In order to be whole we need to treat the whole person, not just the symptoms, to address all levels and identify our unique triggers – bringing us to a place of wholeness.
You may have read the Soul Whispering blog “We are more than the sum of our parts” in which I looked at wholistic healing from a spiritual perspective. It is also important to consider this from a more general perspective and as a homeopath my mantra is to treat the person not just their symptoms.
This is not just a fascinating topic (hopefully not just from my point of view) but it’s an important one because until we “get” that symptoms are a cry from the body for some attention on the mental, emotional or spiritual level, we are going to keep going round and round in circles trying to fix our “stuff”.
We are in a space in our global development (or lack of) where science is our God and we are told medicine can fix everything with a new drug or a new vaccine. Certainly there are some doctors who understand that this is not the case and that we are worshipping a manufactured idea which is likely to to let us down. Modern medicine definitely has some fantastic aspects – surgery and emergency medicine for example – but it struggles with managing chronic disease mainly because it treats the patient mechanistically and not wholistically.
If we look at the smaller picture of our individual symptoms it’s easy to say that this drug helps our asthma and that drug helps our anxiety and we are functioning a whole lot better. But we do need to look at the bigger picture of how healthy our society really is. Why do we have rapidly increasing rates of chronic disease and cancers, why are doctors’ waiting rooms full, why can’t you get into this or that specialist or paediatrician for months.
The bigger question is why are some of your symptoms better but your spirit is still troubled!
Treat the whole person
Whenever I see a patient, be it an adult or a child, I look at the whole person. So regardless of what they ask for help with – ear infections, asthma, depression, arthritis or constipation – I always consider everything that is going on with that patient. I ask about sleep habits, appetite, moods, fears, anxiety/stress levels, lifestyle, life generally and so on. I spend an hour or more just listening and asking a myriad of questions. I consider everything!
The answer to the question I’m most interested in though is “what happened before this problem appeared?”
There is always an event or trigger which preceded an illness and in understanding this and looking for the remedy which addresses the reaction to this event and which matches the symptoms being exhibited, we can stimulate the body’s healing mechanism to kick in and undertake the healing process itself, bringing balance to the system.
Treat the cause
The cause or beginning of an illness or condition can be different in every patient and is an interesting and important part of each case. We need to understand what has triggered this divergence from good health and balance. Sometimes we are not going to get a clear understanding early on; it can take time for the patient to unravel the story and understand for themselves. This is part of the healing and is often what has prevented restoration of health with other modalities.
There are so many triggers and some are quite surprising. Sometimes it’s related to birth trauma (mother and/or baby), to a shock, to a grief such as after a death, divorce or redundancy, long term stress perhaps from a difficult work or school situation, challenging child or relationship. It could be an underlying weakness from an inherited susceptibility which sets up a tendency to react to vaccinations, to poor gut health and to produce asthma. Looking at the cause is important in getting long term results. Addressing the cause is why homeopathy will often work when nothing else does. Treating the symptoms without treating the cause won’t bring long lasting results – we must treat at the deepest level and addressing the triggers is a big part of treating the whole person.
Remember that you are much more than just your physical symptoms
We are complex beings who often produce symptoms because we have an issue or a situation in our life that we can’t deal with. Symptoms can be a way of compensating and coping, but are also a way of telling us that there is something we need to fix in our life. If we ignore these symptoms they either get worse or they go to a deeper level of the body. Cancer is a good example of this, where cause is very often suppressed emotions or unfulfilled needs.
As an example, someone comes into the clinic with a frozen shoulder which has been a problem for six months, is painful and limiting their enjoyment of life. They’ve had an ultrasound to confirm bursitis, they’ve had physio, they’re doing their exercises and they’ve had several cortisone injections but still the pain is intense and there is no improvement.
As a homeopath my first question is “so what was going on in your life before this started? Were you under any particular stress?” The answer to this will always be yes and with some digging the event will reveal itself. It could be one of many reasons but with a shoulder injury the feeling will frequently revolve around the carrying of a burden and of being unsupported. In order to select a remedy, I also need to understand what the emotion feels like and what the shoulder symptoms feel like. There will be a correlation between the two. A weight or heaviness may relate to both, for example.
Based on the totality of the symptom picture – mental, emotional, physical and, in some cases, spiritual as well – we must find a remedy that covers everything, not just the frozen shoulder. Certainly we may give an acute remedy to help with pain, but if we try to just treat the shoulder pain we are not going to get a long term resolution.
Evidence based medicine
Some reading this may be happy to know that this is evidence based medicine, not just fantasy! With two hundred years of detailed clinical records and our fantastic – now digital – libraries of cases and provings (trialling remedies on healthy people to find what symptoms our remedies will resolve) we can know what symptoms (on all levels) a remedy will address. We can look up the symptoms of pain relating to a shoulder and we can see whether the mental picture of our patient is also covered by a remedy and then we can be reasonably sure that if we give that remedy we will see improvement. Ongoing clinical evidence and research adds to our knowledge and understanding.
Treat the inherited tendencies
In addition to looking at the mental, emotional and physical aspects, I also look at the family medical history because this tells us where the particular illness has come from and what else a patient may be predisposed to in terms of health issues. Homeopathy balances the system so well that we are much less likely to actually manifest what people in our family have had in the past. I should also say that a family history of cancer or TB doesn’t mean we’ll necessarily get these diseases, but rather that we may manifest something related to them. TB produces a tendency to respiratory ailments, hayfever, allergies and eczema. Cancer may lead to depression and/or anxiety, OCD tendencies, chronic constipation or insomnia, and can make us susceptible to glandular fever, diabetes or whooping cough.
What about acute illnesses?
Sometimes in the process of treatment an acute illness will arise just as a matter of course. We may also need to manage acute flare ups of more deep seated illnesses, so perhaps while we are seeing a child for ears or chest they have an acute ear infection or a flare up of their asthma. As the immune system becomes stronger we would expect to manage these symptoms successfully, often without having to resort to antibiotics or steroids. In deep seated cases this may take a little perseverance. Again we manage these situations with the individualised remedies, ie those which fit the person and not just the symptoms. Over-the-counter products often won’t work in these cases because the remedy needs to be much more targeted to the individual.
Overcoming the acute symptoms in this way makes for a good long term prognosis as we know the immune system is strengthened through using homeopathics. And while we never tell a patient to stop or reduce their medication without reference to their medical practitioner, our aim in many cases is for this outcome where appropriate.
Treat the person, not just the symptoms
Finally, remember that it may have taken your body a long time to get to this point of dis-ease and homeopathically it takes time to undo this damage. While some people bounce back amazing quickly, because fundamentally their immune system is strong but just struggling temporarily, others don’t have this inner resilience.
I’ve heard it said you should expect one month of treatment for every year of illness. Since every patient and every case is individual I wouldn’t comment on this but do bear this in mind while undergoing treatment if things seem slow. Often a case is multi-layered and it takes time to work through the process. But as long as we always focus on the whole person and treat the individual not just the symptoms we will see change!