About Us

Ann McKay, R.N.C., John McGonigle, M.D. and Mark Brody, M.D. have devoted themselves to homeopathy and related alternative medical treatments. In keeping with the spirit of homeopathy's founder Samuel Hahnemann M.D., we utilize treatments that emphasize safety and the restoration of the sick to health.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Homeopathy, A Second Class Citizen

One has to suffer many ignominies as a homeopath. Sometimes I wonder what about me got me interested in a field where opportunities to "eat crow" abound. My patients sometimes call me to cancel appointments because they are sick or want to see their primary care doctor for treatment of an acute problem that unexpectedly has arisen -- not the chronic problem for which they initially came in. This distresses me greatly, because in spite of my efforts to educate my patients about the broader applications of homeopathy, they still do not always look upon it as something that might be suitable for managing their acute illnesses, or they simply see their primary care doctor as the one best equipped to handle these episodes.

Part of the problem is probably cultural. We have it so ingrained in us by our PCP's, our families, and even the advertising we are exposed to that our PCP's are our first "go-to" docs that it is almost reflexive to call them before anyone else. Partly it is our failure as homeopaths to communicate the broad-ranging applications of homeopathy. Some of our patients have grasped this and honor us (even if the honor may at times come somewhat unwelcomed in the middle of the night) by making us the first go-to doc. It's a big responsibility, but if we do our job well, the results can be magnificent. And, we and our patients know that we have moved them further along in their health, not merely squelched the symptoms by suppression.

Our patients who cancel because they are sick do not realize that viewing acute illness in its raw unsuppressed form can often be a wonderful window of opportunity into an understanding of their chronic illnesses. It's a difficult concept to metabolize. I don't know if it would have rung my bell when I was just beginning to study homeopathy. Being willing to consider an alternative treatment for one's chronic and treatment-resistant health problem is not the same as embracing homeopathy as a primary treatment option for one's health in general.

We would like all of our patients to embrace homeopathy with open arms, as we practitioners have done long ago. But the reality is that there will always be some for whom we will always merely be consultants, relegated to a supporting role. Once the chronic problem is cured for these folks, they will probably think of us again, should another chronic problem arise, but they will still go to their PCP's for flu's, cold's and other acute problems, in spite of our best efforts at tactfully providing an opening for them to broaden their use of homeopathy in their lives.

Homeopathy provides wonderful effects for most of our patients, but it is still somewhat esoteric -- or perhaps just not so easy to accept for our "reason-gifted" minds. As an outlier, it naturally evokes a certain degree of xenophobia, and however wonderful its effects may be, it can not quite emerge from the shadows of strangeness into the kind of comfortable acceptability that even the most dangerous or toxic conventional treatments enjoy, by their widespread use and publicity. Homeopathy is indeed "strange, rare and peculiar" in the world of health care, even if it may be viewed by many as quite effective. Relinquishing the familiar and trusting our health to this odd approach is an act of courage and open-mindedness that is no small accomplishment, especially when fearful relatives, friends and even our own fears might question the wisdom of such a bold action. Perhaps that is why Hahnemann said, "Aude sapere" -- Dare to be wise.

Mark Brody, M.D.