Saturday, June 07, 2008

Homeopathy: Redefining Your "Comfort Zone"

Last year my son developed an acute illness which eventually became chronic and just wouldn’t go away despite trying several different remedies. In the previous three years since beginning homeopathy, the kids rarely required a doctor visit other than an annual checkup. But my son continued to have a fever and his cough just wouldn’t quit. One morning he woke up coughing so hard, he threw up mucus and a small bit of blood. His fever was 103. I called my husband and said, “I’m way past my comfort zone, we need to take him to urgent care.”

The doctor listened to his lungs, looked in his ears, and gave him a very thorough exam. Diagnosis: a no name virus not requiring antibiotics. I was both relieved and disappointed. Of course, I was relieved because my son’s condition wasn’t serious and also because I dread antibiotics given our history of chronic systemic yeast and spectrum issues. On the other hand, I was disappointed but not because I wanted antibiotics to eliminate my son’s health issue. I was disappointed in myself for reverting to allopathic medicine when the going got tough.

At the time I rationalized my son was seriously ill and for whatever reason I thought allopathic medicine was most necessary in the face of serious illness. I must preface this by saying even today if my children are very ill and not recovering the way they should, I will still take them in for a doctor visit. I may not ever fill the script if one is prescribed but I think maintaining my child’s health is far and away more important than maintaining my ego as a homeopath.

But as time went on, I began to realize, perhaps when things become more serious is precisely the time I should be running to homeopathy, not allopathy. History has shown us in serious epidemics such as the 1918 flu pandemic, homeopathy saved more patients than allopathy. In fact, the mortality rate for homeopathic patients was 1% while the rate for conventional medicine patients was over 30%. This realization simply meant I had to re-examine what exactly my “comfort zone” was and why when pushed past it I thought allopathy was the better choice.

I was given this opportunity later in the year when my oldest daughter developed a critical illness called Henoch Schonlein Purpura (HSP), possibly as a latent consequence of vaccine reaction. Starting as just a rash on her lower legs, she eventually became covered in bruises, was bleeding internally from the kidneys and intestines, and paralyzed from the neck down. We rushed her to the hospital when it became clear something was seriously wrong with her. In fact, she made 5 visits to the ER that week for IV fluids. Unfortunately, (or perhaps fortunately) allopathic medicine offers no treatment for HSP. Steroids and chemotherapy are their best offerings and neither result in a quick or permanent cure. In many studies, steroids provided absolutely no benefit but doctors continue to prescribe them.

The kidney specialist we saw told us it would take one to two years for the steroids to stop her kidneys from losing protein and bleeding. We were told without a biopsy and immediate steroids, my daughter’s kidneys would be permanently damaged. I’m not sure how a year or two of steroids would somehow prevent this if the need for treatment was so urgent. However, I do know the right homeopathic remedy stopped the protein within 3 days. She quickly regained her health and has never been better.

The list of side effects for steroids is a mile long. The specialist guaranteed my daughter would experience weight gain, fatigue, a swollen face, stomach pain, nausea, lowered resistance to infections, and mood swings. She spoke for 5 minutes about the various side effects, some of which can be permanent. Worst of all, there was no guarantee the steroids would even work.

Along with unpleasant and perhaps long lasting side effects, allopathic medicine can often make us sicker. Recent studies indicate acetaminophen can deplete glutathione levels decreasing immunity and the body’s ability to detoxify. Depleted glutathione levels have also been implicated in autistic spectrum disorder. Accidental acetaminophen overdose has been identified as the number one cause of acute liver failure in the United States. Ibuprofen has also been cited as creating serious adverse reactions in children who are mildly dehydrated, and can cause two rare but serious disorders.

While many studies show the use of these two over-the-counter medicines as mostly safe, the very act of using them to suppress the illness or fever can have consequences. A series of studies show using acetaminophen during the flu can prolong the illness by up to 3.5 days. And giving these medicines to children to treat a fever, robs the body of its natural defense to fight off the illness at hand.

Usually, allopathic medicines don’t cure illness. They simply suppress symptoms. Antibiotics, steroids, even acetaminophen and ibuprofen can drive an illness deeper so eventually a more serious issue may develop. A prime example of this is children who develop asthma after using corticosteroid crèmes to treat eczema. Instead of using the skin to express dis-ease in the body, the lungs now become the target of this expression. Most of us were never taught the symptoms are not the illness itself, but manifest as the way our bodies attempt to restore health.

Some medicines can even create the need for more medication. This is often seen in the elderly who are put on one medication after the other when each new medication brings new side effects (symptoms). Thus each new “symptom” results in a new medication until they are on 5 or more different medications. In 2005, senior citizens averaged over 27 prescriptions annually!

This is not to say allopathic medicine does no good or there isn’t a need for certain medications. For many people, allopathic medicine is a true lifesaver. But for many others, it creates the ill health it endeavors to appease. I turned away from allopathic medicine for these very reasons. It failed me and it failed my children who experienced severe and long lasting ill effects as a result of their routine infant vaccinations.

As a homeopath, it is very frustrating that it is all too easy to turn away from homeopathy in times of illness and put our trust and faith back in allopathic medicine. As a parent, I completely understand this response and would never criticize another parent for choosing what they think is the best care for their child. In fact, I encourage parents to see a doctor to ensure their child is receiving timely care. Overtime though, my own “comfort zone” has shifted and I now believe homeopathy is the right choice for my children even in times of serious illness, actually, especially in times of serious illness.

The problem is all the moms and dads out there don’t have access to a skilled homeopath for acute treatment. What do they do? Homeopathy takes years of training and acutes are often especially difficult as so many remedies begin to look the same as we search through books with bleary eyes and a spouse in the background yelling at us to just give the kid some ibuprofen or the antibiotic so everyone can get some sleep. For some parents, the ideal situation is to treat our kids the easiest, fastest method possible and then use homeopathy to clean up the fallout. In times of serious illnesses, as a parent, it doesn't matter what kind of medicine makes our children better, it only matters that it does. But are we trading the quick fix for more serious chronic illness?

At what point will homeopathy not be able to address the suppression of allopathic meds? Many of the chronic illnesses experienced today are a result of suppressed symptoms/illness. Continued suppression makes the homeopathic case that much more complicated and difficult to cure. Additionally, we are already seeing antibiotics fail and more and more virulent illnesses which don’t respond to any allopathic treatment.

Thankfully, homeopathy can frequently treat that which allopathic medicine cannot. Many come to homeopathy as a last resort because all else has failed. This has made many a believer in homeopathy.

Perhaps it is wishful thinking for me to hope some day homeopathy will be the medicine of first choice, not a treatment of last resort.

Erica McPhee

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Blogger Dr Prabhat Tandon said...

Why it's more difficult for a physician to treat their own children ? I understand your concern . Similarly about 20 years back my younger son suffered from infantile eczema , the condition was too serious that we thought several times to switch over to allopathic treatment. But again we never liked suppressive treatment adopted by them . We waited & ultimately he was cured by Bacillinum selected on totality of symptoms . It was then 20 years he has not suffered from any skin ailments.

11:08 PM  

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