' all ills. ‘I think 1 knew at quite an
early stage that most of the orthodox drugs were palliative — supressing the
problem. not curing it,’ she says. ‘I wanted a system of treatment that
Miranda France talks to an Edinburgh-based doctor turned homeopath about the future of complementary health.
Ifyou can judge every century by its medical advances. this one brooks no competition. Penicillin. contraception and the honing of surgical techniques. not to mention the availability ofelectricity. have elevated our standard of living to a new plane.
But our enthusiasm for the new technology has fostered an exaggerated mistrust ofnatural remedies. to the extent that we now describe the ancient practises of aromatherapy. herbalism and acupuncture as ‘altcrnative'.
Dr Nicola Geddes was still at Edinburgh medical school when she began to feel that mainstream medicine did not hold the answer to
was potentially more curative. I started using homeopathy in the general practice. just from reading up about it. and found that I really wanted to go into it more deeply.‘ Homeopathy is the brainchild of
Christian Hahnemann. born in
Dresden in 1755. Questioning the
accepted theory that quinine cured malaria because it was an astringent, Hahnemann took a dose of the bitter
plant extract and found that it produced symptoms identical to those caused by malaria. So he discovered that a remedy and a
1 disease which produce the same effects cancel one another out. More
surprisingly. the more diluted the remedy. the more potent it becomes.
‘Basically the answer lies in the study of the phenomenon ofsubtle
' energy.‘ says Geddes. ‘There is no
7 definite proof as yet. but the current
= theory is that the substance imparts
some sort of molecular implant into
. the dilution. which is alcohol and
i water. so that long after the
, substance has disappeared. the
molecular structure is still present.‘
3 For some reason. the subtle presence
of the remedy provokes a reaction
; where a stronger presence would
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‘ Dr Nicola Geddes: ‘homeopathy doesn‘t require a lot of skill‘.
Geddes has recently opened her own homeopathic practice in Edinburgh and. with Dr Andrew Lockie. written The Women 's Guide to Homeopth y. a handsome and very persuasive guide to treating a range ofailments. with particular attention paid to pregnancy. menstruation. gynaecological complications and those other problems which shouldn‘t be female, but somehow always are — eating disorders, fatigue. depression and beauty care.
So why just women? Apart from the fact that women‘s medicine is a different ball-game. and one notoriously misunderstood by GPs. Geddes is very much aware that women have slipped from their tradional role as health practitioners to their families and. once-upon-a-time. their
communities. She feels that many women would welcome the know-how to treat themselves and their brood at home. ‘lt‘s a great first line ofdefence. It doesn‘t require a lot ofskill. just basic observation of the symptoms and selecting the remedy that matches those
The initial surprise with homeopathy is how specifically each ailment is described: there are eleven different kinds of headache. for example. One remedy is for a ‘woman who is obsessive. feels very
hot, can’t stop hurrying. especially if
she is dark-haired and dark-eyed.‘ To those who would cry ‘hokum-pokum’. Geddes explains
that homeopathy is a holistic
remedy, in which all the physical.
mental and emotional characteristics
ofa person must be taken into account before sickness can be treated. Homeopathy may truly come into its own in the next century. when orthodox medicine will be able to predict those illnesses to which a person is prone long before the disease sets in.
The Women 's Guide to Homeopathy, DrAndrew Lockie and Dr Nicola Geddes (Hamish Hamilton £18. 99).
For details of homeopathic practices in your area, call Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital, 1000 Great
. Western Road, 041 339 0382.
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The List 18 December I992- 14 January 1993103