Remedies for better health
For many years classical homeopathic medicines have been recognised as a safe and effective means of treating ailments, serious and minor, in humans and animals alike. Essentially it's a natural healing process, providing remedies to assist the patient to regain health by stimulating the body's natural forces of recovery. It concentrates on treating the patient, not the disease. Christopher Day, Hon. Secretary of the BAHVS, explains.
When we study the vast armoury presently available in modern drug medicine, we may not realise that the staggering leap in medical technology have taken place in a relatively short time. The concept which stimulated and continues to drive the constant search for ideal drugs dates from 1906 and the actual weapons from twenty years later.
He soon realised, however, that his dream of some manufactured chemical having these marvellous properties was perhaps a little unrealistic. He saw anti-bodies as being the archetypal example, but these were natural substances manufactured by the body, not a laboratory.
Nevertheless, this seductive dream drove researchers forward, and it must have seemed like a dream-come-true when Penicillin emerged in 1929. Here was a chemical which selectively destroyed bacteria but which was only minimally harmful to a few patients.
Since that day, modern medicine has produced a vast array of drugs in the search for Ehrlich's 'Magic Bullet'. Many are anti-biotics like Penicillin, many are aimed directly at reversing specific cellular processes. Despite modern medicine's creditable achievements, however, the 'Magic bullet' has not been found but the search goes on. More and more drugs are being tried and produced but sadly not one of these creations is totally without side effects. Even vaccination is not considered entirely free of adverse effects. Happily most modern drugs have very few harmful effects and, of these, most are fairly minor. The wholesale disasters of lethal drugs are thankfully very few and far between.
In the veterinary context, these side effects are, by and large, considered less important than in the human because of the animal's relatively short lifespan compared with human longevity. Antibiotics are, however, constantly running into bacterial resistance problems, necessitating the development of new ones. Also, tissue residues and milk residues in our food animals and residues of drugs in sporting performers are a very real problem, causing large scale financial losses in the respective industries and possible dangers to the consumer.
Alternative Medical Methods
This theory did not come out of thin air but as a result of an experiment upon himself with Cinchona Bark, the material which gives us Quinine which is still successfully used against malaria to this day. He tried to discover how this substance was able to be very effective against malaria when most of the contemporary medicines in use for any purpose were, at best, ineffective, at worst lethal. The only satisfactory and meaningful way he could find to research on it, in those days of primitive science, was by taking the substance himself. What he found formed the basis of his new medical theories. He found that, on taking the substance, he developed symptoms similar to malaria. When he stopped, the symptoms subsided. This he repeated several times over, satisfactorily to prove cause and effect to himself. He also confirmed this effect in other people. He then studied some 70 other remedies in students and other healthy volunteers as 'guinea pigs'. What he developed was a formidable array of substances to help him combat disease in a powerful and humane way, totally without side effects.
He later found that his substances became more potent curatively and had less power to do harm as he serially diluted them, subjecting the solutions to succussion (violent mixing) at each stage of dilution. He postulated that the process of dilution/succussion harnessed the 'vital energy' of the substances and when we study the most frequently used dilutions, we are forced to agree with him for the concentrations are, in fact, sub-molecular!
At these dilutions, it is easy to concede that homeopathic medicines have no power to produce side effects. What is not so easy to accept is that they can have any curative effect at all. Happily, results obtained by Hahnemann and his followers fighting against typhoid and cholera, the great epidemic killers of the 19th century, give us all the evidence we need. Their results would be considered creditable, even in these days of powerful anti-biotics and supportive therapy despite their lack of knowledge of bacteria.
Hahnemann's method was strangely simple in that he selected remedies, for the cure of a patient, which had the power to produce similar symptoms in a healthy body, hence the name Homeopathy' which derives from the Greek meaning 'similar to the disease.'
A Holistic Approach
If we take as an example the named acute disease - Kennel Cough, we can illustrate how different remedies may be needed depending not upon identifying the causal organism but upon the patient's own reaction to the disease, the symptoms. We must study the individual patient's reaction not so much the viruses or bacteria. In the same boarding kennel during the same outbreak (therefore presumably the same virus or bacterial challenge in each case), we may need at least five different remedies to match the differing symptoms in the various patients:-
Further possible remedies also with distinguishing characteristics are Ipecauanha, Drosera and Coccus.
Many more concomitant symptoms for each remedy may exist in each of these patients, e.g. diarrhoea or sickness, again each with its own characteristic variations, all these needing to be taken into account when prescribing. Over and above each of these remedies, we could also prescribe the 'specific' homeopathic treatment for Kennel Cough - the nosode - which may also be used for prevention prior to outbreaks.
To illustrate this concept, let us look at a recurring cystitis problem, in a given dog. This is not a state where new acute infections occur at each occasion but more a constitutional predisposition to the cystitis state, with acute episodes. To match a remedy to the bloody urine, repeated squatting or leg-cocking, painful urination etc. one would probably arrive at Cantharis but, whereas this remedy may produce alleviation, its use may not cure the underlying problem. One will need, alone or in addition, a deep constitutional remedy chose from the powerful and wide acting 'polycrests' (the name given to the remedies which affect all parts of the body.) This may be Arsenicum, Calc. carb., Causticum, Lycopodium, Nux vomica, Pulsatilla, Sulphur, etc. These remedies are described in great detail in homeopathic books and their 'pictures' need to be compared to that of the patient in order to find a match. This is the method by which one arrives at deep and lasting cures.
A further use of homeopathic medicine, already hinted at, is in the prevention of specific diseases by use of the 'nosodes.' These are medicines prepared from infective disease material, or actual organisms, diluted and potentised in the customary, previously described manner so that no substance remains in the solution. (There is, therefore, no infective potential in these medicines nor are they, strictly speaking, vaccines in which one would expect to find demonstrable antigentic material.) These medicines can then be used in preventive programmes, in much the same way as vaccines, both prior to and in the face of outbreaks of specific infectious disease. Examples are Kennel Cough, Canine Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Leptospirosis.
In all cases, where any of the above specific diseases states is actually present, one does not need to be blocked or overawed by the fact that a specific named disease is involved because normal homeopathic prescribing, with or without concurrent nosode therapy, can be very beneficial or even achieve a cure alone. The example of the principles and method of prescribing for the differing cough symptoms described above can just as easily applied to the vomiting and diarrhea of Canine Parvovirus. Remedies frequently used in diarrhea and vomiting are: Aloe, Antimonium crudum, Arsenicum, Mercurius, Nat. sulph., Phosphorus, Podophyllum, Pulsatilla, Rheum, etc. In all instances, the character of the diarrhea or vomit, the way it affects the patient and the concomitant symptoms all influence the choice of remedy. It is interesting to note in passing that 'virus' diseases may be favourably treated by homeopathy whereas conventional medicine has little to offer against these agents. Acute Parvovirus is a very serious disease, however, and in addition one may be required to give fluid therapy but the principles apply and homeopathic treatment can greatly enhance the chances of recovery.
Other remedies include:-
One can, therefore, see that homeopathy, far from being simply a first aid/do-it-yourself system of treatment or a system of 'quack' medicine, is in fact, a complete system of medicine able to tackle all medical problems, from the trivial to the serious, completely without side effects. This accounts for its increasing popularity with veterinary surgeons for they are constantly searching for the best form of treatment of the disease. Homeopathy has long been the province of keen do-it-yourself owner for first aid situations both because of its innate safety and because of the shortage of veterinary surgeons using it but there has hitherto been little application of it in cases of serious disease. This situation is rapidly changing with more and more veterinary surgeons joining the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons and taking up the challenge of homeopathy. Rather than trying to tackle serious disease yourself, it is, therefore, preferable to seek veterinary advice on the subject.
© C. Day 1992
He believes in natural dog feeding and has written a book on the subject.