Monday, Aug 31, 2012
Traditionally, there exists a certain amount of scepticism and distrust between the Homeopathic and Conventional medical worlds. Homeopaths tend to shake their heads over the close relationship between the drug companies and the doctors and their deleterious effects on health. Conventional physicians raise the possible neglect of a serious medical condition and suggest that at best suggest homeopathy works by placebo effect. Only this year CBC Marketplace tried to show how homeopathic science is deeply flawed and is no more medicine than a teaspoon of sugar. Is it possible for these two sworn enemies to work together, let alone to produce something far greater than any one system of medicine could be?
Why, yes, actually it is.
In India, there is a long tradition of separate systems of medicine working side- by- side in one hospital. They have six different medical systems: Homeopathy is number one, conventional medicine number two, Aryuvedic number three, then Unani and several others. The standards of education and practice of each system are regulated by its own government department. Where I did my internship, at Father Mueller’s Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital in Mangalore India, is an example of a combined Allopathic and Homeopathic 400 bed hospital. Granted the regular medical side had more beds in that hospital. But all over India there are similar hospitals where Homeopathy is number one.
Until recently, however, I had never worked in any setting where two systems of medicine work together on a single case, where the goal is using Homeopathy and other complementary therapies wherever possible and reducing the Allopathic medicines as much as possible.
This fall I began working at the Victoria Health Coop on Wednesdays. In October 2010 the Victoria Health Coop had merged with the James Bay Community Health Clinic to become the first medical clinic in Victoria to be run as a cooperative and the first clinic where doctors and alternative health practioners work together with the patient at the same time.
The team that each patient may chose from for their health care includes: Homeopathic Medicine, Counselling, Yoga, Chinese medicine, Acupuncture, Herbal medicine, Psychotherapy, Energy work, Transactional analysis, Thai Massage, Jin Shin do, Hypnotherapy, Cranial sacral therapy, Osteopathic medicine, Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, Massage therapy, five Medical Doctors, and a Midwife. Eventually a pharmacy including Homeopathic and Herbal medicines and a birthing center is in the works. Through the doctors, patients have access to medical testing at the Lab upstairs. The Community run volunteer driven James Bay Medical Project and the Choices Program that provides talks by our team on everything from H1N1 to nutrition to anxiety are the heart of the organization. Their programs are ever changing in response to the needs of the community.
My patients have played the biggest role in integrating me into the allopathic world and the conventional medical doctors into my own Homeopathic practice.
One of those patients is Jeremy. Picture a Viking with silver hair in a wheelchair. He is 70 years old. He was diagnosed with MS (Mulitiple Sclerosis) forty years ago. Jeremy spoke about his integrated medical experience in front of the MS Society at the end of a talk I recently gave there.
At the CCHC, he appointed his own health care team, a Homeopathic Physician (me) as his primary provider of health care working with a Medical Doctor to ensure the proper and safe withdrawal of the drugs he no longer needs and to monitor the ones he does. “That a patient can choose” he said, “is part of what integrative medicine in a co-op is supposed to be, isn’t it?” He described how he observed with delight the two physicians from traditionally opposed worlds come together to amicably negotiate and strategize on his behalf with his wellbeing as the focus. He feels that for the first time since he became ill, he is moving in a positive direction. He can see changes in the quality of his skin, a reduction the oedema in his legs, improvements in his respiratory condition and with the night time pressures of his genitourinary system. Previously the Homeopathic physician would have had to send him to another medical facility to reduce the medication that was keep his blood pressure far too low. Now his doctor was right there to reduce the dosage. He feels safe, understood, respected, in control, and well cared for. He finished by saying that forty years of cynicism about medicine has been washed away.