Hi Dr. Barvalia!
Its been a long while and I’ve wanted to do this interview for over a year. I’m glad we’ve finally got you into the May issue this year.
Could you tell us a little more about yourself and your professional experience?
Dr. Barvalia: I am married to lovely Dr. Alka Barvalia, who is also a practicing homeopath and Yoga therapist. She is my strongest support and inspiration. I have two beautiful children, Prachi, 15 years and Maunish, 11 years.
I completed my DHMS (Diploma in Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery) first on the honours list, from Anand in Gujarat in June 1981. I started my private practice while also working with Dhawle’s Institute of Clinical Research. Then from 1988 I was Lecturer in Organon and Philosophy at the Homeopathic Medical College in Mumbai. Subsequently in January 2003, I moved to The University of Mumbai as Professor of Pediatrics (Homeopathy). Along with this, I’ve been appointed Examiner for Homeopathy for Final Examinations at various Universities in different States, and Resource Person for various Training Programmes, including the Post Graduate MD Degree Programme in Beed and Utkal Universities. I completed my MD through this programme in 2004 from Beed.
My main interest has always been Clinical Research. Its the only way we can document and validate the scope of homeopathy and prove its effectiveness. We completed two successful clinical research programmes in Thyroid Disorders and Haematological Disorders, in association with Dhawle’s ICR, Mumbai. Since then I’ve been totally involved with the MB Barvalia Foundation besides my Private Practice, as you will hear about later.
I remember your lectures in Organon and Philosophy during our 3rd year of medical college. They were tremendously inspiring and your vision introduced us to the wonderful scope of homeopathic treatment in serious cases if we developed a strong philosophical and conceptual base with our understanding of homeopathic principles.
Now I see that same vision expressed in the wonderful work you are doing for Children with Development disorders such as Autism and Learning Disabilities. Please tell us a little more about the work you are involved in right now.
Dr. Barvalia: We established the “MB Barvalia Foundation” more than 7 years back for Holistic Health and Value Based Education. Our aim was to be able to provide holistic care to these children through the Art and Science of homeopathy, with homeopathic therapeutics being central to their treatment process. There was no such center available where integrated facilities were available for children with these type of problems in Mumbai. So it was a vacuum waiting to be filled!
Under the the auspices of this trust we started the “Spandan Holistic Child Care Center” on the 12th of July 1998.
What does “Spandan” mean?
Dr. Barvalia: Spandan is a Sanskrit word for Vibration. Spandan focuses on application of vibrant and holistic homeopathy in its clinical services. Swami Vivekananda had spoken about the divine potential resident in each individual. He taught us about education as the manifestation of perfection resident in each man. One has to strive to explore this divine potential. Society should create a conducive environment so that each individual can realize this potential. This is possible if we impart holistic care.
The integration of sensory processes is crucial for the healthy development of the process of learning right from infancy. Faulty integration gives rise to a number of anomalies that contribute to the development of various learning as well as developmental and behavioral disorders. Thus, it is essential to restore the correct sensation first, to deal with these disorders. Our institute skillfully utilizes Homeopathy, Yoga and Sensory Integrative Therapy for this purpose. Vibrations are used for healing, vibrations are created to receive pathos and a positive sense of vibration is restored to travel from disorder to order. The word “SPANDAN’ symbolizes this entire process.
Please tell us a little more about Spandan and what treatment approach you have evolved through this center.
Dr. Barvalia: The Center provides an integrated treatment approach for these children which has been evolved over the last 7 years. We work with cases like Autism, Learning Disabilities, and also cater to the holistic treatment of children suffering from Cerebral Palsy, Poliomyelitis, Muscular Dystrophy, Myopathies, Spina Bifida, Congenital and Development Defects.
A competent multidisciplinary team of Homeopaths, Neurologists, Clinical Psychologists, Special Educators, Physiotherapists, Counselors, Pediatricians, Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeons, Psychiatrists Occupational therapists, Speech therapists, Social Workers and Yoga Therapists form the basis of integrated care.
What are the other activities that Spandan is involved in?
Dr. Barvalia: Spandan has forayed into the entire spectrum of integrated care for these Differently-Abled children. These include among other activities:
1. Clinical Center for Children with Disability
2. A ‘Special School’ based on a strong philosophical foundation of a Holistic-Psycho Educational Approach which we have termed : SYMPHONY.
This includes an advanced school for Autism, Special School for slow learners, and special programmes for children with Mental Retardation.
3. A Comprehensive Neuro-Muscular Rehabilitation Unit for children with Neuromuscular Disorders mentioned above.
4. Remedial Therapy Center for children with Learning Disabilities.
5. Holistic Intervention for Adolescents (diagnosed with Depression, OBC’s, Psychosis, Schizophrenia, etc).
6. Free Screening Camps organized to have an early diagnosis, and intervention in children with Developmental Disorders.
Do you have some way that other professionals and homeopaths interested in learning more about this system of integrated care could have good training?
Dr. Barvalia: Yes, Spandan has also set up the Holistic Institute of Applied Homeopathy. This is a foundation that provides advanced Homeopathic education to Interns, Homeopathic Graduates and Post Graduates. Experienced homeopathic practitioners as well as allied professionals are also welcome to attend this course. I also invite homeopaths from all over the world to come to our center and experience first hand this Integrated Clinical Set-up. We have evolved a well structured “Fellowship Programme“, with teaching in the field of Developmental Disabilities, as well as HIV AIDS.
You have also been working on HIV-AIDS?
Dr. Barvalia: Yes, it is another important activity of Spandan, the “Holistic Homeopathic Harmonious Humane Touch to Persons with HIV/AIDS.” This project has been doing wonderful work over the last 3 years in certain chosen, high risk areas in Mumbai. We have a Mobile Van Project, supported and sponsored by MDACS (Mumbai District Aids Control Society) that reaches out to these people within their locality with homeopathic treatment as well as counseling services.
At the Holistic Health Center, HIV positive patients have the opportunity to receive homeopathic therapeutics as well as periodic clinical and laboratory evaluation with KEM hospital, Mumbai. This project is in the process of developing reliable research data for the evaluation of homeopathic treatment in HIV/AIDS with good protocols supported by laboratory evaluation.
What about the Mobile Van Project?
Dr. Barvalia: The Mobile Van Project does more than reach out to people with HIV/AIDS. It is a fully equipped Van with consultation rooms and a homeopathic medicine dispensing unit, as well as Social Workers and Counselors. Here we are able to provide this high quality, all round care for the most underprivileged in the poverty areas, those who may never have this opportunity in big hospitals. Besides providing homeopathic treatment, people are educated about homeopathy, hygiene and health especially related to HIV AIDS.
Also the Child Care team is able to identify and carry out early intervention in children in these areas with developmental disabilities.
All the specialists (MD’s and Therapists) in our multidisciplinary team providing allied treatments are very dedicated to our homeopathic approach!
This is wonderful Dr. Barvalia. Spandan has grown in leaps and bounds, and has achieved so much in just 7 years! What we’re all waiting to hear is about your approach and success with Autism and the Autistic Spectrum of Development Disability. Please tell us more about how you have approached the care of these children with integrated homeopathic care.
Dr. Barvalia: Yes, our breakthrough at this center has been with AUTISM. Over these 7 years time period, we have done a detailed analysis of about 150 cases. Of these 78 were Autistic, 72 had Learning Disabilities. Our results of 75% of these cases, after 6 months of integrated care, showed a fabulous response:
60% regained their speech
50% were rehabilitated into mainstream schooling
Those diagnosed with CARS (Childhood Autism Rating Scale):
Mild CARS had a phenomenal cure rate, while those with moderate CARS showed substantial and significant improvement.
What motivated you towards working with this group of children and setting up this Foundation?
Dr. Barvalia: As a homeopath, one sees a lot of children, since parents tend to prefer homeopathy for their children. Homeopathy can impact all types of disorders in children. Our case history-taking is such that we are involved with the depth of family dynamics and family relationships. We are aware of various details about the family and know a great deal about their problems.
Around 1991-1992, I had a few patients who were Autistic or had learning disabilities and I found that our remedies had an impact on their behavior and emotions, but their learning problems had only partial improvement.
One of my own patients under my treatment was an Occupational Therapist and Remedial teacher. I decided to refer a few of these cases to him for therapy while I continued to treat them with the indicated homeopathic similimum. I found that though these cases had improved a lot with the remedy they were on, there was phenomenal improvement once they started on occupational therapy in addition.
That’s very interesting; so, you’re saying homeopathy alone is not enough.
Dr. Barvalia: That’s right. It is what I realized at that point. The pivotal case, that actually motivated me to seriously focus on this integrated holistic Child Care Center, was that of a 9 year old little girl, Ruchi. She was a clumsy, awkward little girl. Her chief complaint was that she had been making spelling mistakes while writing from the blackboard in school. She was already on homeopathic treatment with another homeopath who was giving her Natrum Mur. But she was not doing well and so he referred her to me. She did have some typical features of Natrum Mur. She was very sensitive, resentful and quite impatient. She felt low about herself and would withdraw into herself because of this. She was very irritable. When I saw her, she said she had no interest in studies. She made mistakes while copying from the blackboard, and wrote b instead of d. Most importantly, she would leave out the last letter while writing. She also had a recurrent pharyngitis, felt very inferior to her classmates and said she dreamt of snakes.
The totality that emerged from this information’s was:
Dreams of snakes
Mistakes while writing: reversals, Omission of the last letter.
She was given Lac Caninum, after which she improved substantially in her writing. There was scholastic improvement in general and her spellings improved at least 50%. Her language structure though remained weak, but her behaviour improved very much. After this, they did not continue with regular treatment.
One day I was called for a home visit; it was the grandmother of this child who was bedridden. While I was there taking the grandmother’s case history, I witnessed something very significant.
I heard Ruchi’s mother reminding her to finish doing her skipping and complete her exercises on the swing as she had not done so. I found this odd. I asked more details about this from her mother, who explained that these were exercises advised by the Occupational Therapist. Apparently, Ruchi had responded very well to the homeopathic treatment earlier but began to deteriorate again. They started her on occupational therapy that was tailored to her needs – skipping and exercises on the swing, and her response has been just as positive.
That’s amazing. Occupational Therapy helped some basic need in her?
Dr. Barvalia: Yes, I think that’s what it did. This child’s’ response to homeopathic treatment and occupational therapy set me thinking. On further reading about various facets of Autism and Learning Disabilities from books written by Jean Piaget, I drew the following conclusions:
- I realized there was a strong correlation, an interface, between the sensory integration developed by occupational therapy, and homeopathic treatment. Especially as this child’s positive response to both therapies was identical. Both these therapies, at some level of the child’s disturbed energy pattern, seemed to set things on the right course.
- I realized that if a remedy covered the entire pattern of the learning disorder in particular, then the remedy had a greater depth of similarity. For example in this case, specific to this child’s learning problem was the mistakes she made with spelling. Here she omitted the last letter of the word while writing.
The rubric is so specific in our Materia Medica, but nonetheless very accurate!
MIND; MISTAKES, makes; writing, in; omitting; letters; final letter: hyper., lac-c., meli.
- A learning or behavioral disorder is not a set of isolated expressions for a diagnosis. There exists a clear pattern of expressions that speak of a developmental learning problem in a child, eg: Awkward and clumsy; Banging the Head; Difficulty in Writing, etc. all form a pattern. This child would have a poor comprehension of orientation of space and his sense of direction would be poor. This would be something a child would develop in the formative years of ages 1-5.
Please tell us a little more about what help did you get by studying Jean Piaget’s observations on child development. Also how did you evolved the homeopathic approach and integrated treatment from this?
Dr. Barvalia: Jean Piaget was a great Scientist and Psychologist, who had done pioneering work in Child Development. From studying his work I learnt that Perception is the cognitive ability to receive and make sense of incoming stimuli. There is a relationship between Perception and physical movement, When a child traces a line, he alters movement and direction of his hand in response to feedback from visual information.
The basic motor skills a child learns are:
– Eye Hand Coordination
– Space Orientation
– A Sense of Direction
– Learning of these skills in their natural order of development
– This makes up the Motor Pattern
If there is faulty Integration of Sensory processes, it becomes an important factor in that child for causing as well as maintaining various learning disorders. These children then present with awkwardness, clumsy behaviour and hyperactivity.
We know that the homeopathic remedy plays a distinct role in these problems:
- The emotional state improves. Responses become more perceptive.
- There is a moderation in sensitivity/sensory disturbances. There is more control in involuntary movement as well as in motor coordination.
- Behavior can be modified. This includes disturbances like hyperactivity, impulsiveness, self injurious behavior, violence and destructiveness, etc.
- Organic diseases associated are also treated. These include helping to manage underlying and neurological and metabolic disturbances, etc.
So how did you combine correcting the faulty Integration of Sensory Processes together with homeopathy?
Dr. Barvalia: The Homeopathic Approach we have evolved, is an appreciation of all these factors of development for case analysis and management. What we evaluate after detailed case taking is:
- Identification of the Motor Pattern : If there are any gross or fine motor weaknesses causing problems with walking – such as banging into doors, or else other movements of coordination.
- Identification of the Sensory Pattern : What are the sensitivities to Sensory Input.
Shutting the ears at loud or sudden sounds.
Very sensitive to light.
Aggravated by touch or wanting to touch others all the time or kiss people all the time.
- The sensitivity patterns at the Personality Level
emotional state, resentful, affectionate.
- Observation of the evolving Ego/Super Ego/ Self esteem/ Self Worth.
Ego stems out of the concept of I : “What is my perception of myself?”. It may be either inflated or inferior when out of balance. We observe the peculiarity of this expression, whether it is functional or dysfunctional.
The expression of HYPERACTIVITY can be seen in 4 ways: Kinetic, Stereotype, Devious and Negativism. The Kinetic and Stereotype hyperactivity are Benign. The Devious and Negativism Hyperactivity are Destructive. This classification of the hyperactive expression points to different groups of remedies.
Experiences in the early formative years, interpersonal relationships with parents and peers form a background for the integrated totality. From this is derived a pattern that forms the basis for the dynamic portrait of the child indicating a homeopathic remedy.
Do you have a case for us to explain this?
One case I remember was of a little boy Abhishek – 7 years. His problems were a lack of concentration, poor writing ability, very poor scholastic performance, hyperactive and very restless which resulted in poor sleep pattern, impulsive and stubborn and wanting to be alone. Some other characteristics were that he passed stool in his pants, and he kept touching his genitals. Though initially his behaviour was good, after the birth of his brother (when he was 3.5 yrs), there was a significant worsening.
So this is a type of ‘devious’ hyperactivity?
Yes, Initially he was the first child in an extended/joint family set up. He was over-pampered. He was forced to drink milk when he wanted to drink water. He would often be suspicious that two people having a conversation were talking about him.
An analysis of this case showed that he was :
Had Fine Motor Weakness
Irritable with violent expression
This behavior further regressed into Involuntary Stool, and touching his genitals.
He was given Hyoscyamus along with other support from a remedial teacher and psychologist. Within 6-8 months he showed tremendous improvement. His scholastic performance improved and he obtained an 89% in his results! He was not stubborn or violent any more. His abnormal behavior responses stopped. He would realize his mistakes and would apologize for his behavior. He developed a skin eruption which passed off on its own. He became very curious and creative!
The power of our remedies is amazing in these chronic behavioral problems, when there seem to be no solution for these children.
Homeopathy truly has enormous potential when wisely used and cases are managed well.
We have seen today an increase in Autism related problems and Learning Disabilities. What has been your understanding of the possible causative factors in the cases you have treated?
Dr. Barvalia: Yes developmental disorders like Autistic Spectrum and learning disabilities seem to be more prevalent today. They typically appear during the first 3 years of life. There is a higher male incidence and the occurrence rate is 1:160.
The clues to observing this are problem with Social Interaction like: Poor eye contact, poor mixing with the peer group, lack of social or emotional reciprocity (wanting to be alone), lack of spontaneous need to share enjoyment and achievement, non responsive to verbal cues.
Then there are language problems and repetitive behavior patterns. Also they show various behavioral problems with a wide spectrum of expression in a variety of combinations and different degrees of severity. Traditional measures fail to offer effective solutions.
The causes have been various possible etiologies in these children:
1. Genetic Predisposition: More Specifically the Fragile X or strong history of ADHD and Autism
2. Viral Infections during Pregnancy like Rubella, or H/O Exanthemata suppressed
3. After Vaccinations
4. Separation from one parent or Psychic Trauma
5. Metabolic Diseases Galactosemia, Phenylketonuria, Hyperglycinemia, Urea Cycle disorders, etc.
What have been the clinical results? Tell us about the remedies that were indicated more often.
Dr. Barvalia: Our results with the multi-disciplinary approach at the Child Care center have been tremendously rewarding. Sensory Integration played an important part in improvement. Here the senses, the vestibular function, the proprioceptive activity, tactile and visual functions are enhanced with special exercises, etc.
75% of cases who continued treatment for more than 6 months showed significant improvement in the following order:
1. Behavior like restlessness, tantrums improved.
2. Abnormal Sensory defenses were strengthened.
3. Eye contact improved.
60% of our cases regained their Speech.
50% of our cases who continued with our treatment strategy for over 2 years were rehabilitated back into mainstream schools. The rest were enrolled into our Special School and were strengthened in subjects of their interest and choice.
Obsessive acts and self stimulations showed insignificant change earlier and took a long time to change.
Chances of relapse were higher if Sensory Integration Integration therapy was discontinued. But improvement was only partial if only Sensory integration was given without homeopathic treatment.
We have found that there were indications of 3 types of remedies during the course of Management:
- Phase remedies indicated for the most accentuated symptoms.
- The Chronic Constitutional
- The Nosodes as intercurrent anti miasmatic or even constitutional in some cases.
- The Acutely-indicated remedies for intercurrent problems.
Often the cure takes place by the use of a proper sequence of remedies based on the predominantly indicated picture.
Some Phase remedies: Stramonium, Hyoscyamus, Tarantula, Bufo, Belladonna, Cina, Anacardium, Veratrum Album.
The Chronic remedies are: Baryta Carb, Calc Carb, Calc Phos, Calc Iod, Calc Silicata, Natrum Mur, Ferrum Met, Phosphorous, Silica, Nux Vomica
The Nosodes: Tuberculinum, Carcinocinum, Medorrhinum
Apart from this you have done a lot of research work in Thyroid Disorders with a very high cure rate, right?
Dr. Barvalia: Yes the results clearly showed that homeopathy works curatively. I conducted clinical research in this field for 10 years primarily with the Juhu Jagruti Research Centre attached to the Homoeopathic Medical College, Mumbai. Other Institutes who co-ordinated in the project were:
a) Institute of Clinical Research – Mumbai. b) Radiation Medicine Centre, Parel – Mumbai.
The cases were fully recorded in the standardized case record; special thyroid sheets were used for follow ups. I presented these papers at International Seminars:
(a) Thyrotoxicosis: Graves Constitutional disorder and its Homoeopathic management.
(b) Auto immune thyroid disorders and its Homoeopathic cure – Documented cases and Research Analysis.
This it truly amazing work, Dr. Barvalia . Where do you go from here?
Dr. Barvalia: I have been invited to Dublin in June for a conference on the 4-5th of June weekend. I will talk about Learning Disabilities and Autism in Children as well as on Management of Thyroid Disorders. Also we have organized a Seminar in London on the 28-29th May where I will speak on the same subjects. My hope is that I can further spread awareness of this integrated approach, as well as give more homeopaths the confidence to handle such cases through the Fellowship programme we have set up at Spandan.
For the future, we intend to house all Spandan’s activities in one large facility. We have now identified a 35,000 square foot plot at Deonar in Mumbai where we would like to build a new facility. Our plan is to have a building with 60,000 square feet of space that will house advanced Pediatric care along with the Child Care Center for children with various disabilities. It is an ambitious but realistic project that would cost about 4 Crores of rupees (about 800,000 USD, less that a million USD). We’re hoping that well wishers and philanthropists the world over will come forward to support this project. We can receive donations under IT Exemption Section 80-G for the MB Barvalia Foundation. We are also able to receive foreign donations under FCRA as we are a Charitable Trust Reg no: E-17453.
This is a wonderful goal for the future. How do you feel about your mission in life?
Dr. Barvalia: I have a committed and gifted team of people providing this integrated care. I am very grateful to them for their support and commitment to the cause. May God bless them.
My mission in life has been to work for homeopathy and for the underprivileged people as long as I live. Our results with these autistic children and those with learning disabilities have been fantastic. The research work in Thyroid Disorders has been very significant and more recently we hope to achieve the same with HIV-AIDS. We have been able to provide a high quality of integrated care especially for those in society who are not able to afford sophisticated treatment and therapy. These underprivileged have benefited from the dedication and sincerity of my team who work at Spandan and the support of the MB Barvalia Charitable Foundation.
I feel very fulfilled in what we have achieved so far, though a lot of work is still left to be done.
Thank you Dr. Barvalia. We hope to hear more and more about you and your work on the International Scenario!
To our Readers: You can find out more details about the coming Conferences in London and Dublin here.
Dr. Praful M Barvalia
148, Hingwala Lane Extention
Near Popular Hotel
Mumbai 400 077
Ph: 022 – 2516 5885
022 – 2513 4467