When Acute Prescribing Isn’t Enough: Whole Person Healing in Homeopathy
© 2012 Judith Hanna Doshi MA, CCH (Cand)
Homeopathy is an amazingly versatile system of medicine. It has so many varied applications—from the most minor first aid situation to deep seated chronic issues on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels, and everything in between. In each and every case Homeopathy, if applied correctly, is guaranteed to be a gently acting form of treatment without harmful side effects. The worst that can happen after taking a well selected homeopathic remedy is a slight uptick in a person’s existing symptoms—known as the homeopathic aggravation—that is short lived and usually followed by rapid resolution of an acute situation or gradual improvement of the person’s overall condition in chronic complaints. Another possibility is that nothing in the person’s state changes, usually indicative of an incorrect remedy having been administered.
Self-treating for Acutes
Resources for learning how to self-treat in acute and first aid situations are abundant. There are numerous books, articles, online courses and study groups devoted to homeopathic self-care. Homeopathic prescribing that addresses minor first aid and acute situations works by matching as closely as possible localized, relatively superficial symptoms with a remedy that is known through vast clinical experience and homeopathic provings1to heal/cause those same symptoms. Homeopathy is based on the fundamental law of healing—known as the Law of Similars—that a remedy known to cause certain symptoms in a healthy person can heal those same symptoms in a person afflicted with them.
Prescribing for oneself and one’s family members in first aid and minor acute situations requires careful attention to detail to select the single remedy that best covers the unique symptoms of the acute affliction. Generally speaking, the common symptoms of an ailment—those that are shared by most people experiencing that ailment and upon which conventional treatments are usually based—are not particularly useful in selecting a remedy. For example, fever, malaise and body aches—typical symptoms of the flu—are much too broad and vague to be of any use in arriving at a remedy that is homeopathic to the particular case of flu. Instead, a number of factors associated with the ailment—including how it started, what makes it better or worse, what its sensations are and what other symptoms accompany it—must be considered in order to find a suitable match. Fortunately, in most acute cases, with the guidance of a good book it is not too difficult to arrive at a short list of remedies (out of the thousands in the homeopathic repertoire) from which a close match can be chosen with some degree of confidence.
The Limitations of Acute Remedies
Homeopathic self-care can be very empowering inasmuch as it breaks the cycle of dependence on the continued use of suppressive prescription and over-the-counter conventional drugs with their toxic side effects. However, some words of caution are in order with regard to acute homeopathic self-prescribing:
- The home prescriber must be prepared to recognize acute situations that demand immediate conventional medical intervention, such as broken bones, severe lacerations, anaphylactic reactions, to name just a few. Any apparently life threatening condition demands immediate medical attention. Even here, however, well selected homeopathic remedies can provide relief and promote healing.
- Over-prescribing of homeopathic remedies should be avoided. Not every ache, pain or head cold requires a remedy. The body has its own wisdom and healing power in acute situations. Often, our Vital Force2throws out acute symptoms to remind us that we need to slow down or pay attention to something that is out of balance in our lives. Taking too many homeopathic remedies with frequent repetitions can have an adverse effect by complicating the overall state of health.
- In a similar vein—and this can happen with inexperienced prescribers—taking too many poorly matched remedies repeatedly can bring up symptoms of the remedies themselves and be disruptive to the overall state.
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, not all so-called acutes are truly acute. I would venture to say that the majority of recurrent ‘acute’ symptoms that people experience express a much deeper state of imbalance. Their recurrence indicates an exacerbation of the person’s chronic state and the need to prescribe on the basis of that state. For example, treating recurrent headaches, constipation or panic attacks solely on the basis of the unique symptoms associated with those particular conditions does not address the deeper disturbance that gave rise to the symptoms in the first place. This is the time to consult a professional homeopath so that the deeper imbalance can be resolved.
Hahnemann’s Experience with Acute vs. Chronic
Even Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of Homeopathy, encountered this dilemma of acute versus chronic. In the early years of his practice he was treating symptoms successfully but he began to see a trend of his patients returning with the same problems. He realized that there was a much deeper state that needed to be addressed in order for long term healing to occur. This deeper state required a much more comprehensive view of the patient that included all of the influences—both inherited and acquired over the person’s lifetime—that contributed to the current state of health. By addressing this deeper state and selecting remedies that mirrored the full picture of that state, Hahnemann was able to obtain long lasting improvement in the health of his patients and reduce their susceptibility to disease, something the symptomatic treatment failed to do. In this way, Homeopathy became a truly holistic system of medicine that has endured to this day—one with the power to heal at a very deep level!
Whole Person Healing
Homeopathic healing of the whole person is variously called constitutional, chronic or transformational treatment. I view it as treating the inner state, the energetic imbalance in the core of every person—in the Vital Force—that manifests in a particular mode of experiencing life. This mode of experience restricts a person’s freedom to realize his or her full potential and gives rise to symptoms of dis-ease or a movement away from wellness. For a great many of us, dis-ease may not yet manifest in diagnosed disease conditions but may still compromise our quality of life.
An illustration: When Whole Person Treatment is Called for
To illustrate, a woman in her early forties has always considered herself to be in good health. At every annual physical, all her tests come back normal and she prides herself on only taking an oral contraceptive and the occasional sleeping pill for a worsening insomnia (both of which are, in actuality, highly suppressive). She has recently given up her former vigorous workouts due to decreasing stamina and finds herself becoming increasingly irritable with her family and having a difficult time relaxing. It is starting to dawn on her—albeit in a vague way that she can’t articulate—that something has gone awry and needs to be addressed. But how? The doctors tell her there is nothing wrong with her and she should just make the best of it. A friend from work tells her about Homeopathy and she experiments with a few remedies for the sleep problem. Although the results are uneven, she feels that this may be a fruitful avenue to pursue.
This is precisely the type of situation where whole person Homeopathy is indicated. Common sense tells us that disorders of sleep, energy and mood are more than simple acutes and must reflect something much deeper. Although this woman might not have much of an awareness of the nature of her inner state, she does sense that her health isn’t what it should be, a great first step in attaining an optimal state of health. A professional homeopath can access the inner state by decoding the language of her Vital Force. With the impetus of the remedy that mirrors that state, a healing process is set in motion. An added bonus is that the woman gains awareness of how she experiences her life, what makes her tick, which is both healing and empowering.
Treating the Inner State for Long Term Healing and Prevention
Homeopathic healing that addresses the core issues of the person’s being—the inner state—is preventive medicine of the first order. We all have an inner state that causes some degree of dysfunction or imbalance in our lives. In fact, we are probably predisposed from birth to have it; our life experiences only serve to reinforce it. Although acute homeopathic prescribing definitely has its place, consulting a homeopath for long term healing and self-discovery is the way to go to ensure a healthy future!
- A proving is the process whereby the symptom profile of a remedy is determined by administering a potentized remedy to healthy subjects and observing its effects.
- The Vital Force is, according to Hahnemann, “That force/power/energy which enlivens the material organism.”