What is homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a form of holistic medicine used worldwide to treat both acute and chronic conditions. It is based on the principle of ‘like cures like’ – in other words, a substance taken in small amounts will cure the same symptoms it would cause if it were taken in large amounts.
The purpose of a homeopathic remedy is to stimulate the body’s own natural healing powers to bring health, vitality and well-being. This differs from orthodox medicine where medication is given to do the healing ‘for us’, so for example antibiotics are given to kill the bacteria causing illness within us, rather than stimulate our immune system to achieve this by itself.
A homeopath will prescribe a remedy that treats the whole person, encompassing all aspects of any ill health the patient is experiencing (including difficult emotions and psychological difficulties) rather than giving different medicines for different parts of the body as an orthodox medical practitioner will tend to do.
Homeopathy supports what it terms the ‘vital force’ which is similar to the idea of chi or prana in Eastern medicine. Patients often report improvement in overall energy, mood, quality of sleep, and digestion, and the disappearance of other symptoms apparently unrelated to the condition being treated with homeopathy.
I can personally vouch for that last statement – in my 20’s I suffered from an almost continuous cycle of respiratory infections that rarely left me. I went to my General Practitioner and it got to the stage that he wouldn’t even look up from his desk when I went in, he would just write out a prescription for antibiotics and pass it to me. The day that happened I realised there was no point in continuing to expect any improvement in my condition from anything my GP could offer and so I sought out a homeopath. It wasn’t a spontaneous decision from nowhere, I’d already developed an interest in alternative health but not tried out anything until that point. I found Sara, my homeopath to this day, 20 years later. I actually went to see her about some fairly serious eczema that I would get on my scalp and chest but within 3 months of her initial treatment, I had ceased to have the eczema and also became significantly less prone to respiratory illness, to the extent that I went from pretty much continuous serious coughing and wheezing (I was even prescribed an inhaler at one point) to having barely 2 colds or flu infections per year, and rarely do they last more than a week. From the perspective of homeopathy that would align with expectations however as it ‘heals from within’ so the eczema would be seen as an outer manifestation of the inner respiratory difficulty, and so the respiratory issue healed first and then the eczema healed.
Homeopaths take into consideration a patient’s patterns of responding to the different things going on in their lives, their physical symptoms, the things that they are stressed by, their dietary preferences, their regularity or otherwise in going to the toilet and various other factors. They cross-reference them in order to decide on a remedy that is specific to the patient and their presenting issues at that time. Homeopathic prescribing tries to identify a remedy that has characteristics that are as similar as possible to the characteristics of the illness in the patient. Because of this, an appointment with a homeopath is not over in 5 minutes as it will often be with a GP. It will almost always be an hour and possibly longer because homeopathy is individualised and based upon a holistic assessment of the patient and their presenting issues. While a patient themselves may come with a complaint of ‘flu’, the homeopath will look at much more than just the symptoms that suggest that. They will look at emotional factors, physical factors, situations that are stressful for them at the time etc. before deciding on the appropriate remedy.
This means that even if an orthodox medical diagnosis of a patient’s condition proves difficult, they can still be treated by homeopathy as there is not a need to ‘name’ the condition before cross referencing its different symptoms can go ahead and a remedy chosen. In orthodox medicine the problem has to be named first before an appropriate treatment can be prescribed. This is one of the many ways in which homeopathic treatment provides a powerful alternative or complement to orthodox medical treatment.
What are homeopathic remedies?
Homeopathic medicines are manufactured using a process which combines serial dilution followed by succussion (vigorous shaking). Any remedy is created from a ‘Mother Tincture’:
A mother tincture made from a specific plant source is processed by macerating the plant, or a particular part of a plant then letting it soak in an alcohol water solution for quite some time. (Just to note, a specific plant is gathered very carefully at a particular time of year in a specific location and in its appropriate state.) This macerated plant, alcohol, and water mixture is stored in a dark place to prevent light from changing the chemical properties.
This soaking lasts long enough to fully draw the properties of the plant into the water and alcohol. The water leeches into itself the chemical properties from the crushed plant material over time. The alcohol is primarily used as an astringent to help draw substances out of the plant and as a preservative so the plant material doesn’t rot or breed bacteria. When ready, this mixture is strained of the course residual plant material (pulp) leaving a tinctured solution saturated with the chemical properties of the original plant. This tinctured solution is now called the mother tincture. (From Classic Homeopathy website)
Once the mother tincture has been created the remedy is potentised by succussion. What this means is that one drop of the mother tincture is put into a small glass bottle and nine drops of a solvent liquid (usually a water/alcohol mix) is added. The bottle top is put on and the bottle is vigorously shaken (succussion). The shaking is essential to activate the remedy. Doing this once makes a ‘1x’ potency. A drop of the new solution is then taken and the same is done again so effectively that means that the dilution is now 100 times (called 2x). This is repeated until the dilution reaches at least 6x (1 part in 1,000,000) – this is the potency level that most homeopathic remedies you can buy will start at. But their potency could go to a level of 30x (yes that’s 1 part in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) The greater the dilution the more powerful the remedy in homeopathic treatment.
Some people suggest that once this level of dilution is reached there is so little of the original mother tincture present that it cannot be active. There are some explanations for how it might be possible for there still to be an impact from the original mother tincture because of a suggested capacity for water to store information about substances it has come into contact with and it is this that stimulates the patient’s immune system and vital force to move to heal itself when they take the remedy.
For some who have experienced homeopathy and found it to work, such as myself, the lack of explanation is not that important, but there are some who believe that homeopathy cannot work as the theory behind it does not fit with orthodox medical thinking (that which underpins medical practice used by GP’s in the west). But the thinking does align with a lot of eastern medical philosophy and so it may be that explanation of the processes by which homeopathy works will come from a different one than the prevailing ‘scientific paradigm’ that is used in the western world, by which I mean mainly USA, UK, Canada and Europe.
Here’s an example of the extent to which some people are willing to go to dissuade others from using homeopathy:
Despite the objections and suggestions that homeopathy doesn’t work there are many people in all parts of the world who go to a homeopath for support with their health.
What do you think?
https://www.hri-research.org Homeopathy Research Institute UK
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