Stress and burnout is widespread in the 21st century workplace

This not only affects employee performance, but also company performance. Ongoing studies of employee engagement conducted by Kronos and Future Workplace found that 95% of HR leaders agree that employee burnout is sabotaging workforce retention.1

Why does burnout and employee engagement matter so much? The bottom line is that work organizations in the top half of employee engagement scores have double the odds of success than those in the bottom half, and those in the very top percentile of engagement have four times the success rate.2 Finding modern strategies to improve engagement and reduce burnout will directly influence success.

Innovative companies are looking for affordableefficient, and sustainable methods to:

  • Improve employee mental health and engagement
  • Improve emotional health and morale in the workplace
  • Reduce work place stress, apathy, disengagement,
    absenteeism and related health issues

There is a growing body of research suggesting effective ways to do this. One approach is to focus on employees’ personal growth and development. More and more companies are working with health and wellness contractors to improve employee health. They understand that employee mental health and wellbeing is part of a whole package of sustaining a healthy and productive workplace.3

An Employee Assistance Program can include a Holistic health method that encompasses stress management, work-life balance, physical and emotional health, and even spiritual health. This is where we come in. Holistic health practitioners have so much to offer companies and leaders when the issues are burnout and low employee engagement.

The most common, immediate feedback to the type of treatment we offer is reduced anxiety and stress, increased energy and less fatigue, and better sleep. Part of the innovative key is to enable each worker to express what they need by better understanding themselves, and what energizes them and drives them to come to work each day. The results we see in the long term can touch every aspect of a person’s health and wellbeing. Holistic methods are an affordableefficient, and sustainable solution.

Learn more at Birdsong Holistic.


  1. The Employee Burnout Crisis: Employee Engagement Series Study
    2017, https://www.kronos.com/about-us/newsroom/employee-burnout-crisis-study-reveals-big-workplace-challenge-2017
  2. How Employee Engagement Drives Growth by Susan Sorenson
    2012, http://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/163130/employee-engagement-drives-growth.aspx
  3. Help Your Team Manage Stress, Anxiety, and Burnout by Rich Fernandez
    2016, https://hbr.org/2016/01/help-your-team-manage-stress-anxiety-and-burnout

dialogue and non-violent communication

How many lives have been re-routed by a simple insect bite while enjoying a trip to the countryside? So many Canadians don’t even know why they feel so terrible, and this can go on for years. Doctors in most countries have yet to provide reliable testing to give a certain diagnosis, if they believe that Lyme exists at all. Many don’t and they will actually tell patients it is all in their head and they can’t offer them any treatment. One Concordia alumna reveals her story of going from a young, passionate writer to a confused woman suffering from Lyme and an undiagnosed stroke. Her life was almost taken away, but she found treatment with Homeopathy and Reiki!

“I was bitten by the creative bug at an early age. I always knew that I would use my love of writing not only to make a living but also try and make the world a better place. I figured I could combine my passions to try and right/write the wrongs of the world and help create a more just place.

Unknown to me, however, was that I was bitten by another kind of bug as well — a tick — when I was around 10 years old, at my grandfather’s cottage in the Montpellier, Que., region.”

Lyme is similar to Syphilis, which develops through the bacterium Treponema pallidum while Lyme through the bacterium borrelia burgdorferi, both being spirochetes. Like syphilis, Lyme symptoms will vary depending on which of four possible stages it currently expresses, either primary, secondary, latent, or tertiary. The latent stage can be a long period of dormancy with few symptoms, developing later into tertiary as symptoms progressively worsen over one’s lifetime. Another reason for so few accurate diagnoses is that people often forget or never noticed the original tick bite, and the symptoms during the primary and secondary stages can be misdiagnosed for so many other diseases or infections.


“I consider myself extremely lucky to have found a doctor who took the time to get to know me and my case, and who had me take the necessary immunology tests.

Thanks to that doctor I not only found out that I have Lyme but also discovered that I had experienced a stroke, which explained why I was having such a tough time remembering things and, most importantly, writing.”


There are no doctors in Quebec considered “Lyme literate” by the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. I’ve therefore had to rely on myself since getting my diagnosis. So far homeopathy and Reiki treatments have helped me the most, as well as trying to eliminate as much stress as possible from my life. Becoming a freelance writer allows me to pursue my passion without being bound by the daily grind of a regular job.

I still want to change the world, though, as well as make it a better place. I envision a book about my personal struggle with the disease in my future and, if I’m lucky enough to make it happen, I’ll have writing and everything I learned at Concordia to thank.

Homeopathy offers many resources and tools to support Lyme disease, and Syphilis as well although not as many people are catching that as they once did.

Read Ursula Leonowicz’s full article at: http://www.concordia.ca/cunews/offices/vpaer/aar/2018/01/31/bitten.html?c=alumni-friends | January 31, 2018|By: Ursula Leonowicz, BA 97 Source: Concordia University Magazine


This past year has seen many devastating fire regions that have created added challenges to health and welfare. I still remember the shocking news in June of the fires in Portugal. They were so fast and converged together that 65 people lost their lives, many in their cars on the roadways trying to escape! So rarely do forest fires take so many people’s lives. In Greenland, a huge landmass mostly covered with ice and permafrost, they had unusual and unprecedented fires of melted peat bogs. In the United States it was considered to be the most expensive firefighting year to date.  Some of the largest fires were the Lodgepole Complex Fire in Montana during July as well as the La Tuna Fire in Los Angeles in September although the damage to homes was relatively low. Overall California’s fires were disastrous and the most recent December fires forced many to evacuate and destroyed over 1,300 structures.  The state will have an economic toll of over $180 billion dollars.

In my home province of British Columbia the fires this year set records with the largest area burnt in a single fire season, the most number of evacuees, and the single largest fire ever recorded in the province. Over 39,000 people were evacuated from their homes and 30,000 cattle were at risk. Not to mention many household pets that were left at home and could not be rescued due to roadblocks. Over 300 buildings including homes, barns and commercial structures were destroyed. So many people have to start all over and rebuild their lives.

I was home in Vancouver in August and the sky appeared like a vision of an apocalypse. There was an orange dusky tinge to the night sky and the moon was blood red. I was standing waiting for my taxi looking up and thinking, “Whoa, that is not normal, what in the world is going on?” For the next week I could not see the blue sky although there was not a single cloud up there, daylight was like it was dusk or dawn but all day and the sun was bright orange while the moon was bright red. The air of course was filled with particulates and smoke and although I did have difficulty breathing, I did not try to exert myself and yet I noticed I was more tired than normal. What I really noticed during this month long visit was how this normally Temperate Rainforest Region is much hotter and dryer than it was 20 years ago. All of August there was no rain, it was extremely hot and the sun was intense. I had several sunburns, something I hardly get where I live in sunny, hot Montreal!

These intense natural disasters have many ways of impacting human health and homeopathy can help whether it is for the physical symptoms from smoke inhalation or the emotional issues related to shock and loss of home and livelihood.

1.  Reduced air quality and smoke related issues
When the smoke from burning wood is heavy in the air, symptoms can include watery eyes, burning eyes, sore or scratchy throats, inflamed sinuses, headaches, coughs and difficulty breathing. The very young, the elderly, pregant women, and anyone with allergies or an already compromised respiratory system are at greater risk. Urban areas often feel worse effects of forest fires although the smoke has come from hundreds of miles away. The air in cities is already often polluted during hot, dry times. There less oportunity to improve air quality by large areas of plants and trees, breezes and winds, and fresh air from rural areas.

Natural things you can do to help relieve symptoms

Use a bulb syringe or netipot to irrigate your sinuses. This clears out excess mucus and particulates like smoke or dust, and adds moisture to the nasal cavities to keep them from drying up, bleeding or feeling irritated. A warm saline solution is used and is safe and easy to do, just be sure the temperature is never hotter than body temperature. You can follow this up with a Sesame Oil Nasal Spray.

The eyes can be rinsed as well. You can buy a herbal eyewash or make one with Calendula (marigold), Hydrastis (goldenseal), Chamomile, and or Euphrasia (eyebright). Simply make an infusion by adding a handful of one or more of these herbs, fresh or dried, to a half litre of freshly boiled distilled water. Cover and let steep. When it is still warm, strain and use the water on the eyes.

Reduce the amount of contaminants you bring in the house. Keep the windows and doors closed and as soon as you come indoors change your clothes and take a quick shower to wash the exposed areas such as the face and hair. The same can be done after walking the dog, hose them down or brush them with a damp cloth. Vacuuming can stir up particles so wait until the air quality improves and you can open the doors and windows for fresh air again. Air fresheners are extremely toxic as they emit over 350 different chemicals and allergens including benzene, formaldehyde, styrene, and phthalates. Try using a water/vinegar spray with a few drops of an essential oil instead.

Homeopathic remedies to support forest fire symptoms

Ignatia: When there is smoke exposure with depression, grief or disappointments. Has a headache that feels as if a nail was being driven into the side of the head. The pain feels better by lying on the painful side. Any strong smells make things worse. May crave cigarettes to make things better.

Arsenicum: Smoke exposure with extreme anxiety and restlessness. The eyes are burning and tearing. Nose has a burning discharge. Cough is dry. The symptoms are worse at night and when lying down. There is a lot of worry, restlessness and anxiety about the future. Concerns about financial losses or theft.

Euphrasia: Smoke exposure with only physical symptoms. Simply notes that the eyes run and burn and the nose runs but there is no burning or pain. Eyelids can be red, swollen and sensitive. There can be a slight cough with tearing eyes.

Kali bichromicum: When there is a more serious smoke exposure with irritated sinus, lungs. The nose is blocked and any discharge is ropy or stringy and tends to be sticky. Sinuses are sore, raw and painful. Painful coughs with a sore chest. 

Natrum arsenicosum: For very sensitive persons. Can be useful if other indicated remedies have not helped. Eyes are dry and painful. Sinuses are blocked and painful.
Racking cough, lungs feel full of smoke. Headaches.

Bryonia: Worse with any motion with dryness of respiratory system. Headache is worse with motion, better with pressure. Dry and painful coughs. Symptoms are worse at night or with motion. Cranky, wants to be quiet, still and left alone.

Silica: Useful for detoxing and expelling foreign particles. Nose is dry and blocked, no smell or taste. Sinuses are blocked and painful. Dry cough with irritation. Sensation of something stuck at the back of the throat.

Carbo Vegetabilis: Shortness of breath, oxygen starved. Wants to be fanned, or craves fresh air. Feels very weak and may collapse. Severe wheezing. Loss of consciousness or fainting.

2.  Shock, grief and loss related to forest fires
Natural disasters like wildfires are difficult to prepare for emotionally. We can set up a system or list of things to do to be prepared, but when a life is lost, animals are left behind, or a home is destroyed the feelings can be overwhelming and hard to recover from. Often roads and highways are shut down and people are forced to evacuate when forest fires get close to residential communities.

Shock is usually the initial acute response to loss
Whether the loss was sudden and unpredicted or we knew it is coming, we can experience a state of shock when it happens. The person feels stunned, numb as well as an increased sensitivity. There can be fear, agitation and even panic, and this can lead the person to do things that are not usual or even possibly dangerous. This is an acute, intense and sudden state and usually subsides quickly after the event. When it doesn’t, or the person is in an extreme state of shock that poses a danger to themselves or others, giving a remedy can be helpful.

Aconite:  Here we have a limbic, non-rational state where the person feels shaky, fearful and stunned after a sudden fright or strong emotions.  There is great fear, anxiety and worry and they can be very restless and moving around, even shouting, screaming or wailing. There can be panic attacks, or they may be inclined to run away and escape, everything is done irrationally and in great fear.

Gelsemium: This is the opposite of aconite and there is instead of a flailing panic a stoic response. They try to control themselves and avoid the feelings they have, and there is also a weakness and numbness as if they are paralyzed. They will not cry and feel drained of energy, and their mind may go blank. Here the danger is more that they try to avoid anything that reminds them of the situation or their fear.

A period of instability and adjustment
During this time there can be extreme emotions and moods shift dramatically and quickly. This is an intense and unstable period and can seem to as inappropriate behaviours, such as laughing in a moment that is somber and serious, or not replying when spoken to. The most common first aid remedy given for grief or loss is Ignatia and it fits this state very well.

Ignatia: The person is experiencing rapidly changing and intensely emotional states. There can be a bout of tears and distress and then suddenly they are silent and withdrawn. They may sigh a lot and also have a sensation of a lump in their throat. It is a good remedy when grief is “stuck” and lasts excessively or it produces symptoms such as weeping that is silent and controlled or that is brief, irregular and dramatic. There is a sense of being shattered from the loss of something or someone that they had invested a great deal of their emotions.

The feeling of Loss
This can be profound for some and was once described in medical terms as a “forsaken feeling.” There are several remedies that can be a good fit depending on how the person experiences loss and how they react to it.

Ignatia: Same as above. Give this remedy if the grief is “stuck” and lasts longer than what the person considers to be normal or necessary.

Pulsatilla: Here the loss includes feelings of abandonment. It is not just about feeling alone, they feel as if they have been left alone by the loss, that they have lost an anchor of support. They wish to seek comfort and sympathy and are emotional, weepy and distressed. They can seem needy because of the intense feeling of abandonment and want to be hugged or held. There is also a sense of instability as their moods can shift radically.

Natrum Muriaticum: This person does not seek out help but prefers to be left alone to deal with their experience. They don’t want to be fussed over and consolation makes them feel worse. They may have irritable outbursts over small matters and will not cry unless alone and even then the tears may not come. Sleep may be affected as they start to think about past events, old wounds and hurts and dwell on them. There can be depression and tremendous grief after losing a significant person in their life.

Phosphoric Acid: There is a great exhaustion and debility since the traumatic event. They can feel isolated from loved ones due to discord, or being physically distant and not being able to have communication with them as much as they would like so homesickness can be involved. They can have insomnia from worry and anxiety about their loved ones and can have difficulty in their thoughts or finding the right word, as if the pathways in their brain are not connecting properly. There is a sense of being emotionally crushed that shows up as lethargy, despair, apathy and they can seem almost lifeless.

If the angry phase develops
Anger is a complex emotion and can vary in intensity, reaction and causation. The remedies below may help the anger to express itself in more healthy ways and allow the purpose of that anger to become clearer.

Magnesium Carbonicum or Magnesium Muriaticum: There can be rapid flare-ups of anger that disappear quickly. The person feels intensely sensitive and lonely. The sensation is similar to being an orphan or a child whose parents were separated or divorced. Magnesium Carbonicum is when the symbol of anger is masculine and Magnesium Muriaticum when that symbol is feminine in nature. 

Staphysagria: Here there are strong feelings of injustice and poor treatment, perhaps of how the deceased was treated in their final days. There is anger and indignation and lots of very intense emotions. They might say it is not fair what happened to them. There is often a lot of pride, and so feeling easily offended or that others are being rude. Or it is the opposite state and the anger is suppressed and controlled, and they refuse to show it due to their strong sense of dignity and pride.

Colocynthis: Also angry and indignant, the person has a very strong opinion of what is right and wrong. They do not like to be contradicted and are sensitive to slights or humiliation. They will try to retain their emotions, will feel unfortunate and discontented, often complaining quite often. They are restless and have a lot of physical pains and maybe even cramps.

Taking remedies

  1. Use a potency from 6c to a 30c for first aid situations. In severe conditions then a 200k can be used. So an intense shock due to losing one’s home, a 200k Aconite may be indicated. Or if someone passes out due to extreme smoke inhalation, a 200k Carbo Veg might be a good remedy. But generally 30c is quite useful.
  2. Take up to three times a day generally.
  3. Stop taking a remedy as soon as the symptoms improve and repeat as needed only if and when the same symptoms return.
  4. If you’ve taken a remedy two to three times and had no response, select a different remedy.
  5. The remedies listed are safe for anyone to use including babies and the elderly.
  6. If you are seeing a homeopath, consult with them to be sure the remedy you take will be compatible with any other remedies you may be taking.
  7. Please share with your friends and loved ones, homeopathy is affordable, safe and sustainable and spreading the word can help so many people benefit from this wonderful healing art.

The weather was cooler and rainier our first couple of days in Cantarranas. It did not take long to get used to the change of location, although I realized how much comfort and convenience can remove you from nature and the essence of life. With the cooler weather the hot showers were a relief, however the on demand electric shower heads that heated the water were inconsistent and finicky. More water, less water, both seemed to change the temperature and often it would just stop working altogether. This made using shampoo risky. The hotel was very comfortable and it was very quiet here during the night and yet I missed the proximity of the sounds of laughter, activity and interaction of the previous hotel. Our restaurant served delicious food with a lovely presentation, but I felt something was missing and I couldn’t put my finger on it. I was informed by members of the team that this town has more issues of violence and domestic violence. When my smile is warm and open but it takes an effort to see a returning smile from the children peaking out from their homes and standing near their mother’s legs, I sense there is something hidden from view. Even the adults, although they give the complementary, polite hellos, are not quick to smile and also carry a look of mistrust in their eyes. It could be due to the increasing urbanization, it happens in proximity to every large city, but after the warmth of Teupasenti I can’t help but notice the difference here.


IMG_20171028_082416337_HDR(Rainy weather and the cobbled streets of Cantarranas. The HTSF team outside waiting for the centre to open one morning.)

I was again amazed at the professionalism and resilience of the team. Even having that first day with no power, adapting to a new space and other ongoing challenges, it was clear that patients came first. We were busy each day and we also heard news from Teupasenti that the premature twins and the parents were doing great! Overall it was encouraging to realize how much this medical mission work was helping people here and offering realistic options to the need for drugs and expensive treatments or worse, to the steady progression of chronic illness and disease.

Wherever there is a connection to the HTSF mission, everyone we interact with is warm and gracious. The restaurant was full one afternoon with the meeting of the weekly woman’s group led by the same woman who helped to set up the dispensary office. We were served delicious vegetable dishes including a wonderful olive oil and garlic sauce and amazing deep-fried yucca that was like eating a sweet, rich cake. The women attending the group found our table of food fascinating since it was not the typical fare but a requested meal of mostly vegetables. On the list for lifestyle habits to adjust would be to encourage the locals to eat more vegetables with their meals!

We also discovered a Moringa tree at the hotel and were adding the leaves to our soups and plates of beans and vegetables. Moringa trees are easy to grow as a shrub and very prolific. The rural and poor communities in Honduras could use it to help combat malnutrition, especially among infants and nursing mothers, and since it thrives in arid and semi arid environments it would be a nutritious food source throughout the year. As another lifestyle habit we wondered why each person could not have a small Moringa tree in their yard to supplement their diet and provide a free ‘super’ food to their family. All it would take is an education campaign handing out seeds and teaching people how to grow and harvest it for their own use and to sell at markets as a supplemental income. Being a forager back in Canada I was certain that the surrounding jungles and forests could provide many herbal and plant based food sources like Moringa but the locals have likely forgotten how to collect and prepare these foods, and instead rely on supermarkets and farmers just as most people in the Developed World do.

IMG_20171028_074305394(A sprig of fresh Moringa tree. In developing countries, moringa has the potential to improve nutrition and provides micronutrients. It is an expensive powdered super food in Western health food stores but is easy to grow and cultivate in tropical climates.)

Over the week we saw a woman who had Chikungunya three years ago and felt generally worse since. She was older and for her it was mostly having pains in the joints that were worse with cold and in the mornings before she got moving for the day. This is the typical Rhus tox picture. She was given the family parasite complex and then a complex to help with pain, inflammation and joint pains that included Rhus. A couple of women requested the family parasite treatment from us, so either they had heard of its effectiveness or they were knowledgable of the symptoms of parasites. The symptoms we look for, mostly in children, include diarrhea, gastrointestinal issues, joint pain, allergies, immune dysfunction and mineral imbalances. Other symptoms can be restlessness, lethargy, fuzzy thinking, headaches, chronic fatigue and teeth grinding. The nice thing is that the whole house hold is treated for parasites so cross infection is reduced and the whole family benefits with improved health.

22815177_1779770998990172_3787205537888984907_n(A mother and her toddler during a consultation.)

It was also clear that many people here were on medications but were inconsistent with taking them. This was most common with blood pressure medications and diabetes meds. Unfortunately the risks with starting and stopping these kind of medications are high and although they start them with the best of intentions, either cost or availability can impede the regularity of taking them. Other medications that can cause some concern are contraceptives, usually injections or implants. We always give the most indicated remedies and complexes and if necessary suggest what other things a patient can do to maintain good health.

One young woman came with such painful varicose veins she was having a hard time walking. She had other symptoms of poor circulation like numbness and tingling in her arms, and hands that sometimes had a dark purple/blue tinge. At 14 a doctor had suggested she have surgery for her veins before having any pregnancies. At 34 yrs she has had four children and has been using contraceptive injections until recently when she switched to the implant. Carla suggested she wear looser pants than the tight jeans she was wearing, and that she no longer use hormone based contraceptives. The team explained vasectomy procedures  to her so she can suggest it to her partner. The risks to her health currently are far greater than the risk from a vasectomy for her partner. She is given complexes to clear her system, to help the lymphatic system and reduce inflammation. Also complexes for the varicose veins and the irregular menses and hormonal imbalances.

Another woman had hit her eye falling on the corner of a table in 2004 and yet still there is a noticeable swelling under the eye and some discolouration. Tylenol has not helped her with the ongoing headaches and dizziness and her vision can sometimes be blurry. She has also had a lot of pains since her giving birth 6 months ago. Hopefully the trauma complex will retroactively clear up the injury symptoms an additional complex will help with any trauma to the brain. The retroactive healing process is not unusual for homeopathic remedies, and even though the trauma happened over ten years ago, the body could still be stirred into recovery and repair. It would be possible for the swelling and bluish colour to improve and her face to once again look as it did before she fell.

IMG_20171030_164058897_HDR(The sun returned and the view from the hotel was stunning, in all directions mountain ranges and billowing clouds. Also, a chance rainbow.)

On Saturday the weather was sunnier as we did the usual half day morning clinic and then for lunch we were to meet with four leaders from small communities in the La Paz department, Alma, Tesla, Keca and Mayra. They were looking forward to talking with Carla and the team and to visit the dispensary. Two of the women work with farmers and were interested in knowing more about homeopathic alternatives to using chemicals for fungal diseases that are having a big impact on vegetable and coffee harvests. We shared a wonderful lunch talking and laughing then Mayra gave us each a bag of coffee from the Catracha Coffee Company, a social enterprise from Santa Elena offering sustainable, small family farm coffee. It has a wonderful taste and you can feel how pure and loved it is by the growers from the plant stages to the roasting.

Growing coffee, even on a small local scale, can provide an income to a family and these type of community minded companies help them bring their beans to markets with better profits. This further helps to sustain small communities and is yet another way to ensure the health and well being of local people. The excitement of a future collaboration using homeopathy was great and it was refreshing to spend time with women who were aware of environmental concerns, eating healthy and sustainability. Their interest was totally in the vein of the mission work as Martine Jourde who originally founded HTSF developed many methods for using homeopathy with livestock and farming as well as for human first aid.

22852984_1779770895656849_993369562794900863_n(The Saturday meeting of the HTSF team and the community leaders from La Paz district, Alma, Tesla, Keca and Mayra. The few hours spent may lead to future collaborations and initiatives using Homeopathy in farming and agriculture projects.)












It was a cramped 4×4 pick up that took us from Teupasenti to Cantarranas and the next leg of our mission. Our luggage and the green HTSF bags were piled up high in the truck bed nestled in a tarp since we were not sure if the torrential rain would return again. The printer, Diony and our AMHON driver were in front and Carla, Norbita, I along with some back packs were in the back seat. Unfortunately there was not enough room for Jorge Mario, and rather than take the bus he sat in the back of the truck. This is common enough here, to see young men on their way to work, families, young kids, all seated on the edge of a pickup bed holding on and going along with the bumps. I used to do this in my early 20’s hitchhiking around the Gulf Islands and at times on the Island Highway. The news picked up a tragic story of the young teenager dying after falling out of the back of a pick up and a law was passed, just like the law for mandatory seat belts, making it illegal. I missed sitting in the truck bed and feeling the wind in your hair. I have to admit I appreciate seeing people doing these kind of things here. It feels more like a life lived rather than one carefully hemmed in by security and safety with standard laws for every situation. It also reminds you how much faster and ambitious life is lived in the West, especially in the cities.

It was lucky they sent a 4×4 since the river that we had so casually crossed as part of the road into Teupasenti was now a raging torrent and impassable due to the rain storm. Instead the truck motored up a steep dirt road to the long way around the river’s shortcut. The highways crews are building a bridge to avoid this problem but it has been two years in the making and still a long way from being finished. Again, here there is no need to rush. Last night’s rains had washed a lot of dirt and fallen debris onto the roads. It is a weaving art to avoid the constant potholes on the roads, but to also avoid the rock and dirt meant even more swerving and turning. No one in Canada would take the risks they take here passing slow cars and trucks just as a blind corner or hill is approaching, I certainly would not. I appreciate the caution of the AHMON drivers. Montrealers take note, the potholes here are just as big and just as bad.

After settling into the hotel, the palatial Villa Magdalena, we made our way to the local dispensary. It was essentially a senior’s centre and just like the Red Cross building in Teupasenti, there was a small room where a shelf housed the HTSF dispensary. The ongoing use of this dispensary is not as consistent, mostly due to not having a volunteer that was keen to keep it going. That is always an issue with volunteers, how do you maintain their enthusiasm and training when it is so long between missions? The wish came true as Gladis came forward during that first week, happy to fulfill the role of responsible for the dispensary in Cantarranas when people come in for basis issues and for follow ups to refill remedy prescriptions. She is the cook for the center and is warm, smiling and very caring. She was trained during the few days and with her connection to the community it was clear the dispensary would be in capable hands.


(Norbita checking over remedies in the dispensary. Nicole and Gladis, who will be taking care of the dispensary in between missions.)

After the introductions and planning discussions the group went to eat at a local restaurant. I found this town to be more built up and urban, probably due to being closer to the capital city Tegucigalpa. I already missed the indoor slash outdoor way of living where the restaurant table was located in the backyard patio of someone’s home. This was a real restaurant without a patio and the smallest chairs, ever. They were covered in cow skins though, which was fun. It was also over lunch that the group noticed that there was a missing green bag. After realizing it was still at the dispensary at the Red Cross building there was a flurry of texts and phone calls to have it delivered by tomorrow morning since it contained all the supplies needed for the mission office at the current dispensary. A plan was made and the bag was on its way through by bus and with help from Diony’s family in Tegucigalpa.

IMG_20171102_150430488(The HTSF green bag magically finding its way to Cantarranas.)

Cantarranas was founded in 1666 but the church was first built in 1622. The Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel was founded in 1655 and only constructed in 1771 to give a comparison with the historical roots of Montreal. Cantarranas is known for its cane sugar sweets and local honey. It is home to the Tres Valles sugar factory, the largest in Honduras, and the hugely successful Sweet Nohemi factory that makes milk based confectioneries. I never did try the famous honey soaked donuts although I did develop a taste for coconut cookies made with cane sugar.

(The Cantarranas Church in the main square.)

Carla noticed that the town had changed over the past two years. The streets used to be less savoury with many older men drinking on the front stoop of the houses. You still see old men that have obviously been heavy drinkers but no one was drinking in public and although it lacked the friendly air of the previous town, it was clean and pleasant. The new city Hall was quite amazing with bright yellow paint and stunning wood work. It was clear that in Teupasenti the décor was more stark with plain walls while here there were more knickknacks and art in the houses and restaurants.

It felt nice to walk down the steep hill smiling and laughing the following morning on our way to the dispensary, as if a breath of fresh air was entering the city. It did not take long to set up the dispensary to be able to see patients. Especially since the green bag was ready and waiting to be unpacked! It would be a bit crowded in the main room with one corner for seeing patients and another for Diony to prepare remedies. Nicole and Norbita would have tables in the rooms leading to the kitchen while the patients would wait in the main room off the street. There was an exercise bike, a tread mill and a TV. The seniors were not lacking for activities here.

(The team outside of the Cantarranas dispensary while patients wait to be seen.)

The rain storms had affected the whole region and that first day we all worked without power hoping our laptop batteries would last in the fading afternoon light. We got inventive with cell phone flashlights and a battery operated lamp saved Diony’s eyes while she poured and succussed remedies. And lucky for us, we still had a delicious hot lunch waiting for us at the Don Quixote Xatruch restaurant despite the whole town not having power. One plus side to using wood heat to cook. The owner Martin is a charming host and offers up a fancy fair for a supposedly simple cuisine.

IMG_20171025_132204527_HDR.jpg(The usual but still delicious fare, plantains, rice, beans and a requested salad on the side.)

The day was full of patients, mostly elderly people with high blood pressure, diabetes and various types of physical pains. One gentleman was in his 70’s and living alone. He had diabetes, high blood pressure and many pains and was in good health otherwise as he gave up drinking in his 20’s and has been eating well. He is taking insulin and other meds but what brought him in was an acute situation of an allergy to chilies of all things. Not that the food in Honduras is very spicy, but he was told by a doctor long ago not to touch them. He decided to cook up a dish the other day with chilies and now had extremely itchy spots on his hands. Carla decided on a complex which would help with itchy acute dermatitis and we also gave complexes for pain and blood sugar levels as palliatives mainly.

Another woman with diabetes was taking medications to regulate her high blood sugar. She had circulatory problems in her legs with recent varicose veins appearing that were painful and quite large. This is also common here, varicose veins even in really young women. She also had red eyes with discharge, another common symptom that might be related to cooking over wood heated ovens. She was given a detox complex that would also help with blood sugar levels and something for inflammation, and varicose veins.


(Cantarranas cobbled streets.)

It is the same here as anywhere, people are used to having to wait for medical treatment. The day’s patients were sitting outside the Red Cross building as early as 6am this morning. After eating breakfast and walking to the centre we usually arrive by 8-8:30am. We expected today to be a long day as it was our last day in Teupasenti but we saw all the patients by 4:30. I am enjoying working alongside Carla as she takes her time with each patient while taking the case and also during the dialogue about the remedies needed. There is so much to consider from a medical and from a homeopathic perspective. Each case is always individually assessed and the treatments needed to cover each aspect of the person’s case as it presents currently are carefully chosen, keeping in mind the possible underlying reasons for the current symptoms. It is normal with homeopathy that the treatment for one person with a diagnosis of say diabetes will be different from another diabetes case, and here with HTSF that is still very true.

IMG_20171024_080546520_HDR(Patients waiting outside the Red Cross building in Teupasenti on the HTSF mission’s last day of case taking.)

IMG_20171024_080639894_HDR(Nicole waiting for the front door to open on the steps of the Red Cross building where the HTSF dispensary is located.)

Although Carla Marcelis completed medical school training she decided not to practice medicine and instead chose to study and practice homeopathy. With a comprehensive understanding of human physiology and of pathological processes and many years of studying naturopathy and nutrition, this type of first aid/first line homeopathic healthcare that HTSF is offering in Honduras comes naturally to her, and she admittedly loves doing it. As of this September she has replaced Martine Jourde who decided to retire the position of President of HTSF. The methods used here are not the typical Classical method of homeopathy but more in the vein of the Banerji protocols developed by Indian Homeopaths originally working with cancer patients and who later created protocols for all types of chronic and acute disease states.

During numerous homeopathic missions in Africa, Central and South America, Martine developed the HTSF complexes and protocols as a complete set of remedies that are beneficial in areas with both wide-scale poverty and a lack of medical services. She has a background in physiology and epidemiology, as well as more than 30 years of experience in using homeopathy with animals, people and even plants. HTSF is her contribution to helping humanity benefit from the ecological and economic aspects of homeopathy along with its resulting contribution to sustainable development, and to help provide access to safe and affordable health care in Developing, and perhaps one day Developed, Nations. This model of intervention is about access to homeopathic services but also about training locals and community leaders and giving them the capacity to provide these homeopathic services themselves and increasing their healthcare autonomy. The HTSF project reflects Martine’s vision of seeing the positive impact of homeopathy wherever it is used and her understanding that homeopathy can also help to restore balance between all living organisms on the planet. You can read more about Martine and her work on the MICH site.

I feel fortunate for the opportunity to have worked with Carla on this humanitarian mission. For most of her cases I sat with her taking notes and hearing the cases through her translations. One thing that is remarkable is how Carla can easily shift between three languages, English, French and Spanish, both while speaking and writing, and yet her mother tongue is actually Dutch! Her many years of teaching and training were evident also as she made sure I was following the case and giving me further information about what the pathological implications may be or what symptoms may be pointing to according to the underlying health issues. A homeopath is never satisfied with a diagnosed disease name knowing that it is basically a group of symptoms stemming from a deeper issue. I was always welcome to jump in with suggestions of what to ask or if we might need further information about a symptom.

It was the same after the patient left us to sit in the waiting room and we could dialogue the case. Dialogue is a communication method used during case taking but also as a way of exploring a case with more than one homeopath. It allows everyone to add to a shared train of thought and to sink in to the group understanding to feel the person’s state. I think any homeopath trained in this way would admit that two or more homeopaths means a much greater and broader perspective on a case and that it is a fulfilling way to work since you can learn so much and the inclusion and appreciation of a larger picture makes an even better prescription possible.

IMG_20171022_104357787_HDR(Carla and Nicole working at the hotel on administration and entering patient’s cases into a database.)

IMG_20171024_143602030_HDR(Carla taking a case on paper while I am entering the notes on my computer.)

On this last day Carla and I saw a woman with very high blood pressure who was in tears as she had lost her nephew the day before and a son just over a month ago. Carla was very concerned she could have a stroke at any moment as all the signs were present for this. Her daughter who came with her has had chemo treatments for Lymphoma and despite this was looking quite healthy with her only two months of hair growth. We were able to give each treatments for their complaints noticing some similarity between the mother and daughter with their high blood pressure. The mother had been given an acute treatment in the waiting room immediately after taking her blood pressure since it was so high at 240/124. After the case taking Jorge Mario took it again and found that it had reduced greatly and was down to 209/119. Only one dose of a homeopathic and she was showing such improvement! Carla was also more comfortable now that her stroke risk was reduced. She will take remedies regularly for a week to help to further lower her blood pressure and another treatment for longer term to help with her health issues as well as the remedy Ignatia to support her during this period of grief and loss. Her daughter will also have a treatment for her issues taking into account that she has one round of chemotherapy left.

When it rains it pours, and for our last supper at Teupasenti it rained like the dickens. The sound on the tin roof of the little restaurant outdoor patio was deafening, and oscillated in intensity from dull pitter patter to intense roar. It served to create an exciting atmosphere as we sat around the table and discussed tomorrow’s travel plans and various other things. The yard with the hanging laundry of now soaking sheets and clothes was filling up with water while streams of water poured out of each fold of the corrugated tin roof. I could now see why the houses are built the way they are in this climate, with a raised sidewalk and tiles on the sidewalks and going halfway up the outside wall. If the water level rises quickly and rushes down the cement streets it will escape to the dirt roads and grassy banks around the small town and not into the houses. I was thinking that certainly there will be a lot of puddles tomorrow and since we will be travelling by car hopefully the roads are not washed out!


(Carla going into the office and school supply shop to buy some clear tape.)

The young family with premature twins did return the next day for a follow up so we could see how the babies responded to the remedies and to get further support. The mother was doing noticeably better and was much calmer and more confident. The babies looked very peaceful and were breathing better. We were all relieved and the family was very encouraged by our treatments. They will continue the lung treatment for the next week and Carla added another treatment to help the babies to better absorb and use the nutrients they so desperately need.

I was able to hold the smaller of the two little girls and feel just how tiny she was. She was not able to fully grasp my finger with her hand, just a couple of gentle squeezes here and there. And at only 2 months old she had these long fingernails with dirt under them, already a rural local! We will all pray for them and hope that they continue to come and see Marixa at the dispensary for further treatments and remedy refills when they need them. We are also hoping that someone in the community can support them with food until the father is able to find work. They were given some groceries and the pump to take home with them.

Screen Shot 2017-10-24 at 19.44.32(Carla and Norbita happy to see the premature twins looking much better after only one day of homeopathic treatment.)

Screen Shot 2017-10-24 at 19.45.50(Carla holding one of the twins and explaining to the mother how to continue the homeopathic treatment.)

(Holding one of the premature twins and marveling at how tiny she is. It was remarkable to see the difference that only one day of acute homeopathic treatment can make and a relief to know that she will have a stronger start in life.)

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