Introduction to Homeopathy
Homeopathy is a systematic, scientific method of therapy that stimulates and fine tunes an individual’s ability to heal and function optimally. The homeopathic system was first formulated and verified 200 years ago by a brilliant German physician named Samuel Hahnemann. Finding the medical practices of his time to be dangerous and ineffective (bloodletting, mercury salts, etc…), he began his own research into consistent, effective principles of medicine. After discovering the basic tenets of homeopathy and verifying that it worked, he went back into medical practice. Homeopathy rose in popularity in Europe after dramatic success was seen in the treatment of epidemic diseases where most other methods failed. By the beginning of the 20th century in the United States, 15-20% of all doctors were homeopaths. Despite repeated criticism from pharmaceutically based orthodox medical circles, the validity and effectiveness of Hahnemann’s ideas have been consistently demonstrated for 200 years when applied correctly.
Dr. Hahnemann did the experiment of taking Cinchona bark (a quinine containing substance successfully used to treat malaria) while he was in a healthy state. He then developed the symptoms of malaria. That was the beginning of extensive testing and experiments with many substances to determine what symptoms they caused in healthy people. These mental, emotional, and physical symptoms were observed and catalogued. Each substance provoked its own unique pattern of symptoms in healthy people. These experiments and their records are called provings. Hahnemann’s hypothesis is that ‘like cures like”. Whatever produces certain symptoms in a well person will cure those same symptoms in a sick person. If the totality of a person’s symptoms matches the proving of a particular substance, that medicine will be curative for them when given in a specially prepared homeopathic dilution.
The beauty of homeopathy is that the medicines are given in absolutely non-toxic doses. As Dr. Hahnemann continued his experiments, he found that his patients got better faster and with fewer complications if he carefully diluted each medicine. Even better results were obtained if he shook the vial of medicine between successive dilutions. The shaking process is called succussion. In practice, with increased repetitions of dilution and succussion, the medicine demonstrates a stronger therapeutic impact without stronger side effects as long as it is administered properly. During the potentizing process, the solvent takes on a magnified expression of the vibrational pattern of the original substance. Homeopathic medicines in a 12C potency or higher have no molecules of the original substance. Their influence on the body is purely on an electromagnetic level. Scientific research and theory is now beginning to explain this phenomenon. Today, homeopathic medicines are produced in pharmacies which are federally regulated and standardized.
Homeopaths see symptoms as the intelligent response of our innate vital force in its attempt to heal and correct imbalances. The task of a homeopathic practitioner is to gather as much information as possible about a person’s symptoms, about their current state in general and how they got there in life. With a complete understanding of an individual’s mental, emotional and physical state, the homeopath can choose a homeopathic medicine that is a good fit for the whole picture. A precisely chosen homeopathic prescription will stimulate the body to correct the imbalances which are causing the symptoms. The remedy does not heal the person; the remedy allows the person’s own self healing ability to function more effectively. To put it another way, the curative medicine has a vibrational pattern which exactly matches the person’s vibrational pattern in their imbalance or diseased state. As the vital force reacts to the well-aimed remedy, it overcomes the disease and reestablishes balance.
Homeopathy is useful in first aid situations, acute self-limiting illnesses, long-term chronic problems, emotional problems, obstetrical and pediatric problems, and preventively for general constitutional strengthening. In all cases, the remedy is chosen based upon the symptoms you express. Thus it is important that you be as complete as possible in describing your symptoms and answering the homeopath’s questions. Usually a homeopath must take a fair amount of time to collect all the information and to evaluate it in order to assess which remedy best matches the total symptoms picture. You may receive a homeopathic medication at the time of the visit or the homeopath may study your case for a few days before prescribing.
Cure is the goal in homeopathy. Results show that the vast majority of our patients can expect great strides toward that goal. Our definition of cure is the attainment of a high degree of health. George Vithoulkas, one of the foremost homeopaths in the world today, defines health in terms of freedom. Health on the physical level is freedom from having to put undue attention on the body due to pain, weakness or dysfunction. Emotional health would include the capacity to experience a broad spectrum of emotions or passion without feeling limited or trapped by those feelings. Freedom of function on the mental plane would include clear cognitive ability approaching selfless creativity. Ultimately we are seeking freedom from limitation on all these levels, allowing a person a constructive fulfillment of their true self.
Homeopathic medicines are prescribed in a variety of forms, potencies and frequency of repetition. Low potency medicines may be given on a daily basis in either pellet or liquid form. With daily prescribing, you will receive specific instructions on how to take the doses and when to check in and make any changes.
High potency homeopathic medicines are usually given infrequently, rarely more than once a month and often only several times in a year. Initially after a single dose of a high potency medicine, there may be a mild intensification of current or old symptoms, as one’s innate ability to heal is stimulated back into proper function. This is a good sign and usually passes within a few hours or days. If you have any concerns about an intense reaction, please call. With chronic long term problems, deep acting homeopathic medicines may work over a longer period of time in order to bring about deep resolution. The medicine may need repetition and/or a change in potency at appropriate intervals. Sometimes several remedies may be given in succession as we work through the layers of the problem. The depth and previous duration of the problem will dictate the length of treatment and frequency of follow up appointments. As people (or pets) become more well and resilient, we can go longer between appointments. Some people prefer checking in once or twice yearly to proactively support their health once their chief complaints have resolved.
The therapeutic effect of homeopathic medication has been shown to be weakened (or we say ‘antidoted’) partially or completely by various substances or other treatments. One could say that a proper homeopathic prescription is a ‘tuning’ influence on an individual’s own ability to heal. This tuning influence can be affected by substances or experiences which are ‘un-tuning’ for an individual. Antidoting influences vary with individuals depending on their unique susceptibilities. Substances thought to be antidoting include aromatic substances (such as liniments containing camphor and menthol, strong mouth washes, paint and solvents), pharmaceutical and recreational drugs, medicinal strength herbs and supplements. Electrical and other energetic treatments like electrolysis, electric blankets, ultrasound therapy, as well as other homeopathic medicines like flower essences can disrupt homeopathic treatment in some people. Traditionally in this country, homeopathic clients have been told that coffee and dental work counteract homeopathy. In my experience, this is true for some people and not for others. Single dose, high potency prescribing, where only one dose is given over a period of weeks or months, has traditionally been thought to be more vulnerable to antidoting influences. Typically, daily prescribing is more resilient. Make sure to discuss this matter with your prescriber so that there is no confusion about what in your regime is or is not compatible with the homeopathic care you are receiving.
Homeopathic medications should be stored in a cool, dark place in their glass or plastic vials with their lids on tight. Store them away from strong smelling substances and out of known electromagnetic fields, for example, do not keep them on top of your television or computer. Don’t open more than one vial at a time as it is thought possible that they could influence each other. If you pour out too many pellets or spill them, throw those away; do not return them to the vial. Don’t take the medicines directly from the cap of the vial of pellets, or from the dropper in the case of the liquids. This is a hygiene issue. We don’t want to introduce germs to the stock bottles.
This paper is only a very brief introduction to some of principles and processes of homeopathy. If you want to learn more, the following references are good places to start:
The Science of Homeopathy by George Vithoulkas. The first half of this book is very readable and goes deeply into the basic principles.
Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21st Century by Dana Ullman describes the broad applications of homeopathy. Dana Ullman has collected much of the current research about homeopathy in some of his other writings. He operates a company called Homeopathic Educational Services (www.homeopathic.com) which sells books and kits and other educational materials.
Two good “at home” guides are:
Homeopathic Medicine at Home by Panos and Heimlich
Everybody’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicines by Cummings and Ullman
The National Center for Homeopathy is a national organization which promotes homeopathy. They have an excellent website where you can get all kinds of information about history, theory, politics, homeopathic education and more. http://nationalcenterforhomeopathy.org
Homeopathy School International provides an excellent 2-year course with an optional 3rd year in the basic tenets and practice of homeopathy. The school provides flexible programs suitable for health care practitioners seeking to add the tool of homeopathy, lay people seeking to practice homeopathy and individuals wanting a deeper knowledge of the topic in their own lives. For more information, you can visit the website at: