Expanded Information

  1. Expanded Information
    1. 1.  Introduction
    2. 2.  The Ideal Cure
    3. 3.  The Vital Force
    4. 4.  Basic Principles


his section simply is intended for your reading pleasure. It will enable a reader to familiarize him/herself with the basic concepts of the science of homeopathy and perhaps
spark an interest in further reading. The content will be gradually expanded as I periodically add new sections, so you are encouraged to check in from time to time.

1.  Introduction

o why did I decide to enroll in the three-year program in clinical homeopathy at the Toronto School of Homeopathic Medicine? I was not looking for a career, or for a change of career. I have practiced, and continue to practice, as a Speech-Language Pathologist since 1994 and have been a Recognized Practitioner of Therapeutic Touch since 1997. Both disciplines are rewarding and I am very fortunate to be able to make a living doing work that I love. There always was, however, a certain proportion of my caseload who had medical issues that undermined efforts to help them with these two modalities. The result was a sense of helplessness and consequent frustration. After years of background reading and procrastination, I finally decided to find out once and for all whether homeopathy was the real deal or a pseudo-quackery designed to draw money from gullible fools like me. The training at the Toronto School was a revelation. I did not naively accept the claims and assertions of the instructors. I observed and experienced the veracity of those claims with suffering patients and routinely witnessed remarkable cures. I have no regrets about my decision.

Homeopathy works quickly, deeply and gently. It benefits the patient in an overall sense, whatever her chief complaint is. An appropriate remedy will mirror a client's personality type as well as her physical symptoms. In other words, a practitioner is very interested in the whys of disease; why does a client appear to have an underlying susceptibility to certain complaints. Treatment works hand in hand with the patients own Vital Force.

To assess the state of a patient's Vital Force, the homeopath listens very carefully to what that patient tells him. People often report that being listened to in a non-judgmental way is a pleasantly novel experience. Any good homeopath knows that, more often than not, the patient will tell him what remedy to prescribe if he listens to what that patient's Vital Force is trying to say through her words.

2.  The Ideal Cure

"The physician's highest and only calling is to make the sick healthy, to cure, as it is called."

" The highest ideal of cure is the rapid, gentle and permanent restoration of health; that is, the lifting and annihilation of the disease in its entire extent in the shortest, most reliable, and least disadvantageous way, according to clearly realizable principles."
(Samuel Hahnemann, Organon of the Medical Art)

o what is a cure? Much modern medical treatment does not cure and, moreover, does not claim to cure. The goal of treatment is to control the symptoms of a disease. In this context, the term "treatment" refers to prescription drugs. A patient may need to take medications for the rest of his life. Many drugs have significant side-effects that are harmful and sometimes fatal. Subsequent medications are then taken to counteract the ill effects of the first drug prescription, and so on, until treatment can evolve into what can only be described as a royal mess. Is it any wonder that both patients and doctors are looking for alternatives.

What is a Cure?

One could define cure as the disappearance of the symptoms of a disease.

"Homeopathy aims much higher than this, however, and medical practitioners who learn to treat their patients with homeopathy see the difference right away. Far from giving side effects, homeopathic remedies improve the patient's life on all levels. How many times have I heard a patient say, 'I have never felt better in my life!' In fact, often the first sign that a remedy is working, even before relief of the Chief Complaint, is a change on a much deeper level: the patient falls asleep right away and has a deep and restful sleep; she feels more energy; she no longer catches every cold and flu that comes around..." (Dr. Luc De Schepper, Hahnemann Revisited, 2001).

The healing response to a homeopathic remedy manifests on all levels, not just the physical. The patient feels better mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Homeopathy treats the whole person, not just a disease. The premise is that if the person as a whole were healthy, then that person would not be susceptible to much disease in the first place. This is why I ask my clients questions about their general constitutions that sometimes seem to be unrelated to their main complaint.

For instance, ten different patients with sciatica would probably get ten different homeopathic remedies. Why? Because each of the ten would have a unique mental-emotional outlook, life history, physical characteristics, etc. So when asked "Do you have a remedy for sciatica?", my answer is "Sure, I have hundreds... but only one will cure you."

Homeopathy treats the whole person and the individual person.

A patient suffering from fibromyalgia since a profound loss with grief, another since taking contraceptives, another since an automobile accident, etc. All of these patients have the same disease and all would receive a different remedy under homeopathic treatment.

When I ask a client questions, I am essentially looking for a source of leakage in his Vital Force. What kind of trauma has weakened this person? How is his body expressing this leakage in the form of disease? Which remedy is the best match for the totality of this person, rather than just a match for some symptoms of his chief complaint?

How Fast?

When prescribed for acute conditions such as traumas, ear infections, fevers, etc., homeopathic remedies work very quickly.

"How many times have I given a remedy to a patient and as soon as it touches the tongue they are saying, 'Is it possible that it already worked?' I have seen a patient who was up all night two nights in a row with a suffocating cough until he was cyanotic, who stopped coughing the moment he received the right remedy (Cuprum). In acute conditions, a remedy given in water... works almost instantaneously, faster than any pharmaceutical I have ever worked with, even those given by IV push." (De Schepper, p. 8)

A long-term chronic condition is another story. A disease that has become entrenched over a period of decades will not be cured in a day, or a month. True healing that lasts, that does not regress, is a smooth gradual process, not a jerky one. There is a tremendous advantage in homeopathic cures. It is that when you are cured, you're cured. This is unlike a patient who must take prescription drugs for the rest of her life.

How Permanent?

A child has an ear infection, is treated with antibiotics; a month later he has another ear infection and is treated with a another antibiotic because he has become resistant to the first antibiotic, and so on. A woman has recurrent yeast infections and her treatment follows a similar scenario. Prescription drugs are good at suppressing symptoms, but not very good at preventing recurrence.

"In Homeopathy, the standard of cure includes the prevention of recurrence. I have treated many children with recurrent otitis, asthma attacks, or URIs who were on antibiotics for years. To the amazement of parents and doctors alike, simply strengthening the child's constitution with the proper remedy made antibiotics totally unnecessary for years afterwards." (De Schepper, p. 11)

3.  The Vital Force

"In the healthy human state, the spirit-like life force... that enlivens the material organism... governs without restriction and keeps all parts of the organism in admirable, harmonious, vital operation, as regards both feelings and functions, so that our indwelling, rational spirit can freely avail itself of this living, healthy instrument for the higher purposes of our existence".

"The material organism, thought of without life force, is capable of no sensibility, no activity, no self-preservation. It derives all sensibility and produces its life functions solely by means of the immaterial wesen [the Life Force], that enlivens the material organism in health and in disease." (Samuel Hahnemann, Organon of the Medical Art)

hen life throws us a curve ball, whether that insult is a heartbreak, a virus, or a physical trauma, it is the Vital Force that strives to restore health. If a person's Vital Force is strong and/or the negative influence on our health is not too strong, the body will heal itself. Children typically have an unweakened Vital Force. When ill they can bounce back in a short time. A sign of the vitality of young children is in their ability to quickly spike a high fever. This is the healing response of a dynamic Vital Force that if fighting an illness-causing agent. It is no accident that, as we get older, we have a reduced capacity to fight disease in so dynamic a manner. People who are elderly, who have been beaten down caring for the sick, who are grieving, who have a history of chronic illness, etc., have a weakened Vital Force.

An unhealthy lifestyle gradually and inexorably chips away at our vitality. We become susceptible to insults that our body used to brush off almost effortlessly.

On the other hand, some traumas, epidemic diseases, devastating emotional experiences, etc., are so strong that even a strong person succumbs. An analogy would be to view the Vital Force as a hot air balloon that a disease-causing agent has poked a hole in. The job of the homeopath is to find the leak and patch it. Once the leakage stops, the body's own healing mechanisms can kick in much more effectively.

One View of Homeopathic Healing and the Vital Force:

In his book Hahnemann Revisited Dr. Luc De Schepper gives his take on the interplay between homeopathic remedies and a patient's Vital Force (p. 14):

"If natural healing occurs when the Vital Force is roused against the disease, how does a homeopathic remedy work? To understand this, it helps to consider the graceful Japanese martial art of aikido... The more powerfully an opponent rushes at an aikido master, the faster he will soon be rushing away from him. The aikido master does not push against or resist the opponent, which would create a crash of opposing negative energies. Instead he works with the opponent's energy and just redirects or deflects it slightly. Allopathic medicine works more like two knights on horseback charging at each other and creating a tremendous crash: by attacking symptoms (the Vital Force's attempts to throw a dangerous internal disorder to the surface) a drug crashes headlong into the Vital Force and undoes its attempts at healing. A great example is the body's use of fever: each degree of fever greatly increases the number of immunomodulators and white blood cells at the site of infection. Hippocrates knew the value of a fever more than two thousand years ago: 'Give me a fever,' he said, 'and I shall cure all disease.' By suppressing a fever with antipyretics we actually prolong the course of illness... yet acetaminophen continues to be the 'gold-standard' recommendation for children with fever from acute illness".

"A homeopathic remedy, on the other hand, strengthens the Vital Force in its efforts to throw the disease out of the body. It does this by creating a sort of shadow of the disease... to further stimulate the healing action of the Vital Force. This artificial disease picture does not harm the body because it does not exist in the physical level. The remedies are so dilute that they only exist as energy and do not contain a single molecule of the original remedy substance. Instead the energy of the remedy goes directly to the energetic level of the being, the Vital Force, and rouses it more powerfully to push out the disease."

The Mind-Body Unity:

In homeopathy, a physical problem is often seen as a manifestation of a pre-existing disharmony. For example, allopathic medicine would typically treat a skin problem like eczema by suppressing it with a cortisone cream. The eczema goes away; the patient seems to be healed. Healed, that is until the Vital Force finds another outlet for the causal disharmony, often at a deeper level. A good homeopath, on the other hand, would not try to treat a skin eruption in isolation. Any remedy must encompass the interconnectedness of the mind, emotions, and body.

 "The  oncologist may ignore her patient's  belief that his cancer was triggered by the death of his wife of 50 years, not only because it does not fit her paradigm, but also because this information is not useful for her prescription. The homeopath finds it supremely useful and in fact orients her whole prescription around this all-important leakage of the Vital Force, choosing among our many remedies for 'ailments from grief.'" (De Schepper, p. 17)

 Aerobics for Your Vital Force:

A healthy Vital Force both sustains and depends upon a harmony between mind and body.

Also integral to health are factors such as proper sanitation, exercise, good nutrition, protection from toxic substances, etc. One cannot ignore the most basic common-sense aspects of a healthy lifestyle and hope to avoid disease, homeopathy or no homeopathy.

I am reminded of two personal cases. In one, a woman in her late forties had an ongoing history of daily drug use. She subsisted primarily on junk food, lived a sedentary lifestyle, and was under constant emotional stress from work and family issues. Her chief complaint was sciatica and she was very critical, in spite of some early hopeful changes, that there had not been a dramatic turn-around in her life one week after taking her first remedy.

Another case was a young man who suffered from a variety of symptoms from daily exposure to toxic chemical fumes at work. Any time that he had a holiday from work, his symptoms mostly resolved only to return when he went back to work. Again, the remedy could only make limited headway in the face of the sheer toxicity of his work environment. He came to homeopathy because he liked his job, it paid well, and understandably he was reluctant to leave it. In this case, homeopathy could not do much for him as long as he was exposed to the chemicals on a regular basis.

Almost 200 years ago, Samuel Hahnemann made the distinction between true chronic diseases and "those diseases inappropriately named chronic that are suffered by people who:
  1. continually expose themselves to avoidable malignities,
  2. habitually partake of harmful food and drink,
  3. abandon themselves to intemperances of all kinds, which undermine health,
  4. undergo prolonged deprivation of things that are necessary for life,
  5. live in unhealthy places,
  6. reside only in cellars, damp workplaces or other confined quarters,
  7. suffer lack of exercise or open air,
  8. deprive themselves of health by excessive mental or bodily deprivations,
  9. live in constant vexation, etc."
If a person is suffering from a variety of lower extremity swellings, joint pains, etc., and is 80 pounds overweight from lack of exercise and poor eating habits, then it would be unrealistic to expect a homeopathic remedy to cure. A remedy can palliate her condition but lifestyle changes are indicated to reduce pressure on her weight-bearing joints (typically the knees).

Drugs and the Vital Force:

Many people in this society take a lot of drugs, prescription and otherwise. This is not a healthy situation. "Among chronic diseases, we must unfortunately still include those widespread diseases that are artificially induced by allopathic treatments and by prolonged use of violent, heroic medicines in large and increasing doses." (Hahnemann, Aphorism 74)

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in April 1997 reported that 100,000 people die in the US each year from bad reactions to prescription drugs. Another 2.2 million are permanently disabled or require long hospital stays from drug side-effects. These numbers are only from reported cases. The actual numbers are significantly higher because many adverse reactions to drugs are not reported. "Adverse drug reactions are the fourth leading cause of death in the US, killing more people than car accidents, plane crashes, and all other accidents combined." (Tomas J. Moore. The weakness in dispensing drugs. Boston Globe, June 28, 1998, cited in De Schepper)

Now I am not suggesting here that all prescription drugs are bad or that sick people do not derive much relief from their suffering from these treatments. What I am saying is that drugs are powerful material doses of very potent substances and must be prescribed and used with a great deal of care. Their effects are often not in cooperative harmony with the attempts of the Vital Force to heal. I am also saying that drugs do not cure; they suppress symptoms, sometimes with harmful consequences. I never suggest that a client discontinue a medication prescribed by a doctor. In my opinion, it is not a questions of choosing either homeopathic or allopathic treatment. Rather it is sometimes a question of finding a healthy balance between the two, all to the benefit of the patient.


4.  Basic Principles

Remedy Action:

ll medicinal substances, whether a homeopathic remedy or a prescription drug, have a primary and secondary action. A primary action is simply the initial effect that a substance has on the body. A secondary action is the response of our Vital Force to any primary influence, as it strives to maintain equilibrium.

The primary and secondary actions of homeopathic remedies and allopathic drugs, however, are very different. For instance, a person suffering from constipation takes a laxative. The primary action of a laxative is to excite the bowels, leading to diarrhea. The secondary action of the Vital Force will oppose this imbalance, resulting in a more severe constipation in a day or so. One can then enter into a vicious cycle where one needs larger and larger doses of laxative to achieve the same result.

homeopathic remedy, on the other hand, works in precisely the opposite manner. Taking the above example, the primary action of the remedy would be to introduce a similar state of artificial constipation at the energetic level, which would stimulate the Vital Force to quickly counteract with the secondary action of increased motility of this person's bowels.

In this context, there are two essential differences between homeopathic remedies and pharmaceutical drugs. Drugs are crude material doses, whereas remedies have no material medicinal substance, operating instead at the energetic level. Secondly, drugs oppose/suppress symptoms. Homeopathic remedies work by enhancing the efforts of the Vital Force to throw off disease.

Provings:

Homeopathy is unique in that it researches the effects of remedies only on healthy people. Groups of dedicated homeopaths (provers) have been gathering information on remedies by taking the remedies themselves and then meticulously recording the results (a proving). The first remedies were proven in 1789 by Samuel Hahnemann and the process continues to this day. "A vast amount of information is available from the provings about each of the major remedies and its effects, not only on all the tissues, organs and functions of the body, but even on the mind, the emotions and the energy level. Since the same remedies have been used for two centuries, information about the curative effects of the remedies has been confirmed from clinical experience." (De Schepper, p. 33)

The Infinitesimal Dose:

The brilliant men and women who discovered homeopathic principles did not deal in theory or speculation. They restricted themselves to meticulous observation and the recording of those observations.

    "It requires quite an effort to believe that so little a thing, so small dose of medicine, could effect the least thing in the human body. I do not demand that anyone should comprehend it. Neither do I comprehend it. It is enough that it is a fact and nothing else. Experience alone declares it and I believe more in experience than in my own intelligence.
    "What would have men have risked if they had at once followed my directions in the beginning, and had made use of just these small doses from the first? Could anything worse have happened then that these doses might have proven inefficient? They surely could do no harm!" (Samuel Hahnemann, Chronic Diseases)

It is quite a conundrum. How is it that remedies that have been so diluted, that do not contain a single molecule of the original medicinal substance can be so much more efficacious than the same substance in a crude material form. Not that long ago, mercury in large doses was the standard treatment for syphilis. Prolonged treatment killed the syphilis and the patient. Hahnemann routinely cured syphilis with diluted/potentized mercury with no adverse side-effects.

The Laws of Healing:

Ongoing observations of cured cases revealed three consistent patterns in the appearance, disappearance and movement of symptoms during the healing process. They are:

  • From above to below
  • From the interior to the exterior
  • In reverse order of their arrival
In short, these laws describe how true healing occurs. These same laws have been independently acknowledged by Traditional Chinese Medicine for five thousand years.

From the interior to the exterior:

The Vital Force will always strive to push a disease state from more vital organs to less vital parts of the body. The appropriate homeopathic remedy aids and abets this process so that an ailment, say, of the heart or liver will be driven out toward the surface of the body. This process may or may not manifest as temporary joint pain, discharges, skin rashes or itching. We know that this is a healing response because the patient will report that he feels better at a very deep level.

Symptoms return in reverse order of appearance:

This scenario applies to chronic disease that has been troubling a person in one form or another for quite some time. It can, however, be no less disconcerting to a patient than the above scenario. The most current and recent symptoms are the first ones to disappear, and old symptoms from the past may return in reverse chronological order. "If a patient declares, 'Doctor, the symptom I originally complained to you about has improved, but now I have a symptom that I have not had for two years,' then praise the Lord, you are on your way to curing her." (De Schepper, p. 41)