic one evening while attending a children’s theatre programme. Over the next month, other tics, like eye blinking, mouth movements, high-pitched screams and various arm movements appeared.

These were followed by a disturbing loss of impulse control and hypersensitivity to external stimuli. She began to blurt out, “Fire! Just kidding,” or  “I hate you Mom. Just kidding,” or any number of peculiar things followed by some form of apology, or regret.  Loud noises and crowds made her anxious; clothing didn’t feel right. It was easy for her to become angry and there were a few episodes of inconsolable rage. Her mother described ‘how’ Angela’s eyes would glass over and she would emit a scream ‘from the depth of her being.’

Normal interactions with others became increasingly difficult.  Any comment from her parents would be interpreted as criticism. She felt that her friends were all being mean to her and she had no capacity whatsoever to deal with normal encounters with other children. Her anxiety about being alone and going out increased to the extent that she stopped going to school.

Initially, blood work and strep swabs were negative, but when Angela developed what appeared to be a yeast infection with itchy discharge, multiple cultures indicated a ‘heavy incidence of Group A strep.’  Her symptoms, history and tests left little doubt that she was suffering from Paediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome [PANS]/Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections [PANDAS].

Over the course of the next year, Angela was put on a series of antibiotics, although her parents rejected the suggestion of anti-depressants.  She also began supplementation recommended by a chiropractor and her parents instituted a rigorous diet that eliminated dairy, sugar and preservatives.

Angela did show signs of improvement, but often it was only temporary. She was prone to flare-ups and complete relapses as well.  At the time of our initial appointment, she still was exhibiting tics, impulsive behaviour, and physical as well as emotional hypersensitivity. Angela was also still on the antibiotics. Her parents were worried about the effects of stopping them, but equally concerned about the long-term consequences of antibiotic treatment.

Due to the continued antibiotic use, Angela was prescribed a homeopathic remedy, on a daily basis.  Overall, she has shown great improvement over the year of treatment. At the last follow-up appointment, her mother described how Angela was really ‘acting like her old-self’ and that the ‘wildness in her eyes’ was gone.

This progress has not been without setbacks — typical in PANS/PANDAS cases — when, for instance, she would catch a cold, or veer off her diet.  And, it has also taken time for her parents to develop confidence in the homeopathic treatment to the extent that they are ready to let go of antibiotic treatment.

What is essential to understand about the homeopathic approach to PANS/PANDAS [as well as most other conditions] is that the treatment is based on what is unique, or characteristic, about the child and not on the common symptoms of the syndrome itself. That is, the process of individualisation [personalised treatment] largely depends on filtering out all the features used to diagnose the condition and focusing on the underlying nature of the person.

Angela was prescribed Carcinosin 30C, which, as the name implies, is a remedy derived from cancer tissue. It is what in homeopathy is termed a ‘nosode,’ meaning a remedy made from disease tissues.  Since the end product is arrived at by ‘potentising’ [a homeopathic pharmacological process of extreme dilution], the actual physical molecules of the substance itself are filtered out leaving only the energetic imprint, or information.

Nosodes of various sorts are quite commonly prescribed in homeopathy. Perhaps, as a reflection of the times, Carcinosin in particular is a remedy that comes up very frequently in my practice.

The temperament of a Carcinosin individual is quite perfectionistic and sensitive. They tend to be quite responsible, sometimes overly so, and easily become anxious, if they have not performed up to their very high standards. Criticism of even the mildest form is very difficult for them to bear as it is interpreted as an indication of some unacceptable personal shortcoming.

Carcinosin personalities are also sensitive to the feelings of others, being empathetic to others and often extraordinarily so towards animals. They typically have a strong interest in creative pursuits, such as art, music and dance.

All of the above described Angela almost to a tee. It is in a sense who she is: the way she was before exhibiting signs of PANS/PANDAS and although somewhat distorted by the effects of the syndrome, the way she is since her diagnosis.

It was once thought that PANDAS was exclusively caused by strep infections attacking the basal ganglia of the brain. As it turns out, there are numerous other infectious and environmental factors associated with the condition. While it is always tempting to look for a single cause, the likelihood is that the accumulation of toxic exposures common to modern day life — be they from pathogens, food, air, screens, drugs or vaccines — results in a certain subset of children with unique susceptibilities manifesting a set of neurological symptoms that are now identifiable as a specific syndrome.

Implementing strategies to lower the toxic burden is, of course, an essential aspect of treating children with PANS/PANDAS.  But, the ultimate benefit of long-term therapies that are toxic in and of themselves is at best questionable.

Homeopathy, on the other hand, brings a different perspective to bear on helping such children. It has a unique capacity to addressing their susceptibility and, as a consequence, reducing their reactivity, while allowing them to return to more normal, healthier ways of being and also doing well in this world.

References 

  1. Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections: Clinical Description of the First 50 Cases. Dr Susan E Swedo, MD, et al.
  2. From Research Subgroup to Clinical Syndrome: Modifying the PANDAS Criteria to Describe PANS [Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome. Dr Susan E Swedo, MD, et al.
  3. Ibid.
Dr JULIAN JONAS, CCH, LicAc, a graduate of Cornell University, with a degree in Asian languages and philosophy, lived in Asia for ten years, where he studied and practiced Oriental Medicine. He graduated from the Meiji College of Oriental Medicine in Osaka, Japan, and maintained his own clinic in Japan before running a village healthcare project in Sri Lanka. He was introduced to and captivated by the profound healing power of homeopathic medicine, early on in his career, but his formal homeopathic studies began only after he returned to the United States and established a practice in Vermont in the late-1980s. A graduate of the New England School of Homeopathy and the North American Homeopathic Master Clinician Course, Dr Jonas has studied with some of homeopathy’s foremost practitioners and teachers around the world. He has over 35 years of experience as a healthcare practitioner. Website: http://www.centerforhomeopathy.com. This article is ©Dr Julian Jonas.

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