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Homeopathy is a medical subspecialty. It was initially outlined, codified and explored extensively by medically trained physicians. It has been used extensively by medical professionals for over 200 years. The field of medicine depends upon professionals trained in the recognition and diagnosis of medical illness with the skill to determine the medical basis of utilizing one form of treatment over another. Physicians are more frequently entering partnerships with their patients today and sharing responsibility for the management of medical illnesses.
There is a growing number of non medically trained “professional” homeopathic practitioners that has emerged over the last several decades that have begun to fill the niche of homeopathic providers beyond where the medical practitioners have desired to take up the practiced of homeopathy. These practitioners have filled a huge gap between the public desire for homeopathic care and the medical professionals desire to provide it. There are many highly skilled practitioners of homeopathic care who are in practice today in the U.S. and abroad. The decision to select a homeopathic practitioner should include a careful scrutiny of homeopathic training, aptitude and experience. The presence or absence of medical training is an important factor in this decision, but not the only factor. Availability and accessibility are also important factors. One of the most important factors is the level of communication that one is able to maintain with his or her health care provider.
There has been a great deal of discussion and controversy among homeopaths regarding this issue. Over the years various substances have been suggested which might either “antidote” or work against homeopathic treatment. Among the long list of these ingredients are: coffee, mint, camphor, chocolate, strong perfumes, certain spices, vegetables, and conventional drugs. At this time, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that any of these substances would cause a uniform antidoting effect upon individuals consuming homeopathic medicines. There may be very good reasons why certain individuals should refrain from use of these products. In many cases individuals may be sensitive to these products or the agents might pose certain health risks due to their underlying medical condition, but not due to any homeopathic reason.
In my practice, I have found certain individuals to be sensitive to products on this list and for those individuals I have recommended that they exercise caution or that we work on selecting a potency of the homeopathic medicine that works best with these other factors.
The only possible answer to this question, at this time is: we don’t know. But we do know that it does work. It has been shown to be more effective than placebo in many well designed “double blind” studies. It has been used extensively with newborns, infants, children, adults, pregnant women, and the elderly, both when conscious and unconscious. There is an active and thriving field of homeopathy known as veterinary homeopathy.
Absolutely not. Homeopathy is extremely effective in the treatment of many individuals and animals who are not even aware that they are receiving treatment. Homeopathy has been used in infancy. It has been used when patients are comatose and it has been used extensively in the veterinary field. One does not have to believe in homeopathy for it to work. Homeopathy is different from placebo.
Basically, one should pay close attention to any and all information that one’s body provides. The body speaks to us in a language all its own (symptoms). If we choose to ignore our body’s symptoms then it’s as if we took to the highway to drive across country, but decided not to look at any of the road signs or maps. The body communicates to us through our physical and emotional symptoms. If we listen carefully enough we can help the body reach an improved state of health. If we choose to ignore the symptoms, or medicate the symptoms till they go away, then we take our chances on regaining lasting improved health.
Classical Homeopathy generally focuses on the individual who is ill, not on the medical illness itself. A Classical Homeopath treats each individual differently, even if they have the same allopathic diagnosis. This is because homeopaths individualize treatments based upon the unique symptoms of each case. This is what makes homeopathy extremely specific.
Virtually any condition can be treated using homeopathic means, and a great many of these conditions can be successfully resolved. Homeopaths generally admit that there is anecdotal evidence for the success of homeopathy in a great many conditions, and there is virtually no area that has not shown results. However, this does not mean that all patients will be successfully treated using homeopathic means. The success of homeopathy depends largely on the skill of the practitioner and the vitality (or healing strength ) of the individual. Homeopaths tend to rely heavily upon the symptoms produced by a given illness in each particular individual because it is the symptoms that actually express the vitality of the host. The stronger the symptoms, the stronger the innate immune, healing response is. Homeopathy primarily works by augmenting that healing response, sort of the way an enzyme works in the body. An enzyme catalyses a reaction and is itself unchanged in the process. Homeopathy catalyses the body’s own healing reaction and is itself unaffected. This is one reason why homeopathic medicines can be given so infrequently (ie, monthly or every several months) in many cases. In other cases, where the “vital force” ( a term used extensively in homeopathy, although no one really knows what it is) is low, or if there are factors that work strongly against the body’s own healing response, or if symptoms are weak or absent, homeopathic medicines are sometimes repeated more frequently to try to stimulate more of a reaction in the system.
It seems as if everyone and his brother are using something “homeopathic” or seeing a practitioner who claims to be homeopathic. This can be quite confusing. A number of years ago, a group of homeopaths that practiced homeopathy strictly following the guidelines defined by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann in his medical treatise, “The Organon of Medicine” defined the term “Classical”. It means, simply put, that they follow the tenents that Dr. Hahnemann described, including, but not limited to:
• The Law of Similars.
• The minimum dose.
• The totality of symptoms.
In other words, “Classical” Homeopathic Physicians prescribe medicines only after taking a thorough history and performing a focused physical exam. The homeopathic prescription is based upon all the symptoms of the patient (the totality) not on the diagnosis. Generally, a single medicine is used in the lowest strength possible to effect a change. The medicine is given only once or, in some cases, only a few times (minimum dose). The guidelines for selecting a remedy are defined by the “Law of Similars” (see above).
I treat adults, teenagers, adolescents, children, infants and pregnant women in my practice. I do not, however, treat animals. (There are a number of excellent homeopathic veterinarians who are expert at providing this service.) Children pose a special challenge in homeopathy because it may be particularly difficult to obtain a well-balanced history or symptom description, but when treated with homeopathic medicines they tend to respond vigorously and rapidly.
Whether or not to immunize is a complex and oftentimes difficult decision today. I advise many parents in this regard. As a medical professional and a homeopathic physician these two trainings are not in a great deal of conflict over this issue. There are growing data generated by good studies throughout the world that suggest that the childhood immunizations that are currently recommended may not be without serious harm. There are also good data to suggest that often the committees and organizations that we have trusted to advise us in these matters may have serious conflicts of interest. There is no question that adverse events to vaccines are seriously underreported in this country and that very often a parent’s complaints are dismissed offhandedly and sometimes ridiculed by otherwise caring physicians. It is also clear that a great many of the recommended childhood vaccinations do not make good sense. Data from Europe indicate that many of the childhood illnesses may actually impart a benefit to the immune system throughout ones life, and that children who acquire immunity through the actual disease process have significantly lower rates of chronic illnesses later in life, including allergies, asthma and autoimmune diseases. It is a well-known fact that natural immunity (that develops after acquiring the illness) tends to be life-long. Immunity that is acquired through immunization is generally of a shorter duration requiring re-immunization only a few years later. The significance of this fact can be profound when one considers that many of these illnesses can be benign when acquired as a child, but can be devastating when acquired as a teenager or an adult.
Homeopathic treatment is highly advisable if one chooses not to immunize one’s children. But homeopathic medicines are not equivalent to immunization. There are no data that indicate, in any way, that homeopathic treatment imparts an immune antibody response similar to aquiring the illness or being immunized conventionally. Any attempt to provide a “Homeopathic Immunization” may be a bogus or sham method of evading state immunization practices. There is no legal or scientific basis for this procedure.
Naturopathic Physicians (ND) have generally been trained in a variety of natural approaches to health. Their curriculum usually includes disciplines like homeopathy, craniosacral therapies, herbal medicine and nutrition (among others), but they are not necessarily specialists in any of these approaches unless they choose to focus specifically on one or more particular area in depth. A naturopathic degree generally does impart a wide range of knowledge over a breadth of natural therapies, but does not necessarily imply expertise in any of these areas. Questioning each individual naturopath is important to ascertain this knowledge.
Homeopathy is a field of medicine that, to be practiced well, requires a physician study and dedicate many years of training to attain expertise. A physician who calls himself a “Classical Homeopath” has chosen to focus on homeopathy as a specialty and to study homeopathy in depth.
There are currently several professional organizations that are striving to authoritatively certify homeopathic practitioners in the U.S. and abroad, but there is, not yet, any widespread agreement on the scope of what this certification should encompass. This is an issue that ought to be resolved within the next several years within the homeopathic community.
No. I do not accept any insurance payments as fee for my services. My agreement to treat you as a homeopathic physician is between me and my patients. If you have chosen to contract with an insurance company to reimburse you for certain medical expenses, then it is likely that you will be able to secure reimbursement for the services that I provide. I am Licensed to practice Medicine in the State of New York, and my credentials as a physician are acceptable to the insurance carriers that reimburse on this basis.
I will work hard with you to secure the reimbursement that you have contracted for. To assist you in this process my office uses standard CPT codes and ICD-9 procedural codes whenever I bill for service.
I do not accept or participate in ANY insurance companies. No medicare. No medicaid.
I do generate receipts that allow for easy submission to these companies (but never for medicare/medicaid) for reimbursement.
Patients who see me who have medicare are required, by law, to review and sign what is known as an “opt out agreement” that stipulates that they do understand that I do not participate and that there is no way that they will be reimbursed by medicare for their expenses in seeing me. Supplemental insurance may still pay.
I spend 2 hours with most adults on their first visit.
I spend 90 minutes with adolescents on 1st visit and 60 minutes with children. These visits are prorated accordingly.
Follow up visits are very important. They generally run 30 – 60 minutes (children almost always 30 and some adults also, but many adults are 60 because of the nature of the problem and the need to discuss interdisciplinary and integrated approaches to their particular situation. Counseling on lifestyle issues, diet, nutrition, stress reduction, meditation, yoga, etc., etc. is an ongoing process and requires revisiting.)
Medicine cost is usually factored into each visit. Sometimes the medicine that I require is in my office. At other times I might write a prescription for it, and sometimes I will mail it from Rhinebeck. If I do bill for medicines (this might be the case if it is the result of a telephone call) then the fees are always reasonable for a supply that usually lasts several months or more.
Yes. My office requires you to review and agree to a “Consent for Homeopathy” form (see “contact us”, forms section) before receiving homeopathic treatment. This form clarifies several issues around expectations and intent. It explains that the purpose of our consultation is homeopathic care and it reminds you that I am not replacing your primary care physician. My liability insurance company also stipulates that you sign an “Arbitration Agreement” form that clarifies malpractice expectations and formally inserts an agreement to arbitrate all claims with a neutral mediator. This form is reviewed at the time of our office visit and is available through my receptionist.
Generally, the answer to this question is: “No,” but there may be exceptions. Most of my routine telephone calls may be to follow -up on a particular concern or to discuss an acute condition that may have arisen . In the course of a telephone conversation I may recommend that the conversation might be more appropriately handled in an office visit. But in many cases the telephone works fine. There is usually no charge for this time unless the telephone conversation is really in-lieu of an office visit and extensive questioning, diagnostic and repertorization for a remedy is required. If this is the case then charges are similar to those applied to my time spent in the office together.
This is a question that I would prefer not to post on this web site. Please contact my office receptionist at (845) 876-6323 if you are seriously considering a visit to my office.
Absolutely. Email tends to be a slower form of communication, in my case, because I tend to give priority to those who visit my office and telephone me, but it is generally a sure way of updating me on your condition and providing me with data in your case that can then be printed and filed in your medical chart. Email may take several days and often up to a week to generate a response from me, so it is not a fast way to get information from me (office visits and telephone calls work best here) but it is an excellent way of feeding me information about you.
It’s true. Most conventional (allopathic) physicians are opposed to even hearing about homeopathy. Many will try to dissuade you from seeing a homeopath and mention reasons why homeopathy might harm you.
Many conventional physicians ridicule homeopathy and describe it (inaccurately) as nothing more than an expensive placebo.
Most of these physicians are simply uninformed and ignorant about homeopathy. They have never experienced the effects of homeopathy, have never studied it, and have no basis by which to judge it objectively.
Other physicians might confuse homeopathy with herbal medicine. Homeopathy is not herbal medicine and should not be confused with it.
Many physicians might feel threatened by things that they do not understand, or things that they were not taught in medical school. Some of the principles of homeopathic medicine might seem to run contrary to doctrine of medical school. In fact, Homeopathy does advocate a different view of the body, and the environment, that respects self-healing and ecology, two principles that are still not taught in most medical schools.
Even physicians who have received training in some forms of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) or Integrative Medicine tend to dismiss Homeopathy simply because they lack experience with it.
Interestingly, when the American Medical Association (AMA) was founded in 1847, their charter specifically forbade members from associating with, referring to, or fraternizing with Homeopathic Physicians. The AMA is a trade organization who’s “beef” had nothing to do with providing a better, safer, more economical form of medicine, but was a “turf battle” to fight competition from Homeopathic physicians. This was about money, not science.
No. Homeopathy is much different from herbal medicine.
Neither herbs nor supplements are regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but Homeopathy is. There are real hazards associated with the use of herbs and supplements, particularly if they are used indiscriminately or irresponsibly.
Remember: herbs are pharmaceuticals in crude form. They contain small amounts of chemicals, and they act like drugs in the body. They do interact with pharmaceuticals, and they can alter the physiological functions of many organs.
In short, herbs and supplements have side effects and risks because they are dilute drugs in crude form. Just because herbs are “natural” does not mean that they are safe.
Remember: Poison Ivy, Deadly Nightshade and Foxglove are all natural herbs that should never be consumed in herbal form because they are extremely toxic
Yes. It is essential that your primary care physician be made aware of all the treatments, modalities, herbs, supplements and homeopathic medicines that you are using.
Unfortunately, the reality of health care today does not leave most physicians with adequate time to really evaluate, assess and comprehend the effects of these methods on your health. Your primary care physician may not want to be bothered by the details of your homeopathic treatment because they are already feeling overwhelmed, busy, or simply not have enough time to spend with you.
In most cases, unless your Primary Care Physician has some training in homeopathy, they will not have any idea about the nature of the homeopathic medicine that you are receiving.
Your role might be, in their office, to act as an educator to help them understand the benefits you have achieved without the use of conventional medications. Some physicians may take this information to heart and realize that there are other, valid, safe ways to help their patients. A few might even choose to learn more, or even to begin the study of homeopathy.
Homeopathy does not defy physics or chemistry, nor is it magic. Homeopathy is a science that has been found to work. Those who have studied homeopathy have described several laws that seem to govern its use (The Law of Similars, The Law of the Minimum Dose, The Law of Cure, The Law of the Single Remedy, etc).
Homeopathy has been studied and tested objectively according to standards of Medical Science (using Randomized Controlled Trials, Outcomes Research, etc.) and it has been found (repeatedly) to work. Because there is no plausible explanation for how Homeopathy works, many have chosen to dismiss it. Many others have chosen to utilize it in their practices.
Interestingly, one of the roles of scientific inquiry is to perform objective investigation, and to test hypotheses about why certain phenomenon work the way they do. Those who dismiss homeopathy because they do not believe it could work are exercising dogmatism and prejudice, not objective scientific thinking. Science tests reality and asks “why”?
Unfortunately, much of what goes on in the medical world is not based on science, but on profit, conflict of interest, and power. The existing structures aim to preserve the status quo in academics, research and industry.
In fact, there already is a fair amount of research demonstrating the effectiveness of homeopathy. This includes Randomized Controlled Studies, Meta-Analyses, etc. published in many peer reviewed medical journals. In the majority of cases, the research and analyses supports the use of homeopathy, or suggests that it merits further study.
Even when the appropriate scientific criteria are met, there remain “naysayers” who insist that the research simply cannot be trusted and that the evidence is not meaningful. These objections are usually couched in language that obfuscates the political agenda that is threatened by the possibility that homeopathy could actually work.
The U.S. government already funds limited research in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) via the National Institutes for Health (NIH) Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), but the amount of money apportioned to this center is one of the smallest budgets in the entire NIH. The operating budged for NCCAM is slightly higher than the Building and Grounds budget for the NIH (no kidding!).
All the money allotted to NCCAM is then divided between research proposals from many deserving forms of CAM including homeopathy, acupuncture, hypnosis, Yoga, T’ai Chi, etc.
Pharmaceutical companies whose aim is to develop new drugs fund the bulk of research performed in the U.S. This research, when successful, leads directly to the FDA approval, manufacture and patenting of new drugs that are expected to generate large profits. The entire system is driven by profit.
In the case of homeopathic medicines (which are mostly natural products), these drugs are already readily available, quite inexpensive, and cannot be patented for exclusive sale. Any expenditure applied to research in this field is a form of charity, since it cannot be used solely for the profit of one company. Here again, the desire for profit, prohibits extensive research from being performed in the field of homeopathy.
WHAT IS HOMEOPATHY?
Developed by Samuel Hahnemann, M. D. (1755-1843), homeopathy is a philosophy and method of healing practiced all over the world. Protected by Federal law, homeopathic remedies are supervised by the FDA, and economical, safe, and effective for first-aid and domestic use.
The Law of Similars.
In 1792, Hahnemann demonstrated experimentally that medicines elicit in healthy people the same array of signs and symptoms that they help relieve in the sick, and that medicines eliciting a total symptom-picture most like the illness of the patient are most likely to initiate a spontaneous, long-lasting cure. From this “Law of Similars” he deduced that the symptoms of illness represent the self-healing effort of the organism, which the similar remedy acts to reinforce by a concerted response of the patient as an integrated energy system.
The Classical Method.
Prepared from natural substances of diverse origin, homeopathic remedies are diluted and refined to minimize toxicity and enhance the depth and subtlety of their action. When given to healthy volunteers, each medicine elicits a characteristic array of physical, mental, and emotional symptoms that distinguishes it from every other, while patients seeking treatment are interviewed in the same detail and matched with the one remedy whose total symptom-picture most closely resembles their own. Because it must fit the individuality of the patient as well as the pathological diagnosis, close attention is paid to unique features that the usual medical workup tends to ignore, while the minute doses insure that they will have little or no effect unless they are correctly chosen, unless they are similar enough to the illness that the patient will be optimally sensitive to them, a crucial safety feature.
Pros and Cons.
Homeopathic remedies are wonderfully effective when properly chosen, as well as safe, economical, and gentle in their action, with very few side effects. Curative responses are thorough and long-lasting, need few repetitions of the dose, and pose no risk of chronic drug dependence. The process also allows and encourages patients to assume greater control of and responsibility for their own healing than is often possible with more drastic methods. On the other hand, homeopathy remains very much an art, such that even experienced practitioners may need to try several remedies before a close match is found, while in other cases there is no benefit at all.
When to Consider Homeopathy.
While healing is always possible, and any patient may respond to it, homeopathy is most often successful in the following situations:
1) functional complaints with no tissue damage (headache, insomnia, IBS, anxiety, PMS, CFS, ADD, etc.);
2) conditions with no good allopathic treatment (wounds, viral infections, emphysema, etc.), where much relief is possible with minimal risk;
3) before elective surgery (fibroids, gallstones, BPH, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, etc.), where there is no urgency for immediate action;
4) to reduce or eliminate drug dependence (for allergies, asthma, colitis, ear infections, hypertension, etc.), where drugs must be taken long-term or indefinitely; and
5) if allopathic drugs fail, or patients refuse to take them, as in terminal cases, where significant relief is still possible.
It is more difficult but still worth a try even in advanced cases with tissue damage, or where dependence on potent, addictive drugs makes it dangerous or harmful to withdraw them precipitately or without careful supervision. It is not, however, a substitute for trained and experienced professional help.
Written by Richard Moskowitz, MD and printed with his permission.