Joette Calabrese, HMC, CCH, has been a homeopathic consultant since 1997. A graduate of the North American Homeopathic Master Clinician Course and the Dynamis School of Advanced Homeopathy, she has studied with Lou Kline, Jeremy Sherr, Jan Scholten, Andre Saine, and A.U. Ramakrishnan. She is a tutor for the British Institute of Homeopathy, a presenter at the National Center for Homeopathy Annual meetings and a professional associate with the Prasanta Banerji Homeopathic Research Foundation, Calcutta.
AS: What initially brought you to homeopathy?
JC: How far back do you want me to reach? If I start at the very beginning, we might be here for a few weeks! Most who find homeopathy usually have traveled a long, circuitous journey. I’ll try to shorten my history a bit, and if your readers are bored, they can fast-forward.
After my first vaccine at six weeks old, I developed chronic, blanketing eczema that lasted for 14 years. My mother sought conventional medical help resulting in the use of steroid creams and allergy shots. She was warned to use the steroid ointments sparingly because of their reputed side effects. But given no other choice, she resorted to it when my skin was particularly angry.
My initial condition was accompanied by repetitive ear infections and the requisite rounds of antibiotics. After various medicaments and years of “treatments” with no improvement, my mother sought alternatives: chiropractors, botanical methods, dietary changes and reflexology.
I imagine this story will sound quite familiar to many readers. Suppose you fill in the blanks with other conditions. In that case, you can describe the experience of countless lives on this earth over the last many centuries: the failings of conventional medicine in the treatment of chronic disease — and worse yet, the long-term side effects of their attempt at a solution.
Indeed, my story began back in 1952, and my list of conditions was long. I developed asthma, food intolerances, migraines, anxiety attacks, UTIs and chronic fatigue.
I swallowed and smeared drugs daily — week in and week out — whatever was prescribed and not prescribed. I grew skeptical of conventional medicine but knew no other way.
At the age of about 32, I made a bold move — something that changed the direction of my life forever. I decided to halt the use of all drugs. After decades of trusting and depending on drugs, this was a sweeping shift in my thinking.
I didn’t know anyone else who had these thoughts or had done anything like this, but I needed to do something different. What I had been doing wasn’t working; my health was declining.
I deduced that I was quite sick taking drugs. It somewhat appeared the more I took, the worse I got — despite what my doctors declared. And declare they did! Not one doctor ever whispered the idea that perhaps the drugs were potentially the cause of — or at least exacerbating — my ills.
But I had a hunch, so I boldly, defiantly and abruptly put an end to the daily practice of dutifully taking drugs. I simply stopped. I emptied out my purse, cleared out my bedside table and chucked every single conventional prescription and OTC drug in my cabinet. It was bold. It was defiant. Even scary.
But it was freeing.
Soon after this decision, I replaced the drugs with vitamins and supplements.
After some time, I became suspicious of them, too. I learned most vitamins are synthetic and are manufactured by the same industry that manufactured the very drugs I eschewed! Later, I learned that the manufacturer of many vitamins, supplements and drugs also manufactured the very first vaccine that likely set this all in motion at the tender age of six weeks old. That’s when I dropped the vitamin regimen as well.
I turned to the study of botanicals and wildcrafting from around my home.
I was getting warmer.
By this time, I was about 35 years old when I finally found my cadence: homeopathy. One single dose of Nux vomica, prescribed by a homeopath, gave me about 50% relief from all I had suffered for three and a half decades under the “care” of conventional MDs. This initial improvement was accomplished in less than a month or so. The remaining 50% of my conditions took a bit longer. But in less than a year, I was so much improved that I decided to study homeopathy.
How would you characterize the way you practice? How did you arrive at that?
JC: Fast-forward: I had been practicing classical homeopathy full-time for nearly 15 years when I grew to recognize how frustrating it was. One of the thwarting issues I experienced was adhering to classical homeopathy’s rigidity. I’d explain to my clients that they should take only the initial dose of the constitutional remedy I had given them. They should not take any other homeopathic medicine between our communications because it could interfere with the classically derived, single, well-chosen simillimum.
Although they appeared to understand, time and again, they’d report back (often apologetically) that they had “cheated.” They had come down with a cold and took ColdCalm. Or they had sprained their ankle and resorted to taking Ruta graveolens. Quite often, they would have taken another homeopathic in addition to the one I had chosen for their chronic condition. Not only had it acted, but it sometimes seemed to enhance my chosen medicine.
More importantly, these particular clients were more convinced of homeopathy’s efficacy than those who had followed my rules by taking only the constitutional remedy! Why? Because they had seen how well homeopathy had worked when used in a practical manner instead of the take-one-dose-and-see-if-it-takes-care-of-it-all method.
When this lack of adherence first started happening in my practice, I would brace myself for the result that either the single medicine would not have acted, or at the very least, their actions would have muddled the case.
But no! The exact opposite occurred. Instead, each of the homeopathic medicines seemed to have acted and moved the case along at a quicker pace. At first, I was dumbfounded, then delighted.
But my delight soon turned to irritation — irritation at my classical education. It had been drilled into me that the world would come to an end if more than one medicine were employed during a certain amount of time within the same schedule!
Yet, in fact, it was becoming clear to me that the exact opposite was true. There were no disarrayed cases and no suppression. Using more than one medicine at a time and repeating them more frequently (even daily) was precisely what was needed in many cases.
And I was learning this from my clients! It was reproducible. One medicine could be chosen for the same condition, and the results were successful.
So, over time, in addition to my hopefully well-chosen, single, classically-derived medicine, I began adding another for the acute presentation when needed. Sometimes, I’d choose another medicine representing the miasm and even a cell salt for support!
Simultaneously, I began noticing patterns developing. I began to note Arnica montana for head injuries and Ruta graveolens for sprains were not the only medicines that could be employed without taking the full classical case.
I found for chronic conditions, organ-specific medicines were becoming a staple in my practice. Sepia for mothers and Pulsatilla for teen girls were becoming essentials for hormonal disorders. I seemed to be moving towards Nux vomica or Lycopodium clavatum for many of my male clients. Aurum metallicum was pretty prominent for men, too.
Instead of grinding out hours trying to pinpoint the essence of the case — that elusive simillimum to touch the person deeply, on a soulful level — I became, shall I say, “shallow.” I focused on only what was obvious. I concentrated on the keynotes only — the “in-your-face” condition the client reported — not what was deeply hidden inside the recesses of their personality. No more esoteric. No more simillimum.
And this is what happened: My success rate went from approximately 50% to closer to 70%. I would have been satisfied achieving only that amount of improvement, but to my delight, the time it took for the condition to resolve reduced dramatically, too!
Plus, I was able to take a case within a few minutes — often without repertorization. Instead of a case requiring 90 minutes, I was now able to help clients in 15-30 minutes by merely acknowledging the chief complaint along with any secondary or tertiary conditions noted. This time savings allowed me to see more clients in a day.
However, the larger and most important result of this paradigm shift was that I could teach these simple methods to others!
When these changes in my thinking were developing, I was teaching classical homeopathy in a college in Buffalo, New York. One simple course on homeopathy was not enough to supply my students with any practical ability. All I could teach in one course were acute conditions. But most of my students were in a nursing program and were interested in chronic illness.
Each time they expressed frustration, I explained that treating chronic illness would require years of classical study. I witnessed their eyes glaze over. Sadly, I knew I had lost yet another potential homeopathy practitioner and advocate. I longed for the day that I could teach what I was learning — many conditions can be diluted to only a small handful of remedies. The constitutional remedy was rarely needed (and was often an impediment).
My thinking was further solidified a few years later when I met Drs. Prasanta and Pratip Banerji. Their methods neatly tied up all the observations I had just barely touched upon myself. I was granted a fellowship with them in Kolkata at the Prasanta Banerji Homeopathic Research Foundation, where I spent months at a time for eight consecutive years.
All I had suspected was fully disclosed by the Drs. Banerji: searching for the constitutional is slow and often superfluous. At their clinic, I witnessed the most severe cases of chronic illness successfully treated without a mere thought of the classical approach.
They were treating difficult cases of tuberculosis, leprosy and AIDS. But I also observed how they treated more common conditions such as autism, depression, IBS, arthritis and eczema. In short, I was watching them successfully address health issues a mother or grandmother could learn to treat in relatively short order.
In short, I sat in on 100 cases every single day — six days a week. Over the span of eight years, I came away with what the world needs to know: much of homeopathy can be learned at home, including chronic conditions, without the arduous study of classical homeopathy.
I fully recognize some conditions and cases require the expertise of a fully-trained homeopath. Still, enough can be achieved so that an individual can be charged with their family’s care without resorting to certain unsavory conventional treatments.
And that is my mission: teaching others that homeopathy is not as difficult, as recherché or elite as one might think. Attending classical homeopathy school is fascinating and useful for those going into practice, but it is not necessary to treat oneself and one’s family.
Circling back around to 1952, ironically, the same hospital where I was born had been a homeopathic hospital — converted to an allopathic one only five years earlier. Had homeopathy still been available at my birth, my journey would have been quite different.
Indeed, in homeopathic hospitals and crowded clinics (not unlike the Prasanta Banerji Homeopathic Research Foundation), there is no time for taking a 90-minute case. Yet, the need for precision remains just as relevant. The need for a quick response is the norm. Hence, more than one medicine is prescribed at a time, yet the diseases successfully treated are numerous!
AS: You worked in a fellowship for two years at the Prasanta Banerji Research Foundation. Their protocols, such as Calc phos and ruta for brain cancer, defy explanation by classical reasoning. The current prophylactic protocol for covid-19 at the foundation calls for Thuja. Can you offer some insight into how those protocols are arrived at?
JC: I traveled 8 times over 7 years. Each time I spent between 9-13 weeks. I came home with an accent! Just kidding. The rationale for the use of Thuja 30 is that it is a medicine of high repute for viruses.
Certainly, once the presentation of the condition is fully displayed other medicines may also be employed. But Thuja is the medicine that the Banerjis used for a variety of viruses particularly as a prophylactic and an adjunct until a more specific medicine could be noted.
As for Calc Phos and Ruta, we can only speculate. I didn’t often ask how a protocol was derived because I learned early on that the answer was usually “Because we have found that this works.”
Sometimes there were interesting stories that were associated with protocols such as frozen shoulder on the rt side is assigned Symphytum 200, but if on the left, it’s Syphilinum 200! Why? because some many decades ago in their clinic a patient with syphilis was treated with Syphilinum 200 and his frozen shoulder was relieved. Hence, it was used time and again and it consistently acted…but only for the left side!
I love the quote from the movie Finding Nemo where his dad says “You think you know Nemo, but you don’t.” Modern medicine and other modalities believe they can choose a method based on physiological, pathological knowledge, with blood tests and all the “whys”. And perhaps they can, but some answers are just not available to our little, earthly minds.
Bottom line: It’s the cumulative clinical experience of such great numbers that are the foundation of the Banerji genius. It only goes to show how important it is to take as many cases per day as possible.
Interestingly I just received a “disciplinary” letter and notice of a hearing from NASH for ” having violated the society’s code of ethics because I was teaching condition-specific protocols.” And “You inappropriately advocate for the use of Banerji Protocols.”
Pratip warned me early on that it would likely not be the conventional medical world that would go after me, but the classicals. He was right again.
AS: You went from a disciplined classical prescriber to using a more pragmatic approach. To make your approach clearer, could you give us an example of how you use your current methods?
JC: In classical homeopathy, we choose one medicine and one medicine only. The theory is that one person-specific medicine will act so deeply it will address the whole constellation of ills in one person.
Equally important is that the chosen remedy should not be repeated beyond one day or so. An additional declaration when employing classical homeopathy is that the person should be treated — not the condition. That is to say, GI bloating in one person will be treated quite differently than in another person with the same condition.
Not only is this method limiting, but, in my opinion, it is unnecessarily complex and difficult to accomplish. I used classical homeopathy full-time in my practice for 15 years and even taught this method at a nursing college.
But through my years of practice, I have come to accept life does not usually dish out sufferings in this way. Although there are often unifying threads in many of the conditions that a person suffers, there are just as many times when that isn’t so.
Allow me to present to you someone whose life will likely, in part, sound familiar to you:
It’s a summer day, and John has just had lunch. He knows well enough not to consume wheat because that causes severe pain and bloating. But as usual, he suffers a bloated belly from simply having eaten anything at all.
Although this constant GI problem (most likely leaky gut) slows him down, John is a responsible guy. He plans to get the lawn mowed before his wife arrives home from her Las Vegas trip with a friend.
John has always suffered from chronic dizzy spells and a sense of fullness in his ears — instigated by exposure to freshly cut grass. But no matter! John is a dutiful and thoughtful husband. So, he gets to the task at hand.
After mowing two tidy lanes on his lawn, he makes a wide pivot with his mower to make another neat lawn lane. But because of his muzzy head, John walks too far into the street for the turn. At that instant, the neighborhood mailman comes barreling around the corner.
The mailman and John’s eyes meet at that moment and for a queer, fragmented second, it seems to John as though the mailman accelerates the mail truck!
The truck wallops John and torpedoes him up against the coconut tree he planted last year.
In no time, John is in the ER with a multi-fractured tibia, cracked patella and several developing coconut-shaped hematomas.
While in the ER, a nurse offers him Dilaudid for his pain. He couldn’t help but notice that she doesn’t look so well herself. In fact, she appears pretty peaked!
She confesses that she’s fairly sure she has a lung infection and should probably be home in bed. “No worries,” she assures him. “You’re my last patient, and then I’ll be heading home.”
Days later, while still in the hospital, John has surgery on his tibia where two pins are screwed into the bone. When he awakens hours later, his consciousness is met with vomiting — probably from the general anesthesia but possibly from the looming lung infection that the drug-administering nurse had shared with him.
The next morning, the surgeon stops by to see how John is doing. Unbeknownst to them both, the surgeon has MRSA on his fingertip, and he gives John the gift of a virulent bacterial infection — planted right at John’s surgical site.
Days later, John finally arrives home, still suffering from his newly acquired maladies. He crumbles to his bed with his chronic, hay-fevered, stuffy ear — now joined by severe pain in his surgical leg.
His customary bloated stomach is replaced with relentless nausea from the drugs and pain. And to round out his misery, he has a brewing case of bronchitis as well as MRSA slowly developing on his leg!
But at least he’s home.
Soon, his wife should be back from her trip to comfort and care for him.
Wretched, he seeks comfort once again in his own bed when he notices an envelope on his pillow — his name printed on it.
Barely able to concentrate, he maneuvers with difficulty to sit only slightly erect. He opens the envelope and reads the contents:
“Dear John, I am leaving you. By the time you read this, the mailman and I will be in Las Vegas — getting married.”
His initial compulsion is to drop to his knees in a heap of merciless grief.
But he can’t.
Because John has excruciating pain from the pins in his leg, an infected surgical site, vomiting drug reaction, an ensuing lung infection, a bloated and nauseated abdomen, and a muzzy head and ears.
Did I get it all?
So, I ask you: Using a classical homeopathy paradigm, “What is John’s remedy?” Does John’s story seem extreme? It is not. Unfortunately, this is life. Conditions rarely come neatly packaged so that only one medicine may be chosen. John needs several medicines, some of which will remain in his schedule for only days and others for weeks and months.
Using Practical Homeopathy® — specific protocols for specific conditions — I approach John with a schedule of homeopathic medicines.
This is step one in John’s schedule:
- Nux vomica 200, every 6-12 hours until the nausea is much abated. This medicine is chosen for its ability to not only relieve nausea and vomiting after surgery but also to aid in mitigating drug reactions — including those from antibiotics.
- John will likely need a medicine for his surgical pain after the “accident.” Hypericum 200 may be in order every few hours for the first many days. As time passes, the injury heals, and the pain is resolved, he’ll require it less frequently.
- John’s hematomas not only swell to the size of small coconuts, but they are painful — along with nearly every other soft tissue and joint in his body. Arnica montana 200, every few hours, is in order until he’s much improved.
- Hepar sulph 200, twice daily, is the medicine I’d choose for John’s MRSA infection. (This infection may not become evident for a few weeks, so it would be commenced at the time it becomes evident.)
- If John’s bloating remains severe — and it’s most likely headed towards a worsened state as a result of the newly administered antibiotics — then the medicine is Lycopodium 200, twice daily. Often, Lycopodium (over many, many months) is known to resolve GI bloat and leaky gut.
- Once the bone has been reliably set, Symphytum 200 mixed with Calc Phos 3 is called for — to hasten the bone’s fusing and ease the pain. (However, we can potentially eliminate the use of this Banerji Protocol in an effort to use fewer homeopathics.)
- For John’s bronchitis, the medicine Aconitum 200 mixed with Bryonia 30 is a capital choice. Why? Bryonia is also of value for pain from movement — particularly for a fractured bone. When we find one medicine addresses more than one condition, we’re happy to take advantage of that tidiness. But of course, as soon as these conditions are resolved, the medicine is halted.)
- Given the number of conditions John suffers, this may be enough for now. But when possible, it will also be wise to tend to his allergies (presenting as stuffy ears and muzzy head).
- Lastly, once the infections are much improved, we must pay particular attention to John’s emotional state. If he’s buoyant, then there are no concerns. But if John, in his more physically fragile state, flares with incapacitating jealousy, one of the best go-tos is Hyoscyamus But considering John’s character as a responsible, hardworking man, it’s more likely that he may sink into the pits of depression. In that case, Aurum met 200 is a consideration. Of course, we never theorize. We must actually witness the need for a specific medicine. As homeopaths, we must guard against personalizing what we might do in a this-or-that situation and allow John to tell his story without prejudice.
This schedule will be adjusted as John improves and as his conditions shift.
For example, as he progresses past bronchitis, the medicine for that condition will be eliminated. Should John’s sorrow transform to jealousy, followed by rage, those medicines may also need to be adjusted.
John will heal over time. His surgical wounds will heal — as well as his broken heart. His bone will knit, and as his case of bronchitis and even MRSA will clear. These are generally self-limiting conditions.
Therefore, as we witness less and less need for the homeopathics associated with these conditions, we judiciously remove them from his schedule accordingly.
As for John’s bloating problem, it would likely flare after antibiotics and emotional shock. But with the continued use of Lycopodium 200, it should — over time — dissolve into a distant memory.
So, what we have done for John? We’ve hastened his recovery from multiple conditions. As a bonus, we’ve neither suppressed his symptoms nor numbed his pain with synthetic drugs only to reap potential complications from long-lasting side effects.
Would he have healed on his own without homeopathy? Certainly, the self-limiting conditions would have resolved. But at what cost? More drugs for pain, more antibiotics for MRSA, antacids for his leaky gut, and perhaps an anti-depressant for his emotions would most likely have been applied — wreaking their own havoc with side effects.
What we have done instead is facilitated — and accelerated — John’s recuperation. And more importantly, we have protected him from the ravages of the chronic use of drugs, some of which are notoriously addicting.
Once John is fully healed, he will have a new-found trust and admiration for homeopathy. He will most likely go forward in life with greater confidence.
(Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if he developed an understandable aversion to U.S. Postal trucks and the men who drive them. And I actually don’t find a rubric for that specific aversion.)
(Note: # 4, 5, 6 and 7 are Banerji Protocols specific to the conditions. )
Editor’s note: Visit Joette Calabrese at www.JoetteCalabrese.com
and read her weekly blog, at www.joettecalabrese.com/blog