"The Homoeopathic Physician's Guide to Lactation"
Patricia Hatherly's work The Homoeopathic Physician's Guide to Lactation (Luminoz Pty Ltd 2004) deserves a place on the desktop of every homoeopath active in assisting women and babies at all stages of lactation. Not merely a guide, her work is a handbook covering diverse subjects such as the anatomy and physiology of lactation, biochemical and immunological aspects of human milk and a huge range of clinical problems associated with breast feeding.
Hatherly's 278 page work is rich in lactation facts as well as intricate clinical details. She has managed to encompass important topics such as the modern socio-political environment which affects women's attitudes to breastfeeding, without assuming the reader's position. Clearly, given her decades of work as a lactation consultant and homoeopath she is passionate about the importance of breastfeeding, yet her work is not prescriptive and herarguments are substantiated with a wealth of evidence from respected literature.
In addition to the evidence for breastfeeding and its role in the healthy development of both women and children, Hatherly's work incorporates exquisite insights to both homoeopathic repertory and materia medicae from the classical and modern periods. She gives the reader pragmatic insights into specific remedies, aiding the reader in his/her understanding of smaller remedies such as Asafoetida and Onosmodium in the treatment of underdeveloped breasts. These insights are absolute gems for the homoeopathic practitioner as they intimately convey meanings of symptoms otherwise lost due to lack of explanation within the existing homoeopathic literature.
Whilst reviewing Hatherly's work a woman came to see me with the most severely cracked nipples I had ever seen. Sepia was not indicated and Phytolacca was not characteristic so I gave the woman Castor Equi on Hatherly's advice (p 134) watching to be certain the woman did not develop a breast abscess. The woman's nipples cleared up completely within 3 or 4 days and no abscess developed. Such clear direction is evident from beginning to end, a reassuring aspect of Hatherly's Guide. A subsequent case of chronic mastitis responded favourably when Lac Humanum 200 was alternated with Phytolacca 30 after other well selected remedies had only brought partial improvement.
The subject of potency selection is carefully examined in a number of clinical presentations. Hatherly's scrupulous experience suggests that Phytolacca works best in the 200th in acute complaints but is better in LM potencies for maintenance or in more chronic breast complaints, a fact I had not observed or read in any other homoeopathic work. This accurate advice comes from decades of careful clinical application. There are many other similar examples, each providing sensible and pragmatic guidance for the homoeopath.
Hatherly's work is thoroughly and carefully referenced throughout. Each chapter ends with a complete bibliography of the citations within that specific chapter. She has consulted both classic and modern sources and small rubrics have been closely dissected to enable the reader greater insight. These are accompanied with clinical tips, clues and ample reference to current journal articles. The "Lac" remedies themselves have of course been strategically incorporated, these being well supported with short clinical cases.
A few small things which distracted the reviewer were the inclusion of some rather ordinary black and white photos, the use of an awkward "space invaders" like font for chapter and sub-headings and the use of subscript rather than the conventional superscript when placing footnote numbers. These aside, the work is exceptionally well organized, easy to read and filled with a wealth of knowledge and solid experience.
I recommend Patricia Hatherly's work to the serious student and the busy practitioner alike. This work has already been immensely valuable in my own practice and has found its place on my desktop. Along with other fine work being written and published by Australian homoeopaths, this book is a goldmine of clinical knowledge and exceptional research.
David Levy MHSc(Ed)(USyd) DHom. ND
Similia Vol 17 No 2 December 2005