This is an updated version of an article which first appeared in Simile, November 2020. Published with permission from the Faculty of Homeopathy www.facultyofhomeopathy.org
Any attempt to put 2020 into words could not adequately describe the vast array of emotions so many of us have felt. Shock, disbelief, cynicism, scepticism was replaced with a harsh reality.
Isolation, lockdown, hoarding, fighting; survival instincts in all their guises. This was and continues to be a very real situation. No matter what our views on the management or possible mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic, many of us feel powerless.
From a personal point of view, I have found my power and influence in maintaining contact with my patients and attempting to inform them and the public through the writing of relevant articles.
Here, I drive home the important message of taking care of oneself; focussing on prevention of illness, removing maintaining causes, and if infection hits, treating according to homeopathic principles, with appropriate referrals, should this be necessary.
There was security in knowing that at least something was set in stone to help with fragile emotions and debilitating physical symptoms – the homeopathic way forward as stated by homeopathy’s founder in Aphorism 2. Healing according to Hahnemann should be done “rapidly, gently and permanently; to remove and destroy the whole disease in the shortest, surest, least harmful way, according to clearly comprehensible principles.”
The bigger picture
It is clear to see the pandemic has destructive implications on every level – humanitarian, personal, professional – and has profoundly touched us all in ways we could never have imagined. In true homeopathic form, therefore, I will look at the bigger picture and discuss from my perspective and observations, how, amid the chaos, there is evidence that this virus and all that accompanies it has had some positive effect on the world.
Firstly, and for clarity, I offer a definition of “lockdown” – an unfortunate sequela of the virus – followed by a discussion around the global homeopathic approach and the human effect.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary gives three definitions of the word “lockdown”:
- the confinement of prisoners to their cells for all or most of the day as a temporary security measure
- an emergency measure or condition in which people are temporarily prevented from entering or leaving a restricted area or building during a threat of danger
- a temporary condition imposed by governmental authorities (as during the outbreak of an epidemic disease) in which people are required to stay in their homes and refrain from or limit activities outside the home involving public contact.
All of these have proved to be true, with the forced isolation being likened to that of being a prisoner, especially for those in the vulnerable category, such as the elderly, who however healthy were forced into a captive state.
When dealing with this professionally one was therefore faced with not just the physical symptoms of illness, but often the shocking mental and emotional symptoms caused by the lockdown.
Limiting the impact of COVID-19
As homeopaths we truly have had our work cut out. Dealing with this pandemic on every level, the importance of the totality of symptoms has possibly never been more applicable: mental/emotional, physicals and modalities had to be taken into account.
According to the American homeopath C M Boger (1861 – 1935): “The simillimum (curative remedy) releases reactive power strong enough to re-establish harmony which in turn is capable of sweeping away almost any morbid condition.”
In the same vein, George Vithoulkas stated in March this year: “The advantage of homeopathy lies in the fact that the diagnosis of the indicated remedy is based on the individual symptoms, not in the pathology.
This pandemic is a great opportunity for homeopathy to show the advantage we have over other systems of medicine. Why? Because conventional medicine has to wait until they have found the cause for the pathology before they can start treating a case.
On the contrary, in homeopathy we take into consideration the response of the organism to the causative factor (the totality of the symptoms) in order to start the treatment.” An opportunity, therefore, for true classical homeopathy to be practised – where possible. (I say “where possible” as time constraints and thousands of cases at once make lengthy case taking impractical, or unrealistic, in a pandemic.)
The search for the genus epidemicus is crucial, but in the meantime measures to limit the devastating impact of this virulent infection must be explored. That is why work on the prophylactic approach is so important and how homeopathy can, I believe, have a role to play.
Cuba is a shining example of how the use of homeopathy can help to reduce the number of infections and deaths from COVID-19, highlighting how this form of prevention should be taken more seriously by doctors and scientists.
I will discuss this in more detail later. It has also been a time where the integration of different systems of medicine has come to the fore, once again proving how indispensable the idea of “taking the best of everything” for an integrative approach has proved to be in our interests.
As defined by the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine: “Integrative Medicine is healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person, including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasises the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapies.”
Homeopathy can play an important role in the fight against COVID-19, as it is particularly suited to treating viral illnesses. But the conventional approach must not be ignored when the patient’s condition demands it. The ideal scenario would be a mutual respect between the two systems of medicine, where they complement each other to facilitate optimum healing.
Many positives regarding the unification of our community have been observed throughout the last few months. Homeopaths from many countries have met up, sharing data, strategies, protocols, and as a result a sense of global community and resilience has emerged.
Much of this has been achieved by the increased use of technology. Speaking personally, my circle of professional contacts has expanded massively from taking part in webinars and Zoom calls.
Embracing technology has therefore been an important factor in unifying the international homeopathic community where in the face of this global pandemic we have generally achieved a commendable level of unity.
Around the world many organisations have been set up, offering help and advice to enable homeopaths to continue treating patients suffering from a wide range of conditions, including COVID-19, but always with the option of referring to the conventional medics should this be necessary.
I am aware that members from the Faculty of Homeopathy have embarked on important research during these challenging times. In addition, several experienced homeopaths such as Jeremy Sherr, Clare Waters and Peter Gold and many others have dedicated themselves to working exclusively on COVID-19.
To further highlight the work being done and the spirit of collaboration that has been fostered within the homeopathic community, I would like to specifically highlight two projects from North America. In the US, Homeopathy Help Now is a coalition of professional practitioners who all have a recognised qualification in homeopathy.
Describing themselves as a US based homeopathic taskforce, they offer a telemedicine service to make it easy for patients to get help during this time of social distancing. All cases are contributing to a large-scale clinical-outcomes survey designed to support international research in the clinical efficacy of homeopathy.
A sliding scale of charges are outlined, with financial assistance request/availability for those that cannot afford to pay for acute care. Details can be found here: https://homeopathyhelpnow.com/
Having spent the last few months in Canada, I have been involved in a project through The Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine where I undertook post graduate studying, called the Canada Acute Care Team.
Although originally it was intended to help people in Toronto, its services are now available nationally, offering a Canada-wide referral service for patients seeking a qualified homeopath who might be able to help them with their acute symptoms.
Homeopaths involved in the project are encouraged to offer their services for acute care patients on a voluntary basis. It is hoped that the infrastructure created with this project can later be used for further patient referrals to homeopaths across Canada.
They are working in association with Homeopathy Help Now collecting and submitting data into an international database. Details of the Canadian Acute care team can be found here: https://ochm.ca/sos/?fbclid=IwAR1AGLj1haNJn4GTAVGlb943g_DWSvV4lXQ93XqMyRIE0mvfdGTx1K_IS8E
The advent of COVID-19 is a global tragedy, but it has set in motion projects such as these that will extend our worldwide presence and influence.
The prophylactic approach
The success of the prophylactic approach is best exemplified in Cuba, where homeopathic treatments were incorporated into the National Health System in 1992 and are an integral part of the country’s healthcare.
At the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Cuba used homeopathy in an attempt to boost the immune systems of its people and minimise contagion. A new medication, Prevengovir, a homeopathic immunological booster, was distributed among the Cuban population to help prevent viral infections like COVID-19.
Dr Francisco Duran is the National Director of Epidemiology of the Cuban Ministry of Public Health. He explained that Prevengovir is a sublingual preparation which was first administered to high risk groups such as the elderly. The homeopathic remedies used in Prevengovir are a combination of:
- Anas berberiae 200
- Baptisia tinctora 200
- Bacillinum 30
- Pyrogenum 200
- Eupatorium perf 200
- Influezinum 200
- Arsenicum Album 200
Although homeopathy is not mentioned, Cuba’s success in controlling COVID-19 was reported in a September edition of the New York Times: “With 11.2 million people, Cuba had just over 5,000 coronavirus cases and 115 deaths by Friday (18th September 2020), one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.
By comparison, Puerto Rico, with 3.2 million people, had five times as many deaths.” It’s probably too early to definitively say how successful this approach has been; however, I feel Cuba’s decision to use Prevengovir as a prophylactic, along with other precautions, is largely responsible for the country’s low rates of infection and mortality from COVID-19. In addition, they continue to have a low rate of deaths per million (12, at the time of updating, November 2020, the UK have, by comparison, 860.)
I know this particular homeopathic approach is seen to be controversial to some within our community, but where thousands of lives have been saved, there can be, in my opinion, no argument as to the methodology, or which category it falls under whether it be isopathy, homeopathy, or another. Let us maintain our otherwise commendable level of unity and dignity, without arguing amongst ourselves in times of global tragedy and crisis.
A year ago, it would have been difficult to predict the extent of the changes in our world. In addition to the over one million deaths from COVID-19, there are consequences of the pandemic that are undeniably as bad as the illness itself, including loneliness, depression and other forms of mental and emotional disease caused by fear and isolation.
Then there are those who have had surgery or diagnostic tests cancelled. The economic impact on individuals and the nation as a whole will take years to overcome. Tragedy and misfortune are widespread. Even so, without diminishing the gravity of our current situation, it is important to recognise that there have been positive aspects in how people have responded to coronavirus and the new world it has created.
All over the world communities have come together to help each other. For instance, food banks have been set up and vital supplies delivered to the elderly, vulnerable and others in need. These projects have attracted people from all walks of life.
A close friend of mine, who has been deeply involved in such a project, told me they have the CEO of a large London company delivering donated food supplies in his spare time. This sort of selfless act has become a common phenomenon during the pandemic.
Let us hope this heightened sense of community continues long after the current global health emergency ends. The situation we find ourselves in is both unnerving and unnatural. But for many people, being forced to stay at home has given them the time to reflect, to take stock and to re-evaluate their lives and what is important to them.
Many don’t want to return to the way they were living pre-Covid. They have realised they want a more streamlined, less hectic way of life that gives them more time for their relationships, for the people and things they hold dear, and for themselves.
During this challenging period, two things in particular stand out for me. I have seen people become more considerate and compassionate towards each other, and homeopathy as a profession become more united in its response to coronavirus.
So, yes, there are some things to be optimistic about. Let’s hope that the excellent work being done by homeopaths around the world and the unifying spirit that coronavirus has engendered continue after the pandemic is over.
Perhaps then homeopathy as a system of medicine will become even more widely accepted throughout the world and the words of Samuel Hahnemann become reality. “In time, our art shall become the God-blessed oak. It will extend its enormous branches, steadfast through the storms. Humanity, who has already suffered from so much evil, shall rest below its righteous shadow.”