Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Three Ways to Start Using Homeopathy

Most of us have grooves that we travel in- our go-to dinner, our tried and true family outing, black yoga pants. These things are comfortable, meet a need, and have proven reliable.

Likewise, we have health habits. If you are like most of America, you are trying to break the "bad" ones and begin "good" ones. Cleaning up the diet, switching up the exercise, trying some daily meditation. Many of us start these shifts over, and over, and over again. Habits die hard.

For awhile, I was reading Leo Babauta's zenhabits.com blog. I thought he had a great, clean approach to changing habits. Make is small. Keep it simple. Set yourself up for success. That is, if you want to start meditating, don't say you are going to sit for 45 minutes everyday. Start with 5. Just 5 minutes. And, start with just one habit a month. Just one.

I like this, a lot. And while I will rave up and down about homeopathy and how I think everyone should have a kit and get treated constitutionally, I know that this is a bigger step than many are ready or able to do. But you can reap the benefits of homeopathy by taking just one well indicated remedy, just one time. Take it when it's needed and... voila.

I'd like to suggest three ways you can introduce homeopathy into your life. These are simple, do not require huge adjustments to your life, and may help you change a habit.

1. Carry 3 remedies with you- put them in your purse, your car, your backpack. Buy multiple tubes and put one in each place. They will last you forever.

My top three choices are: arnica, aconite, and ledum. 
(the indications listed for each remedy are just examples to give the idea of when you might use the remedy- it is by no means an exhaustive list)

Arnica bruising and swelling, for bumps and kicks at soccer games, for head bonks on metal playground equipment... or another child's head. For fingers slammed in car doors. For accidents- both big and little- where there is mental and physical trauma. For overexerting at the gym (REALLY overexerting), for crossing the finish line at the 5K, for twisting an ankle walking down the steps.

Aconite for shocks and surprises that take our breath away and leave us shook up, for witnessing an accident- or being in one. For kids who are scared stiff by a big dog that barks at them, for fear and anxiety before an activity. For being out all day in a cold, dry wind after hiking/biking/sledding/skiing/kite flying.

Ledum for after a tick bite or any insect bite or sting that causes swelling, for puncture wounds- be it an injection or a nail, for a swollen joint after injury or exertion.

All of these remedies are available in 30c potency at most natural food stores and at about $6.00 each, will last you for years. You can follow the dosing instructions on the tube, but for the conditions I listed above, take a dose (2-3 pellets) twice a day for three days. Stop if you notice marked improvement.

2. Sticky notes- look in your medicine cabinet. If you still stock over the counter meds like Benedryl, Advil or Tylenol, or Tums, then take a small sticky note and either write the name of a remedy that can potentially take its place (for example- arnica for the Advil, or apis or ledum for the benedryl,) or just write "REMEDY!" and stick it on there. Then, the next time you go to grab the meds, you'll see that and have a pause. It may be that you can't take the time to look one up, or maybe it's not one of the obvious ones- arnica for inflammation or trauma for example. But- it puts it in your field, and everytime you *do* make the homeopathic choice, it will get easier and more natural.

3. Fill the information gap- how do you get information about homeopathy? Where do you spend time reading?
 - If you check facebook several times a day, then find good homeopathy sites to 'like' that put regular information out there.
- Put a homeopathy guide in your bathroom reading stash. Join the National Center for Homeopathy and start receiving Homeopathy Today magazine and peruse it when you have a few minutes.
- Sign up to receive my blog delivered to your inbox.
- Buy a home prescribers guide like The Family Guide to Homeopathy. You can find an inexpensive used copy on Amazon. There's nothing worse than wanting to try a remedy and getting lost on the web. Find a book you can become familiar with.

A little reading and repetition goes a long way to aiding a change in habit, and it *is* a habit! Even after I was studying homeopathy, I remember that I once brought my three year old into the emergency room to get an x-ray because it seemed like his arm was hurting him after a fall. I don't think I even thought to give him arnica. His arm was fine, and probably if I had hung tight, and given the arnica I would have seen improvement. If not, then I certainly would have gone to the doctor.

These might seem like small steps and that's because- they are. But every big, lasting change starts with a small step, a small commitment that takes root and then grows. Try one out, and let me know how it goes.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Yoga, Homeopathy, and the practice of Making Space

I went to college on the west coast, and was pleasantly surprised to find a small, but solid group of other Mainers who had chosen UC Santa Cruz. One was my first yoga teacher. Julie was from Freeport, just a short 15 minutes from where I grew up. Her class was my first experience with yoga, and I loved it. It was inspirational without being sappy, strengthening and challenging while expanding and relaxing. It was the best of east meets west- my Maine and my new California.

When Julie was talking us through a pose, she would often say "make space." New to yoga, my brain immediately kicked in and tried to figure it out- promptly cluttering any space I already had. And then she would give some specific direction

Make space between your right knee...and your left shoulder.
Make space between the top of your head, and your toes.
How much space can you make from back to front?

By closing my eyes and envisioning those two, distant points and stretching between them, I found that I could make space. A lot of space. The pose felt lighter, easier, expansive.

Years later, I have found the practice and concept of 'making space' is intrinsically part of homeopathy. Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, spoke of the dynamis within us as the place where true health lives. 

Dynamic: 1.a. Of or relating to energy or to objects in motion.   b. Of or relating to the study of dynamics.2. Characterized by continuous change, activity, or progress: a dynamic market.3. Marked by intensity and vigor; forceful. (www.freedictionary.com) 

To be dynamic is to move and change. Health is not a static state, but one that is in motion, is dynamic. To be able to maintain homeostasis- the state of equilibrium and balance- we need to be able to shift and move in both large, and subtle ways. And in order to move, there must be space. 

When we are fixed, rigid, unyielding, and clamped down, space is limited. Options are cut off. There is little room for dynamis.  The effects of a hampered, cramped dynamis can be seen both mentally and emotionally, as well as physically: 

Have you ever had blocked sinuses? 
Persistent eczema? 
Clogged arteries? 
Do you think or feel "this will never change..." or "that's just the way I am"? 

When we are in that fixed space, as in a yoga pose, we are so busy holding it up, keeping it steady that it takes another voice to say 'make space.' Sometimes, we need specific direction: 

Make space between your ideals and your reality
Make space between your expectations and yourself
Make space between yourself and your child (mother/father/partner/sister/brother) 

If we are receptive, we can hear the voice from almost anywhere: our yoga teacher, our therapist, our friend, a book, a song, a quote. 

My favorite is, of course, the homeopathic remedy :) 

When you take a well prescribed homeopathic remedy, because it is an energy modality, it goes straight to that dynamic place. There is no thinking or wondering, or analyzing involved. The remedy helps to create that space, and then the movement can happen. 

If you have ever taken a remedy when you had a cold and felt your nose- which had been stuffed up- begin to loosen, then you have felt that movement, a typical experience for someone with blocked sinuses, after taking the remedy kali bichromium.  Or maybe a cough that shifted from tight and dry, to loose and productive after a dose of bryonia.  The remedy ignatia shines when one is embroiled in grief, that cannot flow. 

The next time you start to feel sick, or stuck, or obsessed, or resistant- take a step back. Move, create space, breathe into that space. Allow your dynamis to flow. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Homeopathic Aconite, Dog Bites, and Children

This weekend we visited family for Easter. An unfamiliar dog came over on Sunday, and lunged at my son, nipping at his belly. It was minor, and looks like road rash, but it was a traumatic thing for him. 

As a mother, this is one of those times when I can't have enough gratitude for homeopathy. I couldn't take the experience away, I can't restore that innocent love my son had for dogs before this happened. But I could- and DID- give him the remedy, Aconite, to help him with the shock and fear that was gripping him immediately after. Two doses of 200c helped him to feel more grounded again, able to move on with his day. 

We followed up with Arnica when we got home, and now it just looks like a little scratch. 

As parents, we are constantly trying to buffer our children from excessive hurt and the harshness of the world. Despite our best efforts, life happens anyway. In response, our role shifts from protector to supporter, to ally, as they navigate how their reality has shifted. 

Homeopathic remedies in these situations help the hurt from becoming static and entrenched. Shock and fear are natural after a dog bite. Persistent anxiety around dogs, fear of dogs, and 'shell shock' do not *have to be* the result, though they can be *if* that trauma is not allowed to run its course. Aconite, arnica, and other remedies if need be, can help the experience to flow. So too do hugs and being present with the process.

More details on aconite: 

Aconite  is the go-to remedy for shock, trauma, and anxiety. If you can only carry one remedy, it's a toss-up between arnica and aconite but because shock can be so paralyzing, I think I'd opt for aconite. It's available at any natural food stores that carry homeopathic remedies.

In any case, I carry a 200c potency in my remedy kit, but having a 30c in your purse, car, or backpack will do fine. After an accident or witnessing something distressing, hearing bad, unexpected news, a dose of aconite can do wonders to calm the nervous system and bring some equilibrium. Also, aconite is a first remedy for exposure to cold and winds- a 'shock' to the physical system. High, dry fevers and a barking cough can present in the night.

Also, this particular situation and bite was quite minor. More significant trauma and injury from dog bites can also benefit greatly from other homeopathic remedies that are chosen specifically for the symptoms of the patient by a professional homeopath.  Chronic fear of dogs- whether resulting from a bite or not- can also be treated homeopathically.