When healing is no longer the primary aim — BICOM® therapy in palliative care

Dr. med. Wolfgang Rohrer, Specialist FMH, General Medicine

After nine years of working in hospitals and in the rescue and emergency helicopter service it was finally time: in 1991 I took over the practice of a colleague who was retiring and opened my own.

Full of enthusiasm, I started work as a general practitioner. After around 6 months I had my first sobering experience: during an urgent care clinic one weekend I was presented with a 6-month-old baby who was suffering from an infection. The child’s appearance struck me straightaway: he weighed ca. 10 kg and had a buffalo hump. The case history revealed that my young patient was suffering from chronic neuroder­matitis. The GP treating him no longer knew how to help him and had therefore pre­scribed cortisone drops. I was looking at a case of Cushing’s syndrome in a 6-month­old child! I was horrified!

If this was the type of medicine that I would be practising until I retired … just thinking about it filled me with dread! I soon realised that in medicine we have become condi­tioned to think in a particular way. Failure isn’t an option — medicine always finds a so­lution (even if it only appears to be solution)! As a result, treatments have been administered in some cases that were not always suitable for the patient. I found the death of a patient difficult to process, particularly when the patient was younger. It felt like a failure … and who likes to fail?

Both as a medical student and then later as a junior doctor I had learnt that we always have superiors to instruct and guide us. This was also true in the practice, with medical journals frequently reporting the positive things that so-called opinion leaders had to say about the latest treatments … Even the term “opinion leader” rang alarm bells for me. I had 6 years of medical study behind me and was more than capable of forming my own opinion.

In the years that followed I learned plenty of new things and had already undertaken some manual therapy training (osteopathy), however I could not forget the aforemen­tioned experiences I had gained as a GP, particularly as new cases kept arising in my work, which in allopathic medicine ultimately meant controlling the symptoms. I was almost offering a form of “anti”-medicine … administering “anti”-biotics, “anti”-hyper­tensives, “anti”-epileptic medication …

Was it providence that I kept coming across BICOM therapy in the years that followed? Whatever the reason, I decided to undertake training in this method and began work­ing with BICOM therapy in 1996, some 23 years ago. My first patient was my middle daughter, who was suffering at the time from neurodermatitis and responded unbe­lievably well to BICOM therapy. My second patient was a chef with toxic irritant con­tact eczema affecting his hands. At just 50 years of age he was on the verge of giving up his career and taking early retirement on health grounds. 12 treatments with wheat cured him and he continued working as a chef until reaching normal retirement age.

I was now working with a method dismissed by many as “nonsense” or “hokum”, yet I was achieving some amazing results in my practice!

There were no university opinion leaders espousing the virtues of BICOM therapy and my former medical tutors were all very negative about this method and didn’t really know what it was … So what were they basing their claims on?

There was nothing left for me other than to reflect on my own experiences and to be­come my own opinion leader. And so I eventually left the herds following the opinion-forming leaders and looked to forge my own path, particularly in the area of allergy therapy. This created another pressure in itself. The more I became aware of my status as an “outsider”, the more I had to prove my methods to myself as well as to others!

After the initial outstanding and positive experiences with BICOM therapy I experi­enced my first therapy failures. My hunger for information only grew as a result and I attended a number of seminars and advanced training sessions and, of course, trav­elled to the Congresses in Fulda. At all these events I had the opportunity to speak to other therapists, who recounted the considerable successes they had experienced in their practices. Was I the only one who didn’t only have success stories to report?

This slowly nagged away at me. Only when pressed did other colleagues talk about treatments that had not worked out so well — in other words, their therapy failures. Everyone I spoke to had plenty of useful tips about how to keep escaping the “therapy resistance” trap, however. I was eager to take on board these tips, but time and again there were patients for whom the treatment simply did not work.

I searched and searched and searched and eventually reached a point where I realised that, as therapists practising complementary medicine, we too are susceptible to “helper syndrome” and are not able to handle failure well. All of the seminars repeat­edly taught me that the patient’s own regulation would resolve this … That this would form the basis for a cure. But no one ever told me how to deal with cases where the body could no longer regulate itself … Cure was the ultimate aim in BICOM therapy too: it was rare to hear talk of re-evaluating and possibly adjusting this hard-to-attain target. The presentations in Fulda were similar: they all reported on the superb suc­cesses of this wonderful method, but none reported on the failures. If a “failure” was ever mentioned this formed the basis for a presentation on “obstacles to therapy and treatment blocks” … I behaved in the same way. The philosophy behind it was always that if you try hard enough, you will achieve your goal.

I soon realised that this view can sometimes make a therapist’s life that bit harder. The belief that “if you try hard enough, you will achieve your goal” means always undertak­ing new endeavours in order to develop more sophisticated programs, better combina­tion series, even lower frequencies. At the heart of all these endeavours is still the prin­ciple that a therapy failure equates to a personal failure.

Please don’t misunderstand me: I am not trying to preach here about therapeutic nihil­ism or refute the need for training …

Training is imperative, no question. Research is essential for survival – in BICOM ther­apy too! But it is also important to recognise nature’s own boundaries, to learn to ac­cept them and to abandon the belief that “everything is possible” and to discover that this belief in “therapeutic feasibility” can also be a trap that therapists fall into …

Suddenly we find ourselves back on a par with allopathic medical practitioners… We, who work so hard to be different … Could it be that, strictly speaking, we are actually not that different from other therapeutic practitioners? Could it be that we possibly need to revise our own philosophy to find an “easier” path through our therapeutic lives?

For the time being at least, the age of widespread infections is a thing of the past, but new and more difficult-to-treat illnesses are emerging in their place. If we consider the efforts being made in allopathic medicine to develop new therapeutic approaches, we can see that in research we are generally dealing with very specific clinical conditions which have arisen largely as the result of our lifestyles. Examples of this are autoim­mune diseases and tumours. In the exploration of new therapies (for example, enor­mous sums of money are invested in tumour diseases) the economic principle of “re­turn on investment” leads to an incalculable rise in treatment costs, yet the benefit to the general population remains doubtful and there is little or no impact on the vast majority of other patients.

A well-known oncologist in Switzerland stated that: “Anyone wishing to defeat cancer may just as well attempt to control nature or death. Cancer cells are part of evolution — they embody the destructive side of the continuous development of living nature as it renews and revitalises!” (Quote from Prof. Thomas Cerny in XUND — Der informierte Patient, [The informed Patient], 03.2017).

So, what remains to be done? Isn’t it time to put our “delusions of grandeur” to one side and not only accept our “mortality”, but even embrace it? To increasingly reflect that just as our life began, so it will end again? And that this end is linked in the major­ity of cases to unstoppable degeneration and disease? Very few patients die healthy … Could it be that we have a problem with “letting go”?

Why do we find “welcoming” the birth of a child so easy, but saying goodbye at the time of death so difficult? Perhaps because welcoming a new life promises a shared fu­ture, whereas saying goodbye brings the present to a close and creates solitude …

Could this also mean that we should distance ourselves from the philosophy of “Ever more, ever better, ever quicker”? To learn that the only creative moment in our lives is our conception and that this is then followed by a whole series of farewells? And these farewells finish with the ultimate, greatest and final farewell to our own lives? Our life is essentially formed of a whole series of farewells: growth in the womb as the first farewell to this unique and wonderful victory over our transient state, this stage also being understood as the birth of compromise? Birth as a farewell to an “all-inclusive institution”, accompanied by all the tribulations of supporting yourself thereafter? The first day at nursery as a farewell to the close bond with the mother? Starting school as a farewell to carefree youth? Leaving school as a farewell to 12 weeks of holidays? Fi­nal exams as a farewell to reduced responsibility? A driving test as a farewell to life as a pedestrian? Marriage as a farewell to singledom? The birth of your own children as a farewell to intimate togetherness? Children leaving home as a farewell to a hitherto active family life? Giving up work as a farewell to an important and defining period in life? Death as a farewell to life?

Instead we only celebrate successes relating to “more”: more knowledge, more exper­tise, more mobility, promotion, more fame, more power, more influence, more money •••

Seen from this perspective of “more”, farewells have no place and are often sup­pressed. “To stand still is to regress” is what our bank tells us, this is how the economy operates, “progress” is all that counts. And so we suppress cumulative failures in chronic illnesses, we suppress thoughts about our own death and we pack the dying off to hospital instead of allowing them the dignity of dying at home. This is how we fight against therapy failures and we look on as a 90-year-old patient in hospital with a hopeless carcinoma prognosis undergoes a 5th round of chemotherapy in the third cycle, for example, and all this just one week before he dies … Could this be a flaw in our way of thinking that makes our work as therapists so difficult?

If this is the case … isn’t it time to revise our way of thinking? Could it be time to take a more unobtrusive, a more humble approach? We would then be able to work closely with our patients and as therapists help them better understand and come to terms with their own mortality? Wouldn’t we also be helping them take greater responsibil­ity for themselves?

For example, couldn’t we, as patient and therapist, agree to allow a stupid cancer to effectively kill itself off when the patient dies instead of trying to fight against this process?

These are the ideas which get me thinking in terms of a therapeutic plan for so-called “hopeless cases”. This plan includes, of course, detailed and thorough specialist knowledge. This is necessary to be able to assess the feasibility of therapy and the chances of success. But this plan also includes “awareness training” so that we can learn to use our own sensitivity in order to “feel” where and when something is no longer working … Where the therapeutic goal needs to be redefined: moving away from healing and towards companionship, love, reconciling with the illness, with the patient, with the inevitable, namely death …

Many patients will not like these ideas and will want to suppress them because they are not ready to hear them. But this is also partly because conventional medicine promises them something different …

We as therapists need to confront these ideas, because it is not all about conventional medicine and the pharmaceutical industry — we too must help shape the healthcare of the future …

I would like to share with you a few brief statements and how they apply to BICOM therapy:

Therapist/Patient

  • As a therapist do you repeatedly re-evaluate the demands you make on yourself? Is what you demand of yourself realistic? Is it feasible?
  • Do you view obstacles in the therapeutic process as a challenge to make you re­think the situation, or rather as questioning your knowledge, your capabilities?
  • Do you have a realistic understanding of your patients’ personal situation? Are the patient’s aspirations in line with your own? Or do you let yourself be led by your patients?
  • Do you treat the patient as a human being? Or rather as a research subject?
  • How do you deal with your own mortality?
  • Are you a genuine person? At one with yourself? Or driven by the need for self-affirmation?

Technical knowledge

  • Do you have sufficient knowledge of the basics? Are you fully in command of the therapy you administer?
  • Do you recognise the boundaries of what is feasible?
  • Are you prepared to embrace new ideas?

The following methods may then apply in palliative medicine:

  • Do not solely use your previous knowledge in relation to healing: step back from using therapy setting Ai and instead test and use settings H+Di and H …
  • Work more with the patient’s own oscillations (the urine of the uraemic renal failure patient, the tumour of the tumour patient, the bloody and yellow sputum of the COPD patient in the input)!
  • Make use of the amazing possibilities that the cannabinoid test set has to offer!
  • Involve relatives in your work at an early stage.
  • Get relatives to designate a contact partner for you.
  • Do not hold any important discussions with relatives without the patient being present too!
  • If your patient is no longer able to come to the practice: get your patient to lie for 24 hours on a “water ampoule”. The patient’s relatives should bring this ampoule to you into the practice. You will then have the patient’s own oscillations at your disposal in order to determine future treatment.
  • If your patient continues to deteriorate, do not apply medicine for the sake of it (a dying patient does not need their blood pressure reading, just someone to hold their hand)!
  • Work with drops rather than chips.
  • Transfer therapeutic oscillations to skin care products (for example, rubbing alco­hol, skin protection preparations for treating pressure sores).
  • If conductance falls, use daylight lamps as energy providers, because dying requires energy!
  • Ask the patient about their fears, hopes, visions of the “afterlife” …
  • Ask your terminal patient whether they are able to let go or whether there is something they still need to do (e.g. speaking to and forgiving an estranged son).
  • And when the time comes, guide them mindfully to the bridge they have to cross. You will return, because there is more work for you to do …
  • Then perhaps offer some words of comfort: “Now everything will be/is fine”…
  • In the words of Oscar Wilde: “Everything is going to be fine in the end. If it’s not fine, it’s not the end!”

Immerse yourself in the relationship with your patient in the knowledge that palliative care patients will have questions which won’t yet be your own.

Become a companion for the patient, particularly at this most difficult time. Remain mindful towards yourself and others and live as though it were your own last day on Earth!

Enjoy the spring sunshine, listen to the birds, smell the scent of the flowers, enjoy the aroma of your food, feel the wind and rain on your skin.

I hope you have positive experiences in this process of “becoming and being self-aware”. Nurture all these unique relationships in our world, including those at this Congress!

Use all your senses to live in the “here and now”! I hope you enjoy the experience.

Dr. med. Wolfgang Rohrer