The Dr. Oz Show is a favorite of people all over the country. A cardiothoracic surgeon with an outgoing, loving personality, Dr. Mehmet Oz educates viewers about basic health, medical research, and useful treatments for all kinds of conditions. He also directs New York Presbyterian Hospital’s Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program — so is not completely wedded to conventional treatments alone.
Recently he had on his show Dr. Russ Greenfield, one of my integrative medicine colleagues through Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. Amazingly, they mentioned homeopathy! You hardly ever see this on a popular TV show, at least not in such a balanced light.
The film clips (including very brief commercials) come in 2 parts:
They focus on using homeopathy for self-limiting conditions, such as Arnica for trauma and bruises, and Oscillococcinum for first symptoms of flu. Dr. Oz related that he and his wife use these remedies at home with their children — including Nux vomica for “upset stomach”.
They conversed with a woman in the audience, who was interested in non-pharmaceutical remedies for aches and pains — and specifically asked about homeopathy. They shared a few basic homeopathy principles, such as stimulating the body’s healing through these remedies which, as Dr. Greenfield stated, contain the “essence or spirit” of the medicine rather than the material quantities found in pharmaceuticals. Dr. Greenfield emphasized the controversial nature of these ideas: how can a medicine with no molecules in it, actually produce results? And yet, he said, there are studies showing “it works”.
Part 2 contains some very important points. From the presentation, the woman above supposed that Arnica would be the right remedy for her migraines — since they said it could help with pain. Dr. Oz (bless him!) told her that homeopathy was a very complex field, and that he would probably not use Arnica for a migraine. “I’m not a homeopathic practitioner,” he said, mentioning that some people study this field exclusively. He reiterated that he was only sharing a few very simple remedies for self-limiting conditions, which might not be the right remedies for something more complex like a migraine. Such humility seems rare in physicians, but he was very gracious with both the subject, and this woman.
I’m really grateful to both Dr. Oz and Dr. Greenfield for this on-air conversation. They said the word “homeopathy,” making viewers aware of it. They also hinted that it’s a field offering much more than first aid for self-limiting conditions. When done with precision and fidelity to the principles laid out by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (the physician who founded it in the 1800’s), this is very true. Conditions like migraines are usually complex and chronic; finding an effective remedy for these requires much more investigation than grabbing something off the shelf at Whole Foods.
That said, Arnica can be miraculous for many . . . and I’ll save that story for next time.