Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura

By | August 17, 2015

By M. Castro

In my first year in practice I ‘received’ a challenging case. I was locuming for another (experienced) homeopath which made it even more challenging. This was a patient I had not met, a four-year old boy I will call Alan (not his real name). His mother rang me from the hospital in a state of great panic and upset. Alan was in an isolation ward having been diagnosed with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. She told me that Alan had been given Pulsatilla 30 one month ago (as a constitutional prescription), that his blood platelets were virtually non-existent, that he was hemorrhaging all over his body, on his skin, especially his fingers and fingertips, and in his mouth where he had bleeding ulcers. He was bruising easily especially when he touched anything. He looked pale but she said he was OK in himself i.e. , emotionally. She said the hospital were going to give him high doses of steroids and bone marrow investigations. At this point her money ran out (she was calling from a public phone box) and she didn’t call back.

What to do? Should I treat this child? How? I didn’t even know what was wrong with him. It was a weekend night (it often is with these situations). My rational mind said not to touch this case with a barge pole, I wasn’t experienced, I was only a baby homeopath, I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t know the child, I didn’t have enough information, I couldn’t call the mother back and I wasn’t able to do a hospital visit and gather more details in person. I didn’t even have a case.

Another voice in my head wondered whether homeopathy could help him, reminded me that I had nothing to lose, and my instincts said to go for it, so I ignored the reasonable voice and headed for my books. I looked up his diagnosis in the Merck Manual as it hadn’t figured in my medical training! This boy had a sudden onset of a septic condition with widespread hemorrhaging, caused by the destruction of platelets with an unknown aetiology.

I took Phatak’s Repertory and cross-referenced ‘ecchymose’, ‘sepsis’ and ‘passive hemorrhage’. The remedies common to all rubrics are Crotalus horridus, Kreosotum, Secale. The remedy that leapt off the page at me was Crotalus. A snake remedy, a serious remedy for a serious condition. I had never used it, I barely knew it.
“It is true that the diseases that call for the use of such substances as Crotalus are very grave…the subject is horrible to look upon…The remedy stands out by itself. There can be no substitute…the other snake poisons form the nearest resemblance, but this one is the most dreadful of all, excepting, perhaps the Ancistrodon contortrix (Copperhead).” – J. T. Kent

I read up on it in every materia medica that I had, and knew that it was the right remedy. I did some simple detective work in the community I lived in at the time and located a relative who was visiting the sick boy. I sent Crotalus horridus 30 to the hospital with her, with instructions. By the next day Alan’s symptoms were much better and there followed a rapid improvement without allopathic intervention (with no recurrence the following year!) His platelets rose from 4,000 to 100,000 within a few days. (The normal range is 150,000 -500,000 per cu. mm., and with 20,000 or lower there is hemorrhaging). He came out in Chicken Pox the following week and fully recovered very quickly.