A Mind-Boggling Kind of Medicine
Homeopathy is unlike any other form of medicine. A single homeopathic medicine
treats all of the symptoms of the patient, not only the chief complaint.
The effect of one dose can last for months, or even years. There is no expiration
date on the medicines — they can last for life. Ten different patients
with asthma may need ten different medicines. The medicines are safe for
newborns and pregnant moms yet powerful enough to arrest bleeding within
minutes and to bring comatose patients back into waking consciousness within
minutes. Absolutely any substance in nature can be made into a homeopathic
medicine. These are a few of the mind-boggling yet true facts about homeopathy.
Our form of medicine is not as straightforward as other modalities and strains
many a mind to disbelief. Added to this confusion are a number of misconceptions
that we would like to clarify in this article.
Homeopathic Medicine is Slow-Acting
This is an erroneous comment that we sometimes hear, especially when we travel
in India. The pace of the reaction to a homeopathic medicine depends on the
nature of the illness, the vital force of the patient, and the accuracy of
the prescription. Response to acute illnesses are often very rapid. Judyth
remembers when she was a student clinician at Bastyr University in 1982.
She gave a dose of Pulsatilla to a sweet, little, blonde girl, complaining
of a very sore throat, curled up lethargically in her mom's lap. No
sooner did Judyth turn around after administering the medicine than the child
was racing up and down the halls oblivious to any pain or discomfort. Then
there was the time Judyth turned her ankle running down the concrete steps
to her house and fell to the ground in acute pain. On her way to a meeting,
she was determined to reach her Arnica. After literally crawling up two flights
of stairs, she grabbed a dose of Arnica 30C and felt ninety percent pain-free
within five minutes. Able to drive to and attend her commitment, she needed
one additional dose of the Arnica three hours later. Or the time she scalded
herself with soup while shopping at a local co-op. Another shopper, having
witnessed the accident, expressed concern twenty minutes later. Judyth assured
him that the pain of the burn was gone within seconds of taking Cantharis.
Granted, the above are first-aid situations. The response to acute illnesses,
physical or mental, is often seen within twenty-four hours. We can't
tell you the number of times we have prescribed homeopathic medicines for bladder
infections and received reports from the patients that the symptoms either
resolved or improved dramatically within twenty to thirty minutes. One patient
suffered from a severe uterine hemorrhage. Within a day of taking Belladonna,
it was as if a faucet were turned off. Another Judyth story: during her last
and most excruciating miscarriage a number of years ago, even Demoral did not
touch the pain. But moments after a dose of Aurum metallicum, she could finally
relax and find relief from unrelenting, labor-like pain.
In chronic conditions, the response time may be longer. Many patients find
initial relief within a few days to a week of taking the medicine. Whether
the problem is temper tantrums of a child with oppositional defiant disorder,
the wrenching pain of a ruptured disk, the agony of suicidal depression, or
the heart palpitations secondary to a panic attack, the patient will notice
an amelioration of symptoms within days to weeks of being medicated. By the
time of the follow-up visit, generally six weeks, the symptoms are typically
at least 60 to 70% better, sometimes more. In the case of depression, for example,
it is likely that the homeopathy will act more quickly than an antidepressant.
There is Nothing in Homeopathic Medicines
Homeopathic medicines are prepared by a method of serial dilution. We, like
most other homeopathic practitioners, most often use centesimal. or C, dilutions.
These have been diluted one part mother tincture to 99 parts water or alcohol.
A 30C potency has gone through this process thirty times; a 200C two hundred
times, a 1M one thousand times, and a 10M ten thousand times. We agree that
there is nothing chemical or physiological in a potency higher than 30C,
however there is some kind of pattern of the original substance that remains.
What exactly this pattern is has been argued widely, but the most promising
theory to date has to do with water holding memory. When tested by nuclear
magnetic resonance or chromatography, each medicine and each potency of that
medicine is distinct and unique. So, although each homeopathic medicine is
infused into sugar pills and look and taste identical, each has its own particular
pattern and properties.
Homeopathy Doesn't Work
This is what the naysayers insist on although, consistently, they are the ones
who have never tried homeopathy. While it is true that an incorrectly prescribed
homeopathic medicine may have no effect whatsoever on the symptoms, an accurate
prescription can have definite, sometimes dramatic results. We and many other
homeopaths not only take detailed notes during the homeopathic interview
(even attempting to record the interview verbatim), but, with permission,
may videotape patient interviews. We challenge anyone who dismisses homeopathy
out of hand and insists it has no efficacy to watch these before and after
videos. It is inconceivable to us, who have been treating patients day in
and day out for twenty years and witness the positive results of homeopathy
regularly, that anyone could say homeopathy simply doesn't work. We
are the first to admit that we may not understand how homeopathy works but,
nevertheless, it does.
Homeopathic Medicines Act as a Placebo
We take a patient's case, analyze the symptom picture, and choose the
medicine we believe to be the best suited for the individual. In the case of
chronic illness, we again see or talk to the patient six weeks or so later
to evaluate. In many cases the patient reports a clear improvement and all
are in agreement that the medicine has acted well. In some cases, however,
there is no response whatsoever, despite our sincere efforts to understand
the patient and select the correct medicine and the patient's sincere
desire to get well. We only wish in such a case that homeopathy were a placebo
so that they would get well anyway.
You Can't Use Caffeine or Mint While
There are varying beliefs about which substances or factors, interfere with
or interrupt the action of homeopathic medicines. There are some who say
that nothing at all will affect the correct medicine. We know of one doctor,
a self-taught homeopath, who advises his patients to strictly avoid even
garlic and cayenne. In our experience, there are a few things that are best
avoided during homeopathic treatment although the more sensitive the patient
to that particular influence, the more like an antidote will occur. We have
found it best to stay away from coffee or coffee-containing products, at
least until it is clear whether the medicine you have taken is the correct
one. Other caffeinated beverages and substances do not have any disturbing
effect on homeopathic treatment.
Other influences that we have found repeatedly to interrupt the positive effects
of a homeopathic medicine are aromatic products made from trees such as eucalyptus,
camphor, tea tree, and pine. In this day of ubiquitous aromatic substances,
this is probably the biggest challenge to homeopathic medicines, though espresso-laced
chocolate products run a close second.
I've Tried Homeopathy and It Doesn't
Work For Me
We have heard this complaint a number of times. First, much of what
people mistakenly consider to be homeopathy is herbal tinctures or
or other therapies that have nothing at all to do with homeopathic treatment.
It is a simple matter of confusion. Second, some say homeopathy is not effective
for them because they've only tried self-prescribed combination or
low-potency medicines. Third, there are those who have tried one homeopath
or one medicine and throw the baby out with the bath water. Although not
everyone can be helped by any therapy, the likelihood that you as an individual
can be helped with homeopathy if you continue treatment with a competent
homeopath for at least one year is very high. The cutting edge of homeopathy
is getting sharper by the month due to a plethora of new provings and breakthroughs
so even if one homeopath has not been able to help you, another who is more
experienced, embraces a different style of practice, or can just find a new
insight or slant on your case, may well be able to find a medicine that will
be well worth the wait.
You Have to Believe in Homeopathy for It to Work
Even folks who are skeptics can benefit from homeopathic treatment. We saw
one of our long-term patients the other day and she reminded us that she
was one of those who came to us and homeopathy out of desperation. Although
it made no sense to her, it was her last resort. Now, years later and feeling
terrific, she admits that she may not know how or why homeopathy works, but
it does. As long as disbelief does not lead to sabotaging or abandoning treatment,
homeopathy should work just as well as with those who are already in the
choir, so to speak. Another way we know that homeopathy is not just for believers
is that infants and animals, who have no vested interest or conviction in
the effectiveness of homeopathy, can respond beautifully to homeopathy.
Homeopathy Works Better for Children than for Adults
It is true that children are sometimes easier to treat because they tend to
be on fewer medications (although this is unfortunately changing in our current
culture) and are less intellectualized and therapized. However, we often
see even more far-reaching results with adults simply because they are more
able to verbalize their symptoms and their state. A child's freshness
and candor can be more than made up for by the depth of experience of an
adult. It is never too late to begin homeopathic care — even on one's
Homeopathy May Be Okay for Minor Problems But
Not Serious Ones
Homeopathy shines in chronic, as well as acute and in severe, as well as minor,
physical, mental, and emotional disease. We have seen tremendous results in
patients with longstanding suicidal depression, intractable pain, and lifelong
physical complaints. Although patients taking a collection of conventional
medications may not present a clear enough symptom picture to find an excellent
homeopathic match, a longstanding history of symptomatology is no impediment
to successful homeopathic treatment. In India entire homeopathic hospitals
are devoted to care of the most serious illnesses.
Homeopathy Won't Work for Infections
This is a common misconception that we face regularly in practice, especially
since we treat so many children. Once a patient is diagnosed with an "infection,"
be it a sinus infection, vaginal infection, mastitis, or a dental abscess,
or she is likely to spring for the magic antibiotic bullet.
When used appropriately,
antibiotics can be a lifesaver. When overused, they can lead to antibiotic
resistance. Just yesterday a friend was recounting to us the story of some
American armed forces members who had received so many antibiotics so casually
for years that they actually died of strep throat! In our practice, we find
that homeopathy works for infections a good 90% of the time. If we have a
patient with rapidly progressing pneumonia or a cellulitis with red streaks
up the extremity or a deep infection threatening bone, of course we refer
immediately for antibiotics. But in a general homeopathic family practice,
these are by far the exception, not the rule.
Homeopathic Medicines Made from Certain Substances
It may be a bit shocking to think of taking a homeopathic medicine made from
poisonous snake or spider venom or the products of disease, such as tuberculosis.
But, if you remember how homeopathic medicines are made and that only the impression
or memory of the original substance remains, it soon becomes obvious that there
is no danger at all of toxicity. Once we received a telephone call from a local
emergency room inquiring as to whether a child who had ingested a bottle of
homeopathic Arsenicum album (made from arsenic) was in any danger. She was
not, regardless of how much she would have swallowed. One of the original ways
that old homeopaths obtained information about which medicines could cure which
symptoms was to study poisonings. But homeopathic medicines themselves, regardless
of whether they are made from a scorpion or cyanide, are never poisonous.
Patients are the Best Advertisement for Homeopathy
Now that you know what is not true about homeopathy, we encourage you to do
more reading or research or to treat yourself for acute conditions or seek
the care of a competent homeopath, to try it out for yourself. Many of the
skeptics in homeopathic history are the ones who later became the most vocal
proponents of its effectiveness.
Healing with Homeopathy
by Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman, ND, DHANP
and Robert Ullman, ND, DHANP
131 - 3rd Ave., North • Edmonds, Washington 98020 USA
Phone 425-774-5599 • Fax 425-670-0319
Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman and Robert Ullman are
licensed naturopathic physicians board certified in homeopathy. Their books
Patient's Guide to Homeopathic Medicine, Homeopathic Self-Care:
The Quick and Easy Guide for the Whole Family, Ritalin-Free Kids, Rage-Free
Kids Prozac Free, Whole Woman Homeopathy, and Mystics, Masters, Saints
and Sages-Stories of Enlightenment. They teach and lecture internationally
and practice at The Northwest Center for Homeopathic Medicine in Edmonds,
Washington and Langley, Washington. For their schedule, see their website
below. The doctors are currently participating in a free study funded
by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) researching the effectiveness
of homeopathic treatment of ADHD. They treat patients by phone as well
as in person and can be reached by telephone at 425-774-5599 or by
fax at 425-670-0319. Their website is www.healthyhomeopathy.com.