It begins with your story
A typical session with a homeopathic physician begins with the patient’s history. The patient is allowed to tell his/her story without interruption. When clarification is needed the physician asks only open ended questions so not to lead the patient.
The purpose of your visit
Only after the patient is finished will the physician ask specific questions to understand the aggravation and amelioration of the symptoms, namely, how the symptoms vary according to parameters such as time of day or season, rest or activity, temperature, bathing, position, eating, thirst sleep, intercourse, perspiration, external stimuli and emotions, etc. The patient-defined causes of the symptoms are also sought as is the character and concomitants of each symptom. Strange, rare, and peculiar symptoms (such as nausea with hunger) are asked about.
The patient as a whole
The physician then asks about the generalities, the characteristics of the patient as a whole. These include food likes and dislikes, favorite weather, best or worst times of the day, type of skin and hair, the character of sleep, degree of perspiration, type of appetite for food, drink or sex and favorite activities or hobbies, etc.
How you function in the world
Questions about mental functioning such as memory or learning are asked. Most importantly, the physician attempts to understand the patient’s personality by asking about how the patient is at work, how the patient is as a parent, child, spouse, etc. Inquires are made about how the patient copes with stress, and what the patient’s fears or worries are like.
The patient is asked whether he or she is typically critical, unassertive, timid, angry, sensitive, etc. These questions are often the most difficult yet the most revealing. However, the homeopathic physician does not put a value judgment on the patient’s self-description. The descriptions are used by the homeopath to generate an understanding of the patient’s personal style or modus operandi within the context of the life-world of the patient as defined by the patient.
A family, social, occupational and past medical/surgical history is obtained including the results of any studies performed. A history of the use of medications and other therapeutic modalities is also sought. A physical examination is performed based on the history thus far and laboratory and imaging studies as well as specialty consultation may be ordered by the homeopath to complete the process.
Making sense of all the details
The physician then attempts to rank order the various symptoms, modalities, and generalities by degree of intensity. A list of symptoms is generated and the symptoms are then repertorized , that is, they are cross-indexed with the remedies known to have caused or cured these same symptoms.
A holistic approach
Philosophically homeopathy is holistic (not merely alternative) because the essential task is to understand the patient as a whole person. It is holistic because it must examine these various levels of the whole person and because its remedies stimulate healing at these levels. As a method, homeopathy is a synthesis of the natural science approach and the phenomenological or descriptive approach.
Selecting the right remedy
This labor -intensive process was for centuries performed by hand but is now done by computer. Having arrived at several probable remedies, the homeopathic physician must then make a determination as to whether the patient’s problem is an acute, chronic, or inherited illness or perhaps an illness due to the suppressive effects of previous treatment. The “center of gravity” or key issue of the case must be considered and attempts are made to locate it within the spiritual, mental, psychological or physical life of the patient.
The physician must blend his/her natural science training in anatomy, physiology, pathology, biochemistry, physical diagnosis, etc. with his/her observation of the patient and his/her understanding of the patient’s self description. The challenge of homeopathy, even in the treatment of apparently purely physical conditions, is to select a few probable remedies from the thousands of possible remedies.
Assessing the result
The art of homeopathy is in the capacity of the homeopathic physician to process all of this information into a synthesis, a “remedy portrait” or gestalt, if you will, which corresponds most closely to the remedy likely to stimulate a healing response. Having given a dose of the indicated remedy, the patient and the physician must now wait. Depending on the patient, the nature of the problem and the potency of the remedy a return visit is scheduled weeks or months after the initial dose.
Each remedy and individual is different
While there have been miraculous homeopathic cures after just one dose of a remedy, most chronic cases take months or years to cure. Just like a novel with many chapters and plot twists so a patient’s cure unfolds. The process is highly individual.
Homeopathic principals of healing
The homeopath will be guided by certain principles of cure: healing occurs from above downward, from the center to the periphery, from more vital organ to less vital organ and in reverse order of the appearance of the original symptoms.
Possible reactions to a remedy
The patient’s reaction can be one of simply nothing, or an aggravation followed by nothing or an aggravation followed by improvement, or by simple, gradual, and gentle improvement . Old symptoms and even mental and psychological complexes may return briefly and then gradually pass away. As improvement occurs and as remedy potency is increased the patient returns less frequently until he/she is told to return when the need is felt or for the treatment of a new acute problem.