2011 AANP Physician of the Year
Despite what they may have heard about me, I have quite a few naturopathic students and young doctors that visit my office. My most recent visitor was Dr. Laura Chan, a recent graduate of Bastyr U, a smart, dedicated and enthusiastic new practitioner. She is excited, dedicated and enthusiastic about almost all the aspects of being a practitioner as she embarks on her new career. One of the things she was most notably not enthusiastic or excited about was homeopathy. Dr. Chan was interested in homeopathy when she first arrived at Bastyr. However, her training in homeopathy led her to believe that homeopathy was too complicated to use as a treatment modality in a general naturopathic practice. Now, I would like to think that Dr. Chan's experience was an anomaly, but it is not. Almost all of the students that I have been a preceptor for, no matter the college, have had an experience like Dr. Chan. So my question is, “What's up with the way the ND schools are teaching homeopathy?”
Classical or Bust?
Is this the idea, then, that the only way you can do homeopathy is to do classical prescribing? Homeopathy, evidently, is a very serious endeavor. It seems like the version that is taught in the ND medical colleges is something similar to the following:
1. You have to take a 1.5 - 2 hour intake and get every minute detail to be effective.
2. Homeopathy doesn't mix well. You can only prescribe a homeopathic remedy. You can't mix it with other treatments because:
a. The other stuff messes up the homeo.
b. You can't tell what is working if you give homeo with something else.
3. You have to wait a month to see if it works (this alone is a good strategy for unemployment and/or starvation of the practitioner).
4. You can really do incredible, irreparable harm to a person's vital force if you pick the wrong remedy. I mean, we are not just talking about vital force, for gosh sakes. We are talking about VITAL FORCE here. You don't want to screw with someone's VITAL FORCE, do you?
So, the combo platter of taking too long, waiting too long, too much danger, too little income and too many rules scares people from using homeopathy in their practice.
Homeo, Homeo, Where Art Thou Homeo?
I hate to break it to you, but homeo (okay, it has a nick name now. How serious can something be with a nick name like Homeo?) is a valuable tool for the general ND practice. I encourage all of you newbies to throw out the homeo philosophy books (really!) and stick to the basics: match the remedy to the person with the symptoms. Corresponding to the point numbered above you will find:
1. You can use homeo in the context of a regular 1 hour new patient office exam or shorter follow up. Just take a minute to change your thinking towards a homeopathic remedy. That's really all it takes.
2. You can use it – no, you SHOULD use it – with any other modality.
a. The other stuff doesn't interfere with the homeo effect (by the way, neither does coffee, nor usually does mint).
b. Homeopathy creates an “Aha” reaction, much different from the slower slope of improvement with botanicals or nutrition.
3. Homeo works very quickly – acutely within hours and chronically within a day or two. Nothing else generally works this fast. If you don't see a change this quick, recommend another remedy.
4. You can have side effects from any naturopathic intervention. The side effects from homeo are generally fewer and less intense than from other treatments.
Use It or Lose It
So, you new grads/new docs: give it a shot. The current rules are dogma. Let your karma eat your dogma. You can use combination remedies. You can use one remedy at a time. You can use two at a time (I double dare you!). Your patients can use mint. They can use coffee. They can take homeo right before they eat. They can take it right after they eat. They can even take it WHILE THEY ARE EATING. Just use it. You will find your groove. Mostly, you will find a very valuable tool to help people get well, which is why we took this job, isn't it? Maybe the ND schools will catch on sooner or later.