January 31, 2013

Busting The Myths About Homeopathy

Because of the history associated with the rise of homeopathy as we saw in the previous post, homeopathy has been the target of many myths and misconceptions that are simply untrue. In this post, let us look at some of those myths and dispel them.

1. Homeopathy is only a placebo effect.

Homeopathy is often given to little children, babies, and animals with very good results. For a placebo to work as intended, the person taking it will consciously need to think themselves into believing that what they have taken is helping their ailment. Babies or animals do not have the capacity to think this way. It is not difficult to understand that homeopathy is not a placebo effect.

2. There is no scientific research that shows that homeopathy works.

There has been much scientific research done in the field of homeopathy, in the forms of randomized control trials (including double-blind studies), systematic reviews of randomized control trials, as well as clinical outcomes research. More details can be seen at the website of the Faculty of Homeopathy.

It is one thing to consider whether research has been done, another thing that is equally important to note is that even though there is adequate research in the field of homeopathy starting from the time of its inception, many times there is not enough funding or publicity given to the research, and most often research scientists find it very difficult to proceed without funding.

3. Homeopathy is dangerous and can be fatal.

In the US, the FDA does not require a prescription for homeopathic remedies since they are highly diluted. On another hand, the FDA regularly comes out with warnings that homeopathic remedies are not safe or even dangerous. The problem is not with the science of homeopathy itself. Because of the popularity of homeopathy and the fact that most homeopathic remedies do not need a prescription, there are many frauds and scams in the market toting non-homeopathic remedies labeled as homeopathic. So it is important to know that what you are buying is a true homeopathic remedy made according to the standards of the homeopathic pharmacopeia of that region.

4. Homeopathy lures people and because of this they don't get 'real' treatment.

Most people come to homeopaths after having gone through conventional methods of treatment, and they find relief with homeopathic remedies. This relief happens, in spite of the fact that the best time to take homeopathic remedies is at the beginning of an illness. It only shows that homeopathy works well and effectively.

5. Homeopathy is a miracle cure.

This is the other end of the spectrum of myths. Homeopathy is not a cure-all panacea by any means. It is a system of medicine that can have its own limitations.

6. Homeopathic remedies work slowly and they are not for emergencies.

This is the most common myth about homeopathy. Homeopathic remedies, when chosen correctly, work just as fast as any other method of treatment, if not faster. They are very useful in providing relief in the case of acute illnesses. In a chronic illness, since the disease has progressed over a longer period of time, homeopathic remedies can take a longer time to act. Also associated with chronic diseases are what homeopaths call 'obstacles to cure', which need to be removed before the right remedy can act. Even in emergencies like accidents, falls, and fractures, homeopathy is useful in treating symptoms of shock and for pain-relief. Used alongside other treatments in emergencies, homeopathy can treat the patient's condition as a whole and that helps in faster recovery.

7. You need to be on a special diet when taking homeopathic remedies.

This might have been required by some homeopaths, but most modern homeopaths don't advice any special dietary requirements. It is recommended, though, that remedies be taken 15-20 minutes before or after a meal.

8. Homeopathy works only if your symptoms get worse before they improve (OR) Symptoms will always get worse before they improve.

Though an aggravation sometimes happens in sensitive people, this is not a rule, nor is it the rule by which to test the effectiveness of a remedy. It is important to assess your sensitivity to remedies and take the correct potency to prevent an aggravation. This is where a homeopath can help you to decide the right remedy for you, in the correct potency.

Now you know that these are just myths, don't hesitate to contact your homeopath the next time you need to talk about Whole Health!

Additional reading and references:

Homeopathy worked for me

Research in homeopathy - Faculty of Homeopathy

Scientific research in homeopathy

Scientific proof that homeopathy works - An article by Matthew Silverstone, author of Blinded by Science

Dr. Andre Saine, N.D., answers a skeptic's questions (this is a very good read)

January 30, 2013

Why is Homeopathy Not Popular in the USA?

If you are from India, there most certainly would be a time in your life where you would have taken a homeopathic remedy that was given by a relative who used homeopathy for little ailments, or you would have heard of someone who uses homeopathy, or at least, even though you didn't know what it actually was, you would be familiar with the word and understood that it is a system of medicine. A majority of the people in India are familiar with the term and many use homeopathy regularly, and with the large population that India has, we can only imagine how many people that would constitute.

However, in the US, it is a different story altogether, and there is a reason for this. Homeopathy arrived in the United States (in 1825) a few years earlier than it did in India (in 1829), and it gained popularity quickly in both the countries. By 1900, there were 22 homeopathic medical schools all over the US, including an all women's college in Pennsylvania. See this link for photos of homeopathic colleges and hospitals in New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, California, Massachusetts, and Ohio.
Image courtesy Homeopathe International
Homeopathic physicians were most sought after because the overdose of crude drugs by the conventional physicians was slowly being questioned. The first homeopathic medical school was formed by Dr. Constantine Hering (called the Father of American Homeopathy) in 1836, in Allentown, PA, and an association of homeopaths, the American Institute of Homeopathy was formed in 1844 (and still exists today).

In 1847, the conventional physicians of that time formed the American Medical Association (AMA). One of the purposes of the AMA was to destroy the practice of homeopathy in the US. It is now a historical fact that in spite of using homeopathy in their personal lives, both Carnegie and Rockefeller donated millions of dollars to the movement to crush homeopathy. With a lack of funds and changing regulations against homeopathy, all the homeopathic schools gradually shut down by 1923. Thereafter, the AMA and drug companies continued to campaign aggressively against homeopathy in the United States, and this situation has not changed even today.

In spite of all this, homeopathy is still alive and present in North America as well as around the world, and is gaining popularity every year.


Homeopathe International

Homeopathe International - Female Medical College and Homeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania


American Institute of homeopathy

Joette Calabrese's blog


Sue Young Histories

How to choose a homeopath?

Now that we have some knowledge on how to choose a doctor, let's look more specifically at how to choose a homeopath.

As with any doctor, you would look at a homeopath's training and certification, and referrals from friends and family, as well as other reviews. The best places to start looking for a homeopath near you are the websites of the National Center for Homeopathy, the Council for Homeopathic Certification, and the North American Society of Homeopaths, where each website has a directory of registered homeopaths.

Another point for consideration is the length of the initial consultation. Typically, classical homeopaths take 30-45 minutes for an acute case and 1-1/2 to 2 hours for a chronic case. This length of time is important for the homeopath to be able to ask all the questions that will help them to find the right remedy for you. As it is with any doctor, a homeopath should be able to explain the process of case taking and remedy selection clearly, as well as answer any questions that you may have about how homeopathy can help you.

Homeopaths in the US are certified by two private organizations, the Council for Homeopathic Certification, and the North American Society of Homeopaths. Though certification is significant, it does not necessarily mean that homeopaths who are not certified by either of these organizations are any less competent. You just have to look at uncertified homeopaths more closely to ascertain their experience and credentials, and how comfortable they make you feel.

Many homeopaths also offer free 15-20 minute consultations so that you can first ask all your questions and know what you are going to experience, before actually taking an appointment.

What is homeopathy?

The homeopathic system of medicine was originated in the late 18th century by a German doctor Samuel Hahnemann. It is based on the idea that the human body is capable of healing itself, homeopathic remedies only help the body's 'vital force' or energy by stimulating it enough so that this inherent vital energy can bring itself back to balance, and therefore to a state of health, because disease is nothing but a disturbance of the vital energy.

Photo courtesy Dr. Denis Casey
Homeopathic remedies are prepared from different sources in nature - plants, animals, minerals, and more. Some sources are very commonly found like poison ivy (Rhus tox), marigold (Calendula), coffee (Coffea cruda) from the plant sources; or honey bee (Apis), wolf spider (Tarentula) from animal sources; or gold (Aurum met), common salt (Natrum mur), silver ore (Argentum nitricum) from the mineral kingdom. Remedies are also produced from diseased tissues like tuberculous lung tissue (Tuberculinum) or from hormones like thyroid gland (Thyroidinum).

Many of the remedy sources are highly toxic in nature, however, when prepared according to homeopathic principles using dilution and a method called succussion, these remedy sources are rendered non-toxic and when applied using the correct principles, they can heal both common ailments as well as chronic disease.

All homeopathic remedies have a number next to the name of the remedy. This number is called a potency, it indicates the power of the remedy. Potencies range from 1X to 200C to 1M and beyond, with the X potencies being a lower scale than the C or M.

Remedies are usually given as pills or pellets, but are also available as tinctures, liquid dilutions, tablets, creams, gels, and ointments.

Homeopathic remedies are easily available over-the-counter, and it is a good idea to keep a small kit at home for common ailments like colds and coughs or bumps and bruises, however, for more deep seated chronic disease, it is best to consult an expert because self-prescription in chronic illnesses can do more harm than good. And yes, homeopathic remedies do have the capacity to do harm. Isn't it a universal law that anything that does good also can be harmful? Even water can have side effects if not used properly, injecting water into the blood stream is fatal to the human body.

January 29, 2013

Conventional Medicine - How to choose a doctor?

In many parts of the world, doctors are viewed as Gods, because when we are sick or injured, only doctors have the power to bring us back to health. There was a time when our family physician knew everything about our family medical history without needing to look at a file, when doctors would make house calls to visit little children and elderly patients, when they had the time to spend a few minutes talking to us about diet and home remedies that could complement their treatment. That was a time when doctors were Gods.

This is a different time. Doctors of conventional medicine now don't have more than a few minutes to spend with any patient, just enough time to look at their file, ask some questions that confirm their diagnosis, write a prescription, or order some tests, and send us on our way. At the end of the visit, some doctors do ask if we have any questions for them, but most of the time, if it is an acute illness, 5 minutes is all you get. So how do you choose who to spend that 5 minutes with to get the best possible treatment?

There are a few different methods. You could choose one or you could try all methods until you find a doctor that you are comfortable with. Now, that is what is most important in a doctor-patient relationship. They should feel comfortable with each other, and neither should feel threatened by the other.

1. If you have health insurance, go to your insurance provider's website and search on their providers list for a doctor that is closest to you.

2. Ask for referrals from your family and friends.

3. Go online and Google.

4. Ask your doctor any questions you may have about your illness or their treatment and see how they respond. Your questions should have been answered patiently with the information that you are actually looking for. If the doctor is even slightly irritated by your questions or changes the subject or does not want to respond, it is your hint to look for another doctor who will listen to you.

Whatever method you use, try to find some reviews for the doctor that you have chosen. Websites like Vitals.com or Healthgrades.com are good places to look for reviews.

In spite of all the research, you might not feel at ease with your doctor when you meet them. That happens because expectations are different for different people, and you just have to keep looking until you find a doctor you are comfortable with. Go back to the list of doctors that you have made, and choose another doctor to continue your treatment with. There is nothing wrong in changing doctors, because a doctor-patient relationship is important and is the first step in establishing a good level of treatment. It is important that the doctor understands and respects your point of view and accordingly provides you with choices in treatment methods, and also gives you enough time and answers all your questions in order to put you at ease and understand his or her point of view. That is how relationships are built, aren't they?

Having said all this, I must say that this blog is about holistic medicine, and this post is a little out of place here because there is nothing holistic about conventional medicine. However, I wanted to include this information in my blog because I have found that in the name of minor illnesses, a lot of people go to doctors of conventional medicine and go home with a prescription for something or the other. So if you're going to go out and get some modern medicine for yourself, you might as well find the best one that is available to you.

Someone close to me once went to an ENT doctor to get his ear flushed out because it had impacted ear wax. The whole flushing out process gave him a headache and just before leaving, he casually mentioned that he had a meeting to attend and it wouldn't be easy to go through with a splitting headache. The doctor promptly asked if he would like a shot, and before he could think of what to say, she was standing next to him ready with the headache shot. This kind of practice of medicine is something that is completely and utterly unnecessary, and thereby the need for holistic medicine.

January 17, 2013

What is health?

The word 'Health' originated from an Old English word 'Hale' which meant 'wholeness' or 'being whole, sound, or well'. Today, it is defined as 'the overall condition of an organism at a given time'.

Old or new, the fact is that wholeness and health go hand in hand because that is the way the human body works. An arm or leg cannot work independently of the body; even the highest organs like the brain and heart cannot work independently by themselves (the heart can, to some extent). The human body is comprised of several organs and tissues that work well only with one another, and as long as each one is in good health. Even if there is a little injury to this complex arrangement, the organism as a whole comes together to fight the injury and return to balance.

In spite of this simple rationale, the popular methods of treating disease today stress upon dealing with every tissue and every organ separately, as if they were nothing but parts on a conveyor belt. Not surprisingly, many people who have tried these methods abandon them after a while as they do not heal the organism, but only treat the parts.

The method of healing disease while taking into consideration the symptoms of the whole organism is called holistic healing. Holistic healing is not necessarily 'alternative' treatment, it is not mind-body medicine. It is a lifestyle that can turn your life around. Many people who have experienced healing at this level never go back to other methods of healing, or use holistic methods along with conventional methods.

Let us explore holistic healing and how to use it for our benefit to maintain overall health and wellness for ourselves and our families. We will look at food, home remedies, homeopathy, reiki, chiropractic medicine, and many other interesting topics!

Health as a whole

The reason for this blog is the many questions that are present in people's minds regarding their own health and that of their family. The present situation in modern healthcare has led to inquiring minds to ask more questions and try to understand health, medicine, and how they are connected as a whole.

This blog attempts to satisfy the curiosity of those inquiring minds by way of offering better solutions to maintain health, as well as to put forward more issues that require rational thought.