What in the World is “Classical Homeopathy”?

Dr. HahnemannClassical Homeopathy is a 200+ year-old system of medicine developed by German physician Samuel Hahnemann MD.   It is a gentle yet powerful method that helps access, unblock, and restore healing mechanisms that are “stuck”.  With this assistance, people are able to heal themselves naturally and thoroughly.

Based on the principle of “similars,” Classical Homeopathy aims to deeply understand the patient’s exact suffering, and find a single medicine which can cause symptoms as similar to this as possible.  When given in the minimum dose required, this medicine (“remedy”) can stimulate the patient’s healing forces in precisely the way needed to relieve suffering and improve overall health.  Though complete healing is a ongoing process, the patient often experiences some relief soon after taking an appropriate remedy.   Made from substances found in nature, these remedies are  FDA regulated and manufactured in homeopathic pharmacies.

Classical Homeopathy differs greatly from the tradition of allopathic medicine in which I originally trained.  As a conventional allopathic psychiatrist, I would explore and diagnose the patient’s symptoms according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV-TR.   I would then develop a treatment plan calling for medicines that fought against (rather than being similar to) the patient’s symptoms.   Psychotherapy would often be included, though insurance companies seem to prefer that psychiatrists limit their services to pharmaceutical prescribing only.

Over the course of serious study since 1999, I’ve shifted my psychiatric practice to Classical Homeopathy.   This is because I believe that when used prudently and rigorously, Classical Homeopathy offers patients more profound healing and transformation than I could ever facilitate with psychotropic medicines and psychotherapy alone.   I base this on my personal  experience seeing cases both in homeopathic training programs and in my own practice.

Yet here in Arizona, the word “homeopathy” can be confusing because it’s used in many different ways.   For instance, people might notice my MD(H) homeopathic medical license, which I carry in addition to my conventional MD license.  The MD(H) licensure is regulated by the Arizona Board of Homeopathic and Integrated Medicine, and includes multiple modalities in addition to homeopathy:  acupuncture, chelation therapy, minor surgery, neuromuscular integration, nutrition, orthomolecular therapy and pharmaceutical medicine.    Most of  Arizona’s ~87 MD(H) (“homeopathic”) physicians focus on these other areas, rather than homeopathy.  This means that potential patients need to ask each physician about his or her specific practice, because homeopathy may not be part of it at all.

My own practice focuses on Classical Homeopathy, psychotherapy,  nutrition, and lifestyle.  Very occasionally, I may prescribe a pharmaceutical — usually after we’re clear that a homeopathic remedy is effective, and it’s safe to taper off psychiatric medications.

Another confusing issue is the amount of training required to become licensed in Arizona as a “homeopathic” physician.  To sit for the MD(H) licensing exam, at least 300 hours’ instruction in one of the above modalities is required — but only 40 of these need to be in actual homeopathy.   If a physician desires a primarily homeopathic practice, the MD(H) board still only requires 90 hours’ homeopathic training.  In my experience, this is far less than needed for proficiency in homeopathically treating people with complex, chronic conditions.

Becoming an excellent Classical Homeopath is a lengthy, demanding process.     My own path has included some 70 hours at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine; graduating from what is now American Medical College of Homeopathy’s Homeopathic Practitioner Program (1100+ hours); several hundred hours with Drs. Rajan Sankaran, Jayesh Shah, Divya Chhabra,  and Mahesh Gandhi;  and many more hundreds of hours with California Center for Homeopathic Training (CCHE) since 2004.

In a few weeks I graduate from yet another intensive 2.5 year program with CCHE, whose teaching centers on the “Sensation Method” in Classical Homeopathy.    In a way, this is an unfortunate term — even Dr. Sankaran (who developed it) acknowledges it is simply solid Classical Homeopathy, understood through a wider and deeper perspective.

Why all this additional training, long since medical school, residency, and fellowships?  I’ve had a lot to both learn and unlearn.  I want to truly understand and assist people who come to see me, and to improve my effectiveness in Classical Homeopathy.    Patients are my ultimate teachers — and they know and show when I’m learning my lessons.  :-)

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