Many people ask me. What is the first consultation all about? What do you do during the first visit? The short answer for those who have never visited a homeopath is: The homeopathic visit consists of asking questions and more importantly listening most attentively to the answers. Here is why.
The homeopath asks you about what food you like to eat, what is your posture during sleep, how much do you sweat, your nature, what are your dreams etc. The focus of the homeopath is to understand everyone as a whole and to determine what it is that seats him apart from others, what it is that makes him individual with the ailment. Each one of us differs from others around us, not only in our appearance or manner of talking, but also in the way we feel and think, in the way we react, in the way we view the world,around us, in our natures and temperaments, in the foods we like to eat, also in the kind of diseases we suffer from. If there is an epidemic, say of influenza some people, not all, will come down with the infection. How does this happen?
We have, each one of us, our own individual tendencies towards diseases. A boy aged 8 years came down with fever and a sore throat. His temperature was not particularly high, his throat felt “as if there were a lump.” The cough was dry but non descript. His mother related to me that for the last two days he just wanted cold cuts and cold water instead of a regular dinner. This was interesting to me since most people want warm food and drink to soothe the throat when they’re sick. I gave him the remedy called Phytolacca (poke root) which is well known to an experienced homeopath for the characteristic of not wanting anything hot. It took care of the sore throat within hours.
A couple of days later his brother, aged six, also came down with a sore throat but his temperature rose quickly, his face was flushed red whereas the rest of his body was not that hot, he had glassy eyes and asked for lemonade. His mother told me that he got sick very quickly “I could almost see it happen.” He responded well to the homeopathic remedy called Belladonna.
How is it that although in both cases the pictures were so startlingly different? Each of us has our own individual reactivity, and so the symptoms and the pace of infection differs in every case. In any situation people react differently. Think of a tragedy and different people feel differently and react differently to events. Identical twins developed from the same single cell can also have startlingly different natures. There are a lot of differences between individuals, and the homeopath tries to identify these differences as individualizing features in each patient.
Man can be considered to be an amalgam of two essential parts: the spiritual and the material. The two cannot be separated, but for the sake of convenience let us understand each of them separately. The material part consists of his body, his various organ systems, his glands, his tissues and fluids, his brain. The spirit is the nonmaterial part that gives life to the body, that governs it and controls its functions. It permeates each and every cell of the body. Without the spirit, the body is dead. We call this spirit “the vital force.” The vital force is also responsible for our natures and temperaments. It is what we call ‘the soul’ in common language, or ‘aatma’ in hindu philosophy or Chi in Chinese. Let us take a simple example. Say someone pinches 5 peoples. All five will say I felt a pinch. When asked to describe it in term of sensation we may get this. “It hurt me so badly it left a bruise”, another could say “I could have punched the SOB” another could say “I hardly felt it” and another “why did you do that?” and finally “it reminded me of when my brother used to do it to me.” The same stimulus and yet different reaction each one valid and revealing of the person and of the remedy needed.
Homeopathy recognizes both the spiritual or vital and the material parts of man, and here it differs from conventional medicine.
The homeopath regards disease as a disturbance of the Vital Force. And so in taking your case the homeopath will look for symptoms in your body and also give equal importance to your nature, your feeling and reactions, your dreams, etc. So, in Homeopathy, each person is regarded as a sum of his symptoms and his innermost feeling regarding the disease. Since the aim is to understand each person as an individual, the homeopath looks for things that are most individualistic of people.
Briefly, the Homeopath requires the following for a good and complete history.
- The exact description of the physical ailments, past and present.
- How it began? Was the onset sudden or gradual?
- What is the exact sensation? For e.g., if there is pain, is it burning, shooting,throbbing, pulling etc.
- What makes it better or worse : Is there any time of day that the complaint increases in intensity, or then abates ?
- What upsetting incidences happened at the time that the problem manifested ?
- What does your problem make you feel ?
- General Symptoms:
- What do you like in food and drink ?
- How much is your thirst ?
- How much do you sweat and where ?
- How is your sleep ? What position do you sleep in ?
- About your pattern of urination and bowel habits.
- Your menstrual functions.
- About which side of your body tends to be affected more.
- What complaints you are prone to : allergies, obesity etc.
- How is this condition or illness affecting you?
- The feelings created by the ailment are an integral part of the whole and therefore important to arrive at the proper remedy that will bring a cure.
- Incidences that have affected you deeply or that have had an impact on you. These are very important to the Homeopath, especially what the person felt and how he reacted in the incident. The homeopathic remedy becomes clearer from such instances.
Once the homeopath has derived a complete picture of you as an individual he attempts to match you with a very similar picture from homeopathic textbooks. Homeopathic remedies are described in a lot of detail; each remedy is described as if it were an individual. He has already studied these remedies and he tries to find one that matches the person in his physical symptoms and in his mental makeup. It is like finding the key to a lock. Any lock can only be opened by one particular key.
In the same way any one patient requires a remedy whose description he matches.
There are over three thousand remedies in the Homeopathic Material Medica, and each remedy is a conglomerate of several symptoms. Sometimes a single remedy may have over a thousand symptoms. It is impossible for anyone to remember every singly symptom and sometimes the homeopath may not be familiar with the symptoms that the person narrates. In such cases he can use an index of symptoms to search the specific symptoms: this is know as a Repertory. Repertories are now also available as computer programs.
To a very large extent the Homeopathic remedy depends on the details of the history that the patient furnishes. If the exact homeopathic remedy is administered the results can be quite amazing. This can be illustrated with a case.
There are many cases that illustrate this on this web site. Feel free to look them up and now you know why the homeopath asks questions and listens attentively to your answers without ignoring anything or giving any judgment. The beauty of homeopathy is that it can do something for you.