“As vital force gets stronger, everything evolves together. The mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical selves
become stronger and healthier.”
Someone overhearing snippets of my conversation with David Kramer might have thought we were talking about spiritual growth when he said, “The whole purpose of being a healthy human being is to fulfill the higher purposes of our existence.” Or this: “We are the embodiment of the Earth, of nature. We have the same proportion of materials in our body that exists on planet Earth; water, minerals—that’s all in our system. So if we understand how nature works, we understand how our nature works.”
But David Kramer was explaining his field of expertise: classical homeopathy. When homeopathic treatment eliminated his own debilitating, chronic allergies, he was convinced that something remarkable was afoot in this approach that pharmaceutically based medical treatments weren’t providing. Now, a few decades later, Kramer is a fully invested, exuberant homeopathic practitioner in a field he says is alive and well. “When I started studying in the mid ’70s, there were 250 homeopaths in the US,” he recalls. “Now there are probably 5,000 to 10,000.” Kramer is the founder of Hudson Valley School of Classical Homeopathy, dedicated to maintaining the highest of standards in the homeopathic healing arts by training practitioners and others interested in the healing process. “The mission of our school is to educate all people about the many reasons they become ill, on all levels.” He sees that people want to be empowered about their health, and knows they can be. “With a new paradigm shift of health and healing through homeopathy, people can finally gain access to some of the hidden aspects of themselves to unlock their own potential to heal.” Kramer’s vision is to open a holistic hospital and integrative medical center in the Hudson Valley that combines the best of conventional medicine, homeopathic care, nutrition, and other healing modalities for mind and spirit.
Lest you think that homeopathy is a New Age phenomenon, it is not. Developed in the late 1700s by Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician, homeopathy was widely popular in Europe and immigrated to the United States, where it became the first system of organized medicine in this country. During the 1800s and 1900s in the United States there were more than 100 homeopathic hospitals and 14 homeopathic medical colleges. In 1900, in Washington, DC, home of monuments to the great, a bronze statue of Hahnemann was built just a few blocks from the White House to honor the man’s contributions.
But homeopathy dissipated to a whisper in this country early in the 1900s. “Homeopaths did not practice the highest and purest standards of classical homeopathic treatments,” says Kramer. “Certain reports came out that cast a dark cloud over it, and it fell out of favor. Allopathic medicine and pharmaceuticals filled the gap and got the homeopaths out quickly.” The resurgence in homeopathy today is driven by citizens’ desires for holistic approaches to healing and wellness, and by dissatisfaction with the conventional medical system, including drug side effects and recalls.
You may know of homeopathy from seeing little vials on the shelf of a natural food store, or maybe even a mainstream pharmacy. Those remedies are a small aspect of the approach—and not a very representative one. Larry Malerba, a doctor of osteopathy in Altamont and a trained homeopath, says that there are several ways a consumer encounters homeopathy. “The novice will use remedies he got at the health food stores for simple problems, such as a cold, a bruise, or a sprained ankle,” he explains. But the off-the-shelf remedies aren’t what classical homeopathy is all about. They are typically made from many substances to affect a particular general symptom or condition. By contrast, classical homeopathy applies a single remedy, prepared from one substance, and carefully chosen on an individual basis through precise, detailed evaluation of the person’s condition.
Peter Fallon, a functional medicine consultant and pharmacist at the Fallon Wellness Pharmacy in Latham, who has some training in homeopathy, explains: “A classical homeopath will analyze the characteristics of a cough and of other symptoms and choose one remedy—a constitutional remedy—that is given once to see how the body adjusts. The good homeopaths have been out there for decades with a huge body of knowledge. It’s an art.”
As for the remedies you can pick up yourself, Fallon says, “Because of the low side-effect or no side-effect profile with homeopathy, companies have provided the consumer with this option. You can walk into a health food store and pick something off the shelf for a cough. It’s consumer-friendly, but in essence it kind of defies what classical homeopathy is trying to do.”
Tapping the body’s own healing