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The Gleanings – XVII: Sleep and Dreams by Dr. M. A. Usmani

This might be the shortest chapter in the whole series of ‘gleanings’, for there in none too much matter that can be used for prescribing purpose. Dreams, I totally disregarded in my whole practice of 40 years. I don’t remember if I had ever capitalized on dreams, in my case-taking or prescribing. I don’t attach any importance to different theories of dreams, which mostly are conjectures or, at best, hypotheses, to explain the phenomenon of dreams.

Freud’s theory of repressed desires or Jung’s philosophical explanation of a racial archetype has nothing to do with our therapeutical setup and requirements. D. H. Lawrence’s theory of ‘cleaning up the clutter’ has more pragmatic meaning than any other. According to him, a clean-up operation of the brain takes place during the sleeping hours at night, in which haphazard and incongruous images come together, as pieces of dirt come together when a sweeper sweeps a street. A crumb of bread may be found juxtaposed with a wrapper of shaving blade, for example. The brain, to give sense to this scene of incongruous objects, weaves stories around them. And these are the dreams.

In homeopathy dreams have different connotation. What dreams we have mentioned in our materia medicas and indexed in our repertories are, in fact, the truthful and elaborate record of dreams that were produced pathogenetically in our drug provers. And whenever we encounter such an exact dream in a patient, that remedy becomes a candidate to be accepted as indicated, if the remaining symptoms vouchsafe it.

Having said this, I confess that this knowledge of dreams is not an unmixed blessing. Every person dreams, some more and some less. And if drugs can influence dreams or create their own characteristic dreams, then our chronic patients who come from allopathic quarters,
are under the massive drugs actions, that they are taking for their hypertension, hyper-cholesterolemia, diabetes, arthritis, etc. for years. These drug preparations certainly could be causing and creating their own dreams.

So we come to know that dream symptoms are illusory and uncertain. These cannot be depended upon to become a reliable part of the anamnesis of the patient. We should not regard them as anything important. But there are nightmares that cannot be rejected outright. They might have their own pathologic reason. Flatulence in abdomen, e.g., and over-fullness in stomach can cause and create nightmares.

Patients who often complain of anxious dreams, I always advise them to partake of less food at night, or skip the meals altogether. Taking milk or some farinaceous foods before retiring in bed, I always forbid or discourage.

Patients who usually have nightmares, mostly women, relate very strange and unbelievable causes of their night terrors. Some see apparitions, which they call ghosts, spirits, or djinns, that keep visiting them in their sleep. So much so, that they start believing that they are constantly under the influence of some particular spirit. Their belief is so certain that they start shirking their husbands’ overtures, telling them that someone would pry on them. They do not change clothes in that room for the same reason.

I sternly try to dispel their ridiculous belief, telling them that God has created no greater djinn than man himself. So, discard the stupid belief. But nightmares have their pathologic importance. They are mostly disguised mischief that is brewing for the patient. If a patient makes shrill, but muffled noises, as if trying to free herself from somebody, pressing at her chest, I can vouchsafe that the concerned patient is either a cardiac patient or heading towards becoming one; or at least angina pectoris is imminent.

At the beginning of my practice, I used to follow the sequence of repertory chapters in asking and writing down the symptoms of the patient. I would certainly ask about their sleep and dreams. But soon I realized that these questions are rather too personal. One day, a lady patient of mine told me: “doctor, it seems to be too cheap to tell you that I find it difficult to fall asleep at night.” Similarly, asking young ladies about their dreams seems to be more unnerving to them, than indecent. I would happily and diligently write down if some patient, on his own, confides in me the sort of dreams he or she might be having. But to ask for them, I never do now.

A note on COFFEA: if I have to take some medicines with me for emergency when traveling or going out of stations, I’ll include coffea 30 among other remedies, to be sure. Coffea is a sure sedative for children, women, and sensitive men, when they are excited, or restless from any cause. I never found it failing. -M.A.U.

Complaints from Loss of Sleep: Cocculus From vigil, night-watching and nursing. Other remedies are Nux.v., Colch.

Insomnia, Precursor of Grave Disease: Calc. Ost. (Calc.c.)

  •  Farrington says: “This use of the Calc. will not appear from a superficial study of the drug. The sleeplessness that calls for this remedy does not consist simply in lying awake an hour or two, but it is that long wakefulness which is precursor to some diseases and the accompaniment of others. For instance, during Child-bed a woman cannot sleep. In such cases you will have this class of symptoms: she has visions on closing the eyes; she starts and twitches at any little noise, and is beside herself with anguish, with dry mouth. She borders on the state of acute mania. Calc.Ost., particularly in the 30th. Potency, given every three hours during the day, almost always produces the desire to sleep the next night.

    With the above symptoms, Farrington further says, Calc. is also indicated in delirium tremens. There is in addition vision of rats and mice, and of horrible objects which terrify the patient. He talks deliriously of fire and murder. He has a constant fear that he is going crazy. (CMM 675)

Nervous Insomnia:
Kali-bromatum - The patient is nervous and cannot sleep, and feels better when engaged at some work. He is either busy playing with his fingers, or he is walking about, or in some way occupying his mind or body in some exertion. In this way only he feels better. Simple sleeplessness will not be relieved by Kali-br., unless there is this relief from activity, or movement. In this it is similar to

Tarantula Hisp. - It also has the irritation of the periphery of the nerves, relieved by exercise and by rubbing. The patient plays with her dress or watch-chain, as if to work off of this over-irritation of the peripheral nerves. Even in the headache of this remedy the patient rubs the head against the pillow for relief.

Ambra-Gr. - is another remedy which resembles Kali-br., and has the same sensitiveness to external impressions. The slightest influence causing excitement brings on difficulty in breathing. Ambra however almost always has some sort of vertigo associated with its other symptoms. It is also very quick acting remedy. ‘Sleepless after retiring in bed, but sleepy before’ is the peculiar symptom of Ambra. (CMM 714)

Other remedies for Nervous Sleeplessness, comp. Alfalfa, Avena sat.

Climacteric Insomnia: Amm.val.

Insomnia after Coition, with Aversion to Sex: Sepia

Insomnia during Pregnancy: Amm. Val.

Insomnia on Lying Down, Sleepy while Sitting: Ambra.G

Sleeps only when rocked (child): Cina

Intractable Insomnia: Dipodium Punct. Also for a pain (colic) in which the patient writhes and twists like dying snake. (Boericke)

Sleeplessness with Jaundice: Myrica Persistent sleeplessness of jaundice. (Boericke)

Insomnia and Night-Sweats: Chrysanthemum Dose: Mother Tinc. (Read Boericke, p. 567.)

Morbid Vigilance: Highly Excited and Nervous: Lupulus Drowsy during the day. Dull, heavy headache with dizziness. Drawing and twisting in every muscle.

Insomnia due to Worry: Piscidia Nervous excitement and spasmodic cough.

Protracted Sleeplessness from Nervous Exhaustion: Gelsemium Compare here COCCULUS: though sleepy, he is so nervous and weak that he cannot calm his brain.

Sleeplessness from Sexual Excitement: Zinc.phos.

Sexual Insomnia: Raphanus Also (Boericke)

Nymphomaniac Insomnia: Raph.

Restless Insomnia of the Aged, even without Pain: Acon.

Sleepiness with All Complaints: Ant.t., Nux-m., Opium

Dreams of being Buried Alive: Parietaria Nightmare, renal calculi. (Boericke)

Lascivious, Perverted Dreams: Thymol


Usmani Resource Page

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What is sleeplessness?


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Comment by Debby Bruck on April 11, 2012 at 3:02pm

I agree with you, Dr Usmani, that the spontaneously told dream stories come naturally and easily. When they have had a great impact on the individual, they may be useful in the repertorization of the case. Sweet Dreams.

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