If homeopathy in the United States has a leader at all, it has to be Dana Ullman! Chances are the first book you bought on homeopathy was by Dana Ullman. Chances are the first introductory course you bought on tape or CD was by Dana Ullman, and chances are if you ordered homeopathic books from a catalogue, it was most likely Dana Ullman’s Homeopathic Educational Services, which can now be found on the web at:
The books Dana has written include, Everybody’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicines, Homeopathic Medicines for Children and Infants, and Homeopathy A-Z. There are 7 books in all as of this writing and I dare say there will be more. As a matter of fact, Dana created the curriculum in homeopathy for Andrew Weil’s Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona! Unfortunately, Dana couldn’t be with us today…. Ha! Just kidding!
Dana, let’s get started with our interview! You’ve written a book about treating children with homeopathy…
and I find it hard to convince parents that their children aren’t being as well-served by their pediatrician as they might think! Do you have any suggestions on how to talk to parents about homeopathy?
Before I answer, let me just say hi, Elaine, and thanks for having me here. “First, do no harm” was Hippocrates’ most famous words, and they are particularly important in the care and treatment of infants and children. Most people don’t know it, but most conventional drugs are tested on adults, and then, doctors estimate (or guess-timate) the appropriate dosage for children on such crude measures as a child’s weight. Worst still, in the United States, approximately 20% of pediatric visits leads to a prescription of more than one drug at a time. Once a second drug is given to a child, the doctor is not prescribing based on any research at all because the original research was not conducted with multiple drugs, the doctor doesn’t know the interactions of the drugs together.
The fact that so many conventional doctors are experimenting on our children is truly horrifying, and yet, few people and few doctors are sounding the alarm.
It is quite fascinating that so many children are fearful of their doctor, and I believe that these children are more sensitive and aware of the problems that doctors are creating than we adults realize. It is quite rare for children to experience this same degree of fear when they enter the office of a homeopath.
The number one reason that parents bring their children to a homeopath is because homeopathic medicines are so much safer than conventional medicines.
The second main reason that parents bring their children to homeopaths is that children respond so well to homeopathic medicines. You can really change a child’s life, both physically and psychologically, with the correct homeopathic remedy. And you can help make a parent’s life much easier and much better.
I should also mention that I have a special place in my heart for pediatric care. My father is a pediatrician, and I am a father myself. In preparation for fatherhood, I wrote Homeopathic Medicines for Children and Infants, which is the most popular guidebook in America for teaching parents how to treat their children with homeopathic medicines.
How do children respond to homeopathic remedies?
Children respond extremely well to homeopathic remedies, even when the perfect medicine is not always prescribed. It is as though the intelligence in their body is so high that their internal radar is scanning for any energetic medicine that is even close to being the best one.
Famed astronomer Johann Kepler once said, “Nature uses as little as possible of anything.” The fact that children respond so well to homeopathic medicines is one further example of this.
Nature uses as little as possible of anything? I wish I had known that before consuming an entire bowl of chocolate ice cream! But anyway Dana, homeopathic case-taking with children, what is that like?
I call homeopathy “Dragnet medicine,” named after the popular American detective television show from the 50’s: Who, what, why, where, when? These are the questions that chief detective Sgt. Joe Friday continually asked. “Just the facts, ‘mam,” is what he insisted upon, he didn’t want any theories, only facts.
I talk to the child as much as possible, and only later do I talk with the parent.
I watch the child, both in the waiting room, as she or he approaches me, and throughout the interview. I have a lot of respect for children, and I try to show them this respect by talking directly to them, and usually in a quite adult fashion. If they are at least four years of age, I can carry on some type of interview with them. I ask them:
- What hurts the most?
- What things make the pain worse and what things make the pain better?
- What other “hurts” do you have and what makes those worse or better?
- I then do a “body scan” in which I list a specific part of their body, and they tell me if they have been having any symptoms with that part of their body.
The following questions help me understand the child:
- Describe yourself a couple of years ago.
- How might your brothers and sisters describe you?
- How would one of your friends describe you?
- How would one of your enemies describe you?
- These questions help the child to distance him or herself from their reply in order to provide a more accurate picture.
- I ask them what is the worst punishment their parents could ever give them.
For children who can’t talk, I observe them and ask many of these same questions to the child’s parents. I also ask the parent:
- What does your child seem to value most?
- What emotions does the child seem to experience and how are they expressed?
- Tell me about the pregnancy and labor.
- One really stark difference between homeopaths and regular pediatricians is the way the pediatrician will rush in with drugs to stop a fever and consequently, most parents are terrified when their child gets a fever!
Most often, one needs to treat the parent’s anxieties and fears more than the child’s fever! The best way to treat these fears is with education about the wisdom of the body and about fever as an important defense. I say this because physicians and physiologists today recognize that fever is a useful response of the person’s body to infection. While it is true that certain high or long-lasting fevers need to be treated or suppressed in some way, such fevers represent an extreme minority of fevers in children.
I am quite concerned about the overuse of conventional drugs to lower fevers. Homeopaths assert that a lot of chronic disease is created when acute illness is suppressed.
I am often amazed at how well and how fast homeopathic medicines work in fevers. Because a fever is a defense, the body will make good use of additional tools that it is given to help in its defense. This is distinct from conventional drugs, especially anti-inflammatory drugs that ultimately are obstacles to the true cure.
I can and will refer the child for immediate medical treatment if fever is experienced in newborns (within first 4 months) that does not respond to homeopathic treatment within two hours, or if a fever in any child is over 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees F) and doesn’t respond to home treatment after 6 hours, or if high fever in any child leads to great lethargy and neck stiffness.
Dana, children seem to get a lot of ear infections and, of course, antibiotics are the only treatment offered. Is there anything wrong with antibiotics for ear infections?
Antibiotics may have a place in treating ear infections but not necessarily as a treatment of first choice. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines for the use of antibiotics in acute ear infections in children is actually that they should be avoided for the first three months. It may surprise some people to learn that a meta-analysis of the best studies on ear infection (British Medical Journal, 1997, 87:pp.466-74) found no benefit in using antibiotics as compared to placebo!
To make matters worse, some evidence suggests that administration of antibiotics leads to three times the number of ear infections compared to those children left untreated. Part of the problem with antibiotics is a basic premise of healing that is commonly ignored; namely, anytime you do something on the body’s behalf, the body doesn’t learn to do it for itself, or at least not as well.
In the U.S, it is too common that antibiotics are prescribed to newborns, even for simply having a reddened ear. The long-term consequences are unknown and scary. This over-prescribing of antibiotics for both newborns and any child is a part of what I call “medical child abuse.” I look forward to the day that homeopathy gains more respect and is added into the medicine chest of more parents and doctors.
What can homeopathy do for ear infections?
Homeopathy is magnificent for the treatment of ear infections. It is often as simple as ABC + P: Aconitum, Belladonna, Chamomilla, & Pulsatilla…with less common use of Mercurius, Mercurius iodatus flavus., Mercurius iodatus ruber, Hepar sulphur, and Silicea. Results are often rapid, but even when they aren’t, it seems as though these children still aren’t getting as many ear infections as those for whom antibiotics are prescribed.
According to a recent study of 75 children with otitis media published in Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, parent’s diary scores showed a significant decrease in symptoms at 24 and 64 hours after treatment in favor of those given a homeopathic medicine (P<.05). There were also 20% less “treatment failures” in children given a homeopathic medicine as compared with those given a placebo.
[Reference: J Jacobs, DA Springer, D Crothers, Homeopathic Treatment of Acute Otitis Media in Children: A Preliminary Randomized Placebo-controlled Trial, Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, 20,2 (February 2001):177-183.]
How long would a parent have to wait for results after giving a homeopathic remedy for a severe ear infection?
There is an old saying, “the bigger they are, the harder they fall.” I translate that into: the more serious the pain and discomfort, the faster the relief. It is as though their defenses are so strong that the homeopathic medicine provides a greater and faster relief than those with mild, persistent discomfort.
Typically, the relief from a homeopathic medicine is within a couple of hours and certainly after one night’s rest.
As you know, our remedies come in many different potencies, and a parent may be confused as to which one to buy.
From 6X or 6C to 1,000 (known as “1M”). The more confident I am, the higher the potency, and the more vitality the child has, the higher the potency. That said, people who are not as knowledgeable of homeopathic medicines should buy the 6th, 12th, or 30th potency.
Do they give the remedy just once, or repeat it often?
- 12th and 30th – I usually repeat every 2-4 hours in severe pain and every 4-6 hours in mild pain
- 200 and 1M – in severe pain, I recommend every 2 hours for the first 3 doses, and in mild pain every 4-6 hours
- if no change after 24 hours, I consider another remedy.
- Stop taking the medicine once obvious improvement begins!
- Start taking it again if pain returns.
And no doubt, stop taking the remedy, too, if you get worse! Dana, if I can change the subject, what’s up with Fluoride?
I believe that we should fluoridate candy, not water (although this sounds like a joke, it actually makes more sense than putting fluoride in water).
Fluoride does help the teeth in small doses, but it also will irritate them in overdose. One has to remember that once fluoride enters the water system, it is then not only drunk, but it is eaten when one washes food with it or cooks with it, and it is not always easy to regulate the proper amounts of fluoride in the water.
There are safer ways to strengthen a child’s teeth than taking fluoridated water or fluoride pills: a “constitutional” homeopathic remedy or even occasional doses of the 3rd or 6th potency of the appropriate Calcarea salt (to their body type) would be a better idea.
Now here’s a big one: hyperactive children! What can homeopathy do for this problem?
Homeopathic medicines are wonderfully effective for hyperactive children (and hyperactive adults), though this doesn’t necessarily mean that a remedy will “cure” them. Sometimes, the remedy will simply slow them down and help them feel more in control of their energy.
One study of 43 children with hyperactivity found a statistically significant benefit in those given an individually chosen homeopathic medicine. After the first phase of the study, the children who were given a placebo were then given a homeopathic medicine, and there was again a statistically significant improvement in their health.
By the way, the most common remedies used in this study were Stramonium (thornapple) at 35%, Cina (wormseed) at 19%, Hyoscaymus (henbane) at 19%, Veratrum album (white hellabore), Tarentula (tarantula), and several others.
[Reference: John Lamont, “Homeopathic Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,” British Homeopathic Journal, Vol. 86, October, 1997, 196-200.]
Homeopathic medicines can elicit a deep and powerful healing that truly changes the child’s personality. It is as though the homeopathic medicine helped pull off a veil of disease that embodied the child.
Hyperactivity sometimes requires a constitutional remedy rather than an acute one. Mind you, acute remedies may provide short-term relief, but such relief is not what most children and what parents want. They want long-term improvement, though they can and will accept whatever they can get.
The course of treatment may require “miasmatic” remedies and other remedies based on etiology of the child’s problem (a “miasm” is the homeopathic concept of an underlying genetic and/or acquired chronic disease from which various chronic and acute symptoms manifest). A miasm can be the result of a previous infection or environmental toxin that a person or one of his/her ancestors experienced and never adequately recovered from.
Two colleagues, Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman, ND, and Robert Ullman, ND (no relation to me!), have written two books on the subject of hyperactivity, both of which are helpful to practitioners and parents: Ritalin Free Kids and Rage Free Kids. These books provide very useful descriptions of the leading remedies for hyperactivity and its various syndromes. I highly recommend these books.
Can homeopathy stand on its own to meet all of a child’s medical needs?
I think that it is important for homeopaths to be familiar with other natural healing tools. Such tools can be helpful when you need more time to determine the best homeopathic medicines and because such tools provide some benefit in and of themselves.
Having other tools also discourages us from becoming “homeopathic chauvinists,” that is, being so obsessed with homeopathy that other solutions are not considered.
Having other tools helps avoid putting all of your eggs in the one homeopathic basket.
Having other tools is important for the practice of medicine (or of healing) because it encourages us to experiment to see what elicits some type of healing or what may impede it (changing diet is a useful exercise and experiment).
What about children who have trouble learning?
Absolutely. When the child has greater control of his energy, he is better able to learn and absorb.
Healing and learning have more in common than we realize. Healing is about learning on some level, though in homeopathy we don’t always heal by conscious learning. The greatest healers help bring consciousness to learning and healing.
Which remedies are we talking about here?
Virtually all homeopathic medicines are potential remedies for hyperactivity or learning disabilities, though the most common ones are:
Stramonium, Hyoscyamus, Arsenicum, Medorrhinum, Tuberculinum, Tarentula, Veratrum album, Lycopodium, Natrum mur, Natrum sulphicum, Cina, Argentum nitricum, Zincum, and Nux vomica.
One small study of 43 kids with ADHD observed that Stramonium was the most prescribed (35%), Cina and Hyoscyamus had 19% each, Tarentula and Veratrum album were next.
What about children who may not have such severe problems, what would be the benefit in treating them?
Good homeopathic treatment during childhood can and will help create healthier teenagers (if there is such a thing as a healthy teenager, some parents wonder about this). Good homeopathic treatment will also help build healthier adults, physically and psychologically; all of which then helps to create a healthier world. This is homeopathy at work. And this is real healing!
Any closing thoughts?
It deeply saddens me that so many parents and doctors give powerful drugs to infants and children. As I said before, they unknowingly are committing what I call “medical child abuse.” Although these may be harsh words today, I believe that history will show them to be accurate.
Homeopathic medicines provide a viable alternative to the powerful conventional drugs of our day, and I sincerely hope that parents and doctors learn about them soon.
I have to agree with you; thanks for being here with us today, Dana; come back again soon!
Dana Ullman, MPH, CCH
Homeopathic Educational Services