Archive for the ‘Case Studies’ Category

Lauren, 26, Rheumatoid Arthritis

Lauren Vaknine is 26 Lauren and suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. Here she talks openly about her illness, homeopathy and her life.

I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) when I was two years old which initially affected my knees and ankles. At the time the only treatment available was large quantities of steroids, but my parents didn’t want me to be on these drugs at such a young age, which was fortunate for the long-term effects of treating such young children with high doses of steroids were later found to do more harm than good. Looking for other options my parents decided to try homeopathy.

When I was 17 I had a huge arthritic flare-up. In my right eye I had Uveitis, an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, a condition most children with JRA get at a young age. A cataract was forming rapidly but they couldn’t remove it as in normal cases, as there was too much inflammation in the eye. The cataract was growing more layers and getting dangerous, so I had to take a conventional medication for a short period of time in order to have the operation. I was prescribed a chemo-based drug which I shall call “M”. After a few months this drug made me so ill I couldn’t function any more. The arthritis started to spread – it was only in five joints for the first 18 years of my life. By the time I’d been taking M for a year, the arthritis had spread to every joint in my body – hips, fingers, jaw, neck, elbows, everywhere. I also lost half my hair and it damaged my liver. I was also wheelchair bound, so I swore never to take a conventional medication again.

I started seeing a homeopath when I was just four years old and it has kept me strong for so many years. During my childhood I attended group hydrotherapy sessions and always had more energy than the other children who were being slowed down by steroids. I was still not like most normal children and my arthritis affected me, but homeopathy kept my body strong and able to fight illnesses.

Homeopathic success
Homeopathic medicine is now the only medication I take. I attend the RLHIM every two months where I see a number of doctors including Dr Peter Fisher. I’m prescribed various medicines depending on what is going on with me at the time, but I do find Pulsatilla very helpful. This is why I love homeopathy: it treats the person not the disease.

I believe that the only reason I live a normal life is because of homeopathy. Most people who have had arthritis for 24 years have many deformities, and other secondary illnesses due to all the medications they have taken over the years. I am proud to say that I am strong, have great general health and a good immune system and I look like a normal 26 year old. I’m convinced this is only because I have been using homeopathy from a very young age. If I’d spent my childhood taking conventional medicine, I’m sure I wouldn’t be as healthy as I am now. My rheumatologist, who is not a homeopath, says my bone density should be much worse than it is after 24 years of arthritis. But as I live a more active life than most people who have this illness, he agrees I should carry on doing what I’m doing.

Complementary medicine is now an important part of my life. The wonderful thing about the RLHIM is that it offers a whole range of integrated therapies. I see Dr Tariq Khan for podiatry and I use his excellent Marigold treatment which corrected the slight deformities that were starting to appear in my toes. I see Dr Raj Sharma for hypnotherapy and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). I have Craniosacral therapy with Dr Weissner and I’m now also being seen in the insomnia clinic to help with my sleep problems. I also meditate as I believe I need to keep mind clear and strong in order to stay healthy.

I know there are studies that suggest there is a link between food allergies and rheumatoid arthritis and some sufferers avoid certain foods, but I don’t. When my illness was very bad I cut out wheat, dairy and sugar, as well as some vegetables and fruits that are supposed to be bad for arthritis. However, I now believe that moderation is the best approach. You shouldn’t deprive your body of what it wants but you should limit everything. I don’t eat lots of bread, maybe once or twice a week, but I don’t cut it out. I have lactose free milk instead of full dairy milk. I eat a lot of fresh vegetables and not too much red meat, but like I said – a little of everything. I try to eat lots of fish and I make sure I drink plenty of water and herbal teas, such as fennel tea as it is good for cleansing.

Living a fulfilling life
When I left school I went to performing arts school as I had dreams about being an actress and director. This is when I got really sick and ended up in a wheelchair, so I was unable to go to university to study acting and directing. However, I have since had some small acting roles in films, TV shows and theatre. Six years ago I studied interior design and have worked in this field ever since, alongside working as a presenter for a west London radio station for two years.

I still have arthritic flare-ups a few times a year, so find it very difficult to work for someone else as some mornings I have a lot of difficulty getting up and moving around quickly, especially in the winter. I used to work for a great interior design company where I got to travel, but following a flare-up which stopped me going in to the office for three weeks, I lost my job. So I decided to start my own business, JayLa Enterprises, where I can work from home designing house interiors, although I sometimes get asked to do offices and showrooms too.

In April last year I published my autobiography “My Enemy, My Friend”, which tells the story of my life with arthritis: the low points I have reached; the trouble I’ve had with the hospital system; but how, ultimately, I came through it with the help of integrated medicine and a strong family.

If you would like to interview Lauren please call Cristal Sumner on 01582 408674 or

Helen, 29, endometriosis

One in ten women suffer from the debilitating and limiting disease endometriosis, in which the lining of the womb migrates outside to bind up abdominal organs such as the bowel and ovaries. Treatment consists of hormone therapy (no good if you would like children) or risky operations.

Helen Llewelyn, now 29, and a production manager in the fast-paced advertising industry, tells it like it is. Thanks to a combination of surgery and homeopathic treatment, she now enjoys life to the full and has even discovered her sex-drive!

“I want to tell you my story. I want you to know what it’s like to have endometriosis. I want you to see that chronic illness needs more than one form of medicine to control it and how the mind and emotions are all part of the picture, especially when the physical symptoms are unbearable. I’m not going to pull any punches, I’m going to use words like blood and period and will tell you just how bad an attack of endometriosis gets!

“My pain used to keep me off school, then college, later uni, and now work, for about 20-30 days per year since I was 13 years old. The pain calmed down for a few years when I was put on Dianette, but became much worse when I was forced to come off it, due to worries about its side-effects.

“About two days in to my period, it would get really heavy with large dark clots pouring out, I would get through a pack of sanitary towels a day. I would have cramps throughout and feel run down and tired, unable to compute simple things. Then it would hit, usually about an hour after I got up or around bedtime, or for some reason at about 4am in the morning, my mouth would go dry, a pain would start banging in the base of my spine, I’d get boiling hot, feel like I need the toilet really badly, at this point I’ve learnt that I have about 15 minutes before show time, I would calmly try and get all the bits together I would need. I’d go to the first aid cupboard grab the pain killers, get a glass of water, boil the kettle to make a hot water bottle, find the massager, get a towel. By this point I would be feeling really sick, have horrible ‘tap mouth’ where you can’t stop salivating, but you’re really dehydrated also. My head would spin so I’d walk into doors and walls.

“I’d sit on the loo and feel great blobs of blood dripping out of me. Then a big circle of pain would hit. I would start sweating, clinging on to anything cold, the wall or the floor, spitting in the sink, throwing up, eventually, I’d fall on the floor. Here I would hit myself with all my strength thumping my back grasping my tummy, pulling my hair, crying, being sick, and the biggest humiliation of all, defecating. The shame, and the heartbreak of being in so much pain that I can’t control my own body. My womb feels like it is trying to force itself out through my vagina, I feel like I’m sitting on a large sharp knife, like someone has grabbed my insides and is squeezing them till there’s nothing left. My back throbs and feels really heavy like the pain is trying to get out. No person should have to endure that amount of pain. Ever. The circle of pain then starts coming round the other way, and the intense pain would start to ease, so I could stop thumping myself and start massaging instead. My head is spinning, I can’t stand up, I feel like I could die, I actually want to die. It’s humiliating. It’s unbearable.

“About an hour or two later the pain eases off to a manageable thump and ache and cramp, what I guess I’d call a ‘normal’ period pain, I would get up off the floor and get into bed. The “episode” would knock me out, I’d be exhausted. I would sleep for hours, only to wake up to the pain again, sometimes hoping not to wake up. Not in a dramatic, I want to kill myself way, but in an ‘I can’t cope anymore, I can’t do this again’ way.

“The next day, my head full of cotton wool, I would feel sick all the time, in pain all the time, unable to function. Sometimes I would go into work anyway, brave face and all, walk in and feel guilty for being off, feel the faces looking at me, hear them all thinking ‘it’s only period pains’ or ‘bloody women in the workplace, they’re not up to it’.

“Four or five days later I’d be back to normal, something in me would click, my head would be clear, the pain would be gone, I’d feel ok again, fine, brilliant, I’d forget the pain, think it wasn’t as bad as it really was, get on with stuff, maybe for 18 whole days before it all started up again.

“What do my doctors say? I went for my first scan in 2005, when a large chocolate cyst (nearly the size of a 3 month old foetus) was found on my ovary. There was a theory that my endometriosis had spread on to my bowel. Not once has a doctor or consultant asked about my pain, I was never offered any pain relief. Doctors see endometriosis as a fertility issue, women who can’t get pregnant are often found to have it, but it affects millions of women who are in pain so much it affects their careers, relationships and social lives. Let alone sex! I get a stabbing pain if I just think about sex. I can’t even wear tampons, so you can imagine my fear. I’m 28 and cancelling nights out all the time, unable to move up the career ladder or get a rise as I’m always off work and just feel grateful to have a job, unable to go swimming which I love. This isn’t how life was meant to be.

“My operation to drain and remove the cyst and laser treatment to burn off all the cells that they could see, has been successful – it took me about a year to feel the physical benefits. There is a risk my organs will be damaged in the longer term, but for now I can appreciate manageable pain levels, with the help of the contraceptive pill. But my mental state is no better and I don’t really want anti-depressants. I want to deal with this, not just cover it up.

“At a local Endometriosis Awareness Day I met Dr Sara Eames, a medically qualified homeopath, and listened to her talk about her approach to cases like mine. I thought there was no way homeopathy could help me and I had always been cynical about such therapies. But something clicked and I asked my GP if I could give it a go. I was referred to the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital on the NHS.

“The doctors had managed to fix the visible part of my disease with surgery, which means I hardly ever have a day off work now, but living the last 17 years of my life in pain I developed many other issues, mainly mental, that ‘traditional’ doctors were unable/unwilling to help with. I even went to a psychologist for over a year, but ended up pretending to be better as it was actually making me worse! The mental issues are as debilitating as the pain, and homeopathy has significantly improved these within a few months and continues to help today: my friends and relatives can confirm I have lost my anger, am more calm and less inclined to fly off the handle.

“It was amazing when I looked up the remedy Dr Eames prescribed me: for the first time in my disease’s history someone understood, someone actually ‘got’ what I was experiencing (other than the visible abnormalities in my body). It wasn’t flattering, not in the slightest, it’s the sort of things you don’t want to admit about yourself, but it was true, and there was help, and that was a big deal.

“As for my sex phobia, unbelievably, I have experienced sexual attraction and feel I have a sex-drive, which is such a surprise. I’m hoping now I have begun to overcome these issues homeopathy can help me with the last few physical symptoms I experience. Homeopathy has taken me from living beneath a cloud of anger and bitterness and given me back my life.”

To interview Helen please call Cristal Sumner on 01582 408674 or email


Drew, 14, eczema

Drew’s eczema started around the age of one, just small patches in the normal presentation, on the insides of his elbows.  These never went away and then gradually the eczema spread down his forearms to his hands, which were very bad by the time he was two and a half.

Melody, his mother (39), a secretary, took him to their GP who prescribed steroid cream and wraps. These did not help his skin and Melody tried Chinese herbalists to find a cure.  On the whole these were not effective, though one treatment did mean Drew was free of eczema for a few years.

Drew’s eczema came back with a vengeance when he started secondary school.  It came back on his hands, spread up his arms to his chest, neck and face, also to his tummy and legs.  He was covered in it.

Melody asked their GP for help, but all he could offer was even stronger steroid cream, which she did not want to use on her son’s skin.  She asked for a referral to the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital(RLHH) and Drew’s homeopathic treatment started in January 2008.

Drew saw Dr Sara Eames, a former GP who has also trained in homeopathy and after only three appointments, there has been a massive improvement.  Drew’s eczema has cleared from his face, chest, tummy, neck and arms.  He still has some on his hands, but Melody feels the homeopathic medicine and cream are really helping him.

“I feel so lucky we were able to get a referral from our GP to the homeopathic doctor.  The treatment really does seem to be helping Drew’s eczema and I feel reassured that there are no side-effects and there will be no long-term damage to his skin”.

Drew is much happier. He said, “I like having the Homoeopathic medication because its natural and since taking it it has made me feel better on the inside as well as the outside. I would describe it as feeling fresh inside. My skin is not as dry and doesn’t feel tight anymore. The eczema has totally cleared from my chest and stomach area and improved from other places”.

Melody and Drew are willing to be interviewed.

Contact – Cristal Sumner on 01582 408674 or email