Petr Hoffmann dip. IACH is a graduate of the International Academy of Classical Homeopathy in Greece where he studied with Prof. George Vithoulkas. He lives and works in the Czech Republic and gives lectures at the Prague College of Classical Homeopathy. He also translates homeopathic literature. Petr runs a Facebook study group which readers can join. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1727619584199693/
EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview is part of a special presentation from homeopath Petr Hoffman, which includes six of his cases.
AS: When and how were you first introduced to homeopathy?
PH: I already came into contact with homeopathy as a child. When I was about 8 years old, I started getting colds and flu quite often and I missed quite a few school lessons. My mother took me to a homeopath then. It was quite an unusual experience which remained fixed in my mind forever.
Before that, I had only had experience with medical doctors and their methods of examination and treatment. The homeopath was very different and kind of weird from my perspective. He was just asking me things in which I did not see any connection with my colds.
His questions were nothing like what I had been used to before from other doctors. I never forgot that it helped me and it did not hurt – neither the examination, nor the treatment. The only disadvantage I saw in it was that I had to go to school full time again.
Then I lost contact with homeopathy for some years and at the age of 22, when I developed some more serious health issues, I remembered the experience from childhood and contacted the very same homeopath. This second successful encounter with homeopathy made me want to learn more about this.
AS: Where did you study?
PH: I studied at two homeopathic schools. The first one was in my country. Nowadays the school is called Prague College of Classical Homeopathy. Then I studied at the International Academy of Classical Homeopathy (IACH) under the tutelage of the renowned Prof. George Vithoulkas.
AS: What was your experience at IACH? How did that affect the way you practice?
PH: IACH was just astonishing. Although I had already had good training from the Prague College and the curriculum was not that different because the founder of the Prague College Petr Zacharias was the first Czech graduate of IACH (I was the second J ), having a chance to learn directly from Prof. Vithoulkas is just something that is hard to describe.
His experience, wisdom, knowledge and ability to observe the patient and analyse the context of the case are phenomenal. His teaching also gave me answers to many questions regarding my own health issues. Nobody else had been able to explain the origin of my problems before.
I cannot imagine practising homeopathy without the knowledge I gained at IACH. Plus, the whole experience of the island of Alonissos and the IACH community was just magical. I hope it is possible to go there again soon.
AS: One of the skills in working complex cases is determining which symptoms to repertorize. What guidelines do you follow?
PH:. Selection of the right symptoms is a crucial step. When you select the right symptoms, finding the appropriate remedy is not that difficult if you know Materia medica. Generally speaking, we are interested in those symptoms which represent the individual response of the particular organism to the disruption of homeostasis.
Hahnemann already pointed these out as strange, rare and peculiar. These are the symptoms which you will not find in each person with the same diagnosis. Then we take into consideration very intense symptoms too. But it is not that simple, of course.
In complex cases, I pay a lot of attention to the sequence of events and complaints. I look at which symptoms are more recent and which are older. Usually there are layers of symptoms. Recent symptoms are often more important than older ones, but not always.
This is where homeopathy gets really tricky. Sometimes you have to use an older symptom too because it is so strong or peculiar that you cannot ignore it. And when dealing with layers of symptoms I always ask myself questions like “Am I able to cover only the uppermost layer with one remedy or is there a remedy which covers the last two or more layers or perhaps all layers?” Or, can this symptom belong to a deeper layer which needs to be addressed later so I can therefore ignore it now when it represents a contraindication to a remedy which would otherwise cover the uppermost layer well?”, etc.
I always analyse the case “on the fly”, in other words, the patient is leaving with a prescription. I was trained to do it that way by my teachers. The advantage of this approach is that you have a chance to ask the patient confirmatory questions when you still have her in front of you.
I am saying that because I want to point out that the patient gives me some initial input information – a bunch of symptoms. From these I already try to select the most important ones and ideas of relevant remedies start coming up in my mind.
At some point, based on the symptoms I have gathered so far, I start asking questions aimed directly at the remedies which seem to be close to the case. That is to confirm or exclude some of these remedies. So actually, it is very important to select the right symptoms right from the beginning.
AS: Could you share what you learned about treating Covid? What has been your approach to these cases?
PH: I have treated about 50 cases of Covid and I must say this virus has surprised me in a few ways. This is something the human organism had not been familiar with. I could tell that from the symptoms of the first patients.
The immune response and course of the disease were different from what we are used to in common respiratory infections. First, I noticed that those people who normally do not get high fevers, developed fevers during covid infection. Everyone who is familiar with the theory of Levels of health from Prof. Vithoulkas must have been struck by that.
I recommend the reader to study this theory, because thanks to it, I immediately knew we were dealing with something unusually virulent and aggressive. And then I saw how people’s immune system was struggling with it, how long it took to overcome it and how exhausted these people were.
According to the theory of Levels of health, it all makes sense, because an organism which normally does not produce high fevers during acute diseases (because it is too weak) now simply has to try to make the effort. It has no other choice.
But as the organism is weak, the effort is quite desperate and many unfortunate people have lost their fight. And many of those who survived have been left exhausted for weeks or even months after. On the other hand, people who are in the higher levels of health tend to have milder or asymptomatic courses of covid. I believe level of health is not the only factor which determines whether the person will have a serious course of this disease.
I have had quite some success in treating Covid patients, but of course, I did not manage to help every single of them. But as always in homeopathy, the unsuccessful ones were the ones where I was not able to find a correct remedy.
The first waves (variants) were easier to treat whereas the later variants (especially delta) were more difficult and stubborn. I noticed that delta cases relapsed more often, more remedies were needed and the treatment took longer in general.
After all, this is in correlation with medical statistics (meaning that delta is more aggressive than other variants). I also noticed that during the first waves (first variants), the improvement after a correct remedy was comparably fast to what we had been used to from treating common respiratory infections. However, later variants took much more time and effort to treat. Now with an emerging omicron wave in my country, it seems to be getting back to normal and the reactions are prompt again as we are used to in homeopathy. At least telling from the few cases of Omicron I have treated recently, people are getting better quickly after one remedy.
The approach to these cases is the same as with other acute infections, except I follow-up more closely and want the feedback from patients more often than usual.
AS: Can you give us an example of a case where the Vithoulkas approach made it possible to manage the case successfully?
PH: I use only the “Vithoulkas approach” so I could say that about all my successful cases. But I think the way Prof. Vithoulkas has been practising homeopathy is just the old good classical homeopathy evolved a little further and enhanced with the theory of Levels of health.
His approach has helped me study remedies effectively, differentiate between them and manage cases on the long term. And also, distinguishing between different symptomatic layers in a case and therefore being able to select the correct remedy to start with, evaluating the reactions correctly, etc. To be honest, I cannot imagine practicing homeopathy without the knowledge I gained at IACH.
AS: How do you approach a case where the patient is on numerous allopathic drugs?
PH: The important rule is that I never withdraw allopathic drugs. But if I see signs of improvement, I advise the patient to consult with the doctor who prescribed them to make some tests and re-evaluate the necessity of taking them.
Many of these drugs are dosed according to test results anyway, so if the results improve, doctors often withdraw them or lower the doses by themselves.
I use different dosing of homeopathic remedies in these cases because the allopathic drugs reduce or block the action of our remedies. In these cases, we need to dose daily in a rather lower potency (like 30C or lower). The organism needs more stimulation here.
In cases where the pathology is not extremely advanced, I stop the dosing once there is a reaction and then proceed the same as with a single dose approach (wait and repeat – again daily until a reaction – if there is a relapse). In really severe and serious cases of chronic pathology, I sometimes dose continually even if a reaction emerges. But in these cases I use very low potencies (6C, 12C or even D potencies) and raise the potency when the organism stops reacting to it.
However, I very much prefer the stoppage of dosing once there is a reaction. In this way, I have much better control over the long term case management. If you give an incorrect remedy, it will logically do more harm if you dose it longer
AS: Homeopaths have varying approaches to potency selection. What are your rules for choosing potencies?
PH: Potency selection is not as important. Many great homeopaths have said that if your remedy is correct, then it will bring about an improvement no matter which potency you use. There are only rare exceptions where the organism needs a particular potency, but this has not been investigated thoroughly yet.
We do have some rules for potency selection though. As I follow the theory of Levels of health, we have guidelines for maximum recommended potency in each group of patients (or each level of health if you wish). . The logic behind the whole thing is that the higher the level of health, the higher potency it is safe to use.
And then there are other factors like severity of the physical pathology and clearness of the remedy picture. If there are more possibilities or remedies in a case and I am having a hard time deciding which I should prescribe first, I automatically use lower potency, because an incorrect remedy will do less harm in a lower potency than in a higher potency.
If the physical pathology is very serious, I do not want to endanger the patient by giving unnecessarily high potency (especially of a possibly incorrect remedy). So basically it is three factors: 1) The level of health of the patient, 2) clearness of the remedy picture, 3) severity of the pathology. And I also do not see a point in giving 50M or CM as the first potency, because what would I do if I need to raise it later?
AS: Do you have any thoughts on treating the covid related loss of smell and taste?
PH: Well, there are three main ones for loss of smell and taste during an acute cold, which are Pulsatilla, Natrum muriaticum and Kali sulphuricum. But there are many more remedies which cover this combination (e.g. Phosphorus, Belladonna, Silicea, Arsenicum) so it could be any of the others.
I have cured this a number of times with Arsenicum album, because this remedy was indicated most often in my covid patients and it fits the general picture well. In fact, this has become a pathognomonic symptom for covid, so it is not always the main thing I prescribe upon. If you mean the long-term loss of smell or/and taste lasting long after the acute infection, then we have to take into consideration the general chronic picture.
Some patients will need to take their recent chronic remedy, but in some of them Covid has created a new layer of symptoms which should be addressed first. Many people have been left tired or short of breath after Covid, so remedies like Calcarea carbonica, Ammonium carbonicum, Gelsemium, Arsenicum album or even Stannum are needed for these post-covid symptom layers.
AS: What has been your experience with vaccine injured patients?
PH: I have seen vaccine injuries in my current and some new patients. I have seen some skin problems, neurological troubles, but also things like recurrent cystitis and nephritis after the vaccine. And I have seen a lot of relapses after it. This is similar to what we have been experiencing with other vaccines in the past.
I know there are nosodes from different covid strains and from covid vaccines too, but I have not used them. I generally prefer not to use unproven remedies (meaning those which have not gone through provings where we do not know their symptoms).
Using remedies without knowing their symptoms is isopathy. It may sometimes work, but I do not have the best experience with this approach. Although I have cured some bacterial infections with Streptococcinum.
AS: How do you approach patients that have numerous serious chronic health problems?
P.H. The answer to this question partially goes back to the idea of layers which we already discussed. Numerous health problems usually mean more layers of pathology and more remedies. I try to explain to patients what I expect will improve first and what may take longer to treat.
There is a hierarchy of pathology in each case and some complaints are more serious than others, and the most serious, the deepest ones, should improve first. There is a hierarchy in the human organism, a hierarchy between the mental, emotional and physical plane, but also a hierarchy among each of these planes.
It is not the same when somebody is dissatisfied or has phobias. It is not equal to have the same damage on skin or let us say in the heart tissue. Because of that, we can estimate in which order the complaints should disappear or in which direction the organism will probably shift the pathology. Conventional medicine ignores that.
The way homeopathy looks at a human being is very different from how conventional medicine perceives it. We sometimes consider a person sick, even though she could pass all medical examinations without any abnormality.
For example, somebody, who does not have any physical complaints, but does business to the detriment of others, in a dishonest way, is not healthy from a homeopathic point of view, although for conventional medicine, he is perceived as totally healthy.
So our criteria for what we consider a pathology are actually more strict than in conventional medicine. I always try to explain to the patient that, for example, his anxieties or depressions should improve first and the physical complaints will probably worsen in exchange for the improvement on the psychological level.
I explain that we will work on the remaining complaints later on. I also tell them how homeopathy works in general and that I am not in charge of the order in which the complaints will vanish. This is fully in the hands of the defence mechanism. I actually teach my patients homeopathic philosophy in this way.
When patients see that you know what you are doing and your predictions come true, their trust in you will rise significantly.
It is also important to explain that they need to have patience and that it will take some time to improve most of their complaints.
They usually take a lot of allopathic medication, which makes the treatment more difficult too. They tend to relapse more often and the reactions to our remedies are more difficult to assess. It is even worse when the patient has taken a lot of incorrect homeopathic remedies, because the original remedy picture is often long gone.
In serious pathology, we sometimes need to opt for a different approach to case analysis, like prescribing more on the local complaints until we stabilize them and then we can give deeper acting remedies, etc. We also use a different way of dosing in these cases as I mentioned earlier.