Miscellaneous Ramblings

Homeopathy on the Mac

Charles Moore - 2005.04.04 - Tip Jar

Homeopathy is a medical theory and treatment system that purports to promote natural healing by means of extremely diluted and "potentized" substances that are purported to stimulate the body's own healing mechanisms gently, rapidly and reliably. This article does have Macintosh relevance, but first a bit of background on homeopathic medicine.

Originally developed in Germany about 200 years ago by Samuel Hahnemann, a medical doctor who gave up conventional practice because he found medical therapies of the time ineffective and dangerous, homeopathy spread throughout Europe and to North America. By 1900, some 20 to 30 percent of all physicians used homeopathy.

There were 22 homeopathic medical schools, over 100 homeopathic hospitals, and over 1,000 homeopathic pharmacies in the US in the late 19th century. Many homeopathic practitioners were graduates of elite medical schools at Harvard University, Dartmouth College, Boston University, the University of Michigan, the University of Iowa, etc. Montreal's Royal Victoria Hospital was originally a homeopathic institution.

Homeopathy never ceased being a significant force in European medicine. Members of the British Royal Family have long been enthusiastic homeopathic patrons, and a British Medical Journal survey found that 42% of UK physicians have referred patients to homeopathic therapists. Eleven thousand French MDs use homeopathy, and in Belgium, 84.5% of all homeopathic treatments are prescribed by conventional practitioners.

Indeed, some aspects of modern medical treatment - immunization using vaccines, for example - are somewhat resonant of homeopathy in principle. The use of nitroglycerine under the tongue to relieve angina has been a standard medical treatment prescribed by establishment physicians since the early 1900s and is also analogically homeopathic in nature.

After the turn of the 20th century, homeopathy retreated to the fringes of North American medical practice until a mid-century resurgence of interest in wholistic medicine resulted in something of a renaissance. Now homeopathic products are one of the fastest-growing sectors in the North American nutraceuticals market.

Homeopathic medicines are also used effectively in veterinary applications, discrediting skeptics' frequent assertions that any apparent positive results homeopathic treatment might achieve are due to the power of suggestion or the placebo effect. Homeopathy's effectiveness in treating infants also contradicts the placebo rationalization.

Homeopathic theory assumes that each living organism is in an ongoing dynamic process of adjusting to the surrounding environment. Humans constantly come into contact with substances that influence this adaptive flow. Homeopathy seeks to stimulate the body's innate healing powers by activating and optimizing its defense systems.

A homeopathic practitioner evaluates each patient's health wholistically, rather than concentrating on individual symptoms. Patients are interviewed extensively to determine in great detail the condition that caused them to seek treatment. Additionally, the homeopath will need to learn about emotions and mental attitudes, the patient's sense of well-being, likes and dislikes, etc. This information allows the homeopath to determine the appropriate treatment.

Homeopathic medicines are prepared by repeatedly diluting and succussing (vigorously shaking) various plant, animal, and mineral materials. For example, one drop of a tincture is diluted with ten drops of water and succussed to make a 1x potency. A 12x potency would have gone through this process 12 times - serial dilution followed by succussion.

Such small doses seem nonsensical in terms of conventional pharmaceutical theory, but homeopathic theory contends that small doses of medicine stimulate, medium doses paralyze, and large doses kill or suppress. Hormones and other physiologically active substances are present in the body in amounts so small as to have only recently been measurable.

Still, homeopathy - safe, relatively cheap medicines, no side effects, no risk of overdose - sounds too good to be true, and many believe that it is. On the other hand, while nobody really knows how homeopathy works, it has confounded skeptics who have attempted to prove that it doesn't.

Professor Karen Nieber, head of the institute for pharmacy at Leipzig University, set about proving that homeopathy does not work and at most can be explained by the so-called placebo effect. Her experiments indicated otherwise.

A meta-analysis of clinical trials of homeopathy by Kleijnen J, Knipschild P, ter Riet G., Department of Epidemiology and Health Care Research, University of Limburg, Maastricht, The Netherlands, concluded: "The results showed a positive trend regardless of the quality of the trial or the variety of homeopathy used. Overall, of the 105 trials with interpretable results, 81 trials indicated positive results whereas in 24 trials no positive effects of homeopathy were found."

One of the great advantages of homeopathic treatment is that there are no known side-effects, even with long-term use, and dosages are not critical. For example, a standard dose for most homeopathic medicines is three to five pellets, but product directions state that taking a several pellets every five to 15 minutes is appropriate for severe symptoms.

Homeopathic Software

Interestingly, the foremost prescribing reference software used by homeopaths is a Mac application (there is a Windows version available as well).

Kent Homeopathic Associates offers a Mac OS X-based repertorization software tool for homeopathic practitioners called MacRepertory. MacRepertory makes it easy to quickly select rubrics and analyze a case, check the materia medica, and feel more confident about prescriptions. MacRepertory is reportedly used by virtually every school and major homeopathic clinic in the US, 80% of American computerized homeopaths, and more than 5,000 homeopaths worldwide.

KHA offers two versions: MacRepertory Pro and MacRepertory Classic. Though both are powerful tools, MacRepertory Pro offers more advanced customization and analysis features than the Classic version. Both MacRepertory Pro and Classic are available with either the Core Library or the Full Library.

MacRepertory Professional

MacRepertory Pro combines a solid, traditional approach to repertorization with dozens of inspirational features. Our revolutionary new case analysis template, the Theme Palette, combines the best of Boenninghausen's generalism with Kent's specificity. You'll immediately find you are prescribing more accurately.

The Concept Graph makes differentiating between remedies a breeze by comparing remedies across sections and concepts throughout the repertory. At last, the gulf between the materia medica and repertory has been bridged. Click on a remedy in a repertory's rubric to leap to its original materia medica reference in ReferenceWorks. Maybe you want to search in over 600 materia medica to find every remedy that has a symptom. Click on a rubric to switch to ReferenceWorks Pro, collect the remedies and paste them back into MacRepertory Pro.

1,300 families have been thoroughly integrated into MacRepertory Pro. The program is designed so that anywhere you can display individual remedies, you can also display the family groups. A set of graphs illuminate families. The Plant, Animal and Periodic Tables show exactly which plants, animals or elements are prominent in a particular case. When you click on a family's square, you'll see the case's rubrics limited to the remedies in that family. Click on the "Na" square in the Periodic Table to see every natrum found in the case. In the Plant Chart, click on a carrot to see all the remedies made from roots. Or in the Animal Graph, click on the picture of the snake to see only the snake remedies. If you don't yet know the features of the familiesm a Family Search makes it easy to find the groups' central rubrics.

Users can customize MacRepertory Pro to fit their needs, design strategies that work best for their cases, create their own custom graphs, choose different color or font schemes for each window, add to the repertory, and so forth.

MacRepertory Pro includes everything in MacRepertory Classic plus four bonus programs.

MacRepertory Classic

MacRepertory Classic is software for homeopaths who want a powerful, complete solution but don't need the advanced analysis and customization tools that MacRepertory Pro offers. This program also provides plenty of room to grow as the user's learning expands - and even serves as a teaching tool through its many books and resources.

MacRepertory Classic allows the user to create and save patient charts (complete with remedy plan), reasons why a remedy was selected, other remedies to consider, graphs of analysis, and more. Users having trouble remembering where a rubric is in a repertory can conduct a word search and find it with the click of a mouse. To find all of the occurrences of a remedy in a repertory, conduct a remedy search and they will all be located in seconds. You can even import a rubric from ReferenceWorks to improve case analysis.

Designed by classical homeopaths and graphic artists, the MacRepertory programs are intended to be intuitive and simple, while remaining powerful and flexible - with tools to help the homeopathic practitioner see the big picture while staying true to the uniqueness of each patient. Combining the approaches of Kent and Boenninghausen, you can collect the remedies with general themes and then zero in on the specifics, then analyze the central problems using only the books that focus on themes such as Morrison, Boericke, Boger, etc.

All of the sciences have faced the difficulty of discriminating between large numbers of objects; they've solved it by grouping similar items into families (think of botany, allopathy, zoology, psychology). Samuel Hahnemann led the way by suggesting the separation of the 84 remedies he knew into three miasms. Now that homeopaths have many more remedies, they need more groupings. MacRepertory programs make use of 1300 homeopathic "families" to help the user to find the simillimum more easily. These include the miasms of Sankaran and Bjørndal, Vega's Boxes, Mangialavori's families, Morrison's organic chemicals, Scholten's minerals, König's groups, taxonomy and others.

You can choose to use the programs on a single computer - with no need for copy protection - or use a key and take the programs from computer to computer.

MacRepertory Packages

Discovery Package

A solid first step for those just beginning their journey with homeopathy. Amazingly affordable, our Discovery Package is the ideal package to get an ample taste of the classic authors.

Classic Package

The Classic Package gives you the basic tools you need to confidently practice homeopathy in the classical way. You will relish how quickly and effortlessly the program will enable you to analyze your cases and find information important to your studies.

Student Package

The Student Package is for the budding homeopath. Explore the most innovative version of MacRepertory Pro, graph and search to your heart's content, and immerse yourself in the largest ReferenceWorks library ever assembled. Peruse the diverse case analyses offered by leading homeopaths.

Professional Package

The Professional Package is the most popular package for homeopaths that are just starting their practice, offering a true, interactive revolution in homeopathy as you explore, analyze and research.

The Everything Pro Package is for serious homeopathic practitioners. It is the most powerful, most comprehensive package KHA offers.

MacRepertory Pro includes everything in MacRepertory Classic and four bonus programs.

A MacRepertory Pro tour is available on the company website.

Hardware Requirements

Macintosh

  • Processor: PPC
  • System: Mac OS 9.22 or higher or OS X 10.2 or higher (rec 10.3.5 and above).
  • Ports: USB available
  • Peripherals: CD-ROM drive

Windows

  • Processor: 486 or better
  • System: Windows 98, 2000, NT, Me, XP (XP users must have MR 6.x or RW 3.x versions, or higher)
  • Ports: Parallel (printer), USB ports (please specify when ordering)
  • Peripherals: CD-ROM drive

KHA recommends 32 MB RAM for MacRepertory Pro and 32 MB RAM for MacRepertory Classic in addition to individual system requirements.

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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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