Sunday, September 26, 2010


        Conventional treatment versus homeopathic treatment that isn’t the question. The question is, what helps?

Meet Nestor. Nestor was from the Philippines and had a very special gift. He was a psychic surgeon. I had no idea what that meant, but I was ready and willing to try anything. All I wanted was relief from pain, lethargy and nausea, even if that meant listening to repetitive, flat music droning from some boom box. The seriously annoying monotone made me wonder if this little man, who looked suspiciously similar to an illegal alien and spoke as much as a deaf person, really was a psychic surgeon. I lay down on the table in the back room of the shack he rented in Santa Monica and waited wide-eyed.
Suddenly, he plunged his hands into my abdomen, right under the ribs. I felt an alien enter my body and wriggle around my abdomen area. Nestor pulled his hands out and with it bloody, soft tissue that looked like part of my small intestine. I let out a deep, blood-curdling cry of relief…I think. He did it several more times, and I screamed each time. He wiped clean the area he had been working on. Not a mark to be found. The effects were immediate. I got up from the table and felt as if I were floating on a cloud. I skipped to my car and sang on the drive home, high on some non-existent, amazing drug.
Of course he hadn’t opened me up, and he hadn’t extracted my small intestine, but he did do something that, to this day, I can’t explain. He took away pain, lethargy and nausea.

Meet. Valentin. Valentin used to be an officer in the Russian army. From the moment he said “priviet” (hello in Russian) I had the feeling he was barking orders at me. His talent was to repair auras gone awry. Needless to say, my aura had gone very much awry. He waved and waved frantically, all along asking me about some obscure actors I was supposed to know since my husband is in the film business. “No…no,” I said over and over again as he went down his list of starlets, all along conducting an orchestra over my torso. When he was done gesticulating, I felt no different then when I had arrived. At home though, I noticed that I didn’t have lumpy breasts anymore (50% of all women have the condition at some point in time.). Okay, not what I expected and not helpful. 

Meet Emilyn. Emilyn's office, (or should I say makeshift cubicle with walls made of cotton sheets) was at the far end of a pharmacy/Chinese herb store on Main St. in downtown L.A. It took me some time to find it hidden in the back, among mountains of boxes as if it were some dark secret. It offered no privacy whatsoever to those consulting with her. But then again, it didn’t matter because no one spoke English besides Emilyn. She stood out as the only person among some twenty employees that didn’t wear a Mao getup.
Emilyn looked at my palms, checked my tongue and my (yellow) eyes all along scribbling Chinese characters on a sheet of paper. I took the paper to the herb counter and handed it to a Chinese man. He smiled from ear to ear, showing off crooked teeth that were the color of the brown paper bag in which he poured my prescription. As soon as I got home, I boiled up the dried twigs, leaves and (what the hell?!) huge bugs for seven hours. The result was a thick, black brew that tasted horribly bitter. I drank the brew imagining it was a delicious hot chocolate. Occasionally, I pulled bugs’ legs from between my teeth. Afterwards, it took me forever to get the image of bugs’ legs between my teeth out of my mind. I guess it worked because it distracted me from pain, lethargy, nausea.

Meet Master Joe. Master Joe was also from China and understood two words in English. “Hot” and “Thanks.” It didn’t take me long to figure out why he knew precisely these two words. He was truly amazing. Well, perhaps not so amazing for me, but definitely for himself. He could lift 500 pounds with his testicles (the huge picture in his studio made me cringe), he could lean into a sharp sword without obtaining a scratch (piece of cake after the testicle stint), he could pull a semi-truck and trailer more than one hundred yards, and he could boil water with his bare hands, which is why I had come to him in the first place.
Master Joe was a master of Qi Gong, the Chinese martial art. He was in complete control of his Qi, his energy source. I lay down on the table and watched his hands hover over my right ribs under which my liver is lodged. Within seconds I shouted. “Hot! Hot! Hot!” He quickly moved his hands and I muttered, “thanks.” Had he left his hands there much longer, I would have had a chopped liver, instead of a cirrhotic liver. After the session, I had so much energy I was ready to look for the next semi-truck and trailer and…and…touch it?

The word in German for a homeopath is “Heilpraktiker,” which literally means, “ one who practices healing.” The title is misleading because homeopathy doesn’t heal serious illnesses. It might provides temporary relief, but also something quite dangerous: a distorted perception of a serious illness.  Every time I felt relief after seeing Nestor, Emilyn, Valentin or Master Joe, I wondered if I was really as sick as my hospital doctors claimed. I began to doubt conventional medicine for the sake of homeopathy and instant relief.

I’ve come to the conclusion that homeopathy works wonders when you’re healthy. You can nip a cold in the bud with herbs, or soothe a back pain with acupuncture or one of the more radical methods I mentioned above. Homeopathy, in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle, might keep you out of the doctor’s office.

But if you’re seriously ill, go to a conventional doctor.

There is one point on which homeopathy and conventional medicine agree. That is the power of the mind. The sicker you are, the easier it is for your thoughts to go to dark places. By the same token, there’s not much you can change in illness on your own, except for your mind. Whether you're taking drugs or herbs, an optimistic frame of mind enhances their efficacy. In fact, don’t read the insert, which tells you the pros and cons of the drug. When it comes to medication, I say ignorance is protecting your self. The less you know about side-effects of a drug, the less likely you’ll be to experience them.  

So the next time the doctor prescribes a drug, open the package with joy and say, “this is going to be great. I’m going to feel so much better.”