What is complementary medicine?
Why use complementary medicine?
What gets treated?
What is 'energy'?
Can one treat 'energy'?
Why healing, herbalism and homeopathy?
What is herbalism?
What is homeopathy?
What is healing?
What happens in a session?
What happens behind the scenes and how do I approach cases?
What is a healing crisis?
What are the downsides of complementary medicine?
Can complementary medicine treat anything?
Complementary medicine is a mixed bag of all that is not today's ‘western’ mainstream medicine. This includes medical systems from the pre-pharmaceutical era and from other cultures; systems that often were the mainstream of their time. Acupuncture and herbal medicine are examples. It includes too newer systems such as homeopathy and osteopathy, which see the body as more than a molecular machine. Thirdly, complementary medicine includes disciplines that were once a part of mainstream medicine, such as dietary advice (nutrition), lifestyle advice (naturopathy) and talking (psychotherapy).
As the name suggests, this mixed bag exists alongside mainstream modern
medicine and complements, rather than replaces it. My experience is that
between them, orthodox and complementary treatments fit together well.
Mainstream medicine is characterised by its strength, whereby it imposes
change on the body. As a rule, complementary medicine persuades rather
than forces so is gentler. Gentle does not mean weak, as complementary
medicine tends to treat the ‘energy’ of the body, which some believe
controls physical function.
Some problems lend themselves to mainstream treatment. For example those problems needing a quick fix where deeper correction is not required, tumours that need removing or serious sudden conditions where the power of antibiotics can be life saving. Other illnesses are less suited to treatment by pharmaceutical chemicals, surgery or radiotherapy. For example arthritis, were drugs can provide pain relief but not slow the disease, or chronic fatigue, whose mechanism eludes orthodox medicine.
Symptoms are the end result of a chain of causation. They may be triggered
by something identifiable, such as an accident, though arise more often in
a cumulative way. For example, I sneeze because I am in a field in the
summer; because I have hayfever; because I have an allergic makeup, with a
past history of asthma and eczema too; because this runs in my family.
Now, is it the pollen or the family genes that is the cause? And why does
my family have it so strongly, what is the cause of that? You can see that
ultimately, causes run endlessly deep if we keep asking ‘why?’.
Nonetheless, the body can usually be treated at various levels and this proves very useful in practice. Deeper often means better in that the closer to source a problem can be remedied, the more full and lasting the result. This is proper cure, where there is no need to continue treatment, there being no more disease.
Conversely, where cure is not possible, treatment has to be aimed at controlling the symptoms as much as possible, while the disease process continues. This is symptom management, rather than cure, and is characterised by the need to take medication continually to suppress symptoms. Most pharmacological treatment falls into this category.
Around 1900, scientists such as Max Planck and Albert Einstein concluded
that the universe (including us) was made up of a combination of physical
matter and invisible ‘energy’. One could turn into the other, they
deduced. Energy was shown to have such surprising properties as ‘spooky
action at a distance’, for example. This was a jump in understanding that
added to, rather than overwrote the then-accepted wisdom. Today we have
found more specifically that ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’ exist,
although they are invisible.
The point is that there is far more going on with the human body than a cursory appreciation suggests. Some of this involves ‘energy’ which is invisible but implied by its effects on our bodies, just as in the world of physics. Many who have looked into this arrive at the belief that the energy comes first and that material form and function arise as a function of this energy.
With respect to illness, the material body displays the symptoms but the cause tends to lie with the energy. If you are in any doubt pick a symptom and ask yourself why it is there and where it came from, repeating the question with each new answer.
If we want to intervene in the energy of the body, in an attempt to treat closer to the source of the trouble, we need to use appropriate tools. This is where ‘energetic’ treatments such as acupuncture, homeopathy and healing come in.
Non-physical treatments contrast with those that manipulate the physical body. They have a particular place with non-physical dysfunction. It is relatively easy to understand how drugs, surgery or herbal medicines work, because we are familiar with how things work in the obvious material world. Energy can be worked with too.
I chose this trio of disciplines because I believe that they work well together in a range of scenarios.
This is one of mankind’s oldest medical systems and involves medication with plant extracts. Each plant has a complex action with many effects going on at once. Prescribing involves blending several herbs together to suit the individual and address their physiological priorities. As they progress, so the blend of herbs needs to be changed.
This has ancient roots but came to prominence relatively recently. It is derived from herbalism and uses much more dilute remedies, that affect the body more through their energy rather than concentration of circulating molecules. It uses remedies from non-plant sources too, such as minerals. A homeopathic prescription needs to be more closely tailored to the individual than a herbal or pharmaceutical one, so more information is needed to achieve this. Homeopathy has the ability to effect greater changes than herbs, even affecting one’s whole wellbeing, both physical and emotional.
This is purely an energy treatment. This means it affects the subtle body and via that, the physical. It too is one of man’s earliest treatments. Healing can be hands on or hands off, both work as it is a non-physical modality. I have found that it seems possible to transfer healing energy to a carrier vehicle such as a bottle of liquid, which can be taken daily. Healing works best with the young and the sensitive; those who are least compromised by the things that modern life does to us.
The first session is always an information-gathering one. The immediate
problems are explored along with secondary or associated issues. Then I
need to know about general physical and mental functioning. Lifestyle,
diet and work are included as have a great impact on our state. Finally
the type of person is important too, given that most of our ailments arise
from the inside ie are made by us. Just as there is a correlation between
aggressive ‘type A’ personalities and stomach ulcers, physical dysfunction
is often associated with an inner dysfunction that has been completely
Treatment usually starts in the first session with a discussion about how the current state has developed and an overview of how to change things.
Most people leave the first session with a remedy or having had their first treatment though sometimes I will post a remedy on afterwards.
Follow up sessions involve my getting feedback, asking more questions, having thought about the case in the meantime, maybe a machine retest and then the next prescription and advice.
Although I usually know how to start off in the first consultation the picture has to be drawn together, a treatment plan formulated, further remedies chosen and information-gaps identified. Therefore after each session I resummarise and then separately reanalyse each case. This takes a lot of time but is necessary in order to get good results, particularly from the homeopathic point of view.
Also known as an aggravation, a healing crisis is a reaction that sometimes happens a few days after treatment. It only happens to the minority of cases and is a good sign. It is one way the body seems to mend itself, by having an acute intensification of all that has been wrong, followed by rapid relief into a lasting improved state. It is seen particularly in homeopathy but also with nutrition, herbalism, acupuncture, osteopathy and even talking therapies. Of course, our society is more used to immediate relief, then maybe long term side effects from the treatment, which is more typical of orthodox medication. The healing crisis represents the opposite, an initial stir-up leading into long term gain.
It is important to understand that complementary medicine is not a
complete alternative to conventional medical treatment so it cannot treat
everything. Imagine running an accident and emergency department on a
complementary medicine basis!
Because it is such a mixed bag, containing many different disciplines, it is only possible to generalise about complementary medicine to a certain extent. Nonetheless, its methods tend to be softer than the sometimes harsh ways of modern medicine. Strong does not have to mean harsh or dangerous. However complementary medicine appointments tend to take longer as are more individualised, so the practitioner needs more information than, say, a GP.
Complementary medicine does not tend to use the advanced technology that mainstream medicine benefits from, instead relying on clinical information. This can be both a benefit, using signs that doctors overlook, and also a limitation. Not all complementary medicine systems have a diagnostic side, homeopathy for example, and this can be frustrating for people who want a label for their condition.
Complementary medicine does not always work, homeopathy in particular being quite all-or-nothing in its effects. Most if not all complementary treatments can cause unwanted effects too, even the non-physical ones like healing and homeopathy.
Complementary medicine aims to treat the individual, not the symptoms in
isolation, or indeed the diagnosis. As such it can be brought to bear on
many different problems. Many choose to use it even when the situation is
beyond cure, such as in terminal illness.
This means that complementary medicine practitioners may be able to do something where orthodox medicine, with its fewer methods, cannot.
I have found that complementary medicine fits very well into the gaps that orthodox medicine does not cover.
Needless to say, there are times where nothing can be achieved and the individual has to decide whether to try a new approach, or accept and tolerate the problem.
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Medically qualified homeopathic doctor, medical herbalist - Central London, Kensington West London, Twickenham
homeopathy in London