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 Homeopathy: Out of the Shadows

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PostSubject: Homeopathy: Out of the Shadows   Sat Nov 11, 2006 3:51 pm

Homeopathy: Out of the Shadows and into the Mainstream

BY LAURA WASSON WARFEL, SOUTHERN HEALTH CONTRIBUTOR


"Homeopathy starts peeling off layers until you get to the core of the problem," says W. Todd Pierson, N.D., a naturopathic doctor who practices locally in Herrin and Murphysboro. "Instead of just treating symptoms, homeopathy goes much deeper into the human organism. With homeopathy, we are treating the whole person, the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of the person."

Today this natural treatment option is taking its place in the offices of healthcare providers, on the shelves of major retailers, in the homes of those who are seeking healthier lives and even in hospitals. In fact, in the federal government's 2004 National Health Information Survey, 3.6 percent of Americans reported using some form of homeopathic medicine; and more than 76 percent reported using complementary and alternative medicine.

The Definition of Homeopathy

Homeopathy - from the Greek words homoios (like) and pathos (suffering) - is a medical approach to treatment that respects the wisdom of the body. Allopathic (conventional) medicine is a method of treating disease with remedies that produce effects that are different from those produced by the disease itself. Homeopathic medicine uses remedies that have been proven to produce effects similar to those produced by the disease itself.

According to "A Modern Understanding of Homeopathic Medicine" by Dana Ullman, MPH (1991, www.homepathic.com), the goal of homeopathy is to stimulate the body's own immune and defense system for healing. A person's symptoms are often assumed to be the problem, and many medical treatments focus on treating the symptoms. With homeopathy, symptoms are considered to be signs of deeper problems and signs of the body's efforts to deal with stress or infection.

With medicines made from plants, minerals and even animals, homeopathy individualizes small doses of medicines for each patient. The body's vital force then responds to the vital force in the medicines and the body's healing power is stimulated to recover from disease and fight illness in the future. The goal is thus complete restoration of the person's overall health.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Each person is considered an individual in homeopathy. Even when individuals are dealing with the same illness, they may have different symptom patterns. Ideally, healthcare providers who use homeopathy, spend an hour or more with each patient on the first visit to gather enough information to get a total picture of the person. The patient must be honest in his or her responses in order to ensure accuracy.

Used in the treatment of acute diseases and illnesses, such as chicken pox, measles, earaches, colds, coughs, headaches, sore throats and flu; Homeopathic medicines may also be used to treat chronic diseases, such as osteoporosis and sinusitis. Depression, insomnia, menopausal difficulties and indigestion are also known to respond well to homeopathic treatment. There are even homeopathic remedies to treat bites, leg cramps, and bruising and swelling from injuries.

"I use homeopathic medicines mostly for toxicity issues," says Virginia Steiner, DC, Alternative Health Care and Injury Center, in Marion. "Homeopathic medicines stimulate the body to take care of itself and the problems it is experiencing. They help the body use its own defenses to heal itself."

Steiner says that homeopathy can also be a good alternative method to handle emotional and mental stress. "I don't cookbook any of my patients," says Steiner. "I don't say, 'You have this condition, so I'm giving you this to treat it.' I examine the patient, listen, look at all other medications and supplements the person is taking and consider the person's lifestyle. Everything is individualized."

"Homeopathy needs proper diagnosis and needs to be individualized to the whole person," says Steiner. "I am involved in healthcare, not sick care. The body needs to be in thriving mode to heal and repair. When we treat what isn't working well, we give the body energy to repair itself."

Prescribing Practitioner vs. Self-Prescribing

According to the National Center for Homeopathy (www.homeopathic.org), no diploma or certificate from any school or program is a license to practice homeopathy in the United States. A healthcare provider who uses homeopathy must have some type of medical certification.

In Illinois, active members of the Illinois Homeopathic Medical Association are licensed medical doctors (MD), osteopathic doctors (DO), chiropractic doctors (DC), and dentists (DDS). These are licensed healthcare providers who use homeopathically prepared medicines to treat their patients.

"When you're looking for a homeopathic practitioner, make sure you find someone who is thoroughly trained," advises Linda Hostalek, DO, Holistic Healing Arts LLC, in Pomona and Herrin. "For treating a condition, don't just go to the health food store. See someone who is trained in homeopathy."

Following the guidelines of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may be a good approach. For acute illnesses, an over-the-counter homeopathic remedy may work well. Some acute illnesses and chronic illnesses that require medical supervision need homeopathic remedies that are prescribed by a licensed healthcare provider.

"I tell my patients that I can't take them off the medications they are already taking," says Carol Perkins, ND, a naturopath who practices in Lexington, Kentucky, and Carmi, Illinois. "With homeopathy, I work to get them to a state of health so they will no longer need those medications. Homeopathy helps to get their organs working and turn their life force around so that the body can heal itself."

According to Hostalek, homeopathy works very well with true osteopathy. "Osteopathy works on straightening out the vibrational structure of the body," says Hostalek. "Homeopathy works on the same level. They are perfect partners."

"Open communication with any primary care physician is important," says Pierson. "I always tell my patients to keep all providers informed about what they are taking and doing."

Remedies and Combinations

Homeopathic remedies are legally considered as drugs. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (www.fda.gov), homeopathic remedies are regulated under the provisions of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act if they are sold for self-limiting conditions, such as colds, headaches and minor health problems.

If they claim to treat serious diseases, such as cancer, they can be sold by prescription only. A licensed healthcare provider must do the prescribing.

Extremely safe because they are given in small doses, homeopathic medicines have minimal side effects, and few complaints have ever been reported to the FDA.

"With homeopathy, you just can't make mistakes," says Hostalek. "The carrier substance is an inert substance. The vibration is responsible for healing in homeopathy. The less of the substance there is, the higher the vibration. This is counterintuitive for most people."

Combination remedies or complexes involve placing together in a single medicine three to eight substances which are commonly given for a certain type of condition. The goal is to help a broad number of patients who are suffering from a specific complaint.

Taking homeopathic medicines can be different from taking conventional medicines. Medicines come in three forms: tablets, dilutions and topicals. For adults and children, a tablet is placed under the tongue to dissolve. For infants, the tablet can be placed in the cheek. Liquid dilutions are dropped directly onto the tongue with an eyedropper. Topicals are applied directly to the skin. It is important that no food or liquid be ingested for fifteen minutes before or after taking the medicine.

"Homeopathic medicines are safe for children, pregnant women and older adults," says Perkins. "They don't do harm. They will either help or do nothing. I have seen excellent results of homeopathic treatment in patients with seasonal allergies, menopausal issues, men's issues, bedwetting, colds and flu."

"It's best to use one substance at a time and without anything else, if possible, to see how it works," says Pierson. "I tell my patients to discontinue any supplements they are taking so we can see how well the homeopathic medicine is working. They can resume the supplements once we see the effects. I've never seen or heard of any interaction between homeopathic medicines and prescription medicines."

Limitations of Homeopathy

Just as with any type of healthcare treatment, homeopathy does have some limitations. One of the most common is alternative medicine practitioners who make exaggerated claims about homeopathic remedies' ability to cure diseases. This may lead to another drawback: patients who refuse conventional medical care when it is indicated.

"When indicated, I refer my patients to MDs who are open to naturopathy," says Perkins.

Homeopathy also requires a practitioner who is experienced and willing to devote time to finding the right remedy for the patient. The patient needs to be disciplined and diligent as well. "Conventional medicine is fast, and it's easy to take a pill," says Pierson. "A person has to have a lot more discipline when using homeopathy. In addition to homeopathic medicines, the person needs a healthy diet and exercise. This means addressing the whole person instead of just taking a pill."

Homeopathic medicines are safe but, just like any other medicine, can be misused. It is best to use them under the care of licensed healthcare providers who have training and experience in homeopathy.

Homeopathy Today

According to a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a trial was undertaken in the setting of an emergency department regarding the "wait-and-see" prescription (WASP) for acute otitis media (ear infection).

WASP involves waiting for 48 hours before administering antibiotics to treat the infection. Results of this study showed that WASP reduced the use of antibiotics by 56 percent in children between six months and 12 years of age.

Experts say that 48-hour time period is an ideal situation for considering homeopathy. During that time, children may experience much discomfort, fever, pain, irritability and sleeplessness. Brands like Hyland's homeopathic Earache Tablets and Earache Drops, available at many pharmacies and retail stores, are already filling this therapeutic gap, before antibiotics are given for the infection. Locally, Neighborhood Co-op Grocery in Carbondale, Wal-Mart, Walgreen's and area pharmacies may carry these and other homeopathic remedies.

"An integrated model for healthcare is emerging," says John P. (Jay) Borneman, chairman and CEO of Hyland's; director of The National Center for Homeopathy; editor and chairman of the Council on Pharmacy for the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States. "With all treatment modalities, we can all be healthier."

Info Box

* National Center for Homeopathy 703-548-7790 www.homeopathic.org

* American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists www.homeopathicpharmacy.org

* Boiron 800-264-7661 www.boironusa.com

* Hyland's 800-624-9659 www.hylands.com

* Dr. Virginia Steiner, Chiropractor and Alternative Therapist

Alternative Health Care and Injury Center, Marion

618-993-9910 www.AlternativeHealthCareMarion.com

* Dr. Linda Hostalek, Doctor of Osteopathy,

Holistic Healing Arts, Pomona and Herrin

618-893-1950 (Pomona) / 618-942-8506 (Herrin) http://www.hostalek.com

* Dr. Carol Perkins, Naturopathic Physician

Natural Choices, Lexington, KY and Carmi, IL.

859-277-5255 (Lexington) / 618-382-3968 (Carmi) http://www.natural-choices.com

* W. Todd Pierson, Naturopathic Physician, Herrin and Murphysboro 618-565-1668

Published on: Thursday, November 9, 2006
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PostSubject: Re: Ot of the Shadows.   Sat Dec 02, 2006 1:53 pm

Thats a good article, but there are several statements made which I disagree with.

One is:
Quote :
Today this natural treatment option is taking its place in the offices of healthcare providers, ...
The part I disagree with is 'natural'. Natural means "without technology', and there is a lot of technology in homeopathy. Not a big deal, but the 'natural' word is bandied about to make people think it is safe, when it might not be.

The second is:
Quote :

"With homeopathy, you just can't make mistakes," says Hostalek.
If someone is given the wrong remedy, it can aggravate their case, and it can also confuse the case with symptoms caused by an ill-chosen remedy. While I doubt anyone has ever died from a homeopathic remedy directly, it is still possible to do damage, and it is certainly possible to make mistakes in choosing an appropriate remedy.

The third is:
Quote :
Combination remedies or complexes involve placing together in a single medicine three to eight substances which are commonly given for a certain type of condition. The goal is to help a broad number of patients who are suffering from a specific complaint.
The problem with most combination remedies is that they have never been "proven". Without undergoing the "proving" process, a homeopath does not know what symptoms the combination actually causes, and therefore, they do not know what it will treat.

That said, I believe homeopathy to be the best system of medicine established so far. Its a such a shame that there are so few practitioners of classical homeopathy in the US today.
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