Author: Dr. Farokh Master, MD, PhD.
Publisher: B. Jain publishers, India.
First edition 2019, 938 pages, hardcover
Reviewer: Vatsala Sperling, PhD, PDHom, CCH, RSHom
For those familiar with Dr. Farokh Maser’s work on cancer and also those who would like to educate themselves at a deeper level, “Healing cancer: A homeopathic approach” volume I and II are a much awaited gift in which Dr. Master has condensed four decades of his experience in approaching patients with cancer. He had observed the impact of his work in helping improve the outcome of conventional cancer treatment. Dr. Master writes, “Most of the research is performed to find a chemotherapeutic substance that is cytotoxic to cancer cells. However, experience has shown that these drugs are toxic to the normal cells as well. Therefore, a philosophical change of approach to cancer research is needed so that the concept of holism is accepted…” These words give an indication of what to expect from the two volumes.
The paradigm of tackling cancer with a view to waging a war and defeating the enemy is gradually being replaced by a holistic, integrated style of treating the disease. This movement is essentially driven by the consumers (patients). In the the United States, use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has been steadily increasing and though only 25% of cancer patients in the 1970s used CAM, this number increased to more than 32% in the 1990s and 49% after 2000. An MSNBC report suggests that in 2018, about 88% of cancer patients had used some form of CAM. Complementary therapies like herbal medicine, nutritional supplementation, Ayurveda, yoga, meditation, naturopathy, unani, siddha and homeopathy, all find a place in the therapeutic quilt that comforts the cancer patient. With this sea-change in the scenario of cancer treatment, Dr. Master’s books (volume I and II) find a place of honor in the book shelf of anyone who deals with cancer patients.
In volume I, Dr. Master introduces the readers to cancer and describes the etiology of this disease. He shows how carcinogens, predisposing factors, and host factors all come together in eliciting a disease state.
The chapter on pathophysiology of cancer goes into the role of hormones, digestion, and glucose and insulin overload in making the body prone to cancer. This chapter comes with a tip on how to support a healthy immune system so that it can identify and eliminate malignant cells. For this purpose, a list of immune enhancing nutritional supplements, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances is given. Another list tells us how to use supplements for reversing insulin resistance and supporting proper digestion. These approaches help prevent cancer.
Next, Dr. Master describes various types of cancers and for each of them, he gives etiology, risk factors, screening, signs and symptoms, diagnosis, physical exam, investigations, staging and treatment procedures. In addition, he includes supplements that help the body in dealing with each type of cancer. By the end of this chapter, the reader will have a fairly good idea about various types of cancers.
Various conventional treatments of cancers are described in a brief manner befitting a book that aims to bring out a holistic model of cancer treatment. Complementary treatments of cancer include use of oxygen, hydrogen peroxide, ozone, and also Iscador (mistletoe preparation). These interventions are widely used by alternative-minded cancer patients because they find these approaches useful while dealing with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and hormone treatments. These alternative modalities help them to increase appetite, gain weight, sleep better, improve mood, enhance elimination and reduce pain as well as exhaustion. Now, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicines is recognizing these alternative modalities adopted by cancer patients for managing the side effects of conventional treatments.
An exhaustive list of what cancer patients can do to prevent recurrence of cancer includes detoxification, restoration of depleted nutrients, herbs that help with these processes. Even Hoxsey therapy is mentioned (Hoxsey treatment was outlawed in the USA during the 1960s). Though herbs are useful generally, Dr. Master cautions about their indiscreet usage because some of them do interfere with the conventional treatment.
Dr. Master writes about carcinogens present in our environment, foods, personal care products, pesticides etc, and mentions how these ubiquitous chemicals eventually find their way into our bodies and prepare a fertile ground for development of cancer. For prevention purposes, he advises exercise, proper diet, mental attitude and disposition that would help in keeping the disease at bay.
A disease as immense as cancer cannot be without impact on family and social circles. For addressing these issues, Dr. Master has devoted a brief chapter and written about how to share the diagnosis, cope with family and friend’s reaction and reduce stress so that each day can be lived well despite of the diagnosis and poor prognosis.
Volume I ends with a compilation of some of the published works of Dr. Master as well as other practitioners.
At 460 pages, volume II begins with a description of the cancer archetype and is followed by how to identify the cancer miasm. Further on, the volume is dedicated to constitutional homeopathic remedies (18), lesser known remedies (51) and Indian drugs (74). I am not be sure if Indian drugs can only be found in India or if they are available globally. The materia médica includes various symptoms that the remedies can address, and the potency in which they are prescribed in his practice. Under homeopathic therapeutics of cancer, he has also given a list of all the remedies that he has personally found useful for his patients. Using the repertories of Kent, Boger and Boeninghausen, Boericke and Phatak, as well as the Synthetic Repertory, Dr. Master has extracted rubrics that cover malignancies as well as burns and scalds from radiation.
Non pharmacological management of cancer is a very interesting chapter as it summarizes Dr. Master’s entire approach to dealing with cancer patients. He mentions the Organon, where Hahnemann has written, “He, (the physician) is at the same time a preserver of health when he knows the causes that disturb health, that produce and maintain disease, and when he knows how to remove them from the healthy person.” Dr. Master refers to this aphorism as a touchstone for his style of managing cancer cases. He emphasizes that the homeopath must know the essential generals with respect to the patient’s environment and lifestyle as well as acquire a deep understanding of his unique personality, and his mental and emotional expressions. He advises that the patient must be counseled with regards to lifestyle, diet, habits, and attitudes that might interfere with treatment. These issues, when not addressed, present obstacles to cure and with a little effort by a holistically minded homeopath to educate his patients, such obstacles to cure can be removed.
In the section about nutrition, he has given elaborate do’s and don’ts about food intake that will help the cancer patient survive the disease and thereafter live in a healthy manner in which he or she can incorporate exercise, massage, as well as meditation and spirituality.
In the section about general management of side effects of cancer treatment, Dr. Master has presented over 344 tips from his practice and these are derived from the ancient folk wisdom from India and other countries.
I personally found that the two volumes of this book are satisfying to the core and leave nothing else to be desired, except a through indexing and a more exhaustive bibliography. Absence of the former and paucity of the latter do not detract from the content of the book, which turns out to be very, very rich and detailed. In fact, these two volumes by Dr. Master have addressed the disease of the century, cancer, from every angle possible and he has distilled the wisdom derived from over four decades of working hands on with cancer and presented to us in a style that works very well. He also cautions us, for medical as well as legal reasons, to not use only homeopathy for treating cancer. He emphasizes the role of treating cancer aggressively with conventional medicine. Then he advises the use of a full array of complementary and alternative medicines including homeopathy and also guides the reader in understanding the mind – body connection. After all, a disease as serious and pervasive as cancer must be handled smartly if humankind has to survive it and these two volumes that present to us the expertise, experience and wisdom of Dr. Farokh Master, show that such a feat can be accomplished if we set our intention to do so. This is a must have reference book for all homeopaths and alternative / complementary medicine practitioners.