I was once asked if homeopaths make a diagnosis. A good question and I fear my answer was not as concise as it might have been.
The simple answer is that by law only your doctor or specialist can make a formal diagnosis. This is with good reason, because he / she can arrange blood tests, X-rays or refer you for further investigation. This is outside the capability of the professional lay homeopath.
There are medically qualified (doctor) homeopaths who needless to say have a foot in both camps.
In fact, it is fairly rare for someone to seek a homeopathic consultation before they have seen their GP or specialist. For one thing the NHS is a free service, so your doctor is the obvious first port of call. That said, complementary therapists learn about “Red Flags”. These are warning signs indicating that further investigation by your GP is needed to rule out any risk of a serious underlying condition.
Here is a picture of the cover of an excellent little book that I have on my shelf:
In the UK medical records are by and large held centrally, but this is not the case elsewhere. When I sat in on homeopathic consultations in Calcutta, it was normal for patients to carry with them the documentation from whatever investigations they had undergone. This is quite common in many countries. All this was very useful to the homeopathic doctor (in India there are two equivalent paths in medicine – orthodox western and homeopathic). Needless to say your diagnoses from the NHS are equally of value to the professional lay homeopath here.
The Value of Diagnosis
Diagnostic tests indicate what is going on: what is as it should be, and what is not. They are not always fullproof. Results can range from the possible to the definite. Referral for further investigation may be necessary.
Accuracy and speed in diagnosis is a big topic in academic circles should you care to look into the matter. Artificial intelligence is the new frontier it seems as this article describes!
An important outcome from diagnosis is the likely trajectory of the condition. Will it get worse, stay the same or get better with or without treatment? Hopefully it is not “how long have I got doc?” as the sit-coms or “soaps” sometimes have it, but fair to say none of us live for ever!
The Limits of Diagnosis
The above would all seem positive and in many ways it is, but there is a hazard in diagnosing a condition, which usually means giving it a name. Thus people will say I have X or I am Y. The problem here is that once you have been put in a box with a classifcation X or Y it is easy to be resigned to the label. It becomes part of you.
In homeopathy disease symptoms have a wider meaning. No two persons with the same diagnosed condition will be treated in the same way. Dr James Tyler Kent one of the most notable American Homeopaths the early part of the twentieth century wrote this:
Most of the conditions of the human economy that are called diseases in the books are not diseases, but the results of disease. To call a group of symptoms a disease of one part, and another group of symptoms a disease of another part, is a great heresy….. Organic disease is the result of disease
Lectures in Homeopathic Philosophy, Lecture IX Dr James Tyler Kent
Ok, the language is old fashioned, but what he is saying is that your true dis-ease is something that is prior to the symptoms that cause you make an appointment with your doctor. I touched on this subject before.
So the question is what underlies the child diagnosed as ADHD or a skin condition, or an adult with rheumatic pains or digestive problems or whatever?
Sometime that cause is apparent from orthodox investigation, but often not. The long term management of the symptoms is the best that can be done. In contrast, homeopathy looks at patterns in health, mental physical and emotional. It is sideways look that can find a solution to an intransigent problem. It is not boxed-in by labels.
Last month I introduced the topic of homeopathy as first aid in the home, and the value of having a small kit. This time I wish to share with you two interesting remedies that are particularly helpful in children with fevers – a common state of affairs
Fever is not a bad thing. Every symptom has a purpose; illness has a purpose. And the purpose of a fever is to fight infection – it is a natural response of the immune system. So try and not suppress fever with paracetamol containing over-the-counter medicines.
The latest NHS guidance is here. And yes, the use of paracetamol is permitted if the child is in distress but you might try some homeopathic first aid as an alternative first.
The two remedies are Aconite and Belladonna. Both have their origin in poisonous plants, but remember the potentised homeopathic remedy is an ultra-dilution and non toxic. Explanation here.
The challenge in homeopathy is to recognise the different characteristics in your child and to match them with the correspondingly remedy picture. There are fevers and there are fevers!
Here are some basic pointers for these two homeopathic medicines with two nice cartoon images from the book Homeopathic Remedy Pictures by Vicki Matheson and Frans Kusse.
The aconite child is fearful and anxious and doesn’t want to be touched. The fever is dry and comes on quickly within a few hours and is worse between 9 and 11pm. Coldness and heat alternate. The child is chilly and wants to be covered. He or she is thirsty. It is a good remedy for shock also.
It is a short acting remedy – if the fever persists much beyond a day then another remedy should be chosen.
The belladonna child also comes down with a sudden fever but there is a slightly slower onset than with the aconite patient. This child is burning hot and hypersensitive. There is violence and agresssion rather than fear. The pupils may be dilated – in contrast to aconite (constricted). The fever can be worse at 3pm or 3am. The patient may be delirious. Despite the heat, the child may not be thirsty. It is a useful remedy for sunstroke – the pounding head and red face gives you the picture. Dr RAF Jack also had this remedy as No1 for earache.
Belladonna is a somewhat longer acting remedy – about 72 hours.
Just a small introduction, but it might get you some sleep…!
I dare say that those of you with young children have spent some time at the bedside when they are sick.
What to do? Give TLC and Calpol?
But have you thought about homeopathic first aid?
Buy a remedy kit
The first thing you will need is a small remedy kit. Forearmed is forewarned as they say.
These are shown in the picture and available from homeopathic pharmacies such as Helios or Ainsworths
You cannot phone a pharmacy in the middle of the night or Sunday (which according to some unwritten law is of course when your child takes poorly!).
Because there are many remedies, homeopathy can seem complicated. For First Aid, things can be kept simple.
You know when your child is sick because they are out of sorts.
Years ago I remember taking our young son to Disneyworld. He didn’t seem as excited as you might expect. Next day, up come the spots – chicken pox!
This demonstrates a pattern in childhood illness (ssh..Covid too): a period of incubation with no symptoms, then recognisable symptoms and finally convalescence. Most childhood ailments are like that.
However, do see your GP if your child is getting sicker – first aid is not for everything. Yet, even here homeopathic first aid can buy time whilst you seek help.
Homeopaths speak of a vital or life force. It is beyond the physical (meta-physical) and I wrote an earlier blog on this. In brief, it keeps us alive.
Children have loads of energy – you may have noticed – because their vitality is so strong. However, their immune systems have a lot of learning to do in order to cope with the world at large.
Homeopathy informs the vital force; gives it a helping nudge; educates.
On my shelf is this little book from the pen of the late and wonderfully initialled Dr RAF Jack. He was a GP in the Midlands in the latter half of the twentieth century.
Dr Jack supplied every family with young children on his list with just four remedies: Aconite, Belladonna, Ipecachuana and Chamomilla
He explained five features – sufficient to get the mother’s confidence:
the sugar pills contain an infinitessimally small dose of medicine
they don’t corrupt of decay (i.e. look after your kit and it lasts many years)
if crushed they can be given to an hour-old baby
they can administered to a child in its sleep – rousing only enough to chew / suck the pill
even if the child took the contents there is no fear of poisoning – but stop giving the remedy if the child is getting better
(point 5 may may puzzle you? Quantity is not important in homeopathy, but repetition of dosing is. By analogy, imagine 2 people ask you to turn left at the same time, you will turn left once; but if the instruction is separated you will turn left twice – too many doses risks getting you in a spin!)
Let’s look at one remedy Chamomilla. That is the herb Camomile prepared homeopathically.
This is a remedy for PAIN, unbearable pain often associated with anger. Famously useful for the teething child with hot and red cheeks or one hot and red and the other pale and cold. The child cannot be comforted, asking for a toy and then hurling it across the room.
Here is a nice little image from Homeopathic Remedy Pictures:
A dose is usually one sugar pill, but as said above, quantity is not that important (except on your wallet). For a baby you can put a couple of pills in a small amount (5cm in a tumbler) of boiled cooled water – stir well and give two teaspoons.
Repitition depends on the seriousness. Maybe every 10-15 minutes to start with, but reduce to half hourly or longer if the symptoms start to improve. Do not continue to give the remedy once there is clear sign of improvement.
And if you see no improvement after a couple of hours, stop, it is the wrong remedy.
Next time we will look at Aconite and Belladonna – swords to ploughshares…
ACT IV SHAKESPEARE’S, MACBETH
“Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble. Fillet of a fenny snake, In the cauldron boil and bake; eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of bat and tongue of dog…”
Well you get the idea….
I was intrigued – maybe a little taken aback – to read a recent editorial in The NewHomeopath (the Journal of the Society of Homeopaths) that homeopaths were the new witches!
True enough, the gender mix for homeopaths must be 20:1 in favour of women, but none I have met would meet the picture of a witch.
Permit me a brief digression here. Bring to mind the stereotypical image of a witch and compare it to the male equivalent, the wizard. I suggest that one is artistically treated rather more favourably than the other, which might tell you something.
So, what has all this to do with the picture? Well it was the words “The Good Intent” above the door lintel that caught my eye as I walked past.
I will explain.
Now, I happen to be a Church goer, and come across some fellow attenders (very genuine people) who treat homeopathy with great suspicion; possibly even a dark art.
You can guarantee, that any opinion goes no further than that; an opinion without much knowledge. Still, to my mind, very strange.
"Adder's fork and blind worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell broth boil and bubble."
What fun! Good ‘ol William.
The keyword is “Intent“. Otherwise put, what is one’s intention? In children’s Sunday clubs I have heard taught, “What would Jesus do?“, which rather hits the same mark.
It is our intention that is most important; in all things. And, I have to say from my experience of the many homeopaths that I have met, that their intentions are solely to help their clients to the best of their ability. And certainly not to engage in sorcerery!
Homeopathy does pose some interesting questions about who we humans really are. Are we just a bundle of molecules dancing in some sort of harmony? I touched on this subject before.
Our current understanding of the human body is remarkable tribute to modern science, but there are many mysteries still, and over time these mysteries tend to multiply rather than diminish. Who are we? What does it mean to be conscious, to be alive? These are big unanswered questions. Take a look at the work of the Galileo Commission here.
Complementary medicine in its various forms may not provide all the answers, yet its strength is in its recognition of the material and non-material nature of man. This is the holistic perspective.
Returning to the matter of intention, a cursory recollection of recent news stories, will bring to mind plently of examples of bad intent. Sadly, all too often from within organisations that are held in high regard.
So, I rather liked the name of the house in the picture.
Does it reflect the spirit of the owners, or is it two words to make those crossing the threshold pause for thought?
The Society of Homeopaths sets down clear requirements of its members which can be found here. Complaints upheld against practitioners are very rare.
Unfortunately, complaints of a vexatious and mischievous nature are significantly more common these days, often orchestrated by a small number of people whose world view is dominated by a rigid scientific materialist model (which roughly put says if you can’t see it it doesn’t exist).
They are entitled to their opinions of course. However, whilst constructive criticism can often be of good intent; destructive criticism rather suggests the opposite.
None are forced to try homeopathy, but it offers a different perspective on health which has proven to be of value for many.
Wishing you a good Christmas and good health. Next month, I will return to less combatative territory and consider homeopathy as first aid in the home.
’Tis the season (for colds and flu)
I caught a cold last week – in common with many others, it seems. Well, it is that time of year. Pre-pandemic, colds and flu were not newsworthy – but they are now. I shall not labour the point, but the media doom and gloom is not particularly helpful.
As we have all learned during these past months, respiratory infections are caused by viruses and viruses that tend to mutate.
The characteristics of the various offending bugs we can leave to the scientists, but when it comes to the counter attack, respiratory viruses seem to be rather slippery characters.
Fortunately most respiratory infections are self limiting – even Covid. Being sensible makes a significant difference to the outcome.
So what can we do to help that is simple? And what should we not do?
Prevention is better than cure
I just penned a short editorial for the The Herald (issue 414 p38). What could be said in 300 words is limited, but I emphasised the importance of good general health in building immunity.
Modern life with its cities and technologies is about as distant from the natural world as you can get. One of the gains from the environmental movement is a reawakening to that lost connection.
Here are three simple steps to reconnect:
Firstly, get a good quotient of sleep. As the hours of daylight shorten, and those of darkness lengthen. You don’t need to be a genius to infer that this is suggestive of more sleep. Sleep is a health regenerating process and a lack of sleep increases ones vulnerability to infection.
Secondly, consider your eating habits. Eating may be pleasurable, but its real purpose is to supply the body with the necessary nutrients. The gut flora is known to be important in immune health. It is common sense then to focus on healthy fresh food.
Thirdly, get outside into the sunlight as much as you can. Living by the New Forest and the coast, there are options a plenty. Not only is exercise good for the body, it is good for the mind also.
The sunshine vitamin
Whilst nutrition should be the main source of vitamins and minerals, there is a logic to vitamin D (more specifically D3) supplementation during the winter months.
Otherwise known as the sunshine vitamin, it is made by the action of sunlight on the skin. Reduced daylight and overcast weather mean that vitamin D deficiency is common in winter.
Vitamin D has many functions which you can look up online, but of particular relevance is its role in maintaining respiratory health. It is generally anti-inflammatory.
Daily supplementation in the range of 2000 to 4000 IU (international units) or 50 to 100 micrograms should be perfectly safe for adults (half the dose for under 12s).
Start low and increase as winter progresses, then tail off again as the days lengthen. As ever, take advice if you have particular health conditions.
Theoretically excess vitamin D can be toxic (elevated calcium levels and intestinal symptoms) but such events require massive doses over extended periods. In short, sensible supplementation is safe.
The supplement is mostly available as tablets or capsule of 1000 to 2000 IU tablets which is itself a guide to dosage.
You may recall a time when Mums gave cod-liver oil to her school age kids? Guess what, it is Vitamin D rich. Two teaspoons is about 1000IU
Here is a selection of articles / videos. The NHS dosage guidelines (just 400IU) seem to be rather conservative.
We all do, and it may even be necessary that we do so in order to keep the immune system in trim. Or it could be a reminder to slow down, and metaphorically ‘recharge the batteries’.
What to do? Or not to do?
Avoid over the counter cold / flu preparations
Rest and don’t go back to work too soon
Eat lightly or even fast
Listen to your body and act appropriately – a head cold is not influenza
What not to do…
When we get a cold it is popular of course to reach for over the counter medicines most of which contain Paracetamol or aspirin (pain / fever relief), and other ingredients like Pseudoephedrine (decongestant) that relieve your symptoms.
Strange as it may seem, your symptoms are your body’s curative reaction to the virus. Unpleasant, these may be, but they have a purpose. Fever, for example, stimulates the immune system into action.
Here is a short quote from Dr Russell Malcolm a medical doctor and homeopath in Scotland:
“[the] advice is to avoid Paracetamol and Aspirin completely …. [they] have no curative power at all … there is evidence that interfering with this process can lengthen the illness and increase the incidence of complications.”
What to do? Old wisdom…
On my bookshelf is a small volume that I bought when my son was a baby 30 years back – in the chapter on respiratory infections, sore throats, colds and flu the author (American, Dr Leo Galland MD), puts it simply:
“I recommend rest, chicken soup and TLC (tender loving care). For severe infections with fever, lots of aches and/or uncomfortable congestion, I find short megadose therapy of vitamin C helpful.“
I’ll come back to vitamin C shortly.
Cold or Flu
Dr Malcolm also states “Flu is not a headcold” – the old joke says that should a £50 note blow into the garden, with a headcold, you’ll wrap-up and go out to catch it, with Flu you surely will not!
Half a century earlier, Dr Dorothy Shepherd (1888-1952) said this:
“It is the fashion to call every slight feverish chill influenza; but if after the temperature has come down, the depression, exhaustion and weariness is such that it is too much effort to do anything, that life is really not worth living, you know you will have had influenza; after a mere feverish chill you will feel as well on getting up as you did before the attack.
Unfortunately many people take no notice of the danger signals of weakness and prostration, and insist on getting up, even returning to work before they are fit, thus laying themselves open to broncho-pneumonia…and sudden death’
‘During the feverish period the patient should be allowed nothing but raw fruit and fruit juices, and not synthetic bottled juices. Fresh oranges, lemon juice, apple drinks, grapefruit drinks at frequent intervals will cleans the system and prevent any undue strain being thrown on the gastric organs. No meat juices, no milk, are permissible. After the temperature is down, the diet may be increased and may include vegetable broth, Yeastrel drinks ( Marmite?); wholemeal toast; gradually other foods may be added…“
No.1 rule then is REST. You may recall what happened to PM Boris Johnson when he tried to keep going through his Covid infection … viruses are no respecters of rank!
Modern society tends not to permit absence from work or school, which is a pity and probably counter productive …Covid, might remind us of old wisdom.
Megadose Vitamin C
Vitamin C has a direct anti-viral effect that has been well researched.
Dr Leo Galland mentioned above, continued:
“To treat severe colds, viral infection such as sore throats or bronchitis, and flu, I find megadoses of vitamin C very effective…I recommend the highest dose you [or your child] can take. 1000mg an hour, until he begins to get loose bowels (Excess vitamin C…draws water into the intestines). This will establish [the] saturation point.
Stop the vitamin C until the next day, when you [or your child] should [take] 1000mg every 2-3 hours until the bowels become loose. Stop the vitamins again until the third day, when you should give 1000mg every four to six hours. Maintain this dose until the cold is over, then gradually cut the dose back over two weeks to 1000mg a day.
The anti-viral effect of vitamin C depends on getting the highest level possible into the tissues.
Is it safe? Very: not only against viruses but also acute allergic reactions. When should you not give vitamin C? If you [your child] has kidney disease or is too sick to take food and liquid along with it.“
This is the protocol I follow myself. Loose bowels do not result in my case, but they may, everyone is different.
Also to consider
Zinc has a important function in supporting immune health. A healthy diet should suffice for daily needs, but supplemention at 20-40mg per day when you are sick can be helpful.
The herbal remedy Echinacea can also help on first signs of a cold or flu. But Echinacea should be taken for only a few days (say a week) as thereafter it can be counter productive. Follow the manufacturers guidance on dosage.
Most respiratory infections are self limiting and are more likely to be so, if you follow the good advice above. Homeopathic medicine can undoubtably speed recovery but selection of the correct remedy takes a little skill, but can be learned. First aid kits are available for home use.
Should you have a viral respiratory illness that is lingering on uncomfortably, and wish to try a homeopathic approach please call and leave a message or text (see Contact) and I will call back – the ‘Discovery Call’ arrangement is for clients with longer term issues. (Expect a nominal charge of around £10 for any remedy sent).
However – and very importantly – seek immediate medical help (GP or A&E) if your condition is getting worse and especially if you have breathing difficulties.
How clear is crystal clear?
That homeopathy works is crystal clear to me, but what if you have never used homeopathy?
The other day I did a miserable job in explaining homeopathy to someone.
Granted time was short, but my explanation wasn’t crystal clear.
It is easy to disappear down the proverbial rabbit hole
(photo I took of a stream in Aberdeen-shire. Deeside water is notably pure – crystal clear)
Proof of the pudding…
The family doctor I saw as a child used homeopathy. I got better and didn’t think much about it…well, I was a child after all.
That is just how it was for me. Maybe a seed was sown…
A seed that lay dormant until a memory is stirred….
What stirred the memory was the ignorance of the parent with the sick child…
Fingers crossed he’ll just get better (usually that’s so)..just wait and see. But sometimes not…
My son was aged 3 or 4 at the time (he’s now 30+)
He’d gone done with something as kids do … virus probably…
Of the shelf comes Dr Andrew Lockie’s book TheFamily Guide to Homeopathy, and a little homeopathic first aid remedy kit that I had bought.
Aconite seemed a good place to start…no change whatsoever
Let’s switch to Belladonna (excellent for fevers in children, they say)…still no change…
Actually, he’s getting worse. Might need the doctor…it’s Saturday…hmm
Back to the book…l’ll try Gelsemium (drowsy, dull, shivery) …. his appearance changes
And that within a few minutes ….
Beginners luck – but wow I was impressed*.
(*n.b. the reaction to a first aid remedy can be fast especially in children with good vitality – long standing and deeper seated complaints take longer to resolve)
Crystal clear that Gelsemium worked where Aconite and Belladonna didn’t…
In homeopathy the picture of the remedy must match the picture of the symptoms..that is the rule
(Homeo-pathy means “similar-suffering” or “like cures like” – known as the law of similars)
Zeitgeist… (spirit of the age)
Some say homeopathy is pseudo-science.
How often in the past year have you heard the phrase “The Science ..”?
But science is dynamic not a tablet of stone. There is no “The”. It’s a means to understanding; it’s never constant and ever changing.
How about margarine or butter?…We still cannot decide (unless you sell butter or margarine)!
What’s fashionable in science today, may not be fashionable tomorrow.
The preparation of homeopathic medicines is a process of serial dilution and agitation, termed “potentisation”. It is quite clear that some aspect of the original material substance is transferred.
The late Dr Masura Emoto, experimented with the influence of thought on water. Here is just one picture from his website from the water at Lourdes
Prof. Jerry Pollack in the USA has discovered a fourth water phase which has potential implications
Links in the chain of the homeopathy puzzle? Maybe.
Most folk drive their cars with (increasingly) little knowledge of what is happening under the bonnet. Your auto-engineer does, true, but cars are man made.
And humans are not machines, nor are they not man made.
Despite advances in medical science there is still much that is unknown, and if a little homeopathy keeps you ‘running smoothly’, in homeostasis, why not use it?
There are “known knowns”….homeopathy works.
And “unknown unknowns” to find and solve…
Science will bring its understanding in time.
HOMEOPATHY INFORMATION AND THE ONION
Isn’t this a fantastic looking flower? It is an ornamental hybrid of the onion; the Allium species.
The common onion is Allium cepa, a name which may derive from two Celtic words “all” and “cep”, meaning “hot” and “head”. In full bloom the flower is indeed like a head – a big beautiful sphere.
The onion family includes garlic and leeks. Plants used nutritionally and medicinally for centuries. Today the medicinal benefits are still recognised – here is one article – read more
In folklore, even in the 19th century, placing sliced onions around the home, or in a bag worn around the neck was considered to protect against contagion during epidemics.
Perhaps we should revisit past wisdom, given the current challenges? But I suspect sending your children back to school with a bag of chopped onions around their neck might not be popular?
When chopping onions for the cooking pot streaming eyes and runny nose is all too familiar! This is “coryza” or “rhinitis” in medical parlance.
As a homeopathic medicine, one use of Allium Cepa is in the treatment of an attack of “hay fever”, whose symptoms of coryza, as you all know, are rather similar to those from chopping onions. The nasal discharge is acrid and that from the eye bland.
Now symptoms, from a homeopathic perspective, are not just an inconvenience – they point the way to cure. They inform.
So don’t go suppressing the symptoms.
The homeopathic core principle is “like cures like”. This means giving a medicine that mimics the symptoms suffered.
In short do as the body asks.
Homeopathy supports the body’s attempt to cure. It helps it over “the hill” that needs to be climbed.
He has a new book titled “Deep Reality” – tad over my head mathematically – but the fundamental role of “information” in nature is becoming clear.
Homeopathy is information medicine, born ahead of its time.
So said Winston Churchill…
And I wish to suggest that his sentiment has some relevance in the practice of medicine.
It highlights two different philosophies, both of which are valid.
Take a look at any text on modern drug classes and you can clearly see that modern western medicine is on a war footing. There are anti-biotics; anti-depressants; anti-fungals; anti-inflammatories; anti-virals…just as we have anti-aircraft; anti-tank; anti-personnel and so on.
Clearly modern pharmaceuticals are effective, but they are not always curative in the long term. There is quite a queue in my local chemist for repeat prescriptions ..
Most modern drugs have not been around that long, the first antibiotics only appeared in the 1930s. We tend to forget that.
Yet mankind has suffered sickness, for thousands of years…and been healed. Naturopathic cures were once the norm..at least for those of some means.
Let’s be honest, symptoms are inconvenient at best, and often worse – so a magic bullet has much in its favour – especially in an impatient age.
Trouble is “the enemy” may have a valid point; perhaps a little “jaw jaw” might bring about a longer lasting peace?
Of course to “jaw jaw” you have to understand the language.
Symptoms are the body’s language … but without an interpreter it can be a bit like “double dutch”.
Easier then to shoot first, and ask questions later! But what if the “enemy” regroups and shoots back. An uneasy truce might be the best result. Tit for tat..unless you are willing to “jaw jaw”.
Homeopathy is “jaw jaw” medicine. It is guided by the Law of Similars – often simplified to “like cures like”.
The general philosophy in homeopathy, naturopathy, and other traditional / complementary therapies is that the body tells you what it needs to cure itself.
Respond in kind and and hopefully harmony returns. Swords into ploughshares…
Homeopathically “jaw jaw” means finding the medicine that best imitates the symptom picture.
Here is a simple example:
Gelsemium, homeopathically prepared from a plant of the same name, has particular characteristics that come from “proving” the medicine on healthy people, knowledge of its herbal properties, clinical experience and so on.
Students of homeopathy learn the phrase “droopy, drowsy and dull”, as the Gelsemium symptoms are just that:
tired with heavy aching limbs
a general state of apathy* regarding the illness
and just for good measure a dry cough and nasty yellow coated tongue
It is one of a number of medicines that have helped Covid patients – but ONLY if their symptom picture matches.
*Interestingly it is said that, Gelsemium – presumably in herbal form – was once used to instil fearlessness in soldiers . In truth this “courage” was more likely to be loss of fear through instilled apathy (what do I care if I live or die…)
I recently listened to a fascinating talk by botanist and homeopath Michal Yakir.
Her thesis is that plant families (known as Orders) have meaning in mankind’s evolution and the application of homeopathic medicine.
More than 50% of homeopathic medicines are of plant origin. Most of the rest originate from minerals or elements.
Over millions of years new Orders of plant life have evolved, from simple plants like mosses and ferns, to ever more complex flowering plants.
Michal perceives that each “Order” represents a theme in our development from infant to adult. These correlate with our psychological maturity. This is somewhat age independent. Maturity doesn’t always come with age!
Similarly within each Order sub-classes have evolved. Here Michal perceives stages of emotional and physical development. In contrast, this is generally age dependent.
A a homeopath she finds that these patterns can help her to find the best medicines for her clients.
In a similar manner another well established Dutch homeopath Jan Scholten has found symmetry in the elements of the Periodic Table. These elements are the basis of the second largest class of homeopathic remedies, the minerals. He too has studied the plant kingdom https://janscholten.com/
Extraordinary work by exceptional minds.
Michal Yakir and her publishers have now produced a fabulous and beautifully illustrated book (for justifiably fabulous price!).
Calendula (Marigold), belongs to the Aster family. It has healing properties and as a herbal product it can be used as a mild antiseptic cream to heal small wounds.
However, homeopathy considers not just the physical but also the emotional / mental. The wound doesn’t have to be physical, so (to quote Michal) a person could be “as if of a wounded person”; “don’t touch me!”
Symphytum from the Borage family, is better known to gardeners as Comfrey, and in olden times as “bone-set” because of its use in helping broken bones to heal.
Both the above plants are in the same plant Order (Asterideæ). In both there is a theme of avoidance of touch, of being hurt – obvious with a wound or broken bone, perhaps less so in the emotional sense. Such emotional oversensitivity might suggest an impediment to inner growth
Over the last century or so, the objectivity of science – for all its benefits – has set humankind apart from nature, rather than being a part of nature. This is unfortunate as we are subjects not simply objective observers in the story as Michal and Jan both suggest.
Environmental crisis, forest fires and a pandemic, should be timely reminders of our true origins. But re-discovering our roots is a challenge be it at the personal or collective level.
All a little complicated? But is it so surprising that our story depends on the plants we eat, and the minerals from which they grow. They tell our story…
If you are old enough to recall TV from the 1990s, you doubtless remember Noel Edmonds and the pink character with yellow spots called Mr Blobby which he introduced to viewers. Clearly, Mr Blobby still has his fans as you can see from this website https://www.mrblobbycollection.com/.
Suffice to say, I do not seek to extol the virtues or otherwise of this icon of 90’s British humour, but would simply like to suggest that the human being is more “blobby” than perhaps you might think.
Don’t worry, this is not going to be a blog on the matter of expanding waistlines, rather it is about our true nature.
You see, our bodies appear solid, but this is somewhat an illusion as water makes up about 60% of our weight. Hydrogen and Oxygen are the elements of water (H2O), and these together with Carbon, Nitrogen, Calcium and Phosphorus add up to 99% of human body, the remainder being trace elements.
The human body comprises some 75 trillion cells apparently (who counted?) each of which doing what it needs to do: building; replicating; communicating; dying etc. Some cells last for just a few hours others for years, but no typical cell lives as long as a typical person. Unbeknown to us, our body is continually being replaced. It is estimated that it takes around 7 to 10 years to complete the make-over. Amazing!
So in fact we are more fluid than solid. Which is what brought the “blobby” term to mind.
The question is what happens when we get sick? Dr James Tyler Kent was a notable American homeopath working in the early years of the twentieth century, and his “Lectures on Homeopathic Philosophy” remain important to this day. In the first lecture he considers the “The Sick”. He notes that medicine is mostly concerned “with the ultimates”, that is to say the visible results of disease which, he argues, is only a part of the story.
It is “the real nature of man” that must also be considered, says Dr Kent. But what is this “real nature”?
Kent suggests that Man (in the generic sense) is “will and understanding” and the physical body is just the house in which he or she lives. Our “real nature” then is much more than the physical body, indeed our “will and understanding” may be what first and foremost needs attention before physical healing can take place.
Since Kent’s time science and technology has advanced our understanding of body biochemistry and delivered many new therapeutics. Yet the concept of “will and understanding” remains somewhat unexplored in mainstream medicine. How a person sees, feels and interacts with their world remains at the core of homeopathic practice, which is why it is termed holistic medicine.
So far as orthodox medicine is concerned relatively few of the treatments that were in vogue before about 1950 have much importance today. The medicine of the 19th and even the first half of the 20th century, though no doubt fascinating from a historical point of view, has been almost entirely superseded by later developments; few books go out of date as fast as medical texts
Anthony Campbell “The Two Faces of Homeopathy”
This quote is taken from a book published in 1984. Today, I perceive that much before the year 2000 is deemed medical history. Over the last months I have watched many well qualified doctors and scientists on YouTube speaking about the Sars-Cov-2 virus and its treatment, and very few scientific papers presented dated before the turn of the millenia. Of course, it was barely a decade earlier that the information age began when British Scientist Tim Berners-Lee conceived the world-wide web in 1989. Since then, much more than medical texts have gone out of date. Almost everything seems history!
Perhaps there is a hazard here? One problem is that for anything to be valid in medicine today it has to be supported by peer reviewed evidence and so forth, which tends to invalidate past wisdom, until it is studied anew according to current standards. At face value, this is all well and good, but alas outcomes and conclusions are influenced despite claims of rigor and impartiality. Much has been written on this, and by way of example I commend you to read Dr Malcolm Kendrick’s book “Doctoring Data” https://drmalcolmkendrick.org/
Last month I shared with you a rather long YouTube video by Dr Zach Bush. From the same source I have now found a shorter piece which is nicely illustrated https://youtu.be/hkNhFY-s4GM?t=1 , where he reminds us of our past. Zachary draws our attention to our hubris and the short sightedness of our actions. In short, we have bought into a narrative over the last century that ignores the wisdom of past millenia. Looking down the microsope has taught mankind many things, but however well meaning, we have – alas – lost sight of the bigger picture. This bigger picture is one of connectivity between all things in the natural world; every action has a reaction. Everything has a purpose.
Dr Bush teaches us that the quality of the soil in our fields matters. So too the soil – or le terrain (sounds classier in French!) of our gut. Both are teeming with viruses and bacteria, all of which have a purpose. In balance health results; with imbalance illness.
Returning to history, just before the First World War Dr Edward Bach (1886-1936), a bacteriologist working at University College Hospital London, observed a close connection between gut bacteria and studied the use of bacteria in vaccine form to treat patients suffering from chronic (long term) disease. He later continued his work at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital where homeopathic preparations were found to be as effective as the vaccine form. Known as the bowel nosodes they continue to be a usefull tools in the medicine chest of the homeopath.
In the late 1920s Dr Bach moved on to work on the flower essences, and the Bach Rescue Remedy mixture may be familiar to you (you can buy it still at Boots’ the Chemist). The baton passed to a husband and wife team, Dr John and Elizabeth Paterson at the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital, who by all accounts undertook meticulous research adding to the knowledge base begun by Dr Bach, up until 1950 and the start of the antibiotic age. A nice example of something in vogue before 1950 that has all but been forgotten.
I am watching an interesting YouTube clip by Dr Zach Bush https://youtu.be/f6zb5rXgRvs. I say ‘am’ because it is quite long and I am taking it in bite size chunks. Quoting from an online version of the Oxford Dictionary he observes that the definition there in of ‘nature’ is the natural world around us; something rather apart from man. Dr Bush draws our attention to the fact that man is actually fully part of nature not ‘apart’ from it. We have long tried to control the natural world, but current crises from pandemic to environmental, suggest a need to better understand our limitations. He is all for science, but points out that science is not a fixed body of knowledge. It is an ongoing endeavour.
Isle of Wight from Lepe
I took the above photo on a blowy day about a month ago. It is hard to say what early man made of such a scene, and science brings its explanation of light reflected and refracted through water droplets. Nonetheless a rainbow still makes you stop a while and watch. The scientific analysis is good but I bet many at Lepe that felt the colours a omen for better times after a tough year.
A relatively recent scientific endeavour is the micribiome. That is to say, the gut. Dr Bush tells us that our guts are full of viruses and bacteria; many billions of them in fact. The same is true of the soil, the sea and the whole of the natural world. The living world adapts to viruses and bacteria; it has done so from the beginning of time. You might wonder then about our strategies concerning SARS-Cov-2; certainly Dr Bush does.
Complementary medicine has long taken and interest in diet and hence the gut, and on that I will say a little more next time.
Due to overconsumption of de-natured food, and a lack of exercise and fresh air, many people, especially in the second half of their lives, often become caricatures of themselves … Nowadays we rarely see a really beautiful and healthy looking person … we are either too far or too thin .. or legs are swollen, our feet flat, our backs, bent, our necks stiff. We lose our hair, suffer from dental decay, headaches, flatulence, constipation and depression; we tire quickly and worst of all, many of us no longer enjoy life. Many people never feel really well.
Naturopath, Jan de Vries, from 10 Golden Rules For Good Health (2nd edition 2008)
Not a very welcome message, perhaps, but a well meaning one from one of the most notable Naturopaths in the UK and beyond in recent years.
Alas, he is no longer with us, but for many decades Jan de Vries had a clinic in Troon, Ayrshire and people sought his advice from near and far.
He even had a slot on Gloria Hunniford’s BBC Radio show. He worked a 90 hour week which included writing many books!
I once had a consultation and his busy clinic was like a hospital out patient dept. He was much loved and is sadly missed.
The Naturopathic approach to health is focuses on the basics, recognising that the self regulating nature of the human organism works best when treated with respect. His five pillars to good health were nutrition, digestion, elimination, circulation and relaxation.
The 10 Golden Rules expand on the five pillars to include such as sleep, and mental health and mental attitude. Top of the list, always, comes nutrition. He tells us that the diets of western industrialised countries – especially the USA and Europe – have changed more in the last 100-150 years, than across millennia before.
Processed foods, sugar, excess alcohol, industrial farming and so on, are not what the body needs. Instead seventy percent of our diets should be of plant origin, and raw fruits and vegetables should be an important part of daily nutrition. Medical science has also come to appreciate the relationship between a healthy immune system and a healthy gut.
Obesity seems to have become rather an epidemic these days. In the past the poor were thin, as is still the case in the developing countries but the opposite seems to be the picture in the western world. And it is the western world that has suffered the most in this Covid-19 pandemic. Food for thought?
Pandemics of the respiratory sort are not new, there were at least three in the twentieth century (1918, 1957, 1968). The good news is that they did not last very long (but I imagine – as now – that it seemed so at the time). Even the infamous 1918/19 epidemic passed into history after a year.
Compared with medical knowledge today, facilities were modest; in 1918/19 there was no NHS, and many doctors were on active service overseas. Yet the basics of good health were known: nutrition, fresh air, rest, good habits were and still are fundamentals. Fundamentals that get forgotten amongst our busy lives.
My maternal grandmother also caught the misnamed 1918 ‘Spanish flu’ but survived. Family history suggests she was well nursed at home. Fundamentals make a difference.
Dr Dorothy Shepherd 1885-1952 was in practice in London back then, and her little book on epidemics, which is still available, makes interesting reading. It is not a scientific text but contains some sound advice that is pertinent today:
‘It is the fashion to call every slight feverish chill influenza; but if after the temperature has come down, the depression, exhaustion and weariness is such that it is too much effort to do anything, that life is really not worth living, you know you will have had influenza; after a mere feverish chill you will feel as well on getting up as you did before the attack. Unfortunately many people take no notice of the danger signals of weakness and prostration, and insist on getting up, even returning to work before they are fit, thus laying themselves open to broncho-pneumonia…‘
‘During the feverish period the patient should be allowed nothing but raw fruit and fruit juices, and not synthetic bottled juices. Fresh oranges, lemon juice, apple drinks, grapefruit drinks at frequent intervals will cleans the system and prevent any undue strain being thrown on the gastric organs. No meat juices, no milk, are permissible. After the temperature is down, the diet may be increased and may include vegetable broth, Yeastrel drinks (Marmite?); wholemeal toast; gradually other foods may be added…’
Dr Shepherd was a medical doctor and homeopath, but foremost she recognised the importance of good self-nursing care.