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In my practice of homeopathy with CEASE therapy, nothing is more satisfying than watching a child with ASD begin to speak and interact with his world. The excitement in the parents’ eyes is palpable, the love and caring surface without restraint. Whether the cause is from vaccines, the environment, or another form of overload or misfiring in the gut or brain, the road back to their families is gratifying.
The world today has many dangerous avenues with which to take. Although it has always been my particular curiosity to read research and articles on health, not many people have the time or energy to spend on subjects not germane to their world. But once you fall into that world, it’s too late. Such is the case with autism. So many parents say ‘I wish I’d known the risks.’ But all is not lost with these precious bodies. The sooner the child is diagnosed and the work begins, the sooner he (or she) can begin the journey of catching up to his (or her) peers.
Often the first step will be to clean up the diet, and for each child, the answer may be different. I remember a family that came in together, with the younger of 2 sons having ASD. At the second visit, which I was disappointed to see, the child hadn’t progressed at the rate I expected. I asked the mother and father, ‘Has he been following the diet (no dairy or wheat)?’ The mother insisted, yes, he was, she was very careful. The older son pipes up, ‘Mom, you took him to Chuckie Cheese yesterday!’ It can seem like a reward to the parent, but to the child, it can cause enormous backsliding. Always keep the goal in mind; what is the trade off? One father said the goal was to have his son run into his arms when he came home from work, something he’d always envisioned before his son was born. After his second visit, this particular event made his day, week, month, and year. It brought tears to his eyes to tell it.
For those with children that refuse healthy food before the detox has begun, I’ve heard an analogy that I absolutely love; it’s like a stopped up sink. If you put in good food, it’s still not going anywhere. You have to unplug the drain and get the child’s emunctory organs working again before you start working on any other area. Otherwise, you are pouring wasted resources into your child. We often don’t understand his choices, but in light of the fact our bodies are so adept at healing themselves.
Almost without exception, children that refuse healthy food, once their elimination system is working properly, slowly expand their food choices. You can trust they will want what is best for them, at that moment. Of course, you must offer them these options. The most common one I hear is that the child will take food from a parent or sibling’s plate once they are ready for it. Offering choices can be a wonderful way to empower the child to experience what happens when they eat a particular food. In much the same way our bodies produce the enzymes we need to digest the food we are about to eat through seeing the food in front of us, the child will choose the food needed.
Once a child starts detoxing, they may experience what may appear to be a regression. Often this can be the child picking up growth from where it stopped. The child that enters the spectrum at age 2, and is now age 6, will reenter the family at age 2. This may seem logical, but when your child starts acting like he’s 2 again, it can be confusing. As a CEASE therapist, I’ve seen this happen often. They progress so quickly, though, it is not a concern, and passing through social and physical gates can be very rapid.
With parents, we need to remember what the goal will entail; the child will return to a normal life, whatever that may be. The parents, or caregivers, must realize that what defined their lives up to the point the child starts healing, will change. I often ask the parents to imagine what their lives will be like once they no longer have duties they’ve done for so many years. It can make a parent, especially a mother, feel useless!
Recent articles have pointed out at the rate ASD is progressing, by 2025 we will have a 50% rate of the disorder. Something needs to be done, and soon. When my child was born, he had a very delayed schedule of vaccines, which stopped once he was 3. There were half the vaccines demanded then as there are today. We are loading up our children’s immune systems without real knowledge of how it affects them. We don’t really know the reaction of the (so far as we know) Th1, Th2, and Th17 immune system cells. Does it really help? There have NEVER been a randomized controlled trial with those vaccinated compared to those unvaccinated. If we are truly being scientific, we wouldn’t be afraid to do this research.
Vaccines may not be the only answer, and I don’t think they are, but I believe they are the biggest reason ASD has been so pervasive. Vaccines have been studied individually, but there are no studies done on the effects of getting multiple vaccinations at one time. Hiding our heads in the sand and denying research does not get us anywhere. Let’s explore together why our children are having such difficulties, and make them whole.
We’ve all heard the new statistics about autism. One in 50 now, and there are no signs of improvement on the horizon. But there are things we can do, more than staying away from vaccines. Is it just vaccines that have caused this problem? No, I have to say emphatically, no.
Let me explain why I say this. Our bodies are made up of organisms and systems and cells and chemicals that all must find a way to work together to be healthy. Up until a few decades ago, this wasn’t a big deal. But life gets in the way, sometimes. Think about the last thing you did that you shouldn’t have. Yes, that’s the one. Now think about how your parents or grandparents dealt with that thing you shouldn’t have done.
What was the straw that broke the camel’s back? With all the puzzle pieces, maybe it will make sense. Maybe you can see the big picture. If your child has ASD, it may be that it was that last straw that caused him to stop communicating. Maybe it was the vaccine, maybe it was the food, the chemicals, the air, the plastics, the mercury in the fish you ate. These are things with which you and your children should not have to deal. But our lifestyles are not the idyllic picture we like to imagine. What caused that last straw? Can you identify it?
Was it fast food? Grandparents didn’t have that option, or at least not in the way we got it. It’s ubiquitous now, and not just one or two places – you can find 5 or 6 places on the same 4 block area, and even in hospitals (CHILDREN’S HOSPITALS!) you will find fast food outlets. How many calories, sugar, and hydrogenated oils in that fancy coffee? Cut it out. Now. Don’t feed it to your kids. They will thank you. How many generations does it take to get sick? Two or three, if you’re eating poorly. How long to get better? Seven generations. OK, that was for cats, but you get the idea. It is a lot easier to eat well and stay well than burden your offspring. They’re supposed to be around to care for us!
Was it poor sleep? Um hm. I see. Just wanted to finish that movie, or that book, or checking Facebook one more time. Watching that last YouTube video, because that dog was just too cute and you had to share! Or maybe you’re bringing work home from the office, or sewing the button on that shirt that lost one. But when you miss sleep, you have other ways you’re affected that you might not be seeing. For instance, what happens when you wake up tired? Yeah, the cup of coffee at 3pm that you shouldn’t have had that will keep you up late again. Or the candy bar you ate to get you through that meeting. People that scrimp on sleep end up gaining weight. Moms that have kids know that one. Sure, kids need sleep to grow, to keep their bones healthy, to keep their immune systems in good shape. If you don’t ensure they have enough sleep, you may have a piece of the puzzle.
Was it having that last drink? So there are good things and bad things about alcohol. One of the bad things is that it turns into sugar in the body. The bad kind of sugar. When you have sugar in your body, you grow yeast. When you have yeast in your body, it craves sugar. You see the problem. Don’t do it too often. It’s not just alcohol. Sugar consumed by college students depressed their immune systems for 4 hours after they ate it. If there’s a bug going around, do you really want to be eating sugar? And sugary cough drops when you’re sick? No, don’t think so! So keep that sugar away, especially from your kids. No, it’s not a special treat when they eat it. It’s bad for them, and we need to stop thinking of sugar as a reward. Is this another piece of the puzzle?
Was it eating poorly? Processed food or restaurant, our food choices are getting us into more trouble than we can handle. I see people every day that can’t handle wheat anymore. It’s so common, I’m surprised there is bread on the shelves at grocery stores anymore. I am not surprised when people tell me how many people in the middle of (and increasingly, across) this country are obese. ‘Fat bombs’ is what one friend calls them. They hit 20 and blow up like balloons. Why? The food we eat has no nutrition in it. It has no fiber, no vitamins, no minerals. Our bodies are starving for nutrition, and we aren’t supplying it from our dead soils anymore. I see ads for food that has no fiber whatsoever, you know the stuff I mean. Pizza with cheese stuffed in the crust, covered with meat. Is it good for you? NO! Are you eating greens? NO? Change your diet! Your parents didn’t eat this way, and neither did your grandparents. It’s gotten progressively worse to the point where our food supplies so little our bodies need that it is amazing we still function, albeit marginally. Don’t accept your child saying he won’t eat his greens. Grow some with him, outside in a pot if need be. He will be so proud he can grow food! Find something to cook together, engage your children in the kitchen. One child with ASD so loved cilantro he’d help his mother make salad every night, munching on the wonderfully detoxing herb as he helped. Maybe this is a piece of the puzzle?
Was it sitting in front of the TV all night after work? In this country, we do so little for our body’s health and expect so much. This evening I went to the gym, and was stunned. A Friday evening and there were more people there than I’d ever seen in 10 years. I thought about why. People need connections, and not just the Facebook or LinkedIn or Google+ kind. They need to talk to each other and interact. Go out and do things. We’ve become very communicative on our posteriors, and those posteriors are growing. Gastric bypass or the lapband are not the way to go. Your bones will lose the weight instead of your body.
If you eat for comfort, when you do these procedures, you’re not dealing with the reason you put food in your mouth in the first place. Once you put the crimp on your stomach, you won’t have the one pleasure you’ve used to cheer yourself up. Don’t go for the quick fix. Fix the whole thing. Go for a walk, find a routine you enjoy. Do it with a friend, your kids, the dog, or plan a routine and stick with it. Wear a pedometer. Just do SOMETHING. Make sure your children see it’s healthy, and it’s a great thing to do. Let this be another piece in the puzzle.
Was it taking a laxative? If this is the case, you’re in bad shape (literally!). Your gut needs cleaning, and this is so important for your kids, too. They watch you eat, and they follow suit. Don’t give them bad examples. Stand up and be proud! Eat those kale chips. They DO taste good! Get that system moving. When your colon doesn’t process food, as it sits, it ferments and rots. The fluids in this mess are being recycled by your colon, and it dries out the waste and gets hard as it sits there. The fluids are now toxic, and your body has to deal with this stuff. You wouldn’t eat out of the toilet, so don’t let your gut go bad. Start with some fiber, like an apple – it’s got soluble and insoluble fiber. Drink more water, or tea, or something else healthy! Your body needs vitamins and minerals, and if you don’t eat a balanced diet, you won’t be healthy. Neither will your children, so don’t let this be the reason. Another piece of the puzzle?
Osteoporosis has become quite a problem in the last decade, and it looks to get worse. Are you the type of person that really doesn’t like to eat greens? Get over it! They’re necessary, and you must change your outlook. Go to the store and buy some kale. Dry-fry it with some garlic (no Teflon, please) for 5 minutes on high heat and you will be amazed. Chop up some baby kale, drizzle it with olive oil, lemon juice, some pine nuts and feta, a little white balsamic, and poof! Instant lunch. Delicious. And it has fiber! Dehydrate a head of kale (OK, washed in the package is alright) by mixing a tablespoon of peanut butter, the juice of a lemon, a teaspoon or two of miso, and add apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s!) till it’s like salad dressing. Toss them around in a big bowl and if you don’t have a dehydrator, put them on a cookie sheet at the lowest setting your oven has (below 118F keeps it in the live-food range). Check it after an hour or so. When you taste it to see if it’s done, you won’t be able to stop yourself. You are now a chef!
Start fixing meals ahead of time, maybe on the weekend. Make a big pot of chili with REAL food, stuff that tastes good all by itself, and add greens and zucchini and lots of onions and garlic and beans. Freeze some of it if you need to, but in one-container meals. Three in the family? Freeze enough of this meal for next week. Use a slow cooker, make some soup. Leave it on low while you work. Easy dinner! Roasting a chicken? Throw the carcass in a stock pot for 3 or 4 hours on low and you’ve got stock for the next time you make soup or rice. We need amino acids we can only get from eating a rounded diet. Don’t throw away things your body (and your family) needs.
Over the past decade, as a society, we have become so much more dependent on ‘time-saving’ inventions so that we can get more work done. Is this a good thing? I think not. If we can go back to doing things that take the time, maybe we would see that all time-saving has done for us is make us tired, fat, and unhappy.
Some of the children I see with ASD are the sweetest kids. But they have toxins in their little bodies and can’t get them out. Is it just the vaccine? No. It’s also the gut that isn’t digesting, it’s the parent that thinks it’s OK to just let them eat Chuckie Cheese this once, it’s the food that comes straight from the microwave or wrapper. We need to get back to cooking real food and sitting down to real dinners. We need to take our child’s hand and go for a walk and just enjoy being out of doors, without checking the iPhone every few minutes. It’s the flu vaccine that the moms are given while pregnant. It’s the doctor that insists on a C-section for whatever reason (I always say I’ve never heard a doctor admit he did a C-section because it wasn’t needed!). It’s the medicine you’re taking for acid reflux when a change in your diet is all that’s needed. It’s the candy and the garbage we put in our children, thinking it’s normal or a special treat. No, vending machines don’t belong in schools. We need to teach our children about healthy food IN SCHOOL.
Recently I watched Jamie Oliver on a YouTube series. I was horrified and couldn’t stop watching. The lunch ladies were saying, ‘Let’s see if they eat it.’ WHAT? You teach them about healthy food and they will eat it. They follow what they are taught. They follow what they see their parents doing. This is the first generation that will die younger than their parents. Shame on us.
How about diet foods? Don’t. Aspartame should never have been allowed on the market. It is an excitotoxin and kills brain cells by opening the calcium ion channels and toxins flood the neurons. Once we lose 80 to 90% of them, plan on Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s or ALS, or diabetes. Don’t use fake stuff, don’t use MSG. Look at those food labels. Autolyzed yeast extract? That’s a fancy name for MSG. In the 60’s they put MSG in baby food. Did they know better? Yes, but they did it anyway, until Congress was forced to act. Don’t believe these huge agro companies care a smidgeon for your sweet pea. They will sell your grandma poison and make her believe it’s good for her. The word ‘natural?’ Don’t buy anything that says ‘natural’ on the label. It’s pure baloney. And no, don’t eat baloney!
Make use of your computer to research things like what’s in your shampoo, or your kid’s toothpaste. Go to www.ewg.org and find out what’s in your mascara or new couch. SLS? Bad stuff, found in toothpaste and shampoo, used to wash floors (an industrial detergent!). Doesn’t belong in your child’s mouth. Find out what’s in your food. Find out what’s ON your food. Don’t believe that the restaurant doesn’t use MSG, ASK! Your computer is a wonderful resource when it comes to finding out what’s healthy and what’s not. Share recipes. Share exercise routines. Share inspiring healthy stories!
We haven’t even talked about GMOs yet. Let’s save that for another time. Too scary.
What ties all these things together? We’ve been sold a bill of goods by companies looking for a profit. Not just the big screen TVs, the drug companies, and the fast food places. By the companies looking to sell us on saving time, on immediate gratification. We need to get back to basics, and start eating whole foods. That will take some getting used to. But it’s cheaper, and it’s healthier. We need to stop relying on our doctors to give us a pill to make something better. You can improve your health. But you have to work on it.
You may think I harass my clients into improvement. I don’t make suggestions much of the time. I often let them find their way with supplementing a few things. Suddenly they feel better and after a homeopathic remedy, they start wanting to improve. Often the parents of my ASD kids are wonderful loving parents that do everything possible to keep their child from slipping away. It’s often not something that they had control over. But we need to take control of our health back into our own hands.
Let’s start planning things. Find out what’s fun in your area – maybe a market or a festival, a street fair or local group meeting you’ve always wanted to join. Take a cooking class with your spouse or your kids. Have someone show you how to really shop for good food. Learn about nutrition. Get the Nutrition Almanac and study what you crave. Maybe you can find why you crave those particular things!
Start somewhere, start small, but just START.
I often have mothers come in with children that have multiple food allergies. Sometimes it will start with one food, then seem to spread like a disease. Multiple sensitivities are difficult to deal with, especially since many foods are now genetically modified. We don’t really know what is in them. Peanuts are a good example – the genes have been added to things as disparate as tomatoes. So eating food without wrappers isn’t going to help you avoid GMOs.
If you aren’t sure and don’t have options to buy organic, remember the Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen (see my blog). GMO labels on produce consist of 5 numbers, and start with an ‘8’, but labeling is voluntary. So the conventional produce identification of 4 numbers may or may not be GMO. Organic has 5 numbers starting with ‘9’, and is the safe choice for non-GMO.
In 2001 just over 60% of processed foods contained GMOs. Now, in 2011, it’s over 75%. In the US, 91% of soy is GMO. When you look at food labels of processed foods, you are likely to see soy additives. They’re most likely GMO. The Organic Consumer's Organization (OCA) has pertinent information on this subject.
So why am I talking about these things and food allergies? Food allergies are an indication that the immune system is on alert. It means something has riled it up, and it’s not going to get better until something changes. The health of the individual may get worse and worse, and can be marked with symptoms such as frequent colds or bloody noses, and an expanding list of allergens, including pollens, dust, dander, and molds. Food allergies almost always start small and grow as the body becomes more and more excitable. Many things can irritate the human body, many of them in our homes.
How can we identify these sources? We’ll start with the basics and go through the house, because we’re all individuals, and each of us has a weak point; for me to know your weak point is rather impossible (unless you’re a client!), so if you don’t know your lungs are your weak point, for instance, clean up your act with all these ideas and not only will you be less anxious when eating out, but you’ll find your health is better too.
First, let’s talk about chemicals. Get rid of any plug-in or spray or hanging air fresheners (unless it’s the cedar or natural scents used judiciously). Many of these products affect our sense of smell; they are not helping your house smell better, but impairing a vital sense with chemicals. No fabric treated to resist wrinkles – deal with it. Dry cleaning? No, don’t think so – use a wet cleaner. You won’t be able to tell the difference, I never could. No synthetically scented anything – laundry detergent, toilet paper, dryer sheets, etc. If the label reads "fragrance", and does not identify the fragrance, it is probably synthetic.
Get yourself some essential oils that you like, and make up your own cleaner. In a quart spray bottle, use very hot water, a few tablespoons of borax, a few of vinegar, shake till Borax is dissolved, then add 1/8 c of castile soap (or Dr. Bronner’s in your favorite flavor). If you use unscented castile, you can add your own oils, a few drops. Make sure you don’t have mold growing somewhere in the house, maybe the basement or that pile of wet clothes in the closet? If you or family members are often sick, take a vacation or notice if it gets worse with the windows and doors closed up tight. A change here may indicate the problem.
Use filtered water for your drinking – fluoride and chloramine are not good for you, and the evidence is overwhelming. Why we still have it in our water astounds; many countries in Europe have banned it. If you have thyroid trouble, this may be an important step for you. Eat as close to nature as possible. ‘Leafy greens’ does not mean iceberg lettuce; buy baby greens, eat sprouts. Fats are good for you, and coconut oil that is sold in bulk tastes delicious all by itself (and a massage with it is out of this world!). Coconut water makes a GREAT substitute for that obnoxious brightly colored sports drink that rots your teeth. And it has the perfect balance of electrolytes.
Sleep’s good? Great. If it’s not, also check out my article on sleep. You can start by first getting rid of the lights, nightlights, get darker shades, read before going to bed (something really boring), and make sure it’s cool and comfortable in your room. Your immune system is very active at night, and if you don’t sleep well, it can’t do its job. This is also when your body absorbs calcium. When children start homeopathic treatment, we often see growth spurts. If it’s time to lose teeth and they haven’t, this will be the time to have them seen by a homeopath as well. Keep all electronics far away from your head. Anywhere you spend a lot of time, such as in bed, needs to be free from dangerous influences such as EMFs (electromagnetic fields), whether low or high frequency. Carrying your cell in your pocket is a bad idea. Set your computer on a platform away from your lap, or with shielding. Use electric blankets before bed to warm it, then off once you slide between the sheets.
If you’re a woman, you probably have tons of stuff that has chemicals in it. Lipstick, mascara, eyeliner, foundation, and the list goes on and on! They used to put lead and mercury in lipstick and mascara! You’d think it was against the law, but guess again. Check out EWG’s score on your products. Don’t pay good money to ruin your health. Again, don’t buy clothes that are ‘wrinkle resistant’ or ‘care-free’ – they’re treated with chemicals. You may remember the experiment where you put a clove of peeled garlic in your shoe and in half an hour your breath will smell like garlic. Think about anything you put next to your body. Organic undies are all I wear, and organic sheets on the bed as well.
How about the air in your home or car? Remember that anytime you seal the air into a house or car, it can stagnate and grow mold or dust may settle. Open the windows daily if possible, and make sure if you’re driving long distances, crack the windows every so often to get some air flow going. New cars have bromine in the upholstery (that ‘new car’ smell), and so do soft drinks, often (it comes in the water, which may not be legal to drink but it is legal to make it into soda!). Too much bromine can rob your body of iodine, so keep it down by varying your drinks if you must have soda.
If you regularly get sick after being rather conscientious with the above, then see your homeopath, it’s time for more help.
There’s nothing like crawling in between two cool sheets and falling into blissful slumber. Maybe it’s been easy for me because I keep so busy during the day that it’s never been a problem. I feel for those that have trouble. There are many things you can do to improve sleep. No, not smoking pot!
Let’s start with the environment: Cold dark room is most important. Keep the activity nice and slow at least a few hours prior to turning off the light. Exercise is not a good idea before turning in. No housecleaning or cocktails at lights out time.
Some people may be able to fall asleep with noise, but some seem to wake with every little sound. Others sleep through all kinds of noise. Much has to do with your central nervous system (CNS). If you’re primed to jump, if your CNS is on edge, your sleep won’t be restful. Make sure there are no electric appliances or wiring that run within 3’ of your head. This can mean taking a gauss meter to the walls near your bed. If you're concerned about EMFs, buy a meter and walk around the house with it. Test the microwave when it's running, you'll be shocked. This may not be affecting your sleep, unless you sleep in the kitchen, but it most certainly can affect your health. Remember you spend around 8 hours in this environment, it should be healthy. If you’re sensitive to chemicals, organic sheets and non-toxic detergent are a must. Of course, be sure to choose a mattress and support that is conducive to your comfort. For many years I thought I liked a hard mattress, only to find when I traveled, I slept more soundly and woke feeling better with a softer mattress. Essential oils may be soothing. Lavender should not be used with young boys, so keep it away from the children, it affects hormones.
Light is very important to eliminate at night. Research has shown that light shown on the small area in the hollow of the knee on sleeping subjects decreases the level of melatonin, the hormone that puts us to sleep and keeps us there. So don’t think a mask is helping, it’s just one small part of the problem. Our levels of cortisol have something to say about our sleep as well. The higher the level of cortisol, the more melatonin we need to sleep. Where the rise in melatonin crosses the decrease in cortisol is where we fall asleep, conversely, the rise in cortisol crossing the decrease in melatonin is where we wake. Hopefully these will be in the proper settings, when we’re expecting it. If you have high levels of stress, some extra melatonin may do the trick. When first marketed, manufacturers used 3 and 5 milligram doses, much too high for most users. Now it is available in 1 or 3mg doses, and in liquid. Try ¼ mg to start. Most early users complained about vivid dreams and groggy mornings. They were taking too much, or not allowing a full 8 hours for sleep. Don’t expect to wake rested if you take melatonin and allow 4 hours to sleep. Your body doesn’t like shortcuts!
Next, let’s look at food and drink. As we get older, we have less room to store liquids. Once I had a hitch in my hip, and went to see a rolfer. An unintended consequence was that I no longer got up at some point in the night to use the bathroom. That was over two years ago. Not drinking water after a certain time doesn’t work for me; if I’m thirsty, I drink. Some people swear no water after 6pm works. Food can sometimes also have an effect on sleep. If you have acid reflux, when you lie down you may have an esophageal sphincter that is relaxed, allowing acid to seep into the throat. This can possibly cause problems with the esophagus or larynx down the line, not to mention disrupting sleep. What foods can cause this problem? Many sources say peppermint, chocolate, coffee, fried foods, and other items should be avoided. Some problems have more to do with digestion than acid reflux; your body doesn’t want to be digesting food when you’re going to bed. Problems like this are easily remedied with homeopathy! Many can’t digest fats on a good day. If you have this problem, often bitter foods can help the bile flow, getting digestive juices flowing to enhance the absorption of your food. And if you’ve had your gall bladder out, you need bile acids! Don’t let this one go. Your body had a gall bladder for a reason, it’s not expendable. Again, the right homeopathic remedy works wonders here.
Your immune system is most active at night while you’re sleeping. That’s why we often see people with poor immune response that don’t sleep well. The cause can be lack of sound sleep. Also, if you take calcium, it should be taken at night, when your body uses it. Calcium circulating in the blood is not where you want it, which is what happens when you take it during the day. Sometimes it ends up in your blood vessels, creating – guess what – hardening of the arteries. Your body may excrete it, and is not beneficial to your bones and teeth.
Say you have all of the above problems under control and your sleep is still bad. Do you lie awake at night and can’t fall asleep? Do you wake during the night and are unable to fall back to sleep due to thoughts? What about waking – you hide your head under the pillow hoping the light and alarm will go away? These are probably symptoms of anxiety. Think about why you are having this problem. Think of a solution to what is causing the anxiety. See if that helps; if not, try writing before bed. I’m not a writer (OK, I do try), but I have read enough about anxiety to know that it can help. If you're resistant to writing, see your homeopath! Don't let your health suffer. Millions of people use homeopathy for these reasons every day.
Do you have dreams or nightmares? Sometimes they can indicate what is going on upstairs. Do you have dreams of being pursued? This is often a fear that something bad will happen. In homeopathy, there are many remedies associated with particular dreams. You may think your problems are unique, but a quick look at the repertory will surprise you. I’ve heard stories that help point out the correct remedy, or confirm my choice when I’m not sure.
Homeopathy can help most of these problems people have with sleep. I’ve seen sleep improve with the first remedy quite often. Of course, some of the work I do is with homeless people, and it is a difficult road. These are people that must sleep with lights on, or uncomfortable cots, people making noise, snoring, or they may be having CNS hyperactivity, a feeling of not being safe when trying to sleep. This is so very important for many, as a lack of sleep can cause psychotic behavior in the most stable person.
If you’ve had bad sleep, now’s the time to figure out why. Sleep is so important to your health. Once it is good, you’ve unlocked the door to better health. Work on that now, saw those logs!
When I had just finished homeopathy school, I took a case of a young boy that was having trouble in school. He told me his teacher was mean, he didn’t like her. Of course, there were other problems: bedwetting, ADHD, diet requirements no mother could meet, and various and sundry other items. His mother’s chief complaint was that he wasn’t doing well in school, despite being on Concerta. They had tried Ritalin, and it was unsuccessful. Even on a strong dose of Concerta, this child was not able to concentrate on his schoolwork.
Upon asking him about school, he revealed he hated math. ‘The 5-times tables are so hard!’ Of course, this was the class in which the much-despised teacher reigned. He dreaded getting out of bed in the morning because he knew - math class loomed! He had anxiety before tests, which manifested when he woke in the morning.
At his first follow up, his mother cheerfully reported bedwetting was rare. When we were alone, I asked how he was doing in school. ‘My teacher is so much nicer now. And we’re on the 7-times and 8-times tables in math, they’re SO EASY!’ I just had to laugh. Not only was he doing better, but in his mind, it didn’t have anything to do with him. This is commonly what you hear when a child is doing better. It’s the circumstance; they cannot imagine they might change.
With adults, it can also be easy. But oftentimes adults will attribute an improvement to something else they did to change the outlook. It may be a new supplement, an easier job assignment, a new health club or health-care provider. Sometimes it is obvious overnight. The person will call a few days after the remedy, and report an astounding fact. This is such welcome news to a homeopath’s ears. Often it is more gradual, but still resulting in the same improvement over a longer time period. The grayness clears, the pessimism lifts, the energy improves. These are all subtle reactions to the remedy, and are difficult for a lay person to pinpoint.
If one is stuck in a rut, it may take a little push to get out of it. This is often easily achieved by the correct remedy. It may be a low dose, a 30C. If there is a larger problem, such as depression or substance abuse, it may take a 1M or 10M to start. I’ve occasionally started with a 10M in mania cases. It all depends on how serious the problem is, combined with how strong we perceive the vital force in that person. A child with a long history of health problems that shows none of the normal energy of a child may need a small dose of a remedy, whereas a child that is bouncing off the walls and throws temper tantrums with regularity may need a 1M to start.
So if you’re feeling blue, check out your local homeopath, and make an appointment. The way you feel the ‘blue’ is a key to which remedy you need. Maybe you mope around the house and become a couch potato. Maybe it’s weepiness, or heading to the local bar. The way your vital force expresses your symptoms is the way we find that remedy that will have you singing in the rain! And it’s not just your mental outlook that improves, it’s every aspect of your life. Aren’t you worth it?
Since working with mothers and children in homeopathy, I’ve come across a large group of people that have experienced birth trauma, either as the mother or child. Often what affects one will affect the other. In her book, Origins, Annie Paul describes monitoring of the pregnant mothers’ physical bodies at rest (via headphones and eye covers) and their childs’ affect on their mothers when they startle the babies externally with noise. The mothers’ body shows the spike in biological markers to the fetus’ response. So not only do we affect our unborn, but they, in turn, affect us.
Of course when I read this, I immediately remembered all those mornings after masters’ swim class, driving in the car, belting out my rendition of all Phil Collins’ latest. Thank goodness he has no memory of it, but I’m sure I’ve scarred him somehow. It must have been his revenge, all those evenings with his extremities rambling over my extended belly months later. Pregnancy should be a happy time, a time for the mother to be cared for and loved; it becomes evident that as society stresses the pregnant woman, the child does not grow to her full potential. Ms. Paul tells us that those exposed to stressors such as starvation early in the pregnancy are more prone to heart disease, whereas those later in pregnancy, diabetes is the disease seen.
When a mother brings a child into my office with a specific set of symptoms, I may see that the child’s rubrics, the symptoms that are presented by the child’s vital force, call for a trauma remedy. Sometimes I’ll see two within the first 3 or 4 remedies represented. Once I remember calling the mother back, and questioning her further, ‘Are you sure there wasn’t some birth trauma, or maybe in utero?’ The mother finally admitted the father never wanted the child, and wouldn’t speak to the mother for 6 months. The traumatized mother shared this wound with her baby. The choice of a remedy is not a subjective decision, rather the symptoms exhibited by this new life; its way to show there is an imbalance. If this imbalance is not corrected, it will possibly grow worse. But it will assuredly affect the child, and as a mild problem is not treated, it may grow to a more serious one.
Stresses are normal for the human population; they encourage adaptation to our surroundings. But at a certain point, they drag down the vital force, and the child cannot stretch free of what holds its vital force down. We all want to see children that are happy and healthy, and chronic illness may result from birth trauma, and not just in the children. I’ve seen mothers benefit from a high dose of Arnica after almost 10 years.
In such intimate circumstances, one would imagine that even if you had just delivered your child, you would still be traumatized by the sight of your newborn’s blue pallor from a cord around its tender neck. Thus both mother and child would suffer the trauma, but with different results; the mother may need Arnica or Aconite, the child may need Opium or Phosphorus.
Annie Paul’s message is to take better care of the pregnant women. I’m all for that! See your homeopath today to clear away those traumas, physical, mental, and emotional, to have that bouncing baby reach her full potential! And read the book, it’s very engaging.
It’s about time I address the issue of menopause. Many women call or come in to my office with problems associated with the end of menses. Menses in homeopathy is very close to the vital force; although we can live without reproducing (as in the decision or event we do not have children, or the loss of female reproductive organs through hysterectomy), it is part and parcel of whom we are, and changes our bodies monthly with the onset of puberty until menopause. Hormones course through our bodies monthly, and still continue to do so after the flow stops.
What are the symptoms of menopause? Frequently the most obvious are hot flashes, insomnia, dry skin, vision changes, dry mucus membranes (eyes, mouth, vagina), mood changes, and memory problems and/or confusion. Frequently, tissues become more brittle, we develop wrinkles (loss of elastin), and most commonly, shoulder pain (loss of collagen). Periods approaching menopause may be lighter, but more often heavier, and the interval between them may also change.
When the body changes with menopause, it is much like the teenage years; it often takes a long time for the body to catch up to the changes. The teen can’t sleep till the higher melatonin levels rise due to growth, and a woman’s body no longer needs to go through the shedding of the lining of the womb in preparation for implantation. Hormones levels can take a long time to change. In the body, hormones can act like toxins. The ways we release these toxins are normally through weeping, sweating, urinating, and others. When some women start their periods, they may become weepy, a sign the hormones had reached a level where the body needed to vent them, then the flow starts. This happens also during a hot flash, indicating an excess of hormones and the body’s way to vent.
Oftentimes anger, crying, and irritability are involved, and mood swings are very common. Homeopathic remedies can help the body fine tune the system rapidly, and without side effects. Yes, you can take herbs, but often the symptoms may return when the herbs are stopped. The temperature outside can also affect some, as cold weather will inhibit sweating and retain the hormones longer, and hot weather may encourage constant light perspiration, and lessen the hormone levels evenly. Dry skin or mucus membranes may be a side effect of these symptoms. Loss of sexual desire can be another symptom, made worse by dry membranes.
Sometimes we can guess whether we’ll have a problem with menopause by asking our mothers what it was like for them. But it’s often like morning sickness in that each person is different, as women that have had multiple pregnancies can tell you! With six children, a woman may have had morning sickness with only one. Recently I was in Ghana, working at a malaria clinic, and had a pregnant woman that told me she only got malaria fevers during early pregnancy. But she had no fever! It turned out it was morning sickness. It was easily remedied, as her first 2 of 3 children were breech, and needed a C-section, the remedy she needed was also the remedy needed to turn the position of the baby during birth.
So what can we do with these symptoms of menopause, or peri-menopause? Seek homeopathic treatment first, then add a good fish oil, don’t change your eyeglasses until the changes stop, and maybe use a lubricant. Above all, the easiest is to have the correct homeopathic remedy. Since homeopathy treats the individual, the remedy will also be individual, and will encompass the total picture the person presents with: Hot flashes night and day with profuse sweat on the head, anger without reason, will be a different remedy than the woman with daily hot flashes on the front of the body, with weeping during mood swings. So if you have a problem that sounds like these, see your homeopath!
Lately we've all been hearing about Swine Flu. Many numbers and facts have been bandied about, but in truth, most are only guesses. Since working in a clinic in San Francisco, most of the people I see come in the door are relatively poor, working class. I've seen people march in there with all the same symptoms of the Swine Flu for the last 6 months. Almost always, they march right back out again, feeling much better, if not 100%. If they're not feeling much better, they have an additional remedy to take if they feel they're not significantly down the road to recovery.
What are the symptoms? I've seen many; nausea, vomiting, dry heaves, bitter taste, fever, cough, sore throat, loose stool, congestion in the sinuses, headache, body aches, but above all, the cough with mucus in the chest. Often people complain about having trouble on deep inspiration, and sometimes they say they feel like they're drowning, or unable to get enough air. In homeopathy, vaccinations are frowned upon. If you read about the philosophy of why, you may or may not understand it. Suffice to say, when you bypass the body's natural immunity, you cause problems. Then there is the composition of the vaccine. What are we being injected with? Why? Some of the reactions to vaccines are very distressing. Personally, my son has not been vaccinated since he was in kindergarten or before.
The key to staying healthy is multifaceted, so you need to seek balance on many levels. Below are some suggestions on how to succeed in staying healthy in spite of being exposed to the virus. Eating right, sleeping well, taking supplements, and keeping stress under control are all good ideas for keeping your immune system healthy. Here are a few key points:
FIRST: Eat right. NO sugar. Sugar has been shown to depress the activity of leukocytes (white blood cells) for at least 4 hours in college students after ingesting it. Keep yourself well with a variety of foods, trying to stay away from things with a lot of packaging, which are usually processed foods, and tend to be low on the nutritional scale. Lots of color is very important; blueberries, squash, pomegranate, oranges, apples, carrots...you get the idea! Try to stay away from white stuff; sugar, flour, bread, pasta, potatoes. If you feel congestion coming on, a stuffy nose or headache, have some broth; plain chicken or vegetable is fine. Onions and garlic are very good for the immune system, but if you cut garlic to cook it, leave it out for 10 minutes to develop the compounds that need to oxidize. Organic food is important too, not just because you don't get the pesticides; you need the trace minerals found mostly in organic foods, ones you can't get from depleted soils.
SECOND: Sleep well. Your immune system is active at night, and if you don't sleep well, you're bound to be ill. Darkness is important, it keeps your melatonin stable. Switch on a light in the middle of the night, and your melatonin drops rapidly. Don't leave electronics on next to your bed, or within a yard of your head. These effects from electronics disrupt the hormones coming from the brain. Many people that have poor sleep tend to develop problems with their immune systems, which can lead to cancer, often reproductive system cancers (breast, prostate, cervical, uterine, ovarian) and brain cancer.
THIRD: Take Supplements. Once you have the basics (vitamins A, C, and E), you can add others. I'd insist on vitamin D, at least 1000 IU per day, and a good fish oil, at least 1200 mg per day. Zinc has been shown to help the immune system, and is very inexpensive, 15 mg per day is fine. If you're under stress, I'd add a sublingual (under the tongue look, at those blood vessels!) vitamin B multiple. You can carry around Emergen-C and take one per hour if you need it.
Oftentimes in homeopathy, we hear stories about a traumatic event in a person's life. It may be an emotional or mental shock, like the death of a loved one, seeing a violent act, or a physical one such as a car accident. It may not be evident to the person but one can retain the imprint of the accident or incident for many decades, if not for life. The homeopath is trained to see these effects of trauma, and use them to choose the correct remedy to release the pain. Let's look at an example:
Four people are traveling in a car, and have an accident. The driver, the first person we see, leaps out of the car, yelling and blaming the other driver. His face is set and dark, and his body is pumping with adrenaline. He races back and forth between the cars, yelling loudly and complaining, not taking the time to assess damage to himself, passengers, or the other driver. The second person, in the front passenger seat, is sitting motionless, not moving at all. She's not speaking, her eyes are fixed in front of her, and she appears to be in a stupor. She doesn't seem to be injured physically, but she is obviously affected by the accident. The third person, in the back seat, is slowly getting out of the car. He was thrown against the back seat of the driver, and was carrying a glass casserole, which has shattered. The contents are covering the person, and he is steaming from the hot contents. There is blood on both hands, and he seems to be in shock. The fourth person, a young girl, is crying quietly in the back seat, not showing any signs of injury, but is being consoled by a bystander, whom she leans on as if a friend.
This story relates to different trauma remedies; each person in the car has a different reaction to the same event, but each in his or her own individual way. The beauty of homeopathy is that it takes into account each person's constitution. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach to health. There are other things to think about with trauma:
A woman escapes from domestic violence and settles in a new area. She seems fine for two years, but then starts having panic attacks. They occur when she is in an enclosed area, but not common claustrophobic situations or surroundings. Her sleep becomes more and more disrupted, and soon she has panic attacks every day. She cries easily, and has constant digestive issues. Although the attacks stopped two years earlier, she remained in an acute state of fear. As her body then adjusted to her new living situation, it was able to show it was still suffering the effects of living in constant fear. A dose of the appropriate remedy took away each and every one of her symptoms.
Growing up, teenagers often get into trouble adjusting to their new bodies. Broken limbs and fractures are not uncommon. These may take a sequence of remedies, each one removing a block; first, the trauma, then the pain, followed by the proper alignment or fusing of the bone.
Many adults have trauma in their past. This may or may not be recognized, because it is difficult to see the forest for the trees. Things like childbirth or surgery can change a person profoundly, and a trauma remedy can make all the difference. A trauma can leave a lasting effect on your entire future, emotionally and mentally, not just physically. Our bodies have ways of holding onto set patterns, and these patterns should be healthy. Whether you have an old injury or a recent one, seek out homeopathic treatment to release that energy to help yourself to health.
Most of us have seen those little blue Boiron tubes in the health food store or pharmacy. The side of the tube may give you one characteristic clue to the remedy, but it may or may not match your symptom; as we all should know, the key to the proper remedy is to match not only the symptom, but the total symptom list. Some remedies have as many as 2000 symptoms that can be opposite in meaning, i.e., thin or obese, cheerful or morose, panicky or calm.
In choosing a remedy, the first question must be why you are looking for a remedy. Is it an acute episode, like a cold? Is it a chronic problem like hemorrhoids? Is it an 'acute of the chronic' like asthma? In case you are not familiar with these words, an acute is a rapidly moving 'dis-ease' and may have an identifiable cause, such as getting wet in cold weather, whereas a chronic dis-ease will have been with you for a while, one with which you are familiar. If you have this chronic state with some frequency (asthma, allergies, panic attacks, anxiety) and they come on periodically, this is termed 'acute of the chronic.' Usually, with chronic homeopathic treatment, they subside very quickly, or completely after the first remedy.
Say, for instance, you are unfortunate enough to get panic attacks. Maybe yours are typical, with sweaty palms, rapid shallow breathing, dry mouth, and tightness in your chest (breathe, these are just words!). You want these panic attacks to go away. You could treat them acutely, in other words, each time you get an attack you take the remedy, much like seasickness. If you were treating them acutely, you'd take them DURING the attack. If treating them chronically, you'd take the remedy only when you feel calm and secure.
There may be 50 remedies from which to chose. If you find the correct remedy, the next step to consider is the dose. Often the dose for the acute is much higher than for the chronic case. I may give a person with a serious flu a very high dose (50M) if the previous dose (10M) worked, but didn't resolve the flu completely and the symptoms remained the same. But with a chronic problem, we start low (30C usually) if there are more physical symptoms we don't want to stir up. If a person has mainly mental symptoms, say depression, I would choose a higher dose. There are many variables to consider in these cases, and this is only a baseline. Knowing when and how to give a remedy is very important.
So now we've found a remedy, given the occasionally panic-stricken person the proper dose of the remedy. How did we find the remedy from the 49 other choices? Each person that has panic attacks is very different from another. Maybe one person gets them when alone and relaxing. Another person may find they always come on when going to work on BART. Still another may get them when they're thinking of a sick loved one. This is only one symptom added to the chronic case, we must find all the particular ways this person is different from her fellow sufferers. This is called finding the totality. It means you are matching all your symptoms to the known symptoms of the remedy you are considering. We find the correct remedy, we may give this person a 30C, and wait. If it's the correct choice, our poor sufferer won't get another attack. Maybe in a few years, the person has another; make sure the same remedy is indicated (the same symptoms, no change, and the best choice in this decision isn't you!) and give a higher dose. In this case, maybe a 200C potency.
Next time you're in a health food store looking for a remedy, remember; if you chose one that is good for a runny nose with a cold and yours is dry as a bone but congested, it most likely won't work. You may say to yourself, homeopathy doesn't really work. But in truth, it's the homeopath that isn't working!
Sometimes a coincidence really gets your attention. On a lovely day in San Francisco, I noticed a bread-truck-like van with people piling into it. As I walked around to the side, I read ‘Mission Neighborhood Clinic Outreach’ and struck up a conversation with the workers inside. They administered needed medical attention to the folks living on the street. It was something I’d always wanted to do, and asked if they had a homeopath working with them. They said no, but they offered cards, and I thought it might be a good way to get more clinical experience. Never one to sit still, I soon called the clinic and was sent an application. I was volunteering within months, one afternoon a week, at the Mission Neighborhood Resource Center clinic.
At the clinic, we’re very lucky to have a wonderful staff on which to rely. The office manager, Shannon, has been indispensable in facilitating our clientele. There are case managers, doctors, physician’s assistants, nurses, and staff that keep the clinic rolling. Shannon lets us know various training sessions that may help us understand and broaden our knowledge of how to take care of our clients, appropriate conversation being key. The clinic is on the second floor, which boasts an outdoor patio and many offices and exam rooms. Maria heads the front reception area of the clinic, tending files and sending us clients she feels are good candidates. The street -level entrance serves as a sign-in place to secure a bed at a shelter for the night, take showers, wash clothes, and store belongings in lockers. There is also a phone available for local calls. People are almost without exception friendly, kind, and honest.
Here we are over 5 years later, and I’ve been so grateful for the experience. Over a year ago, Melinda McGee joined me (while working a full time job), and then Wanda Smith-Schick also joined the team, thankfully attending each week. These great women have given me a sounding board and helped formulate the structure we need to bring homeopathy to these people in San Francisco. Our work together has been invaluable. We discuss our cases and philosophy, often suggesting remedies where there may be a blind spot in the thought process of another. Having persons with differing backgrounds has been immensely helpful, too, because if we have open minds we can find the best way, not just the way we were taught.
Some clients appear as a cough in the waiting area, and when my office was just off the waiting area, I’d drag these unfortunates into the room and treat their acutes. I learned to look for the ‘slight aggravation’ - a look of fright on the face, a dash for the bathroom, then a slow turn-around. Or the look of terror while they search the room for a tissue, then hawk up a tennis ball. They’d smile and say, ‘Wow, I feel better, it works that quickly?’ During epidemics, such as with Swine Flu, you’d see the same story, and knowing the genus epidemicus gave me such a boost in helping to alleviate the suffering quickly. Generally, only those that had taken some other OTC drug or syrup where ones with fever, where the decongestant or antihistamine worked counter to the vital force. This I documented, but it was a fairly uncommon occurrence.
Many of our clients are drug and alcohol addicts, or homeless persons whose problems stem from an early life of abuse and/or grief, often both. Sometimes it’s just an earache or a rash or the flu. Many have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Some have come from prison and are looking for a different way to live. Almost all of them have one thing in common; their pain does not allow them to function in the way most of us take for granted. The rubric ‘Ailments grief’ is very common. Let me be clear; these lives are the result of something that created this disease early in life. It is not a choice that you would make willingly. They can be helped.
Bill was one of my first cases. He came in complaining of chronic diarrhea. His was a story of paranoia: the government was after him, following him! He might be arrested or murdered at any time. He looked, to the passerby on the street, to be a normal, healthy, 40-something-year-old man. As he spoke, he could have been calmly discussing a book review. He was neatly dressed, had no extraordinary indication that anything was amiss. Working his case, I came to Phosphorus, and gave him a 200C. I used a lower dose than normal, due to the chronic diarrhea. I did not want to aggravate a situation in a person who didn’t have easily accessible toilet facilities. I wholeheartedly subscribe to the mental plane disturbance needing higher potencies, and physical disturbance lower potencies. More than once I’ve given a 10M to start, a few times a 50M.
The following week I saw him in the common area, and he appeared to be avoiding eye contact. I went over and asked him how he was doing. He said, ‘I don’t know what you gave me, but it didn’t work.’ I asked him to explain. ‘I had the worst diarrhea for 5 days! But…it didn’t bother me.’ A look of surprise came across his face. As unlikely as it sounds, those were his words. I asked him if he remembered what I’d told him when I gave him the remedy. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘that’s what you told me might happen! What was it you gave me?’ I explained I could not tell him, as it was my practice not to reveal the remedy. This comes from having clients rush down to the health food store and buy a tube, often mistakenly thinking a little is good but more is better. ‘Well, then, I can’t take it anymore.’ In true Phosphorus fashion, he had the delusion he might be poisoned. When I explained what had happened to his case manager, he was surprised Bill had even accepted the remedy. ‘You’ll never get him to take another remedy,’ was his comment. He was right, but Bill got an apartment within a month. I heard he was doing well and successfully stayed off the street. I do not attribute this turn around solely to the remedy, but I know his chronic diarrhea was gone.
To be sure, we’ve had our share of disappointments. I remember the staff bringing us an alcoholic man with acute alcohol poisoning. He cowered under his hood and mumbled until we found the remedy, his second dose. He sat up almost immediately and pushed his hood off, and started talking. He convinced me (I’m rather hard to fool) he’d be back the following week. Of course, we didn’t see him. About 2 months later, as I parked my car nearby, there he sat on the curb, with a bottle in a brown bag, three sheets to the wind. I went over to talk to him, but there was no convincing him to come back to the clinic. We sometimes get only one shot, and I felt we’d failed this man. We treated him for his present state, an acute alcohol poisoning, but did not have the chance to treat his chronic case.
Sometimes we’ll get a client and give them a remedy. We may be sure they’ll come back, but there is often an extenuating circumstance; an offer of a job in another city, a bed for a week, an unexpected offer of drugs from another, or something worse. We often don’t know why clients don’t return, but sometimes months later they will, with a good result or another relapse. It’s important not to be judgmental, to support them in their attempts. The last thing we want to do is make them feel they failed us - we aren’t the important ones.
Unfortunately, much of the normal information about a client is not available for use; when sleeping in a shelter, it’s common to have lights on during the night, and food is catch-as-catch-can. The client’s preference isn’t considered when it comes to the needs of the masses. This results in sometimes less than nutritious food, and these two necessities, sleep and food, can be an obstacle to cure. We do the best we can.
We often start a case with an Arnica 1 or 10M, or possibly Aconite or Hypericum, when the symptoms agree. The information is very clear in these cases. Frequently there is a mental component, a story of child abuse, but often with a sad twist; abandonment by one or both parents, or a parent remarrying an abusive spouse. Once I gave Arnica to a woman who had been repeatedly beaten and raped by her husband. He would appear out of the blue, maybe once a month, in the middle of the night. These visits were random, and she did not exhibit symptoms of panic until 2 years after she escaped him. It took her body that long to feel safe enough to exteriorize her fright. I gave her Arnica 1M for the broken jaw and other injuries, while I worked out the rest of the case, but when she returned later, she revealed sleeping 14 hours a day for 2 weeks, and having friends remark she must have had a face lift, or gone to a spa! Her panic attacks disappeared after this dose as well. After this case, I always search my analysis for trauma remedies. Last year, I treated a 61-year-old woman with Aconite. Everything that went wrong in her life traced back to when she was 18 or 19. Of course, she said she didn’t remember anything happening around that time, but it didn’t matter. Aconite was what was needed. Her agoraphobia lifted, and she began to rid herself of baggage from the past.
Sometimes there is a shocking revelation. Don shuffled in, and seemed annoyed at having to fill out paperwork. I asked him why he’d come to see me, and bruising my ego, he told me in order to see the dentist he had to see two other healthcare people. He was a veteran, didn’t want to talk, and didn’t want to reveal anything to me, and said he didn't have an alcohol or drug problem. I said, ‘you must have something that is bothering you.’ He showed me some lesions he'd developed, and where he thought he'd been bitten by what must have been a spider. He’d gotten an odd job cleaning out someone’s basement, where it was dark and damp. The hospital told him it was a brown recluse spider bite (and I’ve learned from Will Taylor - MD, marine biologist and homeopath - that’s a common ER response, but often untrue). There were lesions and edema in his legs below the knee, and a few lesions on one of his arms. I came to Ledum for him, as I expected, and he received a 1M. What I didn’t expect was that 2 weeks later, after the second dose (a 10M of Ledum a week after the first), as he was getting ready to leave he said softly, in wonderment, that he hadn’t been drinking for 8 days, which had never happened before. I asked him if that was a good thing or bad, and he said he didn’t know. I asked him if he wanted another dose, in the event he wanted to drink again. He hesitated. ‘Can you give it to me in an envelope, so I can have one more night of drinking?’ And I did. After he left, I went to the repertory, and there it was: Mind, Alcoholism – Ledum. It may have been one of 149 remedies, but it was the remedy he needed. Sadly, I did not see him again, because I would have loved to find out how he fared.
The common story we have seen in the clinic is the person with a particular ailment for which they seek help: stroke recovery, alcohol or drug addiction, high blood pressure, violence, ADHD, abandonment (often as an infant), back pain, constipation, panic attacks…the list is long. Often the situation that precipitates the homelessness is on the surface. Child abuse and sexual abuse are very common. They aren’t hidden symptoms; they’re revealed in the first 5 or 10 minutes. I’ve never seen this in private practice. I’m not sure why this is, but it is very helpful. It really brings home the idea that you must be sure you want to bring a child into the world, and that you are the caretaker of this vulnerable being. Most of these precious people would not be in this state if they’d been able to be cared for by their parent(s). It goes without saying, most of the parents were exposed to the same dysfunction they, in turn, passed on to their own children.
The ones that are ready to change come religiously. We do not discuss what they should and should not do with their lives, but we know when we’ve had success. We give them space to learn from their mistakes, and listen when they need to vent. It was hard not to bring them clothing or food in the beginning, but we want to encourage independence and self-reliance. They now have the tools they need to begin again, whether it’s self-confidence, shedding of the past miseries, strength to say no to an addiction, or the conviction that they deserve better.
Of the many people who make the clinic a success, I must particularly thank Dr. Ricardo Alvarez, the doctor running the Mission Neighborhood Clinics who agreed to my participation; he also got to see homeopathy firsthand by being my translator for one of our clients. The case was clear, but one symptom bothered me; pain in her back that did not fit the remedy. I explained this, and asked him to ask her if there was a modality, something that identified when it occurred or what made it better. She stood up and demonstrated; there was pain on inspiration, and bingo, the remedy I had chosen was there in the rubric; I was thinking of back pain, but it was pain on breathing! This case was a particularly rewarding case, as she needed only 2 remedies in a year. He says of the clinic, “All patients seen are vitalized by protocol and evaluated by a Western medical provider as needed.” We find many don’t, or won’t, take their meds, and it can be serious if they do not have some form of intervention.
How do we know our clients have improved? Not just by how they’re releasing grief through weeping, or examining their lives, but by the single most instrumental act that above all shows you - they contact their often estranged family. There have been cases where the family has not heard from the client in decades. This contact shows us the client is moving on a deep level, so far above the common comment, ‘I feel better.’ We’ve now learned to take a more statistical view, and often get a 0-10 scale on most items discussed. Although we are there weekly, it is a very different setting from private practice; these clients zip through remedies quickly, and we must be unhesitating in our prescription of the next potency or prescription. Often a remedy will peel away the first layer, maybe mania or violence, to reveal the next layer, possibly depression or anger.
Now, in this period of economic difficulty, homeopathy has much to offer. Millions take these remedies daily, all around the world. These remedies we use at the clinic come from our private supplies, and cost very little in comparison to other treatment. It is common to have clients either on meds (SSRIs, BP meds, sleep meds, etc), street drugs or prescribed meds they may take, but often refuse to take. In most cases, we’ve found homeopathy to be effective and successful regardless, giving us hope for expanding our small circle into a larger population in the city of San Francisco and beyond. We highly recommend this work to anyone that feels they’d like to help the homeless or less fortunate. Views expressed in this article are Renita’s only, and do not necessarily reflect MNRC’s.
Photos in this article: "Wanda Smith-Schick, Renita Herrmann, and Melinda McGee" by John Melnychuk Palo Alto Homeopathy,"On the street" © Franco Folini Flikr Photostream on Homeless Life, "Danilo closing up in the evening", © Suzy Salazar El Tecolote, Google map, and all others © Jim Spadoni True West Media
ABOUT COTS: Committee on the Shelterless (COTS) offers help and hope to homeless persons in Sonoma County by providing safe shelter and housing, helping people develop steady incomes and helping them get back under a roof of their own through the Mary Isaak Center in Petaluma. They help homeless families become stable and break the cycle of homelessness by teaching homeless parents to make their children's needs a high priority and to provide a safe, loving and secure home for their children.
Founded in early 1988, COTS started as an expression of Mary Isaak and Laure Reichek’s concern for children and adults who were sleeping outdoors in culverts, dumpsters or other unsafe and unsuitable conditions. Community volunteers provide over 50,000 hours of their time each year. COTS receives assistance from the cities of Petaluma and Rohnert Park, and the County of Sonoma and many other organizations and individuals. COTS works cooperatively with numerous social service providers in the area.
Since starting work at the Mission Neighborhood Resource Center in San Francisco, I always thought I would try to expand the work we were doing as volunteer homeopaths to other clinics. This opportunity presented itself during the summer of 2011.
As a long-time member of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, I attend as many events for this wonderful organization as possible. This past summer, I attended the conference in San Francisco, my home town. Through an odd coincidence, I ended up sitting next to John Records, the Executive Director of COTS, for the Saturday lunch. As I spoke with him during lunch, thrilled with the prospect of a possible new site to open another homeopathy clinic, I suddenly realized what a wonderful twist of fate landed me at his side. On his other side, Cassandra Vietens, a wonderful author and speaker, was giving a presentation on exciting projects at IONS. After her speech, a film of an interview she did with John and his work at COTS, specifically the Mary Isaak Center, was presented. It was truly astounding, in a room with over 400 people, that this was MY seat!
Within a few months, we had decided on Monday afternoons for the clinic. The dry erase board outside the intake room filled up quickly, and as it did, more homeopaths have joined me to help. Diana Rutherford and Niousha Majoub, two talented homeopaths, also volunteered. In 2014, Carol Nelson and Aaron de Forest have joined the clinic.
Our clients are typically those unable to find housing and/or jobs, whether through economic misfortune or another setback. Some have suffered emotional or physical trauma, some may be working on kicking a drug or alcohol problem. Most have chronic health complaints easily and readily helped with homeopathy.
Rarely do we have a free moment; our clients are wonderful in scheduling their own visits on the board. Often they will talk amongst themselves and rearrange their appointments so everyone may be seen. Although we are there technically till 5pm, we often don’t leave till 6pm. It’s hard to turn away these beautiful faces! We have had some wonderful cases and significant turnarounds, and hope to share our success with you soon.