Depressed or Exhausted? A Case of Gelsemium
Filed under Clinical Cases
“I don’t know what’s wrong with Dov,” she said on the phone. “I think he’s depressed. He’s definitely not himself. He’s not getting up until one in the afternoon, sometimes, two or three. Or he gets up and goes back to bed. He has no interest in anything. He just mopes around the house.”
I had known Dov for over nine years. He was one of the most energetic men I knew. In fact, he could be downright boisterous with his enthusiasm and joie de vivre.
I called Dov. “I’m tired all the time,” he said. “I get up at 2 p.m. My eyes want to close. If I get out of bed at 8:30 or 9:00 I want to go back to bed. My eyelids are heavy.”
Dov was an avid motorcycle rider. He loved riding for miles in the open air. I asked him if he was riding. “No. I’m exhausted. The very idea of suiting up and wheeling it out is exhausting.”
I asked if he was getting out and seeing people. “I don’t make any effort to be around people,” he said. “I avoid people and I feel lonely.”
He only felt happy around his wife, whom he adored. “When I found Joline, I found my soul mate. She is my world. I stay with her until I fall asleep.”
He continued on about his physical state. “I feel weak in general. If I have to stoop down to look for something under the bed, it’s an effort. I am not fluid. It is a series of movements. Each act is hard. I have to tell my body what to do. It used to be fluid. Now it is not. My body feels weak. I walk slowly. I’m not walking well. I’m less fluid.”
Joline added, “When he walks he doesn’t lift up his legs like he used to. His posture is slumped.”
Dov then said, “I know underneath this layer, I am sane.” My mind is good.”
So there it was. He was stating clearly that he was not depressed, simply exhausted. His use of the word “fluid” was peculiar. He used it several times saying his body did not feel “fluid,” nor were his movements “fluid.”
I thought of the rubric in the Repertory, “Will, muscles refuse to obey the will when attention is turned away.” Though he did not use those words, he conveyed that idea when he said, “I have to tell my body what to do.” The principal medicine for this peculiar state is Gelsemium sempervirens.
Gelsemium, also known as Yellow Jessamine, is known for producing and curing a state of such exhaustion that even the simplest of movements require unusual attention. It is also useful when the body feels extremely heavy, especially the eyelids.
I sent Dov Gelsemium, a single dose.
We spoke two weeks later. “I am one hundred per cent better,” he said. “After I took your medicine, I got a severe headache and could not sleep. Within two days my energy returned. I am getting up in the morning, full of energy. Now I realize how bad I was. I was tired all the time. Now I feel great. Today, I got up at six a.m. and started cleaning the kitchen. I want to do things. My wife said, ‘Dr. Robinson overdid it!’ It’s a huge change. I’m very thankful.”
Gelsemium is, perhaps, our leading medicine for influenza as it invariably produces a state of extreme weakness and exhaustion. Many patients with the flu will say how heavy the body feels, how hard it is to keep the eyelids open. Sometimes, the weakness can be so advanced that the legs will tremble on getting out of a chair or even walking.
The fact that Dov had a headache just after taking Gelsemium suggests that the medicine was causing an aggravation meaning that the patient gets worse in some way before getting better. It is a sign the medicine is working and one can expect a favorable outcome.