Problems with our healthcare system. What homeopathy can offer.
It is universally agreed: our healthcare system costs too much and does not work well. As a conventionally trained M.D., who opted years ago to practice homeopathy, I would like to offer my observations on both the conventional and the homeopathic way of approaching illness.
The current gargantuan and enormously complex healthcare system needs to be reduced by a full one half. It is bloated beyond good sense and beyond affordability. And the fault lies only partially with the insurance companies and Big Pharma. I believe the very way conventional medicine is practiced is at fault.
Consider this typical scenario: you go to your Family Doctor complaining of fatigue, weight gain, arthritic pains, disordered digestion with gut pain and constipation. Your doctor runs tests and finds you have low thyroid and sends you to an endocrinologist who runs more tests and prescribes a medicine which you will be expected to take for the rest of your life. Score one for Big Pharma. Your family doc also discovers high blood pressure and, when one drug does not bring it down, prescribes two—for life. Later, you get sent to a gastroenterologist and later still, a rheumatologist. Along the way more tests, and more prescriptions. You already go to a psychiatrist and take an antidepressant. You now have five doctors in play, none of whom talk to each other. A really good Family Doc could manage all your problems with few or no referrals. Fifty or sixty years ago he was known as a “GP” or “General Practitioner” and did just that. But nowadays he or she is practicing “defensive medicine” and doesn’t want to be sued so it’s a kind of insurance to refer out and over test. Little wonder our healthcare is so ruinously expensive. And it is ruining us with healthcare costs going up at roughly twice the rate of the overall Consumer Price Index.
No new healthcare law is going to fix this bloated system. It is inherent in the very structure of modern, technologically oriented medicine. Realize that we have this system because 1) doctors believe in it (we created it) and 2) the public believes in it. People when ill or when they worry they are ill, want all the tests, want to be seen by all the specialists. But realize that all these tests and referrals and prescriptions cost someone whether it be you or your insurance company or Medicare or Medicaid.
Now, if the patient stops any or all of his medicines, the illnesses return. These illnesses are being managed not cured. Not to mention the all too frequent problem of adverse drug effects.
Contrast the above model with the homeopathic. A woman in her late forties comes to me because of debilitating migraines occurring twice a week. They are so severe she cannot function despite two powerful analgesics. I do a one and a half hour interview in which I explore all aspects of her complaints and how she relates to her environment (food, weather, job, relationships, hobbies, fears, anxieties).
I learn she also has hypertension, arthritic pains, poor digestion and constipation. She has five medical problems and is taking six pharmaceuticals.
Then I learn that five years ago her son was killed in Iraq. As she speaks, tears roll down her face and she says, “I’m sorry. I promised myself I wouldn’t do this.” I pause and then, as gently as possible, ask when the migraines began. Four to five years ago—following the tragic loss of her son. I now know more. She is still grieving, and the headaches appeared shortly after her son’s death. So, in truth, I have uncovered a sixth problem—grief.
For a homeopath, how a patient reacts to her problem is as or more important than the problem itself. This woman has unresolved grief which had triggered her pathology. Also, she is hot-natured, can not bear the sun, loves salt, and her face is oily. She is introverted and rejects consolation. These symptoms lead me to select the medicine, Natrum muriaticum, and I give her a single dose.
Within a month her headaches are fewer, her mood brighter, and her bowels are functioning normally. Within three months all problems have resolved. She begins to discontinue her drugs. She now admits she was probably depressed and hadn’t realized it until she came out of it. All this with infrequent doses of Natrum muriaticum!
As a homeopath, I gave one homeopathic medicine unlike the conventional doctor who prescribed six pharmaceuticals. And, that one medicine covered all the pathologies.
This patient is on the road to a radical improvement in which all aspects of her physical and mental well-being have been addressed with a single medicine. This methodology is quite different from the conventional system which strives only to control or manage the problems. And it was accomplished with one medicine given infrequently and one that produced no adverse effects! The positive results this patient achieved are not exceptional with homeopathic medicine. In fact, diseases far more complex and difficult than migraines can be greatly helped with homeopathy.
Does this mean that everyone who is treated with homeopathy always has an excellent outcome? Of course not. Nothing is one hundred percent. But, by taking into account all aspects of the patient, not only the main complaints but her disposition and how she lives in, and reacts to, her total environment we stand a better chance of a good outcome.
Homeopathic medicine is a serious discipline and is effective when administered by a trained homeopathic physician. And it is extraordinarily cost effective.
As a homeopath, I rarely prescribe pharmaceuticals. I write only five to ten prescriptions a year and these simply to tide patients over until they no longer need the drugs. Yes, I aim to get people well enough so they can stop taking their medicines. I try to order as few tests as possible because, as a homeopath, I do not prescribe on laboratory data. I refer to specialists infrequently. If someone has a rectal bleed, sure, I want the gastroenterologist to scope them. If they are having a heart attack they need to be hospitalized swiftly. When surgery is indicated, it is life saving. But, by and large, I don’t refer much.
The whole idea of being a doctor “is to restore the sick to health, to cure as it is termed.” That quote comes from Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy. That’s aim one, aim two and aim three.
I would encourage you all to look into this extraordinary, gentle, healing art.