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Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman, ND, MSW
Homeopathy: Safe, Effective, Natural Medicine
As a licensed naturopathic physician of 33 years, I witness the effectiveness of homeopathy every day in my practice. Having taken the Hippocratic Oath ("First, do no harm.") when I became a naturopathic doctor, I can sleep well at night knowing that the type of medicine that I practice indeed does no harm. During our 27 years of writing this column, we have mostly presented long-term cases from our practice, which, hopefully, corroborate the effectiveness of homeopathy. Given the several billion prescriptions a year in the US alone, misprescribing and overprescribing of pharmaceutical drugs is inevitable and rampant. The harm caused by the abuse/overprescribing of opioids alone is now well known. That makes an even more compelling case for a form of medicine virtually free of side effects. It is hard for me to imagine a homeopathic doctor seriously harming a patient. But Jonathan Collin, MD, Townsend Letter publisher, has requested, for this issue on "The Best of Naturopathic Medicine," a defense of homeopathic practice, as if one were called before a medical board. In this effort, I have called on several of my highly respected homeopathic colleagues to weigh in on this matter.
My overwhelmingly positive opinion of homeopathy runs quite contrary to those who demean it, either claiming that it does not work, that it is placebo, or that there is nothing in our medicine. One must question the motivation and vehemence behind those who oppose homeopathy, often without having ever tried the medicines themselves. When my husband, Dr. Robert Ullman, ventured into the world of Twitter a year ago, he received, within 24 to 48 hours, such a barrage of vitriolic responses that he gave up tweeting permanently. Why individuals with no prior personal experience would spend so much time railing against it, I have no idea, unless perhaps they are being paid to do so. If that be the case, then perhaps this well-considered article would not change their minds, but our cumulative experience and research will hopefully appeal to anyone with an open mind.
I came to naturopathic and homeopathic medicine after being a psychiatric social worker in both inpatient and outpatient settings. I was appalled by the side effects of psychotropic medications experienced by far too many of the patients with whom I worked. The possibility of finding an effective natural solution for bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and incapacitating depression and anxiety was what inspired me to look to naturopathic medicine and, as soon as I discovered it, to homeopathic medicine. My practice has included patients taking pharmaceutical drugs, at least upon beginning treatment, and sometimes along with homeopathy. But this is an exception. Often, homeopathy alone can produce positive, even dramatic results, even with children and adults on the autism spectrum. In addition to the emphasis on mental health, I enjoy a homeopathic general practice. Our eight books are full of actual clinical cases, and I still believe that the success of homeopathy with patients is its strongest defense. To deny access to this extremely gentle yet profoundly powerful and effective form of medicine would, to my way of thinking, be not only unfortunate, but criminal.
During the past three weeks, I had the opportunity to treat two patients, both hospitalized, receiving supposedly the highest standard of care that conventional medicine has to offer, yet deteriorating rapidly. Unlike the cases that we often present, these were individuals who could have died within a matter of days due to hospital-acquired pneumonia, despite aggressive conventional treatment. Homeopathy acted almost immediately and undeniably in both cases. Both patients were discharged, to the surprise of family and hospital staff, two to four days later. This was not the apparent course prior to homeopathic intervention.
R.C., age 72, was admitted to a prominent university hospital for colon resection following a decades-long history of ulcerative colitis, which had become severe and uncontrollable despite conventional medication. Following surgery, three significant and serious problems ensued: Peristalsis did not resume; R.C. developed constant, violent hiccoughs; and, thirdly, he contracted hospital-acquired pneumonia. The excruciating post-surgical abdominal pain and weakness were eclipsed by these other problems. The hiccoughs had become incapacitating: preventing sleep, rest, and comfortable talking and breathing. R.C. was not previously a patient of mine, but his wife, a close friend, welcomed my assistance.
It took under twenty minutes to piece together the previous history of the colitis. R.C. had developed the original colitis over thirty years previously, after receiving a travel vaccine. That history in addition to his current prostration, the violent hiccoughs, and his embarrassment about his medical condition led to a clear homeopathic prescription of Thuja occidentalis (a conifer known commonly as Arbor vitae or cedar). R.C.'s wife administered a dose within two hours. The hiccoughs stopped within five minutes. They returned to a lesser degree a couple of hours later then resolved completely after a second dose. They did not return. The peristalsis resumed the following day. The pneumonia resolved. R.C. was discharged, to the surprise and relief of all, two days later. The hospitalization lasted one week in all.
Within a day of R.C.'s hospitalization, a friend, 68 years old and a continent away, was admitted to a reputable emergency room with sudden, unbearable kidney pain. He had a past history of kidney stones treated with lithotripsy. By the next day, M.B. had weakened dramatically and had contracted hospital-induced pneumonia. The weakness was aggravated by his previously diagnosed Parkinson's Disease. M.B. found talking difficult, his oxygen saturation level decreased, he became alarmingly weak, and he was administered oxygen in addition to a number of antibiotics. He was definitely not improving. In fact, his physician, aware that M.B.'s state was deteriorating, suggested the possibility of a ventilator to breathe for him.
I consulted with his wife because M.B. was in no state to speak with me. She described his symptoms and administered the indicated homeopathic remedy, Phosphoric acid. M.B.'s energy, breathing, and mood improved almost immediately. She continued to repeat the medicine whenever his condition worsened. Within two days, M.B. was consistently stronger and oxygen saturation levels had improved. At one point, the physician entered his hospital room, prepared to consider a transfer to the ICU. She took one look at his face and realized he was on the road to recovery. M.B. received three doses of the remedy over four days. He was released from the hospital the following day and continues to recover at home.
Both of these patients had a very close call with death, and, despite taking multiple powerful conventional medications, turned the corner clearly and quickly only after the addition of homeopathy. I would hope these cases, though anecdotal, would be impressive to a medical board calling into question the effectiveness of homeopathy. In India, where homeopathy is routinely used in hospital settings, such results are commonplace. In our decades of training with our Indian homeopathic mentors, we have observed hundreds of video training cases with remarkable results.
Robert Ullman, ND:
What Is Homeopathy and What Is Its Status Worldwide?
To clarify any confusion or misconceptions about homeopathy, as compared to naturopathic medicine or other natural healing approaches, here is a synopsis of homeopathy's history and present status.
Homeopathic medicine is a system of medicine based on the Law of Similars, commonly referred to as "like cures like." This means that the same substance in nature that causes a particular set of symptoms will cure those same symptoms in someone who is ill. Homeopathic philosophy relies on the wisdom of the vital force, of which the defense mechanism is a part, to heal the organism – when given a push in the right direction by means of a homeopathic medicine.
Homeopathy is a unique form of medicine for a number of reasons:
- Literally any substance in nature – animal, plant, or mineral – can be made into a homeopathic medicine.
- That single substance is able to bring the organism into balance, resulting in healing of the whole person including all symptoms.
- The curative effects of that substance can last for days, weeks, or months, depending on the individual.
- The unique substance in nature is serially diluted, then succussed (shaken) to increase the energetic effect, which suggests why the more dilute, the stronger the medicine and the higher the potency.
- Homeopathic medicines are completely natural as well as remarkably safe, even for newborns, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.
It was Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician who coined the word "homeopathy" meaning "similar suffering," though the principle has existed since Hippocrates (400 BC). Hahnemann synthesized these principles into the medical science of homeopathy. He first published The Organon of the Art of Healing in 1810, with the final edition in 1843. Homeopathy spread throughout Europe and, ultimately, worldwide. Homeopathic medicine has enjoyed an unbroken tradition of use in the US since 1847, and was seen as a welcome relief from the barbaric medical practices of the time. Around the turn of the century in 1900, one out of five medical doctors in the US was a homeopath. Homeopathy was dealt a blow in 1910 with the publication of the Flexner Report, which denied funding to homeopathic colleges. Homeopathic education and practice resurged in the US in the late 1970s, around the time that most of the contributors to this article began our medical practices. Since that time, homeopaths with a variety of medical licenses and homeopathic certifications have largely enjoyed the freedom to practice this specialty.
Homeopathy is practiced in 66 countries, primarily in Europe, North America, South America (primarily Argentina and Mexico), and India. France, Germany, the UK, Switzerland, and India are the main countries where homeopathy has been accepted and practiced extensively since the 19th century. In the UK, homeopathy was widely used and supported by the Royal Family and their physicians. According to a 2010 article in the BMJ (British Medical Journal), an impressive 57% of people in Germany use homeopathic medicines. The BMJ recently reported that when German politicians recently sought to stop government reimbursement for homeopathic treatment, the German Medical Association announced its support for homeopathy and for reimbursement for homeopathic care. Further, the association's president, Jörg-Dietrich Hoppe, defended homeopathic treatment in an official statement. He said that homeopathy was an important part of medicine. The interior ministry of Switzerland, on March 29, 2016, announced plans to recognize homeopathy as legitimate medicine,1 along with holistic medicine, herbal medicine, acupuncture, and traditional Chinese medicine. They will acquire the same status as conventional medicine by May 2017.
Although these numbers for the use of homeopathic medicines in Europe may be substantial, the numbers are even more significant in India where there are 300,000 qualified homeopaths, 180 homeopathic medical schools, 7,500 government clinics, 307 hospitals, and 24 State Boards for the registration of qualified practitioners of homeopathy. Acknowledging the widespread popularity of homeopathy, a World Health Organization publication noted, "in the Indian subcontinent the legal position of the practitioners of homeopathy has been elevated to a professional level similar to that of a medical practitioner."2
It is vitally important to health freedom in the US and throughout the world that qualified and reputable homeopathic practitioners, pharmacists, and manufacturers be allowed the freedom to practice their medicine, and that consumers enjoy the freedom to use and purchase homeopathic medicines and products as well as to receive treatment from qualified homeopathic practitioners.
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