Shudders and Tics
I first met Liam, a sweet two-and-a-half year-old boy, in October of 2009. Around May of that year he started having trembling episodes during the night. By September he had developed tics, various involuntary body movements and shudders during the day and often more severe episodes during the night, when he would complain about being uncomfortable and unable to sleep. His mother thought these symptoms came on after a virus. She started to give him magnesium which helped somewhat.
He was seen by both a pediatrician and a neurologist who ran an EEG in August, which came back normal. The neurologist told the family that the tic was genetic and there was nothing they could do about it.
Trembling with Fear
Liam's mother has noticed that his tics are worse when he is excited or nervous. For example when his preschool class went to visit the fire hall he had a lot of trembling and body shakes. The same thing happened when the family went to see a marathon event. In general he will tremble when anxious and wants to be held.
Even before the onset of this syndrome he had sleep twitches. He woke frequently as a baby, five to six times a night. After he turned one he started to wake 12 times a night. He gets hot after falling asleep. As a baby he would wake up crying with a red hot face. Sometimes his ears get red after falling asleep. He often laughs in his sleep.
Sometimes an affected muscle will be throbbing, as if there is a heart beat in it. He may also grimace and stick out his tongue involuntarily.
He wheezes a bit if he runs around fast outside in the cold.
His mother describes Liam as a good-natured boy without tantrums or misbehaviour. He was very comfortable in my office from the beginning and enjoyed exploring the toys and playing ball with me.
Mother's History during Pregnancy
In cases like this it is important to not only look carefully at the child's health history but also the mother's history during pregnancy.
"I had a stressful pregnancy. I was involved in a minor car accident, but I was unfairly blamed and this led to a lengthy legal issue. At the same time we were told that our property was going to be expropriated by the government and we had to find a new home."
"As if that was not stressful enough, at the six month ultrasound appointment the baby's kidneys were shown to be 5 mm above normal in size, which also caused stress and anxiety. Towards the end of the pregnancy they showed normal size fortunately."
"And when I was eight months pregnant I was walking the family dog around a lake and my dog ended up chasing a bear while out in the woods. I freaked out and had a little asthma attack. I had asthma as a child."
Liam had a fast heart beat which and noticeable hiccoughs in the womb which was cause for some concern for the midwives.
I prescribed Agaricus, 6 CH, 2 pellets twice a day. Agaricus, a homeoapthic preparation of fly agaric, a mushroom, is one of the top homeopathic remedies used for twitches and tic as well as involuntary movements, also known as chorea.
The day after starting the remedy Liam woke up from a nap and started shouting at the mother and telling her loudly about his father and cousin. Then he started whispering and moving very quickly and then he wanted to be held. The next day he was a bit naughty and teased the dog which was unusual. He was talking a lot and overall was much more expressive.
Follow-up December of 2009
Overall there is some improvement with the frequency and intensity of the tics. Then I learned that the mother vomited and choked and went into a full panic after overeating at a wedding when she was six months pregnant! Another shock!
I gave him Agaricus 200 CH. After this dose Liam broke out in full body hives, had diarrhea and was itchy from the trunk to the neck, then became flaccid and limp. The parents took him to the emergency unit, but everything settled down after about five hours. The doctor there said that he never seen a rash like that.
This kind of reaction can happen after a remedy (but it is very rare) and is usually considered to be a good sign. Then his mom gave him another dose of Agaricus and he had a 'massive' bowel movement, 3' long, even after all the diarrhea! Very likely a detox reaction.
Four weeks later his nights are better overall but he will still grasp onto his mother. Overall he is more clingy than before. That did not sound quite right.
Then his mother give me a great clue: Liam's tics and twitches are always worse after he has been out on a windy day. Aha!
I decided to change the remedy after reconsidering all the shocks and stresses the mother had during the pregnancy as well as Liam's reactions to wind and his trembling with fear. I gave Aconitum napellus, a homeopathic remedy made from Monkshood.
Relief with Aconite
Liam was on infrequent, increasingly higher potency doses of Aconite for the next 18 months and his tics and twitches improved by about 85% during that time.
Whenever he received a dose of the remedy he had a slight initial aggravation with a worsening of the tics, then a lasting improvement. He ultimately recovered completely by age 4, much to family's delight and mine as well, especially as the neurologist has pronounced Liam incurable!
Aconite is a well-known remedy for all kinds of fright and shock in homeopathy. It is also often indicated if a condition comes on after exposure to wind. Liam's tics were worse after wind and he was trembling with anxiety.
Anytime that a violent or frightening event occurs, including being in an accident or even seeing one, being in an earth quake, being frightened by an animal or similar, one should think of aconite.
It can release a shock or fright which has been held in the body for decades, or which may have even been passed on during pregnancy as likely happened in this situation. Isn't it marvellous that homeopathy has something to offer in such cases?
Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH, Naturopathic and Homeopathic Physician, Victoria, BC
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Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH is a naturopathic doctor with a special interest in developmental and behavioural disorders. Cases are all from her practice, names have been changed, they were published with permission and are intended for education only.
Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH, Naturopathic Physician
West Sooke, BC, Canada
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