Inquiring Minds Want to Know!
In a previous editorial, Dr. Bhatia posed the question: What’s your success rate? Someone asked Andre Saine that very question during a lecture some 20-odd years ago and he modestly pish-poshed the whole thing. “I don’t get into that,” he said.
It’s very hard to talk about cure rates when there are so many variables, making comparisons impossible. All cases coming to the homeopath are not equal! For example, Andre Saine only takes the hardest cases—“incurable” cases. He could conceivably have a success rate of 30%, which under the circumstances would be fantastic, but not so great if he were treating the general population!
Then there’s the issue of the “Imperfect Patient”! Our patients are dissimilar in so many ways! In an ideal situation, every patient would put out a clear remedy picture, like my brother-in-law! Even I, with my beginner’s luck back in 1994, was able to appear to be a genius by discerning: his obsession with chocolate, marital infidelity, stinginess, obsequiousness to peers and superiors but dictatorial at home, desire for warm drinks and fresh air….it was clearly Lycopodium all the way!
But what happens when we get a case complicated by Rx drugs, addiction to sleeping pills and laxatives, numerous pathologies some of which are side-effects of drugs and ailments from poor lifestyle choices? How well is the so-called “simillimum” (right remedy) going to work in these cases? IS there one simillimum in such a case? I doubt it! Does it reflect badly on the homeopath if he can’t cure a case like this?
And what about the patient who won’t follow instructions? I had a client once who I told to order Calc-carb for her baby with insomnia and to inform me the minute it came in; instead, she started dosing her child on it right away based on the “instructions” on the bottle and caused an aggravation in short order! She said the child was doing well after the first dose but with subsequent doses got worse! I went into complete shock. “Didn’t I say to call me when the remedy came in? You’ve caused an aggravation!” I sent her antidoting instructions. I never heard from her again. I guess she was embarrassed? So, what would you call that, a “cure” because I got the remedy right? I don’t know!
And then there are clearly all the patients who are lost to homeopathy by practitioners who are not up on what Dr. Luc De Schepper calls “Hahnemann’s Advanced Methods”. This is a real shame. All homeopaths should be conversant with aphorisms 246, 247, 248 and 249 of The Organon, which clearly state that you MUST put the remedy in a bottle of water, you must succuss before each dose, and you must begin your chronic cases with the lower potencies so that you can adjust your dosing schedule and methods in accordance with your patient’s response to the first and subsequent doses and you should not allow aggravations in chronic cases which would not occur if you started the case with the smallest possible dose, raising the potency as the lower one wore off…. but who practices this way? 10% of homeopaths, I hear.
How many patients are fleeing homeopathy because of aggravations and the feeling that their practitioner has abandoned them? And then, when you never hear back from your patient, do you assume you’ve had a success, that he must have gotten well or he would have come back? How many of those patients are telling their friends to stay away from homeopathy because of how “dangerous” it is? I recently heard this on the Hpathy discussion board. Someone wrote in saying his whole family had been damaged by prescribing methods which Hahnemann clearly warned against in The Organon!
How many of us are familiar with aphorisms 275 and 276 where Hahnemann warns that the correctly chosen homeopathic remedy in too high a potency, or with too many repetitions can “…endanger a patient’s life or make the case incurable”? But isn’t that how most practitioners prescribe? I’ll never forget the lady who wrote in to the Hpathy discussion board about her husband who had been given Arsenicum 1M by a really famous practitioner, and she thought her husband was going to die! “I think he’s dying!” she said in desperation. Her homeopath wouldn’t return her phone calls, that’s why she was posting his case on the internet. This is aphorisms 275 and 276 come to life! We tried to give her antidoting instructions.
I’ve often read in various books that mental cases, in particular, have to be started with a 10M! I’m sure you’ve heard this too! I start them with 6 or 12C—in water, with 5 succussions before each dose, just like I do all my chronic cases, and you would be surprised how quickly you see results! See my Anacardium case, “Hell Is Right Here”, which I started with a 12C potency once a day:
Sure, the potency wears out! But just stay on top of things; tell your patient, “This potency is going to wear out. It doesn’t mean homeopathy doesn’t work, we expect it to wear out; so, let me know if your improvement starts to stall so we can start the next potency.” Why throw yourself to the top of the stairs and risk injury when you can go up one step at a time?
We have to end the mythology that aggravations are a good thing and, even worse, a reason to keep dosing! My instructions to clients always include the following: “If there’s a striking improvement, stop dosing. If there’s an aggravation, stop dosing!”
I would encourage everyone within the sound of my voice to read Dr. Luc De Schepper’s Hahnemann Revisited! By learning Hahnemann’s advanced methods, you’ll be able to wend your way through difficult and convoluted cases for which one dose of a 200C generally isn’t enough.
Then there are the acute cases. Our success rate here should be very high! (And here is where you need your high potencies!) This is where homeopathy can shine and where you as a practitioner can really make a difference! We can’t always help the person with chronic disease, but acutes are usually attended by a clear remedy picture! Being able to spot the remedy and give it can make all the difference between suffering and relief–even life and death! Whether it’s a virus, a toothache, facial neuralgia or a head injury, your success rate should be very high here!
But unfortunately, a lot of homeopaths don’t know how to take an acute case or, even worse, proudly proclaim, “I don’t take acute cases!” The ones who do, think they have to take the person’s whole life, a two hour case for an acute! Then they mix acute with chronic symptoms and come up with a mish-mosh!
Jonathan Breslow’s Homeopathic Medicine In the Home teaches how to take an acute case. I’ve modeled my Acute Case Questionnaire from his book. In an acute case, you have to know what to ask, that’s the trick to solving these cases; otherwise, you’ll be overwhelmed by desperate-sounding information from the patient and you’ll panic! You’ll say, “I don’t know what to do, geez, I just don’t know; have you thought of seeing a doctor?”
When people tell me they’re sick, I always get out my questionnaire. The Quiz section of the ezine is the result of all the acute cases I’ve taken. I can’t manage without the questionnaire. For example, there was “Inez’s” case, the child with tonsillitis, whose case was solved by the answer to the question, “What is most striking about your condition?”
“She’s eating butter off the stick,” said her mother.
That’s Pulsatilla! Now, how would that have ever surfaced spontaneously without the questionnaire? You have to know what to ask, that’s the whole trick in a nutshell. If you can just remember three words: Sensation, Location, Modalities. If you can remember just that much, you can go far with just these three questions! Oh, and the Etiology! Sorry I had to throw in one more thing. The etiology is the cause. Sometimes the cause is all you need to know. “I hurt my head when the trunk lid fell down on it!” Oh, that’s Arnica! I don’t need to know anymore! Etiology Rules! I strongly recommend Breslow’s book.
Another book I’d like to recommend is Mati Fuller’s Beyond the Veil of Delusions. I must say, it is one of the most lively and informative materia medicas I’ve ever read. She’s brought to life pictures of Arsenicum, Phosphorus, Staphysagria, Nux vomica and others in ways I never knew existed! What do you know about the Staphysagria male? I rest my case! For an example of Mati’s work, please see her article, “Give My Regards To Arsenicum!” in the February ’08 issue of the ezine
As long as I’m plugging materia medicas, I can’t leave out Paul Herscu’s Stramonium. Do you know why this book is important? It makes the point that a lot of homeopaths, unfortunately, are not aware of: There’s a certain category of remedy you’re going to need for extreme behavior, even though the totality of symptoms leads you to something else. You can have a child who eats 1,000 eggs a week, sweats on the back of his head and has cold and clammy hands and feet, but if he kicks you and tries to bite you; that’s not Calc-carb! You’re always looking for “the worst thing” when you take a case; you can’t ignore “the worst thing” just because of eggs!
I have a client right now who blows up when he’s interfered with and he bites and screams and kicks and threatens and hits and bangs his head against the wall and I look down the list of remedies this child has had — Calcarea carbonica, Nat-m, Silica, Phosphorus, Arsenicum, Staphysagria, Aconite, Ignatia…, and I can understand why all these remedies were given because they each represent some feature of the case but they don’t cover “the worst thing”!
This is the important lesson in Herscu’s Stramonium. And he also states that there’s a predictable transition back to the “normal” remedy; for example, after you’ve given Stramonium (or Belladonna or Hyoscyamus or Tarentula, etc.), you may next encounter a nosode, like Medorrhinum or Tuberculinum, before you finally get to Sulphur or or Calc-carb.
There’s a hierarchy of remedies, in other words; the “totality of symptoms” doesn’t hold for an extreme patient. So, I would like to strongly recommend Stramonium for those who want to improve their cure rate with their extreme and difficult patients.
So, in conclusion, my list of must-reads to improve your success rate:
Homeopathic Medicine in the Home
Beyond the Veil of Delusions
It’s a modest list so I don’t want to hear any complaints!
I’ll be in The Quiz section if anybody wants me….
Elaine Lewis, DHom, CHom
Elaine takes online cases. Write to her at [email protected]
Visit her website: https://ElaineLewis.hpathy.com
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