By Anke Zimmermann, BSc, FCAH
Autism, OCD and Aggression
When I first met 8-year-old Oliver (not his real name) he had been diagnosed with Autism, severe OCD, as well as suspected PANS and PANDAS.
The most distressing problem for the parents was aggression. Oliver first developed irritability at five months old, which had steadily worsened, especially over the past year.
"He will attack us if he's frustrated with something. He'll go for our faces and claw at our mouths," his mother reported.
In addition, Oliver was obsessed with ripping and tearing things into small pieces.
He also suffered from pica, eating sand, dirt, rocks, grass and paper.
Oliver was not yet toilet-trained and still wore a diaper. His language was delayed and he had about 150 words for requests, people and food.
Sleep was a big challenge as well as he was afraid to be alone in the dark. He needed the lights on and his mother had to sleep with him.
Night terrors after vaccination
Oliver had received his first round of vaccines at four months old. A month later he suddenly developed insomnia and night terrors.
"It was horrifying", his mother said. "He looked right through us with his eyes open, but he was gone. This went on for quite a few months, every single night. Before he slept very well. In addition, his engagement with us dropped and he became very irritable and fussy."
At seven months he received his second round of vaccines. At eight months he developed eczema on his cheeks.
At ten months he got another round of shots, in spite of the alarming changes after the first two rounds.
“Suddenly his eczema flared. He was tested and was found to be allergic to soy, dairy, dust, grass and trees, even turkey. He reacted to absolutely everything. We bought a new mattress, we were constantly cleaning. Then we took him off formula and his eczema got better."
But the worst was yet to come: By the time Oliver was 13 months old he had lost all of his words. By 16 months he had a badly bloated belly.
Just before he turned two, he was diagnosed with autism.
By that time he was so bloated he could not fit into a swimsuit. His parents started biomedical treatment with supplements, which helped somewhat. They switched to a GAPS diet by the time he was 2.5, but did not observe many gains.
"Overall he has been going downhill slowly since."
A Stressful Pregnancy and Delivery
“I had intense work stress during the better part of the pregnancy due to ongoing
conflicts with a superior at work. I had to do a lot of extra work and felt totally unsupported. I was angry and cried a lot, however, I felt pressure to continue working until just five days before his birth.”
Mom had four or five ultrasounds due to some concerns with the placenta.
Labour and delivery were a nightmare. Labour was induced with a vaginal tablet three days before the due date because the mother had developed high blood pressure.
“12 hours later I was induced with an IV drip of Pitocin, even though I did not want to be induced. I totally felt pressured into it. Contractions then came hard every few minutes. They hooked me up to monitors, the whole situation felt chaotic to me and was not at all what I had wanted.”
Then dilation of the cervix stalled at 8 cm for many hours. She received a morphine shot and went to sleep for a while. At some point the nurses gave her nitrous oxide, which made her feel very irritable and aggressive.
“I’ve never felt that aggressive in my entire life. I could barely control myself. The nitrous oxide also caused me projectile vomiting.”
“After 28 hours of labour the baby’s heart rate went down, they gave me an epidural and prepped me for a C-section. But the epidural made me feel freezing cold. I could not stop shaking, and here I was lying on the operating table and nobody really did anything about it. I felt almost violated, certainly not honoured.”
"I think I may be prone to adverse reactions from anaesthetics, a few years ago I had a general anaesthetic for dental work and it took me all day to wake up. "
Here was an 8-year-old boy with a likely history of delayed reactions to routine childhood vaccines, beginning with night terrors, insomnia and irritability, followed by the onset of multiple allergies and eczema, developmental regression and an ultimately and autism diagnosis with OCD and aggression.
Also of note was the emotionally intense and stressful pregnancy, as well as the complicated and stressful delivery with adverse reactions to anaesthetics, including severe aggression and shock-like symptoms.
Oliver received the homeopathic remedy Stramomium for the history of night terrors and fear of sleeping alone and in the dark as well as his aggression. Stramonium is a common remedy for neurological problems in children, especially when they are associated with aggression and violence. I have seen this remedy come up frequently after vaccines, as well as after emotional traumas, such as frights.
Many years ago, I saw a four-year-old boy who also had sleep problems from birth and was overly clingy to his mother. The boy was brought in because he was suicidal and kept asking to die. History revealed that his mother had been stalked and threatened with death while she was pregnant. A few doses of Stramomium cleared the state.
Oliver did very well on Stramonium and over the next few weeks his aggression drastically diminished and he completely stopped attacking his parents. It also became easier for him to fall asleep and his pica as well as his OCD symptoms diminished somewhat. We then added a homeopathic remedy made from a mixture of vaccines, which greatly helped his speech and cognitive development.
Stramonium is a fascinating remedy made from a plant known as Angel's or, alternatively and tellingly, Devil's trumpet, based on its beautiful, trumpet shaped flowers.
In crude form the plant is toxic and especially affects the nervous system, causing various disorders of thought and motor control with fear, violence, fits, hallucinations and delirium. The homeopathic process of repeated dilution and shaking removes all toxic elements of the plant, leaving only an energetic essence, which may be used to rebalance a state such as Oliver's.
A Prenancy Imprint?
Three months into care Oliver suddenly developed what seemed like bladder pain when urinating. He had to urinate frequently and was crying out in pain. He got a couple of acute remedies for this, then developed a new symptom of compulsively spitting and urinating on everything.
“He is refusing to wear clothes and is peeing on the couch and his clothes on purpose. He rips off his diaper and pees a few drops into it. Then he spits into the diaper and licks the urine and spit up in a very obsessive way. He gets extremely agitated when we try and stop him, yelling, screaming, hitting.”
I recognized the remedy, Hyoscyamus, and the day after his first dose this strange and disturbing behaviour completely stopped, much to everyone’s relief.
The emotional situation Oliver’s mother was in during the pregnancy might have contributed to this layer. Hyoscyamus can be a good remedy in cases where the patient feels like she has suffered wrong and is not good enough, which may cause great distress.
his is one of the more common remedy in children with insomnia when the mother has suffered wrong during the pregnancy, such as in a work or relationship situation. It is always very important to understand the mother’s state during pregnancy when a child develops problems in infancy or early childhood.
Hyscyamus niger, commonly known as henbane, black henbane or stinking nightshade, is a plant with a long and colourful history of medicinal use, including in herbal anaesthetics and in various magic brews for its consciousness-altering properties. In homeopathy it ca be helpful for various behavioural and neurological concerns that may include elements of mania and provocative as well as bizarre behaviours.
A Miasm Rears its Ugly Head
By our next appointment, a month later, Oliver had developed a new symptom: He was lining up everything in the house, toys, shoes, furniture and became obsessed with smashing rocks with a hammer. Moreover, he was now obsessed with water and with washing his hands.
“He constantly has to go to the washroom to wash his hands. We’re lying in bed at night and he has to get up and go to the washroom to wash his hands a few times, in fact the behaviour is much worse at night.”
This was an interesting turn of events. Yet another layer appeared to come to the surface, a miasmatic layer. Most homeopaths will recognize the needed remedy as Syphilinum, a homeopathic remedy derived from syphilis.
Not to worry, this remedy is made from the killed and sterilized disease organism and one cannot contract syphilis from it. Obsessive handwashing and a worsening of symptoms at night can point to this remedy, which can be linked to a family history of syphilis and often to a family history of alcoholism.
Mom confirmed my question: “My maternal grandfather and his father were severe alcoholics.”
Oliver got a dose of Syphilinum and almost immediately the handwashing obsession stopped. He also continued to receive the homeopathic vaccine mixture remedy, every dose of which improved his speech further.
In homeopathy it has been known for two centuries that children can be born with various predispositions, which may be linked to a family history of infectious diseases as well as cancer. Homeopaths commonly refer to this is as a miasm. Interestingly, cancer is also increasingly being understood as linked to infections [1, 2].
Homeopathic remedies prepared from infectious materials, such as in Oliver’s case, syphilis, may often be indicated and helpful in such instances.
The new science of epigenetics has provided much needed scientific confirmation of such clinical observations.
How Sweet It Is
During our next appointment Oliver’s mother reported that her son had developed yet another state: He was running around wildly, licking his fingers and touching everything. If the family went to a store, he wanted to touch all the items in the store. He was also obsessively asking for sweets.
At this point Oliver got Saccharum officinalis, a fascinating remedy made from the juice of sugar cane . Children who need this remedy may obsessively ask for sweets, put everything in their mouths, can be hyperactive and overly clingy. They may have an underlying feeling that they are not loved, even though their parents are giving them ample attention and love.
Again, sometimes this pattern is also a type of miasm or epigenetic imprint. I have seen and read about several children who suffered from extreme crying, insomnia and clinginess from birth whose parents had histories of emotional abandonment by their respective parents, or who were adopted .
Even though these babies were attended to nearly non-stop by their parents they could not be soothed, needed to nurse or suck constantly, be carried or entertained continuously and could not sleep without being attached to a parent. They also suffered from excessive separation anxiety. Saccharum officinale, a homeopathic remedy made from cane sugar, was helpful in several of these cases.
Interestingly, sugar is often used a symbol or substitute for love. Mother’s milk, the first food that a baby receives by nature is very sweet. Loved ones are often called honey, sweetie or sugarpie and sweets and chocolates are ever popular as Valentine’s Day’s gifts. Saccharum can be a great remedy when a child inexplainably does not feel loved and just can’t get enough attention .
Mom then told me that Oliver had gone through a phase of intense separation anxiety from age two to four to the point that she could not be out of sight. At that time, another practitioner had given Pulsatilla and the next day the separation anxiety was gone as by miracle.
Oliver may have been going through a phase of clearing out some ancestral imprint with Saccharum. The poor boy seemed to be processing every trauma and infection in his family history.
The Multifactorial Nature of Autism and other Developmental Challenges
This is what is happening with these children, their miasmatic backgrounds and various stressors during the pregnancy and birth process damage the vital force and provide a fertile ground for adverse events from vaccines, medications and other stressors to occur, but with careful homeopathic management all these layers can come to the surface to be healed, it is really quite incredible.
The Next Layer
At our next appointment Oliver's mother was not happy.
"He is not doing that well. He was now eating paper constantly, tearing a sheet of copy paper and eating it, 5-6 sheets a day. He would often colour the paper and then cut or tear and eat it. He is cutting everything, paper, his clothes, our shoes.
"His aggression is back, he is hitting, scratching and kicking us and the dog.
"His sleep is also much worse again, he is up between 2:30 and 5 am. In addition he is repeating out loud everything he wants to do a hundred times. For example, when I pick him up from school he wants to go to his favourite restaurant to pick up french fries and he continuously tells me so. I reassure him that yes, we will get the fries but he can't stop asking about it. Then he starts talking about the rocks he has to get from the garden or the scissors he needs to cut the paper. He is also speaking really, really fast.
"His memory seems to be worse. He'll be cutting something in one room and will leave his scissors there, then go into another room and want the scissor but he can't seem to remember where he left them. He becomes frantic and so impatient.
"I also noticed that his ears get read in the evening.
"On the positive side we continue to see language gains and small cognitive gains. He is speaking more clearly, repeating words and spontaneously saying new words.
"Even though he is not in a good place right now, he is still doing better than last year this time.
A Manic Phase
It appeared as if Oliver had now entered a frantic, manic phase. The tendency was already present before but now it had increased, together with the increased cutting as well as consumption of paper. The night-time waking between 2:30-5, the intensity of the symptoms, the red ears and the impatience and the aggression pointed to Belladonna, yet another plant in the Solanacea family.
Oliver got Belladonna 30C as this is the potency mom had at home, but I asked her to order the 200C potency as well. Higher potencies can be more useful for very intense states.
After the Belladonna he had an intensification of his symptoms for 1-2 hours after taking a dose, then became more emotional and was crying.
Two days later he was calmer again. The incessant asking for things had completely stopped and his memory was back. The read ears were also better.
"I had noticed red ears on him when he was 3-4 years old", his mother reported. It seemed as if we were dealing with the return of an older phase, which is considered a good sign in homeopathy.
Obsessive Cutting, Tearing and Eating of Paper
"However, the cutting, tearing and eating of paper had not diminished at all. He was also biting his nails, fingernails as well as toenails. He is grinding his teeth, he used to do that a lot years ago. He also used to bite the cups and glasses when he was younger."
So it appeared as if an older state had come up and Belladonna had addressed some of it, yet, we still need another remedy for the compulsive eating of paper.
I had repertorized the case and Veratrum came up strongly. It had been on my mind previously, but now we decided to give it a go, especially as Veratrum also has a keynote of desiring and eating ice, something Oliver was also enjoying.
Veratrum album, commonly known as false hellebore, European white hellebore, white hellebore or white veratrum is another interesting plant with a long medical history in botanical medicine. As a homeopathic remedy it can be useful remedy in children with many kinds of behavioural problems, including hyperactivity, destructivens, aggression and defiance. The child may be vert intelligent, precocious and creative.
Intense restlessness can be a defining feature, often expressed in repetitive behaviours such as cutting clothes and paper into tiny pieces, eating the eraser, putting many objects into the mouth and impatience. This remedy had been on my radar from the beginng, due to the known keynote of desiring to cut or tear clothes and paper into tiny pieces.
Many of Oliver's other symptoms had vastly improved, but this OCD behaviour of his had not changed significantly.
Plan: Veratrum album 200C.
Positive Effects from Veratrum
At our next appointment Oliver's mother reported that he was eating paper 80% less! When he was eating it he now ate only small pieces whereas before he would crumple up and eat half a sheet of copy paper at a time. However, he was still cutting and tearing the paper.
He was also not fully potty-trained for the past month! Not one accident, day or night!
On the other hand a new symptom had developed again, he was suddenly doing a lot of sniffing and scrunching his face while doing so, as well as suddenly start crying. I'm wondering if a grief layer is coming up. Considering Ignatia.
Plan: Ignatia 30C, continue Poly-vax 50M, Veratrum for cutting as needed
Ignatia amara helps the crying
Two weeks later mom reported that Oliver expressed a lot of rage after the remedy or maybe because he was exposed to a classmate who had strep.
He went back to showing Belladonna symptoms with a hot, red head and ears again, a dose of Belladonna settled him again nicely.
Mom gave Ignatia again and he cried a lot, after that the sad crying stopped for several days.
The sniffing was still present, the paper eating still vastly improved, plus he stopped cutting other objects like shoes, clothes and pillows.
We're still wondering if the strep exposure caused the new sniffing and now also blowing tic. He also repeats the same phrases over and over and blows kisses repeatedly.
Two days ago he became more agitated and hyper again.
Plan: Belladonna 200C, streptococcinum 30C, if crying returns Ignatia 30C
Good video on Ignatia amara
There was no change with Streptococcinum at all. He has had a few doses of Veratrum 200C in the meantime and mom just got Veratrum 1M as well. Still taking Polyvaccine 50 twice a week with noticeable improvement of speech after each dose.
Meanwhile Oliver has started to do gross things again such as peeing on the toilet and dipping paper into the toilet. Mom gave a dose of Hyoscyamus and the behaviour stopped right away. He started having pee accidents again, but Hyscyamus sees to help with that also.
The sniffing tic has changed to a more blowing tic and he also acts as if he is throwing it into the air. Insistent on doing things in certain order, if forgets a step will have to start from beginning or has a melt-down.
The rock-crushing behaviour has improved, does not need to do it every day anymore and when he does it it's shorter and less intense.
Going to sleep is better, two months ago he had to do many OCD steps before being able to go to sleep, including going to the garage and closing and opening the closet door 10+ times.
Overall his cognitive function is much better, he understands things more and his fine motor skills have also improved a lot. Last year at this time he could only draw a big X or O on a sheet of paper, now he can print his name by himself and at only 1 inch tall. He can also do up a zipper now, which he could not do before.
I decided to go with a higher dose of Syphilinum in 1M as well as Veratrum in 1M.
Jumpy and Hiding
On the next appointment mom reported that the cutting and tearing of paper is still the same.
Now the agitation has come back and he is hammering rocks again. He is very jumpy, like a fight-or-flight state, startled by every noise. Jumps out of his seat if a dog barks. He has had this before, it has come and gone over the years apparently. It was very bad several years ago.
When he gets like that the family uses a big spandex swing, which is like a cocoon, to calm him.
He has had read ears a few times and mom gave Belladonna, which settled him more.
Started licking fingers again and touching things, before would spit into hands or on fingers and then touch.
I'm wondering if he may need Tarentula and ask about hiding behaviour. Yes, he likes going under blankets, covering his head, also likes play tents and houses, which is not unusual for children that age of course.
I'm concerned that he is still cutting, also the startle behaviour which was worse years ago seems to be resurfacing.
I'm asking about music and yes, apparently he has loved music since being a baby. He always asks for music to be on in the car and has rythm.
Plan: Hyoscyamus again for the licking fingers and touching, Belladonna as needed for mania and red ears, Tarentula 30C. Considering Placenta humana for the love of blanket over the head and the positive effects of the swing.
Tarentula 30C had a positive effect on Oliver: "The first few days he was more manic and hyper before bed but then got much better. He had not been calm at bedtime for a long time. Overall he is less hyper. His cutting behaviour has changed, he is still cutting but now he only wants brown paper, not the white copy paper. Started cutting cardboard boxes from crackers and similar. Now he lines things up in a different way, objects are lined up in a certain order then he moves them to another location and they have to be in the exact same order as before. Before he lined things up but not in a particular order. The cutting and lining things up consume all of his time."
He still wants to break stones sometimes, but only a few minutes here and there.
Mom also reported lots of frequent urination and reminded me that he had a history of kidney stones. This is the worst thing now, he sometimes has to go every ten minutes and it's disruptive at school.
I'm asking if he is still biting his nails and mom confirmed. He will chew his finger nails down to bleeding and chew his big toe nail also. So far, nothing we have given has changed the nail biting.
"His motor skills continue to improve, he can cut out complex shapes now, which he could not do before. He can also now use a computer mouse at school, also a new skill. His language is much more clear, others can understand him now. He now knows his name, the parents' names and is learning his address. The other day while driving to school in traffic he spontaneously said: 'Busy road'."
I'm concerned about the frequent urination coming back and the history of kidney stones. Have been considering Medorrhinum for some time, nail biting has not changed, so Med may be indicated.
Also, the OCD symptoms keep morphing, and Polyvaccine has not seemed to change them that much. Considering giving individual vaccine remedies now.
Plan: Continue Tarentula 30C as needed, Medorrhinum 200C, add Prevnar 30C twice a week.
One Year into Care
An Ongoing Process
Oliver's case is ongoing. He has made great progress with the aggression as well as with his speech and overall improved cognitive function over the past year. His vital force is very strong, which is why he shows such clear and intense symptoms and responds so well to the indicated remedies.
I never fail to be impressed by the power of homeopathy to stimulate deep and profound healing and feel optimistic that he can continue to improve and add his significant talents to the world.
Anke Zimmermann, BSc, FCAH
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Anke Zimmermann, BSc, FCAH is a homeopath with a special interest in children with developmental and behavioural concerns. Cases are all from her practice. Names have been changed, they were published with permission and are intended for education in homeopathy only. They are not intended as medical advise or solicitation. Homeopathy treats the person, not the condition.
Anke Zimmermann, BSc, FCAH
Classical and Modern Homeopathy
Sooke, BC, Canada
Serving families in Sooke, Metchosin, Langford, Colwood, Victoria, Greater Vancouver Island, BC, as well as internationally via zoom/telehealth.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10-6 and alternating Saturdays from 10-4