(Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200.00)
If you’re new to homeopathy, you may be taken aback by the sheer quantity of questions we ask; plus, a lot of them might seem irrelevant! “Where do you want to go on vacation?” What? What does that have to do with anything? You may be tempted to shake your head and wonder, “Why do I have to answer this?” My mother always used to say, “Why do you have to know so much?”
My apologies. I wish I could just say, like doctors do, “What’s wrong with you?” and have that be the end of it! But, I get answers like, “My nose is stuffed up!” or “My shoulder hurts.”
And what can a homeopath do with “information” like that? Nothing! Did you ever stop to think that no two people have the same diagnosis exactly alike? Think about it! Sometimes your nose is just barely running, other times it’s running like a faucet! Sometimes it only runs indoors and stops when you go outdoors. The discharge can be either bland or burning. A pain can be sharp, dull, etc., and be soothed by a heating pad or an ice-pack! In homeopathy, these are the details that make all the difference.
Our goal is to discern the unique way in which you have your pain or stuffy nose.
There are over 2,000 homeopathic remedies. They have profiles. We match your profile to a remedy profile, that’s how we know what remedy to give. What determines a remedy’s profile? The “Provings”! What are they? Provings are trials: volunteers take a remedy repeatedly until the symptoms of the remedy break out. The volunteers, or “provers”, keep a journal of every change that occurs during their trial period, it might be 30 days. In the end, a profile is gleaned from all the provers’ journals.
Let me give you an example, every time you drink alcohol in overdose, you’re conducting a “proving”! You’re “proving” alcohol! So what do we know from an alcohol proving? That a person with slurred speech or a stumbling gait might benefit from the remedy Alcohol—or Alchoholus, as all our remedy names are in Latin. A proving is recorded in the Homeopathic Materia Medica. If you think you know a person’s remedy, you would look it up here for confirmation.
Who looks like “Alcohol”–other than drunks? Stroke victims! Am I right? Such individuals might benefit from homeopathic alcohol, though we have many remedies for stroke, you’d have to differentiate among them.
Think of 2,000 remedies, all with peculiar sets of symptoms and behaviors, and you can see that we have our work cut out for us!
Let’s look at the oft-prescribed remedy, Arsenicum alb. (homeopathic arsenic)
We can see Arsenicum in numerous conditions–the flu, food poisoning, hepatitis, anxiety, etc. What is the Arsenicum profile? The tell-tale signs of Arsenicum are very easy to spot; here they are: restlessness, pacing, anxiety, fear of being alone, the need for company, the constant need for reassurance, fear of death, fear of germs, thirsty for sips at a time; a need for everything to be in its place, an aversion to disorder, perfectionism, a need to make detailed plans, chilliness and weakness and so on. Arsenicum complaints tend to come after midnight. So, for example, your asthma patient may say that he’s fine all day until 1:00 in the morning when his attack comes on and he must sit up–another Arsenicum sign. They are chilly and no amount of heat ever seems to be enough. The pains they have tend to have a burning quality; discharges are watery, acrid, burning and offensive. Complaints are often right-sided so maybe the Arsenicum runny nose is only in the right nostril. There’s a desire for fat, sour food and alcohol. Do you see now what we’re looking for in a case? I am always asked, “What experience do you have treating my disease?” and I say, “First of all, nobody has your disease but you.” People think they have a common disease but in truth, they all have it differently. I look for remedy pictures. They show up regardless of the name of your disease.
Let’s go back to your runny nose! One thing we always ask about is the “concomitant” symptom! That means, what else is wrong with you? You may say, “nothing”, but if you think about it, you may realize that it’s a bit odd that your eyes are running at the same time as your nose, but the eye discharge burns while the nasal discharge doesn’t! We would say, “Nasal discharge with concomitant burning lacrymation.” The concomitant is often the “strange/rare/peculiar” aspect of the case that we’re always looking for when trying to solve. In homeopathy, “peculiar” is gold! Think of the “peculiar” as a shortcut to the right remedy. The common symptoms of your complaint might lead to a remedy “eventually”, but the “peculiar” symptom is like a secret passage that will take you there right away!
In fact, you can think of homeopathy as a board game! There’s the usual way of getting to the remedy–simply adding up all the symptoms–OR, there are all the “short-cuts”!
“Who Is Guilty of Disordering This Patient?” Is it Mr. Arsenicum? Is it Mr. Alcoholus? In collecting the clues while traveling along the Homeopathy Board, you would be HOPING to land on one of the STRANGE, RARE & PECULIAR squares! Take a card, it would say. “Solve this riddle and you’re home free! What remedy has a burning eye discharge and a concomitant bland nasal discharge?” If you guessed Euphrasia, you’re the winner!!!! Why is it peculiar? Because one discharge is bland and the other is burning! Common symptoms do not lead to remedies!
Wait, this game’s not over! Peculiars aren’t the only short-cut! If you failed to land on the Peculiar Square, don’t despair, for the MODALITIES are coming up! And what are the “modalities”? They are the influences that make your complaint better or worse! We HAVE to know these!!!!! Oddly enough, you’ve probably given no thought to this; but, imagine: You’ve got a cold. You walk outside, it’s gone. You come back inside, it’s back! So what are the modalities here? “Worse warm, closed rooms, better open air”. Now you know the remedy, right? It’s Allium cepa!
Another person will be aggravated by the very same exposure! Nux vomica, for example, would prefer a warm room and be worse outside in the brisk fresh air!
I know, it’s hard to believe. But you know, if you were unlucky in rolling the dice and missed the Peculiar Square and the Modalities Square too, there is still hope for you, because the ETIOLOGY EXIT is coming up, and could be your salvation! Sometimes as soon as we find out the etiology (the cause of the complaint), that’s all we need to hear, Game Over! “You’ve had this complaint ever since a head injury playing football? That’s Nat-sulph!” GAME OVER!
But no, I’m sorry, we are not finished yet! (Everybody knows the game of “Homeopathy” takes forever!) Is there a particular “Sensation” that comes with your complaint? Well, landing on “The Sensation Super Highway” could take you right to the finish line! What remedy has “Burning pains?” That’s right, Arsenicum alb.!
Now hold on, hold on, we haven’t even gotten to the “I” symptoms yet! They’re called the “Generals”. Those are all the symptoms that begin with the word “I”: “I’m hot, I’m thirsty for ice cold drinks, I’m restless, I’m scared of dying, I’ve got the chills but I don’t want to be covered, I’m sleepy–I must sleep, I want lemonade….” These “I” cards trump the “My” cards (the symptoms that start with the word “My”, as in, “My nose feels dry, my eye itches, my toe hurts, my stomach aches….”). When you put your symptoms in order of most to least important, the “I’s” have it! You might say that if every time you throw the dice you land on a “My” square, that wouldn’t bode well for you solving your case!
Oh geez, no game of “Homeopathy” would be complete without the coveted “Mentals” card! This is your Homeopathy “Boardwalk” and “Park Place”!
When we see a flu victim, for example, who is apathetic, dull, drowsy, droopy and dizzy who answers stuporously, “Huh?” to every question he’s asked, we consider this as much a part of the case as the chills and the fever, because the Mentals represent the Deepest Level of the case! Needless to say, the remedy HAS to cover the deepest level! So, try to throw “doubles” and land directly on the square marked “Mentals”, pick up a “Mentals Card”, answer correctly, and be home free!
This understanding is the exact opposite of Orthodox Medicine’s approach which focuses only on the local symptoms, the “My” symptoms, only; and consequently, views illness so narrowly, it can’t cure even a single common virus! And speaking of viruses, here is one of our most often used remedies for viruses where the mental picture consists of a besotted, toxic appearance, and it is our dear friend, Gelsemium!
To a homeopath, an illness is a lot more than just the local complaint; we see the remedy show up everywhere in the person, but we’re never sure where it’s going to show up best! In the disposition? The emotional state? The mental state? The food and drink desires? The sensation? This is why we cast a wide net! And when we arrive at the right remedy, we fully expect the patient to improve on all levels, in every sphere, not just locally; after all, we’ve taken a complete case, haven’t we? Wouldn’t you rather improve all over after taking a medicine rather than in just one spot?
Let’s take a look at two remedies and see how “runny nose” can present in two entirely different ways in a patient:
Runny nose, worse in warm rooms; better outside.
Eyes and nose run like faucets! The discharge from the eyes is bland while the nasal discharge is burning and corrodes the upper lip.
Sneezing, especially when entering a warm room.
The cause is likely to be damp, cold, windy weather.
Worse on lying down, better from moving.
Mercurius (homeopathic Mercury):
Burning slimy nasal discharge.
Warm room aggravates.
Damp weather aggravates.
Sunshine causes sneezing.
Nostrils are ulcerated.
Yellow-green, pus-like discharge.
Thirsty with excessive salivation, even drooling.
Worse from slight heat and slight cold. (Almost all temperatures disagree.)
Tongue coated yellow.
Burning discharge from the eyes.
Worse at night.
Goes from feeling hot to cold and back again very easily.
Runny nose, yes; but two completely different remedies, and, hence, a whole lot of detailed questioning: What’s the diagnosis? What’s the sensation? What’s the cause? What are the “modalities” (things that make the case better or worse)? What are the “concomitants” (the “along-with” symptoms)? What are the “mentals”? What about food or drink cravings? And after all that we might finally be able to make a declarative statement like, “Professor Plumbum did it with the lead pipe in the hall!”
Elaine Lewis, D.Hom., C.Hom.
Elaine takes online cases. Write to her at [email protected]
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