An Interview With Lydia
In December of 1995, I got a call from a young woman in New York City who was doing a paper on homeopathy. She had gotten my name from one of the homeopathic pharmacies and was anxious for me to help her with her project. That interview, with a few updates, is still a good representation of how my homeopathic consultations work. Even if you have known and worked with me for a long time, there may be some information here that you didn't have.
What is a homeopath?
A homeopath is a person who works with a type of alternative medicine called homeopathy. A homeopath can be a medical doctor, a chiropractor, some other type of health care provider like a physician's assistant or acupuncturist, or they can be a lay practitioner. A lay practitioner of homeopathy is someone who practices homeopathy professionally but is not licensed as a health care provider. In this country that is legal as long as you do not promise a cure, prescribe medicine that requires a prescription, or discourage someone from seeing a medical doctor if the need should arise. The title that I use is Holistic Health Consultant which helps people to understand that, although I am advising them on health issues, I am not practicing medicine.
What does homeopathy mean to you?
Consulting with people on the subject of homeopathy means a great deal to me. I was cured of a serious health problem many years ago by a homeopath. I undertook the independent study of homeopathy soon after that cure and studied until I was confident enough to begin consulting. I was the first lay practitioner openly consulting in my state and although there have been others since, I am one of the only lay practitioner still consulting here. Teaching homeopathy is my source of income, my identity, my health insurance for myself and my family, and my life's work. I would continue to teach homeopathy even if I could no longer be paid for it.
What concepts are important to you in your practice of homeopathy?
There are a number of concepts in homeopathy that are very important to me. The first is, "Do no harm." This means that it may be acceptable not to be able to help a person to raise their level of health but it is never acceptable to cause them harm physically or emotionally.
Another important concept of homeopathy is the avoidance of suppression. Suppression is caused when you use a medicine that does not allow the body to exhibit the symptoms it is trying to use to tell you that it is sick. When you suppress your symptoms, it has been compared to cutting the wire to the oil light in your car when you're low on oil. When you cut the wire, the oil warning light will no longer bother you, but that doesn't mean that you're not out of oil.
I try to help people to raise their level of health naturally rather than having then mask or cover up symptoms that indicate that their body is out of balance. My main concern is always the long-term well being of the individual and to secure that, I will support them in using whatever type of medicine, homeopathic or allopathic (regular medicine), that is needed. The person - not the philosophy - always comes first in my consulting.
How does homeopathy work along with regular medicine?
I work with people with all types of illness from mild to fatal (like AIDS and late stage cancer). It is important that I can work along with regular medicine and advise people when they need to see a regular medical doctor. From doing many thousands of cases and because of my intuition, I can often advise a person on what path to take when they are afraid or ill. Yesterday a mother called me asking for a remedy for a child that had a 102.9-degree fever in the morning. The child seemed to be doing fairly well, but I felt that a high fever that early in the morning meant that there was a serious problem. I asked the mother to take the child into the doctor immediately. She did and the child had pneumonia and needed to be on antibiotics.
Personally and for my family, we use homeopathy whenever possible, but we definitely use regular medical doctors for any serious illness or injury and for regular check-ups like pap tests and mammograms. I strongly suggest that you do the same.
What is a homeopathic consultation like with you? What is the client's role?
The homeopathic consultation is quite time-consuming. The initial appointment takes about 1-1/2 hours, and after that the client has monthly follow-up appointments with me that take about 1/2 an hour. Often, during the month, clients will call me if they are ill or have questions. I make myself available to take those calls during regular hours, but if someone has an emergency, they can call me at any time of the day or night.
During the consultation, I ask the client a great many questions about their health problems, their physical and emotional history, their habits, and the circumstances of their life. During that time - especially because most of my work is done on the phone - I am typing their case notes into my computer and graphing their different symptoms so that I can pick an appropriate remedy out of the 2,000 remedies currently available. It is an extremely interesting and thought-provoking experience for both the practitioner and the client.
The client's role in achieving a higher level of health is to provide me with detailed and often very personal information that can be difficult or upsetting to relate. In the next month, the client then needs to make suggested changes carefully and faithfully. Non-compliance is the number one problem in alternative healthcare as well as in regular medical practice. If a person does not do what is suggested it is difficult - if not impossible - to help them.
What type of problems do you treat? How do you get your clients?
The health imbalances that I see vary greatly. When I started out, I tried to limit my consultations to emotional and physical problems that were not too serious. As I got better at what I do, it was more difficult for me to limit the severity of the conditions that I worked with.
I do many pediatric consultations (children) including minor and severe illnesses and injuries. I work with all ranges of physical illness and depending on what the problem is, I often work with medical doctors, alternative practitioners (like acupuncturists, Chinese herbalists, and massage therapists), as well as psychotherapists. Other doctors and practitioners refer many people to me for consultations and I feel very honored by that.
How much do you charge?
The initial fee to my clients is $175.00, $50.00 for follow-ups, and $20.00 for acute care (illnesses or injuries) during calling hours. Calls outside of business hours are $25.00 and up depending on the length of the call. One missed appointment a year is not charged for and after that missed appointments are $25.00.
What type of tools do you use?
In my case, the tools of the trade are a Compaq computer, the Complete Repertory (a computer program for homeopathy), and a phone with a magnifying headset so that I can have my hands free to type. The headset also allows me to hear slight changes in someone's voice which is important to me because I work with many singers and they often call from very far away.
What is your office like?
My office in my new home is small and cozy but very efficient. I work at my huge old roll top desk with everything I need close at hand. Since 1991, almost all of the work I do has been done by phone. From the early days of my consulting, I got calls from all over the country from places where people could not find anyone to help them learn about homeopathy. Since many of them needed help and were too far away to see me in person, it seemed much more reasonable to do the consultations on the phone. I work with a magnifying headset, so it is easy for me to hear the things that I need to hear to pick the correct remedy. I am able to easily hear how congested someone is, if there are changes in their breathing, a sigh, or things like the background noise that tell me what conditions a person may be living in. Another reason why phone consultations work so well is because many people feel less inhibited telling their symptoms on the phone.
What type of tools do your clients need?
When a client is really involved in homeopathy or plans to be very involved, they will have their own homeopathic kit. Currently, the kit I prefer comes from a company called Dolisos. It's called the Dolisos Family Kit and it contains 48 single remedy tubes, 2 ointments, and a one tincture in a sturdy plastic case. The kit cost retails anywhere from $98-$115 from homeopathic pharmacies and online sources. Acton Pharmacy in MA regularly offers the kit for $98, but they will give a 10% discount to people that I send to them. The don't currently have a website, but their phone is (800) 551-3611. The homeopathy contact there is Ted. Acton Pharmacy is an excellent and reliable source for all homeopathic remedies. Their shipping is fast and efficient, but they also offer overnight shipping if needed.
The Dolisos Family Kit is good to have because it is helpful to address health imbalances as early as possible, and it can be difficult in some areas of the country to get a homeopathic remedy quickly. I encourage my clients to take notes about what I tell them so that they can do basic self-treatment without calling me.
How would you advise someone who had menstrual cramps, dizziness, and a headache? What would that person feel?
To know what types of remedies that might help a woman with menstrual cramps, dizziness, and a headache, I would need more information about her symptoms (when they occur, what makes them better or worse, what treatments have previously been used, etc.). The remedy Colocynthis is one that is used widely for cramping or contraction of smooth muscle, but an ovarian cyst, endometriosis, poor diet, or a number of other things could cause the problem. More information would give me more clues and also alert me to whether the person should see a medical doctor for a Pap test, sonogram, dietary consultation, or some other medical diagnostic work.
If I had the information I needed and you started a remedy, you could experience any number of body responses, which I monitor. You could feel better instantly, you might feel worse for a short while and then improve, or you could have no effect from the remedy.
I was told in class that with homeopathy you have to get worse before you get better. Is this true?
The information you got in class was not exactly correct or you may have misunderstood. It is true that homeopathic aggravation is possible when you are taking homeopathic remedies. Aggravation means that your symptoms may increase temporarily before they improve. This can be adjusted easily by a good practitioner by changing the frequency or the strength of the remedy. Therefore, it is not necessary for the pain or symptoms to get worse, but it is true that this could occur. It is not necessarily a bad thing as long as it is not too uncomfortable for the client and as long as they are informed about the process. A good consultant will help them sort out what is a positive change in health and what changes signal the progression of the illness and the need for medical attention.
Aggravation occurs because healing is a bell curve. To get to the far side or healthy side of a bell curve you may need to pass through the high point of the bell curve briefly before wellness can occur. Even little children that are familiar with homeopathy can recognize and appreciate an aggravation as part of the healing process. If they have an earache and the correct remedy is given they may say, "Mommy, I know my earache is getting better because it started hurting worse after the remedy." Remember that an aggravation lasts a short time and is totally different than the progression of an illness or disease state where things get worse and stay worse.
How long does homeopathy take to change the level of health?
That varies greatly. Some homeopaths believe that healing occurs roughly at the rate of one month for every year that you were ill with that disease. This is a guideline, but changes often takes place much more quickly than that.
Do you send people to the doctor and other health care providers?
I definitely recommend people to physicians and to other practitioner. At times I require that they see a doctor for a diagnosis if they want to consult with me. Healthcare professionals like psychotherapists, chiropractors, and massage therapists refer many of the people that come to me. In that way, people I consult with assemble a team of people to help them become healthier.
Homeopathy works well with many different types of alternative therapies as well as with regular medicine. Because of that, I consider homeopathy complementary to regular medicine. I don't like it when a client comes to me saying that they have been to another homeopath who has told them to stop all other medicines and alternative therapies. Although I have seen people reduce their health care bills in general, this is something that needs to be done slowly, cautiously, and - if possible - with the help of other doctors and practitioners. It's a process and not a quick fix.
I refer people to someone else if their problem is too serious and needs medical care, if they need the support of a therapist or psychiatrist due to their emotional state, or if there is something that they need to have examined or tested in order to get a diagnosis.
What takes place in the homeopathic consultation?
The homeopathic consultation is very extensive and very personal. It requires that I ask questions about the person's emotional and physical state. Rapport and trust between the homeopathy consultant and the client is critical as is the client's knowledge that all the information they are giving is completely confidential even from other family members. Sometimes a client will cry in an interview. I've heard many interesting stories. Some of them make me very sad and I have occasionally shed tears during consultations especially when I work with adults who experienced physical or sexual abuse as children. I've heard some things in consultations that disturb me, but very little shocks me. My role is to be a problem solver not a judge as that is not my right. I try to treat all my clients with respect and compassion and they seem to know this and respond in kind. I love my work and I am told by many people that it shows in my interviews.
How did you first come into contact with homeopathy?
I first experienced homeopathy fifteen years ago when I babysat for a naturopathic doctor's daughter. He would bring me little vials of remedies to give her if she had a stomachache or was stung by a bee. Although I knew almost nothing about homeopathy, I saw that the remedies were effective.
What is your favorite homeopathic experience?
I've had so many wonderful experiences with homeopathy over the years that it would be hard to pick a favorite. I feel like I see miracles every day. In 1990, my husband fell while building our house and got a horrible injury to his arm that required 80 stitches. It was a twenty minute ride to the nearest hospital even with a friend driving at the top speed possible on country roads. I had major difficulty stopping the bleeding from such a huge wound, and I truly believe that the only thing that got the bleeding under control was the remedies we had grabbed from my husband's truck before we left.
How has consulting in homeopathy changed you?
Consulting in homeopathy has changed me tremendously over the years. I've learned a huge amount about disease and how it progresses. I've also learned a lot about human nature. I've learned how to guide people toward appropriate remedies and how to step back when it is clear that I can do nothing else but give someone emotional support. I've learned to be incredibly grateful for my health, my family, my intuition, and my ability to make a good living doing something that I love so much.