How Does Homeopathy Work?
There is no known “mechanism of action” for homeopathic remedies. We simply do not yet have the technology to answer this question. We do have over 200 years of clinical experience with this method and we know that it works!
Do remedies treat symptoms?
Actually, the remedies do not treat or remove symptoms or diseases. Symptoms are elicited in minute detail by the homeopathic physician in an attempt to select the best possible remedy. The remedy somehow stimulates your body’s vital force and it is this living, intelligent energy called the Dynamis, that creates healing. In Chinese medicine this force is called Chi, in Ayurvedic medicine it is called Prana, and in Osteopathy is called The Breath of Life.
What can homeopathy treat?
This is a very popular question! People want to know if they can be helped by homeopathy. The best answer is that theoretically any condition can be cured by homeopathy. HOWEVER, it depends on many factors such as the patient’s family history, how long the condition has been present and the nature of other treatments the patient has had for this and other conditions. It also depends on the willingness of the patient to describe him/herself in intimate terms, telling more than just a list of symptoms (see “reporting Your Symptoms” in the Patient section). This answer doesn’t seem to satisfy potential patients so here is a partial list of the conditions Dr. Masiello has treated : abscesses, acne, ADHD, allergies, anxiety, arthritis, asthma, autoimmune diseases, back pain, bronchitis, cervical dysplasia, chronic fatigue, chronic Lyme disease, conjunctivitis, dandruff, developmental delay, depression, diarrhea, diverticulitis, eczema, folliculitis, gallstones, genital herpes, GERD, Grave’s Disease, headaches (migraine and tension), head trauma, hemorrhoids, hiccough, hypothyroidism, influenza, injuries of many kinds, insomnia, kidney stones, mastitis, mononucleosis, myocarditis, neck pain, otitis externa, otitis media, PID, PMS, PTSD, pancreatitis, pharyngitis, pneumonia, psoriasis, seizure disorder, sinusitis, thrombophebitis, trauma, UTI, varicose veins, warts…….
What about disease like MS, Parkinson’s, etc?
Historically, homeopathy has been used in the treatment of neurological conditions such as these. However, the best results are achieved at the very beginning of the illness. The more time that has passed after the initial diagnosis, the less likely homeopathy will help.
What about cancer?
Homeopathy is not recommended as the first line treatment for cancer as we don’t have good statistics available about its success rate in this area. However, homeopathy can be used to treat the physical, mental and emotional effects of conventional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. After conventional treatment has been completed then homeopathy can definitely be used to recover from the conventional treatment and to promote health and longevity. There are some exceptions however. In many cases of prostate cancer when the urologist has recommended “watchful waiting”, homeopathic treatment can be used while the patient is continuously monitored. New onset bladder cancer is another disease in which homeopathy can be used. Typically, low grade bladder tumors are treated with instillation of chemotherapeutic agents into the bladder. This amounts to a local treatment as these agents don’t enter the bloodstream. In this situation homeopathy can be added as an adjunctive treatment. Some early skin cancers can also be treated this way.
What about weight loss?
This is by far the post popular question. In homeopathy there isn’t a specific remedy for any condition because the remedy doesn’t treat the condition but acts holistically on your vital force. I find that when a patient is responding well to homeopathic treatment and has achieved a good level of health, then they are better able to make the mental, emotional and physical changes necessary to lose weight.
Why can’t I take herbs and other treatments at the same time?
Some herbs and aromatic substances can directly decrease the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies ( see “Taking Remedies” in the Patient Section). More importantly, however, other treatments that relieve or remove symptoms make it difficult for the homeopathic physician to fully appreciate the totality of your symptoms and thus find the proper homeopathic remedy. The goal in homeopathy is always cure, not just temporary removal of symptoms. One should also understand that not all medications can be stopped. Some patients cannot safely stop their current conventional medications and thus the goal would be to gradually reduce but not eliminate their medications.
What about flu shots?
Historically, classical homeopaths have not recommended yearly flu shots simply because we have many remedies for the treatment of flu. Each season, after treating a number of flu cases successfully, a homeopathic physician should be able to see the pattern of symptoms emerge that will indicate a remedy for that year’s flu. Once that remedy is determined, subsequent cases can be easily treated and that same remedy can be use to prevent the flu in the yet uninfected. It is important to understand several facts about influenza and flu vaccines. First, influenza kills about 30,000 people a year in the Unites States. However, these deaths are rarely caused by the influenza virus itself. Most often, patients who die from influenza have pre-existing conditions that make them more vulnerable to viral pneumonia and possible bacterial pneumonia that typically can follow the flu. Cardio-pulmonary disease, autoimmune disease, and neurological disease can complicate influenza. Many patients are taking conventional medications that suppress natural immunity. For these patients a flu vaccine may be appropriate. The second fact about the flu vaccine that needs to be understood is that it is NOT 100% effective. Flu vaccine efficacy is usually around 75% and this assumes that the correct strains are selected to make the vaccine. If the wrong strains are selected, the vaccine is 0% effective. Every year in the spring a committee meets and reviews influenza patterns worldwide. Usually three strains are selected and the manufacturing process begins in early summer so that the vaccine will be available by October. Unfortunately, between the spring selection and the October release date, the viruses can change. Protein markers on the outer surface of the virus will morph over time. This shape shifting behavior of the viruses renders the vaccine less than 100% effective. It is a little like first meeting someone on a beach dressed in a bikini in summer and the next time you see her, she is wearing a heavy, hooded coat during a snow storm in January. You (your immune system) may not recognize her so easily. This phenomenon is called antigenic drift. For an appreciation of how homeopathy and osteopathy fared during the flu pandemic of 1918, read Dr. Masiello’s article, Back to the Future: Bird Flu at www.txoptions.com/articles/birdflu1.php.
Update: Autumn, 2009 – a new flu variant has been in circulation since March 2009. Called H1N1 or swine flu, this variant made headlines when a cluster of flu related deaths were reported during an influenza outbreak in Mexico. Unlike the usual seasonal flu, this flu has not gone away. Many US cases were reported during the summer of 2009. It is a mild influenza presenting for most patients as a very bad cold with symptoms that linger for more than 10 days. It can be followed by a cough that may take weeks to clear. So far H1N1 has killed far fewer people than the seasonal flu. However, unlike the seasonal flu children, pregnant women and young adults seem more susceptible. H1N1 also seems to have a greater affinity for the alveoli, the deep lung tissue. With global tracking and monitoring in place via the CDC and the WHO, this flu has gotten much news coverage. Some predictions of very high mortality rates have been gross exaggerations. Most healthy, non-smoking people without serious chronic illness should be fine. People with chronic medical conditions that in any way affect their immunity and particularly their respiratory system may want to consider the vaccine. Strange for a homeopath to say? Since going into practice in 1986 I have only seen 3 cases of medical complications from flu vaccines and some people have been made so anxious by the news coverage that they are making themselves far sicker with worry than any vaccine reaction. Patients should make an informed decision about this and other vaccines. For more information about vaccines in general see the Vaccination subsection of the Children’s Health page of this website.