Lauren Fox, FNP-BC, CCH is a classical homeopath, educator with 40 years of experience in private practice, as well as primary care in an integrative medical practice in the US and in Haiti. She is a graduate of New England Deaconess School of Nursing, Boston College, and Northeastern University. Lauren has over 20 years of attending women during their pregnancy, delivery and postpartum period. She is currently the Educator and Clinical Director for Homeopaths Without Borders and has developed two curricula for the organization. https://laurenfoxfnp.com/about-lauren-fox
In 1981, Lauren Fox was a Family Nurse Practitioner with a young family. Her infant son came down with an acute flu and was vomiting. Aware of the risk of dehydration, Lauren was breastfeeding the baby frequently and hoping to avoid a visit to the local hospital ER.
As the worrisome hours passed, she remembered a local nurse who led a study group in alternative medicine. Lauren called her and was quickly aided by the nurse who brought her a homeopathic remedy with instructions. Within 15 minutes, the baby was sitting up and playing. Within a few hours, he was well. Lauren got hooked on homeopathy that day.
“I was amazed at how quickly it worked, how easily my son got better. Of course, I wanted to know more. Homeopathic schools were not available in those early days, so I read books. I completed the NCH Summer School program in 1984 and found mentors within the homeopathic practitioner community to teach me, including Dick Moskowitz, Nancy White and Ananda Zaren,” Lauren said as she described her early training.
She joined the American Institute of Homeopathy and passed the national board exam from the Council for Homeopathic Certification receiving her CCH credential. Lauren built a successful solo practice in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Eventually, she transitioned into a practice with two integrative physicians in Western Massachusetts who also used homeopathy. Together they provided high quality medical care using homeopathy with thousands of clients for more than a decade.
In a 40-year career, Lauren developed solid clinical criteria for what works
As the years passed, Lauren continued to develop her skills. She studied current homeopathic journals and read new materia medica texts when she was not busy with her patients and her children. Incorporating various approaches in her clinical work, Lauren always focused on good quality outcomes for her clients.
What was useful and effective was retained; what did not generate good outcomes was jettisoned. She participated in conferences around the country; her cases and comments appear in the conference proceedings of the International Foundation for Homeopathy. Lauren taught at NCH seminar sessions. She helped to establish the Homeopathic Nurses Association.
Seeing the need to help women have healthy pregnancies and births, Lauren added midwifery to her skills, providing homeopathic care for women before, during and after the birth of their babies. In 2012, she built a program to teach homeopathy to childbirth attendants in Haiti; she wrote a textbook for them as part of her work as Education and Clinical Director for Homeopaths Without Borders (NA). Lauren is characteristically humble about her accomplishments and contributions.
Case-based training in Polarity Analysis
As the pandemic was settling in during the summer of 2020, and virtual platforms were coming into widespread use, Lauren was invited by the Homeopathic Nurses Association to audit an online training series in Polarity Analysis taught by Tim Shannon, ND, DHANP.
The class curriculum assumed that the student already understood homeopathy. The training presented the research and methodology from Boenninghausen’s early work, further refined by Swiss pediatrician Heiner Frei in his Polarity Analysis text. This was expanded with many case examples from Tim’s own practice and live clinic sessions. The majority of the course time for Lauren was spent observing case taking and case management using Polarity Analysis.
Lauren explained, “It is one thing to have someone lay out a concept, and so different when you see it implemented. As soon as I saw the cases being taken, I knew this was an approach that made sense to me. I began using it after the first few weeks of the 3-month course.”
In Polarity Analysis case taking, the focus shifted from the patient’s ‘persona’ report to the assessment of the entire ‘organism’. Much of contemporary homeopathy emphasizes the interior experience of the person with marked attention to the mental and emotional state.
Polarity Analysis emphasizes the reliable indicators of the state that are present in symptoms that have two poles: better from heat or worse from heat, better from open air or worse from open air, increased or decreased sensitivity to light or sound. These do not depend on practitioner interpretation, and they are not difficult to determine or discuss. They are not symptoms that a patient would be likely to avoid or misconstrue because of shame or guilt or any other emotion. These data points are different from those that many homeopaths have been taught to use.
“In the case examples, I became aware of how much reliable data I had never considered! Patients had clear symptoms like better or worse from hot or cold, sitting or standing, eating or not eating, stormy weather or bright light. Boenninghausen had identified these data points that are unambiguous, not subject to interpretation by the practitioner.
Our patients do not know what information we need in order to select an accurate homeopathic medicine for them. We have to ask. And there was so much I had not been asking! This was an eye opener for me,” she continued.
Lauren noted Boenninghausen’s focus was on the organism’s ‘dis-ease’ presentation
Boenninghausen (b.1785-d.1864) brought a fundamentally well structured, holistic and pre-Freudian view to homeopathy. He was born into a prosperous and titled Dutch family, benefitted by the maturing Age of Enlightenment which valued reason and rigorous scientific discourse.
He studied law, and became an auditor, General Secretary of taxes, and Royal Librarian for Holland’s king. After his father died in 1812, Boenninghausen returned to the family home and devoted himself to the study of agriculture and botany. He wrote articles and published a book on the flora of the Prussian Rhineland and Westphalia regions.
In 1827, Boenninghausen became ill with tuberculosis, and was so near death that he wrote farewell letters to family and friends. One of these letters went to a botanist colleague, Carl Weihe, who was the first homeopathic physician in Rhineland and Westphalia. Weihe wrote back requesting details of Boenninghausen’s symptoms, and with those he selected Pulsatilla, which was curative.
Boenninghausen lived on to become a diligent student of Hahnemann. His prior life experience in legal definition and precedent, tax structures and records, library and archive organization, botanical observation and taxonomy were now applied to the study of homeopathy. He was uniquely equipped to consider large amounts of data and create structure that allowed access to what was important.
Although Boenninghausen did not attend medical school, Frederick William IV, King of Prussia, decreed his authority to practice as a physician in 1843. Boenninghausen became Hahnemann’s closest ally and took on the task to systematize materia medica. All of this was built into his repertory, The Therapeutic Pocketbook, first published in 1846, which Hahnemann himself preferred to use.
Boenninghausen practiced in the Westphalia city of Munster, seeing patients from 9am to 2pm daily, until his death in 1864. He continued to refine his data. Almost all of his homeopathic writing focuses on the importance of identification of each remedy’s chief characteristics, so that they can be understood and used by practitioners.
Boenninghausen’s recognition of “Polar” Symptoms
In his writings and his case books, Boenninghausen prioritized polar symptoms. He noted that certain symptoms have opposites: better or worse from some condition or modifier. The materia medica often showed that both poles were present, but one was almost always much stronger than the other.
For example, Bryonia is well known for the indication ‘worse from motion’, but also has some proving and clinical symptoms that clearly showed ‘better from motion’. For a client who had the ‘better from motion’ end of the polarity appearing in his symptom picture, Boenninghausen became convinced that Bryonia would never be curative. The weaker pole never won the day.
This observation became a focus and the subject of decades of work by Heiner Frei. Through repeated review of successful and unsuccessful cases, he and his colleagues identified which were the most reliable indicators in the Therapeutic Pocketbook, and which were more likely to throw the case toward an unworkable choice.
In many iterations of this refinement process, Frei identified the most reliable symptom indicators for success. He eventually designed a software tool that highlighted the strong and weak polarities that Boenninghausen emphasized. This is the unique advantage of the method, and why it is named Polarity Analysis.
“Once I understood the importance of finding and using the reliable, unambiguous data points, my case taking changed. Using the Polarity Analysis software highlighted the symptoms and materia medica options that Boenninghausen and Frei had proven to be more likely and less likely. My job got easier,” Lauren observed.
To demonstrate her experience, Lauren shared two cases that are presented here. One is a simple acute case of heartburn, and the other is a very longstanding and intractable case of psoriasis. These show her use of Polarity Analysis and the results that her patients have had with it.
An acute case of heartburn in pregnancy in a 32 yo female
The patient was early in her third pregnancy, at a gestational age of six weeks. She began experiencing severe heartburn. She described her discomfort as strong heat and burning that was relentless. She felt the pain along the esophagus, behind the sternum. Fluid with an acidic taste regurgitated into her mouth.
The symptoms were worse when she had not eaten; after food, the discomfort lessened. A heating pad applied locally to the sternum, firm pressure, and rubbing the area all brought relief. Deep inhalation worsened the pain, as did talking and anything cold (weather, food or drink, etc).
When the heartburn was troubling her, she had a strong desire for open air, and felt better when she could breathe fresh air from an open window; a closed room felt stuffy and made her more uncomfortable.
Using these symptoms, Lauren created a chart (See diagram 1) using the Polarity Analysis software designed by Heiner Frei. The columns with gray shading were those with contra-indications. According to Boenninghausen, these remedies would not bring a good result, because the patient’s reported symptom aligned with the weak side of the pole, less strongly represented in the materia medica.
These were dismissed from consideration. The unshaded columns with the highest polarity scores showed consideration of Alumina, Arnica and Ammonium carb. Interestingly, none of these medicines are well known for heartburn. When Lauren reviewed materia medica for Alumina, the symptoms of heartburn with retrosternal burning and regurgitation were well documented. Materia medica confirmation and a high polarity suggested that this was the best indicated choice.
The patient was given Alumina 30c to be taken in water. Within 24 hours she had definite improvement, and all symptoms were gone within a few days. A few months later, at 5 months gestation, the patient began to wake in the night with acid in her throat, and the burning discomfort returned. Lauren relied on the same medicine that had helped before. The patient took Alumina 200c, and symptoms were promptly relieved and did not return during or after her pregnancy.
A chronic case of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis in a 73 yo female
This patient was referred to Lauren in January 2021 by a local acupuncturist. The woman presented with a diagnosis of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis pain in her knees and ankles, which impaired her mobility to a significant degree. Her scalp, elbows, knees were covered with large thickened patches, and her torso had many scattered plaques.
Her chief complaints were insomnia, itching and joint pain. She was very talkative, describing her 25-year history of psoriasis which had come on after a major life change when she moved from California to Maine.
She related a difficult period in her late teens; as a 19-year-old she had a psychotic break and was treated with Thorazine. Her family history included the mental illness of a brother who was manic depressive and committed suicide when the patient was 32 years old. A close friend also committed suicide that year. This aggravated her lifelong anxiety.
The patient had been diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) which was monitored and under treatment with infrequent blood infusions. She described her greatest discomfort as pronounced internal heat from the psoriasis, a burning felt inside. The continual heat and burning brought on remarkable irritability, which was observable in the consultation. The itching of her skin bothered her both day and night.
Sleep had always been difficult and was now made worse by both the heat and itching of the skin which flared up when she lay down in bed. Her hunger increased at night which drove her to get out of bed most nights to eat. She woke at least hourly, with very fractured sleep.
Her knee and ankle joints were very painful when she got up. The psoriatic plaques on her elbows and knees felt better when they were covered, and from gentle rubbing. Her skin eruptions and joint pain were improved with cold.
She expressed her great sadness and discouragement about these complaints. Because of the severity of the weight bearing pain on her knees and ankles, she spent most of her time sitting. She dreaded getting up. She was not able to complete simple tasks like preparing food or cleaning the home, and this placed a burden on her partner.
Based on the patient’s report, Lauren repertorized her symptoms (See diagram 2) using the Polarity Analysis software. Again, white columns represent viable options, and gray shaded columns are those with contra-indications which were dismissed. The three medicines with the strongest polarity were Chamomilla, Magnetis polus arcticus and Graphites.
In her differential for these three remedies, Chamomilla seemed less well justified in the skin and joint pain, without reference to formation of plaques or thickened patches on the skin. Graphites was a likely consideration, known for use in stubborn psoriasis, and confirmed in joint pain. “Voracious hunger” was well documented. Notably, Graphites is not present in the rubric for amelioration from rubbing; Magnetis polus arctus is the only one of the three that captures this aspect of the patient’s picture. With this unfamiliar remedy, Lauren explored the materia medica.
Lauren found in the materia medica for Magnetis polus arcticus:
- “Smarting itching of the hairy scalp” (Allen)
- “Burning sensation or burning tearing in tetters (an archaic medical term for skin eruption)” (Murphy)
- “He frequently wakes in the night with a burning heat… Warmth in the night… Frequent waking” (Allen)
- “Greedy appetite…” (Allen)
- “Indolence when seated, as if power of moving were lost” (Clarke)
- “Ravenous hunger in the evening” (Hahnemann)
Prior to studying Polarity Analysis, a remedy like Magnetis polus arcticus certainly would not have come forward! This is one of the advantages Lauren reports in using this method; she is learning materia medica in a different way with new presentations of well-known remedies, and through the appearance of unfamiliar remedies that now come up in her case work.
After some deliberation, Lauren gave the patient a vial of Magnetis polus arctus 30c, with instructions to take a dose twice weekly. At the 3 week follow up, the client said, “Almost immediately there was no question that it was working. Before taking this medicine, I felt that I was on fire 100% of the time with the skin itching and joint pain.
It was 50% improved by the second dose. Now I am able to get up and move around more. I can cook a meal. I am sleeping for longer stretches now, sometimes up to 3 hours without waking. My energy has improved, and I feel better.”
At another follow-up in March 2021, the patient was continuing to improve steadily. Lauren advised her to begin dosing on alternate days, taking the remedy in water.
In April 2021, the client reported that she was discouraged. Her improvement, though remarkable, had plateaued. Overall, she still had less pain, less itching, better sleep, and less anxiety, but she was not seeing the rapid improvements of the prior two months. Lauren asked her to begin taking a daily dose of the remedy in water, and also gave her a vial of Magnetis polus arcticus 200c to hold.
In June 2021, she reported another big improvement. She had visited her physician who monitored her CLL and she had a blood infusion in May. After that, she had decided to take a dose of the Magnetis 200c on her own, and reported, “It really helped me. I feel much better, body-centered, with a further improvement in my symptoms.”
Over the summer of 2021, she reported that her sleep was “fantastic, through the night”, the psoriasis skin eruptions were 98% gone, and her psoriatic arthritic pain had completely resolved. She noted that her energy was very good, rating it an 8 on a scale of 1-10. This is a remarkable response over 6 months for a complaint of 25 years standing. Lauren plans to continue to follow this patient and see what else unfolds for her health!
“I learn from cases and clients”
In summary, Lauren related the contribution that Boenninghausen, Frei, and Polarity Analysis have made to her practice, and for her clients:
“It has been over a year since I started that course in Polarity Analysis, and I use it now with all of my clients. I was already getting reliable results, but now they are even better, quicker. I have learned to trust this approach. I spend less time researching materia medica in differentials because of the way that Polarity Analysis rules out remedies that are contraindicated. I am confidently able to use unfamiliar remedies that I would never have come to in any other analysis approach, like the Magnetis polus arcticus for the woman with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.”
“At first, I was not sure how my long-term clients would feel about this somewhat different style of inquiry, and my use of the computer for the Polarity Analysis software during our consultations. I was relieved to find that it has not been a problem at all. Heiner Frei has worked for more than a decade to refine and research and publish and teach Polarity Analysis. This approach is worthy of attention. I am so glad I studied it!”
Lauren Fox FNP, BC, CCH practices in Massachusetts and in Maine. You can learn more about her through her website: https://laurenfoxfnp.com/
Karen Allen CCH directs the Trinity Health Hub, a virtual resource for homeopaths around the world. You can learn more about her at www.trinityhealthhub.com
Heiner Frei MD‘s website for Polarity Analysis, including his research studies, is: http://www.heinerfrei.ch/
More about the Polarity Analysis 3-month course can be found at: https://polarityanalysis.com/