All posts by CynthiaKingsbury

Why the “Spaghetti Approach” is not for me

As homeopathy becomes more popular (yay!) we see a lot more homeopathic products pop up on the shelves. Many of them rely on what I’ll call “the spaghetti approach:”  throw a bunch of remedies at the problem and hopefully something will stick. If something works, you’ll never really know which remedy it was. And if it doesn’t work, or makes your symptoms worse, you also won’t know.

This is probably not so important with a flu or cold that’s likely to resolve by itself within days or weeks anyway. But in treating chronic symptoms, and with constitutional treatment, the difference is critical.

One way to look at it is, it’s just good science. As all my clients know, I take copious notes. Why? I’m following the threads of multiple symptoms as we work together. You start on one remedy, and we watch the effects of that one substance. If most of your key symptoms show good improvement on it, we continue, adjusting the dosing along the way. If they don’t, we try a different (single) remedy. Why do classical homeopaths operate this way?

Here’s the back story: Each remedy in our homeopathic repertoire was tested individually. Meticulous records were kept on how each substance affected every aspect of the person who took it.

Before the word “holistic” had even been coined, Samuel Hahnemann (discoverer of homeopathy) wanted to know what effect homeopathic Sulphur had on all parts of the human system: not just the skin and the digestion, but the person’s mood and motivation. These drug tests, known as “provings” are a source of vast knowledge. BUT, the knowledge is specific to watching the effect of one substance. Sulphur only. Not Sulphur and Chamomila and Pulsatilla combined.

As a classically trained homeopath, I want to know what works. I want to know what is NOT working. I need to establish cause and effect. That’s why much of my work is tracking leads.

I can build on that. Because the path becomes much clearer when you know where you’ve been. And the outcome–an unfolding of overall health and well-being*–can be just amazing.

Allergies: A Cautionary Tale

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications are not my favorite way to deal with problems, but I occasionally use them myself, and I don’t generally ask my clients to stop taking them. However, I have had some cases recently from people who take OTC allergy medicine that concern me.

Neither of these people came to me for help with allergies. One woman was having joint issues–surprising, in her 30s. Another had a skin condition that had gotten better and worse over the last few years, but doctors could do nothing to resolve. As I looked at the timeline for when their symptoms came on, I saw that they had both begun using OTC allergy medicine on a daily basis before the symptoms developed. I thought: suppression.

In homeopathic theory, when a person suppresses symptoms without resolving the underlying disturbance that caused them, they become vulnerable to deeper problems. My mentor likened this to the pressure cooker effect: if you block the body’s expression of something in one place, you can force it deeper into the constitution.

The evidence in these 2 cases was clear. As always, I treated the whole person. Because I suspected suppression was part of the picture, I asked the clients to discontinue their allergy medicine while under homeopathic treatment. In the first case, the joint improvement came within weeks. In the other, it took a few months for the skin symptoms to improve; but her mood and energy improved in the first month.

So! spread the word. And contact me if you or someone you know would like help getting in shape for spring. I’m always available for a free preliminary conversation. Email or call to set up a time to talk.

What To Do With The Flu

A recent headline is alerting the public that some of this year’s lethal flu cases are vaccine-resistant. Let’s take a closer look at this: Flu viruses are constantly changing; and the flu vaccines are also changed year to year. But no one can predict the future, so this year’s vaccine is always a guess as to what might protect you. But what if it doesn’t?

One reason that homeopathy is a great choice in situations like this is that homeopaths don’t need to identify a virus to treat you. Our methodology is based on observation of your particular symptoms, and matching this to the best homeopathic remedy.

I am not anti-vaccine. But I don’t choose to get the yearly flu vaccine because my experience has been that the best protection against getting the flu is a healthy immune system–and I maintain that through homeopathic treatment. I can’t remember the last time I had the flu. So: I both count myself lucky and keep using homeopathy!

Practicing Natural Medicine in Santa Cruz, CA

It’s such an obvious choice: a community that has a reputation for openness to new ideas; the widespread care for the environment that comes so easily when surrounded by the beauty of the ocean, the mountains, the redwoods. It seems like there are more health food stores per capita than anywhere I know of. And the concentration of holistic health practitioners! Acupuncture, yoga, herbalists, massage therapists, ayervedic doctors–it must be mind boggling sometimes when trying to choose the one (or ones) that might be right for you or someone you love.

For me, it’s always been personal. I didn’t choose to be treated by a homeopath in London 28 years ago. The clinic doctor I stumbled upon while I was travelling happened to be trained in both conventional medicine and homeopathy. “Lucky” is entirely too casual a word; “Life-changing” is not an overstatement.

So here I am, many years later, having become a Certified Classical Homeopath myself, and putting some virtual seeds out there to generate, for others who might need a similar happy accident. Homeopathy is not as well-known in the US as in the rest of the world; thus part of my job is always helping people understand this quite different system of natural healing.

My focus–although certainly not the only thing I do–is on shifting deep patterns in the emotional/psychological realm. Because that was part of my own first experience with homeopathy, I know that it’s possible. And now I get to see it in my clients: nightmares end; panic attacks stop; suicidal thoughts no longer surface; self confidence rises; nerve pain that began from a trauma years ago finally disappears.

So little medicine is needed, when its exactly the right one for you. That’s what I’m trained in: to find the homeopathic remedy that covers your unique combination of symptoms and characteristics. And I love doing it. Let’s talk.

For the Skeptics

I love a skeptic! If you are doubtful whether homeopathy can be effective, I understand.  I am a skeptical person myself.  I can tell you that I see quantifiable results from almost all my clients on almost every visit, as reported by them.  But every person has to be sure for themselves.

I welcome people with a “good scientist” approach, by which I mean staying open-minded, and examining the evidence.  This is what I require of myself. For example: when a new client comes to me, I take copious notes on various symptoms and conditions, including their frequency and severity. After they’ve begun homeopathic treatment, our first follow-up includes checking what the frequency and severity of these same symptoms have been since taking the remedy.

When a wide range of symptoms have shown measurable improvement, I can conclude that we have found a good remedy. If I don’t see enough improvement, we try a different remedy. And, as I said, I see measurable change for the better in a variety of symptoms in the vast majority of cases. The logical conclusion I make is that homeopathic treatment is effective.

Placebo?  It seems to be common sport amongst scientists to periodically declare that homeopathy has no validity, or is simply a placebo. One reason I find this frustrating is that I have personally experienced symptoms resolving while under homeopathic treatment that I neither believed could be resolved nor asked to be addressed. Unfortunately, it is actually in the individualized nature of homeopathic treatment to be not provable (or dis-provable) by massive randomized double-blind trials.

Let me fill in some details here for you: The standard scientific testing method for drugs gives one group who share one particular symptom or condition the same medicine, and one group a placebo. The fact that all of the individuals in the study which share this one condition will differ in hundreds of other ways is largely irrelevant to conventional treatment. Conversely, these differences provide the absolutely essential guideposts to finding an effective homeopathic remedy.

Each constitutional remedy prescription by a trained homeopath takes into account dozens of seemingly disparate symptoms and characteristics–physical, as well as psychological. No group of 500 randomly chosen people would match exactly in these details, ever.

 It Varies, Person to Person:  Because there are thousands of homeopathic remedies to choose from, with a good two hundred in common use, there is certainly room for adjusting and changing remedies based on initial results. Here’s just one example: there are 73 homeopathic remedies that can cover the symptom of “deep-seated cough.” Which of these 73 will help your cough may depend on characteristics such as what time of day the cough appears; whether it’s affected by certain weather; whether you run cold or hot; and whether you tend to want to be alone or surrounded by friends and family.

Choosing a remedy is a complicated process, but a good homeopath can usually find a one that can stimulate noticeable improvement in a number of areas of your health within 6-8 weeks. Sometimes it’s sooner than that. And sometimes it takes longer. But, as I said, almost all of my patients show noticeable improvement in a number of areas even after the first remedy.

 Evidence-Based :  Of course, we all know that science encompasses much more than randomized, double-blind studies.  Samuel Hahnemann, the German doctor who originated homeopathy, and the many rigorously trained researchers and doctors who have continued to expand the vast databank of this intensely evidence-based medical practice over the past 200 years, were all scientists.  Tough-minded ones. That’s why I really do like a skeptic, a truly inquisitive skeptic, not someone who is just trying to validate a previously held opinion. But even those I welcome, too. Because homeopathy isn’t a placebo-based medicine: you don’t have to believe in it for it to work.

 

 

Heading off Colds: Tips for the Season

Since I am a homeopath, you might expect that I would be recommending homeopathic remedies in this blog. Surprise! I use other tricks instead.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to NOTICE. What are the tiny little (ignorable) signs that things might be heading the wrong way for you? For me, it’s usually an extra sniffle in the morning. Just a hint. No big deal. But I know now that if I take decisive actions, I can almost always nip it in the bud. Here are the things that work for me:

–Emergen-C packets, 1000mg of Vitamin C (up to 2 per day)

–Vitabiotic (by Eclectic Institute) with meals [it’s strong stuff; use carefully]

–Green tea (the real stuff, not the sugared Arizona version), a lot of it

–Skip coffee, sugar, alcohol for the day

–Do a little yoga, especially shoulder stands

–Go to bed early, sleep in

 

One reason I don’t use a homeopathic remedy at the beginning stages of a cold is that usually I won’t know which remedy to choose until I develop “characteristic” symptoms. And this is usually after I’m really down with something. It’s so much easier to learn to catch it early!

But if you do come down with something this season you can’t shake, do contact me.

“I never completely recovered from…” Can homeopathy help?

Many of us, maybe most of us, could finish this phrase easily. Maybe for you it was a childhood injury that changed your life. For someone else, it was an intestinal disease they got while traveling. For your friend, the turning point was emotional, perhaps losing their first loved one.

For whatever reason, we never completely recovered from this event. But this does not mean that healing is not possible. I have seen homeopathic treatment resolve traumas–both physical and psychological–years after they occurred. This happens by finding the remedy that matches the unique set of symptoms that you develop over time; it’s a remedy made from a natural substance that can stimulate your own body’s healing process to finally bring you back into balance on every level. Maybe it is time to get rid of some of that old stuff?

What to expect at your first homeopathic appointment

When you begin constitutional treatment, our first visit is a big one. Sometimes I start with the statement, “Tell me about everything that has ever bothered you”! And we have plenty of time to do that: 2-3 hours is common. As the question indicates, it’s about physical issues as well as emotional ones.

I will ask for details: “What makes your knee pain better? or worse?” Many of my queries may seem completely unrelated, such as “Is there a particular position you sleep in?” A few questions may seem obvious, like, “How did you feel when your —– left?”

Some clients have joked that it’s a little like going to a therapist. However in this case, the homeopath’s job includes only non-judgmental listening, not giving advice or analysis. If you do have very painful experiences in your past, it’s not necessary that I hear the details of that experience. What is important is how you responded to what happened. There are so many ways to react; and the way that comes natural to you will guide me to an appropriate remedy for bringing your whole person back into balance.

“I’m healthier than 10 years ago.” Constitutional treatment: the long view

My own experience with long-term constitutional treatment is that, at 51, I am healthier and happier than I was 10 years ago. At 40, I was starting to have joint issues: weak knees on rising, achy shoulders from old injuries and overuse. Several colds a year went into weeks of bronchitis, sometimes asthma and pneumonia. I had to take daily supplements to ward off urinary tract infections (which twice already had become kidney infections). I was usually too tired to exercise, and just felt worse if I did. I had a weird tingling in my legs and frequent urination (pre-diabetic?). My weight had creeped into the “overweight” category on the chart. I also noticed that I was slowing down mentally. Friends began to say, “Yeah, isn’t getting older a drag.”

I have NONE of these problems now. And what’s even cooler but harder to measure, is that I feel more “myself” every year. My confidence and my ability to “be” in the world continues to unfold, as fewer and fewer fears and anxieties drag me down. While I’m aware there are many paths to healing, I feel deeply grateful to have stumbled onto homeopathy as mine. For me, the journey is life-long. –Cynthia

Placebos and Homeopathic Remedies

When a person believes that she or he will get better, sometimes that alone is enough to have a positive effect on their health. A few people have suggested to me that this is also how homeopathic remedies work. While I have no qualms acknowledging the power of positive thinking, certain experiences have demonstrated to me that the effect of homeopathic remedies goes well beyond that.

An example from my life: Every year when our family vacationed at the ocean, I would stand on the shore and fight my fear. It came up without fail anytime myself or someone I loved was in the water. I could calm myself enough not to be paralyzed by it, but it was always there. Then, last year, I walked onto the beach for the first swim, and…     Nothing happened. I wasn’t afraid! The only thing that had changed was the homeopathic remedy I was being treated with.  Two fascinating facts about this: I had never told my homeopath about this fear. And, I was expecting the fear to come up as usual–exactly the opposite of the placebo effect.

You do not have to believe in homeopathy for it to work. But, being open to the possibility is a good place to start. Give me a call if you have any questions.