Hocus Pocus? Homeopathy and the dancer
by Pearl Jordon, Homeopath, former dancer and choreographer
Homeopathy has hit the headlines recently as an increasing number of NHS trusts drop or reduce funding for homeopathic services. A complementary therapy that has caused its fair share of controversy over the years, the jury is still out over scientific proof of its effectiveness, though many individuals swear by it. Here, Pearl Jordan, former dancer and choreographer and now homeopath, talks about homeopathy and the role it can play in the health for dancers.
If only it had been explained to me when I was a dancer – why did nobody tell me that there was a therapy that took into consideration all that was going on with me – mind, body and spirit? I would have sung Hallelujah! I believe homeopathy is an ideal match for dance.
Having trained and performed in jazz and contemporary dance, in 1990 Jeanefer Jean-Charles and I founded and jointly directed Bullies Ballerinas Jazz Productions until 2000. The company’s ethos was to have fun and to make dance accessible to all. The emphasis was on making a difference to the individual no matter how subtle: to create an environment that allowed for a sense of self and empowerment through dance.
While juggling two young children with running a dance company, my eldest was diagnosed asthmatic and I came across homeopathy and gave it a go. Results weren’t immediate but it was clear that my son’s healing was moving in the right direction. I became very impressed with the homeopathic treatment of my children. After years of being in the performance arts I needed change, and in 2006, with much appreciated financial assistance from Dancers’ Career Development, I graduated from the College of Practical Homeopathy, London.
The principles of homeopathy go hand in hand with my artistic beliefs. Both disciplines embrace creativity and body awareness; are concerned with the individual; are nurturing.
- What is homeopathy?
Homeopathy is over two hundred years old. It’s not a new fad. It is a natural system of medicine and holistic therapy developed by German doctor and scientist Samuel Hahnemann. It treats the person as a whole taking into consideration their physical, mental and emotional health. The homeopath treats the individual rather than the illness, as each of us have differing reactions to disease. Homeopathic remedies are safe, gentle, non-toxic, non addictive and are extracted from plants, trees and minerals. As a therapy it can be used alongside conventional medicine.
On a visit to a homeopath one can expect lots of YOU time. Homeopaths understand that the body and mind work together and their job is to find out what’s going on with you, what’s unique about your condition and which remedy most suits your entire state. A homeopath does not diagnose, they consider the presented symptoms in order to provide appropriate treatment. A client would be referred where necessary to a doctor or relevant specialist for conventional treatment.
The homeopathic remedy starts off with a physical substance (plant for example) with healing powers, which are increased each time it is dissolved. The more it’s dissolved the less physical substance remains but the deeper acting the remedy. And here lies the contention. Scientifically when measured, there is no physical substance remaining. Homeopathy must therefore, depend purely on the placebo effect. Homeopaths believe that left in the water is the energy and healing properties of the dissolved substance, and it is this liquid that is used to make the remedy. Individuals are given a remedy that is most similar to their symptoms. The remedy then stimulates the body into healing; it is not a miracle cure but is thought to create a catalytic affect.
- Why homeopathy for the dancer?
I treat people from all walks of life with varying degrees of illness – colds, coughs, depression, insomnia, migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, premenstrual tension, allergies, eczema, sore throats, pre/post operative concerns, high blood pressure, high cholesterol. Homeopathy is available to anyone, but can be particularly useful for the dancer.
It teaches you to listen to your body.
The homeopath is always looking for connections, reasons for the imbalances and considers emotional state alongside physical strain. In turn, you too become more in touch with your body and start recognising its messages.
The more I berated myself as a dancer, the weaker I made myself physically and mentally. Through homeopathy I now understand that all my struggling thoughts would have had a negative impact my body. Clinical experience has taught me that a large number of illnesses are exacerbated by what’s going on in the mind.
Quick fix to homeopathy – There is a quick fix, self-prescriptive aspect to homeopathy. If you sprain your ankle dancing, you apply ice and get first aid. To reduce inflammation, shock and bruising, grab the Arnica. My top three are Arnica, Ruta and Rhus Tox which treats ligament / tendon damage. Early application can even stop you needing painkillers. But it’s at the ‘what next?’ stage that the homeopath is so necessary. The homeopath will observe the individual’s reaction to injury: are they depressed? feeling guilty? in victim mode? The homeopath selects treatment specific and effective to the case. Herein lies the individualisation of homeopathy. No two people will receive identical remedies, even though they both have a sprained ankle. Prescription is unique to the person’s circumstances.
First aid remedies are available to the dancer over the counter. But it is essential to recognise how the expertise of the qualified homeopath leads to deeper, long term healing.
When dancers come to me, a lot is left unsaid. Despondency, terror of auditions, rejection, intensity of training, chronic aches and pains – we have a mutual understanding of the pitfalls. I identify with dancers who feel guilty for having incurred an injury, or feel lethargic because the adrenalin rush from constantly moving is no longer there. Negatives rise to the surface. A good homeopath will bring this out with questioning. My role as a homeopath is to read the situation: my dance experience enables me to do that with greater insight.
Originally published in Dance UK magazine, Issue 67 – Winter 2008