by Heather Wood
Introducing change can be difficult. Melanie Dupres planned on a career in medicine but while doing her A-levels was introduced to alternative therapies. “It just made sense to me,” she said. “I veered off my intended path and fell in love with homeopathy.” The problem was that there wasn’t then a demand for natural medicine here in Bermuda – or at least not as far as Ms Dupres was aware.
In 2003 she partnered with “an open-minded GP” whose offerings included acupuncture, “but [finding clients] was a struggle”. She left the island for England and Africa, where “brilliant people” bolstered her skills with their knowledge of herbs, essential oils and yoga. In 2014, when family matters required her presence here, she was pleasantly surprised by how much had changed. “People need and want alternative modalities,” she said. “People are fed up with prescriptions masking symptoms, and the side effects.”
It was around that time that Kyjuan Brown set up his practice, Northshore Medical & Aesthetics Center. Two years later he brought naturopaths on board. Also a master herbalist, he says that courses he took while pursuing his medical degree stimulated his interest in complementary medicine. “It opened my eyes to treating the whole person,” he said. “It showed how to help alleviate people’s problems without pharmaceuticals and the side effects that come along with that. Through continuing courses I realised that the medicine we practice is necessary in certain regards but with chronic disease the real challenge is lifestyle change and dietary modifications.”
His patients were accepting from the outset however, “We got letters from the [Bermuda] Medical Council saying I was using unethical methods, not following the standard of care,” Dr Brown said. “I got threats that I was to be hauled before the professional conduct committee about making false claims in regards to how naturopathic medicine can help benefit people and illness.” It never got to that point. Northshore Medical & Aesthetics Center provided “irrefutable evidence” that its naturopaths were board-certified, licensed to “diagnose, prescribe, order labs and the like”.
“In all we do there is a great body of evidence,” Dr Brown said. “What we’ve found here is that many providers on the island don’t have the knowledge or understanding of this sphere – you would find it on medical journals in the same way you look for conventional medical treatment, but if you don’t look for it you won’t know it’s there.”
In 2017, Maruska Slater spoke candidly of her experience with natural remedies in an interview with The Royal Gazette. Although initially sceptical she’d sought advice from Ms Dupres after doctors prescribed pharmaceuticals for her infant daughter, who had stopped eating. “I was afraid that she would be on it for a while,” Mrs Slater said. “When you get on Zantac you tend to have to raise the medicine because as they grow, they get more tolerant.” She took Aconite, a medicinal plant recommended by Ms Dupres, and waited 30 minutes.
“I’m not making this up — she stayed on the breast for 20 minutes and drank and drank. After that, she went to sleep for two-and-a-half hours.” Said Ms Dupres: “Chemical medicine is just that – chemicals that change our bodies. They will evoke a chemical reaction which will bring change but also side effects. Natural remedies are working with the body’s own healing potential, so they’re accepting your healing path.”
Reluctant to give names without permission, the homeopath talked of another client who suffered from hypertension but had managed without medication for three years until “a particular stress” caused a crisis. “Their doctor told them go on two drugs. Within two days their back was hurting, they had fuzzy eyes, their heart was racing. The response was really extreme and it was very clear. Within a few days after they came off the drugs they were fine.” Ms Dupres’ prescription of herbs and homeopathics got the blood pressure down.
“It was very clear cut,” she said. “A lot of people don’t see that [fast a result] because they’ve been on drugs so long. They see everything as a new problem and get new drugs and end up on a cocktail of things for the rest of their lives. It doesn’t have to be like that. You can change your diet, can change your thoughts, your lifestyle habits; the body is able to heal itself.”
Similarly, Dr Brown cited his success with a woman who’d been told she was terminally ill with ovarian cancer. “The oncologist at the hospital said there was nothing they could do,” said the physician. “We recommended treatment, including medical cannabis, and the cancer started to shrink. She went back to the oncologist who saw things were improving and started chemo and radiation. [Her mass] shrunk even more and she had surgery to have the cancer removed. Today she is cancer-free. Otherwise, she probably would have been six feet under.”
People, the world over, are opening their eyes to the benefits of alternative medicine, including medical cannabis and cannabinoid products. “It has so many healing potentials and, when used appropriately, works for chronic pain, cancer, seizures… It’s not patients smoking marijuana, they’re receiving it through tablets, through oil,” Dr Brown explained.
Kwan Smith, of Infinity Hemp Bermuda, believes more needs to be done to allow holistic and naturopathic healers on the Island to engage with this form of medicine. At its most basic level, hemp could be used to restore a cannabinoid deficiency which Mr Smith says could be the cause of illness and disease. As such, it’s important that “the highest quality forms of hemp” is used. “Many retailers market isolated forms of hemp cannabis which do not carry the same benefits and quality as full spectrum brands. A huge part of [my company’s] mission is to maintain the highest quality forms of hemp that have passed all levels of testing and manufacturing standards.” Once sold in health stores, hemp products are currently limited to pharmacies, said Mr Smith.
This article was originally published in the Fall 2019 edition of RG Magazine.