A PROVING OF NIDUS EDULIS
PETER B. ENGEL (BHJ. VOL. LXIV, 4, 1975)
My motivation for undertaking this proving stems from an intense and personal bias against the growing evil of child abuse. Recent estimates put the number of young children beaten to death by their parents, or others acting in the place of parents, at several hundred each year in this country alone; thousands more are permanently maimed in this manner. It is my opinion that, in general, these are criminal acts, and that young children should receive the same protection from the law that is given to adults. This is evidently not being done. Instead, social workers, doctors, and local government officials are blaming themselves and one another whenever a child has been assaulted. By contrast, such acts against adult persons usually lead to severe penalties, and the involvement of the psychiatric and social services is on a very different level.
Having clearly stated all of this, some of the causes of child abuse can now be considered. Evidently, the absence of effective legal deterrents together with the defencelessness of young children is playing a major part. Numerous investigations have also shown that child abuse is not confined to any social class, and that many of the parents involved appear to be perfectly respectable and proper people, and can even be described as loving and caring on occasions. It also seems that child abuse tends to occur at moments when the natural parental instincts have broken down. Such protective instincts in the parent can be an infant’s only safeguard, and if the present increase of “baby battering” represents a genuine trend, this can be seen as indicative of a general decline of the mothering-instinct. Certain workers have come to this conclusion.
Homœopathy can offer some help where parental instincts fail to develop. Sepia is the most outstanding example. Any additional remedy covering this particular area would be welcome. Definite guidelines for the finding of such a substance do not exist, but it is known that many of our remedies taken from the animal kingdom are, in fact, highly specialized glandular secretions, e.g. Lachesis, Mephitis, Bufo, Moschus, or Sepia. A glandular secretion most intimately associated with the mothering instinct would be the edible bird-nest used in Chinese cookery. It consists of the inspissated product of the bird’s sublingual glands. Many birds use their saliva as an adhesive for binding other nest-building materials, but the nests of the oriental Collocalia are made from this substance alone. An unadulterated sample was obtained from Malaysia. It is cream-coloured, somewhat fibrous and parchmentlike, swells up but does not dissolve in water, nor in alcohol. When perfectly dry it can be ground into a fine powder, and this was potentized by trituration.
The potencies used for the proving ranged from 3x to 30. Definite reactions were obtained from all these potencies, and did not materially differ from one another. Experience with other remedies would suggest that high potencies may be more efficacious in clinical use.
PROVER AND METHOD
Two batches of volunteers were available. The first (Nos.1 to 20) was drawn from the staff of a residential school for handicapped children. Only one of them is a qualified doctor. Most are men and women aged between 10 and 25, and are in daily contact with children, but only one (No.14) has children of her own. This group carried out the proving in December. It was at the end of a busy school term, and there was much coryza and influenza about; hence the reported effects on the respiratory system are of little value and have been omitted from the descriptive report.
The other group of provers (Nos.21 to 29), also mostly young adults, were not in contact with children, and the trial took place in March.
None of the provers were told what kind of substance they were taking, or what possible effects to expect. The potencies were given once, twice, or three times daily, for periods of one to fourteen days. Provers were asked to observe themselves and to pay attention to symptoms generally falling into the rubrics of Kent’s Repertory. They were instructed to keep daily records extending to one week after the last dose had been administered, and not to tell one another of their symptoms. Only after all reports had been handed in was the origin and purpose of the experiment explained to them. These precautions were taken because of my own definite views and intentions, and in order to eliminate any possible factors of suggestion.
Several provers did not hand in reports, some having dropped out for personal reasons (a bereavement, a sudden marriage), others because of coincidental illness (influenza); one had been given unmedicated lactose as a control-and reported no symptoms. Two others also noticed no symptoms. Yet another vomited so much after the first dose (6x) that further co-operation was refused.
The written reports were then analysed. A statistical analysis is given in Table 1. A descriptive analysis follows, consisting entirely of unaltered quotations from the provers’ reports.
My self-control with the children seems to be swinging more of late; children not well managed by me. Much more in control of myself than I had been for quite a while. Two days later: Felt very out of control, got extremely angry with the children at times (1).
Nervous and fidgety. I notice the peripheral rather than the immediate. Things pass by, I feel very remote; a complacent feeling. Today very forgetful (6). I have been, and still am, very impatient with the children, asking too much of them; difficulties to concentrate on any job. I feel lazy and am longing for a change (8). Fluctuating moods between feeling very good-humoured, smiling, tolerant, rather “floating” above all that is going on-and an irritable, intolerant mood with a desire to rest, to sleep during day. Marked swings between very alert, energetic mood with too much enthusiasm, laughing to sudden irritability or anger, accompanied by tiredness; little reserve of energy, no strength to go out towards people. A calm withdrawal from people rather than irritability. Inwardly exhausted, though physically energetic. Alert wakefulness most of the day, then sudden tiredness. Calm resignation to the world, little interest in people, indifference. No enthusiasm for anything, inertia.Others say I have been very melancholic, but on my part it is not melancholia, rather withdrawal, lack of interest, lack of will-power. Predominant mood for the last days has been a “non-mood”, apathy (9). Needed much effort to do various jobs. Somewhat intolerant towards the children. Overcome by a wave of exhaustion, mentally and physically; senses were numbed with fatique (10). Drowsiness. Over-reacted to children, defensive with adults. “Exploded” for the first time. Slow-moving, poor concentration in early evening (11).
My mood changed. In the morning really tired - all of a sudden one of the best days for ages! (12). Surprisingly well, less tired, most unusual for me. Unusually relaxed (13). Woke up feeling extremely tired. By 11 a.m. felt much better, but at 5 p.m. got very irritable, until 7 p.m. Very tired, depressed, better at lunchtime, in the evening. By 6 p.m. very irritable but settled again by 9 p.m. (16).
Very awake and full of energy. Next day, jittery and nervous on waking. At supper very detached and objective attitude towards children. Predominant mood was cheerfulness. In early evening began to feel very depressed and irritable. Went through the motions of getting the children to bed without much feeling for them, and with the desire for as little relation to them as possible. Avoided verbal contact with the children because I knew I would say something unjust and out of proportion with their actions. In the morning, bags of energy, but after 11 a.m. very sleepy. Many moods quickly changing from extreme of one to extreme of another; very high, depressed, aggressive, and irritable at different times. Just wanted to sit down and cry. Felt really great during visit to theatre. A sort of inner tiredness, no emotions, no inclination for work. Very depressed, spent most of the afternoon having short crying session ns; highly strung, as if waiting for something to snap. Two days later: Some enthusiasm returned, in evening almost hysterically giggly. At a meeting completely confused, “spaced out”; jumpy, accident-prone (18). A certain amount or irritability; lethargic (19). Comfortable to sit very still and only listen. Felt abstracted and aloof (22).
Around lunchtime, shaky all over, hand trembling. Feeling of well-being during the day, and awareness of world as though looking outward from within. Sense of unreality. Very restless. No desire to concentrate on conversation-leaving mind to wander. Connection to world around has been more noticeable, especially in respect to time. Desire to lose myself in what is happening around, but frustrated by nothingness; could almost cry from frustration of non-realization of inner needs of consciousness. Very energetically charged with tension, unable to find release. Time orientation very weird; at any moment of the day must pause to consider the time of day. Impatient for nothing in particular. Talking to myself aloud, always in Polish or Spanish, never in English. Past events recalled very vividly. Deep depression set in this morning. Walking down the road seemed to be walking on the spot. Desire to smile into oblivion-alcohol-sleep. Can’t get down to anything. Tense energy often coming out in excessively high spirits-body clenching. Time sense still strange, moments just pass; sense of expectancy (25).
The clarity of thinking struck me: A phase of hightened awareness. Whole-heartedly involved in whatever I do, experiencing tiredness, hunger, thirst, anger, sexual desire, flushing through me in concentrated spurts, each passing over quickly into the next. Initiative seems to spring forth spontaneously. Very tired, fell asleep reading on floor, felt absolutely leaden, could hardly get onto bed. Like an engine on a cold day, only half there. Drank three pints of lager and my thinking was crystal clear - fantastic! I seemed to be falling asleep from inside. Difficulty in getting up, and almost impossible to be there throughout the day.
Working at a snail’s pace (26).
Inclination for work high. Reaction to broken water main phlegmatic, even amused; slightly detached attitude to others. Argued against a suggestion where one would usually have gone along with it. Thinking clearer than usual, more in command of events. Very tired quite early in evening (27).
Badly depressed. Little energy or enthusiasm. Terrible apathy. Cheerful, more energy, good mood, but slightly scatty (28). Depression in early afternoon, later sleepiness. More easily upset over trifles. In a bad mood annoyed over nothing. Tendency to excitability increased. Diarrhoea probably due to nervous tension. Fluctuations of mood, finished good!! (29).
Ache behind forehead from mid-day, eased about 4 p.m. (2). Headache and pains at the back of my jaw. Scalp slightly itchy. Headache came in surges, on right side (6). Woke up with headache which persisted throughout the morning (14). In morning, a wave of dizziness, repeated later, and pressure on my head (16). Heaviness in the head, and ache in the neck. A bad headache (18). First dose at 8 a.m. as the morning wore on, headache started which grew quite severe towards late afternoon and eased in the evening. Face and forehead very hot and flushed at this time. Headache and shivering all day (19). Headache in afternoon and early evening (24). Pressure on temples while out driving. Sudden powerful pain around temples which lasted very short. Heavy headed, as if head was heavy ball. Dizziness within head, could hardly stand because of it. Experience of things around me moving when not loking at them. Pain just below ears and to back of neck (25). Equilibrium better than usual (27). Took medicine at 9.30 a.m. About 12.00 felt dizzy and muggy-headed. Bad attack of dandruff, had never been this bad! (29).
Spotty in the face since taking the substance. Spots vanished soon after the proving (1). Hot and flushed; hot and prickly (6). Tops of both ears feeling bruised and sore, more so on the right, for several days. Itchiness on the face—“heat spots”. Face generally irritated all over, dry and very hot. Numb sensation around mouth (18). Tingling, half-numb feeling around nose, mouth, and chin. Face and forehead very flushed; discomfort confined to head and face (19). Slight irritation of face, a bit reddened (22). Face very dry and burning (25).
Eyes wide open, feeling a bit sore (6). My eyes felt very strained, for three days (16). Aching eye muscles when trying to focus on objects at different distances (for three days) (19). Smarting of the eyes and, later, heaviness of the lids. Strange images-vivid-on closing eyes. Tendency to rest eyes on distance but not focusing any object. Felt uncomfortable if needed to focus on close objects (25). Very sore right eye all day. Eye-tiredness. Eyes continued to be sensitive (29).
Upset stomach, lasting three days (1). Increased appetite for starchy foods, bananas, for four days. Anything but small quantities causes heaviness. A positive revulsion against food (2). After eating two slices of bread I felt sick, movement in stomach. Ache in lower abdomen. Two days’ stomach trouble (8). Rather bored with food. Appetite very poor. Appetite back to normal. Little interest in food, pain across abdomen and general discomfort in bowels (9). Day 4: Slight nausea. Day 6: Vomited (11). Pain in the stomach; towards evening started to feel sick and thought I was going to throw up (12). A wave of sickness (16). Very upset stomach for three days(19). Abdomen a bit swollen. Felt very sick for about half an hour, did not vomit. Nausea several times during the day. Felt sick from 3 p.m. (18). Repeated sensations of nausea at meal times; a lot of wind in the guts. Very hearty appetite, verging on obsession for food. Very strong belches easing sense of nausea and discomfort in stomach (25). Unquenchable thirst; it seems to be a sort of consciousness safety-valve until I slake it (26). Indiscriminately good appetite, not confined to any particular food. Quite bad indigestion, heartburn, wind in stomach (27). Felt very hungry and ate much more than usual. Stomach slightly upset (28). Slight stomach ache in afternoon. A tight stomach. Unusual lack of interest in food (29).
Period heavier than usual (12). Period finished four days ago, but now slight discharge of blood; again the following day, also on next day. ‘Sexually aware’. On tenth day: Odourless discharge, for three days (25). Started period a week early—unusual (29).
Slight pain on walking, at base of second toe, for five days (2). Uneasy in my limbs; aches in my bones (6). Pain in right shoulder, radiating down (8). Sore spot on side of one toe. Pain like pulled muscle at back, on right (9). Woke up with stiff shoulder, aching most of the day (12). Heaviness in arms and legs with mild pain (14). Woke up with pain in back and legs (16). Shivery; aching wrists and shoulders (19). Finger tips dry, cracked, sore, tingling. Ache high in the shoulder blade. Constant muscle pain in left shoulder. Short periods of tingling in feet. Irritation on back of both hands; very itchy small red lumps (18). Hands shaking, trembling (25). Joints of elbows very sore when filing. Neck stiff when lying (27). Pins and needles in left foot (28).
Very tired (1). Tired early (2). General tiredness (4). Difficult to wake, long dreams (6). Dreaming more than usual (8). A need to sleep during day, after lunch and after supper as well. Tiredness comes quite suddenly and I have to sleep. Violent and fearful dreams, which I do not usually have (9). Very tired (10). Extremely tired (12). Had a short rest after lunch, woke up with a jerk, dreaming I had dropped a very large bottle (14). Very sleepy (19). Very tired (18). Tired early. Very difficult to wake in the morning. Dreams very vivid, of family, of children-also entering my consciousness during the day (25). Dead tired in afternoon, dropping asleep by 9.30. Difficulty in waking, in getting up (26). Very tired quite early in evening (27). Aching to go to sleep by 9.30. Went to sleep and missed supper. Slept all afternoon (28). After 2 a.m. unable to sleep. Sleepiness in evening (29).
Evidence has been produced to show that potencies of Nidus edulis can evoke symptoms in healthy provers. No clinical experience is as yet available, but in accordance with the law of similars certain therapeutic qualities may be surmised. These would resemble the effects of the provings that point to conditions characterized by sudden changes of mood, states of consciousness, sociability, inclination to work, and appetite; phases of aloofness, anger, apathy, impatience (especially with children), together with tiredness, nausea, headache, and flushing of the face.
This does not necessarily meet the original intentions as mentioned at the beginning, but it may prove useful for a number of other conditions, chiefly in the area of emotional instability.
TABLE I STATISTICAL ANALYSIS
Prover No. 1 2 6 8 9 10 11 12 14 16 18 19 22 24 25 26 27 28 29
Potency 4x 6x 12x 12x 6x 12x 4x 12x 10x 4x 10x 3x 20x 30 20x 20x 30 6x 15x
Sex M M M M M F F F F F F F M F F M M F F
Single/Married S S S S S S S S M S S S M W S S S S S T*
Emotional irritability + + + + + + + + + + 10
Sleepy, drowsy, tired + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + 15
Lethargy, disinclined for work + + + + + + + 7
Physical exhaustion + + + + + + 6
Mental exhaustion + + + + + + + 7
Excessive energy + + + + + + + + + 9
Cheerful, sociable + + + + + + + + 8
Gay, giggling, laughing + + + + 4
Extremes of moods, changing + + + + + + 6
Depression + + + + + + + + 8
Inclined to weep + + 2
Intolerant with children, “detached” + + + + + + 6
Lapses of memory + + 2
Insomnia + + + 3
Upset stomach + + + + + + + + 8
Nausea, vomiting + + + + + + + 7
Constipation + + 2
Increased appetite + + + + + 5
Headache + + + + + + + + + 9
Aching eyes, eye-strain + + + + + + + 7
Hot, irritating face + + + + + + 6
Tingling mouth, nose, chin + + 2
Tingling, rash on hands, toes + + + + 4
Vertigo + + + 3
Generally joint pains + + + 3
Pain in one shoulder + + + 3
Sore back and limbs + + + + + 5
Chest pains + + + + + 5
Shivering + + + + 4
Generally cold + + + 3
Generally hot + + + 3
Sore throat + + + + + + + 7
Cough + + + + + + 6
Influenza, coryza (incidental) + + + + + 5
*T = Total number of provers reporting the symptom.