Toughing it out: a case of Millefolium
A professionally successful fifty-year-old man came to my office for care after undergoing a nephrectomy due to kidney cancer. Apart from the surgical removal of his affected kidney, his doctors had no other treatment to offer. His wife sent him to my clinic to prevent a return of the cancer, as well as to find a remedy for any acute situation which might arise. Her concern was in part catalyzed by her husband’s tendency to ignore and minimize his symptoms. The developing kidney malignancy had been accompanied by recurring blood in the urine and pain. Eventually, he could not tolerate the pain anymore but by that time, the tumor had already grown to the size of eight cm. Seeking care earlier did not fit into his worldview of toughing it out.
Patient (P): “I will explain with an athletic metaphor: if we, as a sports team, had not often toughed it out, we would have often lost the game. Or as an emergency medic you have to ask what is important now, which requires enormous strength. We do this to achieve something in the end and to not give up too early. You have to know that you can achieve this if you put your foot on the gas pedal, without outside help, and with just your own body.“
He described himself as an optimistic tough guy, who never needed pain medication, who would not take novocaine at the dentist. To complain is not manly. To fall down is not shameful but to stay down is. “I don´t need a safety net. I should have become a firefighter. When things get tough, I put my foot on the gas and then things will work out. That is my way of life. When there is a lot going on, I respond by performing well, hard, and fast.“
When he learned of his diagnosis, he said: “Bring the tools and cut it out.“ During the operation a small vein in his abdominal wall was injured and he almost bled to death. He needed ten pints of blood and had to stay in intensive care for quite a while. About this he said: “When all others lose their nerves, my time will come.“
He always wanted to build a house for his family, with a solid roof, tight windows, and a fence around it. He is a “cave builder“. In this way, he would be safe from the insecurities of life. The family needs a safe place to diminish uncertainty and to be protected from vulnerabilities.
P: “I do things purely out of fear of injury. Friends know how to hurt me; carelessness hurts me psychologically, but I pretend it does not bother me. Only with my wife can I show vulnerability; there my set of tools doesn´t work so well. I make fun of myself first in order to prevent others from making fun of me and thereby hurting me.“
“ Yes", says his wife, "he does have a very vulnerable emotional side to himself, which is incredibly soft and often touched. His father, an extreme athlete, died at the age of forty-eight of a stroke; he was dead within one hour. The patient was ten years old then and never grieved the death of his father. “You have to cope with the new situation and make the best out of it.“
His past medical history includes a massive disc herniation, which had paralysed his entire abdominal wall. “This brought me to the edge of my pain tolerance and I had to take painkillers; I could not cope otherwise.“
In this case, the theme was vulnerability, as well as the compensation for this on the physical as well as on the psychological plane. This is the theme of the Asteraceae plant family. I then search for a remedy in that family, which would handle injuries with a “set of tools mentality“, as my patient refered to it, and at the same time show a strong bleeding tendency. It was striking and unusual that the patient almost bled to death with just a small injury to a small vein.
According to Sankaran‘s miasm theory, this fits into the typhoid miasm, where it is crucial to perform at one’s peak in a crisis. Chamomilla as well as Millefolium fit into this miasm. The fitting remedy was “Achillea millefolium“. The name of this remedy stems from Achilles, the hero of the Trojan war, who is said to have used Millefolium to heal his wounds.
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Prescription: Millefolium 200C, twice over a large span of time. Later, 1M was given, four times over four years, always to treat an acute infection. He always reacted promptly. He was always healthy again after one day. His creatinine levels, which were initially high after his nephrectomy ( 1.4 mg/dl ), normalised ( 0.9mg/dl ). All subsequent screenings were normal.
Later on, I referred him to family constellation therapy, as I suspected that his disease possibly could have something to do with the absence of grieving the early death of his father. Amazingly enough, this was not at all the case. Instead, there was a strong connection to his maternal grandfather who was seriously injured during the war. My patient returned after the therapy to report the following: “You know, my remedy Millefolium is commonly known as “Soldier‘s herb“. Millefolium was often used in ancient times to stop bleeding of war injuries. My grandfather was a war correspondent who had been a prisoner of war in Russia until 1955, and therefore was one of the last ones to get released. He died a few month later as result of the hardships he had endured. The representative of the grandfather during the family constellation reported that he had only survived that long because of a plant which stopped the bleeding. Could it be that Millefolium was this plant?“
Patients who need a remedy from the Asteraceae family are often “tough guys“ who are unable to react adequately to injury, who will take a lot, not allowing themselves to feel pain. They react to physical as well as emotional pain with a numbing response. The healing process can begin when this blockage dissolves and the patient allows injury and pain to be felt, as it was with this patient. During a follow up, the patient could cry and face the pain that he had supressed for so long. He visited the grave of his grandfather several times and felt at peace with him. He also feels the presence of his grandfather during long walks in nature and finds him a calming presence. “He is there and that is good.“
He has been under homepathic care with Millefolium for six years and is without complaint.
Note: Millefolium was classified as typhoid miasm by Dr. Willi Neuhold of Graz, Austria
Tough going; weedezign
Keywords: renal cancer, vulnerability, fearlessness, tough, numbing response to pain, need to protect the family
This article was originally published in www.interhomeopathy.org