Common Misperceptions in Medical Practice

Bringing Common Sense Back to Health Care

Animals - Dog SmilingThis section is designed to make you think critically, as is, well, most of the information presented on this website. These particular thoughts come up over and over again in conventional medicine, and have become ingrained in many practitioners’ minds, perhaps due to their frequent repetition. They have become a bit like saying, repeatedly, “The earth is flat. Beyond the horizon, it just drops off into space.”

That was the ultimate, earthbound reality for the population here on the planet for a very long time, until a few forward thinkers challenged it, and eventually proved it dead wrong. Similarly, there are widely held views in veterinary and human medicine that really have no substantiation in fact.

Let’s burst a few of them here, and see from a higher perspective that the earth really is a sphere, after all. Those in our care will be healthier for it. If you have some favorites not mentioned here, let me know on the Contact page.

“Wasting Time” in Pursuit of Health

Back in the early days, when I was a newly minted holistic veterinarian, even before I studied homeopathy and was only advising on natural diet and doing some acupuncture, I’d come across a warning, written to animal caregivers ostensibly, that went something like this:

One of the detrimental effects of pursuing holistic treatment is the loss of time involved during this pursuit, time in which the animal’s disease grows more serious, deeper, more difficult, more life threatening.

I thought about this, and, as a newcomer in holistic veterinary medicine, it gave me pause. Was I risking an animal’s health in telling the owner to start on a homemade, balanced raw diet? Was I compromising my patient while providing natural treatments for serious disease?

Implicit in this warning is the message that “real” medicine, conventional drugs and surgery, somehow had the answer to all animal suffering; anything done before getting the “tried and true” treatments offered in conventional clinics was doing a disservice to the animal’s health outcome. It was not only a waste of time, but it endangered the animal, did harm, was a dam in the stream of sickness moving toward wellness.

I took an oath, as do all graduating veterinarians (and single species doctors): Do no harm. There was more to it, of course, but that was a central part of it. So, I was struck by this warning, this implication that I might be harming those entrusted to me. And yet, I mostly saw good coming from what I was offering. Even before I was trained in modalities of treatment, like acupuncture and later homeopathy, I could see animals improving by just getting them off the usual toxic, lifeless diets they came to me on. Changing to a balanced raw diet often had remarkable effects: they stopped smelling bad, shedding, having stinky stools, gummy eyes, waxy ears, and itchy skin. It really didn’t seem logical that I was doing any harm, or somehow “wasting time” in these animals’ lives.

And the rest, as they say, is history. Once I was trained in homeopathy, I put this profoundly subtle and powerful medicine to work in the most serious of chronic diseases, and my confidence grew with my successes. I saw very sick animals who’d come to me after exhausting all that conventional medicine had to offer, getting well again. The drugs hadn’t done it, and the homeopathy had. In a deep, “whole animal” way that I knew drugs could never bring about: behavior improved when I had only set out to deal with itchy, allergic skin disease; teeth whitened up, when I hadn’t even (knowingly) addressed that; tumors went away in lungs with a single dose of a remedy so dilute that there was no physical matter left in it, with not only zero toxic side effects, but with a restoration of the inherent well being of the animal that had almost been forgotten in the long struggle of her illness.

And as I practiced more, I saw that I had a far better success rate in those animals who came to me before they’d been through extensive conventional treatments! The best results of all were the young animals who hadn’t had multiple vaccinations and lots of drugs to suppress their emerging chronic disease symptoms. They presented a clear picture of their illness, and it was relatively easy to find a remedy for them that helped them get back on a healthy track and never look back.

So, I gradually came to realize that the warning of “wasting time” was in fact just the reverse of what had been proposed: the time (and often the countless dollars) spent on conventional treatments had not only not cured the disease, but had made it more difficult to cure. Amazing.

This had been recognized by the old masters long before it dawned on me, of course. Samuel Hahnemann, the physician who founded homeopathy as we know it today, wrote in his Organon of Medicine in 1810:

The ruinations of human health brought about by this pernicious allopathic treatment…are the most tragic and most incurable of the chronic diseases. I regret to say that when they have gone beyond a certain point it is probably impossible to ever discover or imagine any means of curing them. par 75

Remember, this was written long before we had the powerfully suppressive drugs we see in common use today, like the corticosteroids (cortisone, dexamethasone, prednisone) or cyclosporines (Atopica, Optimune)!

Unfortunately, homeopathic veterinarians are often seen as the D.L.R.: Doctor of Last Resort. The same is true of other holistic vets, as we are presented with animals who’ve been unsuccessfully treated with drugs and/or surgery, many for a number of years, before their owners give up and think, “There’s got to be a better way!”

I truly hope the number of people thinking outside the conventional medical box is growing, and we can expect over time to be presented with sick animals long before they’ve been subjected to multiple deleterious treatments which, in effect, worsen their state of health and make cure more difficult. If the usual trend of wasting time on allopathic treatment continues, we’ll be faced with more euthanasia, I fear, as the natural disease becomes so distorted and the quality of life so unbearable, that cure becomes a distant, unattainable dream.

And, even better, I hope we become the go-to veterinarians for the healthy raising of young animals, and breeding stock. It’s here that we’ll have the greatest effect, rooting out inherited chronic disease while it’s still barely visible, and setting animals up for a long, disease-free life and the potential for ever healthier future generations. Now, that’s time well spent.

Bad Germs!

A common misdirection in conventional medicine is seeing the bacteria present in a disease as the cause of that disease. The commonest example in conventional veterinary medicine is “ear infections,” a term I really abhor, because it furthers this thought that nasty germs came in and infected this poor, innocent ear. A better description would just be “ear inflammation,” or “ear discharge.” Inflammation is the redness, heat, itch, tenderness to touch and, sometimes, swelling of the canal. Discharge is when we see lots of debris or even pus present in the ear canal. Sometimes inflammation and discharge are there together.

So, if the bacteria got in there somehow, and are now wreaking havoc, and that’s your view of the causation, what’s the first drug you’d reach for? Why, antibiotics, of course! Kill those bad guys, nuke those nasties, and everything should once again be restored to normal, right? Wrong. It’s rare that this works, though it’s used all the time, often in topical ear medicines that combine powerful antibiotics like gentamycin with equally powerful suppressive corticosteroids (check your labels if you have these meds at home). While these drops or salves will often bring about some relief and make the symptoms disappear for awhile, they often come back later, and not uncommonly, need repeated treatments to keep the ear quiet. Treatments often need to get more drastic, like flushing the ear canals under sedation, using more and stronger drugs, and finally, the coup de grace, “ear ablation” surgery. Know what that is? The surgeon “fixes” this poor, chronically inflamed and discharging ear by removing the ear canal and sewing the opening shut!! That’s right up there with blood letting and mercury treatments!

So, what’s really going on? From a deeper perspective, we have a sick animal, let’s say a dog, though cats and horses and children can all go through this disease. In that sick dog, the ear is acting as a weak organ, if you will, and is the outlet for the overall sickness to discharge through. Remember, we have a brilliant inner “gyroscope” at work for us all the time. We call it the vital force in homeopathy. The goal of the vital force is to keep us healthy in the most efficient means possible. Disease is thrown to the surface of the body when we are at our healthiest, in the form of perhaps some eruption (like pimples or an abscess or a rash), and/or a discharge. See my example of fighting the flu to get a better sense of this. It’s not uncommon for opportunists to move into a discharging or inflamed organ, especially bacteria and yeasts, who thrive in the milieu provided by that organ. It’s a mistake to think they moved into a healthy ear and caused all this. That’s borne out by the difficulty in trying to clear it up with the killer drugs.

The Chinese medical model has recognized this for at least 4,000 years: get the “terrain” healthy (meaning the body) and the “invader” (the germ) will have no place to live.

So, that’s the approach we take in homeopathy as well. We look at the whole animal, see the signs that things are not well (the symptoms), and search for the remedy that best matches that pattern, the one that can help the animal throw off her disease in the fastest, easiest, most complete way possible. And when that magic called “cure” takes place, lo and behold, the germs have lost their home, and they die off. The ear canal becomes healthy once more, and normal flora thrive there, all without killing off the “bad guys.” What’s more, if we’ve managed our case well, the whole animal gets healthier, not just the ear canal.

So, avoid the temptation to play the Blame Game with the opportunist germs out there, and look deeper. We’ll do far more effective treatment when we treat the Whole Dog, if you will, than trying to kill off the “bad germs.” Our animals deserve that, don’t you think?