Molly Caliger is a homeopath and founder of the Tropos School of Classical Homeopathy and Midwifery in St. Petersburg, Russia. She discusses her life and work in this extensive interview.
AS: Can you tell us when and how you first became involved with homeopathy?
M.C. Homeopathy entered my life in a significant way after my first child was born in 1986. My husband and I had become quite interested in the natural health movement, as so many do when they find themselves pregnant and anticipating taking care of a baby.
For me, the interest in alternatives had started when I was 8 years old and began witnessing my mother’s suffering at the hands of allopathic psychiatry. For my husband it had begun years before through his mother as well, who was a vegetarian way back in the 1940’s in LA, when vegetarianism was still a fringe movement.
He had grown up surrounded by such unusual personalities as J. Krishnamurti and Paul Bragg, so when we were expecting our first child, in Chicago, his mother insisted we make a trip up to the suburb of Evanston to see Dr. Robert Mendelsohn and ask him to be our paediatrician. We did just that when my daughter was but two weeks old.
Dr. Mendelsohn saw us in his home, and instead of performing a well-baby exam, he treated us to tea and talked about his philosophy of life and medicine over the course of two hours. He talked about the dangers of vaccinations and well-baby exams.
He told us that he took patients only on a retainer-basis, like lawyers do: we were never to have any planned “checkups”, but having paid the fee to retain his services, I could call him any time I wanted. The whole drive home I felt I had been transported to another reality and can only compare it to a “conversion” experience.
Dr. Mendelsohn’s outlook on life, health, home birth, vaccinations, and natural health had found deep resonance within me. Although he himself wasn’t a homeopath, he had opened a door that allowed me to uncover my lifelong purpose. Neither he nor I understood at the time that he would be my first teacher in “alternative” health.
Through Dr. Mendelsohn we found out about the National Health Federation (of which he was a past president) and began attending their national conferences every year. These conferences were attended by thousands of people and offered an eccentric array of speakers on everything from homeopathy to Gerson therapy to hydrogen peroxide cures to wearing a pyramid on your head.
Meanwhile, Dr. Bob (as they called him) became a customer of my husband’s syphon-seltzer delivery business, and I would avail myself of every opportunity to accompany my husband on the deliveries with the hope of talking with him. During my pregnancy and certainly after my daughter’s birth I had been called to become a midwife. Dr. Bob had much to say about that and was quite encouraging.
One year and 9 months after my daughter was born, I gave birth at home to my son. I was anticipating the joyful event of introducing him to Dr. Bob— but alas, it was never to happen. He passed away suddenly from his third heart attack on April 5, 1988.
His death became a major turning point in my life: not conscious of it then, I had become completely dependent on him emotionally. Only much later would I realize that most people who become ardent supporters of homeopathy are caught in the tension of opposites between trust and suspicion. Each polarity of this axis feeds the other; the more we distrust the allopathic system, the more we glorify our chosen alternative and vice-versa.
When I met Dr. Bob, my suspicion toward conventional medicine was high, and he became the remedy I sought. Therefore, I had placed all my trust in him. My level of trust was proportionately equal to my level of distrust in conventional medicine.
And so when my object of trust passed away, I was left once more with a high degree of suspicion. At the time I didn’t understand that suspicion was a symptom coming from me, and that nothing could palliate my fear and fulfill my need to trust. It was merely shock and grief.
But it was in this despair that my vital force became activated: Dr. Bob began appearing to me in my dreams in a very realistic form. In the dreams we carried on lengthy “conversations” about medicine, healing, and trust. He taught me so much more during the year after his death than I could have learned from him in life.
Through these dreams, he taught me to acquire trust in myself, God and the universe, rather than placing all my trust in any one health practitioner or method. Over time I learned to give up suspicion as a driving motivation for seeking truth.
It wasn’t long after that I began taking midwifery courses and then completed an internship in a birthing center. By the time I had started practicing home birth midwifery independently, I began to feel the inadequacies of not having adequate instruments of healing when women needed them. I didn’t want to send them to doctors for suppressive medications. I observed other midwives use homeopathic remedies and started reading.
My first and favorite book was Elizabeth Wright Hubbard’s “The Art and Science of Homeopathy”. From there I read Kent and then Hahnemann, and then so many others. It was immediately apparent that homeopathy was so much more than just a supplementary therapy.
I dove head-first into its absolutely holistic cosmology of the human person. It rang every bell. Soon after I enrolled in Misha Norland’s School of Homeopathy distance learning course. Looking back, I recalled many experiences which had taught me about the law of similars, and especially about the phenomenon of critical mass of experience: the idea that symptoms must be brought to fruition (literally: bring forth fruit) before they can be fulfilled, finished.
A.S. You’ve been a midwife for over 30 years and founded Tropos School of Classical Homeopathy and Midwifery in St. Petersburg. What is your approach to problems in the birthing process?
M.C. After becoming a homeopath I realized that it’s impossible to practice midwifery without homeopathy; at least the kind of midwifery that I advocate, which includes continuity of care by a single caregiver. In fact, in my school I teach full courses in both disciplines, but require the students of each to learn an awful lot about the other.
Homeopathy makes us understand that there really is no such thing as a truly acute condition. All kinds of conditions can develop during the childbearing cycle but certain conditions develop only in certain susceptible individuals. Without a classical approach, even homeopathy is capable of suppressing conditions and leading to deeper problems.
A good example is the treatment of anemia, a very common condition during pregnancy. Anemia is often unresponsive to elemental iron supplementation (and causes unpleasant side effects). Only constitutional treatment changes the woman’s ability to absorb the iron she gets in her diet.
Having a good knowledge of remedy groups and their correspondence with constitutions and miasms helps the midwife not only to treat problems, but to make prognoses and foresee potential complications. And by the same token, knowing the morphological constitutional types expands our homeopathic perception (I’m currently writing a book on this subject, if I can ever find time to complete it!).
During pregnancy therefore I always provide constitutional treatment if it’s needed and that provides a good prophylaxis. One of the most dramatic cases I treated was a young woman expecting her first child. She was only 26 years old but had several pedunculated uterine fibroids, one on the outside and two inside her uterus.
She had had a threatened miscarriage with a retroplacental hematoma at 8 weeks, at which time doctors had recommended she terminate the pregnancy since by their prognosis she would miscarry before 20 weeks. When she came to see me, she was 13 weeks and had had constant spotting of red blood, and pain in the region of her right uterine round ligament, worse at night lying on her right side.
In addition to the pain, her uterus was in a state of continual contraction. She liked tomatoes with sour cream, fried meat, salty food, and eggs. She was thirsty and drank a lot of water. She hates onions. I prescribed Phosphorus 30C in water 3 times a week, 5 weeks, with continued improvement and then disappearance of symptoms. She gave birth naturally at 39 weeks to a 3700 gram baby with no complications.
I use nosodes together with constitutional treatment for pregnant women with high-risk infections, such as group B (beta) streptococcus, chlamydia, varicella zoster, primary herpes II, chronic hepatitis B or C, etc: almost always in a 200C potency, monthly until birth. This approach is very effective in producing negative test results by term.
Idiopathic thrombocytopenia is usually very adequately treated with homeopathy during pregnancy. Cases that develop for the first time during pregnancy resolve quickly, whereas long-term cases are more challenging. Sometimes the chronic cases, in which the platelet count drops below 50,000 per micrometer of blood, demands a “mixed” approach: I give the constitutional in a 200C or 1M potency infrequently, while prescribing a specific intercurrent remedy that corresponds to the general symptoms, in a 12C or 30C frequently (for example, one dose in water per day, 3 days in a row every week for 3 weeks or until the platelet count rises).
I’ve treated all manner of other pregnancy conditions constitutionally and usually with good success, including pyelonephritis, cervical incompetency, cholestasis of pregnancy, etc. The best homeopathic treatment for problems that arise during labor is prophylactic constitutional treatment during pregnancy! In emergency situations such as postpartum hemorrhage or asphyxia of the newborn, I give the indicated remedy in conjunction with conventional treatment.
AS: You once wrote that no doctor has the ethical right to treat a person without understanding the nature of the condition. Could you explain what you mean by that?
MC: Unearthing the nature of the condition is really the heart and soul of homeopathic practice. It’s the hardest aspect of our work. It is what eventually makes us excellent diagnosticians. Once we have a fairly certain understanding of the nature of the person’s condition, finding the remedy is secondary.
We are then free to treat. But that’s a tall order, because here we are faced with another dimension: it’s not just about knowing the local nature of the condition. The work of a healer demands of us a solid philosophical-theoretical awareness about the human person: a foundational anthropology.
If we are treating the sick, we are obligated to ask ourselves: what is the nature of the human person? What is the soul, the spirit, the body? And of course— what am I doing, what is my intention, and what may be the probable reactions, when I prescribe a remedy? These questions and answers aren’t “given”. It’s up to us to find them. But it’s a real problem, since most doctors, of all ilks, find them as they go.
Good diagnosing is related to integrity— from integer: whole, complete; in– (not) + tangere (to touch). If we aren’t striving toward integration within ourselves toward the actualization of a whole which is our essence— how can we pretend to see a totality in others?
As homeopaths we need to constantly remain attentive so as not to be seduced by local symptoms that scream to get all the attention, or by illusory diseases that are actually red herrings. The totality of a person — or indeed any totality — is like a hologram; the whole is enfolded in the details. We tend to perceive a detail as the main thing (and often times as the only thing, without seeing the whole it reflects.
We put our attention on the details— the local symptoms — and then dream up their causes. Modern humans have an obsession with “the search for causation”. We hear these versions of reality from patients all the time: explanations about what caused this or that. The “causes” are always local and “accidental”. This is how we’ve been conditioned.
Reconditioning ourselves and our patients is an arduous task. The young inexperienced practitioner (and unfortunately not only) buys into the patient’s fairy tales and then acts on them. This is linear thinking. It is never holistic; it can’t be in a system where everything is connected and related.
Rather than examine a person under a microscope endlessly, carefully noting down every detail, of which there are always more to uncover — we look at what I call the “skeleton” of the case. Stepping back in order to fit the entire forest into the picture. Holistic thinking is not about acknowledging the significance of the body, mind and spirit and then treating each category separately.
It is about gaining a feeling for the parts of a system and apprehending their relationship to the whole, and, even more significantly, seeing the whole from what the parts tell us: we can go up or down. People can have mystical personal experiences of God (the Whole) in visions, and they can equally also feel God’s presence in the splendor of nature (the divine energies in His creation), the overcoming of a struggle (identifying with the Christ struggle in us), in the synchronicity of significant events, or in the chance meeting of a “perfect” stranger (divine law of similars—being in resonance with God’s will).
And so I teach my students to start by looking at the skeleton of the case— the external appearance. Many contemporary homeopaths are trained to place the Mind symptoms at the top of the list. They thus spend endless time pouring over and analyzing these symptoms, returning to the patient to clarify a particular feeling or thought or reaction, posing numerous leading questions for “clarification.”
This is what I call “psychological speculating”. The psyche is the least tangible realm of a patient and therefore the least objective as a source of symptoms for our repertorization. When we study remedy substances, we absolutely apply the Doctrine of Signatures: we observe the external appearance of the substance, its habitat, its behavior and characteristic reactions to the environment.
This knowledge is thankfully being brought back from the garbage bin of ancient wisdom. Now it’s time we apply similar principles to people. The ancient Greeks did it. Typological models have become taboo in recent times as a reflection of a leading symptom of the modern western mind: the passion for a melding-together, with its accompanying denial of the individual and characteristics that differentiate one thing from another. (With this symptom comes “easily offended at trifles”!)
I have developed a system of typology by collecting knowledge from numerous sources and eras, including late 19th and early 20th century midwifery and combining it with classical Russian midwifery knowledge and then with knowledge about remedy groups and miasms.
As a system, I call it simply “morphology”. Certain parts and their qualities are more representative than others for identifying the totality. The whole of creation exists in a hierarchy and the body does, as well. Hierarchical organization can be observed on every level: within one single person, as well as between the classes of beings on the earth, from mineral to microorganism to plant to fish to insect to birds to animals to humans, and then upward into the higher spheres of the celestial hierarchy of the nine orders of angels and finally reaching God.
Reflection — that is, recognising a trait or a symptom of the whole from one of the parts — is only possible because of the similarity between the levels of the hierarchy of creation. This is an understanding far preceding the modern era and having its origins in antiquity, and wonderfully elucidated in the writings of Plato.
The ancient Christian Church based its original teachings on the fundamental truth taken from Genesis 1:27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Our modern world is making attempts to recover what was forgotten since Descartes’s vision of a clockwork universe and the mass migration of consciousness into the discrete and the finite. It requires that we learn to be present with ourselves, each other, and all of creation, so that our capacity for observation might be better honed.
And so diagnosis, or understanding the nature of the condition, is about perceiving the particular expression of the vital force in the unique context of the person as totality within larger totalities of family, community, nation, earth, and then the celestial sphere. We are all souls incarnate in time and space, just like the dynamis of a substance is incarnated in the form of a mineral, plant, animal.
A.S. You are currently treating many covid patients. Can you share something of what you’ve learned in treating this disease? How successful has homeopathy been against covid?
M.C. The disease-totality (as a reflection of the humankind-totality) has been evolving as we move through this. At first it was centered in the respiratory center and the blood (inspiration/exhalation; taking in and giving back God’s grace; the life force; the spiritual center, the mind-in-the-heart).
The first year of the pandemic I found Phosphorus to be the leading remedy by far, followed by Nux vomica, Lycopodium, Kali carbonicum, Tuberculinum, Arsenicum album, etc. I understand that every region necessarily has their own leading remedies at a given time, and I am in Russia, where the psoric and tubercular miasms dominate.
Since the spring of this year though and the manifestation of changes in the totality-expression, the picture has changed: we started seeing a lot of gastrointestinal symptoms (liver; bile; choleric-heat; nourishment/survival) and inflammation of mucus membranes (conjunctivitis; otitis; sinusitis; inner/outer boundaries).
Science tells us the virus is mutating: homeopathy replies by saying the susceptible individuals (i.e. all of humankind) is changing the soil and manifesting a changed disease state. With the changes in symptoms, many other remedies have come to the fore, especially those that encompass gastrointestinal plus respiratory systems: the Antimoniums; Eupatorium perfoliatum, Nux vomica; Ipecauanha; Magnesium carbonicum and phosphoricum, Sticta, etc.
Still later this year the symptom pictures have changed to become more influenza-like, with violent headaches, body aches, aching eyes, stabbing pains in the abdomen, nausea, diarrhoea, etc. and this has elicited the application of more flu-like remedies: Gelsemium, Baptisia, Arsenicum album China, etc.
I’ve had some very challenging cases: a subacute Covid-thyroiditis with cytokine storm and a nightly fever of 39 for over four weeks; a Covid-mastoiditis; a couple cases of acute Covid-neuronitis with long term paresis and crippling vertigo. All of these cases recovered on homeopathic treatment.
Covid-pneumonia, on the other hand, has become a “known entity”; we now understand its specific symptoms and usual course well and it is so successfully treated with homeopathy. I’ve seen patients with O2 saturation rates go from below 80 to 96 within 20 minutes after one dose of a remedy (Antimonium tartaricum, Camphora, Carbo vegetabilis).
In recent months I decided to start making house calls to patients with Covid-pneumonia. This has the most meaningful healing effects: it allows me to closely observe the dynamic of the person’s condition day by day (many of these cases demand frequent change of remedy); and it provides tactile healing through massage and percussion.
Most importantly, being physically present with the sick gives them the essential human contact which they have been so needing for so long. The remedies are essential, without a doubt — but Covid is the disease of the denial of the individual. The person needs to be seen, heard and touched and regarded as the unique and precious being that he or she is.
Often, it’s enough to just sit and breathe with a person for 20 minutes for the fever to subside and the cough to abate. We’re learning. It’s very scary to be fully present with others right now. We’re being denied this. We seemingly put ourselves at risk. But in this risk is the promise of the healing of the patient and the hopeful actualization of ourselves.
You know, Alan, Covid challenges so many of our accepted notions and brings us back to the basics. For example, most of us have the belief that a person will only get sick with a disease if the totality of each—the person and the disease—are similar. At the beginning of this a lot of us homeopaths were thinking that not everyone will get sick, only the susceptible.
What I observe is that every single person is susceptible to getting this disease, and that the expressions are limitless. Everything we see now is an expression of Covid. It’s challenging our core beliefs about the origin of disease, and the definitions of acute and chronic.
Under current societal pressure it’s easy for us, too, to start seeing disease as something that comes from the outside. Management techniques (masks, distancing, vaccines, etc) are based on this belief. Yet regardless of methods employed to avoid it, the numbers continue to rise.
Covid is a universal phenomenon: it finds similarity, resonance with every single person. And what this means in my understanding is that this universal susceptibility is itself a symptom: both of the disease-totality and of those who get sick. This symptom then can be traced like a red thread throughout the pathogenesis.
The theme of both the illness-totality and the susceptible population (which happens to be all of humankind) is the conflict between the universal and the individual, sameness and uniqueness. We’ve witnessed this basic tug-of-war struggle in various guises over the past years.
This is the pole of opposites. A globalized world of humanity as an unspecified whole, versus humanity as a tapestry of variation. World dominance by a one-world government versus the sovereignty of nations. The elimination of gender versus the affirmation of one’s sex.
The race struggles that are so passionately charged now in the West express the conflict of integrating individuality and similarity. These are the symptoms of the day. Naturally, by the law of similars, they are writ large in Covid. Humankind has manifested (rather than being attacked by) its own, similar, universal acute miasm, and like all acutes, has the potential for healing the deeper, chronic diseases of humanity’s organism.
A.S. Can you give us an example from one of your cases, how you consider a patient in terms of her environmental, miasmatic, spiritual and historical context?
M.C. Here is a case example of a 32-year-old woman named Alisa. She came to me complaining of significant edema of her right leg. She had been diagnosed 6 years earlier with deep vein thrombosis of her right iliac vein. Doctors put her on Warfarin at that time for a whole year after trying various other medications (which had caused allergic reactions).
At the end of a year the thrombosis had disappeared, but the edema remained. She eventually found a doctor who diagnosed congenital lymphedema. Alisa is of a very slight build, dark brown hair, brown eyes and an olive complexion. The severe unilateral leg edema on such a fine-boned frame creates a paradoxical picture. (Editor’s note: The full case is presented at the end of this interview. )
Alisa’s case is both straightforward and interesting: straightforward in that all the elements of the case come together into a clear totality that can be recognized. Interesting in that she has an uncommon condition for which the success of homeopathic treatment is unknown.
I always begin understanding a case by observing external appearance and particularly the person’s morphological type. Alisa has a gynecoid-platypelloid morphology of the slender variety: a wider transverse diameter of her pelvis (and thus all her features including her face), small bust, square shoulders in width equal to her hips, and very fine bones. She has very dark thick hair and brows.
She wears earth tones, prefers skirts to trousers, and gives the impression of authenticity; she does not stand out in a crowd and nothing about her appearance is glaring (no cosmetics, natural eyebrows, earrings made of wooden beads).
She communicates openly. Her answers about herself are thoughtful and sincere and she readily describes what she deems to be negative traits about herself. Through the external appearance and mode of communication I usually get an approximation of the person’s dominant miasm.
Moving further into the case, I take into consideration the main complaint but only if it is specific, which in Alisa’s case it is very much so. Congenital lymphedema is a rather rare condition in which there are fewer lymph nodes in a specific extremity than normal. Sometimes the condition is associated with a mutation; in Alisa’s case none was found, but for our purposes this is superfluous (Generalities; congenital diseases).
Alisa’s physical and psychological general symptoms reflect the cancer miasm. Her main “theme” revolves around self-acceptance and indeed self-identity. Cancer miasm is also about the search for one’s place within the whole.
The cancerous tumor goes against the mainstream. It is both defiant (Mind; authority, refusal to accept someone’s) against the organism as a whole, and simultaneously perceives itself as being rejected (Mind; delusions, imaginations; persecuted, that he is; everyone, by).
They have an innate sense of not quite fitting in (Mirilli’s themes; isolation), not being like everyone else, indeed not being loved (Mind; forsaken feeling; loved, beloved by his parents, wife, friends, feels is not being). Their perception of pain runs very deep, as if it is a primal wound with a feeling of having been emotionally abused— regardless of the reality of the situation (Mind; abuse agg., ailments from; childhood, in).
This pain allows them to resonate with others who suffer (Mind; sympathetic, compassionate, too; suffering of others, to). Cancer miasm children usually feel under loved and often have parents who were demanding while being emotionally cold. Alisa’s history contains all of these elements.
She emphasised several times her difficulty in accepting her condition, as if she had become a different person; she spoke about her leg as if it was not her own and now needs to be integrated into her Self, or vice versa – her Self needs to integrate into her leg. Carcinosin has numerous interesting rubrics of delusion about one’s body or parts of the body being larger:
Mind; delusions, imaginations; body, body parts; enlarged
Mind; delusions, imaginations; body, body parts; larger, are
Mind; delusions, imaginations; enlarged; he is
Mind; delusions, imaginations; feet; belong to her, do not
We know that delusions and simple mind rubrics can be interchanged and that it doesn’t matter whether something is “real” or “delusional”, because the sensation the person experiences is real.
The morphology, etiology, and leading miasm having been identified, I take a look at the physical generals/modalities to see whether they correlate. In Alisa’s case we observe the following:
Generalities; motion, motions; amel.
Mind; dance, desires to; amel.
Generalities; food and drinks; chocolate; desires
Generalities; heated, warmed, hot, becoming; agg.
Generalities; cold; agg.; heat, and
Prescription: Carcinosin 1M, one dose.
Alisa returned after four months for the second consultation. She reported feeling more energy. She is no longer so nervous. As soon as she took the remedy she felt increased sexual desire.
Even though the time interval after the remedy corresponded with the summer months (and an unusually hot summer), her edema has lessened by 3 cm. along the entire leg. She doesn’t feel as much heaviness in her leg even without wearing the compression stocking.
If she gets tired the edema returns a tiny bit. The edema had originally started with her ankle and calf, and now those areas are the worst. She feels that the improvement continued up till about a month ago and has plateaued.
Second prescription: repeat Carcinosin and return after 3-4 months.
AS: Thank you so much Molly for sharing with us today.
Tropos School of Classical Homeopathy and Midwifery in St. Petersburg (Russia).