Paul K. Branch, M.D. - Holistic Medicine and Classical Homeopathy


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The Alternative Healer

Archive for the ‘Levels of Healing’ Category


Therapy vs Homeopathic Casetaking

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

One of my patients wrote me an interesting comment after watching my presentation (see link on the left): 

As far as their questions regarding dealing with people as they go further in their state, and the possible reaction, i.e.  rage, I thought about the fact, that you do not offer an opinion or comment for example “ that must have been hard”  etc.  I think these people thought you were/are in essence “doing” therapy to get to these levels.  Given my need for acceptance, I was acutely aware that you did not respond/react to the things I said.  There is no judgment; there just is what was said.

I have mentioned before that classical homeopathy is like eavesdropping.  You gently lead the patient through a series of levels to listen into the deep 4th level state.  In this process, there often are strong emotions a patient expresses.  This was the concern of a few therapists at my presentation.  What they did not understand was that in the process of casetaking, I am always moving through these emotions.  It is as if the homeopathic case is always found in the eye of the hurricane. 

I like this line, “There is no judgment; there is just what was said.”   In a sense, this is also the eye of the hurricane.  It is true; I generally do not reflect back on things patients say with comments like “Oh, that must have been hard.”  It would contribute to getting stuck on the emotional level, which conflicts with my casetaking intention.  The other reason has to do with healing itself.  Homeopathic  means “same as the suffering.”  To mirror the disease is to cure it.  You start that process even at the level of casetaking.  You, as casetaker, become a mirror. 

The intention in taking a homeopathic case is different from the intention of a therapist, even profoundly different.  Therapy generally has the intention of processing the emotions, i.e. it is the 2nd level, the level of the patient’s feelings.  Thus, if a patient has a history of abuse, there are usually many emotions held around the events, and these commonly interfere with the patient’s life.  Therapy brings up these emotions and helps process them, freeing psychic energy for living. 

Strictly speaking, a homeopathic case has nothing to do with processing emotions, which is not to say that patients never do that while giving their case.  The case simply never rests there.  The intent is to reveal the underlying pattern of consciousness (4th level) in the patient.  All of us have a certain conflict within our underlying pattern of consciousness, and this conflict often gets in the way of fully healing the 2nd level emotions.  Therapy helps to process emotions and create cognitive structures to contain emotions (.e.g. instead of worrying all night, you write down all your worries on a piece of paper before you go to sleep); but if the underlying pattern of consciousness does not shift, the patient may get stuck in “endlessly processing” these emotions.  That is, the person keeps going to therapy for years and nothing truly changes.  The therapy is unable to reach the source of the problem.   

If you watch my presentation, in particular, the 2nd patient who speaks gives insight into this process.  This is a woman who suffered abuse and had years of therapy.  Nevertheless, something in her didn’t shift until she received a deep-acting remedy. I address this in the talk. 

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Case: Hyperthyroidism and Miscarriages

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

A few years ago, a woman came to see me for treatment.  I will call her Susan.  She was in her mid-30s and wanted to have a baby.  Although she had no problem becoming pregnant, each time she miscarried—four in a year’s time.  She also had a diagnosis of an overactive thyroid with episodes of what are called “thyroid storms.”  She had not had normal thyroid lab values in 15 years.  I took her case, and over a period of three hours her story emerged.   

What was remarkable about Susan’s story was that at the age of 16 she had fallen deeply in love with a boy.  Her first words to me were:

I’m here to remove all pain and emotional shocks.  I was sent to a boarding school as a child.  My parents thought it was the thing for me.  I was separated from my mom way too soon.  The other shock, the big event of my life was when I was 16, I fell in love with a guy named Matthew.  We were together for 5 years.  We separated because he was unable to grow up, but we still were friends after that.  Each of has had new partners.  During that time Matthew committed suicide.

Sixteen years later, in her dreams and emotional life she was still back at that time of Matthew’s suicide.  Not long after the suicide she was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.  I asked her about the hyperthyroid symptoms and she answered 

The possibility of having a crisis any time, to go to the hospital with my heartbeat going very fast, being sick.  I don’t like to always have to be conscious of being careful to check if my heartbeat is all right.  What will happen if I have another crisis?

Is she talking about physical or emotional symptoms?  The deeper we move into a patient’s case, the more the physical and emotional symptoms blur.  She experiences her heart as beating very fast, but her answer blends with her emotional shocks.

She came to see me because of the miscarriages.  How does this relate to the emotional shocks?  She told me a bit more about motherhood: 

I had a very very very enormous fear to be a mother.  I realized that when I had my second episode of hyperthyroidism. I cried with my therapist.  I remember in my mind it was not possible to be a good mother.  I remembered the pain my mother caused me when she didn’t listen to me or hear me.

She connects hyperthyroidism with being a mother.  This is not accidental.  She is beginning to tell us why she developed her hyperthyroidism as well giving clues to the emotional roots of her miscarriages.  My experience in taking the cases of hundreds of people, is that patients always, if you gently press them into it, will tell you why they have gotten their specific physical symptoms.  They are not fully conscious of it—if they were, it is unlikely they would have developed physical symptoms in the first place. 

Taking it a step further, I asked her what she felt like when her mother would not listen to her: 

I felt alone.  It’s like someone cut between her and me, and we were not in the same world anymore.

This sentence is taking us straight down to the 4th level  There are a few pieces missing–I’m leaving out the bulk of a 3.5 hour case–yet all her emotional and physical symptoms come together around this separation.  For her, separated means alone and not in the same world.  When she said the word cut she made a gesture of a cutting scissors with her index and middle fingers.   

I gave her the homeopathic remedy that mirrored this fusion – [cut] [shock] –separate from world loop she lived in, a plant from the Malvales family. 

Four weeks later I followed up on her case.  She told me.

I feel good.  I feel very surprised what I experienced during the four last weeks.  The first week [after the dose] I made many dreams, big dreams, the week after that I don’t really have dreams, I did so many things to get the attention of my husband.  I broke my toe, locked myself outside the house.  It was like I needed to be with people, I didn’t want to be alone.  My mother, sister, my husband all had to take care of me, I did a lot of things to put myself in bad situations.  The two first days after the remedy I slept very deeply for the first time.

She spontaneously told me about a dream:

I was near the house I lived when I was a kid.  I was really big, and the house was very small.  There is someone but I can’t see them, they want to show me things in not a normal way, paranormal.  I was very very afraid of that, I shouted so loud.

I asked her to clarify this feeling. 

Surprised, to be able to shout. I felt I have the power to say ‘No’; so I was proud of myself for that.  Very surprised of the power of my shout,…everyone will hear that.

She then told me about another important dream she had about a previous boyfriend.  It came to her mind through the dream that she actually loved the brother. 

I remember his brother probably loved me…  I realized after Matthew I had a lot of fear of falling in love again.

Here we see some “rewinding of the tape” in her emotional life.  This is mysterious.  Then she added another important piece:

About my thyroid:  this week, each week I take a blood test.  I am in the normal range now, and it’s the first time in 15 yrs that I am in the normal range.

Thus, right after she took the remedy her thyroid returned to normal functioning for the first time in 15 years.   

As a society, we think in terms of the improvement of the psyche, which is the province of the psychiatrist, and separately we think of the improvement of physical pathology, which is the province of the conventional physician.  Rarely do we speak of the two crossing.  This intersection of the emotional and physical is the 4th level intention, exactly where my homeopathic prescription went.   

At the conclusion of this first follow-up, I directly asked her to tell me what was better.  She answered, I think I feel more calm, and then,

Each Monday night I felt exactly that feeling when I cut with my mother.  I felt powerless.  I feel that I go back to experience more feelings that I had when I was younger, go back in time.   

She is going backward in time and processing.  I underline the word calm because it is a key word for the remedy I gave her.  She uses it to describe the opposite of shock or crisis or what she feels during a thyroid episode.  Her use of calm is, for me, a key indicator that she is heading down a deep progression towards health, that deep place where mind and body connect. 

A month later I followed up again.  During this time she had a transformational dream:

I had two dreams with Matthew.  He left me.  I was very happy because [in the dream] he didn’t commit suicide.  It was like life continued without him committing suicide.  I felt very strange; it’s like I accepted he is changing.  He’s not how he was when I was with him at 17.  As life continued, I never thought he changed.  It was the dream that made me feel like life changed, and I have to pass on to another thing.  I felt sad for 2 weeks after that.  Very sad.  And last week I became more joyous and happy…

Here, fifteen years later she is letting go.  Not long after this, she became pregnant, and this time she did not miscarry.  The happy ending is that she gave birth to a healthy child.   I have had to repeat her dose at various intervals, particularly after she delivered, because right after she gave birth her thyroid slipped out of normal range for the first time since before she saw me.  As is typical, a dose of her remedy immediately brought the thyroid labs to normal values again.  Normal thyroid function has returned.  She continues to do very well.  Most remarkably, she has a new sense of confidence and calm. 

This case briefly illustrates what I call a 4th intention healing.  All of us seeking to live long and healthy lives should know about it.  Many people struggle with chronic health conditions, in spite of the attempts of their conventional doctors and alternative healers.  If they find themselves in front of someone skilled in working at this 4th level, they often emerge not only well, but feeling better than before they ever got sick.  The significance of the case above is not only that her thyroid problem resolved and she was able to have a baby.  The treatment brought a sense of calm and faith in life that she had never had before.  This is the genius of classical homeopathy. 

For those who want to read further about 4th level healing please refer to the category Levels of Healing on the right.  In particular, the Oct 8 post Thoughts On Explaining Homeopathy outlines the four levels specifically. 

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Classes of Homeopathic Remedies

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

Homeopathic remedies come from one of three sources:  mineral, plant, or animal.  Thus, in classical homeopathy, one substance from mineral, plant or animal source matches the patient.  Because homeopathy is holistic, the substance must match the patient.  What does this mean to say that a mineral, plant or animal matches a patient?

For a remedy to match someone at level one would mean that the remedy matches the diagnosis.  The whole purpose of disease diagnosis is to separate out the disease from the person.  Diagnosis is a category that a group of faceless individuals belong to, for example, the group of people who have colon cancer.  It says nothing about who you are as an individual.  Because of this, diagnosis has almost nothing to do with a homeopathic remedy matching you. 

For a remedy to match at the second level would mean that the remedy matches your feelings.  The second level has to do with how you feel about your diagnosis.  The diagnosis may be anemia, but you go to the doctor because you are tired and maybe even a little depressed.  In a superficial way, a patient’s remedy must match this.  The problem is, you go to the doctor and say, “I’m depressed,” but for a homeopath depression means four thousand different things.  Think of it.  One person says he’s depressed, and you see sadness and grief all over him.  The next person says he is depressed, and you see no emotion at all.  They are entirely different ways of being depressed, which a remedy must match.

For a remedy to match at the third level, it must match the pattern of energy in the body.  A homeopathic remedy must match this to some degree.  To explain how would be to explain the relationship between homeopathy and acupuncture.  This is complicated stuff, because homeopathy and acupuncture are entirely different disciplines.  A Chinese doctor and a homeopath use different terminology and could have a conversation with each other only with great difficulty.  I will write more about this more in the future.

For a remedy to match at the fourth level means it must match the pattern of consciousness of a patient.  You might think of this as a fundamental way of being of the patient.  What does this mean?  Think of plants, minerals, and animals.  They have different ways of being.  Let us go through them one at a time. 

The way of being of an animal is one of competition and survival.  You exist in the animal world by being alpha, that is, the strongest survive.  The weaker get eaten.  You compete for food; you compete for mates; you compete for the best nesting spots; whatever.  Thus, patients who need animal remedies have this as a fundamental way of being.  If a patient comes in to see me and says, “Doctor, I have this aggressiveness, at times I feel a need to kill people, and I’m having trouble living in human society,” he probably needs a remedy from animal source.

The way of being of a mineral is one of structure.  Keeping a certain structure intact is  fundamental to this way of being.  Thus a mineral remedy might come in saying, ‘I have this relationship here and I can’t exist without it.  I can’t exist without the support this person gives me." Not always does a person who needs a mineral remedy complain about relationships.  Their core issue could be something like, “I have to perform at this level here, and I am too weak, (i.e. my structure is too weak to allow this.)” 

The way of being of a plant we have found to be one of reactivity and sensitivity.  The person who comes and says, “Doctor, my problem is my sensitivity.  I am sensitive to the noise; I am sensitive to the air; I am sensitive to when my husband raises his voice,” probably needs a remedy from plant source.  Sometimes people who need remedies from plant source will use the word “shock” repeatedly, because this feeling relates to the way people who need plant remedies react. 

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The Deep-Acting Prescription

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

A couple people who saw my talk on Friday mentioned to me that those who take a deep-acting homeopathic remedy change on ALL levels.  If we leave some allowance for time—some shift quickly; some take a lot more time—this is true.  The two cases that spoke shifted in a profound way.  One case talked about how her remedy had changed her life, lifting 35+ years of depression and enabling her to set boundaries around how much she was willing to give to people.  It was only after telling about all this that she, almost as an afterthought, mentioned that her chronic shoulder pain from a skiing accident 12 years ago disappeared, her blood pressure was lower, and that she had lost 30 pounds. 

One patient who remarked this to me is quite a bit better after taking a remedy.  Nevertheless, he mentioned that in comparison to the people who spoke, his improvement is not so remarkable.  I agree.  I am not impressed that his deep conflict is resolving.  We might think of this as a good 3rd level prescription, yet it misses the 4th level conflict. His remedy is not deep enough. 

It is important for patients using alternative therapies to realize they can respond to treatments at different levels.  In talking about this, I do not want to create false expectations.  Nevertheless, if both the patient and the homeopath have their sights set on a deep change, the teamwork created can help bring it about.  For me, it is important to always do the best I can.  Some cases take an extra effort, and the right attitude of patience and openness coming from the patient makes it easier for me.  Difficult cases can be psychologically tough on a homeopath.   Impatience coming from the patient makes this all the more trying. 

Sometimes the deep-acting prescription is but a step away from a remedy I have given that helps a patient a lot.   Not infrequently, though, the deeper-acting prescription comes from an entirely different remedy.  For example, the person may be helped by certain remedies from animal source, but when the deep conflict comes clear, it isn’t animal at all.  It’s mineral or plant.  This can be confusing, even for the homeopath.  Practicing homeopathy takes a degree of flexibility and open-mindedness like few other disciplines.   

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Thoughts on Explaining Homeopathy

Sunday, October 8th, 2006

I am in New York and reflecting on my talk two days ago on classical homeopathy and human potential.  I had a couple patients speak about their experiences, and this was wonderful for showing what happens when a homeopathic remedy acts deeply on the 4th level.  For those who didn’t hear my talk and would like to, it was videotaped, and there may be a link to it.  Stay tuned.

Always the problem for me when I discuss what I do is how to help people understand a discipline that is outside of what our medical system has taught them.  We all learn by starting with what we know and moving on from there.  This is a problem, because our medical system begins from an entirely different idea about what it means to be human.

I try to get around this by dividing medical treatment into levels, starting with level 1—the medicine they know, understand, and are comfortable with—and descending into the new territory of levels 3 and 4.  Still, it’s tough going, and many people have difficulty crossing from level 2 to 3.  Without that transition, going from level 3 to level 4, the level of homeopathy, is impossible. 

I have written about the levels of healing many times before.  I take the point of view of the healer and their therapeutic intention, as follows:

1) Intention at the level of diagnosis, i.e. fix the abnormal number or test
2) Intention at the level of feeling, i.e. fix the pain.
3) Intention at the level of vital systems, i.e. fix the energetic imbalance.
4) Intention at the level of consciousness, i.e. shift the pattern of perception underlying the expression of physical and mental disease.

After my talk, a patient and friend told me, “I don’t think people quite understood what you mean by ‘consciousness.’”  I heard this and thought, True, that would be a long way to travel.  The problem is, why would shifting a pattern in consciousness heal a physical disease?  I spend my life healing physical disease through a focus of shifting a pattern in consciousness.  I am going to give my best, oh-so-human answer why this is possible.

A key point is that to have a thought requires a brain, to have consciousness does not.  Apparently consciousness can exist independently of the sleeve of matter.  Most likely the divine, God, is Consciousness–an eternal, infinite Consciousness.  It is everywhere and in everything—plants, the air, rocks, planets, empty space.  We are swimming in it.  It is everywhere and nowhere at the same time.  This everywhere (immanent) and nowhere (transcendent) brings a paradox.  Imagine you were the Divine, (ridiculous, but go with it), existing in a blissful infinity, wouldn’t you have the urge to know Yourself in Your infinity?  But that would require localizing yourself in space and time.  So You might fold in on Yourself and begin to en-sheath consciousness in finite patterns, localized in time and space, evolving through them into a multiplicity of forms, to come to know Yourself.  This is the idea presented by the German philosopher, Hegel:  Spirit coming to know Itself, evolving through time. 

What this would mean is that everything we see—even rocks–is but a pattern in consciousness.  This would explain why, within each of us, there is a pattern of consciousness that corresponds to one specific substance, i.e. because Consciousness evolves through patterns, the consciousness that we know as ourselves previously existed and evolved through a specific pattern.  It might seem crazy to think that, as a human being, “you” may have preceded “yourself” by taking the form of a plant or mineral, but it’s possible that this is simply a prejudice you have from being human.   

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On Getting Un-Stuck

Friday, September 22nd, 2006

Sometimes patients come to see me that have had a lifetime of pain.  The stories are often difficult to listen to and go something like this:

I have had chronic fatigue for 15 years.  I am always in pain and have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  My father was an alcoholic.  Starting when I was 10, my father sexually abused me.  This happened all through my teens.  He beat up my mother and my brothers and sisters as well.  My one younger brother fared the worst.  My father seemed to always single him out first.  My brother committed suicide when he was 28.  All my siblings, except one have had severe health problems.  We are all estranged from my father, who lives now in…

LIfe is often traumatic, and stories like these remind us of this. Typically such a patient comes loaded up on medications.  There is the prerequisite blood pressure and cholesterol medications, but added to those are medications to numb the body and medications to numb the mind.  By the time they reach my office they have had years of therapy.  They feel well psychoanalyzed.  They have worked through many layers of trauma; they have worked on forgiveness; they have worked on understanding and accepting their emotions.

Still, they are sick; in fact, usually they are more sick than ever.  Why?  This is a critical point, important for you to understand.  Here’s a hint:  What would you say if, listening to me take this person’s case, you found out this patient has dreams full of blood and violence?  Would that not give some clue as to why the person is not “fully healed,” in spite of working all their life on healing?    Consider it.  The person has done years of therapy, has learned how to forgive, now “feels mentlly healthy."  She comes to my office for chronic fatigue, and I find out this person has dreams of being chased by murderers who hack her up into little pieces.  It is clear that nothing has truly has healed at all at the deeper levels (see my Levels of Healing on right).  When it comes to really healing, the deeper layers are the most critical.  You are not aware deeper therapeutic levels exist within you, because no one tells you they are there. 

To heal this patient’s fatigue, you have to first heal those dreams.  More exactly, you have to go beneath those dreams to their source, and heal that. If someone in reality tried to kill you, you might predictably have some nightmares about it.  This is normal.  Our chronic fatigue patient, on the other hand, has had a calm life since she left home at 17, and 35 years later, she is still dreaming of being chased by murderers.  This is a problem! This is a problem intimately connected with her inability to get well.  Someplace this patient is stuck.  She cannot get well because she has been unable to move forward at some deeper level.  How does she become unstuck?

I’ll try to shed light on this problem in my next postings.

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Classifying vs Treating

Monday, September 18th, 2006

In the late 1600s an important event occurred that began our modern medicine.  Antony van Leeuwenhoek invented a microscope and discovered bacteria—“animalcules” as he called them.    Louis Pasteur then proposed the idea that disease resulted from an infection from a “foreign germ."   Thus began the idea that disease was something separate from the sick person.  The pathologist was someone who gave this disease a classification.  Illness was something the pathologist could remove, put under a microscope and objectively view.   

Here is something to think about:   Classifying or diagnosing diseases in people and making someone well are entirely different activities.  This is not to say they are entirely separate.  They are simply different activities.    A lot depends on what one needs.  If I have cancer and want to know the probability I will live 3 months or 10 years, then the people who classify disease are just the people to ask.  They take a biopsy, get their microscopes out, and if they say,  “This cancer comes from the gallbladder,” then I will be lucky to be alive in 6 months.  If they say, “It comes from the prostate,” my chances are excellent I will live longer.  Those who classify disease are good at giving you such information.  It doesn’t mean, however, that they are good at treating what they classify. 

It is not necessary that such a system of classification be linked with the treatment of disease. The intention of this system was to study and classify disease as separate from individuals who are ill.   For public health issues, for statistical patterns in populations, this approach is ideal, because this is what it is:  the study of forms of disease throughout broad populations.  It is when a doctor generalizes the trends of a given population to you as an individual that it might be worth taking a pause.  Yet, classification can be linked with the therapeutic task of making ill people well, and when it is the doctor has what I call a First level or diagnostic intention.   

It is important to understand that alternative medicine doctors have different treatment intentions.  They do not link a disease classification with the treatment.  Being more holistic, they focus on you as an individual and why you have come to express your own peculiar symptoms.  Classifying a disease leads one to treat the part that is sick, not the whole.

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How to Get Well

Friday, September 15th, 2006

How do you get well when you are not getting well?  Not infrequently a patient will come to me and tell me something like the following:

First I went to see Dr. X, here in town.  He sent me to see Dr. Y.  I then underwent tests 1-20 and treatments p,q, and r.  None of this helped.  Then I went to see Dr. Z.  He performed tests 25-56 on me.  He recommended treatment c, which I did.  It made me a little bit better for a while, but then I was right back where I started.  Then I went to the Mayo Clinic.  I spent a week there.  I saw Drs A,B,C,D, and E and they did tests 58-106.  After they finished testing, they did a few new treatments, t, u, and v, none of which helped. 

By some twist of fate, they come to sit before me in my office, frustrated and gunshy.  Usually they still cling to the belief that some genius Dr. F will be around the corner who will run test 107, and this will lead to treatment w, the miracle cure.

What is going on here?   Might there not be some flaw in the thinking that test 1003 will lead to miracle treatment x?   This is not to suggest that diseases cannot be helped by this sort of thinking.  Nevertheless, many people get unsatisfactory results from this sort of approach.  It is important for you to understand why. 

If one approach is not getting you well, then it would make sense to go to a deeper level of treatment.  What does deeper mean, though? It does not mean more physical tests.  Deeper means including your mind and emotions as connected to what is happening in your physical body.  Note this does NOT mean that “it is all in your head.”   What it means is that there is not as much difference between your head and your body as you have been led to believe.   

An example of this:  I am working on a case right now where the patient described her knee pain as “piercing.”   Then, later in the case, she told me that when she was hurt at the emotional level her "heart was pierced.”   Do you see the connection? This patient, without even realizing it, is describing her physical pain and emotional pain with the same word.  She is experiencing “piercing” both at the level of her body and mind.  That is what needs to be healed, and that is what a deeper therapy can address.  In many people, if it is not addressed, they will never fully get well.   

In a certain sense, the soul has to be addressed as well as the body. 

To understand alternative medicines (and conventional medicine as well) we need to look at ourselves as human beings in terms of levels.  The Category Levels of Healing explores this in detail.  Be aware that this category contains advanced information on alternative medicine that may not always be easy to understand.

Closely aligned with the ideas of Levels in Healing is that of our relationship to the spiritual.  Alternative medicine, particularly the highly effective disciplines, bring us into a relationship with the spiritual.  Posts that directly relate to this are under the category Spirituality. 

The category Energy Healing relates to acupuncture and Chinese medicine as well as other therapies that work directly with the energy matrix that runs deep within our human structure.  In particular, this energy matrix says much about how disease patterns within us come to be.  "How does my indigestion relate to my sinus headaches?" would be a question to ask your acupuncturist. 

Welcome.  If you have questions or have something you would like me to address, please email me. 

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“House”

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

There is popular show on television–many of you may have seen it–called House, which is about a sarcastic, no-nonsense, genius physician who “cracks” various tough cases of illness and heals through his relentless probing into diagnostic truth.  He is a sort of cowboy, but a cowboy devoted to the truth. In spite of his faults, we tend to like this lone ranger.  We feel that, underneath, he has a fierce integrity, and will gladly sacrifice being liked for the sake of this integrity.  The other side of it is that he is a wounded healer, addicted to medications, hobbling around on his walking stick.    

I find this show fascinating, because it builds a mythology of a medical system based on diagnosis, what I call a 1st level or diagnostic intention.  That is to say, the show creates the idea that if we find a genius doctor, he would run the necessary probing tests and somehow finally come up with a diagnosis and get at the root of our disease.  Then he could give us the missing nutrient or a certain drug that would bring this diagnosis back into balance and once and for all cure our problem.  If a firm diagnosis is not made, assuming the smartest diagnostician has been consulted, then it is a matter of waiting, because just around the corner will be some new lab test, or perhaps some more powerful microscope will be built that can finally penetrate the problem.   

It is critical for anyone who takes his health seriously to confront his own beliefs as to the truth of this viewpoint, because, if we become ill, what we believe is true will drive our choices in how we try to get well.  We watch House and we breath in the viewpoint it presents.   

What if, as not infrequently happens, a patient appears at the doctor’s office, complaining of symptoms, and the doctor finds nothing, other than perhaps some mild sensitivity here and there on physical exam?  That the patient is distressed is obvious, and yet there is no abnormal lab value or obvious pathology on physical exam.  What to do?  Call in the shrink?  Before any serious shoulder shrugging happens, there are usually more tests, frequently many more tests.  If everything is normal, as is frequently the case, the doctor sends the patient home saying he is fine.  At best, this leaves the patient vaguely dissatisfied; at worst, outright angry. 

All of us, doctors or lay people, know that emotions are linked with disease.   Medical practitioners and patients usually simply refer to this link as “stress.”  It often goes no further than this.  Doctors usually find it impractical to delve any deeper, other than perhaps to pat the patient on the back and say, “You need to reduce your stress,” presumably by doing something like changing jobs.  Nevertheless, when the diagnosis is actually made, the stress is kept separate. 

This is quite different from the Chinese system, where the emotions and body are directly linked in their system.  How did we develop a system with such a strong separation between mind and body?  Stay tuned.   

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Unable to Walk: An Acupuncture Case

Saturday, September 9th, 2006

During my trip to Barcelona, I heard a talk by Dr. Yongli Ni, who practices acupuncture and Chinese medicine in the Washington, D.C. area.   I remember clearly the initial she case gave.  It was about a woman in the middle of her life, who had come to be debilitated, hardly able to walk.   After setting the stage, Dr Ni threw out this jawdropper:

“This woman was born in 1954.  Earth excessive year.”  She said this with one finger held up firmly for emphasis, then continued, "And what happened right before she became sick?”  She held up the finger up for emphasis again, preparing us for her coup de grace.  “Earthquake!   The tsunami!”

What Dr. Ni was saying was that this woman, from the Chinese point of view, had a strong earth component in her constitution.  In Chinese medicine, this has to do with acupuncture energy circuit centering around the stomach and spleen. Thus, she tells us that the disruptions in the earth direct produced by the earthquake directly affected the energy in her body, specifically the energy circuit (meridian) of her spleen and stomach.  The resulting imbalance produced a debilitating illness. 

So, how did Dr. Ni deal with this issue?   Did she bring out her acupuncture cookbook, look up “Can’t walk” and put in a bunch of needles for the “Can’t walk” syndrome?  No.  That’s exactly what she didn’t do.  But note, it’s exactly what many acupuncturists practicing today would have done. 

No, what Dr. Ni did is put in one needle–note…one acupuncture needle—right into a key point in the stomach-spleen energy meridian; wham, went right for the source of the imbalance, on which everything else on the surface hinged.   That one needle cured the woman’s debility.   

I love this case for a couple reasons.  Other than a few homeopathic colleagues, Dr. Ni is one of the few people I have known who has a therapeutic intention very close to my own.  If you want to understand what a good classical homeopath is trying to do, this is a good place to start.  To find that one deep place that will shift the entire system, put your finger on it, and nail it–this for me is good medicine.   This is what I do.  Whether it lots of different drugs or lots of different acupuncture needles, it is usually sloppy medicine. 

The other reason I love this case I plan on writing about tomorrow. 

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