Anyone who’s followed the Thinking Moms for any length of time is aware that, among other things, we use homeopathy to support health in ourselves and our children. Virtually all of us have found homeopathy to be a remarkable system for healing of a wide variety of physical, mental, and emotional issues. Indeed, many have used homeopathy to treat autism with varying results. On the one hand, a number of children have made astonishing gains through the use of homeopathy, even to the point of full recovery (after being diagnosed with PDD-NOS before he was a two, a long-term personal friend’s 10-year-old recently celebrated the end of his IEP), while others have made only marginal gains or even regressed under treatment. This can be a very frustrating aspect of homeopathic care. It seems that a child’s progression with homeopathic support can be highly dependent upon his or her particular homeopath’s approach to the treatment of autism and the intuitive understanding the homeopath has of the child’s development.
Homeopathy started out as a relatively simple discipline when it was developed by Samuel Hahnemann back in 1796. The basic concept is that highly diluted concentrations of a substance can stimulate the body to overcome the very same symptoms that the substance causes in much higher concentrations. On a superficial level, the idea seems absurd. One of the many criticisms of homeopathy is that the most potent remedies may not contain a single molecule of the original source material. In terms of traditional chemistry, that should mean that the resulting substance is inert and, therefore, can cause no reaction whatsoever. And yet, it has been proven scientifically that highly dilute substances can and do provoke physical, mental, and emotional reactions that cannot be due to the placebo effect, and many, many people have had their health restored by the application of such highly dilute substances.
Classical homeopathy, though, seems to be inadequate on its own to satisfactorily treat the complicated chronic illnesses of today in the majority of cases. In classical homeopathy, the homeopath asks a series of questions in order to find the one remedy, known as the “similimum,” that best matches the overall “symptom picture” presented by the patient. Today’s illnesses, though, seem to be the result of many different toxic insults and influences, and the similimum approach, while able to bring about improvements in most people, may not bring a full resolution of symptoms.
Innovative homeopaths have come up with other ways to use highly dilute substances to nudge patients toward wellness that seem to be more effective for some people, including what is known as “homotoxicology,” the use of highly dilute combinations of substances aimed at improving the body’s ability to detoxify from the many different blocks that have built up over a lifetime (or even one’s ancestors’ lifetimes); CEASE homeopathy, a strict four-potency protocol which uses the particular substances that seem to have caused illness to reverse it by “clearing” the substance’s effects; and prevention of illness in the form of homeoprophylaxis.
Jerry M. Kantor, a homeopath based in Boston with an eclectic background, including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), has just produced a reference book, Autism Reversal Toolbox, aimed at giving homeopaths a wide and effective set of tools with which to tackle the many possible issues that may be faced with an autism diagnosis. (Full disclosure: a number of the Thinking Moms (not including myself) have consulted with Mr. Kantor and his book is dedicated to us: “a cadre of dauntless and brilliant women who, as they know more than most of their doctors about autism (and act accordingly), have been a valued resource and inspiration.”) While Kantor’s book is aimed at the professional who is actively seeking ways to help patients with autism, it can also be very helpful from the perspective of a parent of a child with autism or even an adult who is interested in finding modalities that bring improvements for him or herself.
Often parents come to us asking for help in navigating the bewildering array of choices when it comes to modern homeopathic treatment. Many homeopaths specialize in one or more approaches. Tinus Smits, for instance, invented the CEASE protocol and used it to treat his patients with autism before he died. Others come from a more classical perspective and use “the one best remedy” approach. Like Jerry Kantor, I have come to the conclusion that in the majority of cases a simple, singular approach is not adequate to fully address the complicated illnesses that are so common today, of which autism seems to be the most emblematic.
When it comes to the classical approach, I have seen many, many children do well for a while on a particular remedy only to hit a metaphorical stone wall after a time, and no matter how “well-chosen” a remedy is, the child does not progress. On the other hand, I have seen many children treated with a strict CEASE approach who have experienced tremendous aggravations and never seem to stabilize long enough to make progress either. Even homotoxicology, a very gentle, basic introduction to homeopathic treatment that works very well for many children, does not help everyone, nor does it “do it all” for most patients.
My own personal conclusion is that, for the majority of autism cases, an eclectic approach using a number of different tools, depending upon the particular patient, is warranted. Often that means consulting more than one homeopath over the course of treatment. It seems obvious that having one practitioner who is familiar with the pros and cons of many courses of action may be the best of all possible worlds.
One of the central constructs of homeopathic theory and practice is that, far from curing disease, suppression of symptoms actually drives the disease deeper and make it more difficult to cure. Conventional allopathic medicine had no equivalent for this idea until recently. It was thought that if you eliminated the symptoms of disease by means of a drug, then that could only be a good thing. In more recent years, medicine has begun to rethink that view.
Antibiotics used to be considered harmless and were prescribed for any kind of ill, even those for which they could do no good whatsoever. The result of that? We have ever more resistant and virulent strains of bacteria that are harder and harder to kill. Functional medicine practitioners have come to realize that inflammatory processes, especially fever, are an important tool in eliminating pathogens from the body. The symptoms of illness that we dread, sneezing, congestion, fever, body aches, vomiting are all signs that our immune systems are working hard to eliminate the danger. If we suppress that fever, it is possible that the pathogen will not be eliminated, but merely hide itself within important organs causing subclinical damage that over time builds up to something dangerous.
This is the basis of the homeopathic concept of “miasms.” Miasms arise when symptoms of a serious illness have been suppressed with pharmaceutical drugs, driving the disease deeper into the body and making it harder to cure. In addition, miasms are usually passed on to our offspring, another homeopathic tenet that seems to fly in the face of conventional medical understanding. It has long been thought that acquired traits cannot be “inherited.” More recently, however, we have found that certain kinds of environmental stresses can result in epigenetic changes that can indeed be passed on to progeny.
There are three traditional miasms known as psora, syphilis, and sycosis. These miasms arose from the treatment of scabies, syphilis, and gonorrhea. Since Hahnemann’s day, though, the treatment of a number of other illnesses has given rise to additional miasms. The more miasms present, the more aggressive the disease and the more difficult to treat. Kantor argues that autism is part of a new miasm that he calls “Neural Autoimmunity” that is the most recent in a line of ever deepening miasms. This complex miasm is the reason why autism seems so particularly difficult and complicated to treat, usually requiring a number of remedies used to treat the prior miasms.
Kantor makes some extremely practical suggestions for the homeopath treating autism. In his view it is important to gain familiarity with developmental delays and other modalities for treating them, including their strengths and weaknesses. I couldn’t agree more. I have rarely known someone whose child got well with homeopathy alone. It is important to understand the synergy, or lack thereof, between homeopathic treatment and whatever else a parent may choose to do.
Kantor considers it essential to get a very detailed health history, including prenatal influences and mental states, but to focus in particular on the “never been well since” elements that arise. Sometimes those are not as obvious for some as for others. For instance, we know many people whose children were dramatically affected by a round of vaccines where it was obvious to all that something profound had happened to the child. For other children, however, a parent may just have a nagging feeling that “that round of antibiotics happened just as he was starting to speak, and he stopped progressing then.” (My son is currently “clearing” an antibiotic for exactly that reason, and I’m delighted with the results. He had been on classically chosen remedies that helped him overcome apraxia, but seemed to hit that wall I was talking about with respect to other issues.)
Another very practical suggestion that Kantor makes that I have not seen anywhere else is to use a team approach – to literally have another pair of eyes and ears in the room to process the information received. As I’ve said, the results of homeopathic treatment often seem to hinge on the intuitive understanding the homeopath has of the particular patient in question. Everybody has blind spots, and homeopaths, no matter how good they are, are no exception. Adding another person who has a different set of experiences to draw upon when making treatment suggestions could be extremely helpful in terms of reduction in treatment time and frustration, as long as the two homeopaths work synergistically. I think it’s likely, in this case, that the whole will be more than the sum of the parts. In other words, the collaboration of two homepaths itself will produce a third, combined, understanding in addition to the individual understanding of the two homeopaths themselves.
Kantor presents overviews of all the different tools homeopaths have to work with, including some of the newer and more esoteric ones such as gem essences, meditative proving remedies, or remedies made from the lanthanide series of elements, many of which are written by some of the better-known practitioners using them. For instance, the homotoxicology section is written by Mary Coyle (another Thinking Moms favorite), and the homeopathic prophylaxis section, otherwise known as “homeopathic vaccination,” is written by Isaac Golden who has pioneered and expanded its use.
All of this culminates in Kantor’s personal system for prescribing remedies that he calls the Sine Wave Method. Essentially, it’s a way of alternating the use of classical “constitutional” remedies with remedies that are chosen to break up any roadblocks that crop up on the pathway toward good health, including ENWS remedies and the detox and drainage remedies of homotoxicology. In his words: “Use classical remedies to clear psychic imprint of trauma” alternated with “Support and detoxify so as to remove impediments to effective classical prescribing.” Kantor feels that this approach is required to fully resolve the autism miasm. While the method is a little more nebulous than most prescribing techniques due to the wide variety of remedies that may be chosen from, it is also far more comprehensive than most.
I can see two possibilities for the practitioner who reads Kantor’s book: an “aha” moment of recognition that, yes, this is an approach that makes sense and is likely to yield better results, or, for the more concrete thinkers, a throwing up of hands in confusion as it requires a lot more perspective and intuitive understanding to apply than something as cut and dried as the CEASE protocol.
Kantor presents five case histories illustrating how the Sine Wave Method was used in the clinical treatment of particular children with autism. I expect practitioners will find this section particularly useful.
What I particularly appreciate in Kantor’s approach to the diagnosis of autism is the “big picture” view he takes of not just the physical being in front of him, but the journey of the soul who inhabits that being as well. It’s a view that is profoundly respectful of the soul’s journey and choices. I find that we always get in trouble when we seek to impose our own will and choices onto another soul, including those of our children. The other soul may go along with our choices because of the love or fear they feel for us, but in the long run, no one can live life to their own personal fullest if they are not free to make their own choices.
Kantor’s book Autism Reversal Toolbox is an important new reference for practitioners interested in improving the lives of their patients with autism, including and explaining the uses of all the recent trends in remedy prescribing. In addition, it can be very helpful for parents of individuals with autism or adults with autism who are looking for ideas for their own treatment. The book provides a rich source for new avenues and directions to try when progress slows.
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