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This article was published 3/9/2003 (5041 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Varma isn't alone on her views.
According to a 2001 Statistics Canada study, about one in every five people living in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia regularly turn to holistic healers of all kinds for help because they are disenchanted with mainstream medicine. The same study says most Canadians who choose holistic medicine use it as a supplement, not an alternative, to mainstream medicine.
Varma has noticed the trend.
Over the past four years since she began practising homeopathy, she says her patient load is growing steadily, mostly by word of mouth. Her patients include adults and children.
"People come and see me for conditions like allergies, eczema, psoriasis, fatigue," says Varma. "I've had a very good success rate in treating these things."
Varma was trained as a physician in Jaipur, India, and is registered to practise medicine in Britain, where a growing number of conventional doctors are also homeopathic doctors.
What exactly is homeopathy? It's a system of medical treatment that chooses "natural" methods of treating patients. Varma says that means using remedies as opposed to drugs to treat ailments. Homeopathic medicine was founded by German physician Dr. Samuel Hahnermann more than a century ago.
"I treat people on all levels, the physical, metal and emotional," says Varma.
Remedies are plant, vegetable and mineral based. She says they come with no side effects, and are registered with Health Canada. Ailments are treated internally and require patience, she says.
"Treatment is slow. You have to treat like you peel and onion, in layers, healing from inside out," she says. "A medical doctor will treat eczema with creams until only the top layers are cleared.
"If somebody comes to me with eczema I try to clear in from the body."
Part of her treatment often entails nutrition advice.
Varma, who was trained at a homeopathic medical school in Winnipeg, says consumers should make sure they seek a qualified homeopath. The profession is currently unregulated, meaning anyone can call themselves teachers and practitioners of homeopathy.
"Schools are coming up like mushrooms without any standards," says Varma, who has taught at Winnipeg's Holistic Centre. "Anyone can hang a sign calling themselves a homeopathic doctor. It's unfortunate."
She suggests homeopathic doctors should be trained by reputable schools, not by correspondence courses.
"I work with the system, I don't work against. I always send my patients to physicians on a regular basis," she says. "You've got to come at it from both sides."
Varma operates from two locations: 3B-1050 Henderson Hwy. and the Consumer Drug Mart at 35 Lakewood Blvd.
PHOTO MIKE DEAL/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS