In June of 2013, Dr Suriyakhatun Osman travelled from Malaysia to Ubud to attend The Bali Project. There, she shared some of her cases on the rabies miasm in the ‘Show and Tell’ session. Now, she has agreed to present at the 2015 Bali Project. In March 2014, AHA members and Bali Project organisers Nyema Hermiston (NH) and Linlee Jordan (LJ) interviewed her about her homeopathic life and work.
NH: As a medical doctor, how did you come to homeopathy?
I was a medical student in Alexandria, Egypt. I was on study leave for my final exams and I had this very severe rhinitis. I was sneezing all the time, my nose and eyes were all red – it was also an allergic conjunctivitis. Being in Egypt, there was a lot of sand in the air. I came to the point where I couldn’t stand it anymore, because my eyes were so swollen that the words were looking blurry. In those days, antihistamines were sedating, so if I took one I would fall asleep. It wasn’t working out for me, because if I took an antihistamine I couldn’t study and if I didn’t take an antihistamine I couldn’t study, and that’s about the only thing that you could treat rhinitis with.
A student friend of mine had studied not much, but had done some Homeopathy Courses, in Malaysia. He took my case and gave me a remedy. Even though he was not so experienced, it worked for me. Within a few days my eyes were much better and I wasn’t sneezing anymore. I could get on with my studies without taking any more antihistamines and it was just great. That was my first experience using the remedies.
Then I graduated and came back to Malaysia to start my housemanship. When I finished my housemanship I was sent to the outpatients department at Hospital Kuala Lumpur and I began to see that I wasn’t doing much healing. That made me remember the homeopathy, so I went to search for a homeopath in Malaysia. I found a clinic and registered as a patient, where I also discussed studying as a student. Mr Dali Muin was one of the pioneering homeopaths in Malaysia and my first teacher in homeopathy. That was how I got started.
I started treating patients with homeopathy in 1985. Actually I resigned from the government, because I found that if I stayed with the government I could not treat using homeopathy. I opened my own clinic – it wasn’t a totally homeopathic clinic, but I started treating a few cases with homeopathy if the patient wanted it. I had a few huge successes very early and more people got to know about it. There was a case of nephrotic syndrome in a seven year old child, who was not getting well in the hospital. They were giving him a lot of prednisolone and it wasn’t working. He miraculously recovered with a very simple remedy – I just gave Apis. He was very oedematous and after the Apis he just shrunk – he lost 15kgs of water. He weighed 25kgs when I saw him a week after the Apis, which is about the normal weight for a seven year old child. He’s still my patient – I just saw him. He’s working and has two lovely children. That’s how I would define homeopathy: It’s medicine and it works!
LJ: How many people in Malaysia have done the same thing as you have – going from studying medicine to studying homeopathy?
Doctor homeopaths are quite rare in Malaysia. There was one guy who came about it in a different way, because he was in the UK and found the Royal Homeopathic Hospital in London. He took the fast-track course and did the exam. He was working as a microbiology lecturer in a Malaysian university. Since he retired I heard he’d opened a homeopathy practice. I do not know much about that, but I am the only one with Member of the Faculty of Homeopathy (MFHom) who went into practice. There is another medical doctor who has a local qualification and is now a full homeopath. A few doctors do prescribe homeopathically, but they are not very high-profile. It’s not easy to become a medical doctor and then proclaim that you are also a homeopath. It was very difficult – society wasn’t ready for it.
NH: When did you study at the Faculty of Homeopathy in London?
In 2010, I went to London to do the three-month Faculty of Homeopathy course. The only reason I went was to validate what I already knew. I had studied at the Malaysian Homeopathy Academy which is part of a homeopathy association, but that wasn’t recognised and there was no way of getting recognition for my qualification. The university called me and asked me to teach homeopathy there. The government had only just allowed traditional and complementary medicine, which included homeopathy to be taught in the university, so the situation was puzzling to the academics in the university since it was a first time for them and it got to a point where it became quite controversial. So I felt that I had to go and take the MFHom exam, simply to validate that I was qualified and I knew what I was talking about.
Another thing was going on. The homeopaths in Malaysia were accusing me of not being a true homeopath. They said that I was a medical doctor, so what did I know about remedies? They thought had a totally different mindset and said that I couldn’t possibly know about homeopathy. Between the people at the university who were absolutely ignorant about homeopathy and the homeopaths who were accusing me of not being a homeopath, I decided that I wanted to stop this once and for all. So I went to the UK to do the fast-track course for three months – and guess what? I was awarded a distinction. According to the Dean at that time, this was only the third distinction that had been awarded in ten years at the Faculty. It came as no surprise, because I had been practising it for well over twenty five years.
The lay homeopaths in the UK also think that medical homeopaths don’t know anything, but frankly speaking, after undergoing the fast-track course, I find that there are pretty good homeopaths in the National Health Service. The doctors at the Royal Homeopathic Hospital in London knew their work. That accusation is the same as the one they were throwing at me in Malaysia, saying: “You’re a doctor, how do you know about remedies?” This divide is obvious, but because I mix with professional homeopaths who are not doctors, I think that I have managed to dispel some of the mistrust. Luckily, I have in my pocket 25 years of homeopathy and I think that counts for something.
In the years of my practice in Malaysia, I treated a very wide range of cases. Anybody who came to me and wanted homeopathic treatment, I gave it to them. Along the way I treated a case of rheumatoid arthritis that had been there for 20 years. I managed to treat it to completion and she was completely cured after one year. Also there was a horrible case of lichen planus, where the patient was covered from top to toe with these purplish raised patches. After nine months of treatment, there were no more raised patches. Don’t ask me how I did it, because this was a very early case and I didn’t keep proper records at that time. I’ve had a lot of successes with asthma cases and allergic rhinitis. Also endometriosis and primary infertility. Quite a number of women who had been infertile got pregnant, and some had been infertile for up to eight years.
Lately, since I started my exclusively homeopathic practice in Kuala Lumpur, I have been treating a lot of eczema cases since October last year and some of them are much much better.
LJ: Do the lay-homeopaths struggle to find patients in Malaysia?
Some do very well but others do struggle and its not so much about skills, its more about marketing. As for me, those who come to me, come from somebody else’s recommendation. I always ask how people come to know about me? I work on the sixth floor of a building that has no front entrance, so unless people know about me, they would not find me.
A few months ago I was on the radio, and this one guy said that he came to me because he said: “I heard you on the radio and I know that you know your work – you know all this medical stuff. I have gone to homeopaths, but when I started to talk to them about my lab reports, they just didn’t understand what I was saying.” Frankly speaking, in Malaysia, many of the lay homeopaths are so poorly trained that they don’t know about medicine at all. It puts people off.
Actually this is not a problem with being a lay-homeopath or a medical homeopath. I think it is a problem with the training. You can be a lay-homeopath and undergo training in medical science and that’s what we’re doing at the university here. The homeopaths that we produce are bachelors in medical science and they know their work. They know about lab tests and everything. I think this is important, because I find that nowadays most of my patients are highly educated. The parents of the children that I see are usually the ones with a tertiary education. They do their homework and they are highly informed and know a lot about their condition. I’m not saying that you have to be a doctor to be a good homeopath, but you do have to know your medical stuff.
LJ: Sometimes as a lay homeopath, you think that you can’t teach doctors too much.
Oh no. Actually, doctors can come into homeopathy half blind, because their profession has taught them a completely different way of looking at things. In the beginning, I couldn’t merge the two together, so my brain was in two compartments. I saw things from a homeopathic way, or an allopathic way, but now, I have managed to merge them into a more holistic way. I don’t think there is any limitation in being a lay homeopath. The only thing, I think, is that you have to brush up on your medical knowledge.
NH: What’s happening in your clinical practice now?
I was full time in my own clinic from 1985 until 2009. I was seeing patients for homeopathy once a week there. Then the university called me and I had to find somebody to replace me in my clinic. My contract at the university finished at the end of 2012 and I didn’t renew it. I wasn’t ready to go back into full practice and was wondering what to do next. Then, while I was at the Bali Project seminar last year actually, I received a phone call and was asked to be the medical director of the Spectrum of Life Healthcare Centre at Jalan Pahang in Kuala Lumpur, which is a non-drug centre, so I agreed to work there and give it a try for three years. That’s where I practice now.
After treating eczema there successfully, patients spoke about me in a Facebook group. It’s a very big support group for eczema patients, who had already done steroids, didn’t want to take them anymore and were going through all kinds of difficult withdrawal symptoms. One of them came to see me with her daughter, who got so much better she spoke about it on the network. Then others started to come and see me and they also started to say good things about me and that’s how the word spread.
At first I was only seeing eczema cases, but then they asked me: “What kind of cases can you treat?” I replied: “I can treat anything – homeopathy treats everything.” (Laughs) They come to me with things that have mystified doctors. That’s how chronic disease goes.
I have been trained to look at things from a miasmatic point of view, so I kind of knew what to do and how to zero in on the remedies that would actually help – it just unfolds out. So since starting at the Spectrum of Life Centre, more and more my clinics are getting full. In Malaysia, people just like to walk in, but now they realise that they cannot just walk in because they might not be able to see me. We are training our patients how to make appointments! (Laughs)
NH: Do you have patients come for homeopathy who have psoriasis?
Oh yes, quite a number of cases. Some of them are so much better. As well as eczema, psoriasis seems to have exacerbations and remissions. It gets better and you think you’ve done it – you’ve cured them, then something happens and it comes back again. It’s as if it didn’t get better at all. But all it means for me, is that I re-look at the case to change the remedy and maybe go deeper, or look at another aspect. One of the things I have always stressed is that these are not skin problems, these are constitutional problems that affect every part of the body.
At the same time, you have to remove barriers to cure, so you look into what has happened. Actually I learned this at The Bali Project 2013. In babies, you have to look into their birth history and the mum’s pregnancy. You can be so amazed to find out that a lot of the answers will be there – foods that the mum ate and what illnesses that she had while she was pregnant. There was one case where a mother had taken a lot of antibiotics while she was pregnant. Another case was when a mother hadn’t taken care of herself while she was pregnant and had eaten a lot of junk food, so you bear that in mind and think of bowel nosodes like Gaertner or Silica, because the baby is under-nourished. The problem is eczema, but the reason for the eczema is different for each child, who may have, for example, a very strong family history of atopy. The mother has asthma, the grandmother has asthma – of course there will be a different approach altogether because of the causation. In my presentation at the Bali Project 2015 I’ll go into different causations – the things that lead to the eczema are not exactly the same. It’s very interesting.
It might just be the triggers you have to look out for. In some cases, there is a very ‘clean’ family history and yet the child has come out with eczema, so you look into other things like vaccination, caesarian births, antibiotics in the pregnancy – even something as simple as candidiasis in the mother before giving birth. Candidiasis is not so difficult to spot – look very hard at the anus area and you will find that it is red and that it has some red spots around it – that for sure is candidiasis. The eczema develops from the nappy area, whereas, in many eczema cases, the nappy area is completely clear.
NH: Using homeopathy, how do you treat candidiasis?
I’ve tried two things – I’d give them a course of nystatin, it’s a fungistatic, but it didn’t seem to work. Now I give homeopathic remedies such as candida nosode, with a prebiotic. I find that prebiotics work better than probiotics. I have discovered that gum-arabic is a very good prebiotic. If the baby is more than five months, I give the prebiotic directly, but if they are younger than five months, I give it to the mother. That, with the homeopathic medicine, seems to work quite well.
NH: So you treat individually, rather than simply matching a remedy from the whole materia medica to them?
(Laughs) Yes! I’ve got to the point where I see where the eczema is coming from. If it’s coming from the nappy area it’s definitely not just eczema, it’s also a candidiasis. The location is also important. If it’s on the scalp, believe it or not, it needs a different remedy from when it is on the face. What it means is that there is a different reason for the eczema, so it needs a different remedy. I look up the rubrics for eczema on the scalp, or neck etc.
I have found that looking at it like: “OK, here is an eczema case, let’s give Graphites, or let’s give Mezereum,” doesn’t really work that well, not that I see. There are some remedies that when repertorised, they do come up and they have traditionally been used for eczema and patients do well on them. Dulcamara for example, is a remedy to think of in childhood eczema with the matching modalities and the stool picture, or Arsenicum for eczema with severe anxiety. If a child has allergies to 101 things, Carcinosin works, but I am very careful about giving that. You can possibly only give one dose. Actually, going to The Bali Project last year helped me in the situation of treating eczema!
What types of other cases do you see?
I’ve treated a number of vertigo cases. A lady came in with vertigo and a poor memory. When I checked the history, I found that she had had three or four epidurals. Of course, You may see that this related to something else, like herpes. You get the history and trace it down – it’s really very interesting.
The brother in law of one of my staff came down with Dengue Fever, which is endemic in Malaysia. This man had been admitted to the intensive care unit, because his platelets had gone down so terribly low, that the family was called and the doctors told them that it was a 50:50 case. They were preparing the family for this patient dying, because the platelets were not coming up. My staff member called me and asked me what to do. She told me that he was haemorrhaging. I said: “OK, I think Lachesis would do very well.” So the Lachesis was given. He was unconscious, so I said just to dissolve it in water and put one drop in the inside of his mouth. His mother did that every half an hour or so. Believe it or not, the very next day the platelets all went up and he was discharged into the normal ward! All the doctors in the hospital were saying: “This is a miracle, this is a miracle!”
Three weeks later, he came to see me himself. He walked into my clinic and it was a wonderful moment, because you know that you have done something. And here he was, sitting in front of me. His wife was saying: “He’s had a personality change – he’s a nicer person!” He said to me: “I think I need some more treatment because I’m very forgetful nowadays.” So I took his case and gave him another remedy.
When I do a Dengue case, I look into the viruses, because I do what Ardavan Shahrdar does with viral miasms. Because Dengue is a virus, I look into the viral miasm remedies. When I do the repertorising, the remedies that I want to choose, have to belong to the that pool of genus epidemicus remedies.
I’ve also had two other cases of Dengue. Dengue is a condition where in one day everything can deteriorate enough for the patient to be very very sick, or dead. Many of them get all kinds of complications even after being discharged. The mother of one of my staff had Dengue. After her discharge from hospital, her platelets were not coming up and her liver profile was not normal. After her remedy, the platelets came up.
What other areas are you interested in?
Ardavan Shahrdar’s work on the viral miasms. He did the Repertorium Virosum, which is a repertory of the viral miasms. It’s a sub set of the miasms, especially the psoric miasms, but also some of the venereal miasms. He has been able to recognise the miasms through the repertory. His work is available a little on the internet. He recognised Paget’s Disease as being a viral miasm.
There are some very important viral miasms, that if you know how to treat them, it really makes things so much easier. One of these is the Herpes Simplex Virus. Others are the Herpes Zoster, HPV and Epstein Barr viruses. If you can learn to recognise just four of them, it is a huge leap in treating chronic disease. We homeopaths have to be aware of them. I can speak about these in Bali too. I would talk about the viral miasms before talking about eczema cases, because then you would have an understanding of them in chronic disease.
NH: Can you comment more on your life as a Doctor in the world of homeopathy?
I don’t think I really wanted to be a doctor because I always wanted to be a teacher. My dad was a lecturer and students used to come to our house and I saw how they loved my father. I thought: “This is what I want to do, I want to teach.” But I went into medicine after doing homeopathy and then I was quite disappointed, in the sense that I didn’t want to be practising this medicine that wasn’t doing anybody much good (my perspective only mind you). At that point in time, it was either black or white. I was about to abandon my practice to become a homeopath, but financially we couldn’t afford that, so I never did. I’m glad I didn’t, because what I think I do now is a kind of integrated thing. Sometimes a patient needs a medicine to give them breathing space until the homeopathic remedy kicks in. Among the things I do when I treat eczema, is give a bottle of antihistamine. It’s the scratch-cycle that sometimes stops us from being able to get the case better, so if it happens, the antihistamine is there as a standby to stop the scratching. Then you stop the antihistamine as soon as there’s no more itching – it’s just a stop-gap measure. It is integrated, but heavily onto the complementary side, so we’re using conventional medicine only when needed. I’m not a purist, I think I’m a pragmatist.
One of the things I really try to avoid is antibiotics, but you can’t really avoid them one hundred per cent, if it gets to the point where the infection is more poisonous than the antibiotics.
Recently I got kind of knighted by the Pahang state King. Somebody I treated was so happy that he nominated me and this month the nomination was a success. If you see my name with ‘Dato’, that’s what it is.
So thank you to Dr Suriya Osman for taking the time for this interview and we look forward to hearing you speak at The Bali Project 2015.
Current place of practice
Homeopathy Integrasi, Block A-3-8-A, Ostia Bangi Business Avenue