The Good Medicine

Words: Dr Timothy R DOOLEY

I did my residency training at Highland Hospital in Oakland, California, US, a trauma centre that serves a largely inner city population. In both medical school and residency, I found it best not to advertise my naturopathic background. Some people in medicine find it interesting, but many just can’t handle it. They can no longer relate to you as an intelligent, or caring, person; you are now one of ‘them.’

As my training progressed, I gained much of the experience I was looking for in medicine. I became more comfortable with such things as trauma, emergencies, and intensive care.

The difference between homeopathy and conventional medicine also became clearer. Conventional medicine looks for what is the same between patients and then applies a uniform treatment to the disease.  In homeopathy, we look for what is different, and what makes each person unique, so we can treat the patient.

Homeopathy is simple, really. It is the whole person who is affected by disease and it is the whole person who responds to medicines.

To appreciate how the whole person is affected by disease, or medicines, we have to only look at their symptoms. This is the secret to understanding how homeopathy differs from conventional medicine in a way as basic as the difference between the spherical earth and flat earth.

The Disease Symptoms

When someone is ill, they have many symptoms, most of which are ignored by conventional medicine but are of great importance in homeopathy. Conventional medicine recognises and uses only those symptoms which indicate what disease the patient has.

For example, suppose a patient has asthma. They’ll go to the doctor with shortness of breath and wheezing. Breathing tests will be abnormal. They may have an allergic history and often have had previous asthma attacks.

A conscientious physician may also complete a full history, exam, and laboratory evaluation. But, barring any surprises, the physician already has all the information needed to diagnose and treat the disease based on the disease symptoms. Virtually all asthmatics receive the same treatment by conventional physicians. The signs and symptoms which were used to diagnose this disease are about the same for each person and are referred to as the disease symptoms. They are of little value, however, in prescribing for the whole person.

The Patient’s Symptoms

It is the other symptoms, the ones which are either ignored, or never elicited in conventional medicine, that allow a view of the whole person and the individual response to the disease.

To continue with the example of asthma, every asthmatic has many symptoms beyond the disease symptoms. The shortness of breath may be caused in one person by going into the open air, but this may relieve the shortness of breath in another. One may be thirsty for sips of cold drinks; another may have no thirst. One may be sweaty; another dry. One may feel worse after midnight; another in the morning. One may be craving salt; another sweets. One may be relieved at the seashore; another aggravated. One may be irritable; another weepy.

The point is that people respond as a whole, as an organism, to disease influences. This response is visible throughout the person as various signs and symptoms. In homeopathy, all these symptoms taken together represent the patient’s symptoms.

It is merely the choice of conventional medicine to ignore the totality of the patient’s symptoms, because conventional medicine has no means to utilise this information. There is no need for any other than the disease symptoms, when you are only treating the disease.

Medicine For The Disease   

Just as the disease affects the person as a whole, so do medicines. The fact that medicines affect systems throughout the body, not just in one part, is acknowledged in conventional medicine in the concept of effects and side-effects. Conventional medicines are given in large enough doses to cause a certain desired effect somewhere in the body. Other effects caused by the medicine which are not desired are termed the side-effects.

A moment’s reflection reveals that there is no such thing as a medicinal side-effect. There are only medicinal effects. The term side-effect is an euphemism for what is, in fact, an undesired effect [It appears that the only purpose for this misleading term is to relieve the practitioner of the blame for having caused such unpleasant drug effects in the patient].

Medicine For The Patient

If you’ve followed me so far, you already know that homeopathy takes a different approach and does not divide the effects of a medicine into so-called effects and side-effects.  Instead, the sum-total of all the effects are recognised to be part of what that medicine can cause.

And, if you remember the basic principle of homeopathy [‘like cures like’], the medicine can cure what it can cause. For a good response, however, the medicine must be prescribed for the patient, not the disease. This is done by matching the patient’s symptoms [as discussed above] with the symptoms that a medicine can cause.

When a homeopathic medicine is properly prescribed, based on the similar symptoms of the whole person, it can be given in such a tiny, non-toxic dose that it will not force its effects on the body. Therefore, there are no side-effects as with drug therapy.

The Genius Of Homeopathy: Treating The Patient Instead Of The Disease

This is the genius of homeopathy. It is the patient who is ill and it is the patient who responds to the medicine. What is termed a disease by conventional medicine is merely a part of this whole — just as the experience of the flat earth is only part of the greater reality of the spherical earth.

By looking at the whole patient and knowing the effects of medicines on the whole person, homeopathic practitioners are able to prescribe one single similar medicine for that patient. The patient’s response to the medicine is then evidenced by resolution and improvement in all the symptoms, including those associated with the disease. The disease is cured naturally as the patient recovers.

“Dr Dooley, it’s amazing,” a 40-year-old woman told me on her first follow-up. “My skin rash on my hands is completely gone!” “Skin rash?” I asked. The month before, during our initial interview, she had related all her problems to me: anxiety attacks, dry mouth, bad breath, and others; but she had said nothing about a skin rash. “Oh, I’m so used to it and have had it all my life that I didn’t even think to mention it last month. My hands always have a dry itchy rash with cracks and fissures. But, now, it’s all better.”  She went on to explain that her other problems were also improved.

Her prescription of homeopathic Graphites would have been much easier had I known about the skin rash. But, it wasn’t necessary to know about it to help it. When the patient is treated as a whole, all the specific problems should improve as the patient responds.

The Balance Of Health & Disease

People who get few diseases are often referred to as healthy. In other words, the absence of disease defines their state of health. Health, however, is much more than just the absence of disease. It is more accurate to say that healthy people get fewer diseases and feel better in general, because they are healthy.

This subtle distinction is important because treating disease, as is done in conventional medicine, will not necessarily result in a healthier person. It is possible for the disease to go away and yet the patient, as a whole, remains in an equally poor, or even worse, state of health.

In such a reduced state of health, people often complain to their doctors of many symptoms, such as poor energy, sleep problems, or emotional imbalance. Perhaps, they just don’t feel well. It is often only a matter of time before the previous disease returns, or another disease, possibly more serious, takes its place.

From the flat-earth view of conventional medicine, such a new disease is then seen as an entirely different disease entity. It is treated as if there is no relationship between the old disease and the new disease. This is not so; there is a relationship.

The relationship is the patient.

Diseases do not just happen. They are processes which involve the very same patient.

From the homeopathic view of the whole person, the various problems and symptoms, both past and present, are all related. They reflect the unique health expression of that individual.

Furthermore, the parts of the body do not independently get sick. It is the whole person who gets sick, even though most diseases express in predominantly one part of the body, or another. That is why just treating the apparently sick part may not benefit the patient as a whole.

The proof of these ideas is a cured patient, one who has been healed with a homeopathic remedy chosen for them as a whole, not just their disease/s.

The short case presented above is an excellent example.  If this patient had been treated in parts, the conventional way, she would have received a prescription for an anti-anxiety medicine, some cortisone lotion for her hands, and told to use breath mints, or mouth wash. All of these treatments are directed at the parts, not the patient. These treatments would have only controlled the symptoms, the outward expressions of her underlying disorder.

Using the homeopathic approach, I was able to find a remedy which matched her whole health picture. She responded as a whole, and as she healed, all the problems got better, even the one I was unaware she had.

True healing, or natural recovery from disease, cannot be forced. It is a process in which a person attains a higher level of health and the disease resolves naturally.

This is what homeopathy is all about.

Dr TIMOTHY R DOOLEY, ND [National College of Naturopathic Medicine], MD [Oregon Health Sciences University School of Medicine], is a licenced medical doctor practicing classical homeopathy, sometimes known as constitutional prescribing. His book, Homeopathy: Beyond Flat Earth Medicine, is a critically acclaimed, also popular, work for homeopathic practitioners and lay readers alike. He lives in San Diego, US. This article is ©Dr Timothy R Dooley.

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