Many years ago, a female client in her mid-thirties who was a mother of two came to me with a case of severe fatigue. During our initial discussion, she told me that when her doctor had checked her thyroid in an effort to diagnose her condition, he had noticed some borderline-low thyroid indicators in her blood tests. With further examination, he discovered that she had about nine nodules on the thyroid gland. (A thyroid nodule is a lump, most often benign, caused by abnormal growth of thyroid cells.)
Upon hearing this, I told her about homeopathy’s use of Bromium 6C or 6X and Natrum muriaticum 6C or 6X for cases of thyroid nodules. (At the time, I didn’t have a specific protocol for thyroid nodules. I do now, and it’s actually very similar to what I used back then: Bromium 6C twice daily and Thuja occidentalis 30C, twice daily.) Not long after the woman started taking the remedies, she stopped consulting with me. One year later, however, she returned to discuss a concern regarding her son. While there, she mentioned, “You know, I’ve been taking that Bromium and Natrum muriaticum every day for a year.” (Here, parenthetically, is where I freaked out, because at that time I still practiced classical homeopathy, which advises stopping a homeopathic medicine after taking a few doses or, in some instances, a single dose.) My client smiled and said, “I don’t have the fatigue anymore, and when I went back to the doctor, the nodules were gone.”
In this client’s estimation, it took a year for the remedies to act fully. Since that encounter, I have come to recognize that it can, indeed, take a long time when using homeopathy for a chronic condition. However, a lengthy time frame does not mean that we are not moving along steadily toward our goal. And whereas this particular thyroid condition may have required a year, this is not true for all conditions and individuals.
In the late 1700s, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, universally recognized as the “Father of Homeopathy,” gathered data to understand which homeopathic medicines were capable of curing specific diseases. He conducted double-blind studies to produce unbiased results, which he called “provings.” This is how Hahnemann developed the first crucial pieces of his homeopathic Materia Medica (which is Latin for “medical materials”). Nowadays, other Materia Medica exist as well—all of which offer homeopathic reference guides that list homeopathic remedies and provide detailed indications on how to use them.
The subsequent two-and-one-half centuries since Hahnemann’s time have seen further provings by other medical institutions as well as contributions from clinical evidence showing that certain homeopathic medicines consistently demonstrate a verifiable effect in uprooting diseases related to specific organs. For example, over the years, it has become clear that Bromium, Thyroidinum and Iodum2 (as well as Lycopodium clavatum, Thuja occidentalis and Natrum muriaticum) are the remedies most frequently associated with correction of the thyroid gland, including nodules.
FREQUENCY AND POTENCY
Since Hahnemann’s time, determining which potency and frequency are best has been a matter of discussion within the homeopathic community. In my own practice, I learned a number of interesting things during the long break between my two professional interactions with the aforementioned client. Had she given me the opportunity to meet with her more regularly after I first recommended the two remedies for her fatigue and thyroid nodules, as a then-classical homeopath I likely would have told her to stop using the remedies after taking a few doses. Over the ensuing decades, however, as I have used established homeopathic protocols and also learned from my own experience, I now recognize that “No, we were not done yet.” Just because her fatigue had improved did not mean that we couldn’t get more out of this homeopathic remedy combination. Hence, my client was wise to continue taking the Bromium and Natrum muriaticum for a year (at least in the case of treating her thyroid nodules).
In retrospect, after a year I might have considered stopping the remedies for a while to observe the client’s condition. If we witnessed signs of regression—such as hypothyroidism creeping back, a recurrence of fatigue, resumed thinning of the hair, the skin on the shins becoming dry or the disappearance of the lateral third of the eyebrow—I would then surmise that it was time to resume the medicines.
Today, after my many years of experience, I generally find it wiser for someone to stay on their remedy until the condition completely clears. It’s certainly not a bad practice to stop and assess the situation, but with a condition like thyroid nodules, conventional and routine tests are not always possible. As long as the remedy is acting (even if in just a small way) and we are seeing progress, why not carry through to the end? My attitude is, “Let’s get as much out of this as we can.” Sometimes it’s okay to be greedy, particularly when it comes to our personal health and well-being.
BRINGING FOOD INTO THE PICTURE
Hypothyroidism is, by definition, the slowing of the metabolism. This can be a protective function of the body in response to nutrient deficiencies—the body’s attempt to conserve resources, if you will. If the body is not getting enough food in general or, more particularly, enough of a certain nutrient, the body will slow down to ensure that energy demands are not surpassing energy supplies.
One of the things I love about the Weston Price approach to diet is that it provides all the dietary advice one needs to support healthy thyroid function. For example, Dr. Price emphasized the importance of nutrient-dense foods, organ meats and traditional “sacred” hormone-supporting fertility foods, all of which are very important to the thyroid.
There is one aspect of Price’s wisdom that people frequently overlook: the therapeutic diets he prescribed for his patients were balanced and varied. Not straying too far from healthy fats or carbohydrates can be especially important for those with thyroid problems. Eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods helps ensure that our bodies receive the assorted minerals, vitamins, enzymes and other essentials needed to support good thyroid health. Dr. Price wrote in Nutrition and Physical Degeneration (p. 419):
One of our modern tendencies is to select the foods we like, particularly those that satisfy our hunger without our having to eat much, and, another is to think in terms of the few known vitamins and their effects. The primitive tendency seems to have been to provide an adequate factor of safety for all emergencies by the selection of a sufficient variety and quantity of the various natural foods to prevent entirely most of our modern affections [emphasis added].3
In terms of consumable fats, we know that Price discovered that traditionally defined healthful diets were relatively high in saturated fats and very low in polyunsaturated oils. This, in particular, is important for those suffering from thyroid disorders, because numerous studies have shown that polyunsaturated oils actually suppress thyroid function.4
People who are eating traditional foods and dealing with thyroid issues have found it helpful to support their thyroid health by including fish heads (which contain iodine and vitamin A) in their diet in the form of fish broth5 and making chicken neck soup (which contains thyroid glands).6 However, a precaution is in order concerning iodine, which seems to alleviate hypothyroidism in some cases yet aggravate it in others.7
TWO WISE MEN
Both Dr. Hahnemann and Dr. Price were undeniably wise. Although Hahnemann depended most fully on the homeopathic medicines he meticulously researched, developed and catalogued, he also was an advocate of eating whole foods and particularly lauded the value of cheese. Price, in turn, was not about strange, unusual or convoluted dietary measures. Instead, the foods Price chose for children suffering from dental crises were nutrient-dense but quite normal—milk, cheese, bread, butter, stew, oatmeal—dare I say, comfort foods?—plus cod liver oil.
Food can act as medicine, but it’s certainly not all our food provides us. Food is pleasure, comfort and energy—something meant to be shared with family, a focal point of sit-down dinners and a joyous centerpiece of treasured holiday celebrations. Food is the most important way we nourish not only our bodies but also our souls.
For my family and me, food plays many roles, only a part of which is medicine. That’s because we have at our disposal a therapy that is pure medicine: homeopathy. Perhaps that is why I can afford to feel relaxed and carefree about food. Indeed, we needn’t micromanage our diet because, when addressing health issues, homeopathy has a well-deserved reputation for doing the heavy lifting so that we may sit down and simply enjoy our meals. Although homeopathy and traditional foods represent two diverse principles, when combined, they undergird an impeccable approach for returning to and sustaining robust health.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Winter 2017.