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Why I became a homeopath
In this new series healthcare professionals explain the reasons behind their decision to train in homeopathy, and talk about the people and experiences that have influenced and shaped their careers. Holly Mash qualified as a vet in 2001 and practises in Bristol.
It was my parents who introduced me to homeopathy. Although they used homeopathic medicines as part of the family’s healthcare regime, it was only when the family dog Daisy became sick and my parents decided to consult a homeopathic vet that I first really registered how different homeopathy was to conventional medicine. At that time I was halfway through my veterinary training and would have described myself as a thoroughly sceptical scientist to whom homeopathy was whimsical mumbo-jumbo!
Having been examined by a conventional vet, Daisy was diagnosed with a non-healing corneal ulcer, a condition that almost inevitably requires surgery. So I was rather shocked when my parents informed me they were taking our sick dog to a homeopathic vet. In fact I can remember reacting to this news with utter disbelief saying: “A what?”
But when I saw how quickly and completely the ulcer healed without the need of surgery, I was both amazed and fascinated. This was when I decided to find out more about this gentle, effective form of medicine.
During my final years at veterinary school I arranged to attend a “sit in and see” session with a homeopathic veterinary practice and the more I saw, the more I became hooked. As a student I was amazed at the range of cases being successfully treated with homeopathy. These varied from allergies and behavioural problems to irritable bowel disease and cystitis. What interested me especially was that the homeopathic treatment focused on the individual nature of the patient, rather than just their ailment. This was very different to what we had been taught at vet school, where alleviation of the symptoms of the named disease was the most important aspect of treatment.
A great influence on my conversion to homeopathy was Jack Hoare (VetFFHom), one of the pioneers of veterinary homeopathy in the UK. In my final year at the University of Bristol veterinary school I remember taking a bus into the centre of Bristol, where Mr Hoare had a thriving one-man practice, to meet him. His commitment to providing homeopathic treatment where appropriate was an inspiration. Practising in Bristol myself, I now get some of Mr Hoare’s former patients coming to see me and I often find myself recounting stories of the seemingly miraculous cures that their pets experienced as a result of his treatments.
As a student I also immersed myself in homeopathic literature. The first book I read was Homeopathy In Primary Care by Bob Leckridge, which is a very good introduction to the basic principles for the complete beginner. Other books that have inspired me include The Science of Homeopathy by George Vithoulkas, a definite “must-read” for any would-be homeopath, and Dr Dorothy Shepherd’s A Physician’s Posy. A special favourite of mine is Don Hamilton’s book on veterinary homeopathy Small Doses for Small Animals, along with People Are Pets by Francis Hunter and Steven Kayne.
Since I’ve been practising veterinary homeopathy I have found it enormously rewarding to see the benefit that homeopathic treatment can bring to my patients. This has been especially true for cases where there was no suitable or effective form of conventional treatment. So being a homeopath has given me an invaluable extra tool in my range of possible treatments, providing another possible route back to health for my patients.
One of my early successes using homeopathy involved a Siamese cat called Blue. She had been one of a pair of cats in the household but when the other cat died she became stricken with grief, mourning the death of her companion. When I first saw her Blue hadn’t eaten for days and was in great distress, calling and looking for her friend everywhere. However, after a couple doses Ignatia, the classic homeopathic remedy for grief, she was eating again and was much less anxious.
Another case that reinforced my belief in homeopathy as an effective form of treatment was that of Jasper the springer spaniel. Ever since Jasper was frightened in a huge thunderstorm he’d become frantically anxious and destructive when left on his own in the house. Jasper responded brilliantly to just one dose of Aconite, the main homeopathic remedy for shock. And then there is the case of Toffee, a cat that had suffered from asthma for years but who, after taking just two doses of Arsenicum album, has not had a single wheeze since.
It was always my ambition to become a vet and care for and treat sick animals. And I believe passionately that homeopathy has increased my ability to do this.