But is this healing? If we were to take this logic and create a metaphor, than taking a decongestant to “fix” a common cold is similar to having the check engine light come on in your car and asking your mechanic to simply remove the light bulb. If this were the case, would you be certain that your car is safe to drive?
This is essentially what we do when we take medications designed to silence symptoms. In effect, we are simply removing the check engine light in our body and driving on.
As a society have we accepted the logical fallacy that states that if we can silence a symptom by taking a pill, than we are cured? If a person is prescribed medication for the duration of their lives, is this a cure or merely disease management?
There are, however, problems associated with taking prescription drugs for an extended period of time. The body develops a tolerance requiring a gradual increase in the amount of the medication needed. Unfortunately, this cycle has resulted in the fact that prescription drug overdoses are one of the leading causes of death in the United States, far outdistancing deaths from firearms and car accidents (CLAAD, Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence, Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics).
Certainly we can do better than this when what we seek is true health and wellness.
What happens if we change the way we look at symptoms? What if we begin to regard symptoms not as something to be silenced, but instead, as the pure language of the body expressing the exact structure of the medicine required? The body intrinsically understands what it needs to become well and symptoms are a communication of that need. Think of every new or heightened symptom as the body’s way of asking, “Can you hear me now?”
What we need to do is stop and listen. I can hear you.
This “I can hear you,” approach to symptoms, where symptoms are viewed as an expression of what the body requires to return to a state of wellness, is one of the fundamental ideologies upon which homeopathy rests. Homeopaths believe that a true cure cannot be found at the bottom of a prescription pill bottle, that it is only something that can be achieved by the body. Homeopathic remedies are designed and given not with an intention to silence symptoms, but rather to stimulate a healing response from the body.
Homeopathic remedies are minute doses of a medicine from nature that mimic the individualized symptom picture being expressed by their patient. Like cures like. The homeopath knows that when a match is created between a patient’s symptoms and the homeopathic remedy, a reaction will allow the patient’s system to heal on all levels; mind, body and emotional.
Let’s use an example to illustrate:
A woman has just lost her husband and is, understandably, grieving. She does not cry at the funeral and dislikes being consoled. She grieves silently and behind closed doors. She is incredibly sad and joyless. Then, shortly after her husband’s death, she begins to develop a fear of robbers and of thunderstorms. She is constantly plagued by headaches that feel like a thousand little hammers chipping away at her brain. Around the same time, she notices a strange sensation at the back of her throat that feels like she has swallowed a fishbone and it is stuck there. Try as she might, she is unable to clear it.
Unique symptoms are like pieces of gold to a homeopath; the more unique and individualized a symptom, the better chance a homeopath will have to matching the genus of the patient’s case to a substance found in nature.
In the above example, some of the more unique symptoms expressed are “headaches that feel like a thousand little hammers chipping away at her brain”, new fears of “robbers and thunderstorms,” “prefers to grieve alone” and the “sensation of a fishbone caught at the back of her throat”. These unique symptoms only appear in a handful of naturally occurring grief remedies separately, with all coming together in the homeopathic remedy Natrum Muriaticum, salt.
How do we know that homeopathic salt consistently displays these unique symptoms in people? For hundreds of years, homeopaths have been conducting provings. Homeopathic provings are double-blind tests where a group of people are divided into three sections: a placebo group, a control group and a group given a remedy. None of the participants know which remedy is being studied nor do they know which group they are in. During these studies, the effects of the remedy are observed, collected and recorded. After hundreds of years of provings, many of the particular symptoms and symptom pictures of remedies have been consistently proved which is why homeopaths today are able to confidently use a patient’s symptom picture to guide them to a matching homeopathic remedy.
It has been my experience that homeopathic remedies help to bring into line the underlying issues expressed by symptoms until patients are able to maintain harmony without any assistance. As such, health – from a homeopathic perspective – is achieved when an individual realizes a physical, mental and emotional harmony without the need for medication or remedies of any kind.
All of this begs the question: As a society do we continue to accept that the best we can ask from our medical system is to silence our symptoms; that unplugging the check engine light in our car is the best way to fix an engine?
Or are we prepared to shift our thinking about the role of symptoms in healing?
Perhaps, if we listen to our symptoms rather than silencing them, true healing is possible.