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Newsletter of Penn Dutch Cow Care December 2010

Hi Folks,

This month I’d like to take a look at homeopathy and explain it as I’ve come to know it. Then you can decide if homeopathic remedies fit with the way you know your cows. It is with homeopathic remedies that I got my start working in applying natural treatments. Recall that two months ago I looked at different levels of proof in regards to considering which modes of therapy are worthwhile. In a very real sense, the field of homeopathic therapy stands in stark contrast to standard scientific approaches to testing medicines for effectiveness. Why? Done correctly, homeopathy is a highly individualized method of treatment. It should not be applied mechanically (except possibly on the purely physical/organ level). This contrasts with conventional medicine whose approach is to name a disease and apply a medicine. At its core, a homeopathic remedy is used only after an extremely thorough evaluation of the patient is undertaken. The evaluation should include not just physical symptoms and the obvious disease name. Just as important to the physical symptoms are describing such things as to the time of day symptoms occur, the side of the body affected, the kind of weather (humidity, dryness, etc) which either aggravates or alleviates the symptoms, the action of cold or warmth upon the patient (better or worse), etc. To arrive at the truly correct remedy means also taking into account emotional and psychological symptoms. For instance, the ease or difficulty which the patient may show feelings of sympathy for others (or not), the kinds and intensity of dreams they may have (vivid or not), thoughts that come and go at different times of day, etc.

Once all the symptoms have been collected, the prescriber then must decide which remedy to use for the specific situation. The prescriber can either utilize a repertory or needs to know the materia medica in fine detail.  While using a repertory will help sort out remedies by matching more peculiar symptoms to different remedies listed, it is accepted that the prescriber’s depth of knowledge about remedies in the materia medica is most important. Why? When using a repertory it is a rather straight forward but enormous process of sorting symptoms and matching remedies – for which computer programs have actually been designed. However, a truly good homeopath will know remedies in such fine detail that each remedy essentially takes on its own character, painting a picture of itself that will match the patient and the symptoms. This is what is called constitutional prescribing and is at the heart of homeopathy.

The complete symptom picture of any remedy – whether described at the physical, emotional and psychological level - is done via “provings”. Provings are undertaken by healthy volunteers who take the crude material (from which the homeopathic remedy is to be derived) and keep a journal, detailing in excruciating detail everything they experience physically, emotionally and psychologically at various times of day, at various elevations of land (sea, hills, mountains), with different weather conditions (storms, wind, rain, sun, heat, dampness), different sides of the body and so on. Then all the provers’ journals are collected and all symptoms get recorded. Common symptoms among all the provers give added weight a specific symptom associated with the remedy; however, odd and peculiar ones are especially critical in that those symptoms will likely pinpoint the remedy for future use in a patient.
Obviously, true homeopathy is an intensely individualized way of treating a patient.

The next step is where people usually get hung up on homeopathy and really wonder what’s going: the potency of dose. While the potency is important, it is not as important as selecting which exact remedy to use. The remedy itself is always the most crucial since the symptoms created by the crude material is what creates the symptom picture of the potentized homeopathic remedy. After all, a fundamental principle of homeopathy is that “like cures like”. So while dosage is important its not as critical as matching the symptoms of the patient with those that the crude remedy creates in the original provers. And while dosage is critical in all medicinal treatment types (conventional, botanical, etc), it is only in homeopathy that the more diluted and succussed (shaken) a substance becomes, the more potent it becomes. This is exactly where people do not understand this method of medicine. Granted it can take a leap of faith – but then again, don’t all medical methods at some point?

In making a homeopathic remedy from a plant source, it will steep in alcohol for a couple of weeks. The resulting liquid is the mother tincture. Taking one part of the mother tincture and adding 9 parts of alcohol and vigorously shaking will yield a 1X remedy. Taking one part of the 1X remedy and adding another 9 parts of alcohol and vigorously shaking will yield a 2X remedy. Repeating this on and on yields a more potent remedy (more potent in homeopathic thinking). This process can alternatively use one part of mother tincture to which 99 parts of alcohol are added, yielding a 1C remedy, etc. The number in front of the roman numeral tells how many times the process took place and the roman numeral tells you the dilution of each step (X =1 in 10; C =1 in 100). As the solutions become more and more diluted, at some point there no longer remains any of the original starting material. Thus above 12C (30C, 200C) and above 24X (30X, 200X) the essence or the energy of the original staring material is all that remains. This is really the level where homeopathy acts best upon those peculiar symptoms that the prescriber had originally recorded from observing the patient and recording the history of symptoms. High potencies like 200C are best used for either very individualized symptoms or to “finish off” a problem that a lower potency seems to be making better but need to get across the finish line.

It should be pointed out that it is well accepted by classically trained homeopaths that the lower potencies (1X, 2X, 4X, 4C, 6C, 8C) are more appropriate for physical symptoms. And this is what I prefer to use on cattle – after figuring out which remedies fit the symptom picture presented in the barn. If 3 to 4 symptoms can be described, an appropriate remedy can usually be selected. Remember, selection of the correct remedy is always the most crucial aspect of treating with homeopathic remedies. Since the potency consideration is less important than remedy selection, I like to use the selected remedy in combination potency (1X, 2X, 4X, 12C, 30C, and 200C combined equally) in order to get some of the original starting material as well as the energetic essences of 12C and above.

Taking a look back over the long run, starting when I was mapping soil in the early 1980’s, I would observe and get to know the plants in the landscape and then was drawn to plants used as herbs for medicine. Combining that with learning and applying homeopathic remedies as a herdsman, I have felt completely at ease for many years with natural medicine remedies – knowing them inside and out – knowing when (and when not) to apply them. While I have wrestled with dose and potency in homeopathy (eventually settling upon the multi-potency combinations), I have always been drawn to the thoroughness and descriptions of remedies in the materia medica. I consider homeopathy an old friend, one who I may not always understand but one who I know well. For me, it is interesting to observe people and animals, sensing their constitutional being, intuitively “seeing” them as they are and then, if need be, reaching for one of my long time friends to help heal them. (I don’t heal others, that alone is for the Holy Spirit). Indeed, matching a remedy’s complete character to the core level of a patient is when homeopathy’s remedies - dilute yet energetic - can yield the most beneficial results. 

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