You were trained as a Western medical doctor. What made you turn to homeopathy?
When I was a young doctor fresh out of medical school in Belgium, I thought I knew everything. But then I started seeing patients whom Western medicine just couldn’t help. One young girl of 15 got headaches every time the weather changed—and in Belgium the weather changes three times a day! She had everything in Western medicine you can dream of, but nothing helped. Another lady, I will never forget it, she came in my office absolutely dripping with sweat. The sweat was pouring off her and dripping onto the floor. Western medicine could do nothing for her. Another lady could not speak. There was nothing physically wrong with her. Her family said she had not spoken a word since looking out the window and seeing a funeral procession—with her best friend’s husband walking behind the hearse. The sudden shock of her best friend’s death made her mute. I wanted to do something for these patients, but my Western medical training gave me no answers. So I went to a bookstore to look up alternative medicine and found a book on homeopathy. I wish these patients would walk through my door today, because these would all be great cases for homeopathy.
You are both a homeopath and an acupuncturist. What do you see as the connection between these two healing modalities?
They both work with the healing energy or vital qi, and they both follow the same natural laws of healing. For example, we know the patient is healing if the disease goes from the inside to the outside. Also both disciplines accent the mental and emotional origins of disease (unless there is a direct physical trauma like a cut, blow or burn). In both, each organ has certain emotions associated with it, like the liver and anger. Each of the main homeopathic remedies has a place on the Star of the Five Elements in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Homeopathy is so similar to acupuncture that Hahnemann must have read the acupuncture texts that were available to him in translation.
Some homeopaths tell their patients not to do acupuncture or polarity or
take vitamins while on a remedy. Why is that?
While Homeopathy is not herbs, vitamins, acupuncture, Chinese medicine or many other therapies of naturopathic medicine, I tell my patients to do anything they can to support their vital energy while they are healing. Any healing modality such as acupuncture that follows the same natural laws as homeopathy will do nothing but help. The only thing is, they shouldn’t start doing these things at the same time they start and stabilize with the remedy. That will muddy the picture. Then if they have a reaction, it’s not clear what they are reacting to.
What’s your basic approach in finding a remedy for your patients?
I have my patients make a timeline with all the major traumas in their life, whether mental, emotional, physical, financial, or whatever. Any event that causes lasting symptoms will need to be treated eventually. We call it a layer. We start with the most recent layer first and work backwards, every time treating the Never Well Since (usually a mental or emotional trauma that triggered the onset of symptoms). Each person is treated as an individual. This is no “one pill fits all” approach. Each person gets a unique remedy chosen for their individual totality: “condition,” personality, genetics, life events, etc.
I use the methods of Samuel Hahnemann as practiced in the later years of his life in the 5th and 6th editions of his Organon. He referred to these methods as “his most perfect methods.” They involve administering remedies in a water solution. The advantages to this type of homeopathy are that it is the most gentle, can reduce healing time by as much half and is able to heal difficult cases on the verge of incurability, that is why Hahnemann referred to it as “his most perfect methods.”
Will homeopathy interact badly with my western medical medications and treatments? Do I have to stop my medications?
No, we want you to continue whatever you are doing with any of your medical treatments, as that is your body’s present foundation. Homeopathy is working on a different level of your body and system for healing, so there is no danger or contraindications.
What do you mean by acute and chronic conditions?
Acute is something that just happened within the last day or two, within the last several weeks at most, that is self-limiting (it will go away by itself). In an acute disease, the vital energy of the patient is usually strong enough to overcome it. If not, it can turn into a chronic condition, one that develops over a long period of time and does not go away by itself. In a chronic condition there can be a steady overall downfall of the patient’s health unless it is opposed by the right remedy. Other times there can be acute symptoms of a chronic state of imbalance or disorder in the system, such as PMS. A woman can have acute symptoms each month which can be treated with acute over-the-counter remedies each time—but if her overall constitution is treated by a professional homeopath, her symptoms will not recur. I have seen this many times in my practice—I do not even address the patient’s PMS symptoms directly because they go away automatically with the well-chosen remedy.
How long will it take for me to get better with my condition?
That varies on many factors, and in most chronic cases it has taken time to arrive at a point of dis-ease and will take patience to move forward into greater health. It is not unusual to have a longer journey through homeopathy with chronic conditions to achieve the results that you may desire. Though dramatic results can be experienced immediately, for many it isn’t an overnight process. Natural healing can take time and patience. Healing time can vary due to many factors such as age, your inherited constitution (some people are weaker or stronger in structure and nature), how long you have had the condition, general state of health, degree and length of time with medication use. Homeopathy is about healing and removing the cause of illness to strengthen the entire “terrain” of your body, and that takes time which is individual to each person.
What is Suppression and why does homeopathy think it is important?
Examples of suppressive measures in western medicine can be antibiotics to suppress a yeast infection, cortisone creams to suppress a skin rash, or prescription medicines to suppress pain, a sleep problem or other illness. Healing can be more challenging at times with conditions that have had alot of suppression, but again that is individual to the person. As you get stronger in your constitution, this will be less of a problem. Sometimes as part of the healing process, these symptoms will get worse, or reappear temporarily with less intensity before they get better. Keep in mind the good news is you are finally getting to the cause and root of your symptoms, rather then pushing them deeper in the body (suppression) which can cause deeper dis-ease to your body, mind and emotions--your health will benefit as a result!
Can homeopathy help change my life in other ways than with physical health?
You bet! Remedies have an amazing capacity to restore health and balance to the human body and spirit with mental, emotional and physical shifts that were blocked in the past, so life flows more smoothly and without major effort. If certain lifestyles, (diet, lack of exercise, constant overwork) or emotional causes (stress, anger, relationship problems, abusive situations) are maintained, they can undermine the benefits of the remedy and thus maintain your condition. There is self-responsibility in healing, and introspection is a valuable tool to understand areas that need changing in your life to achieve better balance. As an example one may need to explore yoga or other mind-body exercise to help them to better manage stress.
Does someone have to be a medical doctor to practice homeopathy?
In terms of licensing, it varies from state to state. In terms of knowledge, many of the greatest homeopaths of the past have been lay-people! Make sure you read my article "Selecting a Homeopath."
Do the remedies have side effects?
No, again because we homeopathy is energetic in nature. You can get what we call a similar aggravation, though, if you take too much. An aggravation is a temporary intensification of the symptoms. If you do get an aggravation, just stop taking the remedy and your body will use up the excess. It’s like speeding in a car. It’s not a bad car, just a bad driver! You need to get used to the car. As you get experience using the remedies, you will get to know when to take repeated doses.
Some people say you have to go through an aggravation to be cured with homeopathy. Would you agree with that?
Not at all! Hahnemann developed the water method to save people from the discomfort of aggravations.
What if someone is allergic to lactose, can they have a reaction to the lactose the pills are made from?
Not usually, but if they are extremely sensitive they could have a reaction, but that is another good reason the remedies are taken in water.
Can the remedies be addictive?
There is not one patient in a Betty Ford center addicted to homeopathic remedies!
Whereas there are many treatment centers and detox centers for people addicted to Western drugs. It’s scary how easy it is for people to and get addicted.
Many homeopaths say you can’t use mint, camphor or coffee when you are taking remedies. Would you agree?
I tell people that if they are going to have coffee to take their remedy 15-30 minutes after their coffee, and start to limit your coffee intake to only 1-2 cups—if you have nervousness and irritability as part of your condition, it may be advisable to decrease/stop all stimulants to gain greater health.
Decaffeinated coffee and other caffeine-containing foods like chocolate and cola are okay, as well as min/moderate smoking and consumption of alcohol (not in other healthy ways but in terms of canceling the remedy!) Mint and camphor are usually only important issues to certain homeopaths that use dry dosing. As a general rule I tell people to space the remedy 15-30 min apart from meals, teeth brushing with toothpaste, etc.
Do you prescribe combination remedies or is it OK to take these combination remedies that are sold over-the-counter for specific conditions?
No…it is not recommended. The form of homeopathy that I use is classical Hahnemann homeopathy, in that it involves using the totality of the symptoms expressed by the patient to determine the appropriate remedy. Only one remedy is used at a time. Please see my article “Selecting a Homeopath.”