by Carol Thompson
The word homeopathy has become a term frequently used to describe any number of holistic healing methods. This might include nutritional supplements, herbal tinctures and pills, specific diets, and cleanses, to name a few. Often, I ask people who are experiencing health problems if they have considered homeopathy as an option. Typically, the response is a list of different vitamins, minerals, and herbs their “homeopathic” practitioner has them taking but none of which are actual homeopathic remedies. Clearly, their response indicates that many people are misinformed about this practice. While a homeopathic practitioner may occasionally suggest dietary changes or supplements, don’t be confused, these are not considered homeopathic remedies. Homeopathy is a separate discipline of healing in its own right. The same way acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, and reflexology are separate healing systems, so too is homeopathy.
What Exactly, Then, is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy was discovered by a Dr. Hahnemann in the late 1700s and early 1800s. He was a disgruntled medical doctor believing that the medical treatments of the time, did more harm than good. Fluent in many languages, he worked translating medical textbooks instead of practising medicine. One of the texts he was translating suggested that Cinchona bark from the Peruvian tree effectively treated malaria because it was so bitter. Dr. Hahnemann disagreed. He believed that Cinchona given to a healthy person would produce the same set of symptoms as those in a person suffering from malaria and resulted in healing. To prove his point, he took Cinchona bark until he became sick from it. As he speculated, the symptoms it created were very similar to those of malaria. From that time on, this method of testing a substance to determine what symptoms it creates became known as “a proving.”
We have all heard the term fighting fire with fire. Homeopathy follows this same principle—fighting an illness with something that could in effect cause a similar illness which became known as “the law of similars” or “like cures like.” If we dissect the word homeopathy—“homeo” from Greek origin and is a form of hómoios meaning similar or like, and “pathy,” also from Greek origin meaning suffering or disease. Directly translated, homeopathy means similar disease.
Hahnemann realized that everything, even substances thought to be non-toxic could be taken in amounts that would cause a toxic result or cause symptoms. Consider this:
- Salt, something deemed necessary for survival, taken in excess can cause the body to retain fluid and have an effect on blood pressure. One of the most effective homeopathic remedies for treating water retention and high blood pressure is made from salt.
- Onions, as another example, can cause eyes to burn, string, and result in tearing. Given homeopathically, onion can quickly relieve cold and allergy symptoms where there are burning, stinging, tearing eyes.
Once Hahnemann demonstrated the Law of Similars as an effective system for prescribing medicines, other intrigued doctors and individuals set out to do provings on many different substances. They studied and carefully recorded the different symptoms created by numerous substances from the plant, animal, and mineral kingdoms. With this new pharmacopeia, he started seeing patients again, prescribing homeopathic remedies based on the Law of Similars.
During Hahnemann’s time, doctors made “house calls” pulling a large cart of remedies from home to home along cobble stone streets. With his new method of prescribing, Hahnemann was reasonably satisfied with the results, however he made a brilliant observation. Patients he treated later in the day were far more likely to notice significant improvement over those he treated at the beginning of the day. After careful consideration, he surmised that the journey down the bumpy roads must make the remedies more potent.
With that line of thought, he experimented with diluting and shaking (succussing) these remedies and found that the more he diluted them the more potent they became. He developed a system of diluting the remedies so that by the time the remedy had been diluted 12 times, it surpassed Avogadro’s number, which means there is no molecular substrate of the original substance in the solution.
Current pharmaceutical medicines are frequently made of the same active ingredients as homeopathy but the difference is that pharmaceutical drugs are concentrated. The draw back to using concentrated drugs is that while the healing properties are concentrated within the drug, so too are the substances that can cause a toxic response, which, in essence, has become known as drug “side effects.” Conversely, homeopathy remedies being extremely diluted and potentized, magnify the healing properties while eliminating toxic effects as a result of concentration. What is most fascinating about homeopathy is that often times one or two doses of a remedy will completely eliminate a persistent problem, whereas concentrated drugs often require frequent repetitions and the body becomes resistant to its influence. For example, a case of tonsillitis treated repeatedly with antibiotics where eventually surgical removal was suggested. After two doses of a properly prescribed homeopathic remedy and one more repeat dose, about six months later the client was no longer burdened by her tonsils. Since there is no chance of homeopathic remedies being toxic, a remedy that is not suitably prescribed will often have no affect whatever.
While there is no proven explanation for the efficacy of homeopathy, current research at a prominent Israeli University demonstrates that water has the ability to carry up to 4,000 bits of information in the form of frequency. Since every substance has an electromagnetic field, this energetic information can be imprinted in the water and the process of diluting and shaking seems to magnify its vibrancy. Consequently, the healing of homeopathy is considered to take place on the energy level of the individual. It is the prescribing remedies based on the Law of Similars along with this method of potentizing remedies that makes homeopathy a unique and specific healing system.
There seems to be equal confusion between what a naturopath and a homeopath is.
A naturopath, to my knowledge, studies a number of different healing modalities among which homeopathy is included. Homeopathy is an extremely vast study in its own right. A homeopath can spend many years learning only homeopathy and still feel they have only scratched the surface. Since it is such vast study, naturopaths who do prescribe homeopathic remedies tend to use remedies that homeopathic pharmacies combine into what is commonly called a combination remedy. These are typically combined in extremely low potency and do not necessarily have the same healing qualities as the higher potency remedies. Some naturopaths choose, however, to further their knowledge of homeopathy and will specialize in the use of it in much the same way as a homeopath would. Homeopaths, on the other hand, study only homeopathy and typically prescribe only homeopathic remedies and rarely will they prescribe a pre-combined remedy.
Carol Thompson, of Saskatoon, has engaged in healthy lifestyles and holistic living her entire adult life. She has studied homeopathic medicine with the Devon School of Homeopathy in England and is a homeopathic consultant. To contact her, call (306) 280-2160, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, see the Directory of Services ad on page 26 of the 22.3 September/October issue of the WHOLifE Journal.