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“Beyond Flat Earth Medicine”

Recently, I had the opportunity to be a guest speaker for a class of nursing students at the Endicott College here in MA.  Approximately twenty curious young girls and boys in their early 20s were gathered together to fulfill their chosen elective of “complementary and alternative therapies”.  While giving them an overview of homeopathy and discussing illness from a holistic standpoint, and as they sat in rapt attention absorbing every word that I uttered, their brains churning with the information I had just provided, it became obvious that this was a fundamental paradigm shift for them.  And, as the questions came pouring in, their eyes gleaming with bits of understanding, yet hints of shadows of the struggle to reconcile what they had learnt in their regular training so far, I almost felt a little bit sorry for them… almost.  The confusion can be a real struggle, but it is needed in order to arrive at the truth.  I could see it in their eyes, some even perhaps starting to question the value of continuing in the traditional nursing program, questioning where they would be headed professionally in their chosen careers.  But, if they remember why they were there, why they enrolled in nursing school in the first place, then they will find their way in the world.  They will continue on with their program with an understanding of disease and health from a totally different paradigm in the back of their minds, the holistic paradigm, and somehow find a way to incorporate and integrate it into their practices and future professions.  They can bring the best of both worlds together.  It’s doable.

Remember (at least from history), what a significant paradigm shift it was when it was first proposed  (and subsequently proven) that the Earth, the planet that we inhabit, the ground that we are standing on, is not FLAT but actually ROUND like a ball.  Old constructs broke down and the half-answered questions in the previous paradigm all of a sudden just started to make a whole lot of sense in the new paradigm.  Along with that, there was also the puzzle, and therefore resisting voices and attitudes, of how are we not falling off the Earth if it is round instead of flat?  For some of us, it is hard to let go of old constructs and embrace a different paradigm… we like to cling to the security of what we have known all along, even though it is all wrong and not serving us well.  This is due to the fear of the unknown, or is it just laziness?  Homeostasis has a strong influence in any kind of change.  Hence, while on one hand, things click together into place organically and without effort once the truth is realized, instead of the constant struggle of having to make sense of something that is fundamentally completely wrong to begin with, on the other hand there is fightback and backlash from those who do not want to change their belief system.  That’s how it is with ALLOPATHY, the medicine that has become mainstream even though to the detriment of the human race in general.  That’s how it is with many other aspects of LIFE actually, whether it is the diet that one eats, or the religion one follows, or the habits one grew up with, most of us want to keep things as it is, and try to apply patches to what’s broken.  People are more open to applying short term fixes to the holes in their existing paradigm, rather than even considering the idea that the existing structure might actually be rotten and that the only way to fix it is to break it all down, clean out the gunk, and build it back again with the right building blocks.

Let’s get back to the constructs of flat earth medicine.  When it comes to addressing disease, it tries to patch things up, clear up the overflow, constantly and fervently tries to keep things contained as the body just revolts against such existential fallacies.  Modern medicine is allopathic, where the goal is to treat symptoms by using drugs or tools that have opposite effects to the symptoms.  What that simply means is that if you have a cold or seasonal allergies, take an anti-histamine.  If you have a fever, take an anti-pyretic.  If you are in pain, just take an analgesic to numb the nervous system.  Do you see anything wrong with this way of thinking and acting?  This paradigm believes that the symptoms are standalone without an underlying reason for it, they just happen randomly, ad hoc, by fluke, and the way to get better is to just remove the superficial cause (which is usually chalked up to a bacteria or a virus, or another inmate of the microbial kingdom*), suppress it, or just somehow make the body behave differently to relieve itself of the pesky symptom, and think that the ailment is “cured”.  This paradigm believes that the body is malfunctioning at the level of the organ where the symptom is occurring, that there is no connection with any other inter-connected organ system, that there is no deeper or a holistic system behind that tissue or organ that is producing the symptom.  IT’S LIKE TAPING SHUT AN INFANT’S MOUTH WHEN IT CRIES, TO STOP THE CRYING.  IT’S THINKING THAT THE EARTH IS FLAT BECAUSE THE FLATNESS IS ALL ONE CAN SEE.  It is flat earth medicine at its best.

Instead, what if you were to consider and practice round earth medicine?  Holistic medicine that digs deeper beyond the obvious and takes into account that the whole is simply greater than the sum of its parts.  In homeopathy, as in many other holistic approaches to health and wellness, the goal is to “treat” the person not the disease label.  The goal is to understand the whole person behind the disease label, to elucidate where deeper in the body and mind is the source of the imbalance that results in the particular expression of symptoms or disease as a manifestation further downstream, and then to suggest remedies accordingly.  The goal is to look at the diet, the environment, the lifestyle choices, and the mental emotional aspects of the person, and observe the impact of each on the macro-level as well as micro-level functioning of the body.  The conversation needs to change, the questions need to change.  The question I get asked all the time (because it’s the paradigm that dictates the language) – can homeopathy treat headaches, can it treat allergies, can it treat fibromyalgia, can it treat this, can it treat that?  The answer I give is – “Better than that.  Homeopathy educates YOU, the whole person, so whatever disease you come with is automatically covered, even the ones you haven’t mentioned.”  Well, that’s the truth, and that’s how health and disease should be addressed.  That’s the paradigm shift that needs to happen.  You don’t just tape a crying child’s mouth shut to stop it from crying and think that you have fixed it, and believe that the child is all better.  You find out why the child is crying, and address it at that level.  You zoom out and look at the whole picture, the whole Earth, only then you realize that the Earth is round, not flat.  If you operate from the zoomed in level and focus on the myopic view, then yes, the Earth is flat, and your approach will thus be severely limited.  For example, all this ongoing research for Cancer continues to focus on this gene, that enzyme, this protein, that inflammation marker, this telomere, etc., all are nothing but FLAT EARTH views.  Yes, you can get in your head and entertain yourself, and lose yourself among the intriguing “trees” your entire life, without ever understanding the “forest”.  And, that’s OK as an academic pursuit, but to think that paradigm will ever heal anything is simply foolish thinking.

Check out Beyond Flat Earth Medicine, by Timothy R. Dooley, N.D., M.D..  It is one of my favorite recommendations, an easy-to-read best all-round introduction to homeopathy available!

*Read my post on the microbiome to understand what role the microbial kingdom plays  in acute and chronic illnesses.

Eat Fruit!

Last weekend I was fortunate and absolutely delighted to attend and participate
in the first annual retreat on Gemmotherapy, hosted by my dear friend and the best advocate, teacher, and Gemmotherapist in the United States, Lauren Hubele.  It was a wonderful experience in a sublime setting of forested trees and meadowed grounds, complete with meals of plant-based deliciousness.  I came away with a raised level in my consciousness regarding the healing powers of trees, and fruits and vegetables.  As a homeopath, I rarely coach people on diets, except my close family members since I make it a point to practice what I preach.  Other than saying eat organic and whole foods as close to the source as possible when asked, I used to never offer any other specific direction when it came to the choices people made for food.  But, over the years, after working with many chronic issues, sensitivities, allergies, and cases of environmental toxicity, my understanding of how food plays a role in the human body has grown tremendously, especially in the last 3 years since I have embraced the incredibly powerful cleaning and drainage principles of Gemmotherapy.  As with everything, there is a correct method and application to the use of Gemmotherapy.  It absolutely works wonders at the hands of the right practitioner who knows and understands the lymphatic system, and the acid-alkaline chemistry inside the body.  In all this, FOOD plays a very important role in establishing, maintaining and supporting a balanced chemical environment inside the body, affecting all organ systems and their function, and of course, the microbiome.

The internet is abuzz with a plethora of food blogs, and dietary practices.  As more and more people are catching the drift of unpleasant side-effects of prescription medications not to mention their severe limitations, the lure of being able to fix their ailments with Food is very attractive for many.  It makes sense to get back to the basics, eating right, as they say.  After all, you are what you eat.  While all that is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (to borrow from my 9 year old’s vocabulary), I believe that there still exists a huge gap in the understanding of body chemistry, and what different types of foods do inside the body.  In short, you can end up merely stimulating or shifting the symptoms around with a particular diet, without really moving to the next level in the ever-elusive game of healing and health (that we are all playing) mistakenly thinking that you have healed a certain condition by eating a certain way.  My reaction used to be – “Wow, excellent that you have healed your ailment, abdominal pain, with food (a certain diet)!”  And, then invariably they would reply – “Yes, it’s great!  But, now I have this crazy skin symptom, whiteheads all over my face, and that’s what I am here for.”   Now, when I hear a successful dietary story, my question always is – “So, what are your new (or unresolved) symptoms?”  And, I can almost accurately guess what those new (or unresolved) symptoms might be based on whether they have been eating vegan or paleo or weston price, or GAPS, or some kind of intense weight-loss diet.  Well, let’s just say that I have started to have a general idea since I can’t really predict what the exact conglomeration of symptoms a body of a person will produce when backed into a corner, without really knowing their susceptibilities first.

In my experience, and my view point, food should be consumed to nourish and clean appropriately to keep a body healthy on a daily basis.  Each food category has a role to play in these different functions of nurture and drainage.  No-brainer so far, right?  We have all heard about carbs, and fats, and protein as broad food categories.  And, we have heard how important fruits and vegetables are when it comes to providing vital minerals to the body.  However, in this day and age, with widespread industrialized agriculture, and increased environmental toxins, plastics, etc. drainage plays a very important role to keep a body healthy.  In fact, foods that assist that function has gained, or should gain, top priority.  Everyone by now has figured out that “detox” is the new health mantra.  Detox, detox, detox.  Intense green juice fasts, elimination diets, whole 30, etc. are all geared towards following a relatively clean diet for a short period of time before reverting back to the “norm”.  But, it can take months and years to drain and clean organ systems.  I say keep it simple and consistent and persistent, make it a way of life.  Figure out your eating plan in such a way that you are accomplishing your cleaning goals DAILY.  That’s where FRUIT comes in.  

The astringent quality of the fruits makes it the most potent food group that is able to accomplish the goals of cleansing and cellular restoration, no matter what type of chronic ailment you have.  Even more than leafy greens and vegetables.  Actually, vegetables are builders, not detoxifiers.  When you understand how the lymphatic system works and the related acid-base chemistry that is at the core of diffusion and osmosis and fluid flow in our bodies, it makes sense.   I am aware that there is a big debate in the health care world when it comes to fruits because some still consider it as sugar and therefore bad for the body, and instead green juices are at the core of most detox regimens out there.  Protein is another focus of hot debate in the same communities and are featured in many auto-immune healing diets along with the vegetables.  Something doesn’t quite add up there given that proteins are nitrogen-based compounds and therefore acid-generating when metabolized.  It has to beg the question – how is that going to heal in the long run?

In the diet recommendations on my website, I aim to provide a balanced approach as I recognize that it is never a one size fits all paradigm…. with admittedly significantly different food ratios than what is considered popular, because of what I have seen in my own practice and the results achieved, or not achieved.  Simply put, a high protein diet is acidic to the body, and therefore significantly decreases lymphatic flow creating blockage and eventually inflammation.  Protein is a stimulator and will make things better in the short term, but eventually there will arise new symptoms of blockage, such as abdominal pain giving way to unsightly whiteheads on the face.  Skin after all is considered our third kidney, and guess what, the main organs of lymphatic drainage are the kidneys!  On another note, while vegetables are a wonderful food category and provides the many necessary vitamins needed by the body, however, it is still lacking in power when it comes to cleaning, it needs the astringent power of fruits to do that.  Many people who follow a vegetable juice diet often get good results as it makes the body stronger, but they often will reach a plateau, if deeper work is needed.  Fruits are it, the main food to use when it comes to drainage and detoxification.

SO, EAT FRUITS.  But, not just willy nilly as a garnish or a small appetizer before the big meal.  The key to eating fruits is to do so alone, without mixing with other food groups.  I can not emphasize enough how important this is.  Don’t add blueberries to your oatmeal, or to your yogurt (wait, are you still eating dairy?), or add protein powder to a fruit smoothie.  No, no, no.  Fruit digests far quicker than proteins or fats or other complex carbohydrates such as grains, that means when you combine them, the fruit sugars just sit in the stomach for a long time and ferment while waiting for the protein to get digested, and not only is that a cause of digestive distress for many, it loses the basic chemistry needed to pull the waste out of the lymph.  Instead it gives an opportunity for the candida in your system to flare.  Here is a great and thorough video by Dr. Robert Morse – An open debate about fruit sugar, in response to Dr. Brian Clement’s stance on modern fruit being hybridized, and unripe and hence not good for the body.  A bit long, but great information if you are interested in understanding how body chemistry works, and how the lymphatic system works, which is nothing but actually the sewer system of the body.  It is also very important for me to mention and add a word of caution at this point, that if you now feel inspired by the power of fruits, that you should NOT switch to eating it exclusively cold turkey.  It is always a good idea to make changes slowly, and see how your body feels.  Unless, you are very sick already to begin with, then the faster you remove the sickening foods (aka acid-generating foods) from your menu, starting with the animal proteins, the better.  A simple example:  if you are in an acute state of inflammation with the flu say, consuming an all fruit diet will certainly make you feel better sooner, as the body is already in that detoxification mode, and is asking for the lymphatic drainage to happen, which the fruits are more than equipped to help accomplish.

So, there you have it.  Eat fruits, plenty of them.  Eat them for breakfast, first thing in the morning to jump start the alkalizing effect.  It is one of the best things you can do for yourself and for your health.  Find the synergy within.

UPDATE: In response to feedback from some people who claim that their bodies do not tolerate fruit well, that some symptoms get exacerbated or they get some new symptoms… please know that it is not the fruits that is the problem. Going on a fruit diet will EXPOSE the weaknesses in the body that needs to be addressed.  Eating a high protein or fat diet may take away or calm those symptoms, but, only to have them appear on deeper more chronic level.  If your body can not tolerate fruit well, be sure that it is not tolerating any other food well.

The human microbiome – acute and chronic illness

Earlier this month, the New York Times published Microbes, a love story, in time for Valentine’s Day.  Yes, your microbes are what make you sexy… and brainy, and healthy, and what have you.  After all, inside our own bodies we are outnumbered ten to one (in the intestines alone there are 500-1000 different species of bacteria, and ten times as many living in it as human cells in the entire body).  This micro-biologic life in and on the human body is called the MICROBIOME.  The understanding of the microbiome is going mainstream and challenging the medical community to rethink many assumptions of health and illness, but, not nearly fast enough.  Doctors still prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics or other biocides all too often, and all too soon!  (See my post on biocides.)  On the other hand, probiotics have taken the non-conventional health world by storm, and dirt is the new superfood!

But, let’s understand this human microbiome first.  This mass of micro-organisms collectively weighing over 3 lbs. forms a continuous living shield, or bio-film, of nonhuman tissue that covers every square inch of skin, colonizes every orifice and lines most of the respiratory, gastrointestinal and urogenital tracts.  It plays a crucial role in almost every aspect of life including immunity, digestion, respiration, social interaction, sexual attraction, bonding, and reproduction.  Survival without it as NASA scientists have determined is nearly impossible.  Incidentally, it was the scientists working at NASA who first discovered the effects of depleting the microbiome while studying the results of long journeys into space in a bacteria poor environment.  Later on, the National Institute of Health (NIH) delved deep into it using genetic sequencing technology, and called it the Human Microbiome Project (HMP).  Amazingly, just as the human organism is completely dependent on the microbiome for growth and development and survival, the microbiome is also completely dependent on the human organism for its survival.  THIS IS TRUE SYMBIOSIS.  The more diverse the bacterial spectrums present in the human microbiome, the more stable and healthy the resulting super-organism.  Germophobes, take heed!  The erstwhile antibiotic premise that germs are bad and that impeccable hygiene is the cornerstone of human health is not correct anymore.  This emerging reality shifts away from the fear-based relationship one has with the environment and instead informs us to nurture and educate the complex microbiota within.  A self-sufficient, successfully operating ecosystem then becomes perfectly capable of dealing with pathogenic microbes (the “bad guys”) on its own, as and when the need arises.

It all starts at birth, as the baby makes its way down the birth canal and inoculates itself with a heavy dose of the mother’s vaginal flora.  Thereafter, the infant is a sponge for new bacteria and viruses, getting the nourishment and protection it needs mostly from mother’s milk while it figures out what is “self” and “friends of self” and what is not.  This process impacts all levels of development.  The nervous system, the limbic system, the immune system, the digestive and respiratory systems, and the sexual and reproductive systems all develop based on complex interactions with the microbiome.  Reduced biological exposure and microbiome diversity, particularly during early infancy is associated with significantly increased risk of developing immune related allergic and inflammatory conditions in childhood, adolescence and adulthood.  Cesarean section, formula feeding and overly hygienic conditions around these events dramatically reduce and limit exposure and accumulation of normal bacterial flora from the mother.   The earlier in life that bacterial exposure takes place the greater likelihood that immune system maturity and tolerance to these organisms will develop.  After this crucial neonatal time period passes, newly introduced organisms are more likely to trigger an oppositional immune reaction, or an infection.  Psychological trauma is another major factor known to influence and alter the gut microbiota.  Stress-induced alteration of the gut microbiota early in life may elicit long-lasting immune consequences and increase the risk of developing stress-related disorders later in life.  Throughout every activity for the rest of life, we are exposed to multitudes of bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites and the overwhelming majority of these organisms enter long-term complex relationships with the body, ultimately helping it survive in the environment.

Role of Acute Illness and the Immune System

Your microbiome is influenced by where you live, how much time you spend outdoors, people you work and live with, your diet, traumas you have experienced, etc..  The composition also changes at different points in life: adolescence, pregnancy, old age, etc.. Traveling abroad will often make people sick due to the change in environment, food, water, etc.  Seen through the lens of environmental science, acute infections are part of the normal negotiation process between the immune system and the microbiome, in fact they may even be considered essential training processes. Childhood infectious diseases were once considered necessary rites of passage for children.  Acute infections can result from first-time encounters between bacteria (or viruses) that the immune system has never seen before, but they can also result from changes in the balance of organisms in the microbiome, for example from the use of an antibiotic.  When that happens, some organisms that were previously held in check, may now overgrow and become invasive, triggering an immune compensatory response (such as the occurrence of yeast infections after antibiotics).  To reestablish balance, the immune system and the microbiome must adjust.

The first response to an acute infection is usually an acute inflammation such as fever which is just one of the tools used by the immune system to help it resolve the infection more efficiently by inhibiting the pathogens from multiplying.  Rushing to treat with anti-pyretic, anti-inflammatory, and steroidal medicines that are used to reduce this inflammation only end up impairing the immune system, making it impossible to fully resolve the infection.  The person may “feel better” in the short term due to the suppression of the inflammation.  But, what happens to that pathogen that has infiltrated the microbiome?  Well, then the recommendations for the antimicrobials follow.  Treatments using antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, etc.  then proceed to damage the microbiome and further prevent the immune system from negotiating with the microbiome to incorporate and deal with the pathogen effectively.  Inevitably, these interventions prevent both the immune system and the microbiome from maturing. Permanent or lasting immunity cannot result under these circumstances, and the result – RECURRING infections.  Autoimmune conditions potentially also develop when the immune system is thus prevented from reacting to foreign antigens and ends up eventually attacking antigens within the body.

In reality, only the combined activity of both the immune system and the microbiome results in a healthy response.  This article, Microbiota talks cholera out of the gut, describes a study that provides an example of how gut resident bacteria can protect the host by reducing the pathogenicity of invading organisms, rather than simply competing for resources.  Acute infections thus are inevitable events in immune system development and diversification of the microbiome.
A quick side note: the systematic eradication of many childhood infectious illnesses through routine vaccination also prevents the immune system from experiencing the routine challenges of acute illness that helps it mature and provide lifetime immunity along the way, and therefore, deserves a re-evaluation.  Bacteria and viruses are intelligent life-forms and they have a directive to survive, they are going to mutate if necessary, as we are seeing with “superbugs”.  True herd immunity is this learning and negotiation and this ability to accommodate each other in a way that creates greater health in us and maintains the circulation of these bacteria and viruses within the society.  Support the process, not suppress it.  Most acutes can be safely, effectively and efficiently treated with homeopathy, gemmotherapy, tissue salts, the right foods and herbs, etc. without destroying the microbiome!

Let me re-emphasize that the stability of one’s health is directly related to the diversity of the microbiome and the integration of these communities of microbiologic life in conjunction with the host, that is the human body.  Microbiome damage and lack of diversity have both been associated with the tendency to develop many physical and mental illnesses. More and more medical conditions have been linked to either the failed diversity or the damaged ecology of the microbiome.  Disruption of these highly evolved and finely tuned bacterial relationships in the microbiome leads to failures of immune regulation, modulation, maturation, and tolerance.  When these functions are interrupted, the stage is set for the development of a host of CHRONIC health problems.

Chronic Inflammatory, Allergic, and Autoimmune Illness

Nearly half of all Americans have been diagnosed with at least one chronic health condition and at the current rate of growth, this number is expected to increase by another 42% over the next few years.  The incidence of chronic illness in children has also more than tripled since 1960 with asthma, learning disabilities, ADHD, and autism to name a few.  There is a virtual epidemic of chronic illness with nearly 70% of all deaths attributable to one or more of these conditions.  Unless we understand, and get on board with the importance and role of the microbiome, unfortunately that’s the reality we will have to be dealing with for a while to come, as most disturbances of the microbiome are iatrogenic: the result of well intentioned, but misguided medical interventions.  We have literally traded in epidemics of acute diseases for epidemics of chronic inflammatory diseases.  One of the most important lessons of the HMP is that humans must learn to live within the world of microbiology. “We’ve just spent the better part of a century doing our unwitting best to wreck the human-associated microbiota with a multifronted war on bacteria and a diet notably detrimental to its well-being.”

From experience with working with a wide array of chronic ailments in my homeopathic practice, I have observed the workings of the human microbiome first hand through remedy actions.  A fever, an acute incidence of diarrhea or a cold, and temporary aggravation of certain symptoms are some of the common reactions to well-chosen constitutional remedies that are prescribed for ANY chronic condition after a thorough intake and analysis of the person’s life history.  Followed by wellness and resolution of the chronic symptoms, immediately or gradually improving layer by layer depending on the person’s vitality and level of suppression that the microbiome has undergone in its lifetime.  Although the mechanism behind homeopathy is not well understood by many, neither was the human microbiome until it was studied with the most advanced scientific machinery available.  Homeopathy is a truly remarkable modality that synchronizes the actions of the body with the microbiome to promote natural healing and immune maturation.

According to researchers at California’s Institute of Technology (Caltech):
“A healthy, mature immune system depends on the constant intervention of beneficial bacteria. ‘It goes against dogma to think that bacteria would make our immune systems function better, … But the picture is getting very clear: the driving force behind the features of the immune system are commensals.'” – J. Ackerman, The Ultimate Social Network.

Needless to say, it behooves us to choose healthcare and treatments that work in conjunction with the microbiome, not against it.

Further reading:
The Human Microbiome Project (HMP)
The effect of infections on susceptibility to autoimmune and allergic diseases
Harvard study shows how antibiotics disrupt babies microbiomes
Aliens Inside Us: A (Mostly Friendly) Bacterial Nation
An Epidemic of Absence. A new way of understanding allergies and autoimmune diseases
Commensal bacteria control cancer response to therapy by modulating the tumor microenvironment
Microbial Manifesto: The Global Push to Understand the Microbiome
Postraumatic Stress Disorder: Does the Gut Microbiome Hold the Key?

Understanding your “hot” button

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.  There is no coming to consciousness without pain.  People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul.  One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.  Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.  When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.”
~ Carl Gustav Jung

In recent months, since the election, we have been witnessing immense discord, dissent, and division regarding government and political matters.  Friends are divided, families are divided, the media is divided, even the people within the same political parties are divided.  Values are being challenged.  People who had shared values, common ground, and could relate to each other prior, are suddenly finding themselves on opposite sides when it comes to Donald Trump who just assumed office as the President of the United States.  Reactive projections are being made, some people are looking to him with hope, while others are organizing protests and looking for a different leader to follow.  Indeed a lot of buttons are getting pushed resulting in angst, outrage, fear, intolerance and grief.

When I was in homeopathy school, there were two books that were mandated reading for us as part of the self-development portion of the curriculum in prepping and polishing us to become well-rounded homeopaths.  They were “Thank you for being such a pain”, by Mark I. Rosen, Ph.d., and “No Enemies Within: What’s right about what’s wrong” by Dawna Markova.  The first had to do with understanding and healing relationships with difficult people; the person generating conflict in our lives is the ideal foe delivered by the Universe unto us, a person whose characteristics exactly correspond to the places within us that need learning and healing.  The theme of the second book is making friends with one’s problems and providing a process to learn new ways to relate compassionately to the things inside and out that people oppose.  Both books are wonderful with exercises and practices to accomplish the goals of self-healing and navigating better and more successfully the world that we come in contact with daily.  For me, it wasn’t enough to just accept that these practices would transform me and help me to become the person I was destined to become.  Indeed, they didn’t.  I needed to understand the concepts, the underlying mechanisms of human psychology, it all needed to click in my head and heart and soul and then I could figure out my own practices and exercises from there.  The books helped me some, but, I kept on seeking to understand the human psychology through personal observation, as well as observing others in the context of relating to one another.

It was not until my discovery of Jung (through Edward Whitmont), that I really started putting two and two together about the mental emotional and behavioral patterns of my own as well as people around me.  It became a very useful tool for me to get to the core of a client’s case in a constitutional homeopathic consultation.  My then mentor and now colleague Jerry Kantor had already taught me to ask the existential ” what’s your hot button” question.  Teasing out and exploring the answer almost always gives away the key to the case.

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” Now, most of the time we can easily and objectively perceive others’ faults and even accept them unconditionally, until they trigger us.  Then invariably and infallibly we react with irritation, conflict and intolerance of those faults and the people exhibiting those faults.  That’s because there are shadows of those very same faults within us.  On social media these days, people are quite forthcoming in sharing what bothers them; pet peeves, things that they can not stand, people that they can not stand.  Through the expressions of grief, anger, irritability, joy, celebration, complaints, one seeks justification and validation, not resolution and transformation.  It is hard to shine the light on ourselves, when we are ranting about another person or a situation.  We are always looking outward at the other person, expecting the other person to change and address their faults to make for a better world, not ourselves when we are thus irritated.  Unfortunately, the answer to the conflict and irritation actually lies within ourselves.  It is really all about one’s SELF, nothing else, and no one else.

Furthermore, everyday I come across many kindred spirits as myself seeking to lead a happier life, making the appropriate choices for reduced stress, better emotional and physical health, and improving the overall quality of life.  I see an abundance of writings and memes instructing and empowering everyone to avoid negativity like the plague; keep negative people away, do not entertain negative thoughts, condemn negative acts, etc.; with a push for positive inspiration, thoughts and activities; the hope is that if these practices are incorporated consistently, the goal of a happy healthy life will be achieved.  But, will it?  Is avoidance and ritualistic keeping at arm’s length of all undesirable and negative things the real solution to finding everlasting happiness?  Some might indeed argue that it is so.  But, think about it, that only creates a greater divide between perceived “positives” (light) and “negatives” (shadow), a greater split in people’s minds, in people’s selves, and thereby in the world order.  It generates intolerance, hatred and eventually fear.  Through denying and rejecting and beating down the negativity, we trap and push it into the dark corners of the consciousness, deep into the shadow.  The duality and split within oneself as well as within the greater collective universe only increases as a result.  As above, so below.  As within, so without.  And, then whatever undesirable and terrible happens to us becomes FATE.  That can not be the solution to everlasting happiness, healing or even self-fulfillment.

Instead, what if we are willing to consider that a situation or a person who is so overwhelmingly bothersome to us is actually a mirror of something within one’s own self?  Indeed, that is one’s hot button.  Then, if we simply just rant and reject them, or worse still decide to cut them off from our lives, we would be missing the biggest opportunity that life is giving us to delve and learn about one’s own inner self; and delve deep into the complexity we must.  The shocker is that these “negative” circumstances are our teachers, for they create friction, they agitate, because they represent everything that is already in one’s self that exists in the shadow.  They offer the potential to wake one up from an esoteric perspective.  That’s what Jung essentially means.  It is only when you allow the unconscious to become conscious, that personal growth happens, and when you face and reconcile that truth within your own self that bothers you so much in others, that you will find that it does not bother you any more in the same helpless way.  You don’t have to waste time and energy hiding from them, dodging them, keeping them away, shunning them, shutting them out and putting someone else in their place you can pin your hopes on.  You are able to accept them as they are, project love, and find creative solutions to affect positive change at all levels… your own self, the other person, the world.

In conclusion, any negative reactive emotion we have towards the negative person in our life (or larger than life if it is for someone in power) is a sign of literally giving away our power and life energy.  It shows us where our work is when it comes to basic Jungian psychology of shadow work until we can come to a place of non-reactive zero-point consciousness.   That’s when one becomes tuned into one’s true inner power and guidance, and becomes a sovereign embodied individual.  Anything else is just going in circles, within the confines of one’s own habitual patterns, unaware, instead of breaking out of them.  Both good and bad, although subjective notions, get an equal opportunity to manifest themselves.  You can make a difference in the quality of your own life by examining yourself whenever you encounter a hot button issue.  Otherwise, you can count on other people and situations to be triggering you and creating conflict over and over again to your utter and unending disbelief and bafflement, no matter how much you want to simply lead a positive life.

Homeopathy can be a great tool in this work of self-awareness, self-attunement, and self-enlightenment.  I recommend working with a professional homeopathic consultant for that.  Well-chosen remedies can connect one with their inner voice, shift those inner shadows and bring them to light, and thereby change the way one experiences, interacts, and is effective in the world.

 

FIVE…

REMEDIES YOU MUST HAVE IN YOUR MEDICINE CABINET

I often suggest acquiring and keeping an acute or emergency homeopathic remedy kit, if you have committed to using this wonderful modality for the daily or occasional scrapes of life, and especially to every parent with young children in my practice.  Comes in handy at any time, at home or during travel including when those ails hit in the middle of the night.  But, if you don’t want to invest in a kit, here are some guidelines for remedies that can feature in your natural medicine cabinet.  The remedies, if stored properly in a cool, dark place away from heat, direct sunlight, and strong EMFs, will last forever.

ARNICA – The #1 “accident-remedy” for bruises, bumps and bleeding.  Take immediately after injury or  surgery.  You will be amazed how quickly you heal!  Also helps jet lag.

ACONITE – The “fright remedy” relieves states of shock and panic.  Also used for colds or flu that come on suddenly after exposure to cold wind.

IGNATIA – The “grief remedy” soothes those suffering loss (e.g. death, divorce, relocation), especially if they sigh frequently.

NUX VOMICA – The “hangover remedy” for overindulgence in food  or drink with irritability.  Helps most acute digestive distress.

CHAMOMILLA – The “teething remedy” helps sick kids who are angry, demanding, inconsolable, and want to be carried.  Soothes teething, colic, earaches.

REMEDIES THAT FIT MANY COLD AND FLU CASES

The most important consideration is recognizing the differences between cold and flu symptoms.
Cold: It’s all in the nose – A cold will often begin 1 to 5 days after being exposed to a virus or bacteria.  Symptoms will mainly stay in the nose giving runny, stuffy nose, and sneezing symptoms.  Some colds will bring on a fever.
Flu: You are sick all over – A flu will begin abruptly with hardly any notice. Generally, a high fever will be the first sign following a flushed face, body aches and lack of energy. After a few days, symptoms may travel down the respiratory system creating sore throats, coughs and bronchitis.

FERRUM PHOS – Usually given at early onset because there are no clear keynotes for any other remedy.  They maybe better with touch and cold application.  They feel worse when lying on right side.

BELLADONNA – Most people will present with a sudden, high fever, and a red face. Cold hands and feet with a very hot head, dry skin, and sensitivity to light and sound.  Bad dreams, night terrors may also be present.

ACONITE – This is usually the first remedy given when a cold or flu is noted ( or when wanting to help prevent one).  Especially if the person is fearful.  Similar to Belladonna, the symptoms will come on rapidly with a high fever but usually due to exposure to cold, dry wind.  They are very restless and have heavy throbbing head pain.

BRYONIA – The patient has a slow developing fever that creeps up over a few days.  They also do not want to be touched due to body aches and feel worse with moving.  They will crave cold drinks.  Because of the above, they may be quite irritable!  A good flu remedy.

GELSEMIUM – The flu will come on slowly especially after a change in the weather ( cold to warm or vice versa).  There will be no thirst and the body will feel heavy – eyelids to limbs and weak.  A fever will accompany moments of cold shiver running up and down their back.

CELL SALTS TO HAVE IN YOUR MEDICINE CABINET

Biochemic cell salts, also called tissue salts, stimulate the body’s natural healing mechanisms to satisfy mineral imbalances.  These are great compliments to regular homeopathic remedies, especially if you are having a hard time figuring out the best matching remedy.

CALC PHOS 6x – General tonic.  Ideal for teething, sore throats, general restlessness.

FERRUM PHOS 6x – Ideal for fevers and congestions, head colds, and first stages of a minor injury.

KALI MUR 6x – Ideal for colds, sore throats, runny nose.  Take along with Calc Phos and Ferrum Phos to help the body adjust during a season change such as Spring, and Fall.

SILICEA 6x – Homeopathic lancet.  Ideal for splinters and skin eruptions; brittle hair and nails.

BIOCHEMIC PHOSPHATES – A combination of all five phosphates, it can be used for relief of symptoms of nervousness, irritability and occasional sleeplessness.  Also, great to use during convalescence after a flu or a long lasting acute illness.

Side Note: It is best to go to the ER or consult your primary care physician in case of an accident or injury or if you suspect any of these acute illnesses, for everyone but especially, for children under the age of 2.

Biocides – colloidal silver, tea tree, et al.

bi·o·cide
/ˈbīəˌsīd/
noun
  1. a poisonous substance, especially a pesticide.
  2. the destruction of life.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines biocides as “a diverse group of poisonous substances including preservatives, insecticides, disinfectants, and pesticides used for the control of organisms that are harmful to human or animal health or that cause damage to natural or manufactured products”.
Thus a biocide can be:
A pesticide: this includes fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, algicides, molluscicides, miticides and rodenticides.
An antimicrobial: this includes germicides, antibiotics, antibacterials, antivirals, antifungals, antiprotozoals and antiparasites.  In short, because biocides are intended to kill living organisms, many biocidal products pose significant risk to human health and welfare. (source: wikipedia)

You see, if you simply attack a symptom with biocides, whether they be synthetic or natural, things may, and often do, become worse.  Why?  Because symptoms are created by the interaction between the germ and the terrain.  The vulnerability and sensitivity of the terrain, aka the susceptibility, is ignored or overlooked when using such an approach.  And, DISEASE essentially begins and ends with this susceptibility and how well that is able to be addressed.  In the famous words of Paracelus – “Those who merely study and treat the effects of disease are those who imagine that they can drive away winter by brushing the snow from the door.  It is not the snow that causes winter, but winter that causes the snow”. When going after the microbes with biocides, one is going after merely the snow, and mind you, it is not as gentle as using a broom.  Besides, the microbes that survive the killing spree return strengthened.  We all have heard about superbugs, correct?  Yes, biocides can create them, too.

Well, take, for example, colloidal silver – one of the most widely used “natural antimicrobials” out there and people swear by it. Unfortunately (as well as fortunately), biocides do not kill everything, which is why we can get away (almost) with using them in our living bodies to begin with.  But, that which doesn’t get killed comes back stronger, over and over.  It’s the law of Nature, survival of the fittest.  Not to mention the accumulated toxicity from repeated use of the biocide.  I just saw two cases of silver toxicity last month.  One client was on 1 teaspoon of colloidal silver a day for almost two years.  One of her presenting symptoms was restless leg syndrome which started about a year and half ago.  Just taking her off the daily oral dose of the stuff reduced her restless leg by 50%.  And it got completely better after a dose of a homeopathic remedy chosen to match her overall symptoms and which also incidentally had an indication for silver toxicity.  Go figure.

So – if you have come to the awareness and are no longer turning to antibiotics and medications to help resolve your symptoms like before, that’s wonderful news!  But then, if you have switched to alternative killing methods, like colloidal silver, tea tree oil, oil of oregano, parasite cleanses, etc.  you are still inadvertently setting yourself up for potentially further problems in the future.  Just like antibiotics, these alternatives have their place in medicine and can be tools at certain times for certain situations. But, I see them as being useful in very limited ways only, for a short term or once in a while strategy, when there is access to no other resource, or the person is very very sick.  They may appear to work, but be aware that it’s a symptomatic approach, and actually may lead to suppression instead of resolution.  Hence, if you find yourself needing to use these biocides frequently, then know that you are over-doing it, and that something is amiss, and that it would be better to seek out a better solution.

What would be better?  It would be much better, and more effective, to equip and train your own microbiome to fend off the pathogenic microbes than to go to war inside your own body and risk having your body be collateral damage.  Think of it like raiding (or bombing) the whole village to take out the robbers that have infiltrated it.  Not too smart, is it?  Instead, the appropriate intervention would be one that resolves the susceptibility, aka miasmatic and constitutional weaknesses, that led to the infiltration in the first place.  When we put to use our body’s vital energy and tap into our body’s self-healing capabilities, we train our immune system, our microbiome, and reduce susceptibility.  I prefer and recommend constitutional homeopathic care for any and all such symptoms that seem to indicate an issue with microbial imbalance, be it skin issues, recurring infections, yeast issues, chronic infections, lyme, or any symptom that on the superficial level seems to call for a biocide, recurrently and/or for long periods of time.  The idea is to boost your overall well-being so you can fix your individual susceptibility and balance from the inside-out.  Know that if you still choose or have to use a biocide however natural, that is totally fine, it’s your choice.  Just be aware, and know the risks.  Don’t operate with the mindset that it is safer just because you are choosing a “natural” killer of living things rather than a synthetic or a patented one, and then wonder why you are still sick, or getting sicker by the day.  Knowledge is power.

How to tell if something is being used as a biocide?

A thorough treatise on the subject of biocides is available at GreenFacts, a very useful resource.  I also love the following criteria succinctly put forth by Mary Aspinwall, a noted homeopath with over 20 years of experience, to identify a biocide.  She also aptly says – “Sadly, when we use biocides our bodies and our natural immunity are collateral casualties and we are increasing our susceptibility to the next thing looking to colonize us.” (emphasis mine) –

1.  A biocide kills things.
2.  It targets the symptom or the perceived “invader”.
3.  It’s a one size fits all approach.
4.  It is intended to work in exactly the same way for everyone (except that it doesn’t).
5.  It is used without any need for individualization.
6.  It is an outside-in strategy.
7.  It doesn’t seek to increase the natural immune response from the inside-out.

In my opinion, the last two items in the above list speaks to the paradigm that the body is too weak to defend itself (again a matter of susceptibility).  Therefore, it always needs help from the outside to restore health – it’s a common paradigm in conventional western medicine that is adopted in the world of alternative medicine with the use of antimicrobial alternatives.  Using a biocide essentially imposes on the vital force and the immune system – here, let me do the killing for you, every single time, because you are incapable.  Any parent raising a child will quickly realize the fallacy of such an approach, the disadvantages of doing everything for your child instead of teaching and supporting him or her in the right ways to be self-sufficient.  It is no different when dealing with the body’s own immune system.  And, that’s just one facet in understanding the complexity of it all.

Some popular natural biocides include Pau d’arco, Colloidal Silver, Hydrogen Peroxide, Tea tree oil (also called Melaleuca), many other essential oils, GSE (Grape Seed Extract), Oregano oil, Natural lice treatment with Neem, and Olive leaf extract.

I have come across many natural health articles on the internet that list the above substances as holistic treatment for various symptoms.  These substances when used in this fashion as biocides are simply not holistic methods.  Bring in your awareness and seek out truly holistic and nurturing means to strengthen your body’s own innate ability to restore order and balance.  The right foods and exercises for physical and emotional nourishment (indeed diet and lifestyle are always first in my book); and homeopathy (well-matched homeopathic remedies) to remove susceptibility; these are my top choice tools to strengthen from the inside out, and thereby getting rid of symptoms!