Blue = Elaine Lewis
Black = Miranda Castro
Red = Alan Schmukler
Green = Shana Lewis
All images are either of Miranda, or by Miranda, from her garden, kitchen, or nearby her house.
EL: We have here in the studio with us today, Miranda Castro on the phone, Alan to my right acting as our engineer, and Shana, my daughter, on my left, who’s here for some unknown reason. Miranda, how are you?
MC: I’m brilliant, thank you.
EL: Thank God someone is!
MC: I was only referring to my well-being, unfortunately. Where are you? In the Northeast? I’m sorry. I’m here in central Florida. We’ve a beautiful sunny day here. This time of year is heavenly. It makes the extreme summers all worthwhile.
EL: You’re not at the beach?
MC: I’m an hour and a half away, but within easy reach of where I live there are literally hundreds of fresh water springs! These springs are extraordinary…the water comes out of the earth at 72 degrees the whole year round and is crystal clear. However deep it is you can see straight through to the bottom. And the colors … every shade of blue and green from exquisite turquoise to deep emerald. Just gorgeous.
EL: I have a clear view of the oil refineries from where I live, how about you Alan?
AS: I can’t top that.
EL: Miranda, let’s see one of those fresh water springs!
EL: That settles it, we’re moving to Florida! Shana, get my hat!
MC: I don’t care much for the ocean –it’s full of things that don’t want us there…sharks, jelly fish…. Then there’s the stuff that we don’t want, like the “red tide” at the gulf coast – from the algae that proliferates on the surface of that ocean. It’s responsible for a lot of allergies. The ocean looks good, as long as you’ve got a respirator!
EL: What do you do all day, Miranda?
MC: I’m a worker bee. I’m engaged in a variety of projects, most of which involve homeopathy. I’ve got my practice…I’m always working up cases, even after 25 years in practice I still spend one to four hours working up a new case. I’ve gone through many phases in my practice, thinking I might get better at some point….
EL: I’ll drink to that!
MC: And thank goodness also because I am someone who is easily bored and in 25 years, I haven’t been bored. Not once. Well maybe a couple of times but it’s really rare! There’s so much to get to grips with. There’s so much variety. It seems to me that homeopaths don’t get to rest on their laurels. It’s hard. We’ve got so much new data coming at us all the time from the new provings, how on earth do you catch up?
And as I’ve gotten better, maybe I’m attracting more difficult clients, but the other thing that happens for me is that I’ve always audited my practice; that is to say, once a year I’ll pull all the charts off the shelf and make piles based on the outcomes: are patients better … a little better, a fair bit better or a lot better? Or are they not doing so well? Plus a pile of files of those patients I haven’t heard from in six months or more. I jot down the numbers, compare them with the previous years ‘piles’ to see whether ‘I’ am doing better, worse or the same. This is similar to what we do with our patients when they return for their follow-ups, right?
And I believe that it’s one of the major errors in our community, that we’re not rigorous about our results. I think that for homeopathy to survive and thrive, we have to get smart about this, and I mean really smart, because we are vulnerable in the area of double-blind research trials, homeopathy is not suited to those, and so in order for the scientific community to look upon us with even a modicum of respect, we need to be giving them some data. Our provings are not compelling, so the only data I think will be at all interesting to them will be outcomes audits that have some degree of objectivity.
EL: Miranda, you mentioned the pile of people you haven’t heard from?
MC: The pile of people I haven’t heard from, especially when I was a baby homeopath….
EL: Ohhhhh……. So, you’ve been in practice a long time! A verrrrrrrrrry long time!
MC: Ho ho ho!! I’m referring to my second and third years in practice!
MC: I call these people or drop them an email … I used to write real letters … and say, “I haven’t heard from you in a while, how are you doing?” and most people I contact are pleased to hear from me.
EL: No! What do they say?
MC: That they feel cared for and they appreciate my getting in touch. What I find out, also, is that at least half of them haven’t been in touch because they’re better. We have a duty to follow up on people, and most homeopaths are pretty bad at that. But anyway, of the people who are doing better, I ask them if they think it was the homeopathy or any other healing influences in their lives or both? And sometimes there are other healing influences and sometimes there aren’t, so, I am able to put these other factors in their notes too. Of the people who aren’t doing any better, I have ideas about some of them and offer to work up a new remedy, so there’s a helpful conversation that is had. I don’t charge for those reassessments. I do not use these appointments or emails to solicit business.
Accountability is very important. Ten years ago I wrote a software program to manage my practice. I went paperless six or seven years ago, and I now have my program, called COMPASS that allows me to audit my practice at any given point in time and see how many and what proportion of my whole practice has had the ‘simillimum’, and what proportion are on ‘similar’ remedies, how many are having mixed results, what proportion are returning but not doing well, and how many are lost or not returning. I go through these and follow up on those I haven’t heard from in 6 months or more. This task used to take me a day or two and now it just takes a couple of seconds! If I have a spare hour or two in the day, I’ll work on the patients that I know are struggling.
EL: Miranda, how did you happen to stumble into homeopathy in the first place?
MC: My parents used it. They were fully paid-up members of the Anti-Vaccination League. I was the only child in my school who hadn’t been vaccinated; and the only child in the school with brown bread in her lunch box. Very traumatic! Our family doctor was a Naturopath who used tissue salts. When I left home at 18, I was intrigued and I bought a 36-remedy homeopathic kit and a cell salt kit from Nelson’s and I used those for years and years. I had two little guide books: the cell salts handbook and Gibson’s First Aid in Accidents and Ailments; and I did really good. I had maybe two courses of antibiotics in my adult life up until I got pregnant, and then I got into a lot of trouble with morning sickness and a difficult birth and a horrible time recovering afterwards. When Daniel was a year old, he was very sick with whooping cough, and even with my modicum of knowledge, I was giving him good remedies but they weren’t working. So I started on this incredible adventure. We trekked from one homeopath to another and got an education. We started out with a medical doctor who was a homeopath in London, very well-known and highly respected, and extremely unkind! He gave me strict instructions as I sat down. I wasn’t to interrupt the interview to talk to my son. I was to place the baby on the floor away from me and I was only to pay attention to the good doctor. He was going to ask me a number of questions and repeated that he was not to be interrupted. Bear in mind the baby has been coughing and vomiting for about 4 months and wasn’t amenable to being ditched and ignored. The doctor was a tall man in a dark suit typical of private doctors in England at the time, but there was one unusual difference: he had a small dog on his lap, which I have never ever seen before or since in any surgery. I answered his questions and after a little while Daniel asked me something so I dealt with him quickly and then went back to the good doctor. He put his pen and pad down and he said, “I can see you’re the sort of woman who should never have become a mother.” So, I rose to my full 5′ 6″ and said, “I can see you’re the sort of man who should never have become a doctor!” and I took my child and left.
EL: Good for you, Miranda!
MC: Astonishingly, I didn’t give up. We consulted an anthroposophical homeopath next. He was very nice and kind and he spent a long time with us but he appeared not to really know what he was doing, and this is how I knew it. He spent the whole consultation rifling through a book. Every time I spoke he’d look up something so I just thought he must be new at this. He didn’t tell me what he was doing. Of course I know now he was rifling through Kent’s Repertory but when Daniel didn’t get better from the remedies he prescribed, my thoughts were confirmed. If what we do is unusual, if an aspect of our work is unusual, and we don’t explain it, people will interpret it in a way that makes sense to them and may greatly misinterpret it.
So then we went to a lay homeopath who was working out of his kitchen. He was a farmer. I was living in the country at the time. He didn’t spend as much time, he didn’t charge as much, and he was also very kind, but his remedies didn’t work, and at that point I thought, “Gosh, homeopathy! What a load of old rubbish! It only works for minor things.” So I gave up on it and we sought healing elsewhere.
So, at this point, Daniel’s still very sick, we hadn’t slept in six months, and I signed him up with a radionics practitioner who did really good work with him and he started healing a bit–but he kept relapsing. Finally after four or five weeks I spoke to the practitioner and I said, “Gosh, this was so hopeful at first but now he keeps slipping back,” and she checked and told me he had a miasmiatic block and needed homeopathic treatment. I told her our tales of woe and she referred me to a professional homeopath – someone who knew his homeopathic onions!
EL: Homeopathic onions…must be a British expression! Well, OK, I’m dying to know, who was he?
MC: Peter Chappel, and within 24 hours of the first prescription, Daniel had stopped vomiting and within a week the cough had gone.
EL: What remedy was it?
MC: It was one of the remedies I had given him, but not in the correct potency. It just wasn’t high enough. He needed Pertussin 200C. There had been a response to the 30C but it didn’t hold. Peter really knew what he was doing. The three other practitioners I had seen were working with part of a picture, and their patient management skills were either appalling or not good enough to keep me coming back. Peter was starting a three year homeopathy training. I signed up, and, as they say, the rest is history.
EL: Miranda, I’m curious about junk food and denatured food in general. To what extent is this causing people’s complaints?
MC: When you look at the whole picture, HOW people eat may be as significant as the food itself. People have developed some crazy habits around food. People are eating less, eating worse and taking more supplements to make up for it. If we take a step back and apply homeopathic principles to that whole arena, you have to say that the chemically-synthesized supplements, if they’re not needed, and if someone is sensitive to them, could cause problems as well. It’s just a matter of time, especially if they’re in megadoses. I’ve seen many problems, especially with these very high doses–of the minerals, for goodness sake. Unless people are chronically very sick, there’s no need to take supplements every day, every day. Recent studies are showing that what we get from food cannot be replicated. And guess what? They don’t know why, but we do.
EL: We do?
MC: There’s a vital force in food as well as in people. Mineral and vitamin tablets are missing that vital, alive force. It seems very difficult to replicate all of what we get from food in tablet form.
So, here’s a bigger problem with food that I’m increasingly coming across in my work. Most people are not eating according to their blood sugar requirements. Around eighty percent of the people I see are missing one or more meals a day so they’re releasing adrenaline one or more times a day and the consequences of this are dire. Half of these patients experience significant improvements in one or more of their symptoms simply by eating by the clock, by making sure that they meet their bodies’ basic needs for food.
AS: That’s very interesting; you don’t hear a lot of talk about eating on schedule and what happens if you miss meals. I suspect a lot of people are missing meals on purpose. Do you have any other tips for us, Miranda?
MC: You write that wonderful column, “Tips and Secrets”, don’t you, Alan? OK, let me think. Well, let’s start with the Tissue Salts, Americans don’t use them enough! Homeopaths would do well to get smart about the tissue salts.
EL: They’re called “Cell Salts” too. Let’s see if I can name them: Calc-phos, Calc-fluor., Calc-sulph., Nat-mur., Nat-sulph., Ferrum phos., Kali phos., Kali mur., Kali sulph., Silica, Mag-phos., … oh geez, there’s one more…oh! Nat-phos. Dr. Schussler, in 1873, observed that these were in the ashes of dead people, so, he thought they must be essential minerals, and that any deficiency in them could cause disease. I can tell you that in the early days, the health food stores didn’t carry remedies, only the cell salts, that was it! Three of them really helped me–Ferrum phos. for colds, Kali phos. for anxiety and Nat-sulph for ailments after head injuries! They tend to come in low potencies–6X usually–and in an acute may have to be taken frequently. I had a client with painful osteoporosis who was cured of all her pain in short order with Calc-phos. 6X taken daily for a couple of weeks; I tell people, just follow the directions on the bottle.
MC: There are some Indian homeopaths who only use tissue salts. Their practices are built on that entirely. British homeopaths use them a lot. Tissue salts will hold people and stop them from panicking and self-prescribing when you’ve got a good constitutional going but they’ve got a little acute and some people have to take something. Tissue salts are under-used here. They’re a wonderful adjunct or supportive group of remedies.
EL: To find out how to use them and what they’re for, there are little books on the cell salts, for instance, The 12 Tissue Salts by Chapman. Next secret!
MC: Next secret? It’s not really a secret – more of an encouraging tip. I have two books on remedy relationships: one by Abdur Rehman and one by Thomas Blasig and Peter Vint. I check in these books every time I select a ‘second prescription’, an acute remedy, a supportive remedy, even if it’s a tissue salt. I want the relationship to be good, or at least not bad. I always look it up to make sure it follows well or is complementary. I rarely select an inimical or antidotal remedy.
AS: Have you found inimical remedies to be really bad?
MC: If the first remedy given is the wrong remedy i.e. if it didn’t work or if it only palliated or it partially worked, then it is not so relevant if the remedy to follow is inimical or incompatible – it simply does not matter. If the first remedy given works – if is a good one and it helps – and especially if it has helped repeatedly – then the relationship of the remedy that follows DOES matter. Ideally it should follow well or be compatible – it should not be inimical. I do check antidotes when I give someone a remedy. Have you seen my article on Antidotes?
EL: Yes, we’ll make sure it gets into this issue!
MC: At the time that I wrote about that in England, years ago now, all homeopathic patients were taken off coffee and mint toothpaste and all sorts of ordinary, everyday things. Which naturally leads me to raise another concern I have about our community, and that is that we have mostly offered a more patriarchal type of healing relationship experience. This means you come to me as a patient and I’m in charge and I ask all the questions and I will give a little bit of information if I have time and if I have to, but I’m not going to offer it and I’m not going to tell you name of the remedy, and I am going to decide when you follow up with me and you have to abide by my rules; and, I can be very nice about all this – I am kind and sensible and caring but basically I’m acting in your best interest without a tremendous amount of consultation with you because I’m the expert. I know what I’m doing and I’m in charge. This is the medical model that we’re familiar with, correct? And it’s unconsciously woven into all of our experiences from the top down and the bottom up–so much of what we see, read and hear about health care relationships, especially in the media, operate out of this model. Most of our experiences with doctors, dentists, and some even with therapists operate out of this model. Homeopaths have traditionally operated out of a rather old-fashioned model–I just blush and cringe every time I think of homeopaths asking patients whether they masturbate between asking about the size and consistency of their stools and any respiratory difficulties. Right?
AS: And this is before the question about: Do you suffer from humiliation?
MC: Funny! In England, some of us were taught to follow Kent’s case-taking by the letter, that meant that you asked the questions in order starting from the Head down to the Extremities and, you know, sex between bowels and respiration. I did a training in humanistic psychotherapy in my early years of practice and got thoroughly interested in the healing relationship and how we behave with our patients and how that affects them and how that, in turn, affects us and how much healing there is in that, whether we can enhance the healing we offer to our patients through changing some of the ways that we behave with them or some of the services we offer to them. I meet a lot of people because of my teaching and writing and speaking–and I would quite often hear people say, “I tried homeopathy and it didn’t work” or, “I went to a homeopath and I’m never going back.” I asked why not and a significant proportion said, “I felt really uncomfortable with the interview, the way they asked me various questions that didn’t make sense, especially questions about my sexuality.” Some people even asked if I thought the homeopath was coming on to them. You know, the first interview should stand alone as a healing experience in its own right. If it’s good, people will feel heard, sometimes for the first time in their lives, they will connect all the dots of their lives, sometimes for the first time also. Even if you never get the right remedy for a person, that experience is worth the price of admission. So, to make it a routine where you’re walking through these a pre-selected set of questions … it’s worth making sure that doesn’t happen. At the very least our case-taking should be a humanizing experience.
EL: I know what you mean, my first interview was a horror…I kept having the impression that I was giving the wrong answer! Because the homeopath never commented on what I was saying. At one point I thought, “I’m putting him to sleep! I must be really boring! I think he’s nodding off!”
MC: I had the same experience one time with a homeopath who didn’t talk at all, there was no feedback. no “to-ing and fro-ing”, it wasn’t an experience I was familiar with….
EL: Hey, I KNEW about the “moment of silence” thing, but knowing it didn’t help me weather it at all!
MC: Out of nervousness, I said things that I might not have said ordinarily and I got a very odd remedy as a result that didn’t work. Patients who have a parent who used silence as a punishment when they were children will find this case-taking technique particularly distressing.
EL: Oh! Say no more.
MC: When we walk into a homeopath’s or a doctor’s consulting room, our child ‘parts’ are more active – we are more passive than in the rest of our lives; so, we homeopaths who are in the parent role have to know that and make sure we don’t inadvertently hurt people through our techniques.
EL: Miranda, I absolutely agree with you. I had one homeopath who spent the whole session looking at his computer and never looked at me. Actually, two of them did that. Make that three. And then another one actually tried so hard to be sympathetic that she finished my sentences for me. Two polarities, I suppose. We obviously need to do a lot of work in this area of case-taking. But, I wonder if we can switch subjects at this point, because I’ve been listening to your tapes, your lectures, and I noticed you have quite a few cases where a remedy ultimately had to be chosen, not just on the etiology, but, the actual substance that caused the problem. There was the person who had asthma despite being a strong swimmer and swimming daily–she needed Cholrine! Then there was the person who was proving his psychiatric drug, he needed homeopathic Haldol. How important is the etiology, Miranda, as opposed to the constitutional?
MC: Etiology, again, like nutrition, is a big topic. Etiology is a very high-level symptom. It’s right up there, one of the highest. The correct remedy HAS to have the etiology covered. We HAVE to know it. I am ruthless about this with patients and I let them know that. I will back people into a corner until I get what I need.I mean, I will chase down that etiology if I have to. In the consulting room, in the beginning, the doors, my inner doors, if you like, are wide open and I’m listening very carefully, but I’m also guiding and following threads; so, it’s more like weaving that we’re really doing. I’m taking the important clues and cues that my patients give me as we go and I’m gently nudging them to say more about this or that in an associated area, but I’m holding the big picture, plus I’ve got my eye on the time, plus I have my topics lined up. I have to get my generals for example, I have got to gather the data, but I mustn’t miss the gifts, those gems that people offer up during the course of their speaking about all sorts of things. I want to capture all their words–it’s a tall order, but it’s not impossible; and so, if I’m at a point where people start saying the same things over and over and I haven’t gotten the information I need, and I haven’t gotten the etiology, I will take charge and chase it down! You might want to include in this issue my case about “The Baby Who Screamed For A Week” as a good example of what I mean.
MC: Now, she didn’t just cry, she screamed her head off. This kid was eight months old, she was the daughter of a woman who had done two years of training with me in first aid and home prescribing and she was convinced that the baby was teething. She wanted to give Chamomilla 200C and I just got very stubborn about it. If it’s Chamomilla it will work in any potency, and the baby hadn’t got any teeth yet; so, if she were going to be a Chamomilla teether, we had to start with a low potency so we had something to go up to! We had already given the 6C and it hadn’t worked, we had given the 30C and it hadn’t worked, and now it is 5 days later and she wanted to give the 200C. It took me a long time, I had to bring her appointment schedules to the phone, and I went through every minute of the day the kid started screaming–this is the etiology we’re talking about–because she maintained that nothing had happened! Misha Norland says: People are always telling the truth, and they’re always lying! We remember selectively. We remember selectively. So, as homeopaths, we have a duty to be paying attention and when things don’t add up, I stop the case! If something doesn’t add up, I am going to go after it until it does make sense. I’m going to ask about it from every angle; so, in order to know the questions to ask, you have to understand human nature. You have to be canny about people and what they can get up to and the best advice I have for that is to just read voraciously. Read cases, read novels, watch movies, talk to people…be a sponge about human nature, and read psychology.We have to know psychological maps, that’s another area where homeopaths have been deficient. So I went through every minute of that day with her. I asked her to rewind, replay the video of her life that day, remember what she wore and what they ate, you know, for each minute, because I had a feeling that the baby wasn’t teething, and it was based on a number of things: There were no other symptoms–there were no turrets in the gums, there was no drooling, no diarrhea…just screaming. It didn’t make sense. What’s that detective called?
MC: No, Elaine, help!
EL: Sherlock Holmes?
MC: Yes! Sherlock Holmes! Sherlock Holmes was said to be brilliant because he knew when there wasn’t a dog barking. Very clever! I think that when we are working at our best is when we perceive there isn’t a dog barking! So – to mix metaphors – if I smell a rat…
EL: …so many animals….
MC: …I have a gift in this area. I don’t have many gifts. I have to work hard for every remedy. I’m not smart about remedies and facts; if a patient comes in and I say, “Silica!” I can be absolutely sure it isn’t Silica! I’m very bad at being intuitive about remedies; but, I’m 99% accurate when I hear a dog not barking, and so I’ve learned to rely on that. So, finally, after twenty or thirty minutes of really intense questioning, she finally said, “Oh my God! That’s when my older child fell down the stairs holding the baby.” So, I had her interview the older child and promise not to punish the child if she hadn’t, in fact, fallen down the stairs. And it turned out that the older child had dropped the baby – not far but she had banged her head on the corner of the stairs…
MC: …and that’s when the crying started. The mother gave the baby Arnica, the baby went to sleep and woke up crying and hadn’t stopped since. When I teach this case, it’s unusual for the students to actually get the pathology. The baby had been thoroughly checked out by the doctor, there was nothing wrong with her. And so, what did the Arnica do, what had gone wrong, why on earth was this baby crying? When we are working at our best – to introduce yet another animal kingdom metaphor – we are the bee’s knees of medical detectives! Because we’re looking at the whole picture. Our ability to understand what’s going on across the board, and even in quite small areas, is very advanced, even without tests, but I knew at that point exactly what had happened! If you give Arnica immediately after an injury, there’s no swelling, right?
EL: I’m living proof of that!
MC: So there was no discoloration, there was no evidence, so, what was wrong with the baby? Do you know why she was crying?
EL: Why don’t you field that one, Alan?
AS: I think I’ll pass that one off to you, Elaine.
MC: Babies cry like that when they’re in pain!
EL: I knew that!
MC: LOL! She had a headache – after a head injury. One dose of Natrum sulph. 200C and before it had fully dissolved in her mouth, she stopped screaming and smiled.
EL: It’s the homeopathic miracle we’ve all heard about and many of us have experienced! What a great story! And good for you, Miranda, because the mother was very insistent about giving Chamomilla and I wonder how many homeopaths wouldn’t have relented, not bothering to look at what wasn’t there that should have been there! It’s a good lesson for us all!
MC: I relented twice! Interestingly, Natrum sulph was the only remedy she ever needed throughout her entire childhood. Now, let’s fast-forward the video of her life and imagine how her life would look had she not gotten that remedy. It looks very bad, I mean, we all know what happens when people develop a deep Natrum Sulphuricum state, right?
EL: Of course we do! Alan?
AS: I’ll let you field that one, Elaine.
MC: They wind up as psychiatric patients!
EL: I knew that!
MC: Head pain after head injury–Natrum Sulphuricum, the number-one remedy! So, you need to know human nature; you have to understand pathology. I’m very fierce about that. We have to do really good Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology and Psychology to know the maps of the areas we’re working in. We have to know these. And then we have to know your homeopathic pictures and how they all fit together. Etiology: I mean, you cannot study “Ailments From” often enough, and understand how each incidence of a remedy in a rubric manifests. And so, Natrum sulph–they can get depressed after a head injury also, but the common symptom is the headache. Natrum mur. has it also but not quite as strongly and if they need Nat-mur. they will have other symptoms, it won’t just be the headache. If it’s just the headache, it’s Nat-sulph. And I never saw the child after that! She didn’t need an appointment for her whole childhood. OK – so that’s not so clever for my bank account! I want to just say that the etiology can be emotional, and it can be physical or environmental, and it can be mental, it can be anything! We are beset right now with environmental stresses. I’ve seen children with upwards of thirty vaccines who aren’t even 2 years old yet. It’s really frightening.
EL: How bad are the vaccines?
MC: They’re rarely the primary cause of a chronic complaint, they’re part of a whole picture. We musn’t get fixated on them, I learned that the hard way. Vaccines are usually part of a bigger picture. If vaccines caused a problem, you’ve got a sycotic miasm, often from both parents; so, you have an inherited picture to take into account and then you have the manifestation of the disease. The vaccines are just one part of that picture. I’m working with a lot of autistic children and I noticed that there were some threads running through them and I started asking questions and so far I’ve found out that 95% of the autistic children in my practice have one or both parents with a history of cocaine use. If you read Cocaine in the Materia Medica–the big picture–you’ll see that many of their symptoms are similar to autistic kids. There are a lot of correspondences between the common symptoms in the proving and the common symptoms in the disease in the children. Now then, we must not get excited about that either. I did for a little bit, because it was so interesting to me. The scientists who are researching autism had noticed that too; that the increase in autism is multifactorial and can include parental drug use, vaccinations, environmental toxins – and of course, inherited factors, all play a part. I became especially interested in cocaine because of the similarity of the proving symptoms to the common symptoms in the autistic child: living in a world of their own, unfeeling, obsessions – especially talking about one subject to the exclusion of others, but, this is not a reason to give cocaine in potency to every autistic child. I have given it one time where a characteristic symptom in the child matched a characteristic symptom in the remedy.
EL: You say that cocaine in potency has a lot of common features with autism–living in one’s own world, obsessions, talking about only one subject–but that you can’t give it to all autistic children. Is that because it only matches the common symptoms that you see in all/most autistic cases, and what you have to match is perhaps the one or two unusual things the autistic child is doing? For instance, let’s say the child was living in his own world, talked only about one subject and had obsessions but was severely constipated. Would that throw the case over to, maybe, Opium? In other words, a remedy that only covers the common symptoms of a complaint is rather useless?
MC: YES!!! The word ‘rather’ is splendid in this sentence – adding a certain British flavor of studied understatement! Of course one symptom doth not a similimum make; so, for me to consider Opium, I’d want the remedy to make sense in the context of the patient – we are not simply matching rubrics — totality-of-symptoms prescriptions are pretty low down on the list of remedies likely to heal.
EL: So, what else would we need to feel good about Opium: difficult to wake in the morning? Snoring during sleep? You’re saying if the remedy were Opium, there would be more there than just constipation, but you may not notice it as you may feel overwhelmed by the common symptoms of autism and be searching for a remedy based on those symptoms alone.
MC: In the case of autistic children especially, it can be a while before one or more characteristic symptoms are identified – because parents are so habituated to describing the common symptoms of their child’s disease. If we are not able to observe or elicit this at the first consultation then we have to educate the parents as to what we are looking for and have them collaborate. A helpful question in this regard is, “What is the most unusual thing about your child?” as opposed to the more standard, “Does he do anything that isn’t consistent with the typical autism symptoms?”
EL: Miranda, I interrupted you before, were you finished with etiology?
MC: If at any given point in time, people say the indicated remedy isn’t working as well as it should or could, I’m always going to go back to what happened when things went awry, what are we not addressing, what needs to be healed? That’s the bottom line with etiology and with good homeopathy.
EL: Let’s talk about the “collaborative relationship” – I know you have a special interest in this.
MC: The collaborative relationship is a hard one to offer. We can’t just stand up one day and say, “I’m going to be a collaborative homeopath.” It needs quite a lot of thought and hard work to upgrade out of a different mode. I tell my clients what remedy they’re taking. I’m willing to negotiate about everything, including when the follow-up will be. I’m more than happy to explain why I’ve selected a remedy because people are going to look it up online anyway so, I better say something about it. If I’ve given Platina or Lachesis I have to say more than a little.
EL: Is there anything else we’re doing wrong? OK, what about the ritual of starting every case with a 200C or 10M?
MC: Really? No.
EL: I know it’s hard to believe!
MC: In England, it’s certainly the way I was taught, the 10M…. Our teaching goes in waves, doesn’t it? There are fashions. In England, back in the ’70′s, it was 10M’s all the way, that’s how Peter used to work. And I…oh my God, Hippocrates did tell us quite clearly, “First do no harm!” In fact, I have a file entitled “First Do No Harm”. In the file I have tales of homeopathic incompetence. I cannot tell these stories because we’re too vulnerable as a profession. Homeopaths have a tendency to say, “Homeopathy is great and powerful and we can do this, that and the other…!” and then we follow that with, “…and it’s completely safe!” Now, the logical thinkers will say to themselves, “This person is either stupid or a quack,” because those two statements are mutually exclusive. “Powerful” and “Safe” cannot exist in the same sentence, in the same healing modality. If you give 10Ms to people whose vitalities are low, you will blow them out of the water. I’ve done that–in my early years in practice. I saw people suffer horribly; yes, these prescriptions were followed by deep, long-lasting cures, but big deal. Some of those people never came back to me. They were scared of me, and so they should have been. I saw some children with bad eczema end up in hospital because of high potencies … especially with Sulphur where it wasn’t the right remedy. So these were ‘false’ aggravations then – a remedy that was similar but not the simillimum, where there had also been suppression. I’ve seen people go from controllable eczema to having it head to feet, uncontrollable head to foot. And I know such a patient and she told me, “The homeopath said, ‘That’s a good sign.’” It’s not good. It’s not kind and it’s not right. I’ve seen people say they’ve never seen suppression. On one occasion I gave a remedy in a 200C and he had a history of doing well on high potencies and I had no reason to think this remedy would be any different, but, he had a TIA afterwards; in the week after. That is very bad! So, I think we have to match the potency to the vitality of the patient and the level of suppression and our confidence in the prescription because if we don’t, we run the risk of causing people tremendous, needless suffering. 12C is my favorite potency, I love 12C – it’s both gentle and strong.
EL: So do I, since you mention it. I start most of my chronic cases with either a 6C, 12C or LM/1.
MC: If it’s the simillimum, if it’s the pebble that lands in the center of that patient’s pond, one or two doses will do a tremendous amount of good work. You can interfere with that healing by having them repeat it. So, I don’t repeat remedies, especially at first. I will also use LM’s, and if I do, I’ve gotten into a lot of trouble repeating them according to the books. I give them like any other potency, just a single dose; and again, it doesn’t make sense to me, logically, that the LMs are more gentle. Since they’re more dilute, shouldn’t they be stronger? I’ve got one spectacular patient right now who’s done well for six or nine months–a year–I forget now how long, whom I haven’t even had to see for a follow-up because that single dose of an LM/1 did the trick – she had a small aggravation followed by a lasting improvement. I do not think she would have done so well with her remedy repeated. If it’s a similar remedy, and most of our prescriptions are, the repetition is not so serious, but if it’s the simillimum, then they don’t need much of it. If we repeat remedies willy-nilly, we can overdose. I work very closely with patients in the beginning to establish a repetition schedule that matches their needs. It’s part of the collaborative relationship. I get them to identify the symptoms that bother them the most. I add to that the symptoms I want them to track, and then if they have a relapse or return of old symptoms I have them check in with me before the first couple of repetitions and then it becomes clear over a month or two when they need to repeat their remedy.They get smart about it really quickly, and in the process, they start listening to their own bodies, it’s really beautiful. I teach them how to pay attention to their own symptoms in the context of their lives, and so, if they relapse, I ask them what was going on in the day or two before, and often times it takes them a while, sometimes there is something there but they hadn’t consciously paid attention to or noticed, so they forgot about it, and so then we’re back to the list and I tell them this is something you’re vulnerable to, it came out in your first visit to me and now here it is again, so this is something you need to pay attention to next time it happens watch your body. See if it responds or not, because the right remedy will strengthen people against stress; they should be able to withstand their typical stresses better–it’s another measure for me to know if their remedy is working, and so it’s like a fluid, dynamic interaction and I just love it. I love working with people in this way.
EL: Miranda, I’ve been frustrated with people’s answers to the question, “What diseases are in your family?” I hear the same diseases over and over again–cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure…where does this question lead us?
MC: I don’t ask the question that way. I send out a list and I guess it makes them think. I have a medical background form that I send out ahead of appointments because I do not want to waste time in that first appointment asking questions that might not be useful, that people have to think about. One of the benefits of the form is that people sometimes have to ask their relatives and they find out things about themselves or their families that they didn’t know. They hear stories that hadn’t been told. It can be very moving. And so, some people get to make nice connection with their parents or grandparents, it’s very sweet. The form has a list of diseases that takes the miasms into account. What’s interesting to me is that in 12 years of working in America, only a few people have checked ‘venereal diseases’. With 20 million Americans having genital herpes that’s not quite right. I guess very few people will admit to having had these diseases–that’s interesting to me. In England, people didn’t have problems admitting this, and it’s funny, you know, the two countries? The English reputation for being more buttoned up and Americans for being more open – well I guess not in this case! So, what else? What haven’t we talked about?
EL: Your books.
MC: Oh, my books! You know, I’m a compulsive communicator–you may have noticed!
EL: I’m sorry, were you just talking?
MC: Ho ho ho! It was a very funny thing when I finally understood homeopathy, when I completed the training and started getting incredible results myself just with acute prescribing in my immediate family and friends, I was absolutely hopping mad! I could not believe that all the homeopathic first aid books had diluted homeopathy beyond the point of usefulness. So, the desire to give people something that they could use, you know, these therapeutic snapshotsâ€”I understand the reasoning but say your child has whooping cough, then you think it has to be one of the six remedies listed in the book. If you give a few and they don’t work – and if you’re a lay person who’s new to homeopathy, you automatically think, “Well! There’s only six remedies for whooping cough, and the ones suggested didn’t work,” and therefore you extrapolate from that, that homeopathy doesn’t work. So, after getting mad, I got writing. I wrote The Complete Homeopathy Handbook which is a materia medica and repertory for the home prescriber. It was a theoretical construct. They are all Kent‘s bold-type symptoms. I tried as much as possible to paint a picture of remedies in health–why don’t we do that? What does a healthy Silica look like? What does a healthy Nux vomica look like–every company should have one!
EL: We have one–Alan! He does the work of 5 people!
MC: See? What does a healthy Lachesis look like? Every media group should have one of those…. Every remedy has a positive side, but we tend to just look at the negative. We have also not been very clever about delineating between the acute symptoms in a remedy, the first stage of chronic disease, the developing pathology on every level and the end stages. We’ve got it all lumped together–this shopping list of symptoms–it’s a bloomin’ mess. So, in my book, I put together a mini-repertory to accompany the materia medica and there are no therapeutics there. You cannot get a prescription by looking up a complaint. I didn’t know if it would work, it was an idea. And it went to print like that and I had never written anything before, and you have to understand I left school at 15. I’m very bright but I didn’t have training in these areas and so I got a lot of help. I got an agent–because I knew it was a good book and there was a hole in the market. I’ve a background in marketing in PR–I’ve worked in the world. I didn’t come to homeopathy until I was 28, so I worked very hard for 13 years in a tremendous number of businesses and companies. I did a tremendous number of jobs because I got bored easily and so I developed all kinds of skills. I got an agent, and I told him I needed a publisher who would give me an editor who would help me to write. Now, you can’t do that today. I just happened to be very lucky, and so, they gave me a wonderful woman who edited six drafts of that book! And the editor I got was just marvelous and she taught me how to write! It has sold over a quarter of a million copies! With royalties at ten cents a copy for many of those that went to the book clubs, I’m not wealthy, but that wasn’t my aim. My aim was to get homeopathy into the high streets and to get the home user doing classical homeopathy. I just knew if I could do that, people would do a higher level of home prescribing, they’d get better results and occasionally they might get their and their children’s constitutional remedies and they might do spectacular work. And guess what?
MC: I was right! I get fan mail, at least one letter a week from someone saying, your book transformed our lives. We only go to the doctor once a year, or just as needed, blah blah blah. But that is not what I’m most proud of. When the book first came out, in ’99, actually, something weird happened. A number of people started coming up to me when I taught at schools saying, I started out with your book and I got such spectacular results, the healing was so interesting, so deep, I had to train to become a homeopath! Last year I taught at one school where fifty percent of the students in one class had started out with my book! It wasn’t a vision of mine and I just feel really humbled by that and deeply proud.
EL: Did I mention that I have your book? Just sayin’! Anyhoooo…..The mother and baby book: Homeopathy for Pregnancy, Birth & Your Baby’s First Years. Do you want to talk about that?
MC: This is the book I’m most proud of. It’s the book I wish I’d had when I was pregnant. It was a deeply cathartic, therapeutic experience that made me write this book. When I got the first copy in the mail? You know, the publishers send you a pristine copy — I happened to have a day off. Well I made a big pot of tea, I took to my sofa, and I actually read it cover to cover and I cried my little heart out. I could feel that now women had something to help them, should they need it, through their pregnancies. I thought, “I can die now! I’ve done what I came here to do!”
EL: Wait a minute! Didn’t you come here to do this interview?
MC: You are too funny! The thing people most often say about the Mother and Baby book is, “I feel you’re here, holding my hand, talking to me.” Also – the practical help is so – helpful, even if I don’t use the homeopathic solutions the other suggestions have been tremendously helpful. But, I’m very distressed right now with the way homeopathy is being attacked in the world. Are you folks keeping up with it? You’re following what’s going on in England?
MC: We have to get with the program in terms of how we talk about what we do–with patients, with each other…with the world in general. We have to come together. Groups have to come together. In England, that hasn’t happened.
EL: Miranda, I don’t understand. Where is Prince Charles in all this? Where is the Royal Family?
MC: A proportion of Brits find the Royal Family comical, annoying, or worse. And so, they are under constant scrutiny and attack. They are not universally revered, especially in the press. We all love them, but, it’s Open Season, frankly, on shooting them down.
But I would like to say, regarding homeopathy, that even if we are causing the occasional unpleasant aggravation, at our very worst, we do not kill people! The figures on Conventional Medicine errors and the effects, in this country alone: more than half a million people die as a result of Conventional Medical mistakes (http://www.mercola.com/2005/aug/13/toxic_drugs.htm and http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2004/mar2004_awsi_death_02.ht m).
Daniel had a terrible septic infection once… and I’m afraid to say that if we had gone to the hospital he might not be alive today.
EL: Shana had a bad infection also.
EL: Let me tell this, Shana; people will find it interesting! So, after a routine dental appointment for a cleaning, a week later, Shana came down with the “flu”, so we thought. And after a week and a half of it not resolving, and after many remedies that started to work and then failed, I began to get suspicious! I looked back–here comes that word “etiology” again!–and I remembered, “Oh my God, the dentist! She’s got a bacterial infection that’s gone systemic!” I gave her an auto-nosode and it saved her life. In less than a day she was back up, out of bed. It was amazing considering she was mostly bed-ridden for a week and a half and had lost so much weight I could feel the bones in her back and shoulders.
MC: Did you try Crotalus horridus?
EL: I really don’t remember. I prescribed Pyrogen for the bad odors, Gelsemium for the constant sleeping…there was no remedy that seemed to fit the whole picture–another big red flag for a nosode.
MC: Crotalus is a specific for septic conditions as a result of injection after the dentist…
EL: She didn’t have an injection, but, go ahead…
MC: …so, the site of the injection, and the gums all around are painful, swollen, and it spreads. When I had it one time, and I took obvious acute remedies and they didn’t work, I went back to the dentist and I opened my mouth and he looked in it and he took a step back. That’s always scary. I think, like you thought, which I agree with, that if I’ve given a remedy on the unusual symptoms and it hasn’t worked, then I’m going to go to the nosode for that complaint. In the case of septicemia, the nosode is Pyrogen. But you did try that.
EL: Miranda, your case is in my Isis program, allow me to quote from part of it:
I had had some extensive dental work, involving the removal of several amalgam fillings in one quadrant of my mouth, and the administration of local anaesthesia. The injection was unusually painful at the time the dentist did it. Afterwards the gum in the area of the site of the injection became inflamed and swollen, but I wasn’t worried as I expected it to settle down in a day or two. It didn’t. The whole gum became spongy, mottled and bluish, it bled easily and was extremely painful, specifically to touch, and I couldn’t chew on that side either. I was scared and went back to my dentist, who, on looking in my mouth, took two steps backwards and said that he thought I had a systemic infection. He looked extremely worried and said that I had to go and see my doctor, immediately. He said he didn’t think it was anything to do with him, and that I needed antibiotics urgently. I went home, rather angry now, as it was my perception that my dentist was not willing to take any responsibility for my state. I was in a great deal of pain, and was trying hard not to become alarmed about my physical condition.
I repertorized Gums painful, swollen, inflamed, bleeding easily. Skin mottled. Then I considered the aetiology and looked to Wounds in Generalities. There I found a sub-rubric Wounds; injection, from painful. This described the injury perfectly. I added it and Crotalus horridus sprang to the front. I went to my Materia Medicas and confirmed that it was the simillimum. I did feel increasingly septic, and locally, (rather than “systemically”-!) infected. I took Crotalus horridus 30, one tablet every 4 hours or so, for four doses, and the next day my gums were as good as new. And I felt marvellous. Partly, I suspect, because I had avoided further invasive medical treatment, and because it is always satisfying to experience homeopathy triumphing in the face of a skeptical and frightened medic. My dentist called the next day to find out whether I had gone to the doctor and taken the antibiotics. He was literally speechless when I said that I was quite recovered with only the very smallest of interventions… .
EL: I’m shocked that the dentist didn’t think this septic state had anything to do with him! However, I don’t know why I’m shocked, because the same thing happened to me! A very painful injection at my dental appointment, into the roof of my mouth–the worst! And when the novacaine wore off, that injection site NEVER stopped hurting! It made no sense to me! I couldn’t believe that Arnica wasn’t working, Ledum wasn’t working, Calendula wasn’t working, Hypericum wasn’t working! So, I went back to the dentist the next day and asked what was going on with the roof of my mouth; and he said, “Shingles”! I had never had shingles in my life! I was shocked! And to have it in my mouth? Mama mia! I couldn’t believe he charged me for the visit and, apparently, didn’t think it had anything to do with him! Well, again, thank God for homeopathy–Nat-mur. 30C, one of our best herpes remedies, made significant improvement overnight, and in less than a week, my mouth was totally back to normal! Shingles is a condition that can last for weeks–even forever! I haven’t been back to that dentist since. So, what were we just saying a minute ago about iatrogenic illness country-wide? Half a million cases a year? Look how close you, Shana, and I came to being part of that statistic! You see how easy it is? The medical system is a mine field! Three innocent trips to the dentist ending in near-devastation–were it not for homeopathy.
MC: That’s a great story.
EL: What are you working on now?
MC: I’ve got my homeopathic software program that I’ve finished and am going to make available to the community very soon. It’s called “Compass”. It’s a practice management program that I’ve been using in my own office for ten years, I talked about it at the beginning of our interview. Other homeopaths started seeing it about five years ago and even though it was something I did for myself, they wanted it too! So, with their feedback and special requests it’s become this huge, beautiful, amazing thing that saves me hours and hours of time everyday. I just love it, so that’s my next offering and like I said, I do my audits out of it. It’s got a calendar in it. I can send letters and emails. I type all my case notes straight in there. I just love this world that I live in where I have a thousand homeopathic books and cases here, millions of words, all in this stupid little laptop! Thousands of patient charts as well, and everything is password protected. You can check it out here! http://www.compass4us.com/
EL: Miranda, do you have time for one last question?
MC: Hopefully this will be as easy and irresistible as possible for me!
EL: Easy? Not a problem! After all, I am a professional. Now let’s see….I should be able to come up with something….hmm…..a question…don’t tell me, don’t tell me….. The closing question is very important– your last chance to make a good impression. OK, I’ve got one! Ahem! Where do you stand on the coming war with Iran? Oh, wait, that question was for Hillary Clinton. How’s this: Who are you?
SL: Mom, we covered that in the beginning, you’re reading your notes backwards!
EL: I knew that! And who are you?
SL: I’m Shana, your daughter!
EL: And you’re related to me… how?
SL: Mom, why don’t you just wrap it up?
EL: Yes, good idea. I’ll ask the last question some other time. So ladies and gentlemen, let’s hear it for our very own Miranda Castro!!!!!!
Miranda Castro – Homeopathic Educator
Mailing: 4474 NW 1st Avenue, Gainesville, FL32607
Office: 1801 NW 11th Road, Gainesville, FL32605