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Homeopathy: affordable medicine.

Out-Of-Sight Pharmaceutical Drug Costs

Exorbitant, skyrocketing, out-of-control ... these words are commonly used to describe the cost of health-care services and drugs in the US as compared with the rest of the world. It is no surprise that a growing number of our compatriots are taking medical and dental vacations to such affordable and desirable destinations as Thailand, India, Mexico, Canada, Germany, Costa Rica, Israel, Singapore, the UK, Panama, Spain, and, in our case, Chile. We have gotten colonoscopies at a first-rate Chilean hospital for $240 (compared with over $2000 in the US), laboratory testing (under $200 at a local medical lab for what would cost $1000+ here), and dental care (our Argentine dentist there charges less than 1/3 for comparable care here and is an endodontist with nearly 30 years of experience). A 30-minute IV infusion of Zometa (a relative of Fosamax that has been shown as a possible preventive treatment for estrogen-positive breast cancer survivors) cost us $3500 here compared with $500 down there!

In fact, health-care fees in the US are so scary that smart Canadians dare not set foot across our border unless they have some type of traveler's health-care insurance. A little jaunt in our country, however brief, could bankrupt them if they happened to suffer a health mishap, even a relatively minor one. A recent article in AARP bulletin, "Prices Spike for Some Generics," by Peter Jaret (July-August 2015), boggled our minds. Would you believe that the annual cost of 500 capsules of doxycycline hyclate, a commonly prescribed antibiotic, soared from $20 in the fall of 2013 to an unbelievable $1849 in April of the following year? There were many other shocking examples of sky-high pharmaceutical inflation. Pravastatin sodium 10 mg (one of those widely touted, and lately highly controversial, statin drugs recommended to lower cholesterol) nearly doubled in price last year from $849 to $1700. And the article discussed only generic drugs, which cost the patient far less than nongenerics. Scary enough for those of us included in the health-care safety net of Medicare or Obamacare, these soaring prices are enough to bankrupt someone on a fixed income.

How, the author of the AARP article queries, is it possible for generic drugs, which account for about 80% of all prescriptions, to have spiked so dramatically in price? Basically because drug manufacturers, especially when there are fewer of them, can charge what they please. And pharmaceutical company mergers make for less competition in the marketplace. The result: of the 280 generics in the marketplace in this country, 73% decreased in cost in 2013 and 27% "went up, in some cases into the stratosphere."

Homeopathy Rather Than the ER for First Aid and Acute Illnesses

Before we get into a discussion about comparative costs of homeopathy and conventional care, let us tell you first and foremost about the effectiveness of homeopathy for these conditions. Arnica alone is of tremendous benefit in many, if not most, non-life-threatening first aid situations. There are many medical situations in which homeopathy alone can take care of the problem. This may be either through self-care or treatment with a professional homeopath.

Let's talk first about first-aid conditions such as sprains and strains, cuts, scrapes, and puncture wounds. An eye-opening NIH (National Institutes of Health)-funded study investigating the escalated cost of medical bills examined over 8300 emergency room bills (February 2013). It found that the average ER bill was $1233 (40% more than the average American was paying for a month's rent) and that the cost of treating a sprained ankle ranged from $4 to $24,000!

Nonemergency first-aid conditions can, in our experience, be treated highly effectively with homeopathy, often without the assistance of a physician or homeopath. Our tried-and-true book Homeopathic Self-Care: The Quick and Easy Guide for the Whole Family has sold over 30,000 copies and provides clear, simple, straightforward guidelines for self-treatment. Armed with this or another self-care book and a homeopathic medicine kit, such as our companion Homeopathic Self-Care Home Medicine Kit (50 remedies in 30C potency), families can save a small fortune.

If you know only three or four remedies and their indications (let's say Arnica, Bryonia, Rhus toxicodendron, and Ruta), you can very likely save a trip to the doctor. The cost of the book and kit, for example, is under $120. The remedies never expire--they will last a lifetime unless they run out from frequent use. ft would not even occur to us to seek conventional care for a strain or sprain. Nor have we ever had a patient, in our 30-plus years in practice, who did not find relief with homeopathy, within minutes or hours, from a sprain or strain. Of course, we recommend icing, elevating the sprained area, and avoiding putting pressure on it temporarily. But an ER or even urgent-care visit wouldn't even occur to us. Nor to patients familiar with homeopathy. For the average ER bill of $1233 in 2013 for an ankle sprain (surely higher in 2015), you could pay for the entire first year of homeopathic constitutional care for a chronic problem, including all the remedies!

We remember, years ago, a mom who called us about her son who suffered a laceration of his cornea after running into a tree branch. She had raced him to the ER prior to bringing him to our office. We gave a high-potency dose of Arnica (1M). The ER doc told her he might need surgery the following morning if the corneal abrasion didn't improve. She called us, much relieved, to report that his eye had healed remarkably in 12 hours and that no surgery would be needed. That was no surprise to us. Simply put, the body has a remarkable ability to heal itself when given even a nudge in the direction of healing, which is what happens with homeopathy. So simple, often, that it is hard to attribute the rapid response to those little white pellets!

The National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey estimated that one-third to one-half of all ER visits are for non-urgent care. The top three conditions resulting in ER visits in 2007, for example, were for superficial injuries and contusions, sprains and strains, and upper respiratory infections. ( Emergency Rooms vs. Urgent Care: Differences in Services and Costs, by Bill Fay) Granted, many of these visits resulted from the fact that federal law mandates urgent care to all patients, regardless of their ability to pay. Consequently, patients without health insurance or adequate funds to pay out-of-pocket costs typically use emergency rooms as their main healthcare providers. It is estimated that over $18 billion could be saved annually if these individuals with non-urgent problems were to seek treatment outside emergency-care facilities. Back in 2011, the average cost of an ER visit for someone with private health care insurance was $933. Based on the average number of claims submitted in 2010 to the Medica Choice Network, including over 4000 medical offices across four Midwestern states, these are average ER costs:

* allergies: $345 (urgent care centers: $97)

* acute bronchitis: $595 ($127)

* earache: $400 ($110)

* sore throat: $525 ($94)

* sinusitis: $617 ($112)

* upper respiratory infection: $486 ($111)

* urinary tract infection: $665 ($110)

In our self-care book, we include nearly 70 first-aid and acute conditions that are highly amenable to homeopathic self care. We provide guidelines about when emergency care is indeed needed, such as for severe burns. That said, distraught parents called us over the weekend one time, alarmed that their 5-year-old daughter had inadvertently sat on top of a woodstove. We recommended that she take Cantharis immediately, and she was much improved by the following day and needed no conventional care. We are, of course, not talking about appendicitis, which can be life threatening and requires immediate care. Bob, for instance, suffered from peritonitis, as a complication of appendicitis, resulting in a 6-day hospitalization.

Homeopathic self-care can yield brilliant results for colds, flu, earache, allergies, acute bronchitis, urinary tract infections--all conditions included in the list above. If the response is not clear within 12 to 24 hours, or if symptoms worsen, then urgent or outpatient clinic care can be sought. Again, homeopathic self-care books provide indications of what is serious and what is not. A number of years ago, the afternoon before his scheduled 50th birthday party, Bob started feeling exhausted and developed a cough. By bedtime he was shivering and was breathing rapidly. Early the next morning he coughed up blood in the bathroom sink. We drove immediately to the ER, he was diagnosed with double bacterial pneumonia, and he was hospitalized for several days. That condition did, without question, necessitate hospitalization. Similarly, Judyth had a long-distance patient who moved from Seattle to the Midwest. He called due to a bad cough of several weeks' duration. She told him to go the ER immediately, upon which he was first sent home then, the next day, diagnosed with pneumonia. By that time, an antibiotic was what he needed. However, most of the time it will be bronchitis, which will improve within 1 to 3 days with homeopathy. A bladder infection, though frequently highly painful, typically responds to homeopathic care within 15 to 30 minutes. The nearly 70 conditions that we include in our self-care book generally remit very quickly with the right homeopathic remedy. And, if self-treatment isn't working, you can always call your homeopath for some expert guidance--at a fraction of what you would pay for an ER visit, not to mention the prescribed pharmaceuticals.

Constitutional Homeopathic Care: Bargain Medicine

We have a long-range perspective on keeping people healthy, having worked with some of our patients for 30 years. In fact, we spoke with one today. She is now 78 and homeopathy has kept her much healthier than could have been expected for 30 years. We are talking about such significant problems as acute psychosis, incontinence, musculoskeletal and gait problems, and, most recently, heart arrhythmias. She has lived on a shoestring the entire time, and had few medical expenses prior to her Medicare coverage. Even now, she finds that she enjoys better health without the statins and beta blockers that her physician recommended. It is, of course, her choice, to which her MD is resigned. Her family is well aware of her benefit from and loyalty to homeopathy.

Constitutional homeopathic care means treating the whole person for any and all health problems--physical, mental, and emotional--with a single homeopathic medicine. The annual cost, including an initial 90-minute visit and a maximum of 8 return visits (often less), adds up to $1600 maximum the first year of care and, on an average, under $1000/year in subsequent years. Add the cost of the homeopathic remedies (maximum $200/ year but often far less) and compare this with the cost of conventional medical care, much less ER and urgent-care visits.

We repeat: homeopathy treats the whole person. Although nutritional supplements can be very helpful, the number of those recommended to homeopathic patients is far less than with CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) care. And a fraction of what a child on the autism spectrum will be taking if being treated by a Defeat Autism Now! (DAN!) protocol doctor. Not to mention that homeopathic treatment, in our experience, often replaces expensive psychiatric medications. Whether you choose to treat yourself or your family for first aid and acute problems with a homeopathic kit, or to seek professional care with an experienced homeopath, you will save a bundle and mostly likely end up much healthier in the process!

by Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman, ND, DHANP, LCSW, and Robert Ullman, ND

Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman and Robert Ullman are licensed naturopathic physicians, board certified in homeopathy, in practice for over 30 years. Check out our redesigned, user-friendly website, with lots of free articles, minibooks, and information about our 9 books and our practice. We live on Whidbey Island, Washington, and in Pucon, Chile, and practice at the Northwest Center for Homeopathic Medicine in Edmonds, Washington. We treat patients in person and by phone or videoconference. Call us at 425-774-5599, or e-mail drreichenberg@ or
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Title Annotation:Healing with Homeopathy
Author:Reichenberg-Ullman, Judyth; Ullman, Robert
Publication:Townsend Letter
Article Type:Report
Date:Oct 1, 2015
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