Homeopathy 101: your questions answered
First developed in Germany in the late 18th century by physician Samuel Hahnemann, homeopathy is a natural method of treatment that works in harmony with the immune system and triggers or intensifies the body’s own healing mechanisms. It focuses on the whole person, considering physical, emotional and mental aspects. It is free from side effects and can be used for both acute and chronic conditions. It is also great for preventative care as it improves a person’s resistance to infections and possible illnesses by boosting the immune system and overall health.
The word homeopathy comes from the Greek and means “similar suffering”. It is based on the principle of “treating like with like” – a substance that causes symptoms in a healthy person, can be used to treat similar symptoms in a sick person. It is also known to homeopaths as “the law of similars”.
Instead of suppressing the symptoms of an illness, homeopathy actually mimics them for a short time and therefore encourages the body’s healing process. It works with rather than against the body’s own repair mechanisms.
Homeopathic remedies use materials derived from flora, fauna and minerals, which are prepared by repeatedly diluting the substances. Part of the dilution involves a special method of shaking called “succussion” and medicines which have been prepared this way are called “potentised” medicines.
While the amount of actual substance decreases with each dilution, to the point where the substance can no longer be chemically detected, the curative power of the remedy increases. The substance, while no longer present in a molecular state, has imprinted its “energy pattern” on the remedy.
Active and curative
Although it is not precisely understood how homeopathic medicines work, there is clear evidence that the medicines are active and can be curative. Homeopaths believe that it is the energy or "vibrational pattern" of the remedy, rather than the chemical content, that stimulates the healing power that exists in all of us.
However, as it cannot be measured or explained scientifically, scientists are quick to dismiss it.
There is a great number of studies that point to the efficacy of homeopathy, the latest being a comprehensive report of the Swiss Government that reviewed a significant body of evidence and determined homeopathy to be both effective and considerably more cost effective than conventional medicine.
What happens when you take a remedy? The changes may be minimal at first and occasionally some people experience a slight worsening of symptoms. This effect will be brief, though, and is a sign that the body’s natural healing energies have started to counteract the illness.
It is important to note that the small doses prescribed by homeopathic doctors only have an effect when a person has a hypersensitivity to the small doses given. If the wrong medicine is given to a person, nothing will happen, however, if the correct medicine is given, the medicine kick-starts the body’s defences and the process of healing starts.
Homeopathic remedies are usually fast acting in acute inflammations and infections such as fever, diarrhoea, motion sickness, vomiting, flu, colds and ear infections.
Chronic diseases, however, will require a bit more patience as they have existed over a longer period of time and have more complex origins.
Safe for everyone
Homeopathy is safe for everyone, including babies, children, pregnant women and people with serious conditions.
Can I combine homeopathy with conventional medicine? Absolutely. Both conventional and homeopathic medicines have some great advantages and one should not exclude the other. Both systems are needed and they can mutually help each other. Depending on the type of disease, homeopathy and conventional medicine are complementary. For example, if a patient is seriously ill, he should receive conventional medicine to treat acute reactions immediately. However, homeopathy can assist the body to heal faster. Homeopathy is also very effective in treating chronic diseases.
You should inform both your doctor and homeopath of medication and treatment, in order for their treatment to be complementary. In most cases when starting homeopathic treatment you remain on your current conventional medicines until your symptoms improve and your doctor can reduce your conventional medicine in a safe way whilst continuing to monitor your progress.