Updated: Feb 13
I have been reading The Organon of Medicine, written in the 18th century by Samuel Hahnemann, and in which he lays out his ideas about homeopathy. It is arranged into “aphorisms,” and perhaps because it was originally in German, is hard to read. My mind kept veering off and refusing to pay attention.
My friends who are scientists maintain that homeopathy is absolute hooie. My son-in-law seemed to think it was such hooie that it could be dangerous and wouldn’t let his children near it. Andy Cutler acknowledged that it worked but thought that any remedy above 6X had to be hooie. Homeopaths, however, maintain that the more the agent is divided up and succussed, the more potent it becomes, even if there is not even a molecule of the original substance left.
Hahnemann believed that all disease was caused by the “life force” being out of whack. Giving a remedy that suppresses symptoms is just going to make it more upset. Homeopathy tricks the life force to go after a simulated disease that looks as close as possible to the actual one. This gets the life force to satisfy its ire by attacking something, then everything goes back to homeostasis and health. The simulated disease is induced in the sick person by giving minute doses of a substance that in a healthy person would produce the exact same symptoms the sick person is experiencing. This clearly makes no sense from the point of view of modern medicine, chemistry or anything else, but “there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Homeopathy has helped me many times in many situations and the proof is in the pudding. As Hahnemann said in his book, it doesn’t really matter why it works…just that it does.
In the 1980s, when I lived in Goa, India, homeopathy was a very popular medical system. This was because it was cheap and it worked. You would consult a homeopath and he would mix up his little powders or dispense those little round pills and all you paid for was the medicine…nothing for the consultation. I first tried it when I was pregnant with my first baby. I had horrible hemorrhoids. They were so horrible I couldn’t sleep at night and would get up and put my poor rear end in a bucket of cool water. The homeopath I went to see was an elderly gentleman on a side street in Mapusa. He lived in an old Portuguese-style house and when I first met him he was sitting in a rocking chair on a cow dung floor. He went over to his not too clean table and, for all the world like a drug dealer, with a razor blade chopped up some glucose powder mixed with a few drops of homeopathic nux vomica. He wrapped these doses into tiny, dubious-looking paper packets and gave them to me. Nux vomica, he said, is a remedy for people who have been eating too-rich food, like lobster and shrimp. I took my little stash home without much confidence but took them as advised. The next day the hemorrhoids were gone! Just gone. As though they had never been.
My second experience was when I was pregnant with my second child. My then obstetrician was Dr. Colvalcar of the Mapusa Clinic. Any Goan from Bardez who is reading this will know who he is. I wound up with him as my doctor when I had to have an emergency caesarian for my first baby at the government hospital in Panjim. He was the surgeon on duty that day.
(As an aside about Dr. Colvalcar: once when I was visiting him at his clinic, there was a lady screaming at the top of her lungs. He was trying to raise the anesthetist so he could do a caesarian, and the phone wouldn’t work. (This was way before the era of cells.) Dr. Colvalcar had a degree from Columbia Presbyterian, so afterwards I asked him why he stayed in Goa when he could be practicing in the States. “Everything I need is here in Mapusa, Goa,” he told me, “Anything more than that would just be greed.” Bravo Dr. Colvalcar! Dr. Colvalcar was horrified that I consulted homeopaths whom he considered quacks who sold people ground up birth control pills.)
I told Dr. Colvalcar during this pregnancy checkup that I had had giardia before I got pregnant. “Don’t get that now!” was what he had to say. Sure enough, not long after, I started having diarrhea full of mucous, a sure sign of giardia. I went to a homeopath in Calangute, another elderly gentleman, who told me, “Oh, you just have a little cold,” and gave me something or other that cleared it up immediately.
Another experience with homeopathy was when my little daughter had a chronic, semi-asthmatic sort of cough. She would keep the whole household up all night with this loud, upsetting cough. That same homeopath in Calangute gave me one of the cell salts which would make it stop right away. My daughter also developed the little drum belly of chronic giardia. The pediatrician wanted to give her Flagyl on an ongoing basis but homeopathy did away with her symptoms and we were able to Flagylize her when we got back to the States where all these parasites were not so endemic.
So yes, because of my personal, face-to-face experience, I am a big believer in homeopathy. It is an art, though, and the artist must give you the appropriate remedy. I found that either it worked in a miraculous sort of way, or else it didn’t work at all.