Tuesday, April 9, 2013

It's like I'm searching for the Philosopher's Stone

As a naturopathic student, our profession often gets confused with that of homeopaths. No, we are not homeopaths, but we do include homeopathy in our "tool box" of interventions for treatment. The thing about homeopathy is that relatively very few people fully understand how it works. To me, it's like a form of wizardry, and I'm always searching for the evidence of magic.

Let's back up a second... what is homeopathy? Here's my personal explanation, though it may not be perfect: Have you ever heard of the ice crystal experiments? Where you have two jars of water, you play two different kind of music (one for each jar) and then when it freezes, the ice crystals have completely different organization; the soft, gentle music makes beautiful geometric crystals, and the rap or metal or "angry" music makes very disorganized crystals. You can do the same with words or images.

Well, homeopathy uses that same principle of making an "impression" on a substance and altering it. This is how remedies are made. But what do we use to make these impression? Everything imaginable! Minerals, plants, animals, fluids from compounds and from other organisms.. basically any substance at all.

So the principle is that "likes cures like." We take the characteristics of the element/animal/etc and match it to the symptoms of the patient. The remedy works by overpowering the disease in the patient and causes a shift in the patient's symptoms.

For example, if you ate part of a belladonna plant (which is toxic), you would likely experience: pupil dilation, face flushing, increased heart rate, headache, dry mouth constipation and hallucinations. So if we have a patient who experiences many of these symptoms and they fit the "picture" of this plant, we would give them the Belladonna homeopathic remedy. The remedy is belladonna diluted to so many degrees that the belladonna is no longer present in the substance, but it has made an impression on the solvent.

It sounds complicated, and it is. That's why we have such a hard time explaining it. And this is an amateur explanation. In truth, although it's the weirdest intervention, it's actually so much fun to practice. It's like this whole other world of medicine that reminds me a lot of magic.

I still have yet to experience a very profound homeopathic moment. I've tried remedies before and haven't been sure if they've made a difference. I'm currently taking a constitutional remedy and have no idea what the remedy is (it's like a surprise... I'm not suppose to know yet). So I just keep waiting for that shift to happen. It's matched to many mental and emotional aspects of myself so I'm told to just notice anything different about myself. My boyfriend likes to joke about all the things (remedies) I could possibly be. He'll start calling me everything imaginable... praying mantis, baby dragon, weeping willow... (Baby Dragon has stuck as a permanent nickname). 

Homeopathy is like the philosopher's stone - alchemy! It's so much fun to repertorize symptoms and match people's personalities to remedies (whether they be animals, plants or minerals). It's an energetic type of medicine that I will never fully understand, but practicing it feels like I'm at Hogwarts. It might not make a lot of sense to me as a student, but people around the world practice it in different ways and the effects it can have are amazing.

If anything, I think one of it's greatest strengths is allowing the patient to dig deeper through childhood influences, current behaviours and actions... making connections between their current symptoms and possibly the emotional and psychological root of them. It doesn't change your personality, but it shifts you so that you can allow your body to "heal". I personally have found it really helpful just to talk through issues that I have and make those connections. It helps me realize why certain things bother me, or affect me. I wouldn't call it counseling, but the session guides you to where you need to go. So I think the remedy has that same effect: It guides you... if that makes any sense.

So regardless if it's magic, a real true medicine, placebo, or an energy, I think it has its place. Believe whatever you want, but I think it's important to go through the process before knocking it down.