WHAT IS HOMEOPATHY?
Homeopathy is a safe and effective form of complementary medicine that was developed over two hundred years ago and is used by millions of people worldwide (www.hri-research.org). Homeopathy is holistic, which means that we consider the person as a whole, taking account of their physical, mental and emotional conditions and the relationship between them, and seeing symptoms as an expression of imbalance in the whole person. Remedies are used to address this imbalance and strengthen the patient’s whole system, encouraging an improvement in overall well-being.
The aim of Homeopathy, in the words of its founder Samuel Hahnemann, is ‘the rapid, gentle and permanent restoration of health’, through an understanding of the patient’s condition, the possible causes and factors contributing to an ongoing state of ill-health, and the use of appropriately selected remedies. It is often important that the patient also comes to a new understanding of their self and the causes of their illness. In these ways, homeopathic treatment can initiate profound changes at all levels in a person. Although generally the longer you have suffered from a condition the longer it will take to treat, it is possible to experience an improvement in overall well-being quite quickly.
Homeopathy can be used in both acute and chronic conditions and is safe for children and adults, including newborn babies, pregnant women and the elderly. It is important to address the underlying cause of the problem, and each patient is treated as an individual with their own specific characteristics and context. We are more interested in the individual’s symptoms than the name of the condition because illnesses are manifested differently in each person. It is also important to explore possible causes. There are many reasons why people get colds, anxiety or allergies for example: the type of homeopathic treatment and remedies required will depend on the patient's symptoms and history of the condition. In order to understand the condition effectively we may want to know what activities or food make it better or worse, or at what times of day or night symptoms are worse, or whether the pain is more on the left or right side of the body. It can sometimes be helpful to identify deeper mental or emotional causes as well as gaining an accurate physical picture of the illness.
It is possible to use homeopathy alongside conventional treatments, and patients are encouraged to use it as part of an overall treatment plan.
Homeopathy is based on four basic principles: the law of similars (treating like with like), the totality of symptoms (physical, mental and emotional), the minimum dose, and the use of a single remedy at a time. Remedies are made from plants, minerals and animal sources. During the process of making a remedy, the substance is diluted and succussed (shaken) to such a degree that there is often no physical trace of the original substance remaining. One of the paradoxes of homeopathy, which has made it hard to be accepted by conventional scientists, is that the more dilute the original substance becomes, the more powerful it is as a homeopathic remedy. It thus works at an energetic rather than a purely physical level.
Homeopathy was developed over two hundred years ago by Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), a German doctor who had become disillusioned by the treatments of the time, and the dreadful, sometimes fatal side-effects. He became interested in the ‘principle of similars,’ which had been first documented by Hippocrates in ancient Greece (c.400 BC), in which substances that cause certain effects in healthy people are used to treat these same effects in the sick.
One of Hahnemann’s unique contributions to medicine was the discovery that by diluting the substance further and further, whilst succussing (shaking) it at each stage of dilution, its healing properties were increased. Another of Hahnemann’s unique contributions to medicine was the fact that he tested new remedies on healthy people in a systematic manner, painstakingly recording the results (‘provings’). These were the first scientific trials on potential medicinal substances. One of Hahnemann’s principles was the use of a single remedy at a time, so the effect could be monitored and clearly evaluated, a principle which is still important in homeopathic treatment today.