April 12, 2011

On Making the Family Whole

For many years as a homeopathic medical doctor I have been privileged to see how profoundly homeopathic care impacts the family system. I have witnessed firsthand the strengthening of family bonds, intimacy, harmony, and well-being, even if only one family member undergoes a course of homeopathic treatment. This connection between family health and homeopathy is even more impressive as more family members participate. Even in the absence of individual or family counseling or other therapeutic support, homeopathy’s impact extends far beyond the individual being treated. As our own vitality, health and well-being evolves it effects our family, friends, and close contacts who surround us.

A common misconception surrounding homeopathy is that it is similar, in one way or another, to the fields of herbalism, acupuncture, nutrition and vitamin therapies, and the like. However, homeopathy is actually quite distinct. Homeopathy works spiritually, never physically. It addresses causes, not symptoms. By working spiritually, it strengthens vitality directly and shifts one’s healing in the direction of personal growth and evolution.

By alleviating disturbances on the spiritual level, disease symptoms previously experienced tend to disappear. It is as if by healing the spirit we become whole on every level. Instead of suppressing symptoms and putting band-aids on people’s problems, homeopathy opens the door, in amazing and even magical ways, to the kind of deep healing most of us long for. Ultimately good homeopathic care allows us to be our true selves, to become who we are meant to be.

When I first met Donna she was a single mother with an unwanted four-year-old daughter, Tara, born out of wedlock. Tara had frequent colds, bronchitis, ear infections and behavior problems consistent with a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Donna brought her daughter to me because she heard that homeopathy offered a holistic approach that could eventually lead to a real cure of her daughter’s diverse problems. She was also interested in the fact that this might be achieved without any of the toxicity or side effects of standard medications. She heard that homeopathy was completely safe, even for pregnant women and young children.

At their first visit, I learned much about Tara ‘s disruptive and hard to control behaviors, which only worsened with each cold and ear infection. She was impossible to discipline, broke things during her regular and unpredictable temper tantrums, refused to go to bed at night, and woke up very early the next morning! Prior to Tara’s birth, her mother had enjoyed a successful career as a sales account executive, and since Tara ‘s birth has bemoaned the endless demands and duties of motherhood, especially as a single mom with a “very difficult child.” I could see the resentment painted all over the mother’s face.

Donna had a string of failed relationships. She considered herself self-centered, depressive and disappointed in life. Her personality was somewhat aggressive, and she tended to find men whom she could dominate. She quickly lost respect for the men she dated, and the father of her current child was no exception. Her unhealthy personality translated into a pattern of failed intimacy and a disconnection with her own instincts as a mother. “In general,” she told me, “I dislike kids. They think the world is all about them; they have no right to demand anything.” She went on to add, “The essence of me is not a mother.”

I proceeded to evaluate the daughter, and recommended a homeopathic remedy and treatment plan. Nevertheless, I felt the mother would also benefit from a good remedy, especially with regard to her lack of any real bonding with her daughter. With the help of her remedy, Donna’s daughter began to improve on all counts. At this point, Donna decided to try homeopathy for herself because of the virtually miraculous results Tara was having. She was glad that she did.

After two years of treatment, it would be hard to recognize Donna. She was not the same woman and mother who desperately sought to make her daughter a “tolerable inconvenience.” Donna became happy. She had found a husband and partner, not one she would come to alienate, but a strong, mature person whom she could respect and with whom she could build a life.

One day Donna called to announce she had exciting news: she was pregnant with her second child. She was elated. She had long since become attached and quite fond of Tara , whose behavior problems were so transformed that she was no longer bringing her in to see me. Tara had become a healthy girl, still very energetic, but without all the sharp edges and unruly patterns of previous years. Her constant colds, coughs, and ear infections also completely resolved. “Your remedies have saved my life, and my daughter’s,” her mother remarked at one of her last visits. “I cannot believe the person I have become. I am a happy mother and I am happy with my life.”

This story is by no means unusual for me. Since the founding of homeopathy over 200 years ago, its principles and tenets have been applied to millions of people worldwide who have benefited from a higher quality of life. While the mechanisms of action of homeopathic treatment remains poorly understood, the results of its application are quite reproducible, verifiable and often astounding.

In essence, homeopathy is medicine for the human spirit, for the vital force. Samuel Hahnemann, homeopathy’s founder, asserted that the vital force rules the material body with “unbounded sway.” When disturbed, the vital force cannot maintain the physical being in harmonious accord, as it is meant to do by nature. When our life energies come under attack, every part of us is affected, mind, body, and emotions. As a result, we begin to manifest illness on all levels. We become limited in the full and free expression of who we really are and are meant to be. Without a free flowing vitality, we cannot be truly well. Perhaps more importantly, we cannot be our full selves, free to discover and pursue our higher purpose in life.

As a master homeopath I know this. I use homeopathic remedies to remove obstacles to the vital force and thus to strengthen it. Remedies have the ability to free the vital force from the ravaging effects of the forces that have been limiting it. Once restored to a more healthy state, the vital force is able to restore health and balance to the whole living organism. The result is one tends to grow and evolve more rapidly, manifesting his or her own true nature, full of energy and creativity.

Patients tell me this time and time again: “I never knew I could feel this well again.” Or, “I finally feel like my real self. I haven’t felt this way since I was a young child.” Or, “it is hard to believe, but my life has never been better.”

Most people come to homeopaths with the hope of removing some symptom or another, or to address some specific diagnosis or chronic illness, like asthma or allergies, skin problems, bowel problems, migraines, depression, phobias, hormonal issues like menopause or PMS, and more. They come for all those conditions that modern medicine can only manage and suppress, but never cure. Although the homeopathic remedies only treat the spirit level, most of the time these conditions do get better and go away after my treatments.

But people successfully treated with homeopathy come away with much more. Indeed, many become aware of a previously unseen or unexpected potential within themselves. Instead of hoping to simply feel better, they begin to see all the possibilities of life. Rather than a mere removal of symptoms, as painful and debilitating as they might be, often people begin to experience a personal unfolding that surpasses their initial expectations, well beyond what they could have imagined.

This evolution of self has a dramatic effect on one’s surroundings. We are not islands unto ourselves. We exist in multiple webs of enlarging influences. As the world is an extension of nations and societies, so the family is an extension of individuals. The family system is open and malleable. Individuals, with their diverse nature and energies, influence directly and indirectly the shape and form of the family unit. When one family member is ill, the whole family suffers, either to a lesser or greater degree. When one person changes, it necessarily causes changes in the whole family.

Diane suffered with chronic PMS. She spent the first half of her month recovering from her period, and the second half preparing for the one to come. Her moods were so unstable that she found it hard to like anyone in her family, especially her husband. Her children seemed always to misbehave and she complained about them and her husband all the time, usually over trivial things. She had little sex drive, found mothering a chore sometimes too difficult to cope with, and honestly felt that her husband treated her badly, in spite of being aware that she was also very ill. She was convinced that he no longer respected her.

She came to homeopathy after every conventional treatment either didn’t work or whose side effects became intolerable. Although hormonal treatment modalities were effective, she was frightened of the potential impact it might have on her fertility later on and on her risk of cancer. It wasn’t many months after starting homeopathic treatment that she noticed a few interesting changes. Yes, her monthly cycles were becoming much more tolerable. But of more significance was her observation that her husband started being nicer to her! “You would have thought that it was he who was taking the remedy,” she remarked, laughing. She also noticed that she was becoming more patient with her children. Their time spent together was becoming much more pleasant and enjoyable, even fun.

Diane was just beginning to understand how interrelated her energy was to the rest of her family members. As her own energy began to shift, manifested by less pain and discomfort, better moods, and a more hopeful outlook, she also became a more tolerable person to live with. Even more, energetically she became a more attractive mate, probably more like the woman her husband had remembered marrying. Her children responded by behaving better, even though she hadn’t really changed the discipline or routines in the home.

Sometimes, parents come to homeopathy through witnessing the positive changes that occur for their child, and for the beneficial effects such changes bring to the family. Other times, parents are the ones who come first, and later want their children to receive all the same gifts of restored health and vitality and the prevention or elimination of serious or chronic illness. What many families discover is that once one family member experiences a transformation of their health and spirit for the better, it often has a beneficial action on everyone else, as was so clearly observed in the case above.

However, healing and strengthening the individual does not always lead to strengthening of the family. There are instances when marriages do split apart while both parents are under treatment. At times it becomes clear that the husband and wife have real substantive differences, and that perhaps they were not a good match to begin with. Other times, homeopathic treatment will strengthen a person’s resolve to leave a dysfunctional situation and move forward in life. After becoming more healthy and clear about one’s real needs and priorities, some people become unwilling to wait and hope that their partners will grow and evolve to a point they can live with. So they divorce.

But even in these instances, it seems that the use of remedies smoothes the painful transitions of family upheaval, whether from divorce, or some other trauma, such as death, serious illness or injury. In most instances, healing with remedies tends to bring out more long term good for the individual and the family than any perceived harm in the short term.

It is clear from my many years of applying the principles of homeopathy with my patients that when homeopathy is applied correctly and judiciously, people’s health and lives begin to blossom. I have found it quite gratifying to play a role in the improvement of my patients’ health, including the actual resolution and disappearance of what my more conventional allopathic counterparts have labeled incurable chronic disease of all kinds, even very serious ones.

Yet what is even more extraordinary to ponder is the growing evidence that homeopathy has an influence far more reaching than the health of the individual alone. When individuals heal, their families benefit. Healthy families are the foundation of a healthy society. As we are all inter-related and connected by the web of life, homeopathy offers real hope for making our families whole and, by extension, for healing our world, one person at a time.