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.
VS: It is well known that the clinical practice and in-depth research by a few leading homeopaths is contributing to the expansion of materia medica. How does a practitioner decide which one of the recently developed approaches is the best for his patient?
SB: Based on my experience of using new approaches such as group analysis, kingdoms, sensations and source, these approaches can only be used if the patient is expressing at Stage 3 or 4. Being at Stage 3 and 4 means that the patient should be able to express peculiar general symptoms that connect mind, body and soul. Patients are extremely sensitive and aware about their stage and many are able to express the disturbed energy through non-verbal communication such as art, music or painting. This approach will not work in patients whose focus is only around their disease and diagnosis. Or where the state is overwhelmed with the disease pathology and toxicity. Where the vitality is depleted and susceptibility is really low.
So to summarise the new approaches have created great strides to deepen the potential of homoeopathy to provide people the means to live life to the fullest and expand the potential of health, but you have to choose them wisely and learn how to use them well.
VS: Do you see a bridge between traditional / classical case taking and the recently developed newer approaches to case taking?
Absolutely. I see complete amalgamation and bridge between traditional and new approaches in case taking. This is what the stages template clarifies beautifully. In fact, the new approaches have been built on the foundation of the old. It was impossible to derive the understanding of the kindgom and subkingdoms or groups had we not had the base of our polychrests and enriched Materia Medica. And you cannot use the new approaches unless you understand the old. One cannot replace the other. Each approach has a specific scope and we need to appreciate and respect the inherent value of each method. Our task is to find them and pick them for the right patient at the right time so they get the best potential of the entire homoeopathic wisdom collected through time.
VS: Strange, rare and peculiar symptoms help us identify a remedy among the jumble of symptoms given by a patient. What is the place of SRP symptoms in the newer methods of case taking, where some unknown remedies are prescribed?
SB: Newer methods such as Kingdom and Group Analysis are not just about prescribing unknown remedies. In fact, when you use the source approach at Stage 4, the patient can resonate with any known or unknown remedy in the entire universe from any kingdom, plant, animal, mineral and imponderable. In such cases, if the remedy is proved, you can reconfirm the same remedy at Stage 3 through the SRP symptoms from your proving books. The beauty is that this double confirmation at both Stage 3 and 4 greatly improves the accuracy of your prescriptions. This is a key tool I coach my students on, when they are beginning to learn the Stage 4 approaches so that they develop the confidence to work with new approaches.
VS: With the available newer remedies, is it possible to be sure that it is the best simillimum for the patient in the given moment in time, or is it okay in your view, for the practitioner to make a first prescription with a remedy that somehow appears to be the simillimum, but may not be the most perfect one?
SB: As I mentioned earlier, finding a Simillimum has nothing to do with whether a remedy is new or old, known or unknown. If you ask me to define a Simillimum, I would say that if you are able to confirm the same remedy at a minimum of three stages, then this is the closest you can get to the so called “Simillimum”. But there are lots of boxes to tick to make this possible. The disease process has to be linear and traced to the same disturbance. The remedy has to be a well proved polychrest. The patient has to be willing and practitioner has to be in sync.
So, if your strategy is finding that one single simillimum in every case, then you don’t really have a plan. You are simply planning for a lot of frustration, disappointment and heartache. 90% of my successful cases have never received the Simillimum. Your patients do not want the Simillimum. They want the outcome that the Simillimum provides. So you need to let go of that perfection mode. You need to diversify your tool kit. You need to know how to use partial simillimums effectively in series. You need to strategically use tools and resources at different stages so you can get that outcome with or without the Simillimum.
VS: What do suggest your students do when they encounter a patient who reports multiple concerns:, for example, an ongoing hernia, varicose veins, thyroid issues, sadness (depression) and onset of Parkinson’s and while dealing with all these concerns, she has taken the route of allopathic medicines?
SB: Some of my greatest aha moments have come from just asking this simple but powerful question – What do you really want? The beauty is, the answer offers a different perspective based on what stage they are at. And almost always this question has helped me discover the exact tools to get my patient back on track and propel their healing journey. Every patient feels most comfortable expressing at a specific stage. And it’s much simpler to just take information at where they are at and work from that stage. This is so critical, and I have seen many experienced practitioners including myself mess this up at times. But even as a beginner, just doing this can really make huge difference to your practice.
For example, if your patient with the above conditions is at Stage 1 they will see these conditions as separate issues. All they want is to get off the drugs and medication for Thyroid or Parkinsonism. Or they want their thyroid tests to be normal. You will find their entire focus will be about their disease. They are too overwhelmed to look beyond that. So we need to respect that and stay at that stage. The whole totality is about the actual diseases. If you try and probe for PQRS here all you will end up is going around in circles and frustration. So when a patient is at Stage 1 you need to be working at that stage. You need to be using tools and approaches at that stage. In the stages Template you will find what tools and approaches work at this stage. How does it connect to the miasmatic diagnosis? What types of remedies are used? Eg organ remedies Drainage remedies, anti-miasmatic nosodes and intercurrents will repair the function of the organs and systems and help them build their susceptibility and taper off their medications and move on to the next stage.
On the other hand if this patient is at Stage 4 – They will be on a completely different planet. I had a patient with Grave’s disease and her blood pressure was over the roof. She had severe depression, and the specialist had recommended immediate thyroid surgery. And when I asked her what she wanted, she said “I want to be grounded!” And in those 10 minutes I knew the conversation is going on a very different level. And the consultation was finding the connection between the Graves and her ungrounded life. She did extremely well on Hydrogen. She not just avoided surgery but pulled her life and business together and got the balance she needed to remain grounded.
VS: Considering that you have been practicing and teaching for the last 18 years, and have seen thousands of patients in several countries, what is your advice for students and practitioners so that they can avoid burnout?
SB: The problem is, that in our kind of business, it is not just our body and brain that suffers but our creativity and intuition that drives our business. If we are not taking good care of the practitioner in us, – our physical, intellectual, creative and intuitive gifts, then we are going to burnout. If we don’t recharge and nurture ourselves then our mind soul and then our brains will suffer. Our creativity will suffer and ultimately our passion and purpose will suffer. And this is something that you really want to nurture as practitioners right from the start. One of the things that really works for me, is to take time away from my business and completely disconnect. I love planning a road trip at least once a year. Last year I went in a camper for a few days into the Australian outback to Broken Hills, White cliffs and Mungo National Park with my family and I had one of the most extraordinary times of my life. We camped around some of the most amazing places on Earth that took us back in time around 40,000 years. This is the type of thing I like to do each year and each time we explore a new territory and go a bit extreme with our camping when I try to remain totally unconnected. We camp some nights in totally unpowered site,s disconnected from electricity and it is my idea of a really great rejuvenating trip. It is really important to me. And it may or may not be a great idea for a lot of other people. But it really really feeds my soul. And it recharges me. It turned out to be an epic break for me and my family.