Think about this: an actual alternative to the current medical paradigm. An alternative that seeks to strengthen the overall health of the individual in a way that is cost-effective, has no side effects and doesn’t taste or smell bad.
Is that actually possible?
I contend that it is and that Homeopathy really is an alternative (a truly viable alternative) to other more invasive medical protocols being used today. And I’m not alone. The World Health Organization says that Homeopathy is the most widely used form of alternative medicine in the world and estimates that about 500 million people currently receive homeopathic treatment.
In this post I’d like to explore the trajectory of Homeopathy from its role as a Complementary modality to the stand-alone realm of being “Alternative”.
The word “alternative” has a few definitions; it can be understood as a “black/white choice between two options”, but it can also be understood as being “preferable to the existing state or form of something, very often with the connotation of being less conventional, less materialistic, more in harmony with the environment and the natural order of things.”
I want to blend those two definitions together and say that when it comes to medicine, a person needs to make the choice that is appropriate for their given situation. For example: if your appendix bursts, you need surgery. If you have a compound fracture you need to have it properly set, maybe install a pin or two and then have a cast. If you have long unexplained pain, perhaps an MRI is the best diagnostic option.
In these situations, as explored in a previous post, Homeopathy can provide a fine complement to the necessary treatment protocols—but it is not what you would call an “alternative”.
However, if you have acute gastroenteritis, or chronic fatigue syndrome, Lupus, or long-standing depression, or maybe your child has recurring ear infections or even ADD/ADHD,…Homeopathy may provide the alternative you need.
Homeopathy is a modality that works with the body’s innate ability to heal itself. It looks at the whole of the disturbance, including the mental, emotional and physical manifestations of symptoms, and through judicious use of the remedies, works to return the body (the whole person, actually) to a state of health.
Way back in the day, Homeopathy and what we now call “conventional medicine” existed side-by-side. There were homeopathic medical colleges, homeopathic hospitals (i.e. Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia), and many medical doctors were also practitioners of Homeopathy. For reasons mostly political and probably financial, a rift between the Homeopaths and the “medical doctors” took hold. And so, the guys that teamed up with the pharmaceutical companies became the ”norm” and the rest of us, the “alternative”.
That’s cool, and anyone who has had bypass surgery, or a liver transplant or been in a burn unit will tell you to thank god that the medical guys studied their stuff. In countless ways, over the years, this system has served us well.
But if you sniff around a little, you may also see living, breathing evidence that although people are living longer, many of them might not actually be living better. We’ve got a lot of weird stuff creeping up; a lot of chronic illnesses that aren’t getting resolved by surgery and that may require a lifetime of (not particularly optimal) pharmaceutical intervention.
That’s tough. And expensive. And the treatments aren’t necessarily the answer to the problem. And sometimes, if you take a few meds for a long time, you need a few more meds, and the side effects take their toll, and you may wind up in worse shape than where you started.
This is one time when you can clearly see the need for an alternative—like Homeopathy.
And here’s another: A person has symptoms so they go to the doctor. They get a bunch of tests that all come back negative. But the poor guy still feels like s**t. It’s great that the tests don’t measure any frank pathology, but if the person still doesn’t feel well, then what? Sometimes they are referred for test after test after test. Sometimes they are prescribed a few courses of steroids or an antidepressant. And sometimes they are told it is all in their head and are sent away to deal on their own accord.
To my mind, this is when Homeopathy has a chance to shine: The time between when the person feels that something is out of whack—and when there is actual, quantifiable pathology. It is in this state that we see a body that is struggling to regain equilibrium…and is expressing the need to get things back to normal. And that is what Homeopathy does best.
Homeopathy, because it is about understanding the Individual, seeks to identify that which is out of balance and then to find the remedy that best matches the whole of the disturbance in order to right the imbalance. This means that two people may wind up with the exact same medical diagnosis and yet need a completely different Homeopathic remedy. Conventional medicine looks at what is similar and Homeopathy looks at what is unique and individual.
(Exactly how this works and why are fodder for another post; see the sidebar “About Homeopathy” for some more information.)
Homeopathy has had many hey-days over the last few centuries where it kicked some serious butt in treating influenza, cholera, typhoid and Diptheria. (Check out this article). It has a mean track record in fighting acute ailments, including food poisoning and stomach virus, whooping cough, strep throat and Lyme.
But for clarity (and liability), I am saying VERY CLEARLY: Homeopathy does not “CURE DISEASE” (that is the domain of the “conventional doctors” and we are NOT ALLOWED TO SAY THAT) it simply realigns the energy of the body such that it becomes inhospitable for disease to manifest. In other words, Homeopathy makes you a bad hostess.
Many clients ask if they should have regular check-ups and tests if they are under Homeopathic care. Sure, why not. It (This does not, in any way, discount the efficacy of Homeopathic treatment—rather it points out the shortcomings in the way that our system is currently structured.)
In America, Homeopaths are not allowed to perform physical examinations, to diagnose or to prescribe medications. (In other countries, this is not necessarily the case; i.e. in England and India there are Homeopathic hospitals, etc.) So it is important to have a partner in the healing process.
Here in America, where we are fortunate to have access to some of the most groundbreaking treatments available, we tend to be a bit overzealous about what we do and how we do it. Kind of like using a machine gun when a water pistol would be just fine.
Homeopathy is like the light mist that puts out the big fire. It is safe, effective and economical and sometimes, a much better Alternative to firing the machine gun.