by Tutti Gould, ND, DC
The ideal way to live - and to earn a livelihood - is by following your convictions. That's precisely what Dr. William F. McCoy has been doing for the past 34 years of his practice. He could have been a celebrated cardiologist, which is what he was originally aiming for, but he chose instead to open his own heart to the practice of homeopathy.
Dr. McCoy is one of many people who first became intrigued by homeopathy from witnessing how it works on children. While Dr. McCoy was in his internal medicine residency after med school in 1972, he married a woman who had three children who were seeing Dr. James Stevenson, a prominent homeopathic physician in NYC. Dr. McCoy was skeptical at first. "Based on my medical training," he explains, "my initial response was 'that's rubbish'. But I gradually started investigating things, despite my first impressions." He says that what astounded him the most is how quickly the children responded to the remedies.
It all really began while he was serving as a physician in the army, treating himself and his family with homeopathic remedies on the side. After two years of service, he studied homeopathy formally at the National Center for Homeopathy, and then spent a month at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital in England. In 1974 he started a family practice, specializing in homeopathy, and he has continued ever since.
The journey has not always been easy. Dr. McCoy is frank about the challenges of practicing homeopathy in the United States, such as dealing with medicare and insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies advertising drugs on TV, and the research funded by those same companies. He points out that in England, or even India, practitioners seem to have more power, such as prescribing medical tests. He feels that even MDs who practice homeopathy are regarded by their peers as second class practitioners. Moreover, many med students who have accumulated debts cannot afford to practice homeopathy. "I get notices all the time", he says. "Come practice for $160,000 a year, starting salary" if you're in homeopathy you can't compete with that. You need to have a certain philosophy that's more important than money. There are no MD's doing homeopathy out there for the money!"
Despite these obstacles, McCoy has never given up. "There is no comparison between ordinary medicine and homeopathic medicine," he says. "Because in general medicine you palliate symptoms - treat them but don't eliminate them. But Homeopathy eliminates them. The fundamental principles and points of view are quite different."
Another important difference is the doctor-patient rapport. Dr. McCoy spends two to three hours with any new patient. "The interview itself is very therapeutic," he says. "It has a healing effect; they feel better even before they get the remedy."
He points out how homeopathy does extremely well with acute and recurring ear infections in children. Ear infections are the first reason children go to pediatricians. "I have had many parents come to me and say: 'My doctor wants to put tubes in my child's ears, is there something that can be done?' Very few of those patients needed to have tubes put in their ears."
Dr. McCoy has had success with many ailments such as Lyme disease, bronchitis, pneumonia, kidney and bladder infections, as well as auto-immune diseases like lupus. He says homeopathy can also help people with psychiatric problems, and he bemoans the fact that there were successful homeopathic psychiatric hospitals in the United States, and that there were all shut down after the Flexner report. "If we had the infrastructure to handle psychiatric illness, it would do fine," he says. "But the way things are set up now, we have no homeopathic hospitals, no homeopathic medical schools, so we don't have homeopathic mental institutions."
Dr. McCoy has also studied homeopathy in India at the Bombay School of Homeopathy. "My most inspiring teacher was Rajan Sankaran," McCoy says. He says practitioners there are doing "absolutely incredible" work. "Rajan doesn't try to be revolutionary, he is evolutionary, but evolutionary in such a wonderful way. Hats off to him, because that is really cutting-edge homeopathy."
"Would I ever consider going back to allopathy?" he asks. "When you know how to do things better than the best of allopathic medicine, why return?"
With thanks to copy editor Michelle Decary.