By Alan V. Schmukler
AS: Can you tell us something about your background and how you got involved with homeopathy? GT: I was born June 12th, 1957 in Java, Indonesia and subsequently moved to the Netherlands. I am presently working in California. My interest in homeopathy blossomed when my mother became very sick with rheumatoid arthritis, which she’s had for about 20 yrs. I watched allopathic MD?s giving her toxic drugs year after year, with no results. Her immune system was being destroyed from all these drugs. Not only were they not helping, it was causing crippling adverse effects. She lost so much weight and fell to just 80 pounds. My family moved from the Netherlands to California, thinking the weather would benefit my mother’s health. The severe freezing cold in Holland is not welcome when you have Arthritis. I was already extremely interested in herbalism but had just used it on myself. I made a giant move to try and help my mother overcome this disease with (the use of my obstinate personality and) the study of plant medicine. I started by trying to convince her to change her eating and drinking habits, stopping foods that were toxic to her and things she was drinking that were working against her journey towards health. In the case of Arthritis, foods such as the nightshade family must be avoided. Many methods of alternative meds were introduced into my mother’s life from then on. Starting with Ayurveda and all its treatments of massage – Panchakarma – …
AS: Can you tell us something about your background and how you got involved with homeopathy?
GT: I was born June 12th, 1957 in Java, Indonesia and subsequently moved to the Netherlands. I am presently working in California. My interest in homeopathy blossomed when my mother became very sick with rheumatoid arthritis, which she’s had for about 20 yrs.
I watched allopathic MD?s giving her toxic drugs year after year, with no results. Her immune system was being destroyed from all these drugs. Not only were they not helping, it was causing crippling adverse effects. She lost so much weight and fell to just 80 pounds.
My family moved from the Netherlands to California, thinking the weather would benefit my mother’s health. The severe freezing cold in Holland is not welcome when you have Arthritis. I was already extremely interested in herbalism but had just used it on myself. I made a giant move to try and help my mother overcome this disease with (the use of my obstinate personality and) the study of plant medicine. I started by trying to convince her to change her eating and drinking habits, stopping foods that were toxic to her and things she was drinking that were working against her journey towards health. In the case of Arthritis, foods such as the nightshade family must be avoided.
Many methods of alternative meds were introduced into my mother’s life from then on. Starting with Ayurveda and all its treatments of massage – Panchakarma – using plant oils of various kinds. Each day she had to drink a detoxing liquid called Ghee and used a special breathing technique called Pranayama.
All of this helped a lot, but I wanted more for her. I started my journey to Homeopathy by going to the alternative healing bookstores and spending hours sitting on the floor reading about Homeopathy. I found a few books to take home and began to study. The book that stood out the most was Miasmatic Diagnosis, written by Dr. Subrata Banerjea. After reading this I wanted more and looked up this author, finding out that he taught homeopathy in Calcutta, India. The journey has not stopped from that point on.
I flew to India and took the clinical course. To my amazement I was not prepared enough. I should have taken more of the basic lessons in homeopathy before I engulfed myself in the intensive hands-on clinic in Calcutta.
I came back to California and more years of study followed. I was also making use of all Reflexology, Herbs, Aromatheraphy and Kinesiology.
Today as I write, the update on my mother is amazing. She is healthy, strong and energetic. She is the proper weight for her size and travels with me to all corners of this planet.
She is the only one out of all her friends age 65-75+ that doesn’t have scores of prescription drugs in her medicine cabinet. In fact, she only uses homeopathy and a few herbs!
AS: How did you first get involved in volunteer work?
GT: My introduction to volunteer work as a homeopath came from my clinical homeopathic work in Calcutta India under the guidance of Dr. S.K. Banerjea. He runs many slum clinics for the poor and also a mobile homeopathic bus that makes stops in extremely poor areas of Calcutta.
I was in Calcutta with Banerjea for about a month. We went to all the slum clinics in the homeopathic pharmacy bus. It was loaded with homeopaths and remedies. The door would swing open in the back and patients would line up for hours in the heat. For each patient a case taking was done, remedies dispensed and a cup of milk was given. At the end of the day I?d be dizzy with overload from all the patients, the dirt, the hunger. I felt exhausted but happy. We also saw patients in the main teaching clinic “Bengal Allen Medical Institute”.
AS: How did you get involved in relief for Tsunami victims?
GT: In 2004 the Tsunami on the Indonesian Island of Sumatra (Indonesia has 13,000 islands) killed 300,000 people. I am half Indonesian (born on Java) and the second I heard about this horrific event I had to do something to help. I thought my homeopathic knowledge would come in handy
Donating money was not an option as I fully understood the corruption of politicians hording the funds for themselves. Hands on volunteer work seemed to make the most sense.
My first attempt to round up aid for the Indonesian trip was to contact all the homeopaths I knew, then the on line forums, schools, homeopathy organizations etc. I needed funds, homeopathic books and remedies I sent proposals by email for months. This was the basic plan:
a) Help in remote health clinics-work hands on as a homeopathic volunteer
b) Teach homeopathy for acutes-101 of basic homeopathy, so the work could continue after I left.
c) Bring donated homeopathic remedies to Indonesia
d) Open up doors of communication for future homeopaths who might go there to help.
After nine months of frustrating rejections there was no help, no funds and no volunteers to join me. (Two homeopaths offered to send homeopathic emergency kits and a few books.) In the end one homeopath (Genevieve) agreed to meet me in Indonesia. She was a lively 24 yr old from Toronto, who had recently graduated in homeopathy. I must say that the major organizations largely ignored my pleas. I received some homeopathic books and remedies from Hpathy team member Dr. Leela. A packet of remedies from Dr. Mass in Pakistan came later while I was already in Bali.
AS: What were some of the difficulties you faced?
GT: I finally entered Indonesia Sept of 2005 and found a few health clinics in Bali, which were willing to take me in and let me do volunteer work as a homeopath.
Getting remedies into Indonesia was a challenge. I had to hand carry them in my luggage. Homeopathy is not illegal in Indonesia, but is simply not known here. If I was searched and they found all the pills, which look like drug contraband, I would be thrown in jail before any explanation was allowed. The punishment for contraband is the death penalty. Another option was to send remedies by post, but customs agents often request bribes (which can be expensive) and even that doesn’t guarantee supplies will get through. I tried both methods but was not happy with either. In the end, I managed to bring in with my luggage my own remedies , cell salts, vitamins, bach flower remedies and homeopathic literature on acutes.
I made a number of trips to Indonesia. Subsequently a homeolab in Spain “Iberhome labs” donated thousands of vials of remedies . A homeopath in Spain named Andres sent the remedies and paid for the shipping costs. I was in heaven! Finally a break. These remedies will last forever I thought. They could be provided to several clinics in the area and be sent to Sumatra where the tsunami hit so hard in 2004. I had plenty to work with.
Another problem was translating different languages, understanding local customs and traditions. The word homeopathy does not exist in their dictionary (Kamus).
There was no homeopathic literature, no books like MM, repertory etc. in the Native Bahasa tongue. I had to write down information about homeopathy and then explain it verbally, using multiple translators.
AS: Who did you teach in Indonesia and how were you received?
GT: I taught homeopathy to Allopathic MD’s, Midwives, other health care workers, social workers and teachers. They were extremely receptive and open minded and the language problem was the only obstacle. People would gravitate toward me and ask about why I was on that island, what was I doing, what is homeopathy……a million questions. They were extremely curious and receptive , no rhetoric about “Oh that does not work”, and “Homeopathy is only placebo”, I didn’t hear that once. In fact it was a relief compared to working in the USA where your defence for homeopathy becomes a daily ritual as the population has been rather brainwashed by the media and drug TV commercials.
The method of teaching was only at the acute level of prescribing. There wasn?t time for anything beyond that. I printed out the basic principles, dispensing methods, acute symptomatology and some keynotes of materia medica. I would take three translators with me. I wish there were homeopathic books written in Bahasa Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesian is the common language spoken in all of Indonesia), but each of the 13,000 Indonesian islands have several of their own native dialects that vary extremely. Maybe if B. JAIN publisher is reading this they can translate some of their massive database into Bahasa Indonesian.
The Balinese people are the poorest of poor, the best salary paying around a dollar a day for a twelve hour day. Many don’t have a job. They sleep in huts made from grass and bamboo, on a dirt floor-(sometimes cement). When it comes to medicine, they mostly live off the land with medicinal plants they have used for thousands of years called “Jamu”.
They are very open to the idea of energy healing. Hands on Reiki type work, medicine men chanting, spiritual healing, healing energy from plants, it’s all part of their culture in Bali ( pre-Hindu-anamism). If you told a patient ?please drink this water it has magic healing properties” they would. It’s easily accepted that there are other forms of healing /medicine besides allopathics.
The Balinese Islanders are extremely kind, giving and truly interested in what you are up too. I have never met an entire culture that acts this way, which is another reason I am happy to serve.
AS: Along with homeopathy, what other healing methods did you work with?
GT: I used reflexology sometimes to access meridian points that were out of balance, like in a patient with severe fear and kidney imbalance (the two are related in Chinese medicine). By accupressure via refexology you can find the imbalance quickly with no need for language.
Bach flower essences like Rescue Remedy came in very handy for shock, trauma and anxiety. Charcoal pills made from coconut burnt wood, were useful for food poisoning and loose bowels. I also used essential oils. There were traditional Indonesian mixtures. They included Tree oil, Lavender and Eucalyptus. Tree tree for fungal infections, to rid infestation of tics and bugs. Lavender was good for calming and great for sunburns.
JAMU, traditional Indonesian medicinal plants were used often. My favorite was Kumis kucing (orthosiphon stamineus). I have used this plant since I was a toddler for urinary/kidney imbalances. Some others were Bertowal, to cleanse the blood, very bitter! Sambiloto also to cleanse the blood. Ginger had a place for stomach upsets. Papaya was helpful for digestion. We used Tumeric for its antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-hemorrhagic properties. Aloe Vera came in handy for burns. It works instantly and the plant grows everywhere.
Each villiage also had a Holyman who did spiritual healing.
There’s an excellent book called “OBAT ASLI”, the healing herbs of bali by Ibu Robin Lim, owner of the Bumi Sehat clinic in Ubud Bali. For more on these traditional medicines: http://www.bumisehatbali.org
http://www.balicrisiscare.org (crisis care)
AS: Could you describe a typical day in a clinic?
GT: There was a very remote clinic used only by the local people of this village. The director was a dedicated woman from Australia who moved to Bali 10yrs ago, opened a clinic for the poor and never left. They call her Mama Gloria.
Oct 10- 2005 : Kept a journal, Did very little formal case taking as communication was lacking/ impossible. Acute key symptoms had to jump at me. I could not spend hours on each case, only minutes.
A typical day included a pregnant woman in for check up. I gave vitamins and cell salts as an overall tonic since most expectant mothers are very weak and are lacking nutrients. Various injuries which received Arnica. A teenage girl, highly emotional with a runny nose cold green discharge got Puls. A woman traumatized by domestic problems gets Ignatia. Bach flower rescue remedy goes to a woman with stress insomnia. A 3rd degree burn on a little boy requires cantharis, urtica. Patient with loose rattling cough gets Ant-t. A severe eye injury receives Euphrasia.
Late in the evening sometimes midnight to 2 am patients would come to the main house asking for help with illnesses injuries. At the end of the day I would make the one hour walk through a dirt path in the jungle.back to a guesthouse. On the way I met the local rice farmers (no tourists come here so I always caused heads to turn). They would ask in broken English “What are you doing here?” “Where are you staying?” I’d say I was staying with Mama Gloria and volunteering in the clinic (in my broken bahasa Indonesian). There would be an immediate acceptance, big smile like you have known them forever. These beautifull people have nothing material yet have the most plentiful hearts.
AS: Did your work in Bali have any lasting effect?
GT: Yes I truly believe my visits had a lasting effect. Some of the clinics have continued to use homeopathics. I get email from several clinic directors, sometimes they ask me to send more remedies:
We think of you every day at Bumi Sehat, as we use the homeopathic remedies dozens of times every single day to treat patients. The remedy I am nearly out of, and is so useful to us, due to the fact we have so many children here… Is Belladonna. There has been an epidemic of dengue fever, so the Belladonna 200 has been needed. If you know anyone who is coming to Bali anytime, please see if we can get some Belladonna.
There have been so many births that we had to add a room to the Bumi Clinic. Much love
Peace, Ibu Robin (Bumi Sehat Bali)
Doctor Gina ,
You are our Angel… We are using your remedies everyday. I am about to buy a bog ‘Drybox’ like a refrigerator that keeps the homeopathics dry so that they will last forever. We just had a difficult birth last night… Last birth of 8 in a row… Malpresented baby… Asynclitic and obliqe… Would have been a cesarean… But for Pulsatilla 200.
We then gave her Caullophylum to strengthen the contractions and she delivered a huge baby boy… So alert and wonderful. We also had a preemie. Wet lungs and chest retractions… Gave Ant. Tart and they dried right up.
So you see how everyday you help the people of your country.
love Ibu robin Thank you (Bumi Sehat Bali)
I was invited back to teach the allopathic staff in Government Hospitals next time I return. Other homeopaths have come after me, following in my footsteps to volunteer in these clinics. I opened the door.
AS: How do you relax when you?re not practicing homeopathy?
GT: In addition to practicing homeopathy, I am a professional artist. I also make costumes……