What does a homeopath do?
Homoeopathy is a system of medicine that focuses on the cause of the symptom and not just the alleviation of the symptom alone. Finding the root cause of a patients discomfort is often much more complicated than simply prescribing a medication to palliate/supress the patient’s discomfort. If you treat the cause of the pain/discomfort, then we bring about cure. Homeopaths uses a system of medicine based on ‘likes cures likes’, which means, we take down a careful case history, establish the possible cause of disease, and the prescribe a medicine based on the symptom picture as described by the patient. If a remedy can cause these symptoms in an otherwise healthy person, then it can cure those same symptoms in an individual suffering from that same symptom picture. We also focus on diet, lifestyle and nutritional supplementation to bring an individual back to health.
Why did you become a Homoeopath?
I always knew I wanted to be a doctor. When I was a child, I was very sickly and it was homeopathy that finally treated me as a whole and gave me back my quality of life. So when it came time to choose between an allopathic vs homeopathic career path, the decision was obvious. Homoeopaths qualify as primary health care physicians registered with the AHPCSA, so although we cannot prescribe allopathic scheduled medication, we can diagnose (physical exam, blood tests, X-rays etc) and treat using a natural system of medicine.
What and where did you study?
M.Tech (HOM) UJ. This is masters degree at the University of Johannesburg. It takes 5 years to complete your masters in Homeopathy, after which you need to complete your clinical hours and research as partial fulfilment of your masters degree. Your subjects include everything from basic science to anatomy, physiology, pathology, diagnostics and homeopathic pharmaceuticals to name a few.
One you have your degree in Homoeopathy, do you need any further studying?
Yes, as part of continuous research and development, we have to attend regular courses in various medical fields to obtain CPD points. To continue practicing, you need to obtain a certain amount of CPD points per year.
Which subjects should you take at school if you want to follow this career path?
As with any science degree, maths and science is a must, with biology being a beneficial optional extra.
What challenges do you face?
Homeopathy is very often belittled by mainstream medicine because of the dilution and potentiation of our medications. Scientists feels our medicines is not scientifically proven effective, and often years of clinical success is scrutinised despite testimonials from patients whom had tried every other system of medicine without success. Often we are not recognised as ‘real’ doctors, which can be very frustrating seeing as we are qualified primary health care professionals. The only difference really is that we spend a significant amount of time(up to one hour for a new patient) with our patients to establish a complete picture and a true diagnosis based on the root of the cause, while our treatment is aimed at bringing about cure, and not just treating symptomatically.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Changing lives, bringing about cure. When a patient thanks you for changing their lives…now that makes it all worth it.
Is it easy to find work as a Homeopath?
Yes, there are very few opportunities to locum once qualified. So going into private practice is often your only career path once you qualify.
What misconceptions are there about the industry?
One of my patients calls me her white witch doctor. When we cure a patient thought to be incurable, there is often an airy fairy association with what we do. The fact is that we study all the necessary subjects to qualify as a primary health care physician, we register as such, and we practice as such. The only difference is the way in which we approach patients. A simple example would be a patient with severe Crohn’s disease (an inflammatory bowel disease which causes bloody diarrhoea and massive malabsorption issues), is said to be incurable, a Gastroenterologist / GP would aim to minimize symptoms with pharmaceutical drugs. Homeopaths would aim to treat the symptom picture homoeopathically (using a remedy picture that is identical to the patients presenting case) while simultaneously treating the gut in order to reverse the damage which might have led to the Crohn’s disease being triggered in the first place, by focusing on diet, lifestyle and supplementation.
Dr. Marike de Klerk