Tori Cowley: Defending Naturopathic Medicine, One Pharmacy At A Time

This article was originally published on Tori Cowley's website.

It’s Sunday and as I’m walking along Bloor street I decide to step into the drug store to pick up a few things. I quickly realized that I needed help and headed to the back of the store to talk to the pharmacist. As I was waiting, the woman in front of me asked, “I can’t seem to find the Polysporin ear-drops…I saw this other box and was wondering if you would recommend it?” The pharmacist took one look at the box and said “it’s a homeopathic, so it probably doesn’t work.” I cringed.


Homeopathy, simply, is the art and science of using minimal doses of a substance, according to the Law of Similars, for therapeutic purposes. The Law of Similars asserts that a practitioner seeks to find a substance which would cause in overdose similar symptoms to those a sick person is experiencing. When the match is made, that substance then is given in very small, safe doses, often with dramatic effects. In other words, a similar, stronger force can push the weaker one out.

Now, even with homeopathy being a part of my training as an Naturopathic Doctor, I don’t see myself using constitutional homeopathy in my practice. What I mean by using constitutional homeopathy is being able to gather the entirety of a patient’s symptoms over the span of their lifetime and process it in a way to come up with only a single remedy. It’s not that I am against it so much as I don’t feel I possess the knowledge to treat patients effectively by these homeopathic means.  However, treating acutely is a totally different ball game and I trust these remedies to provide a number of unique and alternative options. Essentially, I feel that if at the end of the day it helps a patient to feel better, who cares if its principles are based off of minimal doses or an alternative medicine? Shouldn’t our goal as physicians simply be to help heal the patient?

A major problem for homeopathy is that many don’t understand exactly what it is or what it does. If we don’t understand something, it’s not likely we will implement it into our lives. If pharmacists, trusted health care professionals, publicly denounce homeopathy, no one will ever use it.

Discrediting the ear-drops because they were homeopathic seemed both wrong and ignorant to me. The idea of wanting to treat the whole person and not just the symptoms, to cause as little harm to the body as possible, is an idea I’ve fallen in love with. I know I could have easily walked away and minded my own business, but you know what? Naturopathic medicine is awesome and it excited me to speak up! Maybe, just maybe, I could be a catalyst for change. So, I apologized for eavesdropping and tried to quickly explain that I was studying to be a ND and politely asked the pharmacist if she had ever tried the homeopathic ear-drops or any other homeopathic remedy for that matter. Her response: “No, never.” So I did my best to explain to what homeopathy is and how it works. I made it clear that I wasn’t forcing anyone to try anything, but was simply giving them both all the information I could. The woman and pharmacist thanked me for stepping in and, to my delight, the woman even purchased the ear-drops!

Although I know I am biased towards naturopathic medicine, I believe the only way to become a better physician is to educate myself on ALL medical practices. I don’t have to like or approve of every type of medicine, but knowing about it allows me to make better decisions. Knowledge is power. For my future patients, and for myself, I want to know all of my options.

It felt good to stand up for something I believed in! Not everyone can find a job that doesn’t feel like work and if I can still say that after having survived multiple exam periods, including writing 7 exams in 5 days, it has to be true. I left the drug store on a little “high.” Score one for the NDs.