Cancer is a diagnosis dreaded by practitioners and pet owners alike. In allopathic medicine, cancer treatment does not result in a cure, but rather the destruction of the tumor and related cells through radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery. These treatments frequently create side effects, which require additional drug therapy to manage. Allopathic cancer treatment most often leads to temporary remission; the greatest success rates are found in the treatment of lymphoma using combination chemotherapy, resulting in six to 11 months of remission in 65% to 90% of patients.1
Homeopathy, conversely, offers a gentle approach to cancer, treating not just the lesion or condition, but the patient as a whole. General well-being is first restored while the cancerous condition is being abated or resolved, and is followed by a return of good health. This article will discuss the principles of homeopathy in the treatment of cancer and why it is a good alternative to the allopathic approach.
CONSIDERING THE WHOLE BODY
The allopathic approach to cancer is to identify the lesion, assess the body system(s) affected, and then stage the cancer. The homeopathic approach views the patient as one disease, comprised of his totality of symptoms – mental, emotional, and physical.2 Functional changes or lesions, such as fibrosis and tumor growth, are merely one aspect of the patient’s disease. While allopathic nomenclature may be helpful in understanding a clinical situation, general disease labels are not needed to find an accurate prescription in homeopathy since they do not describe what is unique to the individual patient. For example, “lymphoma” describes a disease condition, but does not give us any details about the individual case. In order to identify the precise homeopathic remedy needed to treat the patient, out of all the homeopathic remedies that treat this type of disease process (i.e. lymphoma), the practitioner needs to examine what makes this patient unique.
Once the homeopathic remedy is administered, the patient’s response is closely monitored. The remedy stimulates the recovery of health over the time necessary for the body to repair damaged tissues. This can take weeks to months, depending on how long the total illness (not merely the cancer) has been present.
THREE POSSIBLE OUTCOMES
Any treatment, homeopathic or allopathic, can result in three possible outcomes: palliation, suppression, or cure. It is important to understand how these differ, and how to interpret patient response post-prescription.
1. Palliation is the most common outcome of allopathic treatment, and is seen as a rapid response or alleviation of some, but not all, of the physical symptoms. A hallmark of palliation is a quick return of symptoms when treatment is stopped, requiring more frequent repetitions of medicine in higher doses to maintain any “improvement”.
The benefits of palliation with homeopathy, in cases where a curative remedy cannot be found, is the gentleness of this medicine when compared to the immunosuppressive doses of prednisone often used in allopathic palliation.
2. Homeopathic practitioners view suppression as the worst possible outcome of medicine or surgery. This is because the patient’s well-being is not enhanced, and while some symptoms or lesions disappear, there is no improvement of mental/emotional aspects. After a period of time, a new, more severe set of symptoms will result; for example, metastasis to the lungs or heart base following surgical excision of a hemangiosarcoma lesion from the spleen.
3. The goal of all homeopathic treatment is to cure the patient by returning the body to health. This is characterized by increased overall well-being, with physiological resistance to disease. The mental/emotional sphere will improve first, followed by the resolution of physical symptoms. For instance, a cat with mesenteric lymphoma will have more energy and improved appetite soon after the remedy is administered, while the gastrointestinal symptoms diminish over time.
Unlike allopathic treatments for cancer that use multiple drugs at one time, a homeopathic veterinarian will only prescribe a single dose of a remedy. To decide which remedy to use, the homeopath will create a list of the patient’s current symptoms in combination with his entire health history. Therefore, it is possible to have five lymphoma patients all receiving different remedies because their symptom pictures vary, even though allopathic treatment would use the same chemotherapy protocol.
Homeopathic treatment aims to cure the patient and have the cancer completely resolve, without causing harmful side effects or requiring repeated medication. In cases where the destruction of the cancer pathology is too advanced to affect a true cure, i.e. full restoration of health, homeopathic treatment when prescribed in a curative manner can still provide a gentle approach to alleviating symptoms and improving vitality and quality of life.
The case studies accompanying this article demonstrate how the homeopathic treatment of cancer successfully returned the patients to health and provided an increased quality of life without surgery, chemotherapy, or harmful side effects. To read about them in greater detail, you can view them on the PIVH Case Blog at pivh.org/blog.
If you are interested in becoming a trained veterinary homeopath, contact the Pitcairn Institute of Veterinary Homeopathy (PIVH). It is the only homeopathic training program for veterinarians in the US that’s approved by the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy, which provides national accreditation and certifi cation. The next Professional Course in Veterinary Homeopathy starts in September of 2015. Please visit the PIVH website at pivh.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Case Study #1
By Lisa J. Melling, DVM, CVH
Howie, a ten-year-old neutered male Shih Tzu, presented for in-home euthanasia on October 26, 2012. He had received a tentative diagnosis of leukemia, along with a splenic mass, anemia, and protein-losing nephropathy diagnosed by an internal medicine specialist. Blood test values demonstrated severe leukocytosis with band cells and metamyelocytes, non-regenerative anemia, and thrombocytopenia.
At the euthanasia appointment, the owner asked if there were any other treatment options available, and homeopathic treatment was offered.
On examination, Howie was weak and hypothermic at 97.4°F. His mucous membranes were pale and dry, and there was palpable splenomegaly in his abdomen. The homeopathic remedy Phosphorus was selected because of its reputation for the treatment of hemorrhagic conditions, polycythemia, cancerous affections and albuminuria. Phosphorus is best suited to patients suffering from anemia and cancers that bleed profusely.3
It is also important that the remedy match the changes in mental symptoms that occur in sickness. When Howie was well, he was an outgoing sociable dog. When he became ill, he was timid, anxious, and weak. He also had a history of thunderstorm anxiety. All these symptoms made him an excellent match to Phosphorus, and a single dose of 30c was administered. The owner was also given instructions to prepare a balanced fresh food diet to replace Howie’s processed dog food.
Five days after he was given the remedy, Howie’s owner called to say he’d gradually improved and was exhibiting signs of more normal behavior. An exam and diagnostics the following week found a feisty dog with a normal temperature and white blood cell values that were also approaching normal. Three weeks later, another exam revealed a bright, energetic dog with light pink mucous membranes. His owner reported he was eating well and even had to be cautioned that he was looking overweight. Howie’s white blood cell values were within normal limits, his red blood cell numbers were climbing towards the normal range, and the proteinuria had resolved.
One month after his first dose of Phosphorus 30c, Howie’s white blood cell values were normal, but he still had a mild, regenerative anemia. Three months after his initial prescription, his splenomegaly was no longer palpable.
From 2012 to 2014, Howie was re-evaluated every three to six months and found to be in good health. His blood and urine tests were monitored regularly, and a second dose of Phosphorus 30c was administered in November of 2012 to address the persisting anemia.
By January 2013, the splenomegaly was no longer palpable and Howie’s mucous membranes were pink. In March of that year, Phosphorus 200c was administered to address the persisting, mild anemia. One month later, his red blood cell value had risen to just below the normal range. At this point, it was decided that no further Phosphorus was needed, as Howie showed no return of his leukemia, splenomegaly or protein-losing nephropathy. With the help of homeopathic treatment, Howie lived a healthy life until he passed away peacefully in September of 2014.
Case Study #2
By Todd Cooney, DVM, CVH
Rosie, a 12-year-old spayed female German Shorthair Pointer, had been very healthy until early 2012, when she developed symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, persistent panhypoproteinemia, and anemia. She became less active, and her abdomen was noticeably swollen. In April of that year, her local veterinarian diagnosed protein-losing enteropathy and suggested referral to the Purdue Teaching Hospital.
Her owner declined referral, and began a program of homemade diet and probiotics. Rosie partially improved, but still had a swollen, fluid-filled abdomen with occasional diarrhea. On October 11, 2012, Rosie presented to her local veterinarian with a very large, tightly swollen abdomen with ascites, severe panhypoproteinemia, PCV of 20, and leukopenia. She was diagnosed with lymphoma, offered referral to Purdue with a poor prognosis, and had her abdomen drained.
The next day, Rosie presented to my clinic looking very thin, weak and wobbly (almost ataxic), with an extremely large abdomen tight with fluid. Her abdomen was tender on palpation and her gums were pale pink. Her owner reported a dull attitude and behavior akin to “a patient with dementia”. She was thirstless, even after walking in warm weather. Taking all her symptoms into account, I prescribed one dose of Apis mellifica 200c. Apis mellifica is made from the honeybee, and its symptoms include ascites, great soreness of the abdominal walls, peritonitis, and dropsical swellings without thirst.
Over the next two weeks, Rosie improved overall; the ascites slowly decreased and her appetite improved. On November 5, she seemed much brighter, and her ascites had nearly resolved. However some new symptoms appeared: she now seemed very thirsty, slightly grumpy towards other dogs, and a little skittish around gunshots, all of which were out of character.
The abatement of her acute crisis along with the change in symptoms indicated a deeper-acting remedy was needed. Rosie was prescribed one dose of Natrum muriaticum 200c. Natrum muriaticum is considered the “chronic” or complementary remedy to Apis and is noted for unquenchable thirst, irritability, anemia, watery stools, emaciation, and cancerous affections.3
On November 29, her owner reported that Rosie’s appetite and attitude began to improve within a few days of the remedy; she was now eating very well, looking significantly better, had normal stools, and the abdominal swelling was totally gone.
Over the next two years, Nat-mur was given twice as Rosie’s symptoms indicated: 200c in February 2013 and 1M in October 2013. Rosie improved quickly after each dose, with increased vitality and symptom resolution. She displayed all the signs of a curative response – she returned to good health, the ascites never returned, and when her symptoms briefly flared, indicating a re-dose, they were mild in nature (e.g. loose stool).
No further treatments have been needed since 2013, and as of October 2014, Rosie’s owner reported that she is doing very well, running and playing with other dogs, and enjoying life.
1 Cote, Etienne, DVM; Mosby, Elsevier. Clinical Veterinary Advisor, Dogs and Cats, 2nd ed., St. Louis, MO; 2011: pp676.
2 Hahnemann, Samuel, ed. Brewster O’Reilly, Wenda, PhD. Organon of the Medical Art 6th ed., by Dr. Birdcage Books, Palo Alto, CA; 1996: pp141
3 Murphy, Robin, ND. Nature’s Materia Medica, 3rd ed. Lotus Health Institute, Blacksburg, VA; 2006: pp 1502-1512.