Homeopathy is a system of healing that has been with us since the mid 1700’s. It was invented by a physician named Samuel Hahnemann. Hahnemann had become disillusioned by the practice of medicine in his time and the toxicity of the treatments that were being used (sound familiar?). He was a medical historian; and through his reading, he stumbled onto an old way of treating in which the treatment involved supporting the symptom rather than trying to suppress it. His first case was a woman who was suffering from relapsing fevers and he used Peruvian bark to treat her because he knew this bark could cure such fevers. Her fever resolved, but she succumbed to toxicity from the bark itself. As a result of this experience, Hahnemann began to dilute the bark tincture and found that it continued to have the benefit in treatment without causing toxicity. He found this to be true at dilutions that were infinitesimally small. This is what began the study of homeopathy.
Homeopathy was in its heyday at the turn of the twentieth century. Most large universities (including the University of Michigan) that had medical schools also had homeopathic medical schools. The advent of antibiotics resulted in the loss of this popularity. When compared side by side, antibiotics are more effective in curing an acute pneumonia than are homeopathies. As a result of this, funding for homeopathic schools dried up and the practice nearly died out in the U.S. in the last 20 years. Homeopathy has regained popularity as people begin to realize that modem medicine is not particularly effective in dealing with chronic problems. Medications merely suppress symptoms, without necessarily addressing the underlying issue, and therefore have long term side effects.
Homeopathy is based on the principal of Like Cures Like. The homeopathic practitioner chooses a remedy to treat symptoms that would normally be caused by that remedy at full strength. By doing this, the remedy acts to stimulate the body’s own systems to cure the problem. Choosing a homeopathic remedy involves taking a history that goes beyond the symptom at hand. Your symptom may be a cough, but selecting a remedy out of the many that treat coughs may have more to do with your fears or sleep patterns than the cough itself. Because of this, it is essential that you let your homeopathic practitioner know all of the symptoms you may have, not simply the main one. We tend to “sugar coat” things when it comes to our symptoms and leave out significant details. To the homeopathic practitioner, it is these details that can be the most helpful. The “holy grail” of homeopathy is to find a remedy that exactly describes the patient including the current, acute symptoms.
Homeopathy can be used for acute symptoms (i.e. headaches, cough, fevers, abdominal pain, etc.), but it has its greatest benefit when used for chronic conditions. Issues we may have had from birth, inheritance, old traumas or incompletely healed illnesses, or emotional stressors are a few examples of what can be addressed using homeopathy. Homeopathic can work on people of all ages but are particularly effective on children. Many childhood illnesses, health issues, and fears can be improved through the use of homeopathy.
Homeopathic remedies come in a number of forms. For the most part, they will either be in a pellet tablet form or in a liquid/drop form. They are placed on or under the tongue and allowed to absorb there. It is essential that the mouth be clear of any food, mint, garlic, coffee, or any other strong odor. The best time to take a homeopathic is on an empty stomach. Homeopathies, by themselves, do not have side effects. Any symptoms that might develop as a result of the homeopathic treatment are part of the healing process and should be brought to the attention of your practitioner.