Ooh, we homeopaths love toxins. No, we’re not masochists. It’s just that we consistently observe that toxins, when diluted according to homeopathic methodology, make for the best medicines, exemplifying the law of like cures like.
Zincum metallicum is no exception. Even though zinc is a fundamental prerequisite for human health, overexposure to large quantities of zinc can be harmful and cause zinc toxicity. Worse yet, when used on the skin to address eruptions, it can easily restrain the presentation of exterior illness and cause it to submerge to a deeper, more troublesome level of illness. That’s where homeopathy comes in. Although other authors in this issue of Wise Traditions will highlight zinc’s many health attributes, I will examine its dark side from the standpoint of homeopathy, and particularly by way of a story that elucidates the point.
One of the things that makes us human, as well as makes us fine parents and ultimately good citizens, is a need to make things right for our families. The appeal of homeopathy lies in exploring the thrill of just how gentle and yet curative homeopathy can be in the hands of parents. Let’s take the Connors family for example.
Carolyn Connors’ third child, Michael, is chubby, robust and happy. Except for one little thing. He has a history of convulsions nearly every time he falls asleep. Not a mild concern for a parent. No one on either side of the Connors family has a history of neurological illness and certainly no seizure disorders. It was an agonizing mystery.
Carolyn had been following WAPF principles for years. Well, not perfectly, but she undeniably put a certain effort into it. She also incorporated homeopathy wherever she could since her first baby was born. That meant that when one of her children had strep throat, she usually counted on Belladonna 30 and plenty of pasture-fed bone stocks. It also meant that she usually relied on homeopathy for skin rashes, cradle cap, and other allergy-related disorders. For the Connors family, it was a no-brainer to integrate the best of both modalities.
However, when she met with the family homeopath regarding Michael’s seizures, she recognized that she had overlooked a key aspect of the situation.
Successful homeopathic treatment, actually any successful approach to health care, requires the assembly of a timeline. That is, a reconstruction of what happened last, including procedures and drugs that might have been used, what happened just previous to that, and so on in reverse order. Most homeopaths lay this out in pencil which allows for easy revisions as the events unfold. Carolyn was accustomed to this extra measure of detail, since she and her family had been meeting with their homeopath for nearly a decade, but had not thought such precision was relevant this time.
In the case of her baby’s seizures, Carolyn applied her memory as to what could have triggered such a severe neurological response. “Ill health is usually not random,” she remembered her homeopath saying time and again. But no exciting cause could be discovered for Michael’s problem. Well, at least not until a complete history of his health was reviewed in minute detail. The following is what the homeopath and Carolyn ascertained on close examination of the events that led up to the convulsions.
SEEMINGLY INNOCENT EXPOSURE
At about eight months of age, Michael suffered an unpleasant diaper rash. It was while the family was visiting grandparents in Florida over Christmas. The food they were accustomed to eating at home was, of course, not offered and Carolyn had to admit that the baby, and in fact all of them, had eaten more than their share of Christmas cookies, cakes and breads. . . all store bought. In no time, Michael’s bottom was so affected that the skin was crimson, taunt and shiny. Although Michael’s mom traveled with their homeopathy kit and a reference book, this time her usual methods were inadvertently preempted by Michael’s adoring grandmother. Always willing to contribute, Grandma had just the thing for the diaper rash. It was a zinc oxide cream that was handy and right there in the bathroom. Carolyn was in a hurry to get the kids off to a family gathering and would normally not have used such a product, but she made a quick rationalization. “It’s just this one time and it will probably offer the baby some quick relief.” She was partially right.
The skin was less angry and Michael didn’t fuss as much when she wiped the area at the next diaper change. But then, Michael’s grandma offered to buy a tube should the eruption return. “Keep this on hand in your diaper bag, just in case, dear.” Not for another few days did the eruption return and the Connors family began counting on the diaper rash ointment for several days.
In homeopathy, we always seek to find not only the initial provocation, but the sum of symptoms that will point to the remedy that represents the entire person. To treat all children with convulsions in the same manner is what I call vending machine medicine. That’s why it’s key to establish how the convulsions typically present, along with any other concomitant symptoms so that each bit of evidence lies before us.
ZINC AND SUPPRESSED ERUPTIONS
Most plants, animals and minerals have an injurious side to them. This so-called sinister side can reveal the substance’s secrets as to how it can be used in homeopathic preparation. Like many homeopathic remedies, Zincum metallicum is an element found on the periodic table. When made into a homeopathic remedy via the homeopathic dilution process, we learn that it is a premier remedy for rashes, such as eczema, exanthems, and interestingly, in seizures as well. But a most significant characteristic of Zincum metallicum is the ease in which skin eruptions are suppressed and driven to a deeper, more serious pathology.
Roger Morrison, MD’s exposition of Zincum metallicum in Desktop Guide to Keynotes and Confirmation Symptoms lists the symptoms that it addresses this way: “twitches, convulsions, jerks, fasciculation, eruptions, easily suppressed, chronic complaints from suppressed exanthema.” James Kent, MD, in Lectures on Homeopathic Materia Medica puts it thusly, “There is a tendency to convulsions, drawing in the extremities. . . and an inability to throw eruptions to the surface.”
In short Zincum metallicum is a remedy associated with a reaction to suppressed eruptions. That is, eruptions that are “treated” with ointments, which hold back the true pathology and in turn, drive the illness to a deeper state. The remedy can resolve this problem.
In Michael’s case, it became evident that the ointment treatment was what unleashed the latent disease lurking below the surface. Most folks don’t make the connection between suppressed skin eruptions and deeper pathologies that follow. Indeed, why would they? The correlation would not be roused unless this homeopathic tenet was known.
LAWS OF TREATMENT
In Dr. Samuel Hahnemann’s revolutionary treatise on homeopathy, The Organon, he discusses in Aphorism 202 the following law of health that played itself out in Michael’s case. “If the physician of the old school (allopathic medicine) destroys the local symptom by some external means, (ointments, etc.) thinking thereby to heal the entire disease, nature compensates for this by awakening the internal malady and the other symptoms that have lain dormant next to the local disease.”
That is, the internal disease, which has lain dormant, will be awakened when the localized pathology of a less important disease is “treated” with drugs. More disturbing is the fact that without the knowledge of these laws at hand, it leaves the drug and dermatologist unaccountable. When the localized symptoms disappear, the vicious circle continues, potentially for a life time. The internal disease’s defending outlet is potentially blocked forever. This action is accompanied by the rerouting of disease, thus affecting the more vital organs and biological systems. In essence, a lesser illness (diaper rash) is traded for a more dire one (convulsions). If Michael had been taken to a neurologist, an additional drug would have been hurled at the new symptoms.
Have you ever wondered why so many young people today are chronically ill? Modern medicine is so wrapped up in its worldview that it customarily dismisses other opinions, theories and health laws that don’t support its position. Until the sacred rules of health are embraced, no one will recognize the deleterious effects of seemingly blameless actions. Back to Michael and his mom. Once the homeopath recognized that the ointment likely suppressed Michael’s skin eruption and drove it to the central nervous system, the remedy choice was evident. Not only because the ointment was made from zinc, but more importantly because the symptoms of convulsions after skin suppressions are keynotes of the remedy Zincum metallicum. Within a week or so after Michael was given Zincum metallicum 30C, (orally) three times per day, Carolyn called to report that the seizures had completely melted away. The seizures simply no longer existed. What do you suppose returned within days once the seizures were halted? You guessed it! Michael was revisited by the diaper rash. And thankfully so. Now his mom could treat a lesser illness appropriately, not with polyester medicine, but with a medicine that cures the entire person and doesn’t compel more sobering illness to surface.
Zincum metallicum 30C was administered for another week and the power of the remedy inspired Michael’s natural healing ability that faded the rash away. Was it placebo? Of course not! How could a baby be influenced by such? Is this anecdotal? Indeed! However, it has also been clinically observed for the last two hundred and more years that Zincum metallicum offers consistent results for these kinds of pathologies in hospitals, clinics, private practices. . . and in the homes of intelligent moms.
Dr. Hahnemann observed these results when he proved this remedy using double blind methodology back in the early 1800s. The likes of Dr. James Kent also observed the same in Chicago in the 1920s as did Dr. Roger Morrison in 2000 and other physicians who have documented such findings. But what is most significant in this case is that the Connors family witnessed their baby return to whole health once more.
Like all stories, a satisfying end must be played out. This one has a dramatic epilogue. Approximately eight months later, Michael began convulsing during sleep again. It wasn’t as severe as before, but his mother noted the disease had most certainly returned. She promptly contacted her homeopath.
Knowing that someone who has been aided by Zincum metallicum in the past is susceptible to easily suppressed symptoms, the first question asked was if there had been any skin eruptions, such as diaper rash or such. “Yes,” recalled Mrs. Connors. “But it’s better now that….oh, no!” This is when she remembered that her mother-in-law had been visiting at the time the diaper rash returned and had been applying the ointment again! The timeline of events coursed through her mind at warp speed: skin eruption followed by application of ointment followed by suppression of symptoms followed by latent, more serious illness.
Once again Zincum metallicum 30C was employed. This time it was three weeks before the benefits were accrued. As the neurological disease abated, like a finely tuned clock, the eruption reappeared. Then, that too died away. Sigh.
I know what you’re thinking. “Throw out the damned ointment!” That’s what I say, too, minus the expletive.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Winter 2012.