The Power of Imbalance
Working with kids in my private practice is one of my greatest joys. Aside from just the fun of connecting with young people and their families, I have found it so profoundly rewarding to be able to support a young person’s improved health and balance. In homeopathy we understand symptoms of illness to stem from a deeper state of imbalance. Homeopaths aim to restore the highest level of health possible to an individual by addressing the root causes of both acute and chronic symptoms, rather than merely temporarily removing symptoms or discomfort. And it is this process of re-establishing inner order and balance that is so incredible to see in a child. Cultivating the resiliency of a young person’s body, mind and spirit can help them avoid many painful twists and turns in their development.
Very often in healing professions, practitioners are inspired to “pay forward” to others a healing or kindness that impacted our lives, or sometimes we work to address a situation that we wish had been more timely-addressed in our own lives. My own resolution of severe chronic asthma came together beautifully only a few years ago under homeopathic care. Sometimes I wonder how different my health and strength could be at middle age if I’d not needed to rely on steroids to keep my lungs working for 35 years!
Both of these inspirations apply to my work with two young people in my practice who happened to need the same homeopathic remedy for their presenting symptoms: Aurum metallicum.
The homeopathic remedy, Aurum metallicum is derived from gold. In its natural form, it is one of our densest metals, highly biocompatible within the human body, and highly conductive and resistant to corrosion, making it invaluable in electronics. For millennia, gold has been precious for more esoteric and symbolic reasons, closely associated with the sun, life, rulers and perfection. For alchemists, it represented spiritual, physical and mental perfection, and transforming iron or lead into gold was related to the process of self-purification – from the vulgar and base to the esteemed and pure.
The themes of high value, rulers and perfection often come through clearly for people who need the remedy Aurum. But how does this translate into recognizable symptoms?
Case One: Shining Perfection
Meet Kayla, a charming 12-year old athletic and outgoing girl (all names changed for privacy). She came for help with severe stomach pains that seemed to be tied to anxiety about meeting her own high standards. She spoke about the self-imposed pressure of getting the highest possible marks in school and sports competitions – and the terrible disappointment that came if it wasn’t achieved. She was incredibly accomplished in all she set her mind to, but the smallest errors or mishaps were felt as hugely devastating, always placing the blame squarely on herself. She also held a lot of anxiety about being late that was connected to her high standards and over-responsibility – such that leaving the house to go somewhere sent her into a tailspin, for fear of an inevitably-disappointing lateness. Although affable and popular in her social circles, she was quick to eruptive anger with her sister. Her troubles manifested physically with infant colic and the last five years of almost daily stomach aches and periodic stabbing pains in her abdomen which immobilized her.
Signs of Gold
Kayla exhibited a few symptoms that fit the “picture” of the Aurum remedy: she presented as quite a serious and precocious kid; sometimes parents will describe their kids who need Aurum as “wise beyond their years”. Other things that matched well to the remedy were her ambition to be the best, setting of and strictly adhering to her own nearly-impossible-to-attain standards, punctuality, depth of self-reproach, and fear of heights and nighttime robbers. Also found in Aurum is the kind of nervous and stabbing pains in the abdomen often associated with anxiety.
Kayla was naturally ambitious, but the rigidity of her high standards was causing her undue stress. Since her infancy she’d had a susceptibility to feeling tension in her stomach and abdomen, and this was only getting stronger over the years as her need for perfection calcified. If this pattern were to continue, her suffering would only increase and she’d likely become more isolated in her drive, leading to any number of other troubles.
At follow-up one month after taking a single dose of Aurum 30c potency, she was already starting to show improvements: she was less anxious about tests and sports competitions, had less stomach pain, no cramping, fewer meltdowns preparing to leave home, less anger and fighting with her sister, and it was easier to get to sleep without company in her room. She could still feel some anxiety in her stomach, and when asked if there was any image for the sensations, she described it as an orange, brick-size object that was heavy and dense enough to require two people to move it. Its surface was smooth and shiny – uncannily, not unlike the precious metal itself that had started to support her move to greater internal balance! One year after her treatment her family reports that she is thriving and has not needed another dose of her remedy.
Case Two: The Pining Artist Longing to Shine
Taylor showed a few different aspects of the Aurum remedy. A reserved, precocious 15-year old, he struggled to live up to his own high standards especially in his artwork, resulting in self-deprecating thoughts and poor self-care. He swung quickly between depressive isolation and manic periods of creative elation or violent rages directed at his family, usually triggered by an intolerance for what he perceived as contradiction or criticism. He harbored feelings of betrayal around his parents’ separation and spoke of being misunderstood and forsaken. His rages would cause him to dissociate, bringing harm to his body, leaving holes in the walls and his family frightened. After multiple emergency visits to the psychiatric hospital, the family was facing “end of the rope” considerations: psychotropic medication and/or placement in a group home. What suffering for this kind, smart, passionate teenager!
Another, gentler aspect to Taylor was an additional clue to his remedy choice: he was a pining adolescent. He was utterly love-stricken by his first love – the longing made more acute as it was a long-distance-only relationship formed online. Never having met in person, Taylor’s wistful longing was so palpable, and it folded neatly into his tendency to isolate, daydream and despise anything that infringed upon their time together online.
Although his self- loathing stemmed from not being the artist he “knows he can be”, his perfectionism has a different life than Kayla’s. Instead of over-achieving in his studies, he has been irresponsible. This also fits the Aurum dynamic, for if he senses success is possibly outside of his reach, irresponsibility can be a protection against a verdict on his abilities, because perhaps it’s not really failure if he’s not fully applied himself.
Isolation and Return to Connection
Taylor’s state of imbalance was taking him into a place of increasing despair, collapse and desperation. Metaphorically, we can think of someone needing Aurum as the ruler who is unable to fulfill their lofty duty or responsibility. When they don’t meet the “gold standard”, their self-evaluation plummets. And usually being quite strong-willed and decisive, people needing Aurum can sometimes be those we are shocked to learn have committed suicide “out of the blue”, for the perceived fall from being at such an elevated (usually isolated) plane can be too great for many.
Taylor responded well to Aurum 30C potency. When his improvements plateaued, he needed a higher dose of 200C, and later continued with a daily liquid dose of LM potencies. Even in his first follow-up session he reported that family members had tried to instigate him, but he didn’t “take the bait”. His personal hygiene also improved, and he was able to apologize, de-escalate anger, and was starting to be more engaged with his family. Six months into treatment, he continues to slowly improve, with fewer mood swings, less intense blow-ups and more engagement with family and others.
Taylor may forever struggle with emotional regulation, and Kayla’s Achille’s heel may always be her unrealistically-high expectations of herself. We all carry our places of susceptibility. But what has been activated in these young people is a movement towards a more balanced center - a place from which they can thrive with all of their fantastic idiosyncrasies with a greater resilience and inner flexibility to be able to return to their best center.
Keynotes of Aurum metallicum
Here are some common causes of states needing this remedy: prolonged anxiety, loss of property, business failure, grief, humiliation, loss of spiritual faith, excessive responsibility, remorse, pining, after-effects of fright, loss of friendship/parents.
Common Physical Symptoms:
Inflammation of testes (especially right) or retracted or undescended testes
Pain in bones, especially in night
Painful swelling of glands
Strong heart palpitations
Hammering head pain, especially over the eyes
Congestion to the head, pulsations and pressure, feeling as if the head would explode
Often seen in kids needing this remedy:
Suited for pining boys (homesick, lovesick) with loss of appetite
Suited for pre/pubescent girls
The child can feel they deserve appreciation from family and others because they are the first and best. If they don’t achieve this, they can feel forsaken, even when others still cherish them or show that their high standard is not important to them.
Children tend to have a serious expression on their faces.
Child can be isolated from classmates. In case they experience a setback in their achievement, there is a buffer of protection from being seen/known as a failure.
Child can be precocious - parents often describe them as “too wise/smart for their age”.
Child can feel that they deserve more appreciation, but don’t get it.
Suited for suicidal children: They may not have to fight with self about it; can commit and act fully, often swiftly.
One Among Thousands
Aurum metallicum is just one of the healing metals used in homeopathic preparations. Nature provides us with healing derived from thousands of other minerals, animals and plants – each one specific to the support needed to come into our best balance and health. Although a handful of acute illnesses can be tackled by home-prescribing novices with good guide books, recurring acute illnesses, chronic conditions and emotional or behavioral disturbances should be addressed by working with a professional homeopath.
I invite you to cultivate your curiosity about homeopathy as a healing modality that may be the right fit for yourself or your children.