Do-It-Yourself Medicine: Does Homeopathy Offer the ONLY form of Effective, Safe and Affordable Medicine?

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A hundred or more years ago now–roughly the time between the Civil War through the whole of the Great Depression, it is said that every home in New England had a homeopathic kit under the bed.  And that the woman of the house knew how to use it.  During that same time period, between one third and one half of all the doctors in the United States used homeopathic remedies to one degree or another.  “Eclectic physicians” roamed the land–practitioners who today we would call naturopaths, who exclusively used natural therapies to strength the immune system and to combat disease.

Then things began to change.  We moved into a period in which antibiotics and steroids seemingly replaced the need for natural medicine, specifically for homeopathy.  During these years–the period of time in which I was born and grew to adulthood, always partaking freely of all that allopathic medicine had to offer–homeopathy came to be seen as old-fashioned. Then it was seen as something silly.  And then, with the best efforts of the quackbusters, as the worst form of medical fraud.

In this environment and during this period of time, only those who, like me, experienced a total failure of allopathic medicine in our own lives were ultimately desperate enough to give homeopathy a try.  Personally, when I attended my first lecture on the subject in the summer of 1980 (having moved to the state of Connecticut, which, unbeknownst to me, was a hotbed of homeopathy), I made so much fun of the subject matter and of the speaker–an unfortunate little gentleman with a bow tie and a passionate dedication to what I thought was the stupidest excuse for “Medical treatment” that I had ever heard of–that I not only was personally unmoved by his lecture, but managed to undermine his message for everyone in the room, thanks to the series of bon mots that I delivered in not too much of a sotto voce from the back row.  I sat with my arms folded, staring at my red Converse All-Stars, waiting for the lecture to end.  Peggy, my friend who had brought me, was red-faced.  She jabbed me in the side with her elbow, but I was enjoying the moment too much to stop.  And, besides, it was all just too easy:  Microdoses?  Come on.  Like Cures Like?  On what planet?

It was voodoo to me.

It was still voodoo when I ultimately went to see my first homeopath. By then, I was producing TV for PBS stations in New England and co-hosting my own show as well.  The job was good, but stressful.  I developed colitis which morphed into Crohn’s Disease and, after I got a prognosis of a strong likelihood of colon cancer at some point in the future, I decided what so many others have decided:  that I had nothing to lose by giving homeopathy a try.

Where allopathy couldn’t cure me–despite the fact workers had good health insurance in those days and I lived in a state with some of the best medical professionals in the nation–homeopathy did.  It’s just that simple.  It wasn’t overnight.  But I improved seemingly overnight.  Within days of my first visit, and within hours of taking my first remedy, Sulphur, I improved dramatically.  And I haven’t had a bout of colitis in over twenty years.  It’s gone.  I am healed of it.

That’s my story in a nutshell.  It was a common enough story in the ’70s and ’80s and ’90s.  But things are different now.  Not that we have found a better form of medicine, something that works better than homeopathy.  No, what has changed is the sheer number of people who are now desperate as I was desperate.  In this time of great economic strife, with millions unemployed and many, many millions uninsured or underinsured when it comes to health care–and, worst of all, in a time in which our politicians are using health reform as a means of getting votes and not as an issue that needs to be tackled head on and solved (Are you listening Congressman Boehner, you of the orange face and the shriveled heart?)–the crisis and the desperation is not being caused by any one illness, but, instead, by the fact that so many of us have no means of getting any form of healthcare.  We have no access to it.  We can’t afford it.  I have been denied health insurance for years now–not because I can’t afford it, but because I inherited labile hypertension from my father and therefore can’t find an insurer who will cover me.  (Are you listening, Mr. President–when you push for coverage of pre-existing conditions, could you also push for a cap on how much the insurers can charge me before you force me by law to buy health insurance?  Just a thought…)

With so many of us uninsured, unemployed, underinsured and underemployed, we need to take a tip from the New England housewives of old:  we need to all have a homeopathic remedy kit under our beds, and we need to learn how to use it.

I’ve spent thirty years of my life studying, teaching and writing about homeopathy and I have learned the following:  it is a safe form of self-treatment, it is a form of self-treatment that the average lay person can learn to use effectively and appropriately for typical household emergencies, it is a surprisingly cheap form of medical treatment, and it is, above all else, a wonderfully effective form of medical treatment.

This is not to say that there are not some other great forms of holistic healthcare available today.  Acupuncture is a magnificent form of treatment, as is chiropractic medicine.  But the difference is this:  of all the forms of safe and effective holistic treatments, only homeopathy can be learned and practiced in the home.  I, for one, could not imagine learning how to stick needles into my own arm or the arm of someone dear to me who is suffering.  In the same way, I can’t imagine doing a chiropractic adjustment on myself, my family members or my dog.  I can and do, however, know what remedy to use when I have a cold or a flu, or when someone in my family has a toothache or experiences a physical injury.  In more severe emergencies, I know what to do until the ambulance arrives.  But taking charge myself, but learning what I need to learn, I am able to cut my medical expenses (you should excuse the pun) to the bone, while enjoying a form of medicine that is safe, effective and inexpensive.

I say that it is time for millions of Americans to realize that our circumstances have shifted. That there will be no quick solution to the economic troubles that we are in.  Hillary Clinton once famously noted that “it takes a village” to raise a child.  Nowadays, it takes a village to keep a village afloat.  If we are to wait until the politicians solve the almost overwhelming array of issues in front of us, we shall surely die.  If we wait until healthcare reform actually takes place in this country, I fear that our deaths will be from old age.

Better to let this circumstances that are now driving so many of our thoughts and actions lead us to a better way.  In these days of desperation, isn’t it time we all gave homeopathy a try?

Do we really have anything, at this point, to lose?

 

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Signs of Hope/Signs of Change

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Hope first:

I live in a very small town in the Connecticut hills.  Here, we pretty much let each other know about what is going on by sticking a sign in the yard in front of Town Hall.  Among other things–senior citizen meetings and “Meet the Republican Candidates” cookouts–we weekly get the sign for our town’s farmer’s market.  All well and good.  The sign is always the same, a piece of white plastic with a red tractor harvesting a green field and the words:  “Farmer’s Market, Wednesday’s, Hollow Park.”

Every week in the summer months, I cringe when I see this sign, because it has been the same sign since I moved here.  Someone just takes it out every Tuesday night and sticks it back in the ground, only to take it away again on Wednesday night.  Every week the same thing:  that “s”–that damned apostrophe.  When did it get confusing–the difference between making a word plural by adding an “s” and making it possessive when adding an apostrophe BEFORE the “s?”  It is really very, very simple.  The only other time in which we add the apostrophe is when we elide, when we shorten two words into one, such as “he’s,” which stands for “he is.”  There is no real trick to it, and yet, like the inexplicable Tea Party movement, millions of  Americans have become confused once more and now seem to believe that we pluralize a word by adding an apostrophe before the “s.”  (The same millions now seem to think that “me” is the plural of “I,” but that is a topic for another day.)

So, the sign of hope:  as I was walking Django the dog this morning, I walked him, as I almost always do, to the library, so that he can make the automatic door open and then stare inside at all the people–something that never fails to both please and amuse him, especially if he decides to bark as well once the door has opened.  Then we curved along behind the town buildings and walked up in front of town hall.  And there is was, same sign, same tractor.  Except that someone (and God richly bless that mysterious individual) had taken a tiny piece of white tape and carefully covered the offending apostrophe, so that the sign, while the “s’ looked a little removed and wonky, was made grammatically correct at last.

That someone recognized the error and corrected it is a reason to have hope, as far as I am concerned.  As regular readers of psora psora psora know, I consider such things to be miracles.  I find God, not in the turning away of flood waters or alien spacecraft, but in the subtle things, such as the plastic sign with the red tractor on it and the now-correct words:  Farmer’s Market, Wednesdays, Hollow Park.

Signs of Change:

I noted a couple of days ago that we need to keep our eye out for changes that could potentially be coming to our healthcare system, that could potentially–and let me stress that word “potentially” once more before we all get out our tinfoil hats–render illegal all “non-scientific” systems of healthcare like homeopathy and acupuncture and put the fate of vitamins and supplements in the hands of the big pharmaceutical companies.

I mention it again today because it needs repeated mentioning–for once, it is not too late for the citizens of this nation to actually do something before another right is taken away.  The government web site dedicated to giving information on the impact of EO 13544,
which brought the United Nations’ (note correct use of possessive with a plural noun) Codex Alimentarius to our shores tells us that any panel seated to explore the issue of what systems of healthcare are or are not “scientific” will indeed include members from all medical modalities:  allopathic, homeopathic, natural, and “beaten to death and robbed of every nutrient and virtue before consumed.”

It is the task of the population of the free nation to make damned sure that no panels are formed in secrecy (the manner, in fact, in which EO 13544 was signed) and that all points of view are heard.  With so much to (potentially) lose and so much on the line, it is my fervent hope that we will not once more let Sarah Palin and company suck all the air out the room, leaving us just woozy enough to be rendered inert.

Change is coming to our healthcare system, whether we like it or not.  It is now our task to make sure that the change is indeed Change We Can Believe In.

 

Obamacare: Should We Beware?

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Since then-candidate Obama began promising us all “Change we can believe in” and, as part of that picture, universal healthcare, I have been wondering what that healthcare would mean to those millions of us who routinely choose the “alternative” route to healing.

And, as a quick aside, let me say that I have always resented the use of that word “alternative” when applied to homeopathy, acupuncture and other forms of treatment that do not march in lockstep with the allopathic concept of medicine.  Just by allowing the use of the term alternative, we allow for all other forms of medical philosophy and practice to be marginalized.  To be defined in terms of the allopathic “norm.”  And, as there is nothing “normal” about allopathic medicine, save the fact that it is culturally dominant, I reject the term alternative and will do what I can to stamp out its current usage.  Therefore, in all future postings, I will use the word “holistic” in its place.  Because one of the major differences between homeopathic and allopathic medicine is this concept of holism.  Homeopathic treatments are holistic in the sense that they are “whole being” treatments.  Allopathic practitioners work from the equally jovial and nonsensical notion that they can treat one or two aspects of the being in something of a vacuum–that they can treat one part of the body without impacting the whole.  (For an example of this sort of thinking, slam your finger in a car door and see how you feel–does that fact that only that small part of your body is wounded impact the rest of your being as well or not?  Do you feel the pain only in that finger or throughout your arm, you body?  Does it affect your mood as well? )

Okay, this brings us to  Executive Order 13544, an order that was signed by our President this last summer and an order that gives new powers both to the dreaded FDA and to the Department of Health and Human Services.  These two departments have now, in compliance with the United Nations’ Codex Alimentarius, been given the power to decide which vitamins and supplements and which forms of alternative–there’s that word again!–are safe and efficacious and which should be removed from the marketplace.  In the name of “our own good”, a government agency that have itself proven to be both ineffective and unsafe is now deciding what is safe and effective FOR US.  (The benign-sounding purpose of the Codex is to give the entire planet access to untainted food, water and medicine.  All well and good.  However, the way it is being enacted in the United States is neither well nor good, as we shall see.)

I have issues with this:

First, I have an issue with anything that gives the FDA more power.  Most especially since they are the body that brought us poisoned eggs, and who made us fear salads, as they are filled with foodstuffs–from lettuce to spinach to tomatoes to spring onions–that have, in recent times, been found to contain harmful toxins.  Now, no doubt, any spokesman for the FDA would portray them as well-meaning and overburdened.  This may be true, but the fact that they already seem to have more “on their plates”  (forgive the pun) than they can handle means to me that they don’t need any new tasks.  Indeed, since they are so overburdened with their well-doing, I suggest we give them all a nice, long vacation and set up a new system that safeguards us from the true threats of tainted foodstuffs and from medication (you see the ads for them day and night on TV) whose side-effects include “coma”, “death” and other startling developments.  In other words, if we are going to sign onto the Codex initiative, let’s actually do what it is supposed to do.

Second, I am wary of this whole process because the panel that is being assembled to judge the quick and the dead in the natural health community is comprised of only allopaths, of proponents of standard Western medicine.  Natural, holistic or “alternative” medical practitioners and providers are not being given a voice.  In a nation in which we lag behind that entire planet with it comes to healthcare, especially natural and holistic healthcare (homeopathy, for instance, is considered a form of standard medicine across Europe, Africa and most of Asia and South America), we are being asked to allow a panel of doctors whose training includes precious little in terms of nutrition, much less homeopathy and acupuncture, to judge the efficacy of something  that they do not understand and have been trained to reject?  Excuse me, but after thirty years of studying, teaching and writing about homeopathy, I think I know a bit more about it than a doctor who still uses the word homeopathy interchangeably with “herbal” or “holistic”.  Note that, while the official government site tells us that the panel will be fair, balanced and diverse, it has yet to prove to be any of those.

Further, I have an issue with the fact that the homeopaths, et al, are not being given a voice because it would not be deemed acceptable in any arena save healthcare.  You could never, for instance, have a panel on “Faith in America” and have only Christians or only Jews on the panel.  And you could never have any political panel the contained only Democrats.  In all other aspects of life and the debate of what is or is not appropriate a mix of voices and viewpoints is called for.  Certainly it is called for here.  And yet, the FDA, the HHC and the precious panel of “experts” are being given the reigns and they may soon make decisions that millions of us will regret.

Do you want to consider a world in which, when you go to your health food store to buy a vitamin or a supplement, you can only buy the chemical equivalent of one because the FDA has found that the natural supplement is not standardized enough–because it is natural?  Do you want to be denied not only the right to buy homeopathic remedies (now over-the-counter medications) or to see a homeopathic physician because the FDA has determined that homeopathy is unsafe or unscientific?  Is it right that those who know the least about a philosophy and practice should have the right to deny it to those who freely choose it and find it both safe and effective?

And, again, do we want the FDA of all agencies, to have the right to judge whether or not anything is safe and effective?  They have proven themselves to be incompetent when it comes to guaranteeing the safety of our food.  Now are we going to let them determine the safety of alternative medicine as well–medicines that have not been shown in any way dangerous or threatening to the commonweal?  It seems to me that giving the FDA more power to determine what is and is not safe to consume is as smart a move as giving the family dog the keys to the car.

I, for one, not only want the right to choose for myself what medicine I will use and what medicine I will not (Hint:  it advertises on TV that its side-effects include coma and death) and, further, I want the medicine that I choose to be fully covered by the insurance that Obamacare will force me to buy.

I believe that Candidate Obama had a vision of a great nation.  But I also believe that that vision has not come to pass.  He has forced through his healthcare plan in a way that will force me to buy health insurance, but will not in any way inhibit the insurer from charging me whatever he wants to, given my age and health.  And now, with the signing of Executive Order 13544, Obama goes a step further and seeks potentially (and please note the word “potentially”–I do not wear a tinfoil hat or typically have paranoid delusions, I am merely noting a potential turn of events) to sweep away a system of health and healing that actually works, that benefits millions of Americans.

This is surely the time to make some noise.  To call our Congressman and Senators’ offices.  To contact the media, to write letters.  To dance the blogger’s dance on the internet.  It is also a very good time for those who don’t understand the principles of holistic healthcare–specifically homeopathy (I am biased, I admit it)–to educate themselves and decide for themselves whether or not we as a nation can afford to hand this all away.  The British have recently been faced with the same question.  In the end, after much debate (they actually allowed all voices to be heard), they decided–homeopathy remains a part of the British health system and is fully covered by national healthcare.  We need to make the same wise decisions here and make them quickly, before it is too late.