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On the Choice of a Homeopath

Two hundred and fifty years ago, Hahnemann, the Founder of Homeopathy, wrote to a Prince who was his patient and asked for advice as how to select a reputable physician, a letter on the subject, “On the Choice of a Family Physician.” Hahnemann’s words ring through now just as much as then for anyone who must choose a homeopath or other health practitioner. I have taken the liberty to use his essay as a foundation and adapt it to modern times, when you have the all-important question: “What do I look for if I want to consult a reliable homeopathic practitioner?”

As Hahnemann stated, “Without being yourself a physician (homeopath), it is impossible to form an immediate judgment respecting the scientific attainments of a homeopath. Therefore, as a layperson, in order to select a really good homeopathic practitioner, you must have recourse to some facts which much guide you to your object with no less certainty than if you had attended a homeopathic school yourself.”

Here are some of the homeopaths you should not visit:

Homeopath A. answers your questions with a disdainful air and a few short words. He talks about the important persons he treated in his office and pays little attention towards heartbreaking and serious situations of his patient, as he continues to have the same air of the important man he is in every situation, at home, in the street or in the office. Not even the greatest misery of his patients produces any change in his frigid professional manner. He has the stethoscope dangling around his neck and his white coat bears his important name and credentials. While taking your case, he is too immersed in studying his computer, looking important and barely paying attention to you, the patient. His questions are short and demand a “yes” or “no” as he is not interested in the details of “how you became sick.”

His office is the model of fashion and his furniture is in the best expensive taste. Such homeopath plays a role: he is an important actor who has rehearsed his character on a daily basis and surely finds it tiresome to listen to all the details of your disease. But all he does is hide his limited homeopathic knowledge behind a thick mask of his profession: any uninvited inquiry obtained by the patient’s own research is arrested immediately with, “Did you go to medical school or homeopathic school, or did I?”

Homeopath B. seems at first a better catch and I am almost half inclined to advise you to select him. His daily calendar is full of patients for which he has set out ten minutes a visit. After all, he is a superior practitioner who can understand you and prescribe for, in the small amount of time set apart for your personal case.

Additional questions at the end of your ten minutes are waved away “as not being necessary” as the remedy is clear to him. He tells you that he has been twenty years in practice and that he can recognize the remedy you need upon setting eyes on you. The receptionist hurries you in the office and the homeopath asks you a couple of questions, and hardly waiting for a reply, he reaches for pen and paper, and after seemingly deep reflection for two seconds in his chair, he suddenly dashes off the elusive secret remedy and politely hands it over to you. He rubs his hands together, waves you goodbye and sends you packing in the waiting room that seems to be fuller than ever. Of course, he already had received a warning from the receptionist that your ten minutes were up.

His presence and help is in such great request that he is perfectly unable to devote a longer period to each patient. Even in your assigned ten minutes time slot, he had to be interrupted by five “urgent” calls. All day long, he seems to dispense in profusion prescriptions, advice, recommendations—like tickets for the theatre. What you need to know is that such a homeopath cannot attend to any of his patients properly, cannot in a few minutes maturely reflect upon all the circumstances of your case, and still less find the proper remedies for it, in spite of having the latest computer software. Even for the “infallible” computer, the dictum is, “Garbage in, Garbage out.” Without any doubt, this is the homeopath who you will consider to be a fleeting phantom: he never returns your calls, does not answer any emails and berates you for your “irrelevant questions and concerns.” Well after this short discourse, I presume you will be inclined to look out for someone else.

Homeopath C. Perhaps you should have a look this one. After all, he will let you know that he has attended the best homeopathic school, studied “under” the greatest homeopaths, although it simply means “that he studied his books, but has not made the effort to really attend any or very few of his lectures.” This does not stop him of dropping the name of the world renowned homeopath, connecting his website to the master homeopath as to make sure you understand his own intimate connection to greatness. He assures you that he practices exactly like his teacher has dictated (according to truly classical homeopathy), but upon simple investigation he sins against every principle of true homeopathy. He claims that he has found his own method, necessary because these are new and trying times and therefore even Hahnemann would have approved of his inventions. Yet this “important” looking statement only hides his incompetence and laziness to truly study this difficult topic continuously. He attended a few seminars and now thinks is possessed of a knowledge that no longer needs fine-tuning. He prescribes for every patient a “protocol,” similar to his well-learned allopathic physicians, forgetting that to cure a patient the individuality must be taken into account.

According to his conviction--for Disease A, there is “protocol A” which should be applied for several months. It is a secret wish of someone who wanted to be an allopathic physician or at least attain his stature, as he seeks to imitate those who practice contrary to anything that stands for homeopathy. But of course he tells you about the enormous “successes” he had. In reality, he does not know what a “true cure” stands for: the freedom of any mental. emotional and physical suffering, and the prevention of recurrence of your disease or transference to another disease. He is sure that his “genius” will be recognized and that the next Nobel prize in medicine is his. There is no lack of delusions here.

These stories might be amusing but they are actually derived from many situations I have seen and read. These pseudo-homeopaths are a disgrace to the profession and surely will turn away many patients from much needed help.

What must you look for?
Search for the plain man of common sense, who takes great pain not only to take note of all your complaints, but also takes time to explain them as he sees it. He might recommend a book to read as to foster communication, and therefore the chance on finding the right remedy, greater. He gives you clear and condensed information respecting everything that belongs to the art of homeopathy. He never shows anger, irritability or impatience when you ask him questions. He listens attentively to the complaints of those who seek his help and does not pronounce an opinion without mature reflection.

In order to find someone who has learned the most advanced methods in homeopathy, pay attention to the following:

  1. The good homeopath prescribes ONE remedy only.
  2. He puts your remedy in a bottle of water, quantity to be determined by the homeopath. Those who advise to take your remedy in dry doses have not studied and mastered the most advanced homeopathic methods, and therefore not only slow down your cure, but often prevent it.
  3. The good homeopath tells you to take a test dose that evening and to report within the next two days as to the result. Do not repeat before you hear from him.
  4. He will at this point determine how often you can repeat this therapy, as to make sure your illness is resolved in the fastest and most gentle way.
  5. Avoid those who claim, “You must first go through a strong aggravation of your symptoms before you can get better,” as well as those who claim, “You must stop first your allopathic medication” before I can treat you. This is not only untrue, but right-out dangerous as the patient will suffer withdrawal symptoms. A good homeopath recommends changing the amount and dose of the allopathic meds ONLY after improvement on the homeopathic remedy is perceived.
  6. Avoid those who give you the single remedy dry (take 3 pellets on the tongue) and let you repeat this every month for a year without changing the strength (potency) of your remedy. This “watch and Wait” period is NOT Hahnemann’s most advanced method, although practiced by most homeopaths.
  7. The homeopath wants to see you in his office at least every month once but also insists on getting a report (telephone, fax, email) every week. This way he can do changes when he needs to do so.
  8. Avoid those who claim when you bring them informed knowledge of advanced methods, and say, “I already know all that,” but his actions contradict his words.
  9. Avoid those who never return your phone calls or emails or leave on an extended vacation without having anyone backing them up for emergencies.
  10. Unfortunately in general, names of schools attended, degrees obtained and masters under whom they studied, means little. Even the assurance that “he has been in the business of doing homeopathy for twenty years,” does not assure success. Some homeopaths remain beginners for the rest of their lives. As in any profession, everything depends on the consciousness and industriousness of the practitioner and their true desire to help people. Listen to those patients who he has treated: What was the outcome? How much was he available? How did he treat you? How was he as a human being? Could he connect to the suffering of the patient?
  11. Avoid that homeopath who changes your remedy at every visit or who prescribes several remedies in rapid succession within weeks. Most likely he has no idea what your remedy really is.
  12. Avoid the homeopath who claims that there is no need to treat serious acute events and that your chronic remedy will take care of any acute situation. It goes against all principles of good homeopathy. But don’t make the mistake neither to treat every physical trifle with a remedy from your remedy kit. While under chronic treatment of a good homeopath, communicate with him as to what acute events need an intervention. Don’t start your own treatment.
  13. Avoid the homeopath who tells you that you only need ONE constitutional remedy for the rest of your life, no matter what happens. This goes against all the principles of homeopathy.
  14. Avoid the homeopath who during your consultation is continuously interrupted to take calls. You paid for that visit, you deserve the attention.
  15. Avoid the homeopath who in spite of no progress after one to two years, refuses to retake your case and rather continues with the same remedy in the stubborn belief that he cannot be mistaken.
  16. A good homeopath tells you from the beginning what to expect. He tells you when the next in office visit should take place, and gives you means of communication in between successive visits, in order to assure the best possible follow up. Help him through careful observing any change in your symptoms, pen it down and communicate this once a week.
  17. Avoid that homeopath who spends half of your consultation time with berating his “incompetent” colleagues in a malicious review.
  18. Avoid the homeopath who gives you two remedies, one to be taken in the morning and one to be taken in the evening. He assures you that even Hahnemann alternated remedies (He did so for a short time to find that it was NOT helpful and abandoned the idea within the year).
  19. Avoid any practitioner, homeopath included that is judgmental.
  20. The excellent homeopath is humble, industrious, and sympathetic to your plight; he is patient and alive during the consultation and not preoccupied with things not pertaining to your suffering. In other words he loves homeopathy and people. He treats the poor just like the rich, and spends some of his time to give to the unfortunate, in his own country or abroad.

And when you, dear patient, have found such a person, no one will rejoice more than Dr Luc!

Reference: “The Lesser Writings of Hahnemann.” Jain Publishing, New Delhi, 1990, p236-241

Advised literature (for ordering, see this web site):
The People’s Repertory
Human Condition Critical