|The Interface Between Homeopathic and Conventional Medicine|
At what point should a clinician not consider homeopathic medicines and use only conventional therapeutics?
- There are numerous clinical situations when conventional therapeutics need to be the primary treatment. However, even in the most dire circumstances that require heroic medical treatment, homeopathic medicines can be used concurrently. The only limitation to this is the limitation of the clinician's knowledge of homeopathy.
- (An important book to help educate clinicians on how to use homeopathic medicine in emergency situations is: Thomas Kruzel, ND, The Homeopathic Emergency Guide, Berkeley: North Atlantic, 1992. See below for access to this book.)
- For instance, a person with a heart attack needs to be rushed to an emergency room, but this doesn't mean that Aconitum, Arnica, Cactus, Glonoine, or another individually indicated remedy can't help. In fact, the immediate use of homeopathic medicine can be literally lifesaving.
- Another example might be a herniated disk which requires surgical intervention. A homeopath would also recommend this important medical treatment, but might also prescribe Hypericum, Bryonia, Agaricus, Aesculus, or another indicated remedy. Further, after the acute attack has subsided, the homeopath might prescribe constitutional remedies to help strengthen the person's overall health, potentially reducing the risk of another herniated disk.
- Some homeopaths assert that it is useless to consider using homeopathic medicines if the patient is taking steroid medications. Because these drugs directly suppress immune response, they inevitably inhibit the action of a homeopathic medicine. While this may be true, it does not necessarily mean that the indicated homeopathic medicine is totally useless. In fact, I have talked with numerous homeopaths who have told me that they have seen homeopathic medicines help the healing of people on steroidal medications, though admittedly, such healing tends to be slower than normal.
- The greatest problem that homeopaths experience in treating people who are taking conventional medications is that the drugs mask their normal symptoms, making the correct homeopathic prescription more difficult. This doesn't mean that it is impossible to find the correct remedy. Admittedly, there is inadequate homeopathic literature on this subject, one good source of information is a two-tape series of lectures by the eminent homeopaths Roger Morrison, MD, and Nancy Herrick, PA, Treating Patients on Conventional Drugs. See below for access to this set of tapes.).
At what point should a clinician consider using both homeopathic and conventional medicines?
- An integrative approach in which conventional treatments and homeopathic medicines are used can be highly beneficial in the treatment of numerous conditions.
- Childbirth presents many opportunities for integrative medicine. There are numerous homeopathic remedies that can prevent complications of pregnancy and labor, and when some type of medical intervention is necessary, whether it be cesarean section, episiotomy, or any other emergency procedure, there are homeopathic medicines that can aid in the healing from these interventions.
- While the use of homeopathic medicines can sometimes prevent the need for surgery, homeopaths acknowledge that surgery is sometimes necessary. When surgery is medically indicated, using homeopathic medicines before, during, and after the procedure can help the patient recover more rapidly.
- One classic example of the successful integration of conventional and homeopathic treatment was demonstrated in the study on Nicaraguan children suffering from diarrhea.(1) The children were given oral rehydration therapy, a special salt solution which keeps children from dying by helping them retain water, but does not cure the underlying infection of which the diarrhea is a symptom. The study showed that the administration of individually chosen homeopathic medicines sped up the underlying healing process.
- Other areas in which homeopathic and conventional therapies can be integrated have great potential but have not yet been adequately tested. Specifically, some homeopaths claim that homeopathically prepared doses of chemotherapeutic drugs can reduce the side effects of these drugs. Also, at least two studies in rats have shown that Ruta 30x and 200x and Ginseng 6x, 30x, and 200x can reduce the side effects of radiation, suggesting that these remedies should be tested as a way to reduce the problems associated with radiation treatment in cancer patients.(2) Some homeopaths also recommend the use of X-ray 30 just before and after getting x-rays.
- One of the more obvious ways that conventional and homeopathic approaches are already being integrated is in the field of diagnosis. Homeopaths presently use conventional medical technologies to diagnose a person's disease, though their treatment is based on a homeopathic assessment of the totality of symptoms. Homeopathy may be particularly useful after diagnosis when the physician and the patient wish to seek safer, natural methods first and when there are no known medicines for the patient's unique ailment. Also, the homeopathic approach which utilizes the totality of symptoms, including subtle symptoms, helps to prevent more serious conditions from developing in the future.
- An integrative approach can be helpful in the treatment of asthma. A study published in the Lancet showed that conventional allergy testing was useful in selecting a homeopathic medicine that provided benefit.(3) Researchers used conventional allergy testing to determine what substance people with asthma were most allergic to. They then gave this substance in homeopathic doses to the subjects, and these subjects had significantly fewer symptoms of asthma than those subjects given a placebo. The researchers called this approach "homeopathic immunotherapy."
- An integrative approach may sometimes mean that homeopathic medicines are used first, and then, only if they were ineffective, would conventional therapies be used. The reverse approach is also possible and is presently more common; most people have already used many conventional treatments without adequate success and are now seeking homeopathic care for their conditions. As people become increasingly familiar with homeopathy, it is likely that they will use these natural and safer medicines prior to the more risky therapeutic interventions offered by conventional physicians.
- Part of the trick to making either homeopathic or conventional treatments work is to seek the care of well-trained professionals and to give their treatments reasonable time to act.
- Sometimes a person is in severe pain, and while it may be possible to find the correct homeopathic remedy, he or she wants a higher degree of certainty that relief will be rapid. In such instances, it makes sense to use conventional medicines at least temporarily, while homeopathic medicines are recommended after the acute crisis is diminished or over. Sometimes a person may receive both homeopathic and conventional medical care for a chronic ailment and not experience any relief. After at least six months of ineffective treatment, it may be necessary to get another opinion from another homeopath or conventional physician, or perhaps to seek another form of alternative care.
- Homeopaths commonly refer patients to various conventional specialists when they feel a specific diagnosis and/or treatment is important. And yet there are relatively few referrals to homeopaths from conventional physicians. Considering how many patients do not receive appropriate diagnoses or effective treatments for their ailments despite long-term conventional care, it is unfortunate that there aren't more referrals to homeopaths. A significant obstacle to a more cooperative relationship between homeopathic and conventional physicians is conventional physicians' lack of knowledge of homeopathy.