“Take her away. I don’t want her.” No one imagined that Suzy would actually announce it aloud. Not her husband, not her mother and certainly not the attending doctor—but moments after she gave birth to her daughter, Suzy was clear about her demands. “Take her away.”
Postpartum depression shows up differently in different women. Some mothers cling tightly to their babies and weep, while others feel little or no connection to their offspring. For some it occurs at the moment of birth, while for others it sets in during the following weeks. In Suzy’s case, she was actually repelled by the thought of a baby from the moment of conception and was determined she would not keep her. She tried to fall in love with the idea of a child, but it just didn’t happen.
What makes it possible for something so natural to women to become so dreadful to some? How could a mother’s mind convince itself to turn against her own precious child? Some have made the compelling argument that postpartum depression and a host of other behavioral effects can be linked to the previous use of synthetic hormones,1 What kind of synthetic hormones would young women be the most likely to use during their childbearing years, you ask? Why, birth control pills and injections, of course.
LONG-TERM SIDE EFFECTS
Freedom—we love it, and we expect it. And ever since the 1960s, when the contraceptive pill became widely available, women have celebrated the “freedom” it granted them. No longer bound to child rearing, women embraced “the pill” for affording them a freedom that was unimaginable in millennia past.
But also unimaginable were the pill’s side effects. And I’m not talking about the ones that were immediately evident, such as the weight gain, depression and blood clots, which the drug insert casually mentioned (as if it were normal to experience them). The risk of those side effects made the choice to stay with the pill or not one that women confidently felt in control of. No, I’m talking instead about long-term effects that surreptitiously invade a woman’s life and manifest themselves in a more sinister way, many years later—namely, behavioral effects that include what has come to be known as postpartum depression.
THE MEDICAL CONVEYOR BELT
Is the pharmaceutical industry squarely facing the evidence that synthetic anti-birthing hormones might be causing peculiar behaviors? No. Instead, the industry has decided to answer the postpartum depression dilemma with—you guessed it—yet another drug. In March 2019, the FDA approved a drug called Zulresso for the intravenous treatment of postpartum depression.2 At the time of this writing, the FDA approval pertains only to a restricted program administered by health care providers in “certified” health care facilities.
It’s not the industry’s fault. It’s ours! We buy the stuff. Our demand is there, and the industry merely fulfills it. The articles I’ve recently read, ranging from pieces in The Wall Street Journal3 to Huffington Post,4 laud the new drug as another “boon” for women. (That’s what the media are still saying about birth control drugs in general, too.) But there’s no discussion of how this will affect women, children and families in the short term, much less in the long run.
Zulresso, of course, will not have been tested on newborns, who will be directly affected by any drug their mother takes during the nursing period. There’s no mention of how tampering with a most delicate endocrine system may affect subsequent pregnancies and perhaps menopause years later. With these uncertainties that only time can answer, we have to ask ourselves: Are we allowing ourselves and our newborns to be guinea pigs?
And then there’s the most compelling question of all: is it prudent to treat the side effects of one drug with yet another? This is the medical conveyor belt that we, as members of the Weston A. Price Foundation, work so persistently to escape.
What about our previous decisions? Are we confined to live with and blindly accept medical choices we agreed to years ago? Of course not. This is where homeopathy comes in.
Suzy’s mother, a client and friend, contacted me from the hospital where her daughter had just given birth. In a hushed and intense voice, she whispered, “They’re talking about opening a case with Social Services.”
Since I had not taken Suzy’s case, I had no way of knowing whether Suzy’s postpartum behavior was the result of synthetic hormone use in years past, but it didn’t matter. That’s because homeopathy doesn’t necessarily require this information.
Instead, we can turn to several of homeopathy’s standard references. In Robin Murphy’s A Homeopathic Clinical Repertory, under the rubric “depression in pregnancy,” there are the four main remedy choices: Natrum muriaticum, Platina, Pulsatilla and Sepia.5 Sepia, however, is in bold print because homeopaths have found it to be the most commonly effective both clinically and in provings. In Homeopathic Materia Medica by William Boericke, MD, one reads the following under Sepia: “Indifferent to those loved best. Aversion to occupation to family.”6 And Dr. Roger Morrison, in his Desktop Guide to Keynotes and Confirmatory Symptoms, describes the patient who needs Sepia as “disconnected and indifferent to the family with depression, even suicidal states.”7
In addition, we note that the rubric “poisoning from estrogen” lists Sepia as one option, and the rubric “poisoning from progesterone” specifically recommends Sepia above all other remedies. The same goes for the rubric “ailments from premarin.”
This information was the basis for my decision to suggest Sepia 200 for Suzy’s depression and tragic lack of connection to her baby. Upon hanging up the phone, Suzy’s mother actually ran to the local pharmacist, purchased Sepia and administered it to her daughter that afternoon.
In an effort to encourage maternal bonding, the nurses brought Suzy’s baby girl to her several times over the course of the first day in the hospital. Each time, Suzy turned her head and even folded her arms in rejection. When she returned home at the end of the second day, her mother was there to encourage the bonding, but the cold response remained the same. “No, I don’t want it…ever!” By the third day, Suzy began lactating. She declared that nursing was for “animals” and asked for a drug to dry her milk.
On days two and three, after Suzy had returned home, Social Services visited, giving Suzy’s mother an unparalleled case of anxiety. To this day, she recalls those being two of the most harrowing days of her life. Both times, however, she calmly persuaded them to return the next day to speak to Suzy—in hopes that by then, the Sepia would begin to act.
On day four of taking Sepia, Suzy’s mother, father and husband decided they were no longer going to coddle her with gentle, coaxing pleas. Instead, they approached her with a blunt call to action—and a stern, much-needed family discussion regarding her responsibilities. It was actually during this family meeting that Suzy’s mother noticed Suzy seemingly flashing an interested glance across the room toward her baby. Until this time, whenever the child was brought into the room, Suzy consistently fixed her gaze in the opposite direction. But now, the baby’s grandmother noticed a subtle change.
With this observation, she deftly approached her daughter and simply handed her the child. For the first time since birth, mother and child were one again. A small tear developed in Suzy’s eye, matched by tears from her parents and husband. Her mother later described the moment as though the heavens had parted, and light shone directly on mother and child!
Suzy tentatively gazed upon her baby with what appeared to be attentiveness and began unwrapping and wrapping the swaddled bundle so she could see and care for her baby. Was this just the natural evolution of mother-child bonding finally taking hold a little later than expected, or was the homeopathic medicine acting? No matter. Mother and child were united!
However, the cause of the transformation was soon made clear. Thinking that Sepia was no longer needed, Suzy’s mom stopped administering it to her that day. Three days later, like a scripted tragedy, the postpartum depression returned with a vengeance to replay those first few days of devastating heartbreak. Suzy fell back to disgust for her child and once again relegated her motherly duties to someone else.
This time, however, Grandma knew what to do. She administered Sepia 200 once again, and by evening, mother and child were reunited in adoration. Grandma had initially moved in to help care for the struggling family, but from this time forward, she considered her most vital duty to be administering Sepia to Suzy every day.
It has been some twenty-four years since the birth of Suzy’s baby. Suzy has been a committed and loving mother, never again wavering from her maternal duties as she did during those first difficult and trying days. Instead, her commitment to her child has been remarkable. She arranged and sat through every ballet class and taught her little girl to read at age four in both English and French. Suzy has proven time and again to be a loving and proud mother.
But this is not an uncommon occurrence when there is a call for Sepia. It is most often useful for mothers who would otherwise be quite focused on their children but whose hormones have gone awry or, perhaps, been chemically manipulated. Over-focus on the children can render some mothers ragged and may even, as in this circumstance, cause them to become hardened and indifferent.
As a revealing side note, I learned not long after that Suzy had indeed taken synthetic hormones for four years leading up to the pregnancy. Although this same hormonal disruption can be found naturally, even without tinkering with synthetic hormones, in my experience, natural disruption does not occur nearly as often. Sepia is used for the extremes either way.
Around the same time as the birth of Suzy’s baby, a farmer client contacted me when the family cow refused to nurse her newborn calf. It was day three after the birth, and because of the mother cow’s lack of interest in her baby, the calf was being fed with milk from another cow. The mother cow was so adamant in her disgust that she kicked the newborn away, and the farmer had to separate the two for the safety of the calf.
As a homeopathy student, I would have looked up this behavior in my repertory, but even with a rudimentary understanding of the sweeping ability of Sepia, it was easy to declare with confidence that the farmer should administer Sepia 200 twice daily for several days. That night, after the third dose, the mother cow cried out for her calf from her lonely stall. When the farmer reunited the two, she commenced nursing and cleaning her baby. The farmer administered Sepia 200 consistently for about three weeks—so there were no backsteps with this pair. As a fun aside, the farmer later told me they named the calf “Joette” as a thanks for my help. Is it any wonder that I find homeopathy a most rewarding life’s work?
SAFE AND TIME-TESTED
To fulfill an apparent need, the pharmaceutical industry is at the ready with its new postpartum depression drug, expected initially to cost from twenty to thirty-five thousand dollars per treatment.4 Homeopathic Sepia, on the other hand, is neither synthetic, costly nor even new and poses no threat of side effects. In fact, Sepia was proven in the late 1700s and has been used for female hormonal conditions ever since by medical doctors, midwives, mothers and grandmothers. Bringing a medicine of repute into the home to become a part of a family’s arsenal offers control with safety and assurance, whether postpartum or during other mothering events.
The use of drugs is not well met with more drugs. Homeopathy offers a medicine that has proven itself safe, consistent and highly regarded for over two centuries. And we have a new generation to prove it.
1. Horibe M, Hane Y, Abe J, et al. Contraceptives as possible risk factors for postpartum depression: a retrospective study of the food and drug administration adverse event reporting system, 2004-2015. Nurs Open 2018;5(2):131-8.
2. “FDA approves Zulresso.” https://www.drugs.com/newdrugs/fda-approves-zulresso-brexanolone-postpartum-depression-4933.html.
3. Loftus P. Sage Therapeutics’ drug for postpartum depression gets FDA nod. The Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2019.
4. Karanth S. FDA approves first drug targeted at treating postpartum depression. Huffpost, March 19, 2019.
5. Murphy R. Homeopathic Clinical Repertory: A Modern Alphabetical and Practical Repertory (3rd edition). London: Lotus Health Institute; 2006.
6. Boericke W. Homeopathic Materia Medica. Kandern: Narayana Publishers.
7. Morrison R. Desktop Guide to Keynotes and Confirmatory Symptoms. Grass Valley: Hahnemann Clinic Publishing; 1993.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2019