articles / news
issue of Homeopathy Today | September 2004
by Eric Udell, ND
Treatment Options | January, 2008
by Tutti Gould, DC, ND read article
Homeopathy Today | January/February 2007
by Jill Harris read article
The Arizona Republic | July 3, 2003
by Brent Miles read article
Cases from the Clinic - A matter of the heart. Pain, palpitations, pressure, grief … & relief!
issue of Homeopathy Today | September 2004
by Eric Udell, ND
Presented in the following pages are two recent cardiac cases from the clinic at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. The first case, Dr. Udell’s, demonstrates the effectiveness of homeopathy with a common combination of conditions: arrhythmia and arterial hypertension. In addition, he uses this case to elucidate an important homeopathic principle, which is sometimes not well understood: the concept of a “complete symptom.” I encourage you to study it well, because a thorough understanding of this concept leads to more successful prescribing. The second case (mine) illustrates that homeopathy can sometimes effectively treat even the most serious pathologies. I hope you enjoy reading them. — Stephen A. Messer, ND, DHANP, Homeopathy Department Chair, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine
I first met Jane, a lovely retired woman in her early seventies, when she visited our student clinical rotation at Southwest Naturopathic Medical Center. She was complaining of heart palpitations and chest pain, which she’d been having for several months, as well as episodes of anxiety and depression. She had been previously diagnosed with mild hypertension (high blood pressure), left ventricular hypertrophy (enlargement of the heart), and a cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heart beat).
High blood pressure and anxiety
Jane had been prescribed an ACE inhibitor (a drug commonly used for hypertension or heart failure) by an osteopathic physician. Later, another naturopathic physician had prescribed two natural products in place of the ACE inhibitor—a magnesium supplement and an herbal/nutritional combination product that included the herbs hawthorne berry (Crataegus oxyacantha), which is used as a heart tonic, and Indian snake root (Rauwolfia serpentia), which lowers blood pressure. Though she felt a bit better than she did before these treatments, Jane continued to have episodes of chest discomfort, palpitations, and elevated blood pressure. We learned from Jane that she had experienced depression at various times throughout her life, but had refused treatment by a psychiatrist, saying, “That isn’t for me.”
As Jane spoke with the senior medical student taking her homeopathic case, we learned there were no real patterns to her palpitations or chest pain. The chest pain was felt on the left side just over her heart. She described it as a tightness, as if her chest was being squeezed. Both of these sensations seemed to appear and disappear at random. One thing was certain—whenever she experienced either of these symptoms, she would become anxious. When the chest pain began initially, she feared that she might have a stroke. She was afraid of the many medical tests, as well as the thought of surgery. Though she no longer felt she would die from her condition, her anxiety would still become prominent when she experienced these cardiac symptoms.
An old grief rekindled
Perhaps the most intriguing bit of information we learned from Jane was that she believed the onset of her symptoms had caused her to begin grieving again for her husband, who had died nine years earlier. She found herself looking at old photographs every day and said she could sense that he was around her. She began feeling guilty that she had not been more considerate of him when he was suffering from heart problems many years ago. She felt she was not as compassionate as she could have been, and she blamed herself for it. She said she thought that she had dealt with his death already but admitted that perhaps in the past she had just “pushed back” the emotions.
After studying Jane’s case, the students and I agreed that the most striking or characteristic symptoms were those related to her husband’s death. She was suffering from grief and had begun to dwell on the past. Furthermore, feeling guilty about the way she had treated him, she had become self-reproaching. These symptoms were most characteristic to us because they were the strongest symptoms in the case. As we like to say on our clinical rotation, these symptoms were “the main thing” when the case was examined in its totality. They were also symptoms that had arisen together with her heart symptoms, making them concomitant to her cardiac complaints. (Concomitant = existing or occurring concurrently; associated). These emotional symptoms and their relationship to Jane’s cardiac complaints served to create a complete (or well-qualified) symptom that would lead us to a secure and confident homeopathic prescription.
Sturdy, three-legged stools
This idea of complete, well-qualified symptoms deserves further commentary because it is an important concept that is often misunderstood or overlooked by beginning students of homeopathy. Hahnemann tells us in Aphorism 153 of the Organon that general and indefinite symptoms deserve little attention, unless—and this is the important part—they are more precisely qualified. What does he mean by precisely qualified? This important question was clearly and eloquently answered by two of Hahnemann’s greatest disciples, Constantine Hering and Maria Clemens von Boenninghausen. Hering’s approach describes the four characteristics that together make a complete and well-qualified symptom. These four characteristics are said to have been written on the blackboard at the famous Allentown Academy. They include: 1) sensation; 2) localities or tissues; 3) conditions or modalities; 4) concomitants. Hering tells us that, just as three points of rest will mathematically support any object (think of a stool with at least three legs versus a stool with only one or two), at least three of these four characteristics elicited in a patient’s case will serve to make a cure very probable.
In Jane’s case, we now knew at least three of these characteristics. She experienced palpitations and squeezing pain (sensation); on the left side of her chest at her heart (location and tissues); and with these sensations she suffered ailments from grief, dwelling on past disagreeable occurrences, self-reproach, and guilt (concomitants). This scheme could be reworked with the anxiety and depression symptoms as the sensation and the cardiac symptoms as the concomitants. Either way, we had complete, well-qualified symptoms that should lead us to an accurate prescription. In further examining the case, we also knew that Jane had a strong desire for salt, was intolerant of the sun, and that she distinctly disliked sympathy (conditions or modalities).
As she told us, “I don’t want people to pity me.”
A remedy that works The totality of these characteristic symptoms clearly pointed to the remedy Natrum muriaticum, which we prescribed in the 6c potency to be taken twice daily until her follow-up appointment in 3 weeks. Natrum muriaticum is a well-known remedy for people ailing from unresolved grief who manifest that grief by dwelling on unpleasant or painful events in their past, often leading them to feelings of guilt and self-criticism. When they are feeling this way, they tend to want to be left alone and do not wish to be consoled or given sympathy. Among the strongest physical general symptoms for Natrum muriaticum are an aversion to the heat of the sun and sunlight, and a strong craving for salty foods. Equally important, Natrum muriaticum is capable of producing profound effects on the heart, including constricting chest pain and heart palpitations.
When Jane returned three weeks later, she felt much improved. She had experienced no chest discomfort or palpitations since our last visit. She also shared with us that she did not find herself dwelling on her late husband nor blaming herself for the way she had treated him. She was less anxious about her health and found herself craving salt and sweets less frequently. Her blood pressure was normal. We asked her to continue Natrum muriaticum 6c twice daily and return in 4 weeks.
Four weeks later Jane reported that she had recently begun to experience the chest pain again, accompanied by fear and anxiety. Her blood pressure was still normal. She had no other new symptoms. We decided that she was no longer reacting to Natrum muriaticum 6c, but that her case was still well covered by this same remedy. For this reason, we gave her a higher potency of Natrum muriaticum, instructing her to take the 30c potency twice daily.
When Jane returned four weeks later, all of her symptoms had improved. She had no chest pain or palpitations and was not dwelling on her past at all. Her blood pressure was normal. She has continued this way in the five months that have followed without any further changes to her remedy. In fact, her blood pressure has started to become a little too low, and we will be recommending to the other naturopathic physician managing her case that she discontinue the blood pressure-lowering supplement previously prescribed, as she no longer appears to need it. Jane continues to take the homeopathic remedy twice daily, and we currently speak with her for follow-up evaluations every eight weeks. At some point in the near future, if she continues to improve, we will have her discontinue the homeopathic remedy altogether and just continue to monitor her condition. This method of dosing the remedy daily was originally developed by the renowned Argentine homeopath, Francisco X. Eizayaga, MD, and is carried on by his three sons in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Healing body and mind
This case is an excellent example of the power of homeopathic treatment to correct health problems of both a physical and psychological character. Jane improved as a whole person. The case also demonstrates what Hahnemann stated clearly and emphatically in Aphorism 153 of the Organon: the “characteristic signs and symptoms in the case are especially, almost exclusively, those to which close attention should be given …” Though Jane came to see us complaining of symptoms of cardiovascular disease and, for the most part, dismissed her depression as minor, the most characteristic symptoms in her case were those related to her unresolved grief over her husband’s death. Once the characteristic symptoms were recognized through careful and thorough case-taking, the selection of the homeopathic remedy was not difficult, and Jane’s health was restored rapidly and gently.
Anxiety problem grows
Tribune | February 5, 2005
by ERIN REEP
Insomnia, anxious thoughts, worry and a feeling of being "on edge" were beginning to control Alan Bailey’s life two years ago.
Bailey realized he couldn’t concentrate at work, and found it increasingly difficult to sleep.
He was later diagnosed with a combination of anxiety disorder and depression.
"I felt like it was interfering with my life in general," said Bailey, 41, of Apache Junction. "I wasn’t as productive at work as I used to be, and I felt it was affecting me socially."
While recent studies show anxiety disorder more commonly affects women, some East Valley doctors said they’re treating more men then ever before.
Dr. Tim Schwaiger, a homeopathic physician and director of the Southwest Naturopathic Medical Center in Scottsdale, said it may be that increased pressure to perform at work in today’s society, the stress of balancing work and family, are bringing men to their physicians to seek help.
Common signs of generalized anxiety are restlessness, insomnia, irritability, having feelings of "being on edge," and lack of concentration, Schwaiger said.
"People with anxiety problems find that their mind wanders, or they can’t concentrate on things too well," he said.
As in Bailey’s case, it is time to seek help when a person finds the anxious thoughts, fears or worries are beginning to control his actions, said Dr. Kirk Strawn, a family practitioner with CIGNA Medical Group.
"If the anxiety is causing you to change what you do — to avoid situations, activities, whatever the fear is based on, it’s a concern," he said.
Dr. Eric Udell, a homeopathic physician at the Southwest Naturopathic Medical Center, said he and his colleagues were discussing the problem of men and anxiety, and realized they were treating more men.
"I’ve seen more men for anxiety disorders than women," he said, adding he still treated more female clients for depression than male.
Udell said his male clients tended to be white-collar workers in their 30s and 40s.
Schwaiger said many of his male patients with anxiety disorder said they felt pressured at work and had multiple demands on their time.
Arizona State University psychologist Daniel Schute said statistics show more women seek treatment for anxiety disorder than men.
"I think there’s much more of a social norm for men to not show anxiety, and certainly to not seek help for it," he said.
Seeds of Change: Nurturing homeopathy in clinics and hospitals
Homeopathy Today | January/February 2007
by Jill Harris
“The times have really changed,” Brian Berman, MD, said in his acceptance speech for the 2005 Bravewell Leadership Award, given to recognize his contribution toward transforming medical culture. Dr. Berman joked that when he founded the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 1991, the first such center at a U.S. academic institution, “I was concerned about whether or not I would lose my medical license for practicing this way.” But now so much has changed that Dr. Berman, who uses homeopathy, acupuncture, and other “alternative” medicines in his outpatient clinic, envisions a day when integrative medicine “will be the standard of care in this country.”
Throughout the U.S., individuals like Dr. Berman are spearheading efforts to bring the benefits of homeopathy into such settings as medical schools, hospitals, clinics, and residential addiction treatment centers. Sometimes the results of such integration can be dramatic, as in the following case taken by Stephen Messer, ND, DHANP, who was practicing in Oregon at the time, and who is currently a supervising physician at the Southwest Naturopathic Medical Center (SNMC), an outpatient facility affiliated with the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Arizona, where he also serves as Chairman of the Homeopathy Department.
Stephen Messer, ND, DHANP, Danite Haller, ND, and Eric Udell, ND, of the Southwest Naturopathic Medical Center, an outpatient facility of the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Arizona
Life or death decision
After her husband’s eleventh stroke, a woman confronted the choice of whether or not to continue his life support. The internist in charge of the case counseled that allowing her husband to die would be the most merciful choice. But for her own peace of mind, the woman needed to exhaust every possibility, so she called Dr. Messer to ask him to provide homeopathic treatment, even though he was not affiliated with the hospital.
When Dr. Messer contacted the patient’s internist, the doctor insisted that the case was hopeless. “This man is going to die,” he said. But he did agree to have the hospital staff administer whatever homeopathic treatment Dr. Messer prescribed.
Dr. Messer’s examination revealed that the patient was unresponsive except for a little movement in his fingers. Then, when he told the patient he was going to leave, the patient squeezed his hand harder. With only that clue to go on, Dr. Messer remembered a case in which the famous homeopath George Vithoulkas prescribed Phosphorus based on the symptom “better from and need for company.” Dr. Messer prescribed a 200c dose, and by the next day the man showed signs of improvement. Less than a week later, he was off the respirator, and a month later, he felt well enough to give his wife a kiss. After two months and eight different homeopathic remedies, he was able to go home.
Changing medicine one resident at a time
While most cases are not so extreme, it is still good news that more future doctors are being exposed to the potential of homeopathy. The Center for Complementary Medicine in suburban Chicago is an outpatient facility located on the grounds of Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. According to Clifford Kearns, DC, DNBHE, practitioners at the Center include himself as a homeopath, and “a medical director, two chiropractors, two acupuncturists, two psychologists doing mind-body work, and four body workers.” These practitioners provide care to patients at the Center and stay in communication with their patients’ primary care physicians. In addition, the Center has “an official residency rotation in alternative medicine,” Dr. Kearns said. “The residents are third-year medical students, and they stay with us [at the Center] for thirty days. They cycle through each of the practitioners, receiving didactic, experiential, and clinical training.” Dr. Kearns provides them with 5--6 hours of lectures on homeopathy, and then they shadow him individually. “It’s extremely rewarding,” he said, “because I see them transform over a month’s time from having never heard the word ‘homeopathy’ to being drop-jawed” at what it can do. He said that their program is “changing medicine one resident at a time.”
For example, one resident became wide-eyed when she heard Dr. Kearns’ lecture on Arnica. He was explaining how it could help patients who are having their wisdom teeth extracted, and the resident had just had a wisdom tooth extracted. She had had a great deal of swelling and need for pain medication, and she was scheduled to have another extraction soon. When the time came, Dr. Kearns gave her a 10M dose of Arnica just after the extraction, and the swelling and need for pain medication were both greatly reduced compared to the first extraction. For another resident, the “drop-jaw” moment came after a dose of Aconite cured his wife’s fear of flying.
After thirty days of experience and training in a variety of alternative therapies, the residents aren’t experts in homeopathy. But they are more likely to refer their future patients to a homeopath, or to go on and study homeopathy in more depth.
More than a chipped tooth
Of course it is the patients themselves who receive the primary benefits of having homeopathy available at the Center for Complementary Medicine. Dr. Kearns happened to be in the lab one day when a doctor put an X-ray up on the view box. The doctors said that the patient had chipped her tooth and swallowed it. The paramedics had examined her throat, but couldn’t see a tooth, so the doctors did a barium swallow and an X-ray. Looking at the X-ray, Dr. Kearns had an inspiration. He asked if he could talk to the patient.
She recounted her tale of chipping the tooth and swallowing it. Then Dr. Kearns said to her, “When did something sad happen to you?” The woman began to cry.
Dr. Kearns talked to her a few more minutes and learned that she had recently lost her dog. “I’m not psychic,” he said, but he knew that the paramedics didn’t see the tooth and that it didn’t show up on the X-ray. He also knew that the remedy Ignatia “has the capacity to … cure in an affected person the sensation of something stuck in the throat,” and that it is often helpful for people suffering from the ill effects of grief. Since the Center has a homeopathic pharmacy on the premises, he was able to give her a dose of Ignatia immediately. “The sensation disappeared, because there was no tooth” in her throat, he said. Since the tooth had broken, both the woman and the doctors had assumed that it was causing the discomfort in her throat rather than something else. Dr. Kearns followed up with the woman about a week later, and the problem had not returned.
An emergency airlift
Unlike patients at the Center for Complementary Medicine, inpatients in hospitals won’t typically have a homeopathic remedy offered to them even if they demand it. But Eric Udell, ND, of the Southwest Naturopathic Medical Center, described the case of thirteen-year-old Alice, in which such a demand made a dramatic difference.
At home in her bed, Alice had been woken by stomach pain for the second night in a row. She slept fitfully—alternately giving in to exhaustion and waking up to vomiting, diarrhea, and increasing pain. By 10 a.m. the next morning, she was on her way to a small, local hospital in Arizona. There, a surgeon opened her abdomen to reveal a jet-black stomach, half of it dead.
The surgeon removed the dead tissue. Since the contents had emptied into the abdominal cavity, the whole area was carefully cleaned and the debris removed. Soon after the surgery, Alice was airlifted to a bigger hospital. But two weeks post-surgery, the doctors still couldn’t identify the cause of her illness, and despite a combination of three antibiotics and Tylenol, her fever remained high at 103--104°. According to Dr. Messer, who supervised the case with Dr. Udell, “In spite of the surgery, she was still failing. Allopathic treatment was essentially not helpful.”
Alice’s family had a naturopathic doctor who called SNMC for help with Alice’s case. Michael Smith, ND, and Danite Haller, ND, resident physicians working at SNMC, went to the hospital to provide treatment. According to Dr. Udell, “…the attending surgeon was not happy to have naturopathic doctors there and as a result was quite rude and uncooperative. Since the parents insisted that we were to be a part of the treatment Alice was going to receive, we were able to make the visit anyway.”
The working diagnosis was septic fever, or blood poisoning, probably the result of her stomach problems rather than the cause of them. Among the symptoms the naturopathic doctors noted were a fever without a chill, heat in the face, stitching pains in her abdomen, and a dry mouth with thirst for cold water—all of which pointed to Bryonia. Arsenicum was another possibility, but they prescribed Bryonia based on the most prominent symptom, “aggravation from any motion,” which Arsenicum also has “but to a lesser degree,” Dr. Udell said.
During waking hours, the hospital staff gave Alice a 200c dose of Bryonia every 2--3 hours. By the next morning, her fever dropped significantly to 101.8°, and she was moving around more. Her mood had also improved.
Four days later, her progress slowed, and her symptoms changed. Now, the fever began with a chill in the chest and descended to the legs, and her back and the back of her head were sweating, both Sulphur symptoms. She was given Sulphur 200c every two hours. At this point, “the chief surgical resident had taken over the case as the attending surgeon had gone on vacation,” Dr. Udell said. “The chief resident was younger and more open-minded. He welcomed us and gave us a very thorough case review, including allowing us to view all labs, imaging studies, and the progress notes.”
Within a few days of receiving Sulphur, Alice had her first intervals of time without a fever.
Not long after, though, she suffered another setback. Her fever returned to 100°. Her back hurt, her breathing was difficult, and the oxygen levels in her blood were low. When considering symptoms, the naturopathic doctors noted that for some time, her fingertips had been peeling. The skin of her hands had thickened, and her thirst for ice-cold drinks had steadily increased. They switched her to Phosphorus 200c, four times a day. Following the change, her fever broke entirely, her energy increased, and she began to move around more.
From that point on, her improvement was steady and continuous. She recovered and left the hospital, and although she did not stay in contact, the SNMC doctors assume that she continued to do well.
Better than Tylenol
In contrast to the situation Alice’s parents faced, where they had to overcome the attending physician’s initial objections to get homeopathic care for their daughter, a residential addiction treatment center in Boston asked the Teleosis School of Homeopathy, also located in Boston, to train its entire paraprofessional staff so that homeopathy could be consistently available to its clients. Begabati Lennihan, RN, CCH, Peris Gumz, RN, and Loretta Butehorn, PhD, CCH, agreed to work with the program.
Dr. Butehorn, a psychologist and homeopath, explained what the women have been through before becoming residents of the treatment center. “When somebody has been using any kind of an addictive substance, whether it’s heroin, alcohol, OxyContin, or whatever, the substance shuts down the production of normal neurotransmitters,” she said. “So they have to go through 3--5 days of detox, during which time the drug leaches out of their system and their neurotransmitters start to respond again. They feel like they’ve been hit by a bus.” After detox, these women are reunited with their children at the treatment center, where they live together for the next 3--6 months.
At first, the paraprofessional staff was skeptical about homeopathy, but they tried it on themselves and found that it worked. After that, they were taught to treat the clients for acute things like menstrual cramps, headaches, earaches, and crying jags. After a couple of weeks, the clients preferred the homeopathic remedies to familiar medications like aspirin or Tylenol. Not only was that a remarkable testament to the effectiveness of homeopathy, but it was also “in their best interest,” Dr. Butehorn said, because they’re people whose livers are “pretty fragile.”
But more importantly, the program hopes to help the women resist a relapse in their struggle against addictions. “We want to get some statistics showing that doing a post-detox protocol during that first month of treatment supports the longevity of treatment,” said Dr. Butehorn.
The first group of women has not yet finished the program, but there’s reason to believe that homeopathy will help. Already, the residents are finding that remedies can effectively reduce such stresses as anxiety and acute grief. And among Dr. Butehorn’s private clients, many tell her that being treated homeopathically reduces their desire for substances such as alcohol and tobacco.
Karyn Schwartz used homeopathy to help Hurricane Katrina survivors when she volunteered with Common Ground Health Clinic in New Orleans.
Complementary strategies for Katrina
In a very different scenario, the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina opened the door to homeopathic care at the Common Ground Health Clinic in Algiers, a section of New Orleans. Homeopath Karyn Schwartz said that “the scope of the disaster” resulted in “a lot less worry about regulations, especially at first, and more worrying about people’s well-being.” In this atmosphere, The Common Ground Health Clinic began as “just people helping people.”
These “people helping people” were volunteers from around the country. Ms. Schwartz lives in Seattle, where she works in an herb shop and also has a private practice as an herbalist and homeopath. After the hurricane, she took on responsibility for getting medicine to the clinic—raising donations, buying what was needed, and shipping it to New Orleans. Eventually, she took time off in February 2006 and then again a few months later to fly to New Orleans and work in the clinic as a volunteer.
As a result of the extreme need and the intention to help in any way that was safe and effective, Ms. Schwartz said that there is “complementary medicine happening there in a way that I have never experienced it, where doctors and physical therapists and homeopaths aren’t just working in the same building, but are actually working together.”
For example, she often worked with Eowin, an MD, and Mo, a nurse. “We were able to teach each other … and come up with complementary strategies for each patient based on our different kinds of knowledge,” she said. In one such case, a woman had stepped on a nail because there was garbage everywhere. “I don’t know how to dress a wound,” Ms. Schwartz said. “But for Eowin and Mo, that’s no big deal. I gave the woman Ledum and Hypericum for the puncture. Then Eowin gave her a tetanus shot, and Mo soaked her foot in an herbal tea—yarrow probably.”
In addition to the patients, Ms. Schwartz treated many of the other practitioners after clinic hours. “Many of them came for stress relief, insomnia, coughs and colds, exhaustion—but also sadness and accumulation of trauma weighing on their hearts. Once they knew … what it felt like to work in a different style, they were really quite proactive in … making sure that we put together a plan [for patients] that made sense to everyone.”
Medicine for the future
Like Dr. Berman, Ms. Schwartz has her own vision of the future of healthcare. “I think the future of medicine by necessity and by demand will be some form of cooperation between conventional practitioners and ‘alternative’ practitioners. The model that we have for medicine now is completely unsustainable—not only financially, but also practically. So many of the treatments that conventional medicine has to offer simply address specific symptoms, but not the whole person, nor the environment or context of that person’s life.”
So, yes, as Dr. Berman said, the times have changed. But there is still a long way to go.
“So many people could be helped by the use of homeopathy in hospitals,” Dr. Messer said. “If patients could just have Arnica immediately after surgery, or if they could have remedies like Aconite to reduce their anxiety before these procedures, so many people’s lives would be changed for the better.”
In Arizona, that day is not too far away. In the near future, Dr. Messer said he expects homeopathy to become available in at least one Arizona hospital. Stay tuned.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jill Harris is a freelance writer and editor with a special interest in integrative medicine. She has written for a variety of publications, including The Boston Globe, and was consulting editor for Hartford Hospital’s integrative medicine manual, Building Bridges. She is an adjunct faculty member of the English Department at Middlesex Community College in Middletown, Connecticut, as well as a wife and the mother of three teenage girls.
Tsunami Relief Effort Underway:
Homeopaths Without Borders in Sri Lanka
Homeopathy Today | March/April 2005
by Jill Harris
"Sunset over the Indian Ocean is beautiful. The sun slides into the sea huge against the horizon, bathed in electric pink and orange. The water is warm and inviting ... At the end of another long day in Sri Lanka, it is still hard to imagine this same water wreaking the kind of destruction I have seen with my own eyes each of the last four days."
These are the words of homeopath Eric Udell, ND, a Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine faculty member, who is spending his days treating tsunami survivors in Sri Lanka. He is part of a team of volunteers put together by Homeopaths Without Borders (HWB), a U.S. not-for-profit organization, working in conjunction with Homeopathes Sans Frontiéres-Europe, Airline Ambassadors, and the National Center for Homeopathy.
This building in Wellamada—
with two walls and a second story left standing after the tsunami—became a clinic for Homeopaths Without Borders volunteers.
Homeopathy excellent for trauma
Homeopathy has a long history of excellent results in treating the kinds of emotional trauma, physical trauma, and epidemic diseases that may be prevalent among people who have survived the tsunami. Thanks to the support of the homeopathic community, on February 9 HWB sent its first group of volunteer homeopaths to offer tsunami relief: Denis Marier, ND, of Canada; Rene Guarnaluse-Arce, MD, of New York (originally of Cuba); and Dr. Udell of Arizona. They were met in Sri Lanka by HWB's contact person, J.T. DeLivera, a local businessman and strong proponent of homeopathy, who helped to get them acclimated and on their way to the relief camps where they would be working.
Eric Udell, ND, (right) sees a patient at the clinic in Wellamada, while surrounded by curious onlookers.
The team was also briefed by two French homeopaths from Homeopathes Sans Frontiéres who'd already been working in the area. "By far the most common thing [the French homeopaths] saw were skin conditions on the legs, mostly necrotic ulcers and fluid-filled bullae [large blisters]," writes Dr. Udell. "They said they prescribed a lot of Kali bichromicum, Secale cornutum, and Silicea. They also treated simple coughs, eye irritations, sleep problems, emotional troubles, and gastritis. They prescribed a lot of Arnica and Staphysagria for the emotional issues arising from this traumatic event, but said that, in general, people had a difficult time speaking about their emotions. Maybe that's why they gave so much Staphysagria."
The following day, the HWB team made their way to the refugee camp where they'd be working. "It is called the Peralya Camp and has been erected in the ruins of a fishing village of the same name," says Dr. Udell. "There are some structures still standing, including the school, but most of the houses were leveled. The people are now living in tents with the school serving as an aid center and a second small building as a field hospital ... The village looks as if it had been bombed. Most of the houses were completely leveled to the foundation. We passed by a set of mass graves where 900 bodies were buried. Eventually there will be a memorial built there, but for now there is only a very small marker."
A forgotten village
A few days later, Dr. Udell writes: "The field hospital was very slow this morning, so I decided to scout out another village about 6 kilometers further north along the coast. Wellamada is the home village of one of our translators, Siri, who used to own a small guest-house on the beach and give private tours of the area. He lost everything in the tsunami, including a 15-year-old daughter, and then had to give up his land to the bank to prevent them from foreclosing on his van, his last remaining source of income." Siri was able to drive Dr. Udell to Wellamada in his van.
"When I arrived, I discovered that this village has still received almost no assistance," reports Dr. Udell. "I took shelter from the sun in a building that had partially survived the tsunami with two sound walls and a second story. Siri left, then reappeared 10 or 15 minutes later with a group of people—an instant line of patients needing medical attention. I used a piece of plywood and some cinder blocks as a makeshift desk and exam table and worked the rest of the day seeing patients, one after another. I treated everything from coughs to joint pain to emotional trauma, then began to see a few wounds in need of care, but all I had with me were my homeopathic remedies and some Calendula cream." Luckily, some German aid workers drove through the village soon afterwards distributing medical supplies, so Dr. Udell was able to clean and treat wounds the rest of the day.
Healing physical, emotional wounds
Dr. Udell returned to the village of Wellamada the next day. "Today a woman in her early 30s came for treatment of persistent pain in her heels with occasional swelling of the feet," he writes. "As I was about to prescribe Pulsatilla for what looked to be a very clear and straightforward case, I looked into her eyes more closely and noticed a certain heaviness. Through the translator, I asked if she had noted any change in her mood since the foot pain had begun. She said, 'Nehe,' or no, and then her eyes began to well up with tears. I am learning that the Sri Lankan people don't like to discuss their emotions openly (at least not when it comes to the tsunami).
"The translator hesitated when I asked why she was crying, as if he didn't want to ask. When he did ask, she told us that she lost both of her parents to the tsunami. She thinks of them often, daily in fact, and it makes her sad. Though she feels better around other people, when she is alone and this sadness overtakes her, she cries and seeks no company. I put the Pulsatilla back in my remedy kit and pulled out Ignatia instead [to help her on an emotional level]. She'll return later for the treatment of her feet.
"Rene [Guarnaluse-Arce, MD] accompanied me to Wellamada today. We were joined by a British woman named Jane. She works in public relations in London and is here doing whatever she can to help. She has a particular interest in the children. She came with us to see Wellamada and we ended up teaching her to clean and dress wounds, which she did admirably all day, even though the site of blood usually makes her squeamish. We collectively saw 40 to 50 patients in six hours.
Eric Udell, with some of
the friendly Sri Lankan children
at the clinic in Wellamada
Homeopathy in Sri Lanka
"The people are very appreciative of what we are doing and show their gratitude freely. They get a huge kick out of our attempts at Sinhala (the local language). They stand around us in a large group, despite our best efforts to create a waiting area, and watch the process until it is their turn to be treated. They are curious about the sweet tablets we put on their tongues and seem to prefer them to what they call the 'English medicine,' or pharmaceuticals, which they say are too strong."
Homeopaths Without Borders
and Homeopathes Sans Frontiéres volunteers meet in Colombo, Sri Lanka: Eric Udell, ND, Sylvie De Sigalony (France), Rene Guarnaluse-Arce, MD, J.T. DeLivera, Francine Drieu (France), Denis Marier, ND.
Homeopathy is not well-known or accepted in Sri Lanka and J.T. DeLivera is trying to change that. He hopes that the work of HWB in Sri Lanka will eventually lead to the creation of a school so that homeopathy can get established there. In an email message to HWB, he recounted the following example of the unique benefits homeopathy can offer tsunami victims: "A taxi driver, about 25 years old and a strong swimmer, had been able to save 17 of his neighbors from drowning. He was, however, unable to sleep for weeks after the disaster as he was suffering from guilt and would dream of the many others whom he was unable to save, as there were just too many. Every night in order to fall asleep, he was compelled to take a stiff drink of arrack—distilled from coconut toddy and the equivalent of beer, but with about 25% alcohol. He would wake up in the morning with a splitting headache and was well on the way to becoming an alcoholic. The homeopaths gave him Aconite and Arnica [for emotional shock, fear, and trauma], and the man broke out in smiles the morning after this first dose, as he was able to sleep soundly for the first time and was also in a better frame of mind. To us homeopaths, this is just another example of a 'miracle cure'! It is my hope that we will all jointly succeed in uplifting homeopathy to the same status held by allopathic medicine in Sri Lanka."
This HWB team of volunteer homeopaths is expected to stay for about a month. Luc De Schepper, MD, and others are planning to relieve them in March. Homeopathy Today will keep you posted on their work.
AFRO-LATIN GROUP RHYTHMICALLY BLENDS PERCUSSION, SONG
The Arizona Republic | July 3, 2003
by Brent Miles
For percussionist Emilio Caruso, forming his Afro-Cuban/Brazilian group Anya was a twist of fate and the culmination of a dream.
"In 1999, I was giving a lecture on Afro-Cuban drumming at Borders, and in the audience was this really attentive guy," Caruso recalls. "One of my students wasn't doing so good at the demonstration, so I said, 'Does anyone play Latin percussion?' This guy came jumping up and ran over, and he eventually became my business partner in the group."
"This guy" is Eric Udell, and "the group" is Anya, appearing at Modified Arts on Saturday.
Caruso said he and Udell started playing together and suggested, "Let's see if we can't get some singers."
Caruso, 48, has played professional percussion for 35 years, including a 20-year stint as a classical musician as part of a drum gig on Broadway. For the past 16 years, Caruso has devoted his energy to ethnic music. He has studied with master Cuban drummer Alberto Villarreal Penalver and Brazilian drummer Jorge Alabe and has a performance degree from San Diego State University.
Anya's music, Caruso explains, "is from ritual and religious music that was brought over by the African slaves to the New World. It seems to reach everybody on some sort of level. I think drums are an interesting visual, and then the singing on top of it is interesting."
Anya's singers include Amy Ford and Hila Lanciano, who, Caruso says, are "really dedicated to it. ... They have to sing in Spanish, Portuguese, Congolese and Lucumi, which is a language that doesn't exist anymore."
"In most music, the rhythm chunks along, and you just sing," he says. "In this music, there is a lot of stopping and starting. ... They (the singers) have to be as sharp rhythmically as the drummers are, which is incredible."
Though Jane came to see us complaining of symptoms of cardiovascular disease and, for the most part, dismissed her depression as minor, the most characteristic symptoms in her case were those related to her unresolved grief over her husband’s death. Once the characteristic symptoms were recognized through careful and thorough case-taking, the selection of the homeopathic remedy was not difficult, and Jane’s health was restored rapidly and gently.