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Holistic healing: tales from the front line

BEIRUT: Psychotherapists, medication and speech therapy all failed to cure one of Yvonne Siblini’s patients of a difficult stammer. That was until he came to Siblini for homeopathic treatment, during which she uncovered a traumatic incident from his childhood. “He was actually affected by the war,” she explains. “When he was 8 he had seen dead bodies and things like that. This is what I do – I go through the whole history of his life.

“He didn’t know when it started, so I said: ‘Okay, what happened when you were 8?’

“‘Oh, I saw those dead bodies,’” he told Siblini.

“He is now 28 ... He has gone through psychotherapists, psychiatric medication, speech therapy – he’s done it all. And all he needed was one homeopathic pill.”

The popularity of holistic health treatments such as homeopathy, reiki and quantum touch is on the rise in Lebanon, practitioners say. But how do these treatments work?

“Holistic means you are treating the whole person on all levels, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual,” explains Mona Rifai Khalaf, personal development and wellness coach and owner of Hamra’s Harmony center.

“This is why it’s effective. Science now has proven that everything is made of energy,” she says.

“Our bodies are made of molecules, which are made of atoms,” she adds.

“The atoms are made of subatomic particles, which are energy. This is something that we cannot touch.

“You can learn how to feel it and it has vibrations ... The energy flows in the body and when there’s a problem on the physical level it means there’s a blockage on the energy level,” she says.

“Remove the blockage and the energy starts to flow. This is why the person gets well.”

Khalaf is an instructor in reiki and quantum touch, both forms of noncontact touch healing in which the practitioner uses diverse techniques to raise the patient’s energy levels and increase the body’s capacity to heal itself.

These practices can heal anything, Khalaf says, from psychological complaints, such as stress, to physical problems including headaches, muscular or spinal problems and even cancer.

Such treatments are becoming increasingly popular in Europe, although clinical trials have found no evidence to support their efficacy.

Homeopathy, a system of herbal medicine which works on the belief that a small amount of the substance that causes the symptoms of an illness in healthy people will help to cure them in those afflicted, has likewise been dismissed as a placebo by medical experts.

Homeopath Siblini refutes these claims. “You can’t talk if you don’t know the subject,” she says. “Don’t just say it’s a placebo just because you’re a doctor ... Doctors have to research and find new medications all the time, but in homeopathy you don’t have to go researching – you just look at the symptoms.”

Siblini, who began studying homeopathy after herbal medicine in India cured her thyroid problem, gives some examples of how it works, explaining that the symptoms each patient displays are not necessarily indicative of the root of the problem.

“It’s not that you come for diabetes and then you get cured and that’s it,” she says. “Homeopathy is a holistic healing. There is no such thing as labels like ADHD or autism, things like that – or cancer ... I believe that everything comes from the mind.

“If you are disturbed, like you have a problem at work, for example, or your husband gives you a hard time – you [might] have a headache. I wouldn’t get a headache if my husband was nasty, I would probably have diarrhea ... Everyone is different and the symptoms come out differently.”

Because of this, Siblini explains, homeopaths prescribe medication based on each individual patient’s character, rather than following a formula.

“I sit down and I take a whole history,” she says. “It takes about an hour and a half, sometimes two hours.”

She adds: “If it’s a child, for example a 3-year-old, I have to go through the pregnancy of the mother and take down what happened – if she was happy or sad, if she was taking any medication.”

Wadad Alameddine, who studied quantum touch under Khalaf, explains that the best way to get people to trust in the efficacy of these practices is to demonstrate them.

“People come to see us when they have nowhere else to go,” she says.

“They’ve seen doctors, they’ve seen physiotherapists, they’ve seen everybody, and in the end they say ‘Why not?’ And when they do” – she mimics a comical look of eye-popping amazement – “they say: ‘Oh my God! I can’t believe this!’

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 29, 2013, on page 2.

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