AR: In many new models of health care, the patient will not be hospitalized for things they now are, so this question in the coming years will be less and less relevant. The purpose of the hospital was to concentrate expensive equipment and operating rooms. As we move toward powerful pharmaceuticals and in-office equipment and procedures, traditional uses of the overnight hospital stay will become less and less common.
That said, happy to answer the question as posed! First off, we would not use the word intervene. Homeopathy is a helpful tool to use alongside other approaches whether allopathic or integrative. There are many reasons why a patient would be in the hospital and those reasons would inform the role that homeopathy plays. We have had numerous opportunities to treat those in life or death situations in hospital, whether at the first breath of life or the last, during acute ailments and when the ravages of chronic disease are taking their toll; we have worked with head trauma patients and those who have been the recipients of donor organs, those recovering from joint replacement and those getting tonsils out. There is no difference as to how you take the case with someone who is hospitalized. You look at the specific symptoms they have, you look at physical general symptoms, you take into account temperamental aspects and you prescribe the best remedy you can, to match the presenting symptoms. We do not worry about other drugs or diagnostic tests or IVs. We use the best potency you might think of, sometimes lower and repeated, at other times the highest available.
One of the main goals of all physicians is to keep people out of the hospital, but there is a time and a place for hospital care and homeopathy can be used in so many situations. The general list of what kind of patients might benefit from homeopathy while hospitalized includes:
1. Patients in for diagnostic work-ups. In some of these, a patient may experience an adverse event, such as from a toxic exposure or an allergy. There can also be trauma involved or an emotional response to a procedure or news revealed from a diagnostic work-up. In each of these cases, homeopathy can help support the patient, so that essential findings are gleaned but the patient has not suffered unnecessarily.
2. Severe acute ailments. Trauma or acute illness can bring patients to the hospital setting as we all know. Very often we’re dealing with species susceptibility (vs. individual susceptibility) so that the overall number of possible remedies to choose from is often MUCH less and therefore the possibility of getting it right is much greater, i.e., there is a smaller number of remedy presentations in trauma cases. Likewise, severe acute illnesses are also responsive to homeopathic remedies. In many of these ailments, time is one of the most important variables; the quicker help can be found, the better. The correct homeopathic remedy during an acute illness or event can be extremely helpful and though there is more variability than in a first aid or trauma situation, the overall number of remedy possibilities is also lower than say compared to treating someone with chronic disease.
3. We also use homeopathy post surgery for elective or planned procedures in order to support and promote healing. Remedies can speed up the healing time and help with the emotional aspects often involved.
4. The other place we use homeopathy in the hospital setting is to help care for the caregivers, certainly to support family members who are often there around the clock and can easily succumb to worry and the stress of the setting.
AS: A question that often comes up is, how is treating cancer similar to and different from treating other illnesses?
AR: In some respects, this question has various levels of complexity. Let me start with the very basic answer. We don’t treat cancer, we treat people who have cancer. We don’t treat bronchitis, we treat people who have bronchitis. And I have to be very particular here, as the difference between the question and the answer is the difference that leads to many misconceptions both for homeopaths and for those looking at homeopathy. If the question is how do you treat cancer, then what you’re saying is, you see disease as an externalizing force, as something outside ourselves that attacks us. In the latter, disease is a manifestation or an internalized force or disequilibrium. I know, at this time, in the homeopathic community there is a host of writing and beliefs that lead to a ‘modified’ version of homeopathy, where at times more than one remedy is give, etc. and that these people fit into a unique set. However, I have always seen this ‘set’ creations in homeopathy as both transitory to our professional history, and missing the overarching grandness of homeopathic practice.
Ok, so from this point of view, treating people who are presenting with cancer is similar to treating other people. For example, when the person is strong, has a clear presentation, has had few disturbances to their constitution, they often present and need a polychrest, and when they have been in poor health for many years, have had many disturbances, they may need a more rare remedy. The rules around repetition are the same as other patients. Follow-up considerations are the same. For example, if they are having concurrent chemotherapy, then that treatment may alter the presentation, and the way one deciphers that situation is similar to how one deciphers a change that occurs if someone just went on a drug for Hepatitis C, or for Rheumatoid arthritis, or in another case for someone who did not go on a drug and has these complaints, but just was in a car accident and broke bones, or was just robbed at gunpoint and is dealing with PTSD. The rules of how we contend with new symptoms that arise during treatment we described nearly 30 years ago, rules based on case after case, and they still fit perfectly today. This is the case whether someone has an acute disease or a disease that is currently considered incurable by our medical colleagues.
To sum up, I believe that a better way to think about the question asked is to focus less about the disease in question and more about the patient in question. I believe in doing so, we will discover why it is that some people who have a particular cancer, for example, can live 30 years with it, where others only live 30 months. The way to understand the heterogeneity found in these diseases has little to do with the disease itself, and most to do with the patient in question. The more we can remember that, the less confounding factors enter into the clinician’s practice, which is better both for the physician and the patient.
The difficulty for the prescriber is to understand how to use the full current understanding of pathology, and yet not lose the patient in the storyline. Making believe that the disease does not exist is not helpful. Making believe that the patient does not exist, and it is all disease, is likewise not helpful. I can give you an example of this as well. If you look at any therapeutics book, and there are many, of them, you find one common error. You find the symptoms of the disease, stated as if the disease walked in to your office. For example, in hay fever, if you look at any book, what you read is about the nose symptoms, and the eye symptoms and the mouth/throat symptoms. However, most often the correct prescription is decided upon, not just by these symptoms, but as importantly and often more importantly, by how the patient is responding to those symptoms. For example, the most consistent feature of Nux vomica hay fever is the irritation of these symptoms getting in the way of the patient functioning, whereas the most consistent feature of the Natrum muriaticum hay fever is the absolute embarrassment around the sneezing and the puffy eyes, and having everyone looking at them. Ultimately, the rest of the local symptoms may be similar or somewhat different, but the nexus of those local symptoms with the rest of the functioning of the patient is where homeopathy is unique. In 200 years, no therapeutics book has been written with this in mind. All have been written as if the disease existed by itself, outside the patient. It is such discordant messages our profession sometimes manifests that confuses the homeopath.
AS: Amy and Paul, it’s been wonderful chatting with you. Thank you for handling these questions with such depth and clarity. I hope our readers will explore your work and especially Cycles and Segments.
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