Homeopathy and Chinese medicine are both forms of energetic medicine
that address imbalances which may be preventing patients from obtaining
health and healing. Whether the goal is to balance qi or the vital
force, patients have benefited from both types of medicine physically,
emotionally, and mentally. The amazing results and responses from
patients treated by homeopathy and Chinese medicine are proof that
often there can be underlying issues that have not been or cannot
be addressed in order to treat the whole person. It is these underlying
issues that can bring about physical manifestation of pain and poor
healing. Although many see classical homeopathy and Chinese medicine
(acupuncture and/or herbal medicine) as completely separate forms
of therapy, these two different systems share some areas of resemblance
in diagnosis and treatment that may allow open-minded practitioners
another tool in their clinical practices.
Two Forms of Energetic
Medicine with One Common Goal
A frequent question for practitioners who use some form of homeopathy
and acupuncture together in practice is, when it is most effective
to use one over the other? For those who use both types of medicine,
there may not be a clear answer. Both are able to treat acute and
chronic symptoms; treat the mental, emotional, and physical aspects
of a person; and address conditions that can be expressed as either
superficial or deep. One possible answer may be that while acupuncture
treats the physical, superficial manifestation, homeopathy may be
best suited for addressing the energetic level that originates at
a deeper realm. This use of combining homeopathy and Chinese medicine
may be beneficial for those patients who seem to have multiple layers
to their complaints. The public is familiar with the use of acupuncture
for physical aliments like pain, but homeopathy may be more recognizable
as addressing mental/emotional issues, perhaps due to its almost
psychological approach to case-taking. In these cases, the different
aspects of a patient's main complaint may be addressed in a synergistic
fashion by using one modality to treat the acute and superficial
and another modality for the deeper, hidden issue.
In the practice of homeopathy, the primary focus of remedy selection
is based on distinguishing the individual's mental and emotional
state. The patient's physical presentations are used as confirmatory
symptoms in the final remedy selection.
When practitioners use physical symptoms alone, often the wrong
remedy is selected and the medicine simply does not work. In his
classic repertory, Kent gives instructions on how to use it when
emphasizing the mental symptoms:
The mental symptoms, must first be
worked out by the usual form until the remedies best suited to
his mental condition are determined, omitting all symptoms that
relate to a pathological cause and all that are common to disease
and to people. When the sum of these has been settled, a group
of five or ten remedies, or as many as appear, we are then prepared
to compare them and the remedies found related to the remaining
symptoms of the case.1
When focusing on the physical, it is
easy to get lost in a sea of remedies that all have similarities.
This is because the larger polycrest remedies have so many indications.
The homeopathic materia medica is a laundry list of symptoms, and
one can find almost any physical symptom under the larger remedies
Realm of Chinese Medicine
Modern Chinese medicine has primarily been known to treat pain and
organ disharmony by using acupuncture and herbal formulas based
on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) pattern differentiation. There
are some schools and practitioners of more esoteric treatments that
place more emphasis on treating the mental aspect of the patient,
such as five-element theory as developed by the late J. R. Worsley.
His principles would later be presented in an Oriental medicine
psychology textbook, Five Elements of Acupuncture
and Chinese Massage. From that book is a description of the
physical manifestation of emotional constraint that would be appropriately
treated with acupuncture:
All thought process and mental states
coexist with related muscular activity and tension. If a therapist
is able to affect muscle tension activity, he/she will, ipso facto,
affect the same degree of thought processes and mental states.
Rigidities on the level of the psyche will tend to externalize
corresponding to rigidity on the level of the soma. Fixed ideas
are all too often the precursors of fixed or stiff joints. Even
if auricular or muscular rigidity are not yet present, one would
select and treat points as if they were.2
The roots of acupuncture and classical
Chinese medicine are of a deeply spiritual nature, and the Taoist
origins are rich with mental and emotional significance. However,
TCM as we know it is a modernized system that was handed down to
us through the Communist government of China and has essentially
limited those types of teachings. Still mentioned as a part of basic
theory is the influence of the seven emotions, as first discussed
in the classical text Neijing Suwen as
a cause of internal imbalance creating illness in the body similar
to that of an exterior pathogen. Later texts focused on groups of
points to treat emotion disorders and even possession. The "Window
of the Sky" points, mainly located near the head, were used
to promote clarity of thought and treat psychoemotional disorders.
Another set called the "thirteen ghost" points were used
to treat epilepsy and manic disorders as far back as the seventh
century.3 When the focus of modern medicine began to disregard any
emotional connection to a patient's physical complaint, the use
of such points faded, and they were replaced with the more popular
points of the Eight Principles of Disease as taught in texts like
Peter Deadman's A Manual of Acupuncture
and Xinnong's Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion.
Chinese herbal formulas based on pattern diagnosis that continued
to place some focus on emotional disharmonies are found in the chapter
listed as "Calming the Shen" in popular teaching texts
and materia medicas by Dan Bensky and John Chen.
Modern and Classical
Disease Pattern Discrimination
The developing interest in combination homeopathics, as opposed
to classical homeopathic prescribing limited to single-remedy treatments,
has brought about another possible link between these two systems.
In 1952, Hans-Heinrich Reckeweg introduced the principles of homotoxicology
and biotherapeutic drainage, combining a mixture of low-to-middle
remedies to create complexes that treated diseases which appeared
at different stages of deregulation in the body. In this theory,
a homotoxin affects cells and tissues on different levels, passing
through six phases, two subsections per three phases. The transition
between phases is described as vicariation, with indicating signs
that the illness is progressively growing in strength and requiring
new treatment strategies.4 A similar process, also broken down into
six stages of disease transmission, is taught from one of the earliest
Chinese medical texts, the Shang Han Lun,
written by Zhang Ji around 220 CE. It described how cold disease
enters the body at a superficial level and could penetrate deeper
into the body, changing its clinical manifestations and organ pathology,
finally becoming fatal at the deepest level.5 It follows disease
from the outermost levels to the innermost level while providing
simple herbal formula recommendations and modifications for each
stage. These same six stages, along with the Four Levels of Disease
introduced in the later text Wen Bing,
became the basis for classical and modern acupuncture-point prescriptions.
In both forms of medicine, the importance lies in treating only
at the appropriate level of disease to bring about a cure.
Illness can travel both forward and backward throughout these different
levels, hopefully being expressed and released externally instead
of penetrating and lingering deeper within. Clinical manifestations
of illness can change dramatically for the good or bad in patients,
often leading to the formulation of new treatment plans or selection
of a new, more appropriate remedy. The progression of a disease
towards cure was explained by Hering's law of direction of cure,
the second law of homeopathy following only the law of similars.
Reiterated by Kent, "The cure must proceed from centre to circumference,
from centre to circumference is from above downward, from within
outwards, from more important to less important organs, from the
head to the hands and feet."6
A similar progression of disease is mentioned in the Neijing
Suwen, when the Yellow Emperor Huang Qi is told by the great
scholar Qi Bo, "When it [a pathogen] remains in the body for
a long period of time, the pathogenic factor will transform, internalize,
and stagnate to the point where the flow of qi is impaired, top
to bottom, side to side, or between yin and yang."7 Treatment
and monitoring changes in disease progression between these two
forms of medicine have some similarities in thought, even though
there are centuries separating their great masters.
Homeopathic remedy selection may depend on the current state of
the patient, whether he is to be treated acutely or if his underlying
constitution needs to be addressed. These changes can lead to the
selection of a new remedy or changes in dose administration or potency.
The same idea can be observed in Chinese medicine, especially if
herbs are being prescribed. A patient's condition may only match
a formula's given indication from as little as a few days or as
much as two weeks before another formula becomes more appropriate.
Acupuncture also will use certain points from more acute situations
that may include clearing heat from the body to revive consciousness,
such seen with the Jing-Well (Ting) points on the tips of the extremities
or the Ying-Spring points.8 Constitutional treatments, often described
as treating the root of the disease instead of its branches, may
involve the selection of points like the Front Mu (Alarm) point
for each individual organ, along with its Back Shu (Associate) point
in order to provide a deeper effect on the body's qi. Where selection
in point prescription may change on a daily basis, changes in a
patient's homeopathic picture may also change abruptly, which may
be seen with selection of the wrong remedy or prescribing at too
high potency, leading to patients who begin to prove a remedy's
rare and peculiar keynotes.
New Concepts on
Combining Both Medicines in Clinical Application
In our study of both forms of medicine, we have noticed indications
in which both the use of Chinese medicine and homeopathy may be
applicable. These ideas first came about while reviewing basic acupuncture
point descriptions that sounded similar to the characteristics symptoms
of certain remedies. Another indication was the common phrase from
patients, "I've never been well since…" or they
had cases that looked and felt more suited to homeopathy than acupuncture.
These patients all had something in common: they seemed to have
deep-seated issues that were being expressed outwardly in physical
form. Often these patients would have been to Western medical practitioners,
were treated unsuccessfully, and were now turning to alternative
medicine. These were the patients whose physical pathology seemed
to manifest from a disturbance in their life force, as opposed to
a physical trauma or clear disease pathology. It was these situations
in which we thought a combination of homeopathy and Chinese medicine
might be a valid option. We examine three ways the two could be
used together to best suit patients' needs:
1. The combination
use of specific acupuncture points that match keynote symptoms of
remedy for acute treatment. A particular example would be
using the polycrest Belladonna alongside acupuncture point Liver-2,
located on the dorsum of the foot between the first and second toes
just below the webbing. Liver 2 has an indication for clearing strong
heat patterns in the body and helping to release the free flow of
qi throughout the body, as well as within the Liver meridian. The
Liver channel is known to be strongly affected by emotional influences,
and when qi cannot flow freely, emotions such as rage, anger, and
even mania can occur.9 The mania, restlessness, and hot sensation
accumulating in the body that can affect the patient's mental clarity
seem very similar to the keynote symptoms of out-of-control behavior
and blood and heat rushing to the head typical of Belladonna. A
combined treatment may involve the use of acupoint Liver 2, as well
as other points like LI-11, ST-44, and UB-40 to clear intense heat,
along with low-dose Belladonna while in the office. In this case
the homeopathic remedy is used to help treat the acute symptoms
and calm the patient while the acupoints move qi and rebalance the
affected channel to help clear excess heat in order to help ground
the patient. Unlike using a remedy that is chosen based on the "like
cures like" principle, Chinese herbal therapy would use the
oppose to clear heat by having the patient take a strong cooling
herb like Shi gao (gypsum).10
of a patient's remedy or disease state through traditional Chinese
medicine observation and palpation techniques. Pulse and
tongue observation are used by TCM practitioners to help determine
a patient's underlying pattern. They serve as nonverbal indications
of the internal and external patterns for determination of treatment.
Pulse and tongue observations are listed in both the homeopathic
materia medica and repertory, but are not considered relevant to
remedy selection. There was a time when homeopaths were medical
doctors trained in the art of pulse and tongue diagnosis. Modern
homeopathic training does not include them; however, a skilled observer
can use them to help confirm a remedy. The following is an example
of how this method could be used to differentiate headache remedies:
Boericke lists Belladonna with a rapid but weakened pulse and a
strawberry-red, swollen tongue.11 This could be compared with the
pulse and tongue of Natrum muriaticum, another important headache
remedy, which has a fluttering, palpating, and intermittent pulse
with a frothy coating with bubbles on the side and a sense of dryness.12
In sum, tongue and pulse information is used for confirmation, not
as a primary diagnostic tool.
3. The use of
homeopathic remedy dilution methods for administration of Chinese
herbal formulations. One of the benefits of homeopathic dilutions
is that they allow for toxic substances too dangerous taken orally
to be used energetically. Chinese herbalists have historically used
toxic substances in some of their traditional formulas.13 Other
substances have also been difficult to obtain for many different
reasons, such as Ma Huang (ephedra) due to FDA banning, high-potency
Ren Shen (Korean ginseng) due to high cost for the best-quality
root, or Lu Rong (deer antler velvet) due to animal protection regulations
and lack of availability. Using the same concepts of titrations
and successions that Hahnemann himself used for his first proofs,
one might be able to test if it would be possible to use dilutions
of single Chinese herbs or formulas in clinical situations. An educational
pseudo-proving of Ma Huang Tang (ephedra formula) made from its
raw ingredients demonstrated that the participants involved with
making the low-dose potency began to develop some of the indications
listed in texts for the use of the formula. This leads to many more
questions as to the use of not only homeopathic remedies, but also
the processes used to manufacture remedies as another route of administration
for traditional raw herbal formulas.
Homeopathy and Chinese medicine have both been used to treat physical,
mental, and emotional aspects of patients by addressing energetic
imbalances within the body that are often overlooked in other forms
of medicine. While both types of medicine have similarities in their
basic concepts, they are viewed as two individual medical treatments.
Those practitioners interested in combining their benefits will
have to focus on addressing deeper mental/emotional issues that
may be provoking a patient's physical complaints. The following
translated Chinese passage describes how to formulate individual
treatments much the same as classical principles may guide a homeopathic
Illness may be identical but the persons
suffering from them are different. The … emotions and the
… excesses affecting people are not the same. … If
one treats all those patients who appear to suffer from one illness
with one and the same therapy, one may hit the nature of the illness,
but one's approach may still be exactly contraindicated by the
influence of qi that determines the condition of the individual
patient's body. … Physicians therefore must take into account
the differences among the people and only then decide whether
the therapeutic pattern they employ suits … the individual
constitution on the basis of the criteria mentioned above.14
Mario Fontes, MSOM
1829 Campbell Ave.
Phoenix, Arizona 85015
Stephanie M. Pina, ND, MSOM
711 North Evergreen Road #3011
Mesa Arizona 85201
Mario Fontes is currently finishing a master's
degree in Oriental medicine at the Phoenix Institute of Herbal Medicine
and Acupuncture in Arizona. He is also working toward his doctorate
in classical homeopathy at the American Medical College of Homeopathy
in Phoenix, Arizona.
Stephanie Pina is a licensed naturopathic physician practicing
in Arizona. She graduated from Southwest College of Naturopathic
Medicine in Tempe, Arizona, and completed her master's degree in
Oriental medicine at the Phoenix Institute of Herbal Medicine and
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