Homeopath makes house calls

Dr. Hannah Albert, an Island naturopathic physician who specializes in homeopathy, recently explained her work this way: “I’m like an investigator. When I’m with a patient I’m constantly asking myself questions. ‘Who is this person? What were the factors involved when the problem first began? Was it an accident? A toxin? Trauma?’”

In her medical practice, Albert uses a combination of homeopathy, nutritional counseling, herbal medicine and bodywork. Though she is not a counselor, Albert explains that she is always “listening for what is at the heart of the matter.”

And what better way to get to know people than to visit them in their home? In addition to seeing patients in her office in Seattle, Albert offers home visits on Vashon.

“I learn a lot from seeing people in their environment,” Albert said. “At home, a person has a certain feeling of safety and comfort they don’t in a doctor’s office. This helps them relax so I can better get to know them.”

According to Albert, a homeopathic physician needs to gather many details about a person’s specific health complaints in order to prescribe an appropriate homeopathic medicine. This may include a person’s emotions, mental states, lifestyle and nutrition. Each homeopathic prescription is individualized: different people with the same symptoms may receive different homeopathic remedies.

“I try to find the one medicine that best fits the totality of a person’s symptoms,” Albert said.

Homeopathy aims to treat “like with like.” To understand this, think about how symptoms are part of the body’s attempt to heal itself. For example, a fever can develop as a result of an immune response to an infection, and a cough may help to eliminate mucus. Similarly, medication may be given to support this self-healing response.

To make homeopathic prescriptions, substances that cause symptoms similar to the disease in large quantities are heavily diluted — the weaker the dilution, the stronger the remedy. Proponents of homeopathic treatment believe that it can harmonize and re-balance the vital force — often called chi — and thereby restore health.

Homeopathy is fairly common in Europe, where between 25 and 50 percent of the population report its use. According to a 1999 survey of Americans and their health, more than 6 million Americans had used homeopathy in the preceding 12 months. The World Health Organization noted in 1994 that homeopathy had been integrated into the national health care systems of many countries, including Germany, the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Mexico.

People who use homeopathy do so for a variety of health concerns, from wellness and prevention to treatment of injuries and diseases. Studies show that most people who use it seek help with a chronic medical condition.

“Conventional medicine is a necessity for life-threatening conditions,” said Albert, who is herself a breast cancer survivor. “But for the real deep healing that incorporates one’s body, mind and emotional state, I turn to homeopathy and other forms of natural medicine.”

In her practice, Albert treats many patients with hormone imbalances and digestive problems. She adds that homeopathy can be a gentle, non-invasive way to treat such minor conditions in children as colds, bee stings and rashes.

An initial appointment with Albert lasts up to two hours. Follow-ups are usually every four to six weeks in the beginning and then every three to six months. She can be reached at 650-9197.

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