Paperback, 144 pages
Price $ 21.95 (Amazon.com)
In my former profession as a clinical microbiologist in a children’s hospital in India, my staff and I had daily and numerous encounters with germs that we cultured from various clinical specimens. Wards were full of heavily medicated kids. In various outpatient departments, doctors gave out lots of prescriptions for antibiotics. Many of these kids had a microbiology report attached to their case chart that had identified Streptococci as a possible pathogenic culprit. Find the culprit, boom, boom, boom, shoot it down with antibiotics, problem solved and case closed. After all, microbiology is an art and science of waging a war on germs that are known to be associated with various infectious diseases (Koch’s postulates 1884 and Bradford Hill criteria 1965). From this background, I was very quickly drawn to the book, “Pandas, Reaching Out: A Natural and Homeopathic Approach” by Grant Bentley and my former self said, ‘Aha, finally, a homeopath is connecting a disease state to a germ!’ PANDAS is an acronym for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infections.
However, over the past 20 years as a student of homeopathy, I have become a wee bit wiser and I did feel it in my gut that PANDAS is not going to be just about Streptococci. I must read on and find out what else is in the picture. The decision to read on with a sense of curiosity was one of the best decisions I had made on the day I picked up the PANDAS book.
As a practicing homeopath, I am aware that homeopaths very frequently encounter children in their practice who are hypersensitive. These kids catch every infection going around in the school and react adversely against many different food ingredients, environmental factors and stimuli, insect bites and stressors of various types. Their immune systems are on high alert. They exhibit a range of obsessive compulsive behaviors, separation anxiety, multiple fears and social awkwardness and many different emotional symptoms, for example crying, clinginess, kicking, hitting, biting, breaking things, anger and so on. A group of these children may have a “normal” period in between a time when the react adversely to everything. Another group of these kids may more often than not (almost always) be in a state of high alert and mount a hypersensitive adverse reaction to the various trigger factors. Since early 1990, mainstream medicine has recognized this set of symptoms as a syndrome, PANDAS, and concluded that an encounter as well as infection with Streptococci is the most easily recognized causative factor for PANDAS.
In this scenario, Grant Bentley has proposed that the body’s own immune response to various triggers, including a streptococcal infection, brings about a complex set of symptoms known as PANDAS. The question that would naturally come up for any discerning reader is, ‘what other stressors beside Streptococci infection elicit the PANDAS syndrome?’ Based on over twenty-five years of work as a naturopath and homeopath who has treated PANDAS kids in many countries, Grant Bentley suggests that the causative / precipitating factors for PANDAS include any invading infection with germs and parasites, including Streptococci, diet and lifestyle indiscretions and good old physical exhaustion.
Grant Bentley has observed in his practice that, though Streptococci and other germs / parasites may have a role as a trigger, killing them with antibiotics hardly ever solves the PANDAS problem. This observation affirms the faith of many homeopaths who are convinced that it is not the germs that cause an illness. It is our own susceptibility that attracts certain germs and offers them a welcome ground for multiplying and invading our tissues. Once these germs are able to colonize, at a molecular and physiological level, they can cause much harm to an already compromised immune system.
Since Grant recognizes multi-factorial triggers that aggravate the already compromised immune system leading up to PANDAS, he proposes a treatment plan that includes a comprehensive case taking, choosing a remedy that fits the entire case, and giving 30c potency on a daily basis. He also uses the technique of Homeopathic Facial Analysis, HFA, in this process and as a result, he is able to bring about a life-transforming change in the life of a PANDAS kid and his family.
Grant’s approach to PANDAS kids and the process of remedy selection is illustrated in seven case examples. Brief follow- ups describe the outcome of treatment and the progress these kids have made once their symptom complex is identified and a suitable constitutional remedy is given. Grant acknowledges that his system of doing HFA has helped him over and over again in solving PANDAS cases. He calls HFA his secret weapon, and using HFA he is able to understand the coping mechanism of children when they are faced with a stressor. Apparently, coping mechanisms are equivalent to miasms and are classified in seven groups. Each of these groups, or miasms, has been assigned a color – yellow, red, blue, orange, purple, green and brown. People and remedies belong to these groups and each group has a corresponding facial feature. By taking into account all these factors, a suitable remedy is located for kids with PANDAS and a highly gratifying result is achieved. It can be argued that the rubrics that Grant has chosen in his cases clearly come under the umbrella of physical, mental and emotional symptoms. So, why give a label to a set of symptoms presented by these sick children.
Well, though the acronym PANDAS is seen in almost every page of this book and the title as well, this book is essentially about how to handle and treat a sick child in an effective way using the most fundamental concepts in homeopathy. In this regard, Grant has definitely made his unique contribution to using homeopathy for the health and wellness of children and their families. His use of the acronym PANDAS and his technique of using HFA and color scheme for selection of remedies, make the job of using the fundamental principles of homeopathy much simpler and easier to reproduce, in my view.
The book has eighteen small chapters in which Grant has handled all causative and precipitating factors and explained their role in eliciting PANDAS. He concludes that PANDAS is a disturbance in the inner energy of children. It is not something these children catch, but it is how they respond to whatever they encounter. The issue is with their immune system and when it is in overdrive, a whole range of PANDAS symptoms are elicited. Using a well-chosen homeopathic remedy, the immune system and the inner energy of these children can be brought into a state of balance (or homeostasis). The over active immune system can be trained to calm down and once this is achieved, the stressors can continue to be present, but the children will respond differently and thus, PANDAS can be managed, controlled and even eradicated. This approach fulfills the requirement of any homeopathic remedy that it should be able to bring about gentle, deep and lasting cure.
I found this book simple enough though it deals with a complex issue. Credit for this simplicity goes to Grant’s ease with writing and presenting his ideas. For lay people with PANDAS kids, this book will definitely bring a reassurance that their children can be helped. For us homeopaths, this book reaffirms the idea that using the basic tools of homeopathy and well known remedies, we will be able to handle PANDAS cases. It would be time well spent if we read Grant’s other books, including Homeopathic Facial Analysis, with enthusiasm as well as commitment, so that we’ll be able to spot, work with and help PANDAS kids and their families.