“How long will it take for me to get better?”
This is one of the most frequent questions asked by new or prospective homeopathic patients. It is a sensible question that originates in our deep desire to foretell our life course and to receive assurance about the future. How does homeopathy rise to the challenge of responding with a reliable forecast?
The challenge of homeopathic forecasting
Homeopathic forecasting is challenging for any homeopath, because homeopathic treatment addresses the total predisposition to illness — a complex entity composed of multiple known and unknown factors — rather than isolated symptoms. The challenge is especially great prior to the initial homeopathic intake, as it is only during this consultation that the predisposition is first discerned.
Homeopathic forecasting is demanding essentially because of the nature of the spiritual healing that is the goal of homeopathic treatment of chronic conditions. Such deep healing cannot be forced on the organism but must be allowed to take place at its own pace. It also demands the conscious and unconscious participation of the patient, since progress is affected by the degree of readiness to get better, and there are unpredictable stresses in the physical and social environments that can further hinder progress.
Factors that determine the projected length of treatment
There are several key characteristics of the patient which can yield an estimate of treatment length that is based on sound principles. Unlike weather forecasts which are often accurate in the short term but inaccurate in the long term, long-term homeopathic forecasts are quite reliable, as most chronic conditions (whether or not they are considered medically curable) do eventually yield to homeopathic treatment on a timeline that can roughly be estimated.
The following, then, are the essential factors (presented in question form) on which reliable forecasts of treatment length are made:
- What is your level of vitality?
- What is your nature and social background?
- What is the type and severity of your physical pathology?
- How long ago did the first signs of your concern emerge?
- Is your condition hereditary?
- What interfering factors are present in your life?
- What level of healing are you seeking?
The younger you are, the less psychologically set in your ways and the more physically responsive you will be, on average. But more important than your chronological age is your biological age. Are you a vivacious senior who leads an active life that is the envy of people half your age? If so, you will tend to be highly responsive to homeopathic treatment. Is your child slow and sluggish, exhibiting health problems that have been present since birth? Homeopathic treatment can still be transformative, but improvement will likely take a while.
Vital people display dynamic symptoms that vary depending on the stresses faced from moment to moment. Children tend to be dynamic: their mood can shift radically from moment to moment, and their physical symptoms will tend to appear and disappear quickly. Old people tend to have fixed pathologies, ones that are embedded in the physical organism and are hard to shift.
High vitality equals a strong, flexible and resilient life force, one that bends under stress yet rebounds quickly. Low vitality is reflected in an unresponsive, oversensitive life force that will tend to break rather than bend under stress. Getting a sense of the condition of the patient’s life force is the first and most important step in homeopathic forecasting.
Are you by nature attentive to the signals of your body, expressive with your emotions, adaptive, creative, and responsive to your environment? Or are you over-intellectual, emotionally repressed, and set in your ways?
Life is motion, and those patients who display much motion in their life are likely to respond quite quickly to an accurate prescription, whereas others have to wait patiently as their body and soul reorganize.
It is worthy of note that patients living in simple conditions, even in poverty, often respond more quickly to homeopathic treatment than patients in affluent societies. This is because the pathologies seen in less-developed societies tend to be more acute, life-or-death conditions than chronic ones, and because people living in such societies tend to be less emotionally and medically repressed than the average modern individual.
This fact, mind you, is not an advertisement against modernity! Homeopathy nowadays treats people who might have been long dead in another time and place. It is simply that the treatment of people in modern societies tends to be more complex and drawn out than that of non-westernized people.
There is no simple correlation between type of pathology and length of treatment, because homeopathy does not treat physical pathology directly. A seemingly minor skin condition might prove stubborn and take several years to clear up in one case, whereas in another case a large cancerous tumor might shrink significantly over several weeks.
Still, extensive tissue damage or damage to slow-to-regenerate tissue (e.g., nerves and cartilage) will correlate with a longer rehabilitation period — sometimes several years under dedicated treatment in cases where serious physical degeneration has occurred.
Because homeopathy is in principle capable of reversing pathology considered medically irreversible, accepting such long timelines in cases of severe pathology can inject hope into those of us who are hopeless about recovery:
- Homeopathy has been known to reverse the nerve pathology of multiple sclerosis, but it took several years of dedicated treatment every time.
- Homeopathy has led to substantial recovery of joint cartilage in severe rheumatoid arthritis, but each time required many months to several years of the patient’s endurance.
- Homeopathy regularly leads to recovery from inflammatory bowel conditions including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis, but tissue healing and resolution of inflammation progresses gradually and unevenly, challenging the patient’s resolve to get better whenever an exacerbation takes place.
A rule-of-thumb often used by homeopaths is that it takes a month of treatment for every year the illness has been present. This holds roughly true in simple cases of chronic illness resulting from clear stress factors. In cases of chronic illness due to a longstanding predisposition the length of treatment will frequently be longer.
For example, a patient who became depressed following the death of a parent five years ago would be expected to require five months of treatment before returning to the same psychological state as before the traumatic event. On the other hand, a patient who developed depression five years ago for no apparent reason might require many months or even several years to eliminate the predisposition (often present since childhood, or even inherited) which led to his depression.
The topic of heredity is specifically addressed in the next question.
Homeopathy takes heredity one step beyond the notion of genetic inheritance familiar from conventional medicine.
Homeopaths recognize in addition to genetic inheritance of pathological tendencies a class of heredity termed miasmatic influence (from the Greek miasma, taint). Miasmatic influence refers to the negative energetic imprint transferred from the parents to the child alongside other qualities, infusing the child with undesirable physical or behavioral tendencies:
- Stresses and traumas during pregnancy frequently affect the child through the mother, causing ailments in the newborn child which are inexplicable except when considered in their light.
- Homeopathy, together with many world cultures, further recognize the influence of the parents’ psychic state during the period preceding the child’s conception.
- People frequently bear an uncanny resemblance to older or deceased family members, even in cases when the two have never met.
When a patient presents with complaints with a strong miasmatic basis, these can still be addressed with homeopathy, but the timeline grows longer and becomes harder to predict.
Do you live with a loving spouse, a supportive family, in a paradise where the air sparkles and the weather is fair year-round? Or does homeopathic treatment catch you in the midst of a financial crisis, frequent quarrels with your kids, and a daily routine which includes a three-hour commute through a busy metropolitan area?
Do you eat a home-grown diet replete with fresh vegetables, drink water from your private mountain-spring, wake up at 5am for your daily 10K run in the woods, and never visit the doctor? Or is your breakfast a bagel with cream-and-coffee on the run (plus your medications), your lunch Chinese take-out at your work desk (plus your medications), and your dinner a pizza and TV (plus your medications)?
Those who lead a quiet rural life tend to respond more quickly to treatment than their urban counterparts. More generally, the more physically and spiritually pure is your present life, the more swiftly you will respond to any treatment that you pursue.
Homeopathy possesses an unlimited curative potential, but only when treatment is pursued for long enough so as to remove the predisposition to illness in its entirety. This typically requires several years. Yet great clinical progress and relief from suffering is often achieved in a fraction of this period.
How far a patient advances beyond the mere eradication of discomfort is a function of both the patient’s and the homeopath’s level of spiritual awareness. Most homeopaths expect and strive toward the full curative effects obtainable through homeopathy, but this journey is possible only with cooperation from the patient:
- Some patients are interested in symptom relief and not in achieving perfect health or healing their spirit. Such patients are concerned about their bothersome symptoms, and as soon as these are remedied (within a few days, weeks, or months) they quit treatment, even if their medical condition remains unresolved and their spirit unchanged.
- Other patients, for instance those with chronic inflammatory conditions requiring medications, are not happy with a noticeable but partial reduction in their suffering, and stick around for the many months typically required for achieving freedom from discomfort, independence from medications, and a clean medical bill.
- Those most ambitious patients who long to release life-long physical and psychological limitations benefit immensely from continuing treatment well beyond the time of resolution of medically identifiable complaints — typically for several years.
The rewards obtainable by this last type of patient include the following: increased resistance to infectious disease and resilience to environmental stressors; previously hidden or dormant abilities become available for use; dreams and aspirations that never made it past the planning stage begin to be actualized; and lifelong psychological issues due to heredity or early-childhood trauma dissolve away.
Such revolutionary changes do not happen merely as a result of homeopathic treatment: they involve long-term commitment to life-changing behaviors. But the beauty of homeopathy is that it acts to align the individual along just this path of right action.
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