"COULD IT POSSIBLY BE THIS SIMPLE?"
I experienced the promise of homeopathy shortly after my daughter Sarah's delivery, when I came down with a bad case of mastitis: rapid onset, blocked milk ducts, 103.8° fever, weakness, breast hard, red, painful. A friend ‘s wife who’d grown up in Europe offered me a dose of something she called "homeopathic" medicine. “Homeopathic?" I said. "Oh, yes, I’ve heard of that, have been reading about it. Sure!”
She dripped five drops of a tincture into my mouth, and within seconds, I felt different. Sounds crazy, it happened so fast. But I felt my energy shift. It was as though the kaleidoscope in me had turned. Sure enough, in a half hour, my fever was down to 99°. Of course, the blocked ducts needed massaging and a few hot showers, but the illness was gone.
Working as a chiropractor, I had no frame of reference for such a rapid change, so I began to study homeopathy then and there. Soon my husband and I purchased a homeopathy home remedy kit, which I’d read about. Berkeley, as it turns out (are we surprised?), was the site of a huge renaissance of homeopathy in the late '60s. Several disenchanted physicians brought George Vithoulkas, M.D., one of the leading intellectuals of the homeopathic movement at the time, from Athens to Berkeley to teach them homeopathy. They then opened the Hahnemann Clinic (named for the founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann). Michael Quinn, a pharmacist, opened Hahnemann Labs.
Their main gripe was that Western medicine does not treat the whole person. The approach they had been taught in medical school was to isolate each symptom as the problem and use synthetic drugs or invasive acts like surgery to make that problem go away. Their experience as Western doctors had led them to believe what homeopaths teach -- that attacking symptoms only hides what needs to be treated. They saw the human being not as a collection of parts but an intact ecosystem that is usually on the way to curing injury and infections on its own. They aspired to "restore the sick to health, to cure … to effect a rapid, gentle, permanent restoration of health." Hahnemann, Organon
Although the cultural upheavals of the '60s invited dissent, especially in Berkeley, in the medical field it took brave, smart M.D.s like Ellen Gunther, Bill Gray, Roger Morrison, Harvey Powelson. (Harvey has passed over) and Karl Robinson on the local scene to voice dissatisfaction with Western medicine. Ellen, who would later become our family doctor, told me that she graduated from McGill Medical School in 1952, didn’t see drugs and surgery even beginning to get people well, and by 1968 was saying, "There’s got to be a better way." I once asked Harvey Powelson (our doctor before Ellen) the hardest thing he had experienced about leaving Western medicine to practice homeopathy. “Unlearning all the fear they teach you in medical school,” he said. I’ve never met Karl Robinson myself, but he was Harvey’s doctor and spoke eloquently about homeopathy in videos now available on YouTube.
I continued to ask questions from my point of view as a chiropractor. Why, for example, did Western medicine use war imagery ("invasion" by bugs and germs, which are "battled" by drugs) while homeopathy inspired images of community (a tiny bit of medicine will help your body gently deal with its imbalance.)
Lucky for me, then, by the time I was waking up to the benefits of homeopathy, something called Hyland’s Homeopathic First Aid Kit had become available at the Berkeley Natural Grocery, a mere mile from my house. And, next to it, Homeopathic Medicine at Home by Maesimund (Maisie) Panos, M.D. (The kit didn’t come with a user’s guide; Maisie’s book supplied that.)
We loved even the humble sight of the Hyland kit, a little box the size of a package of Ry Krisp crackers, containing 12-18 small plastic bottles the size of a half-ounce of vanilla extract. Every bottle held 250 tiny tablets, each smaller than a caper, disk-like rather than round. The bottles were labeled with Latin names (Pulsatilla nigricans, Belladonna atropina, Phosphorus phosphorus) and the number 6X, which referred, I would discover, to how much the ingredient had been diluted.
These remedies were frequently needed, so they were listed under categories like First Aid and Acute Illness. When you put a tablet under your tongue, it melted and tasted sweet, like a tiny confectioner’s sugar cube.
We were surprised that Maisie's book was not a huge volume, like the encyclopedia-sized reference books for Western medicine with names like The Big Book of Family Medicine that many of us grew up with. It was, rather, the size of a small cookbook, but instead of listings like "Appetizers," "Salads," or "Desserts," the headings covered a range of problems as in "Colds, Coughs, and Earaches," "Stomach and Bowel Problems," and even "Keeping Your Pets Healthy." Maisie's wasn’t the only homeopathic book available, but I liked the fact that it was affordable, accessible and practical, and that it was written by a woman. To her mind, you paid attention to your child’s or your husband's symptoms without rushing to the doctor for every scary thing. You looked up the symptoms in the index and found the matching remedy.
Could homeopathy possibly be this simple? It could be, as I had seen from my bout with mastitis.
These were the early years of our daughter's (and soon our son's) life, so what we used mostly from the kit was a remedy called Arnica Montana.
We found this under the "Bruises (Contusions)" section of "What to do for Accidents" because falls and bumps on the head (or anywhere) occurred frequently when the kids were young. How astonished we were the first time our daughter Sarah's crying stopped on a dime as the pain dissolved, the bruise retreated, the swelling subsided.
Arnica, I would discover later, is the bellwether of homeopathy, available in salve, tincture and potentized (diluted and pounded) pellet form. Today Arnica pills are available in the familiar Boiron “blue tubes” sold in every health store, many pharmacies, Whole Foods, and elsewhere. Arnica is also used routinely by sports managers, plastic surgeons, homeopaths treating strokes (not kidding) and parents galore. (Please note, there are many excellent homeopathic pharmacies; I don’t mean to say that Boiron is the best, but their products are most widely available in my neighborhood at this time.) (link to Homeopathic Kits)
1. Then one night, Sarah at two years of age came down very quickly with a high fever, 104°, hot red face, cool extremities, glassy eyes and delirium (she saw frogs dancing in the air). Fighting our first impulse to call the doctor, (the delirium was especially scary), we got out our "Hyland’s Homeopathic First Aid Kit" and Maisie Panos’ book, and read something like this (I'm paraphrasing) under Fevers: Sudden onset of symptoms; patient has a flushed face, high temperature, pulse is rapid and strong, little or no thirst; may become delirious: Belladonna.
That description sounded very much like what we were seeing in our daughter. The fact that the book said "delirium possible" was comforting to us. She lay in my husband’s arms, so hot, warning me, "Mama, be careful of the frogs!" (again, very scary) as we took the chance and gave her two little white pellets of Belladonna (more about this later), (link to Bad for Business)
not without some nervousness, mind you. Questions floated, like those little frogs she was seeing. Were we being bad parents? Why weren't these BB-sized pills bigger? What if she got worse?
Sarah took the pills, no problem, as she already knew they were sweet from taking Arnica. Within a minute, she fell asleep in her dad’s arms. Her breath slowed, the crimson flush of her face lightened. That sleep lasted 13 hours, (and yes, we did check to see if she was breathing, so deeply asleep was she) and she awoke perfectly well. I felt a bit like I did seeing Yosemite Valley for the first time: that I was in the presence of a great and gentle power. I felt like we had won the Lottery. I felt that everybody needs to know about this! For most families this kind of episode would've for sure been a trip to the ER. For us, all we could say was, Wow.
2. I continued studying homeopathy on my own. While pregnant with my son Jesse, I took a 5-day introductory International Federation of Homeopathy course for health professionals being held in, guess where? Berkeley! I guess I was hooked: I couldn’t stop reading this stuff, partly because of these "WOW!" experiences that happened to me, my kids and others I knew, but also because this centuries-old art of healing fascinated me in its own right.
Samuel Hahnemann’s first book, "The Organon of the Healing Art," first published in 1810, explains how homeopathy works in a way that anyone can understand. I thought the guy was brilliant. I read with amusement and admiration J. Compton Burnett’s "Fifty Reasons for Being a Homeopath" (free on the web).
Burnett had been a "regular" doctor for many years, as had the authors of so many other reports I read about M.D.s leaving Western medicine for homeopathy. Several had been hired to debunk the new science of homeopathic healing but in the process saw the wisdom of homeopathy and adopted it. Why? From its beginning, homeopathy outstripped regular medicine in performance.
3. When Jesse was 5, he came home from a sleepover feeling feverish, chilly, very lethargic, eyes droopy and having no appetite. Most unusual, as he was normally a high-energy firecracker of a kid. Some children at his school had had measles, so I checked the inside of his cheek for Koplik’s spots, little reddish ulcers that mark the onset of measles, and sure enough there they were. I consulted Panos’ Book under "Measles," and also Dorothy Wright Shepherd's "Homeopathy in Epidemic Diseases".
Both books concurred that, with the extreme prostration, chilliness, lack of appetite and eyes so heavy he could hardly hold them open, Gelsemium was the indicated remedy. (Mind you, Gelsemium is not the remedy for measles, it’s the remedy for a certain symptom picture. The difference is important because measles can manifest in many ways. In homeopathy, you have to pay attention to your kid's symptoms in a different way than you do in Western medicine). But when, within five minutes, Jesse's sweet gold-green eyes sprang fully open from their half-mast position, and he said, “I’m hungry, Mama; what’s for dinner?” joy and gratitude jolted into my heart -- joy that he was feeling better, of course; gratitude that a medicine as gentle as this existed, and that I was lucky enough to know about it.
After the Gelsemium woke up his energy and his appetite, Jesse's measles rash came out as it must; he did get to stay home from school for a week while the contagion spent itself. But during that time, his energy and appetite were strong. He didn’t seem like a sick kid, just a measles-y kid. Then, another first for me: When, three weeks later, his sister began to be feverish and showed the Koplik spots, she got a dose of Gelsemium prophylactically (to protect ahead of time). As a result, Sarah had a very mild, but complete, case of measles.
I’d heard of using homeopathic remedies to immunize against contagious diseases, but now I’d experienced it. Sarah had no side effects, as one expects (and fears) so often from vaccines and prophylactic drugs in Western medicine. That's why I call this "another first" for me: Sarah's experience proved that homeopathy can provide a very easy way to acquire lifetime immunity, and that was a huge revelation.
4. Some time later, while I was making pancakes, grease splattered on the inside of my forearm, and a number of blisters arose almost immediately. I consulted our little homeopathy first aid book, which said for second-degree burns (with blisters), take Cantharis every 15 minutes until the burn was gone. (Yeah, right… even then I was skeptical, having lived for days and weeks with burns and hot-oil blisters.) After three doses, there were no blisters, no redness, no pain. I’d witnessed the rapidity of homeopathic remedies with the fevers, and with injuries the size of goose eggs disappearing with Arnica, and those were far out, as we used to say. But this was even farther out. A fever is one thing; but blisters from second-degree burns disappearing in minutes? Who ever heard of such a thing outside of fairy tales? I held the little bottle and thought, "You’re kidding, right?" Not kidding. How could I not have known about this before? Does everybody know but me? No, very few people knew, or know today.
5. Much later, in 2004 or so, while working with old lumber in which heavy nails protruded, I miss-stepped and felt the sole of my work-boot give way to the 4” nail that then proceeded into my foot. Whoa! I ran to the bathtub, filling it with cold water while watching blood pour out through the hole in the shoe. Boot off, hole in foot, a lot more blood. Luckily the first aid kit was in the bathroom and the first dose of the right remedy, Ledum palustra, worked: the bleeding stopped within seconds. With a second dose and third, the pain subsided steadily to very mild, followed by three more doses that day. The next morning, there was no sign of injury. No bruising, no scab forming, no redness, no tenderness, let alone blood. Okay, I understand blood-flow stopping with the correct remedy -- I’d experienced that already with Arnica after tooth extractions. And I’d heard about this "puncture wound remedy." Even so, being confronted with a foot no longer punctured the next morning boggled my mind.
By the way, except for a dog bite that needed stitches, neither of my children ever had to go to a "real" Medical Doctor. We were able to handle every problem with that little home kit, and of course with consultations with homeopaths Harvey and Joan Powelson.
IN A NUTSHELL (IF YOU’RE NEW TO HOMEOPATHY)
Homeopathy is like Western medicine turned inside out. M.D.s trained in Western medicine regard the symptoms you feel, like fever, pain or congestion, as a problem that needs fixing. They prescribe drugs to suppress those symptoms, believing that once the fever or pain or congestion goes away, the problem has been solved. If/when symptoms return, stronger drugs or other strategies like surgery may be prescribed.
Homeopaths, on the other hand, regard symptoms as communications from the body. Rather than suppress them, we pay close attention to symptoms, and I mean all of them, even the ones the patient may not notice, like changes of appetite, thirst, mood, etc. As mentioned earlier, one of homeopathy’s central principles is that the body is its own ecosystem. It's constantly in self-correcting mode. When this self-regulation becomes overwhelmed by stress, contagion or other forces, the symptoms that do appear are used by homeopaths as a guide to help them select particular remedies that will stimulate the curative response.
Homeopathy is gentle, safe, non-toxic. It's called a "complete system of medicine," meaning it is suitable for any illness. Since its inception at the beginning of the 1800s, homeopathic treatment of pneumonia, cholera, typhus, polio and whooping cough, to name a few conditions, has been vastly more successful than conventional medicine. (In another example, homeopathy's mortality rates for active smallpox are close to zero, as compared to mortality rates for Western medicine above 25%.)
Homeopathy’s advocates have ranged from Mahatma Ghandi and Dizzy Gillespie to the entire Royal Family in England, which has been treated by homeopaths exclusively for 120 years. John D. Rockefeller, who lived to be 98, often traveled with his homeopath doctor. Singer Paul McCartney likes to tell audiences, “I can’t manage without homeopathy. I never go anywhere without homeopathic remedies.” Another star, Lindsay Wagner, is even more personal: “if I was not an actress,” she says, "I would be a homeopathic doctor.”
Readers of Little Women might notice homeopathic remedies used throughout the story, including Belladonna to treat the character Jo for scarlet fever. Louisa May Alcott was a long-time patient who dedicated her last novel, "Jo’s Boys" (in which the female protagonist becomes a homeopath), to a famous doctor of homeopathy in Boston.
So many people from all walks of life celebrate the enduring benefits of homeopathy, but perhaps Mark Twain put it best when he told his audience, “You may honestly feel grateful that homeopathy survived the attempts of allopaths (the orthodox physicians) to destroy it.” Who should confirm this statement many years later but famed violinist Yehudi Menuhin: “Homeopathy is the safest and most reliable approach to ailments and has withstood the assaults of established medical practice for over 100 years.”
It has long been accepted that, when it comes to prophylaxis, homeopathy offers a gentler way that's equally or more effective, and entirely safe. For parents who wish to explore the homeopathic alternative to vaccinations, a program in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health is underway.
WHAT TO EXPECT
When you come to my office for homeopathy, I will ask a number of many different questions, not only about your chief complaints -- how long you’ve had these problems, what you’ve tried in terms of treatment and how that turned out. I’ll also ask about your life, personality and sensitivities, such as: Do you like sweet rather than salty snacks; do you sleep on your right or left side, your stomach or back; are you gloomy during the winter, do you ever take naps -- and more. I want to know what it is that makes you "you." We will spend as long as it takes for me to amass the information necessary to find your perfect remedy.
From a homeopath's point of view, every detail you’ve shared is like a tile in a mosaic -- both a story in itself and a piece of the larger puzzle. Once the full image appears, I can then analyze the "symptom picture" of your current chief complaints, in the context of your whole life, and find the medicine that's right for you now. You needn’t understand the principles of homeopathy for this procedure to work. When you take the correct remedy, it sets off a self-regulatory process within that sends you back toward health.
We will then meet for follow-up appointments every so often to review and assess the action of the remedy, and later reassess your health status to possibly repeat, possibly change your remedy. During this process, you will be feeling better and better in ways that may surprise you.
1. In "The Snooks: Why Try Homeopathy," a charming British cartoon on YouTube, the animated Snook characters are very informative and fun. Hopefully, they’ll entice you into further investigation.
6. The National Center for Homeopathy offers a plethora of information (hyperlink)
HOMEOPATHIC HOME KITS
The following pharmacies sell various home kits:
Helios Pharmacy, London, UK
Although far away, Helios’ prices and shipping costs are very competitive.
has a very fine collection of Homeopathic Books and some kits as well.
HOMEOPATHY AND ALLOPATHY (WESTERN MEDICINE)
Comparison of homeopathy and allopathy in Parisian Hospitals, 1849-51.
Although this article in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine appeared a century and a half ago, it's a classic. See reference to Dr. Andre Saine.
"Scientific Research in Homeopathy” conference (2010) by Jayney Goddard FCMA, Lic.LCCH, Dip.ACH.
presented at the inaugural meetinl; easy-to-understand visuals of efficacy of homeopathy in epidemics and pandemics.
Flu epidemic of 1918: Homeopathic treatment was far more successful than allopathic treatment in the 1918 "Spanish Flu" epidemic.
Some may say that arguing for homeopathy’s superiority in treating (in particular) pneumonia (a high percentage of the casualties of the 1918 flu were due to pneumonia) is moot since the discovery of antibiotics. Nothing could be farther from the truth, according to Dr. Andre’ Saine hyperlink.
Dr. Saine, director of the Canadian Academy of Homeopathy is known for his extensive record of curing ‘incurable’ cases.
21ST CENTURY HOMEOPATHY UPDATES
We find ourselves with new epidemics. It used to be that acute epidemic diseases would rage through areas, killing many. Our modern epidemics are of the chronic kinds, diseases that disable but do not kill. Autism. Asthma. Diabetes. Mental illness.
Meanwhile, our environment is toxic to an unprecedented level. There may have been wood smoke in the air a hundred years ago, but very little car exhaust. We may have good sewers today, so we don’t have the problems that come with typhus or cholera; but Sanda Steingraber
demonstrates how our air and water have been poisoned by internal combustion, by synthetic farming practices and industrialization to a degree that is difficult to grasp.
And the book "Poison Spring" suggests, sadly, that our government oversight, regulation, and protection of the populace falls short.
Our children receive dozens of inoculations of questionable healthfulness by time they are 5 years old. Health care is a highly political issue, because it is so embedded in corporate profitability. The discussion of things like vaccine damage are highly censored in the press.
In these times of so many inoculations, and concomitant epidemics of chronic degenerative diseases even in children, parents are right to be concerned about the possible cause-effect relationship. Evidence is mounting that harm can be and has been done to susceptible children.
Regarding autism in children, for example, homeopathy offers far greater promise than anything else. In Europe, some homeopaths have been exploring the connections between Western medicines, including vaccines, and compromised health. This new application of homeopathic thinking is very young, but it shows promise: Children with autism spectrum disorders, treated with constitutional homeopathy and homeopathic preparations of vaccinations, are improving at a rate and to a degree surpassing conventional care.
Homeopathy will excel in the treatment of coming epidemics or pandemics, as it has in past epidemics. Currently, Homeopathic performance with AIDS patients is evidenced to great effect in medical work throughout Africa.
In the present epidemic of chronic degenerative diseases, homeopathy holds a light high as well, since the best conventional medicine has to offer is palliation, whereas homeopathy promises the chance of real cure. But it is Bad for Business, so you won’t likely read about it in a mainstream publication.
Q How can a miniscule dose of medicine do anything at all?
A. This is the homeopathic principle of Like Cures Like. When a substance is chosen homeopathically -- that is, when the symptoms of the disease match the symptoms that the medicine could generate in a healthy body -- it sets off the body’s own regulatory mechanism. In fact, the remedy doesn’t cure you: You cure yourself after the remedy reveals to your body what’s gone wonky.
Q. Why do I only have to take a dose of my remedy every so often?
A. Unlike Western drugs, a remedy sets into motion a change in the internal self-regulatory mechanism. This change can continue for quite some time.
Like spinning a quarter, how it spins before it falls over is the element homeopaths watch.
Q. How do I know when to repeat the remedy?
A. Your homeopathic doctor is trained to understand, from your symptoms, your energy, your mood, when the last dose has spent itself, and will tell you when it’s time. As time goes by, you yourself will become familiar with the signs that say when to repeat.
Q. What’s the difference, really, between conventional (allopathic or Western) medicine and homeopathy?
A. Western medicine gives you a drug that will have the opposite effect of your symptom -- for example, steroids to suppress inflammation. That drug will act for a finite time, but soon your body will re-assert itself and you'll need to repeat the medicine. This is very G4B. Side effects may cause symptoms that seem unconnected but are not, causing need for another drug, or/and a new illness engrafted by medicines themselves.
For example: you have poison oak; you slather Calomine on it (made from mercury, btw); it dries up, tra-la. But down the road your joints begin to bother you: stiff, painful when you first walk, a drag. These two illnesses are not coincidental. A Western doctor may prescribe steroids for the joints, say. Things feel better for a time, but down the road, your heart valves start to have problems. These illnesses are also not isolated, not coincidental.
Homeopathy sees your symptoms as a map, or a series of clues to a puzzle. In the example of poison oak, your homeopath will want to know when it itches, what happens when you scratch, what makes it better or worse, if vesicles/blisters have appeared, and so on. Of the 40 or so remedies that are capable of curing (not suppressing) poison oak, the answers to these questions will lead to the correct choice for your case of poison oak.
Q. What about side effects?
A. There is no such thing as a "side" effect in Western medicine: there are only effects --the desired ones and the undesired (adverse) ones. Homeopathic remedies have no adverse effect ever. If a remedy is incorrect, nothing will happen. If it is "close but no cigar," other symptoms will appear to direct your homeopath to the next remedy. If it is the correct remedy, improvement will be apparent quickly.
Q: Why didn’t the homeopathic remedies cure Jan’s digestive problem 100%?
A: So, you’re asking, why didn’t the homeopathy work "all the way"? Either because my doctor missed something in the many questions asked about my case, or/and I wasn’t good at relating my symptoms, or/and the next remedy prescription might have finished it, or Kairos was where my life path was leading me.
Or any combination of the above.
The physician’s high and only mission is
to restore the sick to health,
a rapid, gentle, permanent restoration
Organon of the Medical Art