New England School of Homeopathy

Homeopathy and Autism – Review

Report on a presentation by Paul Herscu, ND, DHANP
NCH Annual Conference, April 2001 – Boston, MA
by Spero Latchis

The renowned homeopath Dr. Paul Herscu addressed a full lecture hall on the subject of “Homeopathy and Autism.” He began by stating that he intended to address not only the professional homeopaths in the room, but also the family members of autistic children. Dr. Herscu acknowledged that homeopathy has not had great success in treating autism. How do you choose an individualized homeopathic remedy for a child who doesn’t speak to you and appears to live in his own inner world? Dr. Herscu impressed upon the group that only through the pressure of having to cope with many such difficult cases has he developed a strategy that could lead to success.

Dr. Herscu is now firmly convinced that all autistic patients should be treated with homeopathy. He gave three main reasons. First, the conventional treatment of psychiatric drugs is meant to calm the patient down, not to cure. Second, autism is really a spectrum. It ranges from mild to severe and, in Dr. Herscu’s opinion, is caused by a variety of diseases, some neurological, some biochemical, etc. With accurate homeopathic treatment, all cases will move in the right direction. It is only a matter of how far. However, he was quite clear in stating that the degree of autism did not seem to correspond to the degree of the cure. In other words, mild cases may receive only partial benefit, whereas some severe cases have been greatly affected by homeopathic treatment. The third reason for choosing homeopathy is that many of the other therapies, such as diet and nutrition, seem to work much better after homeopathic treatment. In particular, the benefits of sensory integration therapy are increased by the action of a good homeopathic remedy.

Dr. Herscu then explained in basic terms the stimulus/reaction model of symptoms and its significance to the homeopath. As the child is stressed, they respond with a reaction. This reaction becomes a symptom/sign of characteristic importance. The homeopath must accurately observe these outward symptoms. The real challenge is to understand what the patient is saying both verbally and, in the case of autism, nonverbally.

With verbal patients, the homeopath may rely heavily on spoken reports of feelings and sensations. With autistic patients, however, pure observation becomes the main tool for case taking. Dr. Herscu strongly stressed the need to perceive as fully as possible what is taking place in the interview. Following the action/reaction model, the homeopath is the stress and the patient’s responses are the reactions or symptoms/signs. Some observations may be quite obvious. Is the patient striking out? Are they verbal? Are they frightened or not? However, it is also important to observe and understand the subtleties of any behavior you might observe. For example if the child is screaming, why are they screaming? Perhaps they are confused by the newness of the office. The important symptom is then “confusion” rather than “screaming.”

The importance of paying attention to your own reactions to the patient becomes even more important when the patient is primarily nonverbal. Do they make you feel curious, sympathetic, or perhaps even fearful? Dr. Herscu is acutely aware of his personal impressions and believes it is important to take note of them.

An informed, intelligent review of all medical records is essential in understanding the patient. Often homeopaths are not familiar with the language of occupational therapists, teachers, and others who may be supporting the patient. In Dr. Herscu’s experience, these professionals have documented valuable information which may provide essential clues in case analysis.

Other sources of information include the reactions to various stressful events in the patient’s life, such as accidents, vaccinations, shocks, frights, illnesses. These events are not the cause of autism but may inform the remedy choice.

The parents, of course, are a main source of valuable information. How do they feel about their child? Is the parent resentful, sympathetic, or perhaps simply baffled by their child? What is the parent’s chief complaint? Are the parents concerned with vociferous behavior, or are they more concerned with the child’s apparent aloofness?

In Dr. Herscu’s estimation, unless you find this main complaint, there is no way to find the remedy. Simply stated, the Herscu approach is to find this main problem as it is expressed in multiple repeating expressions and symptoms. If a particular theme is indeed central to a case, it should be seen in multiple examples. To illustrate, if restlessness is considered central to a case, one would like to see at least 30 or 40 examples of restlessness, manifesting in different situations and environments.

Modalities must also be considered. Again, these modalities should show a pattern. If the child is restless from music, lights, and in Chinese restaurants, there is a pattern of restlessness from sensory stimulation. This then becomes significant.

Dr. Herscu warned us to beware of placing too much emphasis on small, individual repertory rubrics taken out of context. For example, a rubric like “Violence from running water” may simply not list the remedy that best represents the totality of symptoms.

Totality for Dr. Herscu is defined by repeating patterns and cycles. Stresses which repeatedly cause the child to react in a consistent manner are the key to understanding this totality. By fully perceiving the patient, one may learn to understand that individual’s cycle of stress and response. You may not choose the right homeopathic remedy the first time, but this understanding will eventually lead you to the correct choice.

For anyone looking for a magic bullet, Dr. Herscu’s presentation may have disappointed. However for the practitioner who takes on autistic cases, the message was clearly optimistic. These cases can be helped. By deeply understanding your patient, and with hard work, the rewards can be great.

Thank you to the National Center of Homeopathy for their permission for us to re-print this article from their November 2001 issue of Homeopathy Today. For more information about membership to the NCH or subscribing to their publication, you can contact them at:

National Center for Homeopathy
801 North Fairfax Street, Suite 306
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 548-7790

This live presentation by Paul Herscu, ND, “The Homeopathic Treatment of Autism”, is available for purchase on video.