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High dilution

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  • Homeopathic medicine peaks as much curiosity as skepticism, and plastic surgeons may be particularly curious about what options it presents because of the known success of arnica montana to control post-surgical pain and bruising

Dr. Boyer
The utility of homeopathic medicine in plastic and reconstructive surgery is not limited to the well-known attributes of arnica montana, Ronald Boyer, M.D., tells Cosmetic Surgery Times . In fact, Dr. Boyer presented an entire course entitled, "Homeopathy for the Facial Plastic Surgeon" at last fall's American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS). As president of the Center for Education and Development of Clinical Homeopathy (CEDH), Dr. Boyer is an internationally recognized authority on training of practitioners to use homeopathy "not as a replacement for allopathic medicine, but rather as a complement."

HOMEOPATHY IN HISTORY The homeopathic approach to medicine was originally proposed approximately 200 years ago by a German physician and chemist, Samuel Hahnemann, as a safe alternative to then-current medical treatments such as blood-letting, purging and the use of mercury. Hahnemann's approach was based on two central concepts: the "Similia principle," which holds that a substance may create symptoms that it can also relieve, and "dilution," which holds that the systematic progressive dilution of a medicine makes it more, not less, effective by extracting the vital essence.

The practice of homeopathy gained a strong presence in the United States during the 19th century. At the turn of the 20th century, there were more than 20 schools of homeopathy in the United States, with approximately 14,000 practitioners. As medical science advanced, the practice of homeopathy in the United States declined and included as few as 200 practitioners in the 1970s. However, since then, growing public interest in methods that engender the body's ability to heal itself has boosted an increase in the use of homeopathic medicine in the U.S. at a rate of approximately 20 percent per year. This is consistent with the escalating sale of drugs at Boiron, currently the world leader in production of homeopathic products. When Boiron USA was founded in 1983, the company shipped an average of 25 orders per day. Today the firm ships some 1,000 orders a day.

'MOTHER TINCTURE' Homeopathic medicines are derived from three sources: plants, animals and minerals. Source material is macerated in 70 percent alcohol and filtered to produce the mother tincture. This mother tincture is diluted in a 1:99 ratio with solvent and shaken 150 times, resulting in a 10-2 dilution. The procedure is repeated with successive dilutions until the therapeutic concentration is achieved. Dose frequency is based on stimulation of the body to heal itself, rather than maintenance of the active moiety concentration in the blood. Acute care requires multiple doses per day whereas treatments for chronic disease are administered once a week. Because of the high dilution, you cannot overdose. As Dr. Boyer puts it, "the dose is the same for an infant or a sumo wrestler."

POST-SURGICAL DROPLETS Dr. Boyer eagerly shares examples of homeopathic medicines that he considers to be especially relevant to facial and plastic surgery.

Arnica montana, a plant-derived medicine considered to be a vascular protector at homeopathic doses, significantly reduces post-operative ecchymosis in facial plastic surgery (Seeley et al. 2006). Dr. Boyer assured interested surgeons at the AAFRPS meeting that arnica taken internally has no reported side effects, notably no effect on coagulation.

Calendula officinalis , derived from the garden marigold, is valued for its antiseptic and healing properties notes Dr. Boyer. Applied externally, calendula is indicated for wounds, dermabrasion, laser resurfacing, peeling, glycolic acid treatments, scars and rash. It is the most frequent treatment used in burn wards in France, Dr. Boyer says. Calendula was also found to be highly effective in the prevention of acute dermatitis (grade 2 or higher) in patients who had been surgically treated for breast cancer and received post-operative radiation therapy (Pommier et al. 2004).


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