By Anke Zimmermann, BSc, FCAH
A Woman with Vasospastic Angina
I first saw Michelle, a 48-year old female, on November 14, 2008. Her chief complaint was angina due to vasospasms for the past two years. The symptom picture was one of classic angina, but there was no blockage of the arteries. The patient was rather annoyed by the angina.
“I have no time for this. I resent having to pay attention to my body. I’ve got things to do. I’m still mad at the doctors who diagnosed it.”
How did her heart feel about this?
“I think my heart wants a break. It wants a rest between beats. I was taking on all the responsibility of the world, doing far too much.” She was feeling out of breath telling her story. “But I feel I’m not big enough for the job. I feel I don’t have the skills. What I really want to do is to be silly and play!”
“The amazing thing is that I do so much. I do the teaching, bookkeeping, bodywork, I push myself to do more and more. I feel I have to earn my keep to feel secure.”
“I’ve never felt secure. I’m always looking at the conflict around me. I grew up with four older sisters. All five of us girls were born in five years. My earliest memories are of all the arguing between themselves. I felt responsible for it. There was conflict and it was my job to fix it.”
And if she did not do that?
“They’d tear each other apart!”
A High-Conflict Childhood
She would hide a lot as a child to get away from the conflict. She has had concerns about security and money for most of her life.
At the same time she has always had a strong desire for escape and freedom.
“I had horses all of my life, since age 4. It was the whole freedom thing, galloping off with a horse. It was my escape and my expression.”
I gave a homeopathic remedy called stramonium, often used in cases of illness after experiencing much fright and conflict, which improved her condition by about 50%. Then it stalled. I gave natrum-mur at this time, which did nothing at all.
Finally on June 3, 09 she gave me the real keys to her case.
“The feeling of the heart being squeezed is very much like a block, a barrier. I’m always pushing it. It feels like a cage. Right when I want to expand, take a deep breath – it fastens around me. It says “No getting big for you! Don’t get too big for your boots and no, you can’t go and have fun.”
What is it like to be big?
“To be free-flowing, easier. Lifting more with the same effort. Breathing is easy. I’m happy and cheerful and content. I’m worry-free and things smell good.”
“I grew up on a farm but had allergies, so I would not dare to take a deep breath. It would compress me and make me feel smaller. I like to breathe big, rich, feel fulfilled, happy. The restriction comes from outside, making me smaller, keeping me where I’m supposed to be.”
Tell me more about restriction?
“I have a picture of a cage around the ribs in my mind. There is a big cage around my chest and a smaller one around my heart. It is like expanded metal, dull grey in colour.”
“It seems pretty rigid and solid and permanent. It is cold. It does not care. It is there to keep the body safe and me in line.”
What would happen if it did not do that?
“I’d be unrestrained. I would be ridiculous, silly, extravagant and irresponsible. Everything would fall apart, all order would cease, I’d be late for school and the clothes would not be washed.”
By now I was thinking that she might require a remedy made from a bird. So I asked her how she felt about birds.
“I would never own one. The idea of the cage is horrible. I love watching and feeding them. They have a really neat perspective on things, quite elevated and special. Birds can see things from all angles, on the ground, from the air, from trees, close up and far away. They are flexible and motile.
“They have a very simple existence, very life and death, but very straightforward.”
“And virtually no responsibility.”
“They build their wing and heart muscles as a side effect of having a great time!” (Emphasis mine)
Assessment and Plan
It was amazing. Those were her exact words, “building their wing and heart muscles as a side effect of having a great time”, exactly what she would love to do, but could not as a result of feeling the excessive and impossible responsibility of resolving all conflict.
She described her heart as being in a cage and was longing for freedom. In birds she could see the ability to see from all angles, which, interestingly, is important in conflict resolution, for being free and for having fun, which is how she wanted to feel herself. She experienced her whole being as small and confined when she wanted to be big and play.
I decided to give a homeopathic remedy made from a feather of a bald eagle, Haliaetus leukocephalus, 200 CH.
Bird remedies have certain themes and one of them is an inner conflict between responsibility, especially for the family, and the desire for freedom. There is more to this case analysis but this has to suffice for now. I refer the reader to Jonathan Shore's book on the bird remedies.
Flying Dreams and Improved Angina Symptoms
Email feedback June 14, 09:
“After I saw you I had the most incredible flying dream. I was with someone and we were very high in the sky. He was showing me around and I was really surprised at how smooth and beautiful and frictionless everything was at this height. The patterns of the fields and rivers and forests were breathtakingly perfect. I also commented on there being no wind while we were flying, it was so easy and comfortable and effortless… He said “that’s the way it always is – it’s set up that way.”
“On Saturday we went for a hike up that hill we often climb and we know exactly where we have to rest on the steep parts for my angina. I did not have to stop. I had a small amount of tightness, but not enough to make me stop. Last time we went I had to stop for ten minutes half way up!”
“We’ve been for a couple of walks since and I’d say there is a definite improvement. So the eagle remedy is clearly a winner.”
This patient did very well on the homeopathic prescription of bald eagle over the next year. The angina improved by 90% and her whole outlook has changed. She no longer feels as if she is responsible for everything and has a lot more fun and freedom in her life.
She even decided to go back to school and get another degree, which provided a great deal of financial security for her.
Bird Remedies in Homeopathy
Homeopathy as a science stands as a bridge between the visible and the invisible; between the laws governing the matter of this world and those that rule a world we can only guess at. One doorway into this other world is the proving experience, which provides a framework through which that other world may be penetrated. In a proving, the energies of a substance can be felt and experienced directly by the participants. We offer the following provings in the hope that they will invite you into the spirits of the birds themselves.
Excerpts from Roger Morrison's Foreword of the book:
In Clarke’s Dictionary we find 997 remedies listed. Of these, 589 are from plants, 300 are from minerals and 82 are from animals. In the 1990’s, this disproportionate distribution of remedies was noticed as a potential problem by Sankaran, Herrick, Sherr and many others.
Great credit belongs to Jonathan Shore and his colleagues for recognizing that of all the neglected animal groups, the birds had been the most completely ignored. In the present work, 16 bird remedies are discussed, correcting the absence of avian species from our Materia Medica.
Jonathan, together with Anneke Hogeland and Judy Schriebman, has brought into being a new class of remedies, first through a series of preliminary provings, then later through the study of natural history and, most importantly, through carefully documented cured cases... Every homeopath who tests without prejudice the information and guidelines given here will be satisfied with the results. Clinical results speak more eloquently than words.
In addition to bringing invaluable knowledge to the homeopathic community, the authors have created a template for future homeopathic texts. Homeopathic books should pass one simple test before being written. The prospective author should ask, “Is this a book which I would find an indispensable addition to my practice?” BIRDS: Homeopathic Remedies from the Avian Realm meets and surpasses this test. What makes this book even more admirable is that the authors have aimed it directly at the needs of the practitioner. It is practical and to the point, filled with pearls based upon clinical experience.
BIRDS: Homeopathic Remedies from the Avian Realm takes a giant step toward elucidating the nature of this family of remedies, complete with detailed prescribing tips. The homeopathic profession will long remember this contribution, and the homeopathic community will reward the authors with the highest form of praise: cures of patients who, without this book, would have continued to suffer.
Anke Zimmermann, BSc, FCAH is a homeopath with a special interest in developmental and behavioural concerns. Cases are all from her practice. Names have been changed, they were published with permission and are intended for education only. They are not intended as medical advise. Homeopathy supports individuals and their general health, it does not 'treat' conditions.
Anke Zimmermann, BSc, FCAH
Classical and Modern Homeopathy
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