Thursday, May 10, 2018

Placebo?

A recent conversation with a family member has prompted me to post a quick public reply to the statement that "homeopathy is placebo."

The idea behind a placebo's effect is that the individual desires that the medicine they are given work, and so it works. Except that many people are strong skeptics when given a homeopathic remedy, so why would it prove effective if they don't believe it will? Plus, on the flip side, many people think and believe that conventional drugs will work ... and then they don't. Why is that? Wouldn't one think that placebo would make those conventional drugs work no matter what?

Don't get me wrong. I'm convinced that the mind is an extremely powerful force of healing! I'm simply saying that "placebo" needs to be accepted as a possibility in any and every medicine, but that doesn't mean any medicine only works because of the placebo effect. Let's talk both/and rather than either/or.

Here's another consideration. Homeopathy has been seen over and over again to work with farm animals or wild animals as well as pets / animal companions. Is that placebo? Even when they don't know the remedy is being added to their food or water?


From a practical perspective, this family member was also quite surprised when I provided the following tidbits of information:

- Homeopathic pharmacies are regulated by the FDA. (There is currently, however, a modern "witch hunt" against homeopathic remedies because use of them is on the rise and, despite decades of doctors stating that the harm in the remedies is due to their lack of ingredients (i.e., that they are a "placebo"), the remedies could also be harmful. Nothing in them but they still have harmful effects? Hmm. Really?)

- At one time, Homeopathy was a medically accepted and widely used form of treatment. It was introduced in America about 1825 and, as outlined in one article:
"By the end of the 19th century, there were 22 homeopathic medical schools, more than 100 homeopathic hospitals, over 60 orphan asylums and senior living facilities, and over 1,000 homeopathic practitioners in the United States."
Now, granted, just because a medical tool or system was historically practiced doesn't mean that it should continue -- large doses of toxins and poisons were once dosed and I certainly wouldn't want that to have continued.

Needless to say, there are many voices raised today about homeopathy -- those for, against, and undecided. I would encourage you to explore all sides of the debate before you make up your mind about this rich and vital healing modality.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Spring Salads

Today was my first Big Spring Salad of 2018 and it was SO yummy! Usually, I wait at least until after the Spring Equinox to begin eating mega-salads for lunch, but today was so warm (67 degrees) and sunny, I could hear the birds singing through the open windows of the house, that I couldn't wait.

While I am not a hard-core advocate of seasonal eating, I do try to lean in that direction when possible. For a simple example, I eat more potatoes and squash (heavy, cooked foods) in the winter, and more fresh raw salads (light, raw foods) during spring and summer.

I learned about the concept of seasonal eating when I was being trained in Ayurveda, but I know there are other naturalists who also follow this practice. My teacher was Dr. John Douillard and his web site or book is a great starting point to learn about following Nature's cycles and seasons in order to bring increased balance to our body systems.

As a vegetarian (who tends toward the vegan side), I've done my share of moderating the guidelines in that respect as well as following my own bodily constitution. Our individual constitutions may lead us to avoid some foods while increasing others, so it's important to know your innate nature. Another personal guideline is to feel into the landscape around you. Do you live in a hot, dry climate or a cool, wet one? That can influence which foods you will be able to digest well.

There are so many aspects to giving our bodies what they need, but don't wait any longer. I encourage you to dip your toes in the waters right now and explore!



Thursday, December 21, 2017

Nosodes for Dogs

Homeopathic nosodes can be a good resource when it comes to preventing certain diseases in dogs. Rather than over-use of conventional vaccinations (and their side effects), one can use nosodes as a complementary booster throughout the life of the animal.

The best approach is a holistic one. Evaluate the animal under consideration and then weigh the risks before making a decision that will affect their long-term health and well-being. Dr. Charles Loops is a strong supporter of nosodes as a preventative; just as in any other health care specialty, veterinary homeopaths often disagree on when and how to dose with nosodes. Some recommend only giving them after exposure to an infectious agent, while others like Dr. Loops recommend nosodes if you think the dog might be exposed. Based upon my own research and training, I am fully on-board with the benefits of using nosodes as preventatives and to reduce the adverse effects of exposure and/or vaccination. Please consult with a professional veterinary homeopath if you are interested in this.

For those of you new to this blog or to Homeopathy, you might want to read my post "The Substance of Homeopathy: Fact or Fiction?" That essay, toward the end, directly presents a situation using nosodes for the widespread prevention of a human epidemic of Leptospirosis.

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DISCLAIMER: This approach does not affect the protocols required by state law in administering 3-year vaccinations for Rabies. That said, there are studies being done that show one form of the Rabies vaccine is effective for up to 7 years and dog-lovers are working towards changing the laws. Until that happens, however, these Rabies vaccines must be given if legally mandated. (As a side note, a similar study had already been completed in France showing these results but the USA would not accept it. Someday, perhaps, countries will be more accepting of results obtained elsewhere instead of feeling the need to keep reinventing the wheel and causing increased suffering in the subjects of the studies.)

Monday, November 6, 2017

Mortality

We're all going to die. This isn't a mystery to any of us, and yet many people shy away from addressing this reality head-on. I'm not referring to a simple acknowledgement such as that contained in the oft-repeated comment about how the only sure things in life are death and taxes. I'm referring to real conversations about living well even while dying, and it's best if we don't leave the talk for the final days or weeks.

As we settle into autumn and head into winter, I've generally found myself drawn into reflection about dying. How could I not when the seasons are revealing this process all around me? This beautiful song by Carrie Newcomer is one of my seasonal favorites; she sings how "leaves don't drop, they just let go, and make a space for seeds to grow":



When I lived in Maine, the year after my dad died I volunteered for a short while with the local hospice. I would go out to sit with an old woman who was bedridden and dying at home, providing a few hours of respite for her son and granddaughter. They all lived on a working farm, and the dying woman's bed faced a window where she could watch the birds and flowers, and even glimpse someone walking to or from the barn. Her surroundings were simple, as were her needs. My purpose was also simple: to sit with her while her family stepped away for some time to themselves. Not everyone has this kind of opportunity to meet death from their own home, but it would be nice if they could. But in order to even have a chance to do so, the conversation must happen first and early enough to make a difference.

Recently, I listened with pleasure, and a definite poignancy, to the On Being with Krista Tippett conversation with surgeon and writer Atul Gawande. Their talk was based upon his most recent book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. The show (I always listen to the unedited version, but both are available) was titled "What Matters in the End." I would strongly urge you to listen or read the transcript; this is vital conversation for all of us to engage in.

The above-referenced conversation between Tippett and Gawande wasn't focused on hospice, though, or the end-stages of the dying process. Rather, as does his book, the talk revolved around aging, as well, and how to meet old age living well and not with frustration, anger, fear, and suffering as our constant companions. One of the unique aspects of Gawande's book was that it came from the perspective of a doctor and surgeon, a man trained to "fix people," who realized that there were always times when fixing might be stopping aggressive treatments. He realized that he needed to ask "what does a good day look like" for that person and where they were at that moment in their life.
"The conversation I felt like I was having was, do we fight, or do we give up?
And the reality was that it’s not do we fight, or do we give up? It’s what are we fighting for? People have priorities besides just surviving no matter what. You have reasons you want to be alive. What are those reasons? Because whatever you’re living for, along the way, we’ve got to make sure we don’t sacrifice it; and in fact, can we, along the way, whatever’s happening, can we enable it?"

Gawande's book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End is absolutely brilliant and beautiful and much needed. I hope you will make the time to read it, share it, and have a conversation with your loved ones about living well ... now and through the aging and dying process.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Heal Thyself

Sharon Blackie in If Women Rose Rooted quotes a woman herbalist, Nikki Darrell, at length in the chapter “The Fertile Fields” and says that, 
“It is clear from everything she says that Nikki strongly believes that community empowerment is the critical ingredient that’s lacking in traditional herbal training. That, in refusing to acknowledge the long traditions and great strengths of folk medicine and community herbalism, it runs the risk of becoming — like conventional medicinal training — both exclusive and excluding.” 
I wholeheartedly agree with Nikki Darrell (from what I read in Blackie’s book); she seems to have similar, valid concerns as I do that the natural healing modalities are removed from lay people by initiating a fear in them that these methods have to be practiced by so-called professionals with licenses and degrees and college medical training. Practical, base-level healing can be easily learned by the average person with an interest in personal empowerment, with minimal risk. Entry-level training is quite effective for the majority of acute ailments and would result in reduced visits to emergency clinics where an over-prescription of drugs is the common outcome. 

This is one of the reasons that I do not support or seek mandated state or federal licensing of Herbalism, Homeopathy, or Ayurveda. I abhor the thought of Ayurveda going the way of Traditional Chinese Medicine where it is tied up in red tape and restrictions and too expensive for most people to benefit from. The medical establishment has been disempowering people and segregating them from their own health management for several hundred years now and it needs to stop. Books and/or classes (or now the easy availability of online seminars) provide all we usually need for starting our learning journey.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Poke

Let's talk Poke -- often referred to as Pokeweed or Pokeroot, aka Virginian Poke or, in the Homeopathic pharmacopeia, the Latin name is Phytolacca Decandra (syn. P. Americana). 

I have a big patch of Pokeweed growing at the lower edge of our hillside open space (it's pictured to the far left in the photo), so I've been researching it's history as a native plant of the Americas. There is a good article on this plant at Herbs2000.com; the author of the article cautions about side effects, which is advisable due to the toxic nature of the plant, so if you should decide to try the Homeopathic remedy on your own, please use a potency of 30C or higher and NOT a lower potency.

First, please note that Pokeweed is poisonous unless properly cooked (boil it down numerous times, pour off the water each time). Indigenous people used it mostly for medicinal purposes, but there are also ways to cook the early spring shoots, leaves, and even the juice of the berries to make them safe.

Pokeroot tea was used for a variety of ailments, including rheumatism, by many people in the Ozarks (of Missouri and Arkansas). Boiled Pokeroot was also sometimes used to cure "the itch" but most old-timers said the cure was worse than the the ailment (the way it was administered topically "burned like fire".* Since Poke is an American plant, chances are good that these remedies originated from the indigenous people, and settlers took it up from them.

The Homeopathic remedy Phytolacca Decandra is made from the root (Pokeroot) and can assist the body system to heal from a variety of symptoms including the one that works like magic for me (remember that remedies are individualized): sore throat. Whenever I feel the first tinge of a sore throat coming on, I take a dose of Phytolacca 30C and, 99% of the time, the sore throat never worsens and often disappears entirely within a few hours. In relation to the throat, this remedy may work well, also, for mononucleosis or strep throat; one of the beauties of Homeopathy is that it addresses similar symptoms and, since mono and strep often feel the same and produce very similar outward symptoms,  Phytolacca might help the body system to relieve either or both, depending upon the individual.

Please feel free to contact me if you want to learn more about Phytolacca Decandra (Pokeweed) and how it might help you heal.

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* Ozark Magic and Folklore by Vance Randolph (1947).

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A Mild Remedy


Although I've never been to a Ball, I have many remedies at my disposal that offer the symptom relief of an aperient (generally, a mild laxative although here being promoted to remove the potential for headache). What natural remedy do you prefer as an aperient?