Sepia: Homeopathy’s Wise WomanMiriam McCrea Malevris, DS Hom. Med. December 1, 2008
With our hectic modern lifestyles, increased environmental toxicity, and gradual disconnect from nature’s cycles, it is no wonder that Sepia Officinalis is often called upon by the homeopathic practitioner. Derived from cuttlefish ink, Sepia has a broad range of action over the female organism, and is one of Samuel Hahnemann’s greatest contributions to the homeopathic pharmacopoeia.
A look at the cuttlefish provides interesting parallels to the Sepia personality. Cuttlefish, belonging to the same family of mollusks which also includes the squid and octopus, are not sedentary creatures by nature. They are in constant motion, except when in defense mode, at which time they can remain utterly still. They glide through the water smoothly and have the ability to propel themselves backwards over short distances to evade their enemies.
Like cuttlefish, Sepia types prefer to keep moving and experience improved energy and overall outlook from exercising, especially dancing. As for the cuttlefish’s ability to propel itself backwards, Sepias are often antisocial, requiring an exorbitant amount of personal space. Fiercely independent, they can withdraw instantly if they feel they are being cornered or obliged. The cuttlefish behaves similarly when cornered in the sea, ejecting their ink and escaping, quite literally, under a cloak of darkness. The female cuttlefish is said to have complete disregard for her eggs once they are laid; Sepia women are quite often indifferent to their families, as they are too drained to even care.
The Sepia personality type has several distinct characteristics; however, it is diverse in how it presents itself from person to person. Sepia is considered preeminently a women’s remedy, and so for the sake of ease I will refer to “her”. The Sepia woman, in her healthy state, is inherently independent, often with an artistic, creative or bohemian flair. She is an intuitive individual, with an implicit knowledge of her strengths and much self-awareness. She does what she likes on her own terms, and as a result can have a hardened or masculine edge.
In many cases, a Sepia state befalls a woman when she finds herself unable to assert her independence, or is trying to be moulded into a role that is not necessarily of her choosing. Traditional marriage and/or parenting roles are stifling to creative Sepia, and her needs often go unmet, leading to resentment of the obligations represented by her spouse or children.
This is not to say that Sepia cannot be happily married with children; however, she must have her own time and space to reflect and pay credence to her creative and spiritual side. The un-nurtured Sepia develops various negative personality traits such as impatience, irritability and downright nastiness. She is beyond any attempts at diplomacy, and her words can be harsh and direct-hitting. Too lethargic to manage basic housework, Sepia is constantly worn out and lacks any interest in work or sex (in fact, her mood may take a downward turn following intercourse, which is perceived by her as yet another chore). She may be plagued by fears of poverty or insanity.
In addition to these distinct personality traits, Sepia also displays her own unique symptomology, such as: general chilliness and sensitivity to cold air, as well as an overall aggravation by missing regular meals, from intercourse, during pregnancy, before menses, and before storms. One guiding symptom of Sepia is that of not having been well after childbirth (overall energy, loss of libido, or appearance of new complaints after that time). She may have the internal sensation of a ball – in the abdomen or the rectum, and a tendency towards constipation. There is a general feeling of weakness and bearing down; Sepia may need to cross her legs when sitting, as she feels her pelvic organs will fall out otherwise. There is an intolerance to any tight clothing around the waist. Sepia is better for warmth and gentle motion (sometimes even vigorous exercise), and is a natural dancer.
CONDITIONS THAT BENEFIT FROM HOMEOPATHIC SEPIA
The following are some conditions for which Sepia has proven itself effective, time and time again:
- Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS): The Sepia woman may appear indifferent and/or irritable prior to her period, often taking her foul mood out on those closest to her (i.e., her partner or children). She will be fatigued, snappy, and chilly, and markedly worse for missing meals.
- Candida Albicans, also known as yeast infections: A person requiring Sepia will likely experience extreme vaginal itchiness, accompanied by a yellow or greenish discharge.
- Headaches and migraines: Sepia women tend towards migraines (worse before or during her period, during pregnancy, or before a thunderstorm) which start over the left eye and may extend to the nape of the neck.
- Complaints of Pregnancy: Pregnant women are often catapulted into a Sepia state on becoming pregnant, suffering from chloasma (the “mask of pregnancy”), morning sickness (worse from the sight/smell of food), extreme weariness, and constipation. Those lacking emotional or physical support, experiencing headache, varicose veins, and constipation would likely benefit from Sepia, as are women who have a history of miscarriage around five and seven months of pregnancy. Expectant mothers who already have children are especially prone to a Sepia state.
- Post-Partum Complaints: Women who have a lack of interest in their families, irritability and lowered energy (sexual and otherwise), are all Sepia candidates.
- Menopause: Think of Sepia in all cases of hormonal imbalance. The menopause of Sepia is typified by hair loss, irritability, hot flashes, profuse night sweats, and leaving the woman feeling overwhelmed and/or indifferent. Sepia women may have involuntary attacks of weeping, without knowing why.
- Circulatory Problems: Sepia women, with their innate desire to keep moving, are especially prone to stasis and stagnation. Apart from overall chilliness, and especially coldness of the extremities, they may likely suffer from varicose veins and bleeding, protruding hemorrhoids (often accompanied by constipation).
Classical Homeopathy respects and relies on each person’s unique way of expressing “disease”. Below are some cases which illustrate each patient’s individuality, while highlighting the similarities that lead me to prescribe Sepia.
1. Patricia, aged 28, had a history of bi-weekly migraines, and following chiropractic treatment and dietary changes was able to get them under control. What remained unresolved were headaches before any sort of storm, and accompanying each menstrual cycle – two classic Sepia symptoms. Further delving uncovered that she had contracted herpes genitalia from a previous partner, which lead her to feel “resentment, jaded and betrayed”. Outbreaks were always preceded by anger, and consisted of round, red eruptions which seeped clear yellow fluid. Like many women requiring Sepia, Patricia displayed the classic Sepia spirituality, intuition and awareness of her own body. She was extremely chilly and lacked motivation.
I started Patricia on a course of Sepia 6CH, daily in a small amount of water, assessing her progress at 6 and 12 weeks. In that time her headaches had greatly reduced; she no longer had headaches with each period or with weather changes, but was occasionally triggered in times of stress. Her herpes acted up a few weeks after starting the remedy, but less aggravating, and less blisters. She had another mild episode a month later, which did not blister or seep. Her overall motivation was much improved.
2. Elaine, aged 44, was an interesting, intense individual. She loved to dance at night, feeding her need to “stir up (her) energy”. Self-described as passionate, artistic, unconventional, animated, and slightly hyper, she was scarcely able to sit still or commit to any given topic. She angered easily, taking offence to any perceived criticisms, and “spoke her mind”. She suffered from anxiety, as she was about to lose a contract and therefore her income. Her PMS, commencing at ovulation, made her feel older and heavier, “like a different person”. She experienced frequent hot sweats on her chest and complained of cold hands and feet. She felt as though she were filled with “something that shouldn’t be there, like a big ball,” indicating her abdomen. Elaine was treated with monthly doses of Sepia 200C over the course of several months, with noticeable improvement.
Her energy at the second appointment was less frantic and fidgety. The flushes of heat had reduced by about 90% in frequency and intensity. Additionally, Elaine no longer felt the sensation of a ball in her abdomen. Over time, she became less burdened by her cycles, describing herself as “lighter”. Interestingly, she became quite Zen-like regarding her loss of income, saying she was open to seeing the positive side, and acknowledging that she had pushed herself in the past, and now deserved a break.
3. Louisa, aged 65, represented a different side of Sepia: an independent (now-retired) career woman. Recently diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), Louisa had a marked fear of insanity, as she was “always aware” that her mother had died of Alzheimer’s disease. She was also subject to insomnia and migraines, which were brought on by anger (mostly directed at her spouse), and being overwhelmed by obligations. Her migraines, which originated around the time she had her first child, commenced over her left eye, and were accompanied by extreme stiffness at the nape of the neck. She displayed other classic Sepia symptoms such as chilliness, varicose veins, and an aggravation if she missed a meal.
I prescribed a daily dose of Sepia LM/1 and reassessed her case monthly for three additional visits. Louisa’s migraines had reduced dramatically; the few she did incur were directly attributed to wine consumption. While she still had to manage her forgetfulness, she was no longer anxious about going insane and was pleased to be able to sleep through the night at long last.
Unfortunately, when we study the homeopathic profile of Sepia, our attention is often drawn to the unpleasant traits. It is important to understand that these qualities come about when the person is living out of harmony with their true nature. Whether or not Sepia (homeopathy’s “wise woman”) is the remedy for you, it is my hope that you will take some time out to reconnect with your own inner Wise Woman.