More About Homeopathy

Historically, the three best-known basic ways of treating illness are standard medicine, homeopathy, and the simple practice of a healthy lifestyle.  Although a healthy lifestyle, including good nutrition and hygiene, can be a method of treating illness in its own right, most homeopaths and some physicians make use of its important, supportive role in treating the sick person. Of these three basic approaches to treating illness, traditional medicine, in spite of its shortcomings, has become the most widely practiced system of medicine today.

Hippocrates practiced an early version of homeopathy and understood that like cures like and that like prevents like. In other words, substances that produce symptoms similar to those a patient exhibits can cure or prevent those symptoms.  Standard medicine makes use of this early form of homeopathy in its use of allergy shots (like cures like) and vaccinations (like prevents like).  Although this law of nature, or law of similars, has important uses in the world of standard medicine, it is the foundation upon which homeopathy rests.  Indeed, homeopathy, means ‘to treat with something that produces an effect similar to the disease.’  Conventional medicine, on the other hand, most often uses medicines capable of producing symptoms contrary or opposite to those the patient exhibits.  For example, a physician often prescribes an anti-diarrheal medication that would produce constipation in healthy people.  This approach to addressing illness has grown to be the most dominant form of medicine in practice today, despite its being essentially non-curative, and despite the fact that it often suppresses symptoms and even adds new toxic symptoms called side effects.

Homeopathy, in contrast to conventional medicine, does not view a patient’s symptoms as being the disorder. Instead of the standard medical assumption that a medicine must be given to relieve a symptom the body produces, homeopathy sees symptoms as the system’s response to a disorder, as the system’s attempt to free itself from suffering.  A homeopath looks not only to the chief complaint of diarrhea, for example, but considers, as well, the other distinct changes the patient has experienced since becoming ill, including any emotional changes.  Consequently, the homeopath does not routinely prescribe for any named condition, but searches for a unique, single prescription that matches the patient’s present state.  The sick person’s symptom complex becomes a kind of “sign language” guiding the homeopath to a particular remedy suited to that particular patient.

Over 200 years ago, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, a prominent physician and medical author, made important discoveries leading to insights that have radically altered our understanding of health and disease.  Hahnemann’s work led to the development of homeopathy, as it is today, a highly systematic method of powerfully stimulating the body’s vital force to cure illness.  Although rejected at first by the medical establishment, his work led to a widespread approval of homeopathy as a dramatically curative approach to healing throughout Europe and the world.  Even in the United States, many homeopathic colleges came into being and a monument to Hahnemann was constructed at Scott Circle in Washington, DC in 1900.  Hahnemann’s discoveries led to a much deeper understanding of the law of similars, further proving the efficacy of treating illness with something producing in a healthy person an effect similar to the disease.  He further discovered homeopathy to be a very effective, gentle way to powerfully stimulate the body’s natural defenses by giving these mostly natural substances in highly agitated and diluted form.  He proved that these procedures of dilution and agitation greatly enhanced their power and reduced their toxicity to nil.  Hahnemann’s work seems to point us to an understanding that the bodily system, after exposure to a prescribed remedy, or “magnified” version of what it is already struggling with, works even harder to rid itself of both the original and the similar, but stronger, artificial disturbance.

Pharmacies manufacturing homeopathic remedies in the USA are all FDA inspected and regulated.  They use hundreds, if not thousands, of mostly animal, mineral or vegetable substances that have been carefully studied to discover their unique effects on the body, mind and emotions.  These ordinary substances, such as common table salt, sulfur, phosphorus, pasque flower, etc., become deeply acting homeopathic remedies after undergoing a simple process of repetitive dilutions, usually in a ratio of 1:100, or 1 part of the remedy to 99 parts of the diluting medium.  For soluble substances, the diluting medium is water and alcohol.  For insoluble substances, the diluting medium is sugar, followed by water and alcohol.  Friction is applied at each dilution by shaking soluble substances in the alcohol and water mixture.  Friction is applied to insoluble substances, such as phosphorus or sulfur, by first grinding the substance in sugar. By the third dilution, an insoluble material becomes soluble, and it may be shaken in water and alcohol.

In treating his patient, the homeopath may choose one of several potencies of a particular remedy, such as a 30C potency (considered medium strength) or a 200C potency. The number of times a remedy has undergone the friction/dilution process determines its potency.  For instance, a 30C potency of a table salt preparation (called Natrum Muriaticum) is made by dissolving 1 part of salt into 99 parts of alcohol and water, shaking, then placing 1 drop of that mixture into another 99 parts of alcohol/water, and so on, until the process has been repeated 30 times. When chemically analyzed, we find that after the 13th dilution no original substance (salt in this example) is present, yet the salt’s symptom-producing quality increases at each dilution and remains stable in the diluting medium.  Sugar pellets are then moistened with the liquid remedy, bottled and dispensed. The patient activates the remedy by placing a pellet or two in a small amount of pure water and agitating it before ingesting it, thereby liberating the energy or information field that is unique to each remedy. It is interesting to note that remedies derived from minerals (we are made from mostly minerals) are considered the deepest acting and are usually needed at the end of the treatment sequence before cure is attained, that is, in those cases where cure is possible.

It may be important to note that one of the reasons that homeopathy has fallen into disfavor in the United States is that it makes use of these simpler, inexpensive remedies.  The development and marketing of more lucrative pharmaceuticals have contributed to the popularity of traditional medicine, while detracting from the less profitable homeopathic use of simple medications.

While simple in theory, the homeopathic process requires skill, experience, time and commitment, especially in treating chronic conditions. There are no easy, fast or certain solutions for many medical problems, especially those having greater pathology (or advanced tissue alterations). The homeopath and his patient must evaluate together the changes that follow homeopathic stimulation to gain the most rapid recovery of health.