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.

What to Expect After Taking Your First Remedy

In the first few weeks after taking a homeopathic remedy, many things are possible! You may start feeling better very soon. (Everyone likes this result.) Or you may notice no difference at all. This is fairly unusual, actually. It’s more often the case that the changes were subtle enough that you may not have noticed them until your homeopath asks you at your follow-up appointment.

The third possibility is that you may feel worse for awhile. And this is the type of reaction that a professional homeopath needs to be watching. Because:  sometimes the perfect remedy will temporarily intensify what you already have, or bring old symptoms back. And THEN you get better.  This is where the word “homeopathy” comes from: it means that “Like cures like.” The remedy that is best for you, is one that would produce the symptoms you already have in a healthy person. Said another way, the remedy pushes your body in the same way it is already going (symptom-wise) in order to jumpstart your own natural healing process. So sometimes this is going to mean feeling worse before you feel better. But always ask your homeopath if you have any concerns about a response you are having.

“Do I have to stop drinking coffee to get homeopathic treatment?”

What you can and can’t do while taking homeopathic remedies:  This is not set in stone, but varies from practitioner to practitioner. Some will require you to quit coffee and all mint products. I do not require this. From personal experience, I have had a remedy stop working by doing acupuncture. So I recommend not doing acupuncture while under my care. But a lot depends on you and our observations on what works and what doesn’t. Because remedies act on the much-more-than-physical plane, most physical things do not interfere with their action. Extreme heat is one exception, so you never want to take your remedy with a hot drink, or leave your remedy in a hot car.

Why isn’t homeopathy more popular in the US? Big Pharma, and…

Homeopathy has two qualities that make its use challenging. The first one involves economics: homeopathic remedies can be very cheap to use since the doses are so small. You would think this would make homeopathic treatment very popular. Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical companies have an economic interest in people using a LOT of medicine, not a little. Hahnemann–the 18th century doctor who discovered homeopathy–was literally run out of town by the pharmacists where he lived. His patients were getting better on such a small amount of medicine that he was ruining their business.

The other quality of homeopathy that makes it more difficult to use is that treatment needs to be individualized to work well. This means even though you may be lucky enough to come across a remedy that helps you, it often takes a trained homeopath to find the right one, especially when we’re talking about chronic issues.

And lastly, although it sometimes comes across as yet another conspiracy theory, it seems to be the case that the American Medical Association of the early 1900s did its best to squelch homeopathy in this country.*

But here we are in 2013! Optimistic about this wonderful form of natural healing continuing to spread again, as people re-discover its gentle power.
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*Read Harris Coulter’s “Divided Legacy: the conflict between homoeopathy and the American Medical Association” for more on this.