Author: Nel Struik
Mercurialis Perennis, Keeping up an ideal picture, at the cost of emotional and physical withering
by Nel Struik
Mrs M., 60 years old, consults me in November 2001 with the following complaint: recurring pain in her chest, on the left side, since March 2000. The skin is quite normal there. Medical investigation did not reveal anything wrong. The pain appears after a draught, a cold wind or swimming in cold water. It is a burning pain deep inside, behind the lower ribs and it persists for days at a time. If it is worse, her left arm is involved, it becomes tired and heavy and she gets chills in her whole body, as if a wind is blowing inside. Sometimes the chills appear without any reason. The day before an attack she is often quite tired. Then she knows it is starting again. On relaxing deeply after yoga she clearly feels a painful, tight band. During the night in bed, being warm, she has no pain and sleeps well. She uses a painkiller (diclofenac). Before she came to me, Mrs M. had been treated for nearly three years by another homeopath, originally for very dry mucous membranes. After Nux Moschata taken in daily doses (different LM potencies) her vaginal dryness ameliorated to a bearable level, but not the eyes. When the burning pain in her chest started, about eight months ago, she was given Ranunculus bulbosus, which made it even worse.Natrum muriaticum LM in ascending potencies twice a day relieved the pain somewhat for some months and gave her more energy, but her eyes remained dry. Physiotherapy together with some exercises also helped a bit, until a week ago the pain returned with great intensity. Because her homeopath emigrated, she was forced to consult another homeopath and came to me. Her eyes can stitch badly. On waking they are so painful that it is impossible to open them. And she can’t stand it when a light is suddenly turned on. She found out that only after applying Reiki can she open her eyes, as if it will warm them. Sometimes she uses eye jelly. Once she had conjunctivitis. Mrs M (spontaneously): ‘There is a connection with emotions. My married daughter lives far away in Australia. Now she has a baby and I feel awful at the idea that I can hardly see my grandchild growing up. They have a right to live their own life, but it is so hard, so very hard that they are keeping this joy from me.’ She was always active in voluntary work and is still doing it for a morning each week. Furthermore she has a great spiritual interest and is working with Reiki therapy and massage. She loves sun, sea and woods, walking and swimming, although swimming is now too painful. She likes to read novels (e.g. Sigrid Undset) and spiritual books. Sometimes she has predictive dreams, about everyday things that will happen and about people that she will meet again after a long time. Before her mother died she dreamt about her death. In the past she had recurrent dreams about a man who pursued her: she tried to flee but could not move. ‘But they never got me!’.
Other details: Mrs M. is fond of sweets and chocolate, fruit juices and apples. She eats two or three apples a day. She says maybe it is also due to the fact that she wants to avoid eating too many sweets and takes an apple as an alternative. Fat food like cashew nuts, milk, butter and cheese does not agree with her. It gives her abdominal cramps and facial eruptions. Her stool is often too thin, but normal-coloured and without mucus. She drinks a lot, prefers fruit juices, tea or lukewarm water. She is very chilly and it is often as if a cold wind is blowing inside her body.Her menses were regular. Menopause started at 47 years, without any striking complaints.
Observation: Mrs M. is a modest, gentle lady with a composed, almost old-fashioned pious aura. Her first homeopath had already informed me about her dreaminess, as if she is not fully present. I can only confirm this. And she is speaking in a soft, hesitant voice, as if it is difficult for her to find the right words. Her personal details are told in a flat, casual tone, almost apologizing for daring to express herself. She is very nice to me and shows her concern about how her former homeopath is getting on abroad.
Final remarks: at the end of the consultation I ask her if there is anything else in her life that bothers her, and she says: ‘When my husband was still working I had a quiet life. He was away for long days and I could just go my own way. I had my freedom. Since he is retired and most of the time at home, he pays attention to everything and meddles in everything, down to the smallest details. I feel observed and criticized. I’ve lost my freedom. But although it is annoying me, how can I blame him? He is such a loving and caring man and he does not mean any harm.’Although I feel anger behind her words, she does not show it, and her face is as composed as it was before.
This is a gentle, kind lady, who is very sensitive and full of concern about other people. But she does not show her negative emotions of anger and irritability: she keeps them inside. The recurrent dream about a man pursuing her is probably due to her dark, repressed side that is surging within her. Her story reveals a reproachful attitude towards her daughter and husband. By living so far away her daughter has deprived her of a great deal of the joy of her grandparenthood, something she feels is her right. And that is very hard. Since her husband retired, he interferes with her activities. She feels as if she lost her freedom in doing things her way, in following her own path. But she cannot blame them. After all her daughter has the right to live her own life. And her husband is too caring and sweet for her to be angry at him. Analyzing the case I remember what Jan Scholten told us about the Euphorbians (spurge family; Dutch: wolfsachtigen): the central idea has to do with suppressed emotions and anger, due to a loyal and dependent attitude to superiors. They feel inferior, comply with others, but at the same time they realize that, by doing this, they are deviating from their own path. So by being loyal to another they are not loyal to themselves. They often feel unloved and treated badly.This woman recognizes her own values and her own ideals in life, but she feels she does not have the right to stand up for them. In an almost apologetic tone she talks about her spiritual interest and her paranormal dreams, as if she fears to come across as arrogant. I also recognize other themes that Jan Scholten attributed to the Euphorbians, like her spirituality, her digestive disorders and the burning pain. The next question is: which plant of this huge family is most suitable for this lady? Apart from the burning pain under the lower ribs, she complains of painful dry eyes. The already prescribed remedies did not help her in that. The dry vagina improved after Nux moschata and Natrum muriaticum, but I am not sure if it will hold after stopping Natrum muriaticum. A striking symptom is that her eyes are so painful that she is not able to open them after sleep. Only after applying Reiki she can open them. In RADAR 8.0 I find the rubric: EYE, OPENING the eyelids, unable to, night, waking; on, with the two remedies Mercurialis (2) and Veratrum (1).
Mercurialis perennis or dog’s mercury (Dutch name: overblijvend bingelkruid) belongs to the Euphorbiaceae. Jan Scholten has painted a picture of formal people who, from an ideal of perfection, should cover everything with the cloak of charity. So the central theme of the Euphorbians, the loyalty conflict, gets this special hue in Mercurialis. They don’t allow themselves to show their emotions, as this does not suit their ideal picture. As a result they get dehydrated, emotionally as well as physically. Their mucous membranes dry up (think of SjÃƒÂ¶gren’s syndrome). In the repertory I found Mercurialis under dryness of the eyes, nose and mouth, and under photophobia. It is not written under vaginal dryness, but probably this symptom belongs to the picture of Mercurialis as well.
Murphy (Homeopathic Remedy Guide) quotes Cooper, who says: compared with other Euphorbians, it dries up the mucous surfaces, causing burning locally and a general drowsiness, while the other Euphorbians set up violent irritation and diarrhea from the first. Moreover, its action is not expended on the skin so soon as that of the others.
Murphy gives the modality: better by cold. This patient is aggravated by cold and clearly is ameliorated by warm applications. It is not so difficult to recognize this patient in the described picture. Her vagueness and absentmindedness fit as well. Even the location of the pain, behind the lower ribs, is stated by Jan. For this symptom the most suitable rubrics under which Mercurialis is mentioned, are: ABDOMEN PAIN - Spleen (there is no evidence for spleen complaints, but the pain is in the spleen area); ABDOMEN PAIN pressing Hypochondria extending to spleen.
I tell her to stop Natrum muriaticum and prescribe Mercurialis perennis 200 K on 23-11-01.
3-1-02: After the pellets I had just for a moment a feeling of a tight band in my upper abdominal region and some stitches in the back. After that the pain underneath the ribs did not come back again. I had more vaginal secretion, which made me very happy. Later my stomach was upset, with eructation and nausea, even before Christmas, so not due to heavy food. Now for three days my stomach has been getting better, although there is still a heavy feeling and eructation after dinner. The stool is more solid. My eyes improved after a few days. They are less painful and now I can open them at night without problems. I’ve got a lot of energy. I am still cold, but did not get those chills again.She tells she can better give vent to her feelings towards her husband. When I ask her about her feelings towards her daughter she says: Well, time is healing. After all, I can visit them. I am so pleased that everything is fine with them.
21-3-02: she got a touch of flu twice, with low fever. No pain in the chest. For two weeks the eyes have been painful again on opening them in the morning. Stool is normal if she avoids eating fatty things. No stomach complaints. Then she says spontaneously: I am feeling more present. And I don’t know who changed, but my husband and I are getting on much better. There is no more irritability about minor things. There is more consideration towards each other and I feel freer again.
22-4-02: she had a difficult time when suddenly, somehow, a lot of grief arose about the death of both her parents, who died a few years ago (both at the age of 95 years!). She wept for two days.Now she can stand draft and cooling down without feeling pain in the chest afterwards.
15-7-02: in the last eight months she took a dose of Mercurialis each time when she felt a kind of relapse, altogether three doses of 200K and three doses of MK. After each dose there were some reactions, after which she felt very fine. She can swim in cold water now without painful consequences. The burning pain disappeared completely. There are seldom stomach complaints, but she is still avoiding fat products like butter and cheese. Now her stool is sometimes nearly liquid for some days. Then it can happen that she passes some feces with flatus. But on urging for stool she has time enough to reach the bathroom. She is still fond of apples and juices.Mrs M: I have a lot of energy and have taken up many activities. I am feeling more balanced in the paranormal sphere. I write poems that come up automatically in my mind as soon as I start to write. If I have some questions, I get a vision of a certain book in the morning, I look it up in the bookcase, open it and there I find answers to my questions.
February 2005, after ringing her, mrs. M. informs me that the complaints of her eyes and chest have never come back again. And she has no more loose stools lasting for days.
Mercurialis helped this patient a lot to stand up for herself beside her husband. The loyalty conflict resolved, the anger towards her husband and her daughter disappeared. At the same time the pain and the dryness have worn off. Because the vaginal dryness was already ameliorated by other remedies, I am not quite sure if Mercurialis added anything to its amelioration, but she did report more vaginal secretion after the dose. It is quite clear that she is more awake and allows her emotions coming up. As a result she had to experience the mourning for the death of her parents again, but now more consciously. Her creativity and spirit of enterprise are growing. Her psychic side, that she already had, is now more balanced and she can make better use of it.
Keywords: mercurialis perennis, euphorbiaceae