Shilpa Bhouraskar graduated as a homoeopathic medical doctor in 1997 and runs a busy practice in Sydney, Australia. Based on her clinical experience over the last 16 years she developed her “Stages Concept” that has simplified the practice of homoeopathy. She is a popular teacher and mentor and has trained over five thousand students in 74 different countries through her online homoeopathic academy – The Quest For Simillimum. Shilpa is also the author and creator of a user-friendly homoeopathic software ‘HomeoQuest’. You can find more about her work on her website http://apps.homeoquest.com/ and her blog http://apps.homeoquest.com/blog/homeopathic-case-management/
VS: What do you identify as the reason for your success as a homeopathic practitioner and teacher and what can a beginner homeopath learn from your own growth curve?
SB: This September I complete eighteen amazing years of my homoeopathic journey. If I have to look back and trace the point that changed the entire trajectory of my homoeopathy practice, the turning point in my life and homeopathy, then it will be in 2000-1, the year when I almost gave up homeopathy. So I was trained in classical homeopathy in medical school and started my practice in Mumbai in 1998 under the coaching of some of the most renowned world class teachers as my personal mentors. I started humbly but gradually grew a steady medical practice in the next three years. I mainly attracted children and families. I saw children with lots allergies, earaches, coughs and colds whose parents wanted to avoid antibiotics. I helped their anxious mums managing work and family, and their highly ambitious dads with their chronic conditions. I made tons of mistakes but also had some wonderful cures. The best part was, I had a backstop with my mentors. And I could see that the majority of my successes came from basic classical Hahnemannian homeopathy.
But then there was a turning point in my journey that changed the whole course of my practice. I moved from Mumbai and started working in Nasik, a place around 200 kms from the coast. I decided to work with charity group to help villages where primary health care was miles away. I regularly traveled to tiny rural places on the outskirts of Nasik each week. The headman gave us a room in the village school where we set up our temporary clinic. I still vividly remember my first trip. As we drove in, we could see a group of 50 to 60 patients all anxiously waiting for their turn. We were requested to finish within a couple of hours so we could cover as many villages as possible in a day. I was used to taking these elaborate cases in Bombay and had the luxury of an hour or so with each client, so I knew I had my task cut out. But I never imagined that I would be so completely out of my comfort zone.
To start with, my chronic case taking experience was proving to be completely useless. Most of the patients had some of the gravest acute conditions possible. And I had just a couple of minutes with each patient to pick the best symptoms and make the decision. I struggled to confidently come with one specific remedy that matched the case, so I was heavily relying on repertories. Add to the fact that some patients could not describe the symptoms in detail or in the exact language that I was used to listening, so I was seriously struggling to find the exact translations of their local language in the repertories.
I was already three years in practice then and had produced some really good results in the Mumbai clinic. But I realised that most of my these cases had chronic complaints. And even if there were acutes, I almost always used constitutional remedies at the baseline. Plus, if I had to make a change, I was just a phone call away from my patients. In short I had the luxury of waiting patiently for the action of the acute remedy to stop before I made any changes.
But here there was no way I could adopt that ideal approach, especially when I was pressed for time when confronted with rapidly changing acute states such as pneumonia, typhoid and malaria. There was no way these people could me in between visits. For the first couple of visits I tried to prescribe constitutional remedies that matched the acute states, as some of my mentors had taught me. But it simply did not work. Then I tried some so called acute combinations that were known for certain conditions in frequent repetitions. But that was not as effective. In some the susceptibility was too low. I was seriously struggling. All I wanted was to give them some homoeopathic benefit, so they did not have to travel miles to find the nearest doctor.
I was literally in tears every week and I was close to giving up in frustration and desperation having exploited everything I knew or learned in school and from my mentors. To be fair my own mentors had never been confronted with such situations having practiced all their lives in Mumbai. So I was on my own in a way. But something in me knew that there had to be a way out. There were masters of the past, in the earlier century who were getting results in such cases. I knew I was missing something vital here. So I pushed through my frustration to look for resources to check out what these people did. Finally I found my answers. It was through one of the most unconventional, unclassical approaches of remedy selection and prescription in some of the archived cases and in Boenninghausen’s lesser writings. And things started to slowly make sense to me. I decided to start implementing those approaches and posology.
I also created a basic search engine tool with my partner Atul’s help to churn these old case studies by Boger and Boenninghausen to help me prescribe some of these obscure prescriptions. I was working in the most un-classical way. But it didn’t matter because it was working. The change in management had a dramatic effect on me and my patients. It opened my eyes to a whole new spectrum of homeopathy that I seriously did not know existed.
It gave me the permission and the confidence to explore and discover hidden tools and gems of these past masters who worked at the grassroots and handled cases in the trenches that I was looking at. I began to realise the real scope of classical approaches, when it worked and when it did not. And more importantly, what to do about it. This understanding became the seed for my stages template – a diagnostic tool to find the best approach to match your patient so you can give them the best potential of homeopathy. And that basic search engine that helped me find the remedies hidden in those case studies became the prototype for my HomeoQuest Software.
At the end of that year, I was able to help over a thousand patients successfully in that rural clinic. And today I attribute all my success to those farmers and their families who trusted me and helped me realise the real scope and potential of homeopathy.
And here I am 18 years later. I have rebuilt my practice and started from scratch five times across three different cities in India and twice after I moved continents before settling in Sydney Australia. In the course of this time I have worked with tens of thousands of patients from every walk of life from farmers in rural India to corporates in Sydney Australia. And it’s been such a crazy crazy ride. I have used all different kinds of homoeopathic approaches, I have coached, mentored and trained over 16,000 doctors and practitioners in CAM worldwide through my homoeopathy network and Online Academies. My members come from 74 countries and I provide them tools and resources and connect them with leaders in all kinds of homeopathic approaches through my courses. My homeopathy network and Homeoquest program is impacting hundreds and thousands of patients in little pockets around every continent on the planet through these wonderful practitioners that I am blessed to connect with. It’s been an epic ride! And it just goes on. I have been grateful to build this impact. So it’s bit of a celebration now coming up to my 18th year.
What I can say to beginners is to set yourself free. Give yourselves the permission to expand beyond your classical toolkits that you learned in school. Set yourself for new challenges and new growth. Be open to experimentation with obscure approaches when your favourite approach does not work. Keep experimenting wit approaches beyond your theory books. Please do not take anything at face value because someone said so or thought so. Find opportunities to brainstorm with experts and get mentors who are out there in the field and working with the kind of patients that you want to reach and impact. Real homeopathic learning actually happens in your clinics, beyond classrooms and seminar cases. And real healing is not limited to a single simillimum. So just go out there, experiment, connect with like minded people and nurture your passion for creating real results.
VS: What would you say is your individual and unique contribution to the advancement of homeopathy?
SB: I would have to say it is my Stages Template and my Homoepathic network. As I mentioned before, the Stages Template is a proven, step-by-step diagnostic tool that shows you exactly what is the best approach in homeopathy that will work for your patient when your favorite classical approaches simply do not work.
The Template shows you exactly what stage your patient falls into and what is the best way to manage that patient, right from case taking down to which authors to look out for, what books and resources to use, what miasmatic approach to select and how, and more importantly what to expect in the follow ups so you can take them to a complete resolution within the scope of homeopathy.
I have elaborated the Stages Template in my free video trainings, books, courses, and Homeoquest Software in the homeopathy network. I love sharing my experiments through actual cases at each stage… including what mistakes I made, how I adapted my analysis, prescriptions, posology and so on for any given patients, and what works and what does not.
But, it doesn’t stop there… I built the network to bring together a community of like minded practitioners in the entire CAM world who use homeopathy and who are open to working at different stages…those who believe there is nothing right or wrong about an approach. So they can connect with experts at each stage, post their cases without fear of judgement, brainstorm solutions and learn from each other.
In short, my network is what gets me out of bed each morning to share my successes and failures. And I would not really call it a contribution, rather it is a blessing to build this platform, inspire and get inspired and hopefully offer the best of homoeopathy to their patients in every corner of the globe.
VS: How would you explain the stages template to someone who knows nothing about it?
SB: To explain what it is, I have to first tell you what it is not. It is not another new approach in Homoeopathy. In fact it is a way to wade through the confusion of the new and old approaches in homeopathy right since Hahnemann’s time. So it is like a GPS, a chart, a template, a diagnostic tool and a resource that basically helps you pick the most suitable homoeopathic approach for your patients that will give them the best potential of homeopathy, no matter where they are in their journey. And more importantly, how to implement it wisely and confidently to get the success that you are looking for based on real clinical evidence and success stories from the top experts at each stage.
I have elaborated it in great detail in my ebook “When Your Favourite Approach Does Not Work” . I would highly encourage you to download this complementary ebook to start using it in your practice:
VS: We’ll all be reading that after this interview. What is the summary of your approach to the treatment of young children who do not come across as the picture postcard image of the well-known polychrests?
SB: To start with when you are looking to use well known polychrests in children, the child has to be at Stage 3. This is where the classical approaches such as Hahnemannian, Boenninghausen and Kentian approaches work the best. Now children’s case taking using a constitutional Kentian approach posed a dilemma for me ever since I was a student. I admit I enjoyed reading these interesting children’s personalities in books by various authors. And while I understood a Natrum Muriaticum or a Lycopodium child, I always wondered how could I ever identify say a Conium child or a Stannum Metallicum child if they walked into my clinic? I found the answer to this while attending the hospital clinics of one of my teachers, Dr Sunil Anand who worked especially with kids. I observed the terrorised Cicuta kids, friendly Lac dolphinum babies or the fiesty headstrong Ferrum metallicums. He prescribed a variety of these so called uncommon children remedies which worked perfectly.
These cases were solved using what I call the “modified Kentian approach” at Stage 3. I now understand where he used the mother’s pregnancy history as an important part of the child’s totality. This was first elicited by observation of the child through play in the clinic and the mother’s narration. It was then confirmed with a detailed history of one of the parents who had experienced a similar state before the child was born, eg. the mother’s pregnancy state or the father’s state during conception. This formed a part of the child’s prenatal history. It is interesting how the mother or the father’s state or a strong emotional or traumatic stressful experience during this period is often expressed by the child’s disease.
The case taking involves eliciting this connection between the parent and the child. The deeper feelings can thus be confirmed from the parent when the child is not able to communicate. My success rate using this approach in homeopathy is based on how clearly you first understand the exact core state of the child. Hence as I mentioned before, the child has to be expressing it at Stage 3, otherwise this approach does not work. And most of the case taking is objective, through direct observation of the child’s expressions through play, art, hobbies. Then you check if the state of the child connects with either the mother’s state during pregnancy or the father’s state during conception. A separate interview with the parents usually elaborates this causative history from which the child’s expression is being manifested. This specific approach has worked for me to unlock many of my challenging homeopathic cases in kids at Stage 3, using obscure less well known remedies in our materia medica.
VS: Aside from the polychrests, nowadays new remedies are emerging for which our existing materia medicas do not have information. What is your take on this trend?
SB During his life Hahnemann proved at least a hundred different remedies and built the basis of the Materia Medica that is still being used today. During the hundred and fifty years since, some two and a half thousand remedies have been added, some through rigorous provings, others not quite so rigorous and many more through noting the effects of accidental poisonings.
I remember one particular lecture in Organon where we discussed the limitation of homeopathy. One of the topics was the limited number of well proved remedies at any stage and the question that came up was “What would you do in cases that did not fit your known set of remedies? The answer was simply, “Find the closest possible known remedy and work your way out through a zig zag cure”.
I understood that was practical and I agreed it worked in most cases. But my question was what about those cases which still never did well. Why should the patient suffer just because he did not fit the typical Natrum Muriaticum or a Pulsatilla or even after he or she was prescribed a series of similar known polycrests and nosodes? I believed there had to be a better way out to use the full potential of the ever growing materia medica of partially proved or forgotten remedies to provide the best for our clients. Later during the internship I was posted in Dr Sankaran’s OPD. Here I noticed an interesting difference in the way he practiced. He would never hesitate to venture into the world of relatively unknown remedies if they came up strongly for a given set of peculiar rubrics and actually prescribe them.
For example, in a case which looked and repertorized Calc Carbonica, he gave a Calcarea Sulphuricum on a peculiar rubric of – Lamenting because she was not being appreciated. For another case which seemed very Tarentula, he gave Theridion based on two peculiar rubrics – The knees jerked upwards whenever he coughed and he had a strong craving for oranges. To my pleasant surprise these remedies worked extremely well, sometimes better than expected, to unfold the whole case. I wondered whether these remedies possibly also covered the other common rubrics of the case because many of them belonged to the same family. But this could never be confirmed due to the incomplete information in the books.
Later I found the same refreshing approach in other practitioners such as Dr Parinaz, Dr Vijaykar and Dr Sunil, who produced consistent deeper cures with newer so-called non polychrest remedies with as much ease as the known polychrest remedies. And then further along Jan Scholten’s books completely changed the way I experimented with unknown minerals and elements in my practice. And the amusing fact is that many of those so called unknown minerals in the last decade are proved and have shown the same clinical symptoms and confirmations to become well established new polychrests today such as Hydrogen, Helium, Ozone and so on. Today at least 20% of my most successful cases have only been solved using unknown remedies and unproved remedies based on kingdom and group analysis approaches.