Homeopathy is a holistic form of medicine that aims to help the body heal itself. It works for both acute (short-term) illnesses and chronic (long-term) ailments, and the prevention of illness is as crucial to its philosophy as the treatment. The name homeopathy comes from the Greek word homios meaning "like" and pathos meaning "suffering." The word "homeopathy" simply means treating like with like. This means that a substance that causes symptoms of illness in a well person can also be used to cure similar symptoms when they result from illness.
The minute substances used in treatment are called homeopathic remedies. There are over 3,000 homeopathic remedies, which are usually referred to by their abbreviated name, for example Arsenicum album becomes Ars. alb. And Mercurius solubilis becomes Merc. sol.
The timing of homeopathic remedies is very significant and is a part of the prescribing process.
HOW HOMEOPATHY WORKS
Homeopaths prescribe remedies for the "whole" person, and the practice of homeopathy is still based on the three principles established by Dr. Hahnemann. This is the "law of similars," the principle of the minimum does of prescribing for the individual.
The law of similars states that a substance that can produce symptoms of illness in a well person can, in minute doses, cure similar symptoms of disease. The minimum does states that by diluting a substance, its curative properties are enhanced and any side effects are eliminated.
Whole-person prescribing is probably the most important part of homeopathy, for the fundamental philosophy behind the practice is that each person is an individual and must be treated as such. A homeopath studies a person's temperament, personality, emotional and physical responses, even the food they like and dislike before prescribing.
Homeopaths believe that treatment works according to a set of rules known as the "Laws of Cure," and these state that:
- A remedy beings to work from the top of the body downward
- It works from the inside out and from major to minor organs
- Symptoms clear in reverse order of their appearance
Homeopaths also believe that a person's constitution is made up of inherited and acquired physical, mental, and emotional characteristics and that these can be matched to a particular remedy that will improve their health, no matter what their illness.
Furthermore, people with similar characteristics and constitutions can be grouped under one of the constitutional remedy types, if they all share specific physical and emotional characteristics. Your constitutional type can change as your physique, health, and attitudes change, and some people can be a combination of constitutional types.
It is not clear exactly how homeopathy works, but studies have proved that it does. Hahnemann believed that remedies worked to balance the body so it was able to heal itself.
The first consultation will take upward of an hour. Your homeopath will ask you numerous questions about yourself in order to build up a complete picture of you and your mental, physical, and emotional health. You will be asked about your family health, past illnesses, lifestyle, and diet, and the more specific and unusual questions such as how you react to cold, or what sorts of food you like, and how you sleep, feel about darkness, and face responsibility. It is these last, seemingly trivial details, which help your homeopath to pinpoint the remedy most suitable for you.
Remedies are usually prescribed one at a time and may change as your symptoms clear. The remedy will come in the form of small pills, tablets, granules, powder, or liquid, which should be taken a half-hour before or after eating and drinking.
Diet and lifestyle changes may be suggested, and you can expect to have a follow-up visit in order to check how the remedies are working. Treatment may only take one or two visits, but long-term conditions may take much longer. You should see some change in your condition within a few days.
A number of substances have the ability to counteract the homeopathic remedies, and these include coffee, alcohol, tobacco, mint flavorings, highly perfumed cosmetics, strong smelling household cleaners, and aromatherapy oils. Avoid these when taking homeopathic remedies.
WHAT HOMEOPATHY CAN TREAT
Homeopathy can treat almost any complaint - physical and psychological - although its efficacy appears to be dependent on the individual. Everything from indigestion, catarrh, childhood illnesses, gallstones, depression, burns, sports injuries, allergies, and stress to travel sickness, peptic ulcers, kidney disorders, hyperactivity, cold sores, and bursitis will respond, depending on the other stops that are taken by the sufferer to attain and maintain good health.
CAUTIONS AND CONTRADICTIONS
Homeopathic remedies are completely safe for everyone from children to the elderly, in all state of health. It is essential, however, to take remedies only for as long as you need them, and to advise both your physician and your homeopath if wish to take remedies alongside conventional medical treatment.