Filed under: food, health, holistic, homeopathy, india, wellness | Tags: holistic
this week in dehradun was quite a learning experience. i got well-acquainted with the city and was able to meet so many interesting locals. i split my time between a homeopathic clinic in the morning, with dr. nanda, a ayurvedic clinic with dr. nath (who is 94!!) in the afternoon, and an ob/gyn clinic with dr. gera in the evening. my homestay family was wonderful- mrs mehta cooked delightful indian food, and even got me some of my favorite staples- bananas and peanutbutter for breakfast. i learned my way around and felt more comfortable walking the streets alone.
all of the rounds were rewarding, and it was fascinating to be able to compare the different types of treatment that these doctors prescribed. my favorite, surprisingly, was homeopathy. i had expected to find ayurveda most appealing, since i had studied it before, but with homeopathy i was exposed to a completely different paradigm of health care and it was pretty wild to me.
dr. nanda is such a wonderful man- he would pick us up some days and drop us home for lunch after clinic on his motorcycle, and he was eager to share his love for this most profound science.
i explained a bit of homeopathy in an earlier post, but now that i understand it more, i will try to elaborate as best i can.
in allopathic medicine, doctors aim to cure symptoms by suppression. they find medicines that specifically target inflammation in an area and attempt to eliminate it. samuel hahnemann, the founder of modern homeopathy, discovered that perhaps this model was not the most complete way of ridding the body of disease. his homeopathic model actually uses the law of similars, that is, using a substance that would cause similar effects in a healthy person which are turning up in the sick person. he discovered that various materials found in nature- of the animal, vegetable, mineral, and even chemical form- in their purest state contain energy fields which can exert a healing effect on the body. these substances must go through an extreme dilution and shaking process, whereby their effects multiply and grow stronger.
for example, if a person is having a problem with teary eyes (this is just a simple example!), a homeopath might prescribe a medicine which is derived from an onion, and the energy of this diluted medicine after being potentized (or shaken) is given to the person in a sublingual form so that it is absorbed into the bloodstream immediately and does not need to be digested. after this occurs, it is understood that the energy of the onion extract disperses in the body, naturally allowing the teary symptoms to reverse and go back to where they came from. it is difficult to understand, i know. but think of it like this:
often times, we suppress things like headaches or we remove tumors from the body to rid ourselves of illness. what is actually happening, according to homeopaths, is that we are unnaturally trying to strip our body of something, and by doing so, more effects will occur in the form of other illnesses or side effects from the treatment. it is better, then, to naturally prescribe a substance which will almost take the aching or tumor and shrink it back to the place it came from, thereby eliminating it.
in homeopathy, it is not expected to really discover the root cause of disease. they believe that in fact, most diseases cannot ever fully be explained and that many modern doctors waste their time trying to fit puzzle pieces together and figure out the origins of disease. instead, homeopathic doctors aim to discover remedies that might be at the root of what ever disease is facing the patient, whatever that may be. i had a bit of a hard time accepting this fact, but as i learned more, i began to understand why this is such a major tenet. while it would be good to learn what the root is, it is not essential to treating it. it is more pertinent to simply find a medicine that has been proven to treat all of the various and very specific symptoms in a patients system. i will explain more of this below.
one of the most interesting parts of this practice is the way the patient is evaluated for treatment. many times, the doctor wants to understand the entire constitution of the person, asking questions about their emotional nature, their dreams, their sleeping habits, their fears, their weak physical areas, etc. once this evaluation is done, sometimes after an hour or so, the doctor takes the symptoms present in the patient and matches them up in his system with homeopathic treatments. usually if he or she is specific enough in their description, only a couple of treatments will show up as relevant. it is important that the doctor try to eliminate bias and let the patient tell their whole story. after this process, a medicine is given usually right there in the office, and a small amount is provided for the patient to take at home.
once a patient takes this medicine, it is often noted that they feel as if their symptoms naturally disappear on their own, and often times, over a period of months, many of their other imbalances- including fears or weaknesses not specific to their visit- disappear as well. the idea is to bring the whole body back to harmony. some critics believe this is really just a placebo effect and there is no way to prove that the medicine works. dr. nanda did not seem bothered by this, and he understood that energy healing is difficult to comprehend for the average person. but he has no doubt that it works, and he gave us an amazing book to read, called “impossible cure,” which tells the story of a mother curing her son of autism through homeopathy. it describes many studies that have been done on the accuracy of this medicine, and i found it pretty convincing.
dr. nanda also did a full comprehensive analysis of my constitution and discovered that i matched up with a form of cobra venom! he administered it to me (diluted of course in homeopathic form) and gave me some to take home. we’ll see what happens!
there was a big dichotomy between dr. nanda and dr. gera, a lovely woman who practices women’s health medicine out of her large “nursing home,” as they call it. dr. gera’s patient turnover was very quick, and she prescribed antibiotics and other medicines to almost everyone who came into her office. i enjoyed watching all the women come in with their beautiful saris and big pregnant bellies. it was quite a sight. i have great respect for the work that dr. gera does, and i asked her a lot of questions about the system in india. it seems to me that she charges about the same amount of money that dr. nanda charges, which amounts to about 200 rupees (5 DOLLARS!) per patient. i thought to myself, if i lived here, i would probably take advantage of both types of medicine, as i still strongly believe there is a need for western practices, especially when it comes to surgeries and emergency situations.
there were a lot more medical issues in both practices than i saw in Patti village last week. as i predicted, the rates of heart disease, thyroid disease, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses plagued many of the patients that sought treatment. i suppose there is no escaping that anywhere in the world, but i really appreciate the accessibility in this country of all types of medicine. the choice is left to the patient seeking care, and that’s the way it should be.
i just arrived in rishikesh, and will begin my work at the ashram tomorrow. i’ll be sure to fill you in.
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