the magic sugar
When I prescribed Saccharum officinale for the first time to a seven year old boy some years ago, I didn't realize that this prescription would be the starting point for the discovery of an important remedy that has now taken a first rank place in my practice. The picture of this first case was not clear at all for me, but his great desire for and striking aggravation after eating chocolate and sugar producing an enormous aggressiveness, decided me to prescribe Saccharum officinale and it had a marvelous effect. (see case 1)
Gradually the essence of Saccharum officinale was disclosed to me and I was impressed by the impact that this remedy proved to have in the treatment of my patients.
The following case was really a beautiful one and helped me a lot to understand the deeper mechanisms of the Saccharum patient.
Ralf was a three years old boy, had had eczema for two months on the lower abdomen, scrotum, penis, groins and inner side of the thighs. He had gentle character, was cheerful and had much fantasy. The most striking was his insatiable desire for sweets and chocolate. He had an aversion to warm food and vegetables from his first 18 months on. He had much salivation during the day. He got breast feeding during six weeks only because of an inflammation of the mother's breast. He sucked a dummy during the night, he didn't suck his fingers during the day. He was irritable after waking in the morning, until having taken his breakfast. He had fear of the dark and a large fontanelle closing slowly. He walked at 18 months. I gave him Sacch.off XMK. After three days he woke up in the middle of the night, weeping sadly and wished to sleep with his mother and asked her to hold him tightly in her arms. Every time she released him he woke up asking her to hold him again. The next night the same scenario took place. Then two weeks later his excessive desire for sweets was completely gone. He had less salivation, didn't need his dummy any more and his irritability before breakfast was gone as also his fear of the dark. He started to eat vegetables and his eczema disappeared slowly in three months time.
Studying Saccharum officinale as a new arrow on the homeopathic bow I was impressed by the influence that sugar proves to have on our health. Nowadays everybody is convinced of the nuisance of smoking, abuse of alcohol and drugs, but sugar is hardly suspected as a toxic agent, except for causing overweight. Nevertheless the great Dr. Constantine Hering warned us already a century ago that a large proportion of chronic diseases of women and children are developed by using too much sugar (W. Boericke). At that time sugar was already known as a antiseptic, combating infection and petrification. It has a solvent action on fibrin and stimulates secretion by the intense osmotic changes induced, thus rinsing out the wound with serum from within outward, favoring healing (W. Boericke). Also leg ulcers and myocardial degeneration were known to be caused by the use of sugar. It was given as a nutrient and tonic in wasting disorders, anaemia, neurasthenia, etc., increasing weight and power (W. Boericke).
In my observation Saccharum officinale is an important remedy for all kinds of infections: sinusitis, chronic rhinitis and otitis, with foul, purulent discharges. Probably the excessive use of sugar in our modern society (about 60 kilograms a person a year in the USA and 45-50 in Europe) is responsible for a lot of chronic infections and chronic diseases as Dr. Hering said. It provokes also a degeneration of blood vessels resulting in bad circulation and arterio-sclerosis. Many behavioral problems in children with extreme aggressiveness and restlessness are refutable to the use of sugar. (see later)
After a continued and still deeper experience with this remedy (2 years after the publications of this article in the Homeopathic Links 3/95) I would define the essence of this remedy as: lack of self love, leading to fear not to deserve his mothers love and to fear to be abandoned by her. I noticed that in children as well as in adults this fear to be abandoned initially is not always expressed, but during the treatment with Saccharum this layer dissolves only completely when this fear raises at the surface and finally disappears.
The conviction not to be worthy of the love of his parents, especially that of the mother is a deep rooted conviction and has to be resolved step by step. The basis of this fear is caused by a lack of self-love. Therefore the cure of this layer means also increase in self-love. Self-love is in some way the basis of love, as Jesus said: Love the others as you love yourself. If there is not sufficient self-love man becomes easily jealous and love becomes in some way a deal: If you love me I love you too, if you dont give me love any more, I dont give you any more my love. Unconditional love is not depending on this kind of conditions and to be a free lover we have to become free of greed, jealous and the anxiety not to be loved and not to deserve love. This is only possible if we learn to love ourselves again.
That this fear of being abandoned is mostly connected with the mother is because the child experiences his mother as the one who is his source of love, warmth, affection and assures his need for food and security. She caries and rocks him during the first nine months of his terrestrial life and assures love, affection and food during his first steps in the outer world.
THE TYPICAL SACCHARUM OFFICINALE, an example of a child and an adult
Clarke describes Saccharum children as fat children resembling Calcarea, but in my experience most Saccharum children are thin and very pale. Emaciation is as much an expression of a disturbed mechanism in the assimilation of carbohydrates as obesity.
Stephan is a three and a half year old boy with chronic ear problems from his ten months on with diminished hearing: every year from October to April he has chronic colds with frequent epistaxis and recurrent otitis media and almost a chronic ear discharge. Every winter he gets tubes in his ear drums. He is perspiring a lot, especially in his neck at night and he has profuse salivation day and night. His mouth is always open. He has an aggressive behavior, is quick-tempered, spitting at other children and sometimes throwing objects, kicking or biting other children. He has a very changeable mood. He is afraid of nothing, only as a baby he was afraid of water and screamed loudly. He only cuddles with his mother. He walked at one and a half year and started to speak early. He is warm, wearing shorts in winter and walking readily on bare feet. He has an enormous need for sweets, accepts only soft food and is very thirsty for cold drinks. He loves lemons and eggs. He has an aversion to warm food and cooked vegetables, he loves raw vegetables. I give him first Belladonna MK with some good results. The most remarkable thing after Belladonna is his bad temper after waking. But with this remedy there is not a real break through and he continues to have ear problems from time to time. There is still a big hole is his left ear drum and the otorhinolaryngologist is facing executing a transplantation. His character has not really changed. He is very restless. He has to eat frequently; when he is playing outside, he enters very often to ask for a candy. He has to eat immediately when he wakes in the morning. He can be very aggressive after his grandmother has given him too many candies. He is very sensitive to pain. He never sucked his fingers and never put anything in his mouth. When he has to leave home to go to the scouts, he is complaining of nausea and pain in the abdomen. I give him Sacch.off XMK once a month from November 1993 on. This remedy provokes a dramatic change on every level. His ear problems disappear completely and his left drum closes totally in two months. He salivates much less and he closes up his mouth gradually. He is perspiring normally again. His behavior changes greatly: he is less restless, his temper stabilizes, and he is not aggressive any longer. He has still (five months later) an abnormal need for sweets and cuddling, so I continue Sacch.off XMK once every two months. Now (May 1995) he is still fine. He never had any ear problem all that time and his behavior stayed normal, he is much less aggressive and his anger is not out of control any more. At school he has much better results, especially for language what was a problem before. He still loves sweets, but there is no sickly desire as in the beginning.
Mrs W.T. is a 55 years old married woman. She is always hungry and has to eat frequently (every one or two hours) otherwise she trembles and feels weak. She is nauseous if she takes sweets when hungry, even a little bit of chocolate is too much. She has an aversion to sweets, from her childhood on. She sucked her fingers until seven years, until she got her first brace. She is irritable after waking in the morning until she has taken her breakfast. As a child she had sudden fits of blind anger, she was very aggressive with hitting and kicking. Even now she can suddenly be very angry and can hardly control herself. She still has homesickness and has great difficulties when taking leave of persons and objects. Last year she cried when she changed her old car for a new one. She is very willing to help others and pays too little attention to herself. The rest of the symptoms indicate Carcinosin without any doubt and I hesitate whether to give first Carcinosin and then Saccharum, but I start immediately with Saccharum off. XMK. And then the feeling of hunger changes completely: she eats much less and doesn't feel the need to eat between meals any more. She is feeling much better. She can take sweets now without being nauseous.
In my practice I found several indications for hypoglycemia or problems related to a disturbed sugar metabolism as: ravenous appetite soon after eating; constant appetite, never satisfied; sleeplessness ameliorated by eating; tendency to eat frequently between meals; irresistible desire to take sweets; strong impulse to eat on waking often because of a fainting feeling or weakness; trembling when hungry; irritability when hungry especially on waking, etc.
The great material cause of hypoglycemia is without any doubt the exaggerated use of 'rapid' carbohydrates, namely of refined sugar, in our modern nourishment. The other material causes are coffee, alcohol and cigarettes. The caffeine in coffee, cola, tea, chocolate and cocoa stimulates the adrenal glands to liberate adrenaline that stimulates in its turn the release of sugar from the liver into the blood. About 70% of alcohol abusers suffer from hypoglycemia. The sugar in the blood of smokers is also increased after a cigarette. But there are also strong emotional causes underneath such as lack of affection and inability to handle affection.
Hypoglycemia strongly influences our social behavior and emotional well being. Dr. Michael Lesser stated that 67% of his psychiatric patients suffered from hypoglycemia and several researches show that our mental and social behavior becomes erratic, violent and antisocial under influence of hypoglycemia. And that is what I saw in many of my patients with an unstable sugar household, especially in children: violent fits of anger with striking, kicking, vandalism, aggressiveness and discontentedness.
Researchers discovered that the behavior of juvenile delinquents is ameliorated if they are put on a sugar free diet. In a study they found that 82% of a group of 106 suffered from hypoglycemia. When changing their nutrition the majority ameliorated dramatically their social behavior.(Spiritual nutrition and the rainbow diet; Dr. Gabriel Cousens)
THE DIFFERENT MECHANISMS OF COMPENSATION FOR LACK OF ATTENTION, AFFECTION AND LOVE
To prescribe Saccharum officinale with success it is important to be aware of the different mechanisms of compensation that the human being uses frequently. First of all we have to discern the two main reactions if someone is frustrated in his need of love and affection. Either he tries to compensate his lack by any means or he refuses any form of affection. That is the reason why Saccharum has so many opposite symptoms, for example insatiable appetite with the extreme situation of boulimia or no appetite at all and sometimes a refusal to eat resulting in anorexia. Thirst for large quantities or no thirst at all. Great need to cuddle or refusing every contact. Exaggerated sucking of fingers or no sucking of fingers at all, putting everything in the mouth or never putting anything in the mouth. Sensitive to pain or almost insensitive to pain. No appetite in the morning or ravenous appetite on waking so that he has to eat first. Even in the same person we see sometimes these kinds of contradictory symptoms as: gentleness alternating with a very aggressive behavior. Cold feet, but sometimes so hot at night sticking them out of bed.
The most frequent way to compensate a lack of affection seems to be by far the use of sweets of any kind. There is a definite link between love and sweets and that's why we say "sweet boy or girl" "honey", "sweetheart", "sugar", etc. In our 20th century sweets play an enormous role in compensating our deep and even superficial frustrations. That's why we find in the Saccharum-patient many symptoms related to food desires and aversions, appetite and eating. The most frequent is naturally the exaggerated desire for any kind of sweets, especially chocolate, licorice, pastries and biscuits. The increased desire for sweets or increased appetite before menses and the desire for sweets after dinner is also strong in Saccharum. The appetite increasing during the day is typical, no appetite at all in the morning after rising and increased appetite in the afternoon and especially in the evening, with tendency to take candies, while there is not such a need during the day. Another group is more or less subject to hypoglycemia with a strong need to eat first on waking and a tendency to eat frequently between the meals, not feeling well if the meal is postponed a little. They feel weak, trembling, empty in the stomach and dizzy or get a headache if they cannot eat at regular hours. They feel weak and irritable in the morning, have difficulty to activate themselves and feel generally better after breakfast. Though the insatiable appetite is more frequently met in Saccharum patients the lack of appetite is also seen; then there is no feeling of hunger at all at any time and there can be also a total absence of thirst, but more frequently the Saccharum patient is very thirsty.
In children we see more clearly the compensation mechanisms. The most important are: a great need for cuddling, the exaggerated sucking of fingers and the biting of nails, (in adult life transformed in a uncontrollable need to smoke), putting everything in the mouth and touching everything. I often could verify the relation between the sucking of fingers and the inveterate habit of smoking, many patients admitting that they changed the first for the latter. I was amazed to find so many adults who were still sucking their fingers. Many people smoke to reduce or to control their weight, because they have experienced already that stopping smoking means eating more, especially sweets.
Another mechanism frequently met is loquacity, most patients being not aware of their secret demand for attention.
Children still have a lot of possibilities for asking attention: doing pranks, asking again and again for something or doing things that are forbidden, asking constantly for attention when the parents talk to someone else and being jealous of their brother or sister. All means can be used by the child that needs attention: being restless, shouting, fighting, crying, having pain, being ill, etc.
In adults these mechanisms can persist or change to more adult-like forms as the exaggerated need to possess objects or to have new things with an everlasting feeling of dissatisfaction. Also the incapacity to have a deep and lasting relation with someone, seeking again and again for a new love affair, but never finding what he is really seeking for. He is like a perforated bucket, you can put all the water you want in it, but the bucket will empty itself constantly. There is a fundamental and profound frustration from early life that cannot be satisfied at the level of actual life. Only a deep transformation and cure can help such a person and homeopathy can be a very effective tool for it.
THE RESTLESS AND BEHAVIORAL CHILD (ADHD)
The main rubric for this kind of problem children in the repertory of Kent is 'restless children' and during my practice I became more and more convinced that some important remedies were failing in this rubric and that a number of this children couldn't be cured because for some reason our homeopathic experience for this kind of problems was still insufficient. Sure, there were already a lot of additions, as Tuberculinum, Bufo, Mercurius, Rhus-tox, Veratrum album and some others, and from my own experience I added Belladonna, much resembling Tuberculinum and also Stramonium with the typical anxiety at night, Carcinosin in oppressed children at school and acting out at home and Cuprum metallicum (see publication in the Homeopathic Links 2/92), but there was still a group of very restless and behavioral children that didn't fit in any of these remedies. With Saccharum officinale this rubric has gained an important remedy. In my practice Saccharum became even the most important remedy for those children and with this remedy I got the feeling we have practically all the tools we need to cure this group of children. (see example 2, case 1, 3, 7 and 9 and the children rubric of the synthesis.) I will describe one more short example of such a child.
Karl is a nine year old boy and extremely restless; he is constantly asking for attention, talks continuously; he is jealous about his twin brother; he has fear of new situations, of unknown things; he is very attached to objects and as a little child he touched everything; he fears to miss something; his mother had diabetes during the pregnancy; he is very obstinate. He got Saccharum officinale XMK once every four weeks. After each medication he touches everything and is extremely restless during a couple of days and then his behavior changes completely. He no longer has the need to compete with others and stops comparing himself with others; he is asking less attention when someone else is in the limelight; he is much more quiet; he is even satisfied to encourage his twin brother in his bicycle racing without any jealousy; music calms him a lot. When he doesn't take his Saccharum for some months the first signs of relapse are his restless hands and the sucking of his fingers. Now he takes an XMK every six weeks and is fine.
A prolonged experience with this remedy in this kind of children permits me to say actually that most of the ADHD-children (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders) are Saccharum-children. This means that this kind of disorders mostly are a problem with the carbohydrate metabolism, at least at the physical level, and that the use of sugar and carbohydrates in general attributes largely to the aggravation of this phenomenon. Therefore we see also digestive problems in these children, often constipation and flatulence and pain in the abdomen.
All this doesnt mean that the whole problem can be solved by a sugar free diet, because with this the frustration of the underlying lack of love, attention and self-love becomes even worse, but in the beginning dramatic ameliorations can often be observed. Therefore it is the work of skillful homeopaths to treat this kind of disorders on a much deeper level and to bring peace again in the whole family. A sugar free diet is then most of time not necessary and the tremendous desire for sweets is spontaneously becoming less and less.
OBESITY AND LOSING WEIGHT
Most obese people are spending their life time in trying desperately to lose weight. The problem however is a profound affective frustration underneath the exaggerated need to eat or to take sweets. The body consciousness having a deep fear of lack of affection in the future, retains and transforms every gram in fat, because that is the way the body assures his reserves. When people with overweight are following a starvation diet they get so frustrated after some weeks of heroic fasting, that after having lost five or ten kilograms they start to compensate the frustrating diet and regain their initial weight in some months or even quicker. Only the person with a very strong will can succeed such an enterprise by assuming her frustrations and by continuously taking care of her weight. With Saccharum we can help this patient more efficiently and profoundly in treating the underlying problem, but in about half the number of patients treated with Saccharum the exaggerated desire for food (if present) is not cured and the source of this problem has to be found on a still deeper level. The remedy for this deeper level is Lac maternum (mothers milk),(see publication Lac maternum and mother earth)(see example 3, case 4, 5, 8, 10 and 11)
JEALOUSY AND FORSAKEN FEELING
One of the reasons to be jealous seems to be the impossibility to share love or attention. E.g. this can be the case in an eldest child who was the only child for some years and then had to share his mother and father with a sibling who seems to attract all the attention of the parents, which causes a profound doubt about his parents' love for him. This feeling can be fixed and cause much trouble later in relationships when all the attention the partner gives to other people causes the feeling that it is taken away from him or her and that there is not enough. This feeling is based on the fear to be abandoned that is the essence of Saccharum. The child has a tremendous fear to be separated from the mother and follows her constantly, even desires to stay in physical contact with her and wants to be carried, hold her hand or sit on her lap and suck his fingers, remembering and compensating the intimate contact of the mothers breast. If he wakes up in the night, anxious, screaming for his parents, he often can be consoled only when he can lie in the bed of his parents making close physical contact with the mother, as several mothers told me it was 'as if he or she wants to creep in me'. Of course this behavior closely resembles Stramonium. School is a real tragedy for these children, some of them only are at ease if they have asked again and again to their mother if she will surely come back to pick him or her up. Often they refuse to play on the street with other children or to go for purchases because they really feel insecure when the mother is not in sight. Saccharum can liberate these children.
Saccharum officinale is made from the fresh juice of the sugar-cane, containing minerals and trace elements as Calcium, Copper, Phosphor, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, Iron, Sulphur, Zinc and Chromium.
The resemblance that struck me the most was with Belladonna, Calcarea carbonica, Carcinosin, Chamomilla, Cuprum metallicum, Lachesis, Lycopodium, Opium, Stramonium and Tuberculinum. Further we have to differentiate the group of restless children with behavioral problems coping with Belladonna, Carcinosin, Chamomilla, Cuprum metallicum, Stramonium and Tuberculinum.
Belladonna has in common with Saccharum officinale: the congestion of the head and flushes, the restlessness, the aversion for warm food, vegetables and milk, the aggressiveness with striking and kicking; the waking from fright, the bed wetting, the maliciousness; the irritability on waking, the impulse to touch everything, the changeable mood and defiance. Both are important remedies for flushes during the menopause. (see example 2 and case 9)
The resemblance with Calcarea carbonica is logical, because sugar is interacting with the calcium metabolism. The common symptoms are: obesity; tiredness; obstinacy; aversion to warm food; desire for sweets, ice-cream and milk; complaints before menses: sadness, irritability, pain in mammae, swelling of mammae; congestion of head; cold feet becoming too warm in bed; perspiration of head, especially at night; constipation.
Chamomilla can be difficult to differentiate because of: the violence, the violent anger; the kicking and striking; the irritability; the sensitiveness to pain; the extreme thirst; the desire to be carried; the restlessness; the profuse sweating at night.
The differential diagnosis with Stramonium can be very difficult because Saccharum officinale has almost the same forsaken feeling with enormous anxiety and fear of being alone at night obliging the parents to stay with the child until it sleeps (again). Other common symptoms are: clinging to the mother; ceaseless talking; extreme thirst; violence and violent rage; painlessness of usually painful complaints; jealousy; restlessness; running about. (see case 13)
Another differential diagnosis to make is with Lachesis. The common symptoms with Saccharum are: loquacity; jealousy; homesickness; depression in the morning and excitement in the evening; aversion to be touched; flushes of heat during the menopause; sensitive to pain. Enough to make a choice difficult.
The Saccharum patient can be sometimes very tense with cramps and difficult to differentiate with Cuprum metallicum. The common symptoms are: aversion of being touched; lassitude; sensitiveness to pain; restlessness; coldness of the feet; timidity; dictatorial behavior; amelioration by being carried about; irritability; destructiveness; night terrors; loquacity. (see article on Cuprum metallicum published in the Homeopathic Links 2/92)
The Lycopodium patient is another to be considered. When you are sure that you have a Lycopodium patient and the remedy doesn't work, there is a great chance that the remedy is Saccharum. I had several of such cases that proved to be Saccharum. The resemblance is striking: dictatorial behavior, want of self confidence, need of approbation, fear of undertaking new things, oversensitiveness to pain, irritability and sadness in the morning on waking, desire for sweets, insatiable appetite, defiance, disobedience, insolence, unrefreshed sleep, restlessness while sitting. (see case 7)
Tuberculinum bovinum has the following common symptoms: alternating mood; malicious, aggressive and destructive; irritable morning on waking; dissatisfied; profuse perspiration during sleep; chronic colds; desire for sweets, salt and milk; thirst for large quantities; ravenous appetite; restless, impulse to run; capricious; malicious; irritable; striking; obstinate; anxiety at night; bed wetting.
It was rather surprising to me to find Opium as a remedy close to Saccharum. The most striking common symptoms are: insensitive to pain; irresolution; open mouth; obstipation with hard balls. (see case 8)
Purposely I kept Carcinosin for the end, because it has its own history. When the picture of Saccharum became more and more clear to me I was struck by its likeness to Carcinosin. I had several cases with an almost complete picture of Carcinosin and Saccharum together. I decided at that moment not to take up the specific symptoms of Carcinosin in the picture of Saccharum, fearing to confuse both pictures. And that was a lucky choice. Much later I understood that these remedies follow one after another. During quite a long time I was doubting about the sequence, should Carcinosin always be given first or could Saccharum be given before Carcinosin if the Saccharum picture was more prominent. I had a lot of Carcinosin patients with whom there was no longer a progression in their cure and that developed a picture that I now recognize as the Saccharum picture. But giving in some cases Saccharum first almost invariably after the solution of that layer the essence of Carcinosin appeared, namely a want of self confidence came up, even in persons where the Carcinosin picture initially proved to be almost completely absent.
The most striking physical symptoms in the Saccharum picture are painful ovulation; brown discharge before the menses during some days; swelling and painful breasts before the menses; nausea, flatus, distension of abdomen; tingling in the extremities, especially in arms and fingers and sometimes also in the lower extremities; panaritium; warts; sinusitis; flatulence; constipation; hot feet; dryness of skin, dry and somewhat white spots in the face or on arms or elsewhere, dryness of hair, nails, hands, feet, inner side of nose, eyes, mouth, throat, vagina and stool. To indicate their importance and frequency I used the same system as in the repertory.