A Case of Autoimmune Illness - SLE

A woman we’ll call Gail first came to see me about 8 months ago after being diagnosed with Lupus. Apparently, it had been coming on over the last year. Normally a high energy ‘doer’, she had been extremely fatigued, feeling like she ‘weighed 400 pounds’. Then a few weeks before our visit, around the time of a stressful holiday, she woke one morning with excruciating pain throughout her body. It was, she explained, as if her soft tissue was ‘singing’.

‘Lupus’ is short for ‘lupus erythematosus’, which is not a single disease entity, but actually a number of autoimmune diseases that attack various parts of the body. The name is a Latin term dating back to the 13th century referring to the red skin lesions that at the time where thought to look like the bite of a wolf.1

While there is a great deal of individuality in the symptom picture, most people do feel pain in their joints. Fatigue, hair loss, sunlight sensitivity, swollen glands, fever, chest pain and a characteristic butterfly rash across the cheeks and nose are often found. There is no definitive test for lupus, but if a person meets 4 out of 11 diagnostic indicators, they are consider to have it.

The 3 main types of the disease are: - ‘discoid lupus’ mainly affects the skin, - ‘drug-induced lupus’ that arises from certain prescription drugs. - ‘Systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE is the most common type, making up as much of 70% of the lupus cases. As the name implies, it manifests throughout the body, possibly affecting joints, skin, heart, kidneys, blood vessels or the brain.

It was of this latter form of the disease that Gail suffered. In fact, about 90% of people diagnosed with the disease are women, usually of childbearing age (though Gail was somewhat older).

In Gail’s case, the symptoms of her condition first broke through when there were some family stresses, something that she described as a ‘perfect squeeze box’. Around that time, she awoke one morning with excruciating pains. They felt better by soaking in hot baths but would return again.

A tremendous fatigue and brain fog accompanied the pains. Normally a ‘doer’ who needs to move about, Gail felt the worst thing about the situation a sense of being held back or restrained from normal activity. When I asked her to describe it further, she said it is like she can't breath or break free. Something from the outside was restraining her and making her feel helpless.

She went on to describe a similar experience in her first marriage. “I felt trapped and claustrophobic living with someone I couldn’t get a way from. I was too isolated to break free, but finally escaped.” The situation was so dire that she wondered whether he was poisoning her.

As a child, Gail also had a claustrophobic feeling living in a home with inattentive parents who left her unprotected from sexual predators. She at once felt vulnerable, yet smothered and restrained, only finding solace in nature where she could be free. Similarly, Gail described a fear of groups and crowded cities where she felt squeezed, pressed in – and restrained.

This state was reflected in recurrent dreams of being chased and feeling alone without help in the face of a huge danger. She has to figure out a means of escape on her own.

Although she had made great strides in freeing herself from the residual traumas of childhood and the first marriage, they were still not fully resolved because intimacy and sexuality were still very difficult.

As an adult, Gail doesn’t like being inside. She craves the out of doors, with ‘the wind, the air and the freedom.’ Riding a motorcycle is a particular pressure, making her feel like she is flying. Gail also has a tremendous passion for horses and riding, which produces similar sensations.

When asked what aspect of nature is most attractive, she unhesitatingly replied that it was ‘the earth, the trees and the birds’. ‘I’m passionate about trees and feel a real connection with the birds, their sounds and movements, their beauty and awareness. Bluebirds are my specialty. There is something about their song and color.”

In understanding the case, its dynamic and the internal conflict were clear. There was a recurring experience of being restrained, trapped, squeezed and smothered accompanied by a sense of being in danger, vulnerable and unprotected. This state arose in her disease, her marriage and her childhood. She needs to escape, to move, to be outside and in nature. This desire was most completely fulfilled when on a horse or motorcycle when she feels like she is flying.

From a homeopathic perspective, the sense of danger and unprotected victimization indicated the need for a remedy from the animal kingdom. Additionally, the contrast between being trapped and the desire to move – specifically, to fly – pointed toward the bird class of animals. In Gail’s case, it was not an aggressive bird like a raptor, but something smaller, more defenseless. Fortunately, she provided a more exact source for the remedy – the bluebird.

A month after taking the homeopathic medicine ‘Silia’, derived from the feather of a bluebird, Gail reported a dramatic change. “After I took the remedy, it was like a tornado permeated me. I could feel it working on me. My energy surged, and my physical momentum feels restored.” At that point, she then began an anti-inflammatory dietary regimen.

At subsequent follow-ups, Gail continued to report of improvement in her symptoms and sense of wellbeing. But, after about 5 months, although physically she felt dramatically better there was still a lingering issue related to her history of sexual abuse and its effect on her sex life as an adult.

Focusing on this aspect of her case, the prescription was switched to another remedy from the same class, the peregrine falcon. Following up a month later, Gail told of initially feeling quite irritable and anger toward her mother. This changed after several days into a gentler, less vulnerable disposition and greater intimacy with her current husband.

At present, some 8 months after beginning treatment, Gail has regained her energy and mental function, her physical symptoms are greatly reduced and she has lost 25 lbs. It is too early to speak of her lupus being cured, but it certainly is in remission and she lives her life without restraint.