Are there certain behaviors inherent in boys that are different from those displayed by girls? Certainly! The masculine gender is generally associated with the attributes of risk taking and competitive drive, while members of the feminine gender are often the multi-taskers in life, who flourish on enhancing social order.
Behavior is driven not only by gender, of course, but can be colored by outside influences such as environment, including foods in the diet, and especially factory-processed concoctions with suspicious chemical additives. Yet even normally wholesome fare can become culprits at times. These external influences can launch innocent gender-specific characteristics into the troubled realm of deviant behavior.
Take Benny, for instance. Benny is nine years old and sometimes his parents feel overwhelmed by his actions. He elevates risk-taking bravado—or perhaps foolhardiness—to an art form. Climbing to dizzying heights in trees and swinging from one branch to another is a common, disquieting sight for his family and neighbors.
Early in the school year, Benny’s teacher asked the class to contribute a drawing that would later be transferred to a tee-shirt for a history lesson. The assignment was to depict a great leader of our country. Benny completed his drawing and wasted no time in transferring it to his tee-shirt so he could wear it to gym class. He handed in his shirt with a drawing of Abraham Lincoln. With Benny-type dash, it portrayed the president being assassinated, festooned with splatters of red paint to depict blood. Some would call this kind of expression violent. Indeed, his teacher didn’t appreciate its subject matter and rejected it. Benny took the discouragement in stride, but the school authorities began informally labeling him as a potential risk for aggressive behavior, and kept a mistrustful eye on him during school hours. A few days later, a school administrator reported that Benny had bitten a boy during recess. The other parents were alerted and conduct slips documenting other complaints began piling up on Benny’s family’s kitchen counter.
This worrying turn of events seemed to have begun at the onset of the current school year, shortly after the administration set a new policy of providing lunches as part of the tuition. As a result, few families were motivated to send their children off in the morning with a packed lunch. And in fact, it wasn’t long before it became unfashionable among the students to carry one.
Benny’s family had followed WAPF dietary recommendations for years. But they had recently submitted to Benny’s participation in the school lunch program because of the additional social pressure which Benny would endure if he trotted into school clasping an “uncool” lunch bag from home.
This small, or perhaps not-so-small, shift in the contents of one meal per day may have taken Benny’s otherwise well-formed boyish attributes in the wrong direction.
Benny’s parents are homeopathy enthusiasts. Never have their children been given a synthetic medication as they wholly depend on the family homeopathy kit and chiropractic care for their health needs. Benny’s mom had taken a course or two through the years and learned that the correct remedy can uproot behavioral disturbances, especially those related to diet. She never saw a need until now to focus on this subject, but she persisted in her belief that the right remedy and consistent, nutrient-dense foods as the mainstay of Benny’s diet would be able to mitigate the influence of five aberrant school meals per week served at lunch. At least this was her wobbling hope.
When she contacted the family homeopath about Benny’s intensified aggressive behavior, her anxieties were allayed when she learned about the remedy Stramonium. The remedy profile fit Benny like an angrily provocative teeshirt. Yet, there was a missing piece. Stramonium is usually associated with a jolt to the central nervous system as a requisite for its use: a scary movie, witnessing an atrocity, a head injury, or such. Benny hadn’t experienced any mishaps or jolts, thought his parents. Certainly there was the usual onset of the new school year, but their son always adjusted to change with eagerness and it was a stretch to consider this a neurological jar.
But then Benny’s mom remembered the daily fare of the cafeteria food. The lunch room was known amongst disgruntled parents for serving MSG-laden Chinese-food-type lunches twice weekly. Additionally, the school had been serving eggrolls daily and Benny adored them. This prompted Benny’s mom to visit the school with a request to read the ingredients in the foods that were being served. She was shocked and angered to find that the ingredient list on nearly every food served (except for the ultra-pasteurized milk) read like War and Peace. Not only were the lists lengthy, but full of an unpronounceable cast of characters. MSG or its euphemisms appeared on nearly every label. MSG is considered a neurotoxin, Benny’s mom reasoned straightaway, and therefore represented the daily neurological shock that was likely throwing her son’s behavior into a descent. The image of Lincoln being assassinated flashed through her mind when she glared at the cafeteria “chef” who was not only clueless of the impact of his choices, but condescending toward her parental concerns.
Days later, when the remedy arrived, Benny’s mom was poised to prove that the homeopath’s and her assumptions were well-founded. Upon taking the remedy twice weekly for only a few weeks, Benny was back to drawing army guys instead of gnawing on classmates. When he became angry, it wasn’t accompanied by rage, and he was able to remain focused for most assignments at school. In fact, the next conduct report included a few phrases which made his family proud: “More focused” and even “Kindly protective of the girls.” Benny was utilizing his masculine traits in a shielding and chivalrous manner. What more can we hope for?
Now his mother gives him his remedy for a week or two any time she witnesses unbridled aggression. She notes that it has been needed less and less frequently so that in the past year Benny has taken Stramonium over a period of about nine weeks in all, despite the MSG-laced lunches.
With the extra time Benny’s mom had on her hands by no longer having to thwart teachers’ and administrators’ accusations and sidestep legal issues from fuming parents of injured children, she organized a small band of parents to present a new meal plan to the school cafeteria. It incorporated whole foods, including information on where they could be procured locally, and kid-pleasing healthy recipes that could be instantly incorporated. I can’t say for sure, but I believe a membership to WAPF was included in the package.
Benny’s school recently hoisted the white flag and surrendered to the nutrition blitz. The administration has even shown some gratitude and agreed to an armistice. No more premade sauces and egg rolls brimming with MSG. At least it’s a start.
Lucy Jones is sixteen, but you’d swear she was half that age by her behavior sometimes. The dramatics were always ramped up around the time of her menses, but her mother noticed (and so had her sisters) that she was irritable and discontented at other times as well. Most of the time Lucy was a focused teen who volunteered in student council and the church choir, all the while earning high grades. Because of this generally well-balanced lifestyle it took a while for her family to recognize that she was becoming increasingly more difficult to live with. This notion came alive however at the time of her sweet sixteen birthday party.
Lucy wanted to serve only ice cream at her party. No pizza, no chips, just ice cream, in decorative dishes with an assortment of pink toppings. Although her family generally made ice cream from the raw cream they got from their local farmer and sweetened it with raw honey, this time they didn’t have enough cream to feed the crowd invited. So Mrs. Jones bought the commercial version for the party. Lucy adores ice cream. She also loves milk, butter, yogurt. . . any dairy food. The night before the party, she and her sisters had a small bowl of the store-bought ice cream as a pre-party treat. After the family went to bed, Lucy was called by the ice cream in the freezer. So she padded out of bed, rummaged up a fork (the best way to eat cold ice cream, in her estimation) and ate an entire quart.
When the family awoke in the morning, no one noticed the naked container, but they surely noted Lucy. She was, shall we say, “hormonal.” Screeching and demanding that everyone pay attention to her because her belly was upset, she whipped her long fair hair from side to side in a female frenzy, finally collapsing into a heap of adolescent blubberings.
At first her parents were overcome, but when everything settled in their minds, they realized this behavior had occurred in the past, just not to the same degree. When they recalled the backbiting tendency of their oldest daughter toward her siblings, they remembered its association with other ice cream episodes. There was the time when Lucy vomited for hours followed by an evening of tears after the choir party when she had eaten more than a lady-like potion of ice cream. And her parents wondered if her recent low-level discontent might be related to the larger cream share to which they had recently committed with their farmer.
Mrs. Jones knew that if she took Lucy to an allopathic doctor, the “solution” would likely be antidepressants or synthetic hormones or both. No way! She had a friend from church who had learned some homeopathy and without revealing the full extent of Lucy’s histrionics, asked the friend for some direction.
The friend thought that Pulsatilla might suit Lucy since it was a remedy that’s chosen for girls who, in particular, have a craving for and detrimental reaction to dairy products. It’s also used for adolescents who can be demanding and petulant around hormonal shifts. This was perplexing to Mrs. Jones, particularly since she thought that raw milk products were wholesome. Well, of course they are, but Lucy needed a little homeopathic nudge to allow her body to utilize dairy foods correctly.
Mrs. Jones ordered Pulsatilla from her local health food store, since it’s a commonly used remedy. Lucy began taking it every week. The improvement began within the second month, when Lucy’s menses weren’t painful for the first time in years. Her family also noted that she wasn’t prickly around the usual time. She had obligingly committed to abstinence from ice cream for a few weeks, but admitted that she had succumbed in the last few days after cheerleader tryouts and had had a hot fudge sundae after not making the squad. The fact that no one in the family knew about it was a testimony to her increased ability to tolerate both dairy and disappointments. Months later Lucy subversively bought a quart of maple walnut ice cream (her favorite) and ate it over a period of days, again, without consequence. No belly aches, no tantrums.
It’s been nearly a year since she took her remedy and except for one outburst after a school friend shunned her, she’s been symptom-free, ice cream-saturated, and rather content.
American homes are full of Bennys and Lucys. School cafeterias are laden with MSG, and ice cream is ever present. Stramonium, when tailor-chosen, will uproot violent behavior in a certain number of these children. . . as long as the “picture” fits. Pulsatilla will mitigate sufferings, often regardless of previous dairy allergies. Top quality food plus a well-chosen homeopathic remedy equals well-adjusted children. These are the promises of a healthy family and a hormonally balanced childhood that make parenting a wee bit easier during critical maturation years.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2013.