What about coffee?
I’m the queen of giving things up. My husband says I’m addicted to giving things up and has challenged me to give up giving things up. Well, I’m running out of things to give up, so, someday soon perhaps I’ll think about it!
My latest giving up thing has without a doubt been the hardest one I have tackled to date. Over the years, I have successfully kicked: alcohol, caffeine, grains, legumes, nightshades, sugar, dairy and even chocolate. There are more, but I won’t bore you with the list. Some of them were for short periods of time just to see how it affected me, but most have become incorporated into my way of life after discovering I felt better without them. This article is in no way suggesting that anybody give up anything in particular. I’m a firm believer in the importance of people doing what is right for themselves. You do you.
Back to this latest one that is so hard. ** Drumroll ** Crossing my legs while sitting.
Oooh! It’s killing me! Well, it’s a little easier today after a Rolfing session yesterday. She helped move my sacrum into its new home after being twisted up for many decades and it is now much easier to sit without desperately wanting to cross my legs. Argh. Yet, I know from experience, this, too, shall pass.
What’s the secret to successfully giving things up?
Putting things in. Don’t punish yourself when you give something up — swap it. Maybe that’s why the not crossing my legs is so hard — there is nothing I can put in to substitute for this habit. The other big obstacle is situational. These habits are engrained throughout your whole being. Hanging out with the old friend with whom you used to enjoy ice cream sundaes can set those cravings in motion. Passing the cafe where you used to enjoy a regular coffee and a cookie can likewise stir things up. Create new neural pathways and life gets much easier.
Why am I telling you this? Because I want to tell you my thoughts on coffee. I gave up coffee prior to finding homeopathy, so I never thought about it much from the alleged homeopathic interference standpoint for myself. Again, I am not suggesting you give up coffee.
What does coffee have to do with homeopathy?
Some homeopaths instruct their clients to not drink coffee while working with them (and, even coffee flavored things, too). Others expand the “do not use while taking homeopathic remedies” list to include: mint, (including toothpaste), mouthwash, onions, garlic, ginger, chocolate, tobacco, alcohol, and more…. (Here’s a link to a nice article on mint from the American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists (Watkins and Foxman 2014) which dispels the mint myth.)
“What!?!?” I hear you saying. “You want me to forego my morning coffee in order to use homeopathy? No way is that happening!”
Not I, but, yup, some homeopaths even go so far as to say they won’t work with a client if they don’t agree to some pretty stringent rules. In case it isn’t clear, I’m not one of those homeopaths.
For the record, I am not suggesting that you should go against your homeopath's guidance. Perhaps you could start a conversation with them to understand their thinking. What I am sharing here are my thoughts on homeopathy and what I have found works with my clients.
Why is this coffee thing even a thing?
“Effect of coffee on Homeopathic medicine” does a good job of explaining one theory on where this idea originated (Varghese 2019).
It is true that some things can indeed cancel out your homeopathic remedies: both cancelling the effects of a remedy on the person as well as making the remedies themselves in their tubes inert (*see below).
In true homeopathic form — these things are highly individualistic. Some people are much more sensitive than others. However, in my experience, coffee and mint are not a problem for most people.
I’m not going to make a blanket statement that if you have your remedy and then drink a cup of coffee that it’s not going to counter-act said remedy. If you are a regular coffee drinker, coffee is most likely not going to affect you and your homeopathic remedy. Coffee is a part of who you are. If you don’t drink coffee regularly and you find yourself on a lovely vacation in Venice, Italy and you just can’t resist that special after dinner espresso — it may have an effect on the effectiveness of your remedy. Is this a problem? In a word? No. Just repeat the remedy.
So, what’s the big deal, then?
In a classical homeopathic situation, it is common that the client would be given one single dose of a remedy and then wait a number of weeks and see what happens. In these circumstances, I can see how a homeopath would want to limit any possible interference with said remedy. When homeopathic remedies are repeated at regular intervals, whether that be twice daily, once weekly or something else, possible interference is less of a concern.
So, are there other substances that actually might interfere with the effect of homeopathic remedies?
Yes. But, there’s a big caveat here. Again, like homeopathic remedies, it’s highly individual. Some common culprits are:
Other possible antidotes that I have heard about but have not seen to be a problem include:
If you are noticing your remedies not working as well as they used to work, you may be a sensitive soul and you may want to time your remedies differently if you partake in any of the above possibilities. (A word on sensitive souls — we definitely exist and just because you have been sensitive to remedies in the past does not mean homeopathic remedies are not right for you. Work with a professional homeopath who can help guide you through this process.)
* How can you make a whole tube of remedies go inert?
Storing remedies next to strong smelling substances like cleaning products or strong essential oils has been known to “kill” the remedies themselves. If you find that tube of Arnica which has always worked in the past for you is no longer having that same beneficial effect, that tube should probably be discarded and a new one should take its place.
Some people say that putting remedies through the X-ray machine at the airport can have a negative effect on the remedies themselves. I never travel without my remedies and I have never had a problem after they have been through the X-ray machine. If you are worried about it, though, the few times I have asked the TSA agents to do a hand inspection, they have happily obliged.
What about keeping the remedies next to cell phones or computers?
I haven’t found this to be a problem.
Some people say magnets can have a negative effect on remedies — I have no experience with this and cannot comment.
Heat and sunlight has not been a problem for my remedies, either. I keep a small kit in the center console of my car and each remedy I have used has worked every time.
Tell me more about Camphor.
** Camphor as a homeopathic remedy is commonly used to stop further action of another homeopathic remedy. If an ill-advised remedy has been used and is causing unwanted effects, a dose of homeopathic Camphor can often bring that to a halt.
Likewise, some deep inhales of camphor itself or eucalyptus or menthol or tea tree oil can have the same halting effect.
“OK, we now know that coffee and mint and some other niceties of life are not (necessarily) going to interfere with the remedies. Anything else to take into consideration?”
There are a few general guidelines which may be beneficial.
In an ideal world, homeopathic remedies would be taken in a clean mouth, waiting 10-15 minutes after eating, drinking (except water) or brushing your teeth. Additionally, take the remedies away from allopathic medicines and herbs and supplements and other homeopathic remedies. In other words, give these delicate but powerful homeopathic remedies some time and space to do what they do.
Are these conditions absolutely necessary?
Not in my experience. But, if you have the time and the capacity to administer the remedies in this way, it certainly can’t be faulted.
What about touching the pellets themselves?
This could be a problem because the homeopathic medicine is just a thin coating on the pellet and any moisture on your fingers or hands may release the remedy at the point of contact, rather than utilizing that delightful and quick-acting sublingual absorption. (Having said this, the remedy can still be effective through the skin, but not as quick and sure.) Any creams or soaps on the skin may stop the remedy from entering your system. The best way to get the pellets into your mouth is to pour the desired amount of pellets into the cap and toss them into your mouth directly from the cap.
Under the tongue is best, but it’s perfectly fine to place the pellets between gum and lip — this is especially useful with babies and animals.
If you spill the pellets, it’s best to throw them out. Definitely don’t try to put them back in the tube if they have spilled.
As I mentioned above, I kicked the coffee habit prior to my knowledge of homeopathy. (I actually did it on vacation, when I was down for the count sick and I couldn’t taste it anyway, so I decided to stop cold turkey. I drank a lot of coffee all day every day and I was missing it both physically and mentally. I switched to fully caffeinated tea for a while and weaned myself from there.)
If you are looking to stop your coffee habit, remember homeopathic Chamomilla to help with those horrible caffeine withdrawal headaches. Other remedies which may help you through those tough days: Nux vomica, Ignatia and possibly Coffea cruda itself (but this is more akin to same cures same and most likely not as effective as the other choices.)
In terms of focusing on putting something in instead of suffering through taking something out, I found a Dandelion instant coffee*** to be a pretty good substitute. A word of caution: At the time of quitting coffee, I didn’t care about what ingredients I put into my system. When I gave up gluten, this coffee substitute had to go, too, because it is made from roasted barley.
For me, as a homeopath, the long and the short of taking homeopathic remedies comes down to this: don’t overthink it and don't stress about it. If you take a remedy and it’s not helping, it could be that it’s not the right remedy for your current situation or it could be that your remedy tube has been exposed to one of the above possibilities and has become ineffective. If you’re sure of the remedy choice, perhaps a new tube will set you straight.
If you have successfully been taking a remedy and it seems to no longer be effective (and you're sure storage issues are not a thing), it could be that remedy has run its course for you or, it could be a different potency is now needed or, it could be that you have been inadvertently antidoting the remedy. If you suspect the latter, take a look at when you are taking the remedy in comparison to when you are doing one of the above possible antidotes — especially if you are a sensitive soul.
If you need any help with any of this, book a focused appointment and we’ll see what we can do to get you on your way.
Julia Coyte, CHom
Classically Practical homeopath
*** I have no affiliation with this company.
American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists, n.d. FAQs [online]. The American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists.
Boiron, n.d. Frequently Asked Questions | Boiron USA [online]. boironusa.com.
Varghese, Dr. S., 2019. Effect of coffee on Homeopathic medicine [online]. Homeopathy Resource by Homeobook.com.
Watkins, M. B. and Foxman, E. L., 2014. Don’t Skip the Mint [online]. The American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists.
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Julia Coyte, CHom
I am passionate about homeopathy and I love sharing this passion. Having a working knowledge of homeopathy shouldn't be kept a secret. If people have the ability to help themselves, their children and their friends when they have minor ailments, life just gets better for everyone. That is the purpose behind Ruminating on Remedies.