Written by Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH
A case of vomiting from severe anxiety
James, age 28, consulted with me regarding a severe case of anxiety leading to vomiting attacks.
"When I get nervous I get nauseous and often start to vomit for an hour or more. Then I don't feel well enough to eat for up to two days. " He sometimes has traces of blood in the vomitus.
If he drinks water he vomits it back up after a few minutes. He also gets very motionsick. This has been going on for at least five years.
Bad reactions to slight stress
Even slight stress can set off an attack of vomiting; for example, he had recently been getting ready to buy a pet hamster and got him a really nice cage, but was so worried about doing a good job and making sure the hamster would be happy that it set off an attack.
But even the thought of being late for a ferry could set him off. "It's the anticipation that gets to me," he said.
To make matters worse, at this point he was thinking of proposing to his girlfriend and couldn't quite stomach the idea of how and when to pop the question. He was also worried about planning the wedding and going on a honeymoon.
The perfect family
The onset of the problem seemed to be related to his parents getting divorced when he was a teen. He had grown up in what he described as 'the perfect family' and the break-up and divorce shook him to the core.
"I felt that my home and family were a very safe place. My parents were always very kind and supportive of me."
He may have had some anticipatory anxiety before as he remembered getting sick to his stomach before hockey games as a child.
As soon as he feels anxious he gets very negative thoughts. This can happen first thing in the morning, he can wake up, start sweating with anxiety, then begin to vomit, although there is nothing in his stomach.
He vomits up white mucus and phlegm and later gets dry heaves.
It can also happen in the middle of the night, for example he might wake at 1:30 - 2:00 am and have an attack.
The need for support
He can feel very emotional, break down and cry when he gets upset, even over small things again, like waiting for a ferry etc.
He does not like being home alone and needs the support of having another person near. If he has to be alone he will call a friend or family member and talk to them for support.
He really needs the support. When his parents separated he felt as if he had lost his support system. His mother also suffers from anxiety.
James has a brother who enjoys travel and frequently works in foreign countries. James cannot imagine himself doing something like that.
He enjoys cold milk and salty foods.
He has been on Effexor for some time, but he feel that is is causing him too many side effects.
Facial features as a clue
I noticed that he had an asymmetrical face. This clue in addition to the rather intense anxiety and feeling of dependency on others as well as a certain level of obsessive compulsive thinking led me to prescribe Syphilinum 200CH, a homeopathic remedy made from syphilis.
Although he did not have syphilis himself, there were enough clues here to think that one or more of his ancestors may have had this infection.
Homeopathic preparations of infectious organism are often used highly successfully when an ancestor has had this infection and something changed in his genetic or rahter, epigenetic make-up, which then can be passed on to other generations.
The new science of epigenetics, the study of factors which influence which gene sequences may be turned on or off and thereby expressed or not, has thrown new light on possible mechanisms of action in homeopathy.
Please see my article on homeopathy and epigenetics for more details.
Follow-up three weeks after Syphilinum 200CH
James reports having had a few bouts of anxiety, but they did not progress to the vomiting stage.
He had diarrhea for two days right after the remedy. This is actually a good sign. Elimination like that is common after a good remedy, it just means the body is doing some house-cleaning.
He is also sleeping better, he had not told me previously that he has a great deal of trouble falling asleep. He is not as restless before sleep.
His girlfriend also noticed that he sleeping much more peacefully. Before he would toss and turn at least every hour for some time in his sleep. She thinks the restlessness is 50% improved overall.
He also suffered from nightsweats during his sleep before, which he also forgot to tell me initially, but that has also improved as well now. The night sweats had been worse on Effexor.
Assessment: Good response, wait to repeat remedy.
Two months later
Follow up, March 13, 2010: About two weeks ago the anxiety came back a bit, feels more nervous again. Was sick with vomiting once or twice but it didn't last long and did not affect him for two days as it did before. The restlessness in his sleep is still improved.
Plan: Syphilinum 1 MK one dose.
Five months into treatment
Follow-up May 29, 2010: Has been doing very well until this week. Vomiting attacks twice this week. Has not had any since the last dose of Syphilinum in March. Feeling down and unmotivated.
Plan: Syphilinum 10 MK
18 months after initial visit - we have a proposal and a wedding!
Follow-up June 10, 2011: Just over a year has passed since his last dose of Syphilinum. His anxiety has returned somewhat. He proposed to his girlfriend and got married last month!
He manged well with just a bit of Rescue Remedy, but now his new wife has some worries about their future together which is affecting him. The other night he had a panic attack thinking about his new life and especially about starting a family.
He has done wonderfully well with this remedy and is now married to his long-time girlfriend as well as doing well at work. His last dose of syphilinum 10 MK has helped him for a year, which is a sign that it is a very good and deep-acting remedy for him.
Plan: Repeat Syphilinum 10 MK
I received an email from him several months later telling me that all is going very well. He is very happy with the improvement in his health.
Dr. Anke Zimmermann, ND, FCAH, Naturopathic and homeopathic physician, Victoria, BC
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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