Tuesday, November 29, 2016

From Dana Ullman's column in the Huffington Post

Extreme Bias in FTC’s Ruling on Homeopathic Medicine

Despite the fact that there are over 300 clinical trials published in peer review medical journals, the U.S. government’s Federal Trade Commission (F.T.C.)has deemed homeopathic medicine to be unproven scientifically. This governmental agency will now require manufacturers of homeopathic medicines to provide the following two statements in their marketing of over-the-counter homeopathic medicines: (1) there is no scientific evidence that the product works and (2) the product’s claims are based only on theories of homeopathy from the 1700s that are not accepted by most modern medical experts.
Obvious evidence of the F.T.C.’s bias in this ruling is that the word “homeopathy” was not even coined until 1805, and the founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann, MD, did not write his first book on the subject until 1810. The first homeopath to come to the USA wasn’t until 1825. And yet, the F.T.C. asserts that homeopathy is based on theories from the 1700s? 
The fact that the F.T.C. is not being honest or accurate on historical facts will lead anyone to question whether they are honest or accurate in their assessment of homeopathic research. In actual fact, research showing the efficacy of homeopathic medicines have been published in many of the most respected medical journals in the world, including The LancetBMJ (British Medical Journal, 1, 2), Chest (the publication of the American College of Chest Physicians), Rheumatology (the publication of the British Society for Rheumatology), Pediatrics (publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics), Cancer (journal of the American Cancer Society), Journal of Clinical OncologyPediatrics Infectious Disease Journal (publication of the European Society of Pediatric Infectious Diseases), European Journal of Pediatrics (publication of the Swiss Society of Pediatrics and the Belgium Society of Pediatrics), and numerous others. And yet, the F.T.C. insists that there is “no scientific evidence” that homeopathy works? Really, none? 
It should also be noted that the prestigious World Health Organization (W.H.O.) has deemed France to have the BEST health care in the world. It is therefore important to note that according to a recent survey published in the respected medical journal, Family Practice, 95% of French pediatricians, dermatologists, and general practitioners use homeopathic medicines. Further, 43% of all health and medical professionals prescribed at least one homeopathic medicine in a 12-month period. And ALL of these statistics were gathered from the government’s prescription records, making this data precise and accurate. The practice and usage of homeopathic medicine is also substantial in Germany, Italy, Netherlands, India, Pakistan, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. And yet, homeopathy is “not accepted by most modern experts?” Is there absolutely no respect for minority schools of thought in medicine for the first time in medical history? Is conventional medicine so perfect that it can only allow for medical treatments that a majority of medical experts accept? Or…are there efforts influenced by Big Pharma to reduce competition in health care? 
To be clear, the work of the F.T.C. is vital for consumer protection, but it is clear that this governmental agency is ignoring important scientific evidence, and one must wonder if they are protecting Big Pharma from competition more than protecting the consumer.
To understand how and why the F.T.C. has such obvious bias against homeopathy (and various alternatives to Big Pharma), it is helpful to know something about history…and then, to learn something about the body of scientific evidence that presently exists for homeopathic medicines.
History of Attacks Against Homeopathy
Due to the impressive successes that physicians found from homeopathic medicines in the treatment of severe infectious disease epidemics in the 19th century, homeopathy grew so rapidly that the American Institute of Homeopathy was established as this country’s first national medical organization in 1844. A rival medical organization was formed just two years later asserting that one of the reasons for their formation was to slow the growth of homeopathy. That organization called itself the American Medical Association.
Homeopathy continued to grow in America in the 19th century and was called “the new school,” while conventional medicine was deemed to be “the old school.” By the early 20th century, there were 20 homeopathic medical schools in America, including Boston University, University of Michigan, Ohio State University, University of Minnesota, Hahnemann Medical College, and even the University of Iowa. 
At the turn into the 20th century, George Simmons became the new President of the American Medical Association, and he devised a brilliant plan to make the AMA rich and powerful. Simmons created the AMA’s “Seal of Approval on Drugs.” To get this award, drug manufacturers did not require ANY evidence on safety or efficacy of drugs. Instead, the drug-maker simply needed to divulge the ingredients of their drug (an important consumer protection) AND, more importantly, they were required to pay for advertisements in EVERY local, regional, and national AMA publications (a legal form of bribery). This “collaboration” between the AMA and Big Pharma led to a significant increase in membership in the increasingly rich AMA, growing from 8,000 members in 1900 to over 70,000 members in 1910.
The “collaboration” between Big Pharma and government has been substantial in the 20th century and even more so in the 21st century. In fact, for the past couple of decades, Big Pharma has spent almost 50% more (!) in lobbying politicians than the closest industry (the Insurance industry). When you take this fact into account and then realize that Big Pharma spends its greatest amounts of advertising dollars for TV news programs, you can see and understand Big Pharma’s strategy to “own” the news and politicians. This strategy has worked too well. 
Evidence of serious corporate shenanigans on health products is just beginning to be uncovered. According to the British Medical Journal, recently uncovered evidence has verified the extraordinary extent to which key public health experts at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) have been influenced by big money given by the sugar industry to take any blame away from sugar for today’s obesity epidemic.
Verifying additional problems at the CDC, Dr. William Thompson, a senior scientist at the CDC has obtained whistleblower status after he admitted to falsifying research to show that there is no difference between vaccination and autism when, in fact, his research actually showed that there was a correlation between vaccination and the autism rate in all children and was found to be 250% higher in black children than those children not vaccinated. Yet, CDC Director Tom Frieden has attempted to block Thompson from testifying in a civil hearing asserting, “Dr. William Thompson’s deposition testimony would not substantially promote the objectives of CDC or HHS [Health and Human Services].”
According to Robert Kennedy Jr. one of the key people in this cover-up at the CDC is Dr. Colleen Boyle who is the Director of the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, one of the CDC’s centers that evaluate autism rates. This same scientist who was previously found to have orchestrated the cover-up of Agent Orange and dioxin toxicity in the 1970s, and rather than punish her, she was rewarded with a plum position that enabled her to cover-up the vaccine-autism connection.
Needless to say, the media has repeatedly asserted that there is “no connection between vaccines and autism,” and yet, the media has carefully avoided reporting on this whistleblower case. Recent reports about serious levels of anxiety from employees at the CDC are well-founded because the Trump administration may be more forthright in investigating corporate and scientific fraud. Trump has expressed his support for vaccines, but has also expressed direct concern about the inadequacy of safety studies on them. 
The additional reason that issue of vaccines is discussed here is that Americans do not know that there are virtually no double-blind and placebo controlled studies that show that vaccines are safe. The few times that vaccine research has used a “placebo,” they do not place pathogens in the placebo but they actually still insert mercury or aluminum adjuvants in the placebo, thereby destroying the ability for real scientific evaluation of safety from these neurotoxins. Even one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world, the Cochrane Collaboration, has acknowledged that the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine research on safety is “largely inadequate.” And yet, Big Pharma spins the fact that there are so few real tests for safety to mean that “vaccines are safe” (when you don’t really test with a real placebo, you cannot evaluate safety issues). To make matters worse, not only are vaccines allowed to be marketed despite the paucity of safety evidence, several states are now making them mandatory for children who wish to attend public or private schools.
As important as regulatory agencies are for consumer protection, it is disturbing how much corporate involvement has influenced these governmental agencies. Instead of providing consumer protection, there seems to be much more corporate protection, and it seems obvious that Americans want a serious change from this corporate swamp.
This discussion about the swamp surround vaccine research and governmental agencies is provided here because there is also a swamp surrounding homeopathic and natural medicines and regulatory agencies. 
Homeopathic Research
Additional obvious bias was evidence when the F.T.C.’s ruling cited old and incorrect information asserting that homeopathic medicine are “so diluted that no single molecule of the original substance remains.” In actual fact, an important study in 2010 was published in the famed journal, Langmuir (published by the American Chemistry Society), that verified that six different homeopathic medicine were found to have nanoparticles of the original medicinal agents even after they were diluted 1:100 two-hundred times and this fact was confirmed by three different types of spectroscopy. Further, the nanodoses that remained in water were, according to Archives in Internal Medicine, comparable to the nanodoses to which many common hormones and cell-signaling agents are known to operate. Based on this research, anyone who says that there are “no active ingredients” or “no molecules” in homeopathic medicines are basing such assertions on disproven theories, not scientifically verified facts.
Unless the F.T.C. wishes to proclaim that our body’s hormones are placeboes, it can and should accept and recognize that the nanodoses used in homeopathic medicines have physiological action.
Further, modern evidence for the physiological effects from homeopathic medicines is provided by a growing body of basic research that has shown up- and down-regulation of genetic expression from homeopathic medicines, including in these studies, 1234. Even the highly prestigious Nature magazine edition in India published an important news report about one of these studies that showed these effects from a homeopathic medicine. Ultimately, at least a dozen laboratories have confirmed the persistence of nanomedicines in water made with homeopathic medicines, including labs at the University of Arizona, Northwestern University, University of California at Davis, University of Mumbai, Russian Academy of Science, and India Institute of Technology.
Ultimately, homeopathy is the “original nanomedicine,” and the entire field of nanomedicine is so hot that some reports estimate that it will be a $130 billion industry this year. It is hard to avoid the possibility that Big Pharma is pressuring the FTC to rid itself of any competition, even though homeopathy itself is only $1 billion industry in the US. 
The F.T.C. report on homeopathy carefully avoided reference to the largest review of research on homeopathy that has ever taken place. The Swiss government’s “Health Technology Assessment” on homeopathic medicine is much more comprehensive than any previous governmental report written on this subject to date. Not only did this report carefully and comprehensively review the body of evidence from randomized double-blind and placebo controlled clinical trials testing homeopathic medicines, they also evaluated the “real world effectiveness” with observational studies (discussed below) as well as safety and cost-effectiveness. The report also conducted a highly-comprehensive review of the wide body of preclinical research (fundamental physio-chemical research, botanical studies, animal studies, and in vitro studies with human cells) as well as epidemiological studies and cost-effectiveness studies.
After assessing basic research and the high quality clinical studies, the Swiss report affirmed that homeopathic high-potencies seem to induce regulatory effects (e.g., balancing or normalizing effects) and specific changes in cells or living organisms. The report also reported that 20 of the 22 systematic reviews of clinical research testing homeopathic medicines detected at least a trend in favor of homeopathy. To date, this report on homeopathy was the only review of research to ever to be published in a peer-review medical journal. 
The newest meta-analysis (a systematic review of research) on homeopathic medicine chose to evaluate only those clinical trials that provided individualized treatment. In reviewing the “highest quality studies,” the researchers found that homeopathic patients were almost twice as likely to experience a therapeutic benefit as those given a placebo. Further, in reviewing a total of 22 clinical trials, the homeopathic patients experienced greater than 50% likelihood to have benefited from the homeopathic treatment than those given a placebo.
Perhaps one of the strongest statements in this article was the confirmation that four of the five leading previous systematic reviews of homeopathic research also found a benefit from homeopathic treatment over that of placebo: 
“Five systematic reviews have examined the RCT research literature on homeopathy as a whole, including the broad spectrum of medical conditions that have been researched and by all forms of homeopathy: four of these ‘global’ systematic reviews reached the conclusion that, with important caveats, the homeopathic intervention probably differs from placebo.”
The ultimate observation of this significant review of homeopathic research is that there IS a difference between homeopathy and placebo, despite what skeptics and the media tend to assume and assert.
To date, there are at least 300 clinical studies that have been published in peer-review medical journals. Although ALL of the meta-analyses conducted on homeopathy deem that “good quality studies” must be randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled, these same guidelines are not expected of vaccines, nor are any surgical procedures required to have these standards for evaluating safety or efficacy. A double standard persists, and attacking and bullying the little guy (homeopathy) has become the order of the day.
According to the most prestigious medical journal in the world, The New England Journal of Medicine, randomized double-blind and placebo controlled trials are not the only way to evaluate therapeutic benefits from a treatment. In fact, this medical journal has published numerous articles that assert that observational trials are just as reliable. One author asserted emphatically, “The popular belief that only randomized, controlled trials produce trustworthy results and that all observational studies are misleading does a disservice to patient care, clinical investigation, and the education of health care professionals.” 
Observational trials provide information on “real world” use and practice, and there is a considerable body of evidence that homeopathic treatment provides “real world benefits. It is very common for conventional drugs to be found seemingly effective in randomized double-blind and placebo controlled trials, but not really work in “real world medicine.” In comparison, homeopathic medicine has consistently been found to be effective in real world medicine
Implications of Ruling on Homeopathy Today
The F.T.C. ruling will require the above described statements asserting that there is no scientific evidence for the efficacy of a homeopathic medicine. However, the vast majority of homeopathic medicines are single-ingredient homeopathic medicines that are not prescribed for specific diseases but for the unique syndrome of symptoms that every person has. And because the vast majority of practicing homeopaths use these single ingredient homeopathic medicines, the practice of homeopathy itself will not be influenced much by this F.T.C. ruling. 
In fact, some homeopaths actually appreciate this ruling because it’ll encourage people to understand homeopathy and the homeopathic approach to healing better. Further, the ruling will lead more people who are seeking safer alternatives to conventional drug treatment to purchase homeopathic guidebooks, such as those that this author has written, that teach people how to select the right homeopathic medicine for their own, their family’s, or their friend’s health care problem. Therefore, books such as Everybody’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicines and Homeopathic Medicines for Children and Infants may be in greater demand. And people who want tolearn to use a homeopathic medicine kit to treat their families will be encouraged to access such courses or e-courses. 
This ruling will have its primary impact on the various homeopathic formulas on the market today that make figuring out which medicine to get more “user-friendly.” Homeopathic formulas are mixtures of homeopathic medicines that include ingredients that are known to benefit people with specific ailments, but each ingredient is thought to only have benefits for the limited group of people whose symptoms match those that each substance is known to cause (if given in overdose). Therefore, a homeopathic pharmacy creates a mixture with ingredients that will have a more broad-spectrum effect beyond that of a single remedy.
It is these homeopathic formulas that the F.T.C. ruling will impact. However, because there are now over 300 clinical trials published in peer-review medical journals, there are a surprising number of studies that show that homeopathic formulas do provide therapeutic benefits. The F.T.C. ruling therefore will have some benefits for those homeopathic medicines that have had such research. Certain books or ebooks that reference such research will probably increase in demand. And courses and e-courses that teach people how to use a homeopathic medicine kit and that provide evidence from peer-review medical journals will also be more popular.
The bad news about the F.T.C. ruling is that poor people who cannot afford going to a professional homeopath and those people who are not motivated to learn how to use homeopathic medicines will unable to get the benefits from homeopathy like 500 million people across the world do. 
It is additionally intriguing to know that every one of the dozens of surveys ever conducted on who uses homeopathic medicines has discovered that these homeopathy users are more educated than those who don’t. Therefore, it seems that it is common for more educated people to go out of their way to choose homeopathy. 
Closing Thoughts
The F.T.C. report on homeopathy noted a survey of users of homeopathic medicine found that 60% to 73% were satisfied with the performance of the homeopathic treatment they used and half of the people who used a homeopathic medication for one condition went on to use a homeopathic treatment for other conditions. 
The report then noted that a representative of the homeopathic industry remarked that such levels of satisfaction would not be explained by the placebo effect based on his assertion that the “placebo effect … is probably around 30%” (see p. 5) When one considers the widely recognized fact that homeopathic medicines are considerably safer than conventional drugs, one would think that this system of medicine would be embraced and encouraged by federal regulatory agencies, especially for pregnant and lactating women and for infants and children. However, this F.T.C. ruling suggests that there is no scientific evidence that homeopathy works. 
Even though other constituencies of the “natural health movement” have not had a collaborative relationship with the F.D.A. (Food and Drug Administration) in the 20th and 21st centuries, homeopathy and advocates for this system of medicine have had a long-time collaborative relationship with this governmental agency ever since this health agency was first empowered with regulatory controls as a result of the famed Federal Food Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1938. 
In fact, this 1938 law was written by a Senator from New York who was a medical doctor as well as homeopathic physician by the name of Royal Copeland, MD. This three-term U.S. Senator was so highly respected that Franklin D. Roosevelt was his campaign manager when he first ran for the U.S. Senate. This 1938 law not only empowered the F.D.A., it also gave formal federal recognition to homeopathy and homeopathic medicines as a different and separate system of medicine and pharmacology. 
The bottom line here is that the U.S. Congress passed this important consumer protection law in 1938, and it granted formal recognition of the U.S. Homeopathic Pharmacopeia as a DIFFERENT compendium of drugs than the U.S. Pharmacopeia. This law did not seek to merge these two different schools of thought in medical practice, but instead, they sought to respect them as different and complementary. It is therefore questionable if homeopathic drugs should be understood or regulated in the same manner as conventional drugs.
One would hope that the F.T.C. would have a good working relationship with the homeopathic community as the F.D.A. has, but the fact remains that the new F.T.C. ruling now requires marketing information on homeopathic medicines to include statements that there is “no scientific evidence that the product works” and the product’s claims “are not accepted by most modern medical experts.” The intent of this article was to show the extreme bias in their recent ruling in their evidence from history and their interpretation of homeopathic research. 
Ultimately, the F.T.C. is staffed by lawyers, not by physicians or scientists or experts on homeopathy and natural medicine. Clearly, this F.T.C. report has numerous significant errors of fact and has obvious biases. One would hope that these problems will be rectified.
Whether the F.T.C. corrects its report and changes its ruling or not, it will be curious to watch if the F.T.C. and health and medical regulatory agencies continue to protect Big Pharma and Big Corporations or if they will truly seek to protect consumers. 
It will also be important, even vitally important, to observe what priority the F.T.C. grants this new ruling on homeopathy. In this day and age in which the average American is prescribed 13 prescription drugs per year (not counting any of the over-the-counter drugs they are prescribed or that people take on their own), there are very few studies that confirm the safety or efficacy of this common practice of “poly-pharmacy.” If regulatory agencies are truly interested in protecting the health of Americans, it would be prudent if they focused their attention on the real and significant dangers to American’s health that exist in our use and over-use of conventional medications, not on homeopathic medicines that has an impeccable 200-year history of safety.
Finally, the F.T.C. chose to issue these rulings after Donald Trump has been elected President. Trump has asserted that he plans to eliminate two regulations for every new regulation. Is this new regulation really worthy of keeping when two other regulations will be eliminated? Considering the long-time safety history of homeopathic medicines, it is surprising and even shocking that the F.T.C. would consider proposing new regulations now. One cannot help but wonder who or what is pulling their strings. Only the na├»ve think that policies result in a vacuum but instead more commonly result from powerful economic forces at play.
Dana Ullman, MPH, CCH, is America’s leading spokesperson for homeopathy and is the founder of www.homeopathic.com . He is the author of 10 books, including his bestseller, Everybody’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicines. His most recent book is, The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy (the Foreword to this book was written by Dr. Peter Fisher, the Physician to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II). Dana has also developed a new e-course in “Learning to Use a Homeopathic Medicine Kit,” which includes 40, 60, or 80 (!) short videos along with a detailed ebook entitled “Evidence Based Homeopathic Family Medicine,” which provides reference to and description of over 300 clinical trials published in peer review medical journals. This e-course is available at www.HomeopathicFamilyMedicine.com 
Dana lives, practices, and writes from Berkeley, California. He sees patients from all over the world via phone and Skype and in his Berkeley office.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

PHYSOSTIGMA: The Discarded Vine
By Krista Heron, ND, DHANP

[Note: This lovely woman continues to respond to Physostigma, some 16 years since her initial prescription. Her MS has progressed very little over these years and her bladder symptoms in particular are helped greatly by this remedy.]

I have been quite curious for some time about the remedies made from vines, wondering if their winding and climbing tendency would say much about the nature of the remedies made from them. I have been charmed at how the beans and peas that grow in my garden wander and seek support from other plants or structures; playfully wrapping their tendrils around anything they can reach. They have flowers with mandible like structures that seem to talk, receiving visitations from bees who seem unaware that they look as if they could be swallowed at any moment. These vines are members of the legume (Fabaceae or Papilionaceae) family and include such familiar remedies as Baptisia, Lathyrus and Melilotus.

The remedies in this family present with many problems of fatigue, motility and paralysis. According to Jan Scholten, this may be due to the possible poisoning by the amino acid glutamate that then affects the neuro transmitter serotonin. We also see many symptoms of delusion. Those who need these remedies often feel that they have done something wrong. For example, Baptisia feels that they cannot succeed, that they do everything wrong; Melilotus feels they are pursued by their enemies or the police and that they are about to be arrested; and Robinia feels they have been disgraced.

Physostigma, a member of this family, is a perennial woody climber found in tropical West Africa. Its leaves are large and pinnate with purple butterfly-like flowers. The fruit is a reddish brown bean with two or three white oval seeds. These beans ripen year round but are most abundant during Africa's rainy season. These beans contain alkaloids that are poisonous.

Historically, the beans were used to determine the guilt of those accused of witchcraft. If the accused vomited within a half hour they were considered innocent, but if they died from the poison they were found guilty. In the same way that the patients who respond to the other legume remedies feel they have done some wrong, those who respond to Physostigma feel they are castaways. It is easy to imagine how someone accused of a crime and then ostracized by their community could have this feeling.

The alkaloids within Physostigma stimulate the parasympathetic nerves and medically have been used as an antidote to atropine. They cause contraction of the pupil and ciliary muscles and have a profound effect on the striated muscles as a whole. The limbs seem weary and unresponsive. There is fatigue and weakness. The case I will present shows a wonderful response to this remedy in a patient with multiple sclerosis. It is from her that I first began to understand Physostigma and other members of this family.

Diane first came to see me in February of 1998. She was a beautiful, elegant sixty-year-old from Georgia who had moved to the Pacific Northwest a few years before. She wanted some relief from her worsening multiple sclerosis. I found her first words interesting:

"Generally you start at the beginning, but I'd like to start at the end."

This was curious to me at the time, and now seems quite illustrative of how a climbing vine might begin to tell its tale.

"I've had more symptoms these last four years, but I was diagnosed twenty years ago. Now walking is difficult for me because of my balance. Sometimes I have problems with my vision and I have a macular hole in my left eye. Recently I have less feeling and dexterity in my hands and I have a neurogenic bladder. It doesn't empty well. My initial symptom was numbness in the left arm and then eventually numbness in both legs, this was in my twenties around the birth of my children."

"I am essentially married though I haven't lived with my husband for two years. Our separation was amicable and my life is better alone. Both my parents are dead. I grew up in Georgia and lived there until I was forty. My parents were seemingly successful although my mother was an alcoholic. We were raised by servants. My sister was six years older and she saw my parents as cold and lacking in love. I just thought they didn't want to be with me. That there was something wrong with me."

Here we can see the often observed legume delusion that there is something wrong with her and particularly Physostigma's feeling of being discarded or thrown away. You see this sentiment in Diane's description of her parents and how she experienced their attitude toward children. Because she was placed in the hands and care of servants rather than her parents she felt unwanted.

Diane continues: "My father was disapproving and controlling. The only way to survive was to play the game. He was a very wealthy man, very charming and dictatorial; someone I couldn't trust. He would say one thing and then do another. He would give you something and then take it away. There was no way out.... You couldn't ask directly, you would try to make him think it was his idea. So I couldn't ask for what I wanted nor could I go against his authority."

This idea that there is no way out is interesting in light of her feeling of being cast away. Here she feels trapped. The climbing vine seeking someplace to go and the only solution is to twist and turn so that the obstacle she is trying to maneuver around can be overcome. But she cannot move, she cannot exert her will and successfully ask and receive what she needs. This seems metaphorical to this disease of multiple sclerosis. And analogous to Physostigma, who has the feeling that their muscles do not respond to the will.

"My mother was just there, but not there. She didn't want to talk to you. Mother was an alcoholic by the time I was eleven. I couldn't count on her.

“I ran away from home and was married for sixteen years. I was nineteen when I had my first child and twenty-one and twenty-five for the other two. My husband was very gregarious and an alcoholic. I supported him and our three children those last years of our marriage.

“My second marriage lasted five years. Six months after the divorce I met my third husband. He spent all his time working and fixing. He'd bring coffee to you but he would never sit down. He wanted to work, I wanted to rest. After a year I decided to move to Seattle, [now] I have a lot of support...."

She is like the climbing vine seeking the strong support of something. Yet it doesn't support her. She finds herself in marriages where she is the primary provider, the one who maintains and sustains the relationship. We also see the theme of overwork and rest. All the plants in the Fabaceae family have the ability to fix nitrogen in the soil. The function of nitrogen is to increase growth of the leafy parts of the plant. These legumes essentially provide their own fertilizer. They are plants who do everything: grow and create fruits and flowers as well as build and replenish the soil they live in. Diane has overworked too. She has longed for support but has supported her husbands instead. And now she longs to rest, to enjoy a simple life.

"I now find [myself] keeping a lovely home. I fill it with flowers and then sit in a chair and read."

She fills her house with flowers and sits down to enjoy them. Scholten speaks of this trait. He says the remedies in the Fabaceae family long to enjoy life, a life without trouble or complication; one that is beautiful, clean and surrounded by the beauty of nature. And that this characteristic comes from the nitrogen element in the plant.

"My life before the diagnosis was very free. I learned a lot. I was with my second husband and we had no jobs, no money, really didn't know where the next dime was coming from."

This is the time when her first symptoms were expressed, a time when she felt unsure of the kind of support she could count on.

"The first symptoms were in my eyes. It came after an abortion, after the anesthesia. I couldn't focus my eyes and my peripheral vision was less. At first I didn't pay attention to it. Later I thought, "This is like I don't want to open my eyes, I don't want to look out. It was worse if I stood up and looked, I'd almost lose my balance."

"When I was little I was afraid to go to bed so I would leave the door open. I had all these colors in my eyes and I thought they were coming after me. I had nightmares for twenty years until [I was] forty. I saw a dark figure in a corner who I thought was trying to get me. I was terrorized. I'd wake my family up by screaming. Sometimes I'd get up and run."

It is interesting that Physostigma has many symptoms centered in the vision and eyes. Even at a young age we see Diane experiencing visual distortions and how she interprets them as menacing. The colors were after her and later this symptom evolves to become a dark figure. We see these symptoms in the repertory as "Vision; colors before the eyes" and "Delusions; sees spectres, ghosts and spirits". Later Diane experiences a blurring of her vision. Again we see this in the materia medica: "Vision as if there was a film over the eye." Her nightmares of a menacing figure occur during the time when her physical symptoms are in remission.

"My first symptoms came near my pregnancies in my twenties. I felt caught; I didn't want to be pregnant. But then the symptoms went away. Why did my symptoms come back at forty? It was the first time I was really free. But I couldn't find my place. Suddenly I had all this freedom at forty and what do I do but get MS. I thought, [now] I have an excuse to say ‘No’... it's rude [otherwise]. I just want to please people at the sacrifice of myself, I come last. I would bend over backwards to be nice. Otherwise you would be shunned. No one would want to be with you and I want people to be with me."

Diane feels caught again and can't directly create the life she desires. When she finally comes to a time in her life when she can create freedom and choose, she feels that she cannot find her place; she is waving in the wind like a loose tendril. She can't find it in herself to say "No." Instead she finds it easier to bend over backward to find her support and to avoid being shunned or cast away. Scholten has said that the legume family has a desire for help but that they feel that no one can, or will, help them.

Diane had a variety of confirmatory symptoms as well. Her numbness began in her left arm, as does Physostigma. She also disliked drinking cold water and had a history of constipation. I gave her Physostigma 200 on February 23, 1998.

She came back April 14 and reported, "I saw a great change even the first day. I felt more energetic and everything seemed much easier. I didn't want to sit down. I have better bladder control and my attitude is better. I have more energy to do things and better mental acuity. I feel happy."

On May 27 she stated "There is an overall wellness. I forget I can't walk as well as I think I can. My vision is pretty good, as is my balance. I have a little less dexterity in my left hand. I used to not be able to go anywhere because of the bladder problem. Now it is no problem."

September 2 she was having more trouble so I gave her Physostigma 1M. When she returned to the office on October 6 she reported "The remedy helped. I notice my bladder symptoms and energy are much improved."

March 9, 1999, she started to lag so I repeated Physostigma 1M again. She had had some dental work with Novocaine and it had fatigued her greatly. On June 1 she stated, "My bladder control is doing great and my immune system is much improved. I haven't had any herpes outbreaks and my energy is better. My spirits have been very good. My daughter had surgery so I had to travel to Boston to help her. It was a boost to know I could get along by myself. It is amazing to get past this fear."

October 25 I spoke with Diane again: "I feel so much better since I first came to see you. I was about to have a catheter inserted because my bladder problems had become so severe. But since taking this remedy the quality of my life has vastly improved. To have bladder control is wonderful!” Diane reports that she has not lost any dexterity or feeling in her limbs over the course of her treatment.

“I feel in a very good space now, more at ease and joyous about life. I am better at asking for what I want. I don't always get it but that is true for everybody. If I just let go, everything works out. Whatever is going to be, will be. I am less surprised when people want to be with me now. I am able to take that truth in and know I am a pleasure to be with. I feel more compassion for myself and others now and I live in that space of peace more and more."

Further follow  up to the case
December 21, 1999
I am having difficulty walking and my vision is not very good. It is harder to read and everything is blurred. Words fade in and out on the page. I have a macular hole.
P: Physostigma LM1

February 1, 2000
I’ve been doing amazingly well. I have very good energy, I have been swimming  again and my bladder symptoms are better. I haven’t had any herpes eruptions and my sleep has improved.
P: continue with remedy

October 18, 2004
I still hear from or see this patient on occasion. She continues taking the remedy, as needed, as an LM potency. Her mobility has maintained, as has her urinary function. She lives a full life.

Because multiple sclerosis is a progressively deteriorating disease, I am pleased with the progress to date with Diane. I feel we have brought some health back, though we still see some progression of the disease. I feel hopeful of further progress because of the healing she has done in the emotional sphere.

I believe that the main ways that Diane healed directly correspond with the center of this remedy. For me the essential emotional symptoms of Physostigma include the feeling of being cast away, the longing for support yet feeling undeserving and the tendency to overwork all the while longing for rest and simple beauty.

Diane felt cast aside by her parents and surprised when people would want to spend time with her. Now she knows people enjoy her and she embraces that truth. She used to feel undeserving of the help of others. Now she feels more able to ask for what she wants. She understands that at times she may receive this and other times not. But now when others choose not to help, she knows it is not about her or some wrong she has done. She believed in the past that she needed to overwork to get what she wanted. Now she accepts what the universe or her life provides.

Physostigma’s main expression on the physical level is seen in vision changes, palpitations, constipation and muscular numbness, weakness and paralysis, especially of the left arm. This weakness is common to the legume family as a whole. Lathyrus, Indigo, Baptisia and others all experience muscular weakness. The limitations of motility that are seen in this family of remedies are compelling because these plants survive by climbing. They need to move and wind their way to more light and greater space. These plants also have a need for support, as do the people who need these remedies. They long for someone to depend on yet feel so undeserving. They are hopeless of ever receiving help, often because they feel they have done some wrong. And because they feel undeserving they must overfunction or work harder to secure the support they need. In the plant we see this in their ability to provide their own fertilizer. In the patient we see this over functioning juxtaposed to their longing for a simple life, a life that will restore their sense of beauty and nurturance.

Published in American Homeopath, 2000

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Ducks Are Back!

Yes, the ducks are back. It is hard to tell if they are the same pair as last year, but they come everyday to swim around the pond. They seem to coordinate with the raccoon as they are never there at the same time.

And Zooey has been enjoying them as well...
she imagines great stalking adventures when
they are swimming about. She is also enjoying the garden, on our rare sunny days

Monday, December 13, 2010


Homeopathy is burdened by magical expectations. Patients, students and practitioners often find themselves expecting miracles from the ingestion of a single dose of a remedy. Surely, they hope, this medicine transfused with the essence of a substance could heal the deepest and most troubled aspects of their souls. But what is truly possible? What can we hope for, or expect, from homeopathic medicine?

I have little doubt that in most cases of physical complaints-–eczema, asthma and irritable bowel, for example--homeopathy does quite well. I have seen ‘‘miracles’’ - in the sense that something that was so troubling to a patient, often unmitigated by other treatments for years and years, responds beautifully, and effortlessly, to a homeopathic remedy. These are daily occurrences in my practice.

More serious illness such as cancers, diabetes insipidus or Parkinsons do respond to homeopathic medicine, although the treatment requires more time, patience and skill on the part of the practitioner. The most important contribution of homeopathic medicine is to improve the quality of life, especially in these serious pathologies. This is one of the greatest gifts that homeopathy can provide.

How quickly the body heals is often dependent upon how long the patient has had the complaint, how much suppressive therapy has been given in the past and how strong the patient’s vital force is. Typically, a patient with eczema of 30 years will take longer to heal than the patient whose skin eruption began just 5 years earlier. And the patient who has received years of cortico-steroids will heal less quickly than the one who has had none. Furthermore, the patient who is 20 will generally heal quicker than the patient who is 80. Of course, there are many other factors to be considered, but these are generalities that hold true, in my experience.

But what of the deeper, emotional symptoms that can plague us? Depression, or chronic bitterness and anger, shyness or wild impulsiveness, loneliness and feelings of isolation, or the state of dependency and anxiety. These complaints are usually manifestations of character structure, expressions of the personality, with roots reaching back to earliest childhood. I explain to my patients that there are certain ‘‘symptoms’’ that homeopathy will not change, nor should. We do not want to change the essence of the inner nature of the person; rather we want to help them be their best selves.

For example, I will always be an introvert. That I can become a healthier, freer, and more joyful introvert is a result of some combination of many things: living more consciously and thoughtfully, seeking psychotherapy, and being loved and received. Can a homeopathic remedy change an introvert into an extrovert? I do not think so. Instead, it may free some of the associated impediments, opening a door to greater comfort. But an introvert I will always be, if it is my true nature.

I often see patients with symptoms of depression. Some are a result of family circumstances where there has been serious neglect or abandonment. Others are due to unfortunate life setbacks with work or divorce. Those patients who have a healthy relationship with Eros, and whose depression is more circumstantial do quite well with a homeopathic remedy, which can lift them out of their unhappiness. Those who suffered early from an absence of love, and who feel life offers little pleasure, will not be ‘lifted’ per se, but expanded to embrace Eros and life. But to what extent does a remedy play a part in the patient’s healing-- versus the therapeutic relationship with the homeopath?

I feel these passages or transformations occur in relationship-- not only through the influence of a homeopathic remedy. An eczema or asthma may respond quite well outside of this dyadic influence but these deeper, emotional states require more help. I can easily imagine giving a patient a good remedy for eczema and placing them on a deserted island fully expecting them to get better. But I do not imagine this to be true of the patient who is suffering from depression or from a compulsive disorder. These patients need to be in relationship; they need the relational field to heal.

Let us consider another example. I have treated patients whose relationship to the world is one of irritation and anger-- a feeling that they are ill-treated by the world. I do not expect them to become excessively cheerful or optimistic people with a remedy, but I do expect that through their healing, both from remedy and relationship, that they will understand their responsibility to themselves and others to create changes in their lives. That by loving themselves and loving others, by forgiving themselves and forgiving others, they begin to experience the world as brighter and richer. This occurs because of both influences of the remedy and the relationship.

In addition to these changes I also see a rebalancing as they heal. The angry patient may become more depressed, for a short time, as they realize the pain and suffering they have caused others. The depressed patient may become angry as they shift their self-destructive tendencies towards assertiveness and away from timidity. While the anxious patient may find that depression lies beneath the surface of their distracting worries and fears, these are all temporary swings of the pendulum as the patient rebalances--embracing a healthier tonal quality.

Homeopathy is a magnificent tool for healing - a gentle process that can offer profound relief and that can create a field of support that encircles both the patient and practitioner. When this occurs we do find magic. The magic of restored health.