---from the musings of a coughing and nose-blowing suburban greenmom...
...but I am sort of interested in learning. So I'm going to use my guest post moment today to both post what I've got but also to ask if any readers have any experience or thoughts to share?
To me, homeopathy has always been one of those slightly more far-out alternative healing traditions that I've always viewed sort of dubiously--not because there's necessarily anything wrong with it, but because it follows a completely different paradigm from most of the rest of what I'm familiar with. I just don't get it.
Herbalism was a fairly easy jump for me--after all, didn't most modern medicines come about from isolating, strengthening, and eventually synthesizing substances found in nature that produced particular responses in the human body? And using what occurs naturally also ties in with the Real Food movement, when you think about it; we as humans want/need a wide variety of different Stuffs to nourish and help us thrive, so it makes sense that we'd be able to get what we need from the natural world, particularly the plant world, right? A few years ago I began to get interested in herbs and what they do, how they work, how to prepare them, and so forth--Rosemary Gladstar is one of the foremost herbalists in the U.S., and her website has a lot of good resources. Susun Weed also has a ton of really great resource material on her site--though be warned, she's also, shall we say, fairly Alternative in her ways. (She talks to plant fairies and stuff like that. I suppose "eccentric" might be a good term to use. She knows a lot, though.) But there's a huge amount of really great info there about a lot of the plants that grow right in our backyards, or where our kids play, or by the side of the road (not a good place to harvest from, by the way, due to all the emissions and stuff...) And the Wise Woman Forum there is a superb place to see what other women are trying in terms of natural remedies for things--there is a large and active community ranging from the Deeply Herbally Involved Never Go To An Allopathic Doc people to folks a lot more like me who are just looking to deal with some of life's medical curve balls without resorting to prescription meds every time they come along. (BTW--Allopath="ordinary" doctor, as opposed to Naturopath or Homeopath...)
Which brings us back to the original topic of this post--my recent discovery of and being-intrigued-by homeopathy.
On Sunday morning I felt fine and dandy. Sunday afternoon I was surprised to notice a little trickle coming from my nose. By Sunday night I was flat out in bed. By Wednesday, I got up again. Hey there, good friend flu. Welcome, come stay for a while. (And may I just mention how lucky I am to have a family, and especially a spouse, who actually picked up the pieces so that the unthinkable could happen: Mommy got Two Sick Days.) I have no idea if it was the piggy variety, it just came on really fast and hit me hard--nothing digestive, but the whole head and chest and body aches and skin sensitivity thing and all. I didn't go to the doc, because pretty much everything I've been reading has said that there's not much the doc can do except maybe prescribe Tamiflu or something, for high risk people. (In which category I might have fallen, because I have mild asthma...)
At some point, about 48 hours after I was hit (and about 40 hours after I should have thought of it, which was just plain stupid of me) it occurred to me that last time I'd been sick I'd bought a box of oscillococcinum (okay, I got the Whole Foods generic version of same, which cost significantly less...it contains the same homeopathic active ingredient, anas barbariae hepatis...) It's supposed to be a pretty good homeopathic antiviral. Hard to say what's a result of a medication vs. what would have happened anyway, but after 3 doses of the stuff Tuesday, my fever broke dramatically--with much perspirational ickness--overnight and I felt 300% better in the morning. (Which was still unfortunately fairly crappy, but I'll take it.) You're supposed to start taking it at the first signs of the flu, so I still don't really know why I was such an idiot and didn't even think of it, but I didn't. So as I say, it's hard to tell whether what helped was the oscillowhatsit or the flu just running its course...or whether the very long and very hot shower I took before bed, in flagrant violation of all green-seeking conservation guidelines, opened things up enough to help the healing along...
But since by day 2 the ridiculously poorly acted espisodes of CSI Miami were getting old fast (What is it with that show? Back in the NYPD Blue days we really thought David Caruso could act...but watching him now I'd say he's on his way to becoming the next Shatner if he's not careful), I spent a good bit of prone time on the couch poring over the internet and researching what homeopathy is all about. It's sort of interesting. But incredibly different. I spent a lot of time on ABC Homeopathy, which has a lot of good information. They have a whole Guide to Homeopathy on there that's worth some time.
I have to say, I find the whole thing fairly non-intuitive. The basic principle seems to be "like cures like." So your "cure" would be some substance that when taken in higher quantity would produce the symptoms you're experiencing, only the homeopathics are so incredibly dilute that instead of causing the problem or making it worse they help gouge the body into fighting the symptoms. (Not unlike the vaccination principle, I guess, but on the other hand very unlike.) And I find it intimidating and a bit freaky, because the "cures" often have names like "belladonna" and "arsenicum" and "strychninium"--names that are kind of, like, stuff we associate with fairly nasty poisons, ya know?
But I know people who swear by this stuff. And who know a lot more about it than I do. And I'd be the last one to just write something off simply because I don't understand how it works. (Um, hello, computers?) And there is that reality that once I took the flu stuff, my fever did break and didn't come back. Anecdotal evidence to be sure, but there it is. And my husband started taking it literally half an hour after his sniffles started, and almost a day later he hasn't developed into worse symptoms despite taking care of me all week...anecdotal evidence at best, but it's still something I'm inclined to pay attention to.
So, my dear Boother friends--anyone out there have any experience with homeopathic medicines? What do you think?
--Jenn the Flu-Ridden Greenmom