Once I was a recalcitrant non-believer and skeptic of homeopathy. Maybe this was based on my materialistic upbringing, which led me to only accept knowledge of touchable and measurable things. Life followed its course, and now I can understand what my grandfather, Dr. Ignacio Larios used to say: “Life is like a river; it takes you as it flows, but you are able to try to swim to the points you are interested in, and maybe you will reach them.”
Sixteen years after graduation I opened a practice as a veterinary doctor. My attitude toward homeopathy had already changed, and the first two patients I received had no hope with allopathic treatments. I had a Golden Retriever with open pyoderma which tends to relapse, and another pseudo epileptic dog. For the first one I called Dr. Fernando Francois and told him the Golden Retriever’s problem. His advice was of great help. The pyoderma only relapsed after a year and a half and the dog suffered much less than the first time. The ailment never reappeared after the next treatment. The pseudo epileptic dog was treated with Strychnine 30C and the seizures disappeared completely. I then concluded: “If God wants me to become a homeopath I better begin studying. Homeopathy in depth”
Since then many animals have been treated with homeopathy, and I can report that the most enriching experiences were about the methods followed in the practice. In the following I’m going to summarize my most important experiences and conclusions:
- First, one should always be sure that the client is describing the problem correctly. There is a book entitled House and philosophy: Everybody Lies. People don’t really want to lie to the doctor, but they often keep information back which they do not consider to be relevant or important enough. This could be due to their habits with allopathic case taking, which is quite limited and on isolated items. In homeopathic case taking, it is of utmost importance to ensure that every symptom and everything that has changed since onset of the disease, has been recorded. This is because we have to consider the patient as a whole, for a successful treatment. Also, patients may intentionally hold information back, because they are ashamed to say certain things, or because it makes them feel sick. For an untrained person to speak of the characteristics of vomiting, diarrhea, feces or genital secretions, might be difficult or embarrassing. This also holds true if people talk about their pets. We have to create the necessary environment of confidence to make people feel comfortable and encourage them to talk freely. Even more important is to learn how to conduct an interview and to ask the correct, necessary and important questions.
- The physical examination of the patient should be made very carefully. All systems should be examined and all findings must be registered. Do not skip any part of the body, as it might render valuable information. Examine, palpate, auscultate, percuss, move, and if necessary, do lab tests or imaging studies. I often hear the argument that these are not necessary for homeopathic treatment, but I disagree. For instance, I received a dog whose regular veterinarian had declared it to be very ill. His urine was orange coloured, the liver was augmented in size and the hepatic enzymes were very high. I repertorized the symptoms and chose Arsenicum album for treatment. He responded well and the problem disappeared. Two months later he fell from a bed and received treatment with anti-inflammatory ointments and prednisone, whose indiscriminate use I disapprove of, since being a veterinary student. The findings about his hepatic enzymes in September 2010, when he came to me, were as follows: ALT 942, AST 598, and AP 346, which were very high. When he had the accident two months later, his values were: ALT 290, AST 75, and AP 1908. The doctor said his case were hopeless because his liver was damaged too much and he wanted to put him to sleep. The owner wanted to have another opinion and brought him to me. He seemed lively and healthy apart from a little lameness resulting from the fall. If you compare the findings you can see that the patient is improving. The elevation in AP (alkaline phosphatase) was very probably due to the treatment with prednisone, or due to the tissue injury from the fall, as muscles and bones also produce AP.
- Records must always be saved. Often we forget why the patient came and what has been done. The most difficult situation is to remember what you did, but not why you did it. Records must include a systematic report of the consultation, system by system, and organ by organ. Just look at the case I just mentioned. The patient was getting better, which was obvious. You didn’t need a lab test to see that, but it is always advisable to have these tests for case management. The dog would have been sentenced to death, due to a wrong decision. If the allopath had kept records he would have observed the improvement in the patient’s liver.
- Don’t be ashamed of your limited knowledge. But don’t rely on your intuitional capabilities to “feel” the remedy, omitting a thorough examination of the case. We have to treat patients, not diseases in allopathic terms. It is always better to check your patient’s symptoms in the repertory, than to neglect symptoms or prescribe a remedy that does not cover the patient’s characteristic symptoms. You might be thinking of Podophylum, but after repertorization, choose Phosphorus, as has happened to me.
- Sometimes the owner will ask for the name of the remedy his pet is receiving, and sometimes not. So, be prepared to explain what a homeopathic remedy is. Some owners feel scared hearing their beloved pet is going to take mercury, arsenic, stramonium, or snake poisons. It may sound Macbethian (remember the witches?) or Halloween-like to them. Try to explain that homeopathic remedies are not poisonous, that they do not contain any of the original substance (if prescribed above 12C/24X), but that the remedial effect is somehow preserved and enhanced during the process of dynamization. Also, there are interesting studies on the physics of homeopathic remedies done by Dr. Vicente Rosas-Landa of the National Polytechnic Institute (Mexico) available on the web. It is of great help to tell them that they are not receiving a placebo. I had a great grand uncle, in a little town in the State of Jalisco, Mexico, who was a sort of medicine man and wizard. My mother told us that he used a nice selection of herbs and minerals, but sometimes he used plain water, especially when he was asked for something to produce “good fortune”. My mother was a girl then and asked him the reason for the water and he said: “My child, sometimes people just need something to support their faith and confidence.” Of course, confidence is important, but homeopathic remedies prepared in solutions of alcohol and lactose differ from water and from the properties of allopathic medicines.
- Homeopathic dosage cannot be compared with allopathic dosing, where the dose depends on the size or age of the patient. In homeopathy the potency is primarily important, not the dose. Compared with humans, animals have a clear mind and body, not to mention soul. They usually require less repetitions and need medicines for a much shorter time.
- Potency is easier to handle in animals. Usually a 30C or a 6C will be effective, but I have seen better results with a 30C. 200C is seldom used and many times it is only used for diseases of the nervous system. Of course, these potencies also affect other systems, but it is preferred to use them for mental or nervous ailments. Unfortunately, LM’s are not available commercially below LM6 here in Mexico, and I feel a little uncomfortable skipping potencies, so for me, the centesimals work better.
- The application of remedies differs in animals. I feel very comfortable when I treat myself, as I can take my dose precisely on time and in a simple way, by opening a vial and taking three globules. Animals are not so easy. Most of them do not like the taste of alcohol, so globules are preferred.
- Some people are afraid that the dry globules will not work. But the lactose adsorbs water, and it is in this water that the medicinal power is preserved.
- You can dilute the globules in water and apply, or, sometimes I have found it handy to use milk, especially for cats. Drinking water is useful when we have several patients in a herd or several cats for de-worming.
- Crushing the globules can help to avoid the animals spitting uut the medicine, but I do not find it very practical.
- Once in a seminar on alternative medicine in horses, Dr. HÃ©ctor Zumano-LÃ³pez (teacher and researcher at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Zootechnia of the National Autonomous University of Mexico) told us that they would administer homeopathic remedies by spraying it into the animals’ mouths. However, I find it a little uncomfortable and don’t apply them in this way. Just lift the lips a little bit and toss it on the teeth and gums. Bingo, the medicine is taken. Anyway, we are dealing with energy, not with matter, so I consider it unfailing. If the patient is very aggressive and you cannot raise the lip without being bitten, do not fight, just spray it near the nose. The droplets float near the nose and the animal will inhale it.
- It is important to know that homeopathy is universal and works regardless of the race or species, even for plants, but you always have to consider the patient’s temperament. Some practitioners argue in favor of a species-related remedy, but I do not agree with the idea. Patients in veterinary medicine are highly individualized. I once heard that a medicine was being used specifically for horses, because of their nervous temperament. I remember riding my filly in a very busy avenue in Mexico City thirty four years ago. There were always drivers who would blast their horns trying to scare the horse. My horse never reacted, not even the first time I took her on the street. Cars, trucks, trailers could blow their horns or even an emergency vehicle, but Paloma, the horse, didn’t care. We see animals with very different attitudes in a variety of situations. The reaction to sickness is also different in every one of them. I know that species have a more or less constant pattern of behavior and reaction, but all the variations that we can expect in human behavior, can be found in animals too.
- Miasms are another thing worth considering. You will see all of them in animals. The three basic miasms are present, and I personally think that they are reactional modes, inherent to the patient. Think about it; when we see superficial sickness we are seeing the superficial manifestations of a complete pathological state that encompasses the whole patient. We can think that we are treating a skin problem, but in fact we are giving medication for the whole state of the patient at his deepest strata. I do not know of a skin remedy which does not affect the other tissues or organs of the patient, including the mental sphere. When we treat skin, we are also correcting inner tendencies that have not been clearly manifest. These tendencies must be suffering a change or a correction, even if we didn’t know of their existence. If we treat skin ailments superficially, as with allopathic methods, we risk the inner disease affecting more important regions and organs. This is valid not only for the skin, but for any other organ systems, such as the respiratory or digestive system.
- Mexican vets are also trained in animal husbandry (our professional title is: MÃ©dico Veterinario Zootecnista), which is advantageous. Sadly, when it comes to nutrition, vet’s often think that the statements written on the pet food labels are the “bible”. The most important thing I learned here, is that miasms exist in the patient, regardless of whether they are reactional modes or chronic sicknesses. Nosological agents exist, either biological, chemical or physical, and the environment interacts with the patient and modifies the course of disease, as does bad diet.
I hope these thoughts will help paint a clearer picture of what veterinary practice is. I do not want to show off, but I believe they are something I can share. Finishing with a great lesson is always very important. Of course it is lesson I received at the Homeopathic Medical Institute of Mexico. Dr. Beatriz Pulido gave us a lecture on the homeopathic approach to gynecology and finished with the following statement:
“Don’t be allopaths … and don’t be homeopaths either. Be physicians, and give your patients what they need. ”