Sunday, March 10, 2013

How Conventional Medicine is Making You More Sick - The Homeopathic Law of Suppression

This post is the second in my series on homeopathy basics.  

The Body Has an Innate Wisdom

In homeopathy, there is a belief in the innate wisdom of the body. This means that, when the body manifests symptoms, it does so at the least vital level. The symptoms are not the enemy, rather they are an indication that there is a disturbance in the body's vital force. The vital force is "responsible for the orderly and therefore healthy running of the body, and for coordinating the body's defenses against disease." [1]  (Another, more simple way to think of the vital force is that it is the body's immune system.) Whether the reason for the disturbance to the vital force is obvious (such as exposure to a flu) or harder to understand (such as eczema or chronic pain), the symptoms are the body's best possible defense against the disturbance.

Conventional Medicine Works Through Symptom Suppression

Conventional medicines work through the premise of symptom suppression. If there is a cough, a medicine is given to suppress the cough. If there is a rash, ointments and steroid creams are applied to suppress the rash. If there is an abnormal growth, it is surgically removed. In the short term, this may seem like a reasonable path to follow, but the problem with this approach is that it does not address the fundamental disturbance which led to the symptoms in the first place.

Suppressing Symptoms Cannot Lead to Health

Given that the body has innate wisdom and wants to express any disturbance of the vital force by creating symptoms at the least vital level, suppressing these symptoms cannot lead to health. When symptoms are suppressed, they are pushed deeper. The underlying disturbance is still present, and the body then needs to express it at a deeper level (since the least vital level has already been suppressed).

An Example: Eczema

Let's use eczema as an example. Eczema is a rash that may appear on the body. When a suppressing ointment such as cortisone cream is used to make the eczema "go away", the rash may indeed disappear but the underlying disturbance that caused the rash in the first place is still present. The eczema may go away, but in it's place there are likely to be respiratory tract problems such as asthma or bronchitis. Thus, the cortisone cream has pushed the disturbance to a deeper, more vital level of the body.

The Hierarchy of Bodily Systems

In The Science of Homeopathy [2], George Vithoulkas gives an excellent description of the level of importance of the bodily systems. He describes that the order of importance of bodily systems (from most important to least important) as follows:
Endocrine System
Liver (including Digestive System)
Reproductive Organs

Skin ailments, such as eczema, are bothersome, but they are at the least vital level of the body. When eczema is suppressed and respiratory problems develop instead, the person has moved further from a state of health than they were with just eczema.

True Health Comes From Curing the Underlying Disturbance Rather Than Suppressing the Symptoms 

When conventional medicines are used, all that is gained is temporary relief followed by even worse health at deeper levels of the body. When homeopathy is used, the body is stimulated to cure the underlying disturbance that led to the symptoms in the first place. In this way, true health is gained.

[1] The Family Guide to Homeopathy, by Dr. Andrew Lockie, 1989, p.3.
[2] The Science of Homeopathy, George Vithoulkas, 1980, pp. 24, 36.

NOTE: I am not a physician or licensed healthcare practitioner. The information I provide is intended to educate, and should not be construed as a prescription. You are responsible for determining whether or not you want to take advantage of the information offered.


Giesu said...

Wow! You hit the nail on the head. My husband is a homeopathic doctor, we use homeopathics for almost anything that needs attention.

I have had asthma as a child, used an inhaler then put it away when I hit middle school, didn't need it anymore. I have found that in the last few months eczema has showed up on the back of my hands and arms. It's time for me to take a good look at what is going on and deal with it.


Jennifer at Purposeful Nutrition said...

How does homeopathy work in connection with diet? We use some basic homeopathy but do much more with diet. For eczema I would tend to look at what in the diet is causing it and then take that out and work to heal the gut. How would homeopathy look at this?
Jennifer in PA

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Jennifer,
Great question! In my family's experience, diet is at best a temporary solution for long-term eczema. Both my husband and son have eczema. We did the GAPS diet (which has no grains, no starches, and only honey as a sweetener), including eliminating dairy and eggs for a time and watching for a reaction when they were re-introduced. In the short term, the GAPS diet helped my husband's eczema, but over time even on the strict GAPS diet his eczema came back and got worse and worse. (The same progression also happened when we first switched to a Nourishing Traditions-type diet back in 2005.)

My son had eczema beginning as an infant, even while exclusively breastfeeding when I was on the GAPS diet with no dairy or eggs. No matter what I did diet-wise, his eczema persisted. There was never any improvement until we started using homeopathy on him about 8 months ago (and now his eczema is nearly gone, and expected to fully clear up as his constitutional treatment continues).

For us, it is clear that diet is not a long-term solution to eczema. There is an underlying problem that is causing the eczema, and diet is not capable of fixing this underlying problem. Homeopathy works by allowing the body to cure the underlying problem at the energetic level, rather than focusing on the physical body with diet. To actually cure long-term eczema with homeopathy generally requires constitutional treatment with a classically trained homeopath (rather than the acute treatment that I do at home for colds/flus).

Anyhow, that's just my two cents!

Jennifer said...

Can I ask what constitutional treatment is? I have persistant eczema too, had it for years. I was thinking of trying GAPS to see if it would help. Can you give some examples of constitutional treatment? Is it pills? Or essential oils? I'm really just curious.

Nathan M McTague, CPCC said...

I think you're both right. There are times and scenarios when homeopathy is necessary to re-balance the body and restore systemic health. And there is also an underlying health base that we get from eating properly that makes even homeopathy more effective.

In our family, we seek gut health first and most regularly. In your example, above, Sarah, there actually is good evidence that a gut-friendly diet, and one free of things to which the person is allergic, will address long-term eczema. As you know, most people do need the GUTS diet or a similar one to get back to gut health, but then can transition to simply a more healthy-food-combination-oriented diet (avoiding all together things to which they have developed intolerances). When our guts are healthy and happy then all of our immune functions work better and faster, and we have access to more Serotonin (which makes us feel safe, happy, fulfilled) since more of it is made in a healthy gut than in our brains! Then we are set to naturally resist the vast majority of pathogens and other health destabilizers that come our way.

But when trouble does come knocking, so to speak, we hit the homeopathics for sure. We've even gotten a subtle enough sense of when our children are balanced that we can tell they are off just by an afternoon of unusual emotion or behaviour. So when our middle one starts crying before she even starts negotiating for what she wants, we know she needs a remedy. When our youngest screeches and won't leave mom's side, we know she needs a remedy. Even for us, when I start staying up later every night without even trying, I know I am slipping out of balance. When my partner gets a crack in the corner of her mouth... same thing. And when we need one, nothing works better, or more fully than a homeopathic remedy. We've treated chicken pox, para-pertussis, night terrors, and even staph with homeopathy. I firmly believe that with the right practitioner in the lead, there is nothing that homeopathy can not address -- even cancer and psychological conditions!

Thanks for this great post, Sarah! I'm sharing it.

Be well,
Nathan M

Sarah Smith said...

Acute cases are those for ailments lasting less than 6 weeks. These tend to be things that are self-limiting, such as colds, flus, or injuries. Constitutional treatment, on the other hand, addresses long-term problems as well as the overall emotional/mental well-being of the person. Constitutional treatment must be done by a well-trained, classical homeopath. I've been studying homeopathy for 1.5 years and, while I can treat my family and friends homeopathically for acute conditions, I am nowhere near experienced enough at this point to do constitutional care.

Constitutional treatment uses homeopathic remedies, just as acute cases do, but typically MUCH higher potencies are used for constitutional treatments. The homeopath endeavors to find the one remedy that fully encompasses the totality of the person, including all of their physical ailments, personality quirks, and mental functions. This type of treatment takes months (or even years) to complete, but it also has more potential to greatly affect our everyday health.

For instance, when my daughter is on her constitutional remedy correctly, there are huge differences: she is MUCH less emotional, much more easy-going and cooperative, has better focus, is MUCH less clumsy, has less sensitivity to eating grains, has a WAY better immune system, and is gaining weight regularly. It is hard to believe remedies could do so much, but it very obviously works (and when she is off the remedy, it is very clear as those problems come right back). Over time, the constitutional remedy should cure those problems permanently, and in her case it is a matter of continuing the treatment and slowly increasing the potency until she reaches the maximum her body needs.

(This isn't a way for the homeopath to just keep making more money off a case. The homeopath we are using charges $200 for a constitutional case from start to finish including remedies, and I think that is a bargain. I've been working with him on my constitutional case for over 8 months, talking to him at least once or twice every week by phone, and it is all covered by that initial $200 fee.)

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Nathan,
Thanks for sharing these thoughts! I absolutely agree that gut health is important, but it hasn't been able to lead us to total cure. Combining it with homeopathy is working wonders.

I look forward to reaching our full potential through constitutional treatment so that we can have that sense you mentioned, wherein it becomes so easy to tell when we are moving out of balance and need a remedy to help bring us back.

I took a look at your blog, and was intrigued by your posts. Sadly, I have a fairly low limit on how much text I can stand to read on a computer screen (with long posts, my mind just goes straight to skimming, and then I'll miss too much good stuff). I found myself wondering if you have written any books on parenting...

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. Both of my boys have eczema. My first son is five years old and was able to overcome it (for now) with diet. However, he has Asperger's/ADHD due to leaky gut, heavy metal toxicity and deficiencies. My two year old son who also have leaky gut, has severe eczema despite what he eats, and due to external allergens. We have been seeing an NP for six weeks now and have seen much improvement.

Axon Punch said...

Seems pretty obviously incorrect. If symptom suppression can never lead to health - which you said. Then suppressing inflammation when someone is in anaphlaxis can't save their life. Which is does - countless times. Now perhaps you might want to backtrack and pretend you meant "Long term symptom suppression can't lead to health" - even so that would be at best an open question. Long term topical steroid use can be harmful - not because it "pushes the illness" somewhere else but rather that it has a thinning effect on the skin. However in most people the frequency of the episodes is low enough that you would never reach that.