Sepia For Hormonal Problems In Women

Words: Dr Deborah OLENEV

People often ask me, “Can homeopathy treat hormonal problems?” I tell them, “Yes, indeed, it can.” In fact, more often than not, most health problems that women experience are related to hormonal imbalances, whether they are headaches that occur right around the time the periods are due, heightened emotional sensitivity, leading to angry premenstrual outbursts, crying spells, or the hot flushes of menopause. Joint pains, gastrointestinal problems and innumerable symptoms and states in-between, may also be hormonally influenced.  These problems are all amenable to homeopathic treatment. Well, women who seek homeopathy as an alternative to conventional treatment approaches have no regrets.

I’d like to, at the outset, illustrate one woman’s hormonal remedy that is frequently needed, and this can produce dramatic health changes in women who take it. This remedy is Sepia officinalis. It is a remedy from the animal kingdom, and it comes from the sea. It is the ink secreted by the little cuttlefish, an independent creature that prefers to swim alone and resembles a miniature octopus. When this little cuttlefish wants to avoid its predators, or catch its prey, it secretes a black ink cloud to hide it from view. So, it is said that women who need Sepia can also emit a black cloud with their moods and anger.

A Question Of Will

There are certain features that make this remedy homeopathically distinctive and not too difficult to spot. Dr Rajan Sankaran, a much-respected teacher of homeopathy, describes the person who needs Sepia as someone who is forced to do something against her will; out of a feeling of not being good enough. He says that Sepia women often do not feel attractive to the opposite sex, so to keep their spouses happy, they try to do what they want. This means the Sepia woman may have sex with her husband when she does not really want to, or she may try to please him by becoming the perfect wife who has a successful career, while managing her household and caring for her children. The effort of all this can become just too much for her, and she may be worn-out, tired, irritable, sad, indifferent, or withdraw into herself [or, wish that she could].  As, Dr Catherine Coulter, author and teacher of homeopathy, observes in her riveting book, Portraits of Homeopathic Medicines, “The classic picture [of Sepia] is the woman seeking emancipation from her traditionally passive and too limited [a] role as wife and mother in the home.”

Sepia can also be used for men, but I’d like to focus in this article primarily on how it relates to women’s health problems, because in my experience it is first and foremost a woman’s hormonal remedy. The Sepia state often comes on after a hormonal shock to the system, such as menarche, pregnancy, menopause, long and difficult labour, miscarriage, hysterectomy, and the use of birth control pills. All of these can be aetiology, or the underlying instigator of the Sepia state. This remedy can manifest its symptoms in all areas, but has a particularly strong affinity to the female pelvic organs. The remedy is known for its ‘bearing down’ in the pelvis and for ‘ball-like’ sensations internally,” such as the feeling of a ball in the rectum. The tendency for prolapse of the pelvic organs is also present in Sepia. Sexual dysfunction of one form or another dominates in this remedy. This can range from vaginal dryness and painful sex to aversion to sex, low sex drive, and lack of orgasm.

Sepia is a remedy for hormonal imbalances; it is often indicated in women who have a slightly more masculine build, such as straight rather than curved hips. Sepia women are also often athletic, and even though they generally may feel weak, they often feel much better from vigorous exercise. This is, in fact, one of the first remedies I think of for women who are actively involved in sports. The exercise they prefer may be in the form of dance rather than athletics — interestingly, Sepia is one of the key remedies for ‘passion to dance’ in homeopathy. In terms of ‘differential diagnosis’ of homeopathic remedies, Sepia and Carcinosin share this love of dance and amelioration from exercise, as well as many other symptoms.

Balance & Imbalance

Sepia women are often career-oriented, rather than oriented toward raising a family, though they may be engaged in the two activities simultaneously, and having a rough time balancing the two. If they are raising a family, even though they love their family deeply, it can be a stress on them. Occasionally, people who need Sepia have a difficult time showing affection, or they may be indifferent to people they love most; they may also, likewise, have a lot of anger, or aversion, to their spouse. These feelings often come to the fore, right before the periods are due, in the form of PMS anger.

Women who need Sepia tend to suffer from weakness and low energy in general; the worse time of day for them is often 3:00pm-5:00pm. Other distinctive features of the Sepia profile are a love of watching thunderstorms, which Carcinosin and Lycopodium clavatum also share, aggravation from doing the laundry, a yellow-brown saddle, or discoloration across the cheeks and nose, a desire for chocolate, vinegar, lemons and pickles.

There is a lot more to tell about Sepia, but to make it interesting, I will let the following story of a woman, who benefited from this remedy, speak of its marvels.

Case: Jacqueline

Jacqueline is a full-time career woman, raising two teenage sons. I would like to tell her story here because of the severity of her hormonal symptoms, and the dramatic improvement she felt immediately upon taking Sepia. In relating her history, Jacqueline told me that all of her health problems revolved around her hormonal function, starting with her periods at age ten. Her periods would last for nine days; she would be off for a week, thereafter, and start all over again. This pattern continued until she was eighteen years old.  At 18, she went on the pill, which evened out her periods and brought stability to the cycle.

Jacqueline looked forward to being pregnant with great enthusiasm, but it turned out to be the most miserable experience of her life. From a few weeks of being pregnant, continuing through the eighth month, she experienced morning sickness twenty-four hours a day. She also experienced joint pains, particularly in the fingers. Her mental state was bad. She couldn’t remember anything, such as where she was driving to, or what she was doing, and she had constant depression. She also had a tendency to nightmares, which became more horrific when pregnant.  In the eighth month of both pregnancies, things suddenly improved, and she went on to have easy labour. Her hormonal difficulties straightened out as soon as the babies were born.

At age forty, Jacqueline and her husband divorced. Then she met a friend and started running with her. This was one of the happiest times in her life.  She loved running, and she started to feel physically fit. She advanced greatly in her profession at this time and felt tremendously empowered.  Then menopause came on early at age forty-one, and all of her physical and emotional health problems hit with full force.

Soon, she lost her ability to run, because of exertional asthma; she suffered from hot flushes day and night, and tremendous mood swings. Her body hurt, particularly her lower back, so much that she couldn’t even turn herself around in bed. She also suffered from stiffness at night and in the morning. She felt like she was in a fog of exhaustion, or lost her ability to remember things, and the nightmares returned. She also gained 60 unwanted pounds.

All of these changes, and the fact that her friends did not understand what was happening to her, made her feel extremely angry. She liked the person she had been when she was running and at the top of her form. She could not accept the changes that menopause had wrought in her. Now, if she tried to exercise, she would pay for it with 2-3 weeks of misery. One of her biggest worries was about money, and being dependent on someone else for her survival. Even though she had an excellent income this fear occupied her thoughts a great deal. Other symptoms she had were extremely sensitive teeth and gums to the point that she could not tolerate any coldness in her mouth.  She also had low energy, which was worse 4:00pm-6:00pm, and she suffered from a congested chest at night, which resulted in coughing spells.

Jacqueline’s Response To Treatment

The changes that took place in Jacqueline after taking the remedy were dramatic, to say the least. All of a sudden she started to pay much more attention to her appearance and to dress femininely.  She also suddenly felt attracted to men, which had not been the case for many years.

Jacqueline’s physical health problems also improved rapidly, starting with the joint pain, low back pain and morning and night stiffness. Consequently, her sleep and overall energy were much better. Her partner had bought her a bicycle, and they now enjoyed going biking together, an activity that she had not been able to do for many years.  The chest congestion and tooth and gum sensitivity also disappeared. The fear of poverty was a thing of the past, and the nightmares and memory problems were also much better. Interestingly she was not as driven at work as she had been before. Now, she was more interested in spending time with her family, friends, and other people, and encouraging them in their lives. She also developed a new happy ‘symptom,’ which was a desire to sing for joy.

It has been three years since Jacqueline received her first dose of Sepia.  She needed a second dose a few months ago. In-between the two doses she was involved in a bicycle accident and needed a dose of Arnica montana.  The improvements she experienced were evident soon after she took the remedy. By the fourth month all her physical health complaints were much better, and she was feeling a greater sense of well-being and security than she had in many years. 

Conclusion

Jacqueline’s case is a classic example of what can happen to a woman when she ‘meets’ the right homeopathic remedy. This remedy can become a friend to her for life, one that she can turn to when she feels out of balance and needs a helping hand. I have a host of Sepia cases that I can relate to you. This is a remedy that I truly love, because when given appropriately it can do wonders. However, the caveat is simple. Please consult your professional homeopathic physician before taking homeopathic remedies. Homeopathy is wonderful and powerful; but, it ought to be used under medical supervision.

Dr DEBORAH OLENEV, CCH, RSHom [NA], is a Classical Homeopath based in Mountain View, California, US. She treats people from all over the world via phone and video conferencing. Dr Olenev has had a passion for homeopathy for nearly forty years and has been in private practice since 1991. She has a vast knowledge of homeopathic Materia Medica, and integrates homeopathy with herbal medicine too. She is the owner of First Aid Cream, where she teaches about and sells homeopathic first-aid creams. She has several years of experience treating autistic children and people of all ages for all manner of health conditions.

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