What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a system of medical therapy that uses very small doses of medicines, or remedies. These remedies are prepared from substances found in nature. Nevertheless, homeopathy should not be confused with herbal medicine. These two systems of medicine are very different. Herbal medicine uses tinctures of botanical substances, whereas homeopaths use ultradilute "micro"doses made from not only plants, but minerals or any other substance found in nature.
The homeopathic doctor chooses the proper remedy by following a special rule of nature called the Law of Similars (similia similibus curentur). This law states "like cures like," or that a medicine can cure a sick person if it can cause similar sickness in a healthy person. For instance, if you peel an onion, your eyes burn, itch and water. You might also have a runny nose and begin to sneeze. If you had similar symptoms during a cold or allergy attack, such as a runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing, a homeopathic micro-dose of the remedy Allium cepa (red onion) would help your body heal itself.
The word "homeopathic" is derived from the Greek words homeos meaning "similar" and pathos meaning "disease" or "suffering." Thus, homeopathy means "to treat with a remedy that produces an effect similar to the disease or suffering."
Is Homeopathy New?
The Law of Similars has been known since at least the time of Hippocrates (ca. 400 B.C.), but it was Samuel Hahnemann who fully stated the ideas of homeopathy in the early 1800's. He was a doctor and a chemist in Germany who lived from 1755 to 1843. He discovered the truth of the Law of Similars by testing small doses of medicine on himself.
By 1900, about twenty percent of doctors in the United States were homeopaths, but due to various political and social changes, homeopathy became relatively unknown in the USA until recently. There is wider acceptance of homeopathy in such countries as France, Germany, Mexico, Argentina, India and Great Britain. In fact, the family doctor to England's Queen Elizabeth is a homeopathic physician.
What are Homeopathic Remedies?
Any plant, mineral or animal substance can be used as a remedy. The original substance is diluted in liquid repeatedly, and vigorously shaken with each dilution. Unusual as it sounds, these very small amounts of remedies can act very strongly when used properly. Also, because the remedies are very diluted, they are extremely safe. The clinical experience of homeopathy shows that the micro-dose is effective: It works upon comatose people, infants and animals.
How are remedies prescribed?
The principle references used in prescribing homeopathic remedies are the Repertory and Materia Medica. The Repertory organizes years of information using symptoms of diseased states with appropriate remedies listed for each particular symptom. Materia Medica describes the complete properties of a given remedy based on provings and experience.
Is there evidence that homeopathy works?
There are literally hundreds of high quality, published basic science, pre-clinical and clinical studies showing that homeopathy works. These studies have been published in respected journals like Lancet, Pediatrics, Rheumatology, and Annals of Internal Medicine, among others.
What to expect during a visit to a homeopathic practitioner?
You will be asked to describe all your problems in detail as well as a complete description of everything that characterizes you, especially your feelings, sensations, sensitivity, psyche, and all that concerns your organism in terms of energy, sleep, appetite, digestion, etc. This thorough and initial interview requires approximately two to three hours. The better the homeopath understands the patient and his or her problems, the better they can individualize to find the specific and most similar remedy for the patient's condition.
Which diseases can be treated with homeopathy?
This may sound strange but in homeopathy we do not treat diseases, but treat the person who is sick. Whether a person has a chronic or an acute disease, all of their symptoms, whether physical, mental or emotional form a whole representing a state of imbalance very specific to this individual. The goal of the homeopath is to recognize through the unique expression of symptoms of a patient the pattern of disturbed energy and identify among the great number of remedies available the one most homeopathic, or most similar to, the patient's disease.
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Similars are Cured by Similars
Can a pregnant woman or a newborn baby benefit from homeopathy?
Since homeopathic remedies are devoid of all chemical toxicity, homeopathy is the ideal system of medicine for people of all ages, even the most sensitive like an expectant mother or a newborn baby. Difficulties during pregnancy and the delivery or its aftermath as well as all the problems experienced by the newborn can be dealt with very efficiently and without side effects with homeopathy.
How does homeopathy deal with patients affected with mental stress, emotional problems, resulting from emotional trauma, severe grief, or the consequence of mood disorders such as anger, depression or anxiety?
As incredible as it may seem, all such emotional problems normalize with the application of the homeopathic remedy that is the most similar to the state of the patient. Patients who are already under psychotherapy find out as a rule that they recover far more rapidly after they begin homeopathic treatment.
How does homeopathy address patients with infectious diseases?
Homeopathic treatment is ideal to optimize the body's natural defenses against microbes. With the appropriate homeopathic treatment, people recover from infectious diseases, even the most serious ones, gently and rapidly. During past great epidemics such as diphtheria, scarlet fever, typhoid, cholera, yellow fever, malaria, etc., homeopathy decreased mortality by 10 to 30 times versus conventional medicine. During the infamous Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-19, it has been estimated that 25 to 50 million people died world wide. In the United States alone, 550,000 died, approximately 10% of the people afflicted with the flu. Homeopathic physicians documented then more than 62,000 patients treated with homeopathy resulting in a mortality of 0.7%. For people who were sick enough to be hospitalized, conventional medicine had a mortality of 30% while with 27,000 documented hospitalized cases, homeopathy was reporting a mortality of 1.05% (Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy 1921; 13:1028-43).
Which conditions are outside the scope of homeopathy?
If a patient has a problem that necessitates a surgical intervention, the homeopath will refer this patient to a surgeon. But as surgical interventions are a shock to the organism, homeopathic treatment will be ideal to prepare the patient for surgery and help them recover from the operation. Of course, cases with dislocation or fracture will be dealt with by an orthopedic doctor. For less serious mechanical physical problems, patents will be referred to a chiropractor, osteopath, massotherapist or other appropriate therapist. Generally, people afflicted with genetic, congenital, or fixed metabolic diseases or with very advanced degeneration cannot always expect full recovery, but more often a palliative relief with homeopathy, free of side effects usually expected when palliation is done with modern drugs.
What has been the position of conventional medicine towards homeopathy?
Since the beginning, conventional medicine has tried to halt the progress of homeopathy. At best, it accuses it of giving "placebos" despite double blind studies which demonstrate the absolutely undeniable efficacy of homeopathic treatments. If homeopathy is so extraordinary, why is it not recognized universally? Although homeopathy has been practiced for more than two hundred years, it is still in its early period of growth. It is probably the most difficult medical discipline to master because it is based on the pure observation of nature, and the strict application of a natural law. Until very recently, of all the physicians who had studied homeopathy, only a very small minority had succeeded in mastering this discipline. Today with the general disillusionment in conventional medicine, homeopathy is beginning to bloom again and spread throughout the world. People find in homeopathy a system of medicine that not only displays more common sense by its respect for the whole person, but which is also more efficient in restoring health to the sick since it optimizes the extraordinary innate self-healing powers of the organism. With the advent of modern communication, the teaching of homeopathy has improved and a better comprehension and practice of homeopathy has been observed.*
*Courtesy of the National Center for Homeopathy