Danny was an extremely intelligent, talkative eight-year old with a history of sensory integration problems* and hyperactivity. His parents pursued several avenues to help him. They eliminated allergenic foods, sought cranio-sacral therapy and obtained a reliable diagnosis.However, they did not get significant calming until they sought homeopathic care from me when Danny was in kindergarten.
After kindergarten, things went fairly smoothly until the second grade play. From the audience, his parents observed persistent vigorous head nodding and eye blinking – which, in retrospect, had been coming on for days. Over the next few days, he started rotating his head to one side and making little squeaking noises. Each day brought new peculiar movements and sounds. Neurological testing and a CT scan ruled out seizures or brain tumors. His neurologist diagnosed a tic disorder.
Because of our previous success with his hyperactive behavior, Danny’s parents brought him back to see me. After considering all the details of his current symptoms, I selected a homeopathic substance to address the tics. Within a week, the vocalizations had stopped and all his tics and twitches improved dramatically. He continues to improve, with occasional re-dosing of his particular homeopathic medicine.
Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician, developed homeopathy in the late 1700s. Unwilling to use dangerous medical practices like bloodletting, Hahnemann experimented exhaustively with various medicinal substances prepared in various forms, to document their effects. In homeopathy, he created a system that proved to be both safe and widely effective. Through a series of thorough examinations, progressive dilutions, and activation procedures called potentization, Hahnemann discovered that the resulting substance (remedy) would act very differently: What would have been toxic in the original state, now prompts a curative response. By mimicking and subtly amplifying the energy of the problem, the correct remedy prompts the body’s own healing abilities to engage effectively.
When I started my naturopathic medical training, I was skeptical of homeopathy, like many people with a conventional scientific background. However, the more I learned about its history, theory and success rate, the more I was intrigued. Upon observing dramatic curative responses in the clinic in cases such as asthma and Tourette’s Syndrome, I was impressed and compelled to study homeopathy more deeply. Now it is the primary modality in my practice. I have an excellent success rate and a lengthy list of loyal, long-term clients that speak to homeopathy’s effectiveness over a wide range of conditions.
Homeopathy has180 years of clinically validated results in the treatment of diseases, including treatment of children with learning, behavioral and neurological dysfunctions. Although this treatment modality has remained popular throughout Europe, Asia and South America for almost two centuries, its prevalence has waxed and waned in the United States. With a peak around 1900 and resurgence in the 1960’s, its use and modern research is growing again.
If you are reading this book, it is probably because your child is complex and you may be having trouble finding solutions. You might consider homeopathy because it
- Is safe and non-toxic
- Is safe for sensitive people who don’t tolerate drugs or large doses of supplements or herbs
- Is especially effective when a physical symptom is clearly related to an emotional state
- Treats the person, not the diagnosis – therefore lending itself beautifully to extremely individualized treatment plans
- Can enhance other beneficial therapies
- Aims to stimulate a person’s own ability to heal and function optimally, both physically and psychologically
Homeopaths have used this modality successfully in treating
- Learning disorders
- Behavioral issues
- Neurological dysfunctions
- Conditions for which conventional medicine has no effective therapy
- Conditions where physical changes such as diet modifications or medications are not changing the underlying patterns
As scientific methods and models continue to develop, homeopathy may move more easily into mainstream care. Even without our more recent understanding of quantum physics to explain it, homeopathy thrived for almost two centuries because of consistent and impressive clinical results.
Types of Homeopathy
- Classical homeopathy is the type of homeopathic practice advocated by Dr. Hahnemann. It is characterized by the use of a single remedy, as opposed to using a combination of two or more. The idea is that at any one time, there is only one state that is the sum total expression of the person. This one state is best treated with one remedy whose breadth of symptoms is fully understood.
- Complex homeopathy involves the use of many remedies at once and at varying potencies.
- Clinical homeopathy is similar to western medicine in that it prescribes remedies based on the diagnosis, rather than individualized prescriptions. Some companies develop remedies to be sold over-the-counter at health food stores. These are labeled simply by symptom. Homeopaths do not consider this an effective approach to homeopathy.
The Principles of Homeopathy
In homeopathy, the substance that could cause a particular set of symptoms in a healthy person is used in microscopic, specially prepared doses to safely bring about improvement. This concept is referred to as the Law of Similars and is the essence of homeopathy. The similimum, the homeopathic remedy with the most precise match to the person in both their symptoms as well as their underlying nature, stimulates healthier, more functional health status and the reduction of symptoms.
“Constitutional homeopathy” refers to the remedy that the homeopath determines to be the best match to the person’s overall constitution, most perfectly matching the unique detail of their pathological symptoms as well as their total expression physically, mentally and emotionally. Ideally, regular balancing via constitutional homeopathy will also lessen dysfunctional sensitivities, allowing people more freedom in their lives. Depending on the potency chosen by the homeopath, specific daily dosages may be prescribed or a more occasional high potency medicine given at infrequent intervals as needed to maintain strong and vibrant function.
“Obstacles to cure” Homeopaths are also trained to recognize factors such as dietary problems, environmental hazards, and structural imbalances that will impede healing. Hahnemann was adamant that in order for homeopathy to work optimally, “obstacles to cure” needed to be removed or at least improved.
For example, an “obstacle to cure” could be a child’s sensitivity to dyes and sugars, which make him irritable and hyperactive. Removing those from the child’s diet may be important, but a well-chosen remedy may also reduce the child’s sensitivity to dyes and sugars, rendering it less of a problem for example, if the child consumes these at a birthday party. In the case of Danny (the opening story), the parents created an optimal condition for effective homeopathic treatment by also addressing food sensitivities and seeking different kinds of care, “clearing his system” the best they could. This allowed for fairly quick success.
Non-toxic and safe when used appropriately, homeopathic remedies work by shifting an individual’s susceptibility to his problem.
A Supremely Individualized Treatment
Homeopathy operates on fundamentally different principles than Western medicine. Modern allopathic medicine is symptom-oriented: It looks at your symptoms and prescribes according to that. Homeopathy, like Chinese medicine and naturopathy, requires an in-depth understanding of the whole person. A homeopath elicits a great deal of information from a patient in order to better understand how the symptoms fit into the whole picture. This is crucial, because any given set of symptoms may indicate completely different things for different people. Treatment would therefore need to differ as well.
For example, there is not one particular remedy that addresses ADHD. As a homeopath, I see ADHD as a symptom of a much deeper imbalance, and would do an extremely thorough interview with the child. Very specific symptoms (that may seem totally unrelated to the presenting problems) may shine light on the specific remedy needed.
In my career, I have had many children who exhibit ADHD symptoms. Each was unique. Here are three examples of profile “types” that reappear often, with frequent variations:
- Child 1: Compulsive, intense need to move; exhibits a love of dancing and a sensitivity to music and rhythm; is often hurried and has a poor sense of the consequences of his actions; can be violent. This child’s underlying issue probably has more to do with physical impulsivity and difficulty slowing down.
- Child 2: Talkative; has a history of trauma; can have “wild” behavior with extreme emotions, especially rage and fear; is often afraid of the dark. ADHD in this child might be more related to strong underlying emotions that make it difficult to stay calm and focused.
- Child 3: Sympathetic and anxious; can be overly empathetic; is sensitive to sound, vision and touch. The underlying issue here probably revolves more around sensory sensitivity and being hyperaware of the feelings of others.
All three of these children might show up with symptoms of distractibility and trouble focusing. As you can see, though, their overall profiles and underlying imbalances are completely different. Treatment will therefore be unique to each of them. The aim is to correct the system at a deep level, which would both resolve the symptoms and calm the child in other ways.
This example also demonstrates why it is inadvisable to self-diagnose, or to take something because “it worked for a friend” or “the people at the health food store recommended it.” It is tempting to try something that is often prescribed for sleep, anxiety, or other specific symptoms. But please remember that homeopathy is very different from Western medicine. A remedy is not just given for a particular symptom. It is given to a particular person, with a particular profile, who happens to be exhibiting certain symptoms.
Taking the wrong remedy will not generally cause harm; it will simply not be effective. Homeopathy is either seemingly miraculous (if your practitioner has found the exact right remedy) or does nothing. However, “miraculous” doesn’t always mean “immediate”; it sometimes takes days or even weeks to see shifts.
In a very sensitive child, an incorrect remedy may create transient symptoms. Do not continue giving a homeopathic remedy that is not having a positive effect.
“Hahnemann was no theoretical mystic; he was a practical experimenter whose reach in these matters exceeded his grasp because he was confronted with material two hundred years before a vocabulary to deal with it had been developed.”
~ from A Homeopathic Love Story, by Rima Handley
What to Expect from a Homeopath
A homeopath is trained to delve into a person’s whole profile. Each person has a unique profile, and determining this in its entirety is essential. You can therefore expect the first consultation to be rather lengthy, as she will conduct an extremely thorough interview.
When I start with a patient, we begin with a detailed history describing that person’s particular issues and how their life is impacted by those concerns. Then, we explore who they are as a person, their likes and dislikes, physical tendencies (manner of movement, posture, level of activity needed), style of communication, diet, how she lives and plays and emotional style. We also look at how they function in relationships, employment, how they play if they are a child, what they draw or read or imagine. We are seeking a deep understanding, not only of the problems, but how they experience and function in the world and in themselves. With children, I seek a clear understanding of their learning style, family life and routines, and important influences in their lives. The homeopath is looking for a thorough understand of a human being, the details of their symptoms and function and also how it is to see through their eyes with their sensibilities.
Depending upon their genetic makeup, nutrition, environment and circumstances, each individual will experience illness and wellness in their own way. For example, under stress, a person my get a rash, a headache, an ulcer, heart disease or become vulnerable to infections. The underlying state of being, if in tune and resilient, will self correct in the face of stress or pathogens with a minimum of outward disturbance. When the underlying state is out of tune, from negative exposures or experiences they can manifest chronic disease or dysfunction. The homeopathic prescriber takes a detailed case which reveals the patterns of the underlying susceptibility.
Once a person’s overall profile has been determined, the practitioner must determine the remedy that would best address his patient’s core imbalance. Homeopathy attempts to discover and address this underlying imbalanced pattern at its root.
Practitioners Who Can Provide Homeopathy
There are many different kinds of practitioners who might be able to offer homeopathic treatment. Since any healthcare provider can opt to train in the use of homeopathic remedies, you might find support from a range of sources. Qualified practitioners may include:
- Medical doctors
Despite the skepticism that many American-trained medical doctors hold for homeopathy, an increasing number of them are choosing to study and use it. They may not be able to explain why they get results with it, but they do!
Finding a Homeopath
You can start your search for a homeopathic practitioner by going to the National Center for Homeopathy website and looking at their directory. The Council for Homeopathic Certification sets a national criterion, granting the title CCH to qualified individuals who have passed a standardized exam and appropriate prerequisites. Their credentials include:
- DHANP: Diplomate of the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians
- DHt: The American Board of Homeotherapeutics certifies medical doctors and doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) who have specialized in homeopathy
- HD: Homeopathic Doctor designated by Homeopathic Medical Council of Canada (HMCC), National Union of Professional and Trained Homeopaths (NUPATH), and Ontario Homeopathic Association (OHA)
- CCH: sets a national standard and requires passage of a set of exams. Also evaluates clinical cases and requires a specified number of training hours. This crediting body accredits lay practitioners as well as professionals.
Choosing a practitioner who is accredited in her field ensures a good baseline of homeopathic knowledge. A deep understanding of homeopathy is required to treat children with learning, sensory and behavioral problems, and generally requires deep and lengthy training of two to four years beyond the basic training included in any field of health care.
Questions for a Prospective Homeopath
Here are some suggested questions to help you find the right practitioner for your child. Some questions are fairly open-ended, in order to elicit a broader range of discussion. Others will reveal their usefulness when you talk to more than one practitioner, as their answers will vary by content and attitude. No matter how impressed you are by a person’s credentials, try to look for one who answers your questions patiently, thoroughly and respectfully. You and your child deserve to work with someone who will work cooperatively with both you and any other team members you assemble.
- How much and what kind of training do you have in homeopathy?
- How often do you use homeopathy in your practice? (If the person is not solely a homeopath) How often do you find that it is effective?
- How much experience do you have with children who have issues similar to mine?
- Do you have a network of practitioners that you work with? If not, are you open to working with others as a member of a team?
Can Biological Activity be Maintained at Ultra-high Dilution? An Overview of Homeopathy, Evidence and Bayesian Philosophy, Apr 1998, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 1998 4:1;49-7
Characterization of the structure of ultra dilute sols with remarkable biological properties Manju Lata Rao, Rustom Roy, and Iris Bell, Materials Letters, Volume 62, Issues 10-11, April 2008, pages 1487-1490
Critical Review and Meta-Analysis of Serial Agitated Dilutions in Experimental Toxicology,” Human and Experimental Toxicology, 1994, 13:481-92 P.C. Endler and J. Schulte (editors), Ultra High Dilution: Physiology and Physics. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic, 1994
Homoeopathic treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: A controlled study, John Lamont, PhD, British Homeopathic Journal, Volume 86, Issue 4, October 1997, Pages 196-200- In this study comparing homeopathic treatment to placebo in 43 children with ADHD, homeopathic treatment was superior to placebo.
National Center for Homeopathy
The NCH is the main organizing body for homeopathy in the United States providing excellent articles about what homeopathy is, how it works, complete references about research, and practitioner listings.
Ritalin-free kids: safe and effective homeopathic medicine for ADD and other behavioral and learning problems, by Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman, Robert Ullman. This reader-friendly book describes the author’s extensive successful experience with ADD patients using homeopathy through cases, remedy descriptions and information about how to find a qualified homeopath and work with treatment.
The Homeopathic Treatment of Autism: Putting the Pieces Together
by Paul Herscu, ND. In this DVD-ROM Dr. Herscu clearly explains how homeopathy works to help people on the autistic spectrum.
The Homeopathic Treatment of Sensory Integration Disorder: Treating Sensitive Souls with Gentle Medicine
by Amy Rothenberg, ND. This CD is a one-hour lecture describing how to prescribe homeopathically for children with Sensory Integration Disorder. It is informative both for the practitioner and for the parent considering homeopathic treatment.
About the Author
Jody Shevins, ND, DHANP, CCH
After growing up on Long Island and studying biology as a pre-medical student at Cornell University, Dr. Shevins’ focus shifted to natural medicine. She then attended the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon, where she was first introduced to homeopathy. By the time Shevins graduated in 1984, she had become a passionate convert to homeopathy and decided to study it further. She completed the International Foundation for Homeopathy’s Professional Course in 1986 and then became a Diplomate of the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians (DHANP), serving on the board of that organization. In 2011 she completed an advanced study in the Sensation Method with Dr. Rajan Sankaran. Dr. Shevins began her naturopathy practice in Boulder, Colorado, where she has lived and practiced happily since 1984. She has also been a faculty member of Homeopathy School International since 1992, teaching all facets of classical homeopathy to both professionals and lay people. Dr. Shevins can be contacted through her website at http://www.jodykshevins.com/.