Dear Dr Yael,
Please don’t give publicity to people who spout unscientific nonsense because they had a personal placebo response to some quack therapy. A column like yours should not offer the opportunity to people, however well-intentioned, who don’t have the slightest idea how treatments are developed and formulated to mislead the wider public into thinking that something that worked for them has any objective value.
Dr J. B., FRCP (C), DABPN
Dear Dr. J.B.,
As I have been surrounded by medical doctors all of my life, I have been known to be anti-homeopathy. As a therapist, I have asked many a client who has been using homeopathy with little results to give me a chance for a few weeks without it. When we are successful in overcoming their issues, it solidifies my feeling that homeopathy does not work.
However, I am not always sure that is the best way. Medicine at times disappoints me. And in the specific case you are referencing (August 7), I had the chance to meet the letter writer and was very impressed with him. In addition, there have been cases where I have helped people get off or reduce medication by using psychotherapy and hypnosis and by encouraging them to exercise.
I see my column as a forum for various opinions. I may not personally know if an approach will work; however, I present it as something people can consider and research.
There are times when a psychiatrist will overmedicate, which is why it’s important to find a psychiatrist whom you trust and feel comfortable with. I am not advocating for homeopathy and I am certainly not advocating people go off their psychotropic medication if they are functioning well. However, there are some people who do not do well with mainstream psychotropic medication. Perhaps these people need more options to explore. Thank you for helping me clarify this issue. Hatzlocha!
Dear Dr. Yael,
I am not a mental health professional but write as a layperson who knows people who suffer from bipolar disorder. I believe you erred in printing the letter from a bipolar person who claims to have been successfully treated through diet, and who claims that mental illness is usually “a result of digestive irregularities that prevent food from being digested properly.”
While I do not doubt that over-processed foods and sugars can affect how we feel, I do not believe that mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder, can be treated through diet alone. In fact, I know of several bipolar sufferers who, like many with mental illness, cannot accept that they are medication-dependent, and go off their medication with terrible consequences.
I fear your printing the letter and even your reference to your husband’s use of holistic medicine in his practice will wrongly encourage medication-dependent people to go off their medication. Your professing that holistic medicine is outside your field of expertise is all the more reason you should not have printed this letter.
While I disagree with your point about not printing this letter, I should have included more of a caveat in my response. You are correct that people who are suffering from mental illness should not just go off their medication and try to function on their own. The letter writer noted that he found an actual psychiatrist who also uses homeopathy to help in treatment of mental illness. While most people may need a traditional psychiatrist, some may fare better with a psychiatrist who practices both traditional medication and homeopathy.
Mental illness is far more complicated than changing your diet. However, sometimes there are medical issues that can underlie a mental illness. While it is not common, it is important to rule out, especially when an individual is not responding well to traditional medication and is not able to live a relatively “normal” life.