Note: The Times Union is not responsible for posts and comments written by non-staff members.

Homeopathy explained

Homeopathy is often cloaked in mystery and misunderstanding. I invited Dr. Larry Malerba, a seasoned homeopathic physician, to shed light on this holistic modality. Be well.

Homeopathy Explained
by Larry Malerba, DO

As an osteopathic physician with homeopathic training I have been using homeopathic medicine as the primary therapy in my medical practice for almost 30 years now. I have used it to successfully treat acute illnesses like ear infections, coughs, sinusitis, laryngitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and viral illnesses like flu. I have also found that it works wonderfully for back injuries, ankle sprains, muscle strains, and even the effects of head trauma.

However, homeopathy’s greatest strength lies in its ability to help chronic illness. As with most holistic practitioners, people tend to seek my assistance when either the side effects of their regular drugs outweigh the benefits, or when they simply wish to try another approach for their chronic health complaints. This has afforded me the opportunity to use homeopathy to help problems like eczema, allergies, asthma, arthritis, migraines, constipation, irritable bowel problems, chronic fatigue, Lyme-related problems, anxiety, depression, and many other chronic medical conditions.

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about homeopathy is that it does not differentiate mind from body—they are taken for granted to be one and the same. The truth of this mind-body unity is verified over and over by the outcomes achieved through homeopathic treatment.

For example, a person who complains of migraines that localize on the left side of his head also reports that he tends to be harshly critical of those around him. In addition, he admits to being a night owl and has a hard time rising for work in the morning. If mind and body are one, then, by definition, all of this man’s problems are connected.

This particular pattern of symptoms corresponds to a well-known homeopathic medicine called Lachesis muta, which, when administered, would be expected to resolve not just this patient’s migraines but also his dysfunctional sleep pattern and his tendency to be overly critical. This is exactly the type of outcome that homeopathic practitioners and their patients have observed for two hundred years.

So what is homeopathy anyway? German physician, Samuel Hahnemann, discovered and refined the principles of homeopathic treatment over 200 years ago. Many people mistakenly use the terms homeopathic and holistic interchangeably. While homeopathy is holistic, so are many other therapies. Homeopathy is neither herbal medicine nor is it nutritional therapy. Homeopathy is a very specific scientific system of medical therapeutics that employs very small doses of substances chosen because of their ability to mimic the symptom patterns of the sick persons they are designed to help.

For example, it is common knowledge that the poison ivy plant can induce itching and blistering. Small doses of homeopathically prepared poison ivy (Rhus toxicodendron) should, therefore, be useful in treating medical conditions that manifest with itching and blistering. Homeopaths have repeatedly confirmed this. In my own practice, I have used Rhus toxicodendron to successfully treat cases of eczema, chicken pox, shingles, and poison ivy itself.

Amazingly, this homeopathic principle of “like treats like” also applies to emotional and psychological symptoms and problems. Coffee, for example, gives some people a surge of mental clarity and energy. Others avoid it because it gives them the nervous jitters. Homeopathic Coffea cruda, therefore, may be of benefit to a person with insomnia who complains that he feels anxious and can’t shut his mind off.

Jimson weed is a plant that grows in the wild in New York State. Accidental ingestion of this plant can induce extreme agitation, paranoia, and aggression. I have used homeopathic Jimson weed (Stramonium) to effectively treat many individuals who exhibit similar symptoms, including kids with ADHD and adults with PTSD.

It is important to note that homeopathic remedies have been FDA regulated since 1938. From the beginning, FDA recognized homeopathic medicines as an unusual class of therapeutic agents. Since the minuscule nature of homeopathic doses make them remarkably safe, FDA holds them to a different standard than conventional pharmaceutical drugs. Most homeopathic remedies are classified as OTC due to their well-established safety profiles.

What FDA does not understand is that homeopathic remedies are nothing like conventional drugs. Homeopathic medicines have a completely different, albeit mysterious, mechanism of action. We know that, in order to maintain their suppressive effects, most regular drugs must be taken on a daily basis. When a person stops taking a drug for a chronic condition, the symptoms are likely to return.

A homeopathic remedy, on the other hand, is designed to stimulate a healing response. I explain to my patients that homeopathy is a stimulus-response form of medicine. If the similarity of the symptom pattern that can be induced by a homeopathic substance sufficiently “resonates” with the symptom pattern of the sick individual, it provokes a paradoxical reaction, one that allows the cycle of symptoms to be broken.

The aim of treatment is not just temporary relief of symptoms. A correct prescription is expected to contribute to a resolution of the problem in question. In essence, homeopaths believe that their medicines act as bioenergetic catalysts that serve to restore homeostasis to a distressed life force. Symptoms should fade and become unnecessary once balance has been restored.

To some ideologues who view homeopathy as a threat to the mainstream medical paradigm, homeopathy constitutes scientific heresy. Critics of homeopathy argue that such a paradoxical effect makes no scientific sense. But they fail to realize, for example, that stimulant drugs for ADHD, and vaccinations in general, are also based upon paradoxical principles. Skeptics also tend to repeat false talking points, especially the claim that there is no scientific research to back up homeopathy. To the contrary, there are literally thousands of research trials (large document takes time to load), many of which support the biological activity and therapeutic benefits of homeopathic remedies. Those who claim otherwise are spreading fake homeopathic news.

Homeopathy has a very rich history here in the U.S. The oldest medical organization in the U.S. is the American Institute of Homeopathy, which predates the formation of the AMA by several years and is still active today. At its peak in the late 1800s, there were 22 homeopathic medical schools and over 100 homeopathic hospitals. The Albany Homeopathic Hospital once stood on North Pearl Street. It later moved to the current location of Albany Memorial Hospital, which was originally a homeopathic hospital, before it eventually became an allopathic hospital. My grandfather graduated as an M.D. from New York Homeopathic Medical College in 1928. By the mid-1930s, the school dropped its homeopathic designation and became New York Medical College, which now resides in Valhalla, N.Y.

The World Health Organization notes that homeopathy is enjoying rapid growth and is currently the second most used form of medicine around the globe. Homeopathy has been embraced by the National Health Service in some countries, most notably Switzerland and India where they consider it desirable because it is safe, effective, and inexpensive.

Does homeopathy always work? Of course not. Do I encourage my patients to maintain positive relationships with their conventional doctors? Absolutely. Do I believe that mainstream medicine should work together with a variety of holistic practitioners for the benefit of patients? You bet! As a leading proponent of “green medicine,” I personally envision a medical system of the future that will embrace the best of all medical worlds. The best medical schools will someday teach allopathic, homeopathic, and holistic methods of care.

__________________________________________________________
Larry Malerba, DO, DHt is a classical homeopath, osteopathic physician, and the author of three books: Green Medicine, Metaphysics & Medicine, and his newest book, Dynamic Medicine: The World According to Homeopathy. Dr. Malerba is board certified in Homeotherapeutics and past president of the Homeopathic Medical Society of the State of New York. He has a private practice in Guilderland, NY. DrMHomeopathy.com

Ann Carey Tobin, M.D., FAAFP, is a board certified family physician and certified Eden Energy Medicine practitioner. Her integrative medicine consultation practice, Partners in Healing, is located in Delmar. She can be reached at 518.506.6303, by e-mail at atobin.pih@gmail.com or visit www.partnersinhealing.info

Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes only. Please consult a medical practitioner regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your symptoms or medical conditions.

Ann Carey Tobin, MD

Leave a Reply