The misunderstood homeopathic industry
February 12, 2020
From the Summer of Love in the 1960’s to present day Haight Street in San Francisco, it is apparent that Northern California’s hippie stereotype is still going strong. The all-natural lifestyle is closely correlated to the use of essential oils, crystals and homeopathic remedies, an alternative medicine that takes a natural approach to treating ailments. While many may see alternative medicine as an ineffective form of treatment compared to traditional pharmaceuticals, others in Marin have been finding homeopathic remedies extremely effective for curing sickness. Relief from essential oils and other homeopathic remedies are often attributed to the placebo effect: the idea that one can cure themselves through believing in the medicine.
Many homeopathic remedy users believe the body has an innate ability to cure itself without any synthetic medication. These remedies typically consist of natural ingredients from plants, herbs, minerals and even animals. Marin’s homeopathic practitioners are firm believers in alternative medicines, claiming they help address a large spectrum of health problems, ranging from insomnia to chronic pathologies, when prescribed by homeopathic experts.
Before senior Anya Klein was introduced to homeopathic remedies, she struggled with anxiety and went through a long process of trying different treatments before finding the right one.
“I used to take pharmaceuticals for anxiety but [they] made me feel groggy and unlike myself. I decided to look for a more holistic approach and met with a homeopathic practitioner who prescribed me supplements. Although the results weren’t as immediate [as I had hoped], I felt it was much more sustainable for my lifestyle,” Klein said.
While Klein is an example of someone who had a good experience with alternative medicine, there are many people that would say otherwise. There is no doubt that alternative medicine is controversial. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) reported that Austria’s National Health and Medical Research Council did not find any evidence of homeopathic remedies being an effective cure to patients’ needs. However, many homeopathic doctors in Marin argue strongly against this.
Typical homeopathic remedies are made from nanoparticles of substances extracted from plants, animals and various minerals that are combined and then diluted in water or alcohol. According to Very Well Health, a website that provides medical information from health professionals, this unique process allows homeopathic physicians to prescribe their patients a personalized remedy that is fitted to their specific needs and illnesses.
Gina Inez is a local homeopathic physician who has been practicing since 1985. She was one of the first registered homeopaths in the continent through the North American Society of Homeopaths (NASH). Inez sees patients of all ages in a judgment-free environment where she asks them about personal conditions and concerns. Her typical questions include likes and dislikes, food preferences and in-depth information about the patient’s family history.
Getting to know a patient allows physicians such as Inez to find remedies that are compatible with their mental health. Homeopathy is therapeutic, which differs from a traditional visit to the doctors office. It considers the mind and body as the same entity. This side of the practice is crucial when connecting the mind and the body, according to local homeopathic practitioner Pia Litz. Litz understands that medicine works differently for everyone experiencing all different symptoms.
“[Patients] were experiencing everything from palpitations to numbness in their body. So these people were coming into the doctor and just over utilizing the medical side of things, there was nothing physically wrong with them. It was anxiety,” Litz said.
Mind and body
The source of pain can be the mind rather than the body, at times. The mind and body go hand in hand, which is something homeopathics always keep note of during treatment.
Cheryl Holzer is a homeopathic practitioner in Marin who owns a shop in San Rafael called Gathering Time. She feels that the reputation of her craft is often misunderstood.
“A lot of people in our culture want the ‘magic pill.’ What pharmacy [medications] do [is] suppress the symptoms, whereas natural medicine really aims to get to the root of the problem for a real health benefit,” Holzer said.
Alternative medicines have their pros and cons, but according to Litz, science proves that homeopathic remedies can improve one’s mental and physical health.
Despite the benefits or drawbacks that different forms of healing have, many people stick to one method of treatment. They do not experiment with alternative medicines or traditional ones as they think one must be more capable in healing their sickness over the other. This also has to do with the fact that people respond to certain medications differently than others.
According to the New York Times, the body metabolizes drugs differently for each person, which could make some people more prone to the negative side effects of than others. Nevertheless, people gravitate more towards the treatment or medication that makes them feel comfortable using. However, Honors Biomedical Science teacher Skip Lovelady believes that both traditional and homeopathic forms of medicine are effective in curing someone. To him, feeling better comes down to our minds and immune system’s unique ability to heal the body.
“There is so much variability inside our own bodies from one person to the next that you cannot assume [a drug will work]. That drug that helped my tumor may not help yours, even though we both have the same tumor and we’re both humans. That can happen with traditional medicine and it can also happen with homeopathics,” Lovelady said.
Since people are so unique, medicine may not work perfectly for every single patient. However, this is when the power of the mind comes into play. Litz asserts the fact that the mind can play a major role in healing the body.
“Placebo is really powerful because if you believe that the treatment is going to help, the research shows it will, but if you believe it won’t help, it’s not going to help,” Litz said. “So that’s kind of what I have to say to the naysayers. I would say, ‘Hey, if you don’t think this is going to help you, then don’t do it.’”
Both Lovelady and Litz take into account the power of the mind. Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, homeopathic drugs focus on the mental aspect of healing illnesses and give the mind a chance to cure the body through faith.
“The power of thinking is really the core of it all. We have thoughts and they don’t come from nowhere,” Litz said. “They are directly connected to the way we feel emotionally and physically and the way we think and feel is directly connected to the actions or behaviors that we have.”
Like all doctors, there are failures and successes that come with the job. Litz is often referred to to help patients overcome serious illnesses such as cancer and will often use techniques such as tapping therapy. Tapping therapy is also known as Emotional Freedom Technique and involves physically tapping the body, which balances one’s energy and limits their pain. Throughout her career, Litz has cured a multitude of patients of diseases such as kidney failure through these practices.
“For [the patient’s] kidney, she wasn’t even being considered for a transplant before we met. And through the tapping, she was able to heal underlying stress and anxiety that was getting in the way of her treatment,” Litz said. “I can happily say that this person just had a kidney transplant, she’s doing amazing and she’s off dialysis.”
Homeopathic practitioners encourage those who doubt the benefits of alternative medications to take a step back and not only listen to the science, but listen to those that have gone through homeopathic healing. Whether it’s a mild cold or severe pain, homeopathic remedies can offer a wide variety of services to those open to trying something new.