In the U.S. it reached a pinnacle in the early 1900’s with 22 homeopathic medical schools, 100 homeopathic hospitals and over 1,000 homeopathic pharmacies. Practitioners of homeopathy were being trained at schools such as Boston University, Stanford University and New York Medical College. However, homeopathy in the U.S. experienced a severe decline from the mid-1920’s until fairly recently. Harris Coulter’s book Divided Legacy chronicles this demise, in large part due to the efforts of pharmaceutical companies and the American Medical Association.
Over the last three decades there has been a resurgence of homeopathy in the U.S., with the classical style that Hahnemann pioneered still evolving and still in vogue today. Each homeopathic remedy has a unique picture with mental/emotional attributes and a set of physical characteristics.
Hollywood movies are a great way to see these remedies personified. For example, the epic romance movie Titanic, has a number of characters that warrant homeopathic comparisons. Hero Jack Dawson has a Medorhium drive for adventure and his new love Rose DeWitt Bukater captures the spirit of an emotionally-volatile and hot blooded Pulsatilla. Rose’s fiancé the arrogant Cal Hockley presents an exterior confidence yet harbors a core of cowardice seen with Lycopdium. Cal’s bodyguard Spicer Lovejoy exhibits the hardened and violent nature of Anacardium. Rose’s mother Ruth has acidic elements found with Arsenicum, and Kathy Bates character Margaret ‘Molly’ Brown has the unabashed confidence of Sulphur.
Before choosing a remedy, homeopathic practitioners meticulously gather information about their patient’s ailments. What makes the condition better or worse, if pain, where is the location, does it change, and what is the mental emotional state associated with their condition. For example, a child who is normally relatively sweet in nature yet extraordinarily irritable, peevish and sensitive to pain when sick, will respond well to Chamomile.
After carefully interviewing the patient, a Repertory and Materia Medica are consulted to select the correct remedy. Homeopathic remedies are classified and catalogued in literary works called Repertories. For instance, if you look in a repertory under the headings of head, pain, bursting, in open air, Belladonna will be listed in bold type as having this particular characteristic. What the prescriber does is match the signs and symptoms of the illness with the remedy that has the most number of similar characteristics: ‘Like Cures Like’. Following are a few random selections taken from J.T. Kent’s Repertory.
Mind, Fear, Robbers: Arsenicum is the main remedy with 21 possible considerations.
Nose, Inflammed, Right side: Aurum (gold) is the main remedy for this condition.
Stomach, aversion, water: Hyoscyamus (Henbane), Nux vomica (Poison-nut) and Stramonium (Thorn-apple) are the three main remedies that exhibit this characteristic.
Once the prescriber has identified two or three possible remedies using the repertory, a Materia Medica is consulted. The Homeopathic Materia Medica describes each remedy in detail; a sort of prose as compared to the dictionary–like repertory. There are numerous homeopathic materia medicas, authored by renowned practitioners such as William Boericke M.D., an 1880 graduate of the Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia, and Constantine Hering, M.D., considered to be the father of homeopathy in the U.S.
Roger Morrison is a contemporary homeopath and one of the founders of the Hahnemann Medical clinic and the Hahnemann College of Homeopathy. If the movie persona of Goldie Hawn were to seek medical care, Phosphorus would be a likely remedy to address her complaints. Here are a few of the characteristic signs of phosphorus as described in Dr. Morrison’s homeopathic material medica.
Phosphorus patients tend to be outgoing, bubbly, sparkling with enthusiasm and creativity. They are not well grounded or centered, have poor boundaries and are of a sympathetic nature. They love company, can be gullible and suggestible and may be clairvoyant. Anxiety, especially about health can become a concern, eventually leading to deep fears and a desire to be alone due to their keen sensitivity to others. Physically, phosphorous people tend to be thin, tall, and sensitive to cold temperatures. They like cold drinks, have a hard time with spicy food despite an appetite for them, and tend to bleeding problems. While homeopathic Arsenicum may have some similar traits, they lack the effervescent bubbly nature of Phosphorus.
The suspicious patient who needs Arsenicum will often balk at taking this remedy no matter how sincerely I explain that it is safe. I discuss how homeopathic remedies are very dilute medicines, prepared in a manner that will deliver more of the essence than the actual substance of the original product. How this works is coming to light, thanks to the work of Luc Montagnier, a French virologist and Nobel prize winner, and that it does work is documented in over 200 controlled trials.
A full review of research on the efficacy of homeopathic medicine transcends the nature of my newsletter, so for those interested in this subject I suggest the following website as a good resource: http://www.homeopathic.com
The skill to prescribe a constitutional remedy, that is one that works to deeply address serious chronic ailments, takes extensive training and years of practice. However, it doesn’t take a lot of effort or time to select a reasonable remedy for an acute illness, the subject of my next newsletter, Homeopathy Part III.
I hope you have enjoyed this newsletter mini-series on homeopathy, and as always, questions and comments are welcome.
Jon Dunn, ND