Harry (not his real name) is an Asian Indian man going on 80 who became my patient about a year ago. Since he lives over 9,000 miles away, we have not actually ever met in person. But on the suggestion of a relative who is also a patient of mine, he requested a consultation via Skype.
I was certainly happy to oblige and happier still that our Internet connection was quite clear – a better connection, in fact, than I get with some people Skyping from Vermont. A diminutive man with a shaven head (think Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of Gandhi), Harry has a cheerful affect and brisk Indian English diction that enhanced our connection even further.
Treating older persons homeopathically can be one of the more rewarding parts of my practice… Or, it can be one of the most frustrating. Whether it is the former or the latter can often depends on the extent to which they are consuming conventional allopathic medication.
A well-chosen homeopathic prescription can afford great relief for a wide variety of complaints and conditions, as well as address underlying conditions producing the symptoms. This is especially the case for persons taking no or relatively few medications. As a consequence, it enhances the possibility that conventional medications can be avoided or at least limited. In some cases it is possible to help people reduce or eliminate their prescriptions.
It has long been recognized – even in conventional medical circles – that excessive prescription of drugs is common in geriatric cases. Older persons tend to have more complaints and, perhaps based on the notion that ‘they won’t get better anyhow, so let’s keep them comfortable’, every symptom warrants a drug. Often this creates a cascade of symptoms in and of itself.
As the prescriptions multiply, sides effects arise that are not infrequently treated by yet more medication. As a result of this cascade effect, at some point, it becomes difficult to discern between underlying condition and the iatrogenic one.
So, on first hearing Harry’s reason for making an appointment, I was a bit ambivalent. He was complaining of itchiness and burning over his body, a side-effect, it turned out, of the medication he had been taking for diabetes. There was a strong history of diabetes in his family, and although he had otherwise been quite healthy – save an arthritic knee, Harry too had become diabetic around the time he turned 70.
Being a bit dubious of reducing the side-effects of his medications, I told Harry straight off that the best way to deal with the skin issues was to treat the diabetes so that he could reduce or eliminate the medication, and that the best way to accomplish that was to prescribe a constitutional remedy that reflected his full physical, emotional and mental state.
Perhaps, like many people, Harry had probably not considered the possibility of treating the diabetes other than with conventional medications, but he seemed eager to give it a try. We spoke for several hours over which time his constitutional remedy became increasingly clear.
Homeopathically, it was not particularly difficult to understand his case and the remedy that best suited him. He was a timid man who didn’t feel comfortable socializing and something of a worrier. His father died when he was an infant and as a young person, he never felt much support from his family. Nevertheless, he through hard work, he made his way to the West and achieved some success as a professional. Even so, he felt lonely there and quite homesick.
Now, many decades later and married to a Westerner, he is of course much more settled. But he still doesn’t like to be alone and, though well compensated, the support is still an issue. This is clearly reflected in a recent dream in which he is climbing upward and turned to find his climbing partner was not there, that he was alone and had lost support.
Confirmed by several physical characteristics such as his chilliness and craving for sweets, the remedy Harry was given was Calcarea carbonica. Mostly made up of calcium, it is prepared from the inner lining one of the oyster shell and one of the most commonly prescribed medicines in homeopathy. Though persons of all ages need this remedy, it is particularly useful in pediatric cases – especially for young children who have not established their independence from their parental support system and to whom the world is still an unknown and frightening place.
I suggested to Harry that he immediately begin a daily dose of the remedy in what is generally known as a ‘LM potency’, a type of homeopathic preparation suitable for repeated dosing. Being a common remedy, Harry was able to find it locally and by the time of our first follow-up consultation as already feeling the benefits. Even without a change in his prescription drugs, his itchiness was much less, but more importantly, his energy had increased and the glucose levels had improved.
This improvement has continued over the eight months since he first began the remedy. The itchiness is quite sporadic, his energy is higher, the knee is also feeling better and even though he has begun reducing the diabetes medications, the glucose levels are continuing to improve. With continued patience and persistence, I am hopeful that eventually Harry will be able to get off the medications. Either way, his sense of wellbeing and state of health have been enhanced.