An Introduction to Homeopathy

Homeopathy is based on the philosophy that symptoms of illness or dysfunction are actually the body's way of trying to eliminate the cause of the illness or condition.  In this way we see a person develop a fever when the body needs to eliminate an infectious organism, or inflammation will occur at the site of an injury where increased blood flow will help the damaged part heal. Generally, it is preferable to allow the body to perform these functions rather than to suppress them using medicines that will oppose the body's own immune system. 

It is obvious that each person will develop a set of slightly different symptoms from the next person, and homeopathy treats each person as an individual.  This means that just because a certain remedy helped a person get over a tummy bug, it does not mean that exactly the same remedy will help another person.  It all depends upon the combination of symptoms that each person has.

Homeopathic remedies are made from natural substances, whether they be plants, minerals or animals.  They are then diluted in a mixture of alcohol and water, often to the extent that there is no longer any active molecule remaining in the dilution.  This has the advantage that otherwise harmful substances such as Belldonna can be used to address the symptoms of childhood fevers, or in the case of Digitalis, a weakened heart. To determine which remedies can be used for what conditions, the remedies are first 'proved'.  This is a documented procedure whereby a group of healthy adults will take a low dose of a particular remedy, and then individually keep detailed notes about the effects that the remedy has had.  These could be mental/emotional such as dreams or mood swings, or relate purely to the physical. These detailed notes of the symptoms are then collated and added to the Materia Medica.  When a person presents with various symptoms, these are then matched with the symptoms that 'provers' have experienced using a particular remedy.

Because of the extent of the dilutions used in homeopathy, these remedies are not usually considered as 'herbal'.  However, many of the plants used in homeopathy have been used for centuries as herbal medicine and may even form the basis for some traditional western medicines. Homeopathy can be used alongside western medicine, and in my practice I prefer to use homeopathic remedies in a complementary way to any medication that a person is already on.

One of the Laws of Homeopathy is the Law of the Minimum Dose.  The founder of homeopathy - Samuel Hahnemann - believed that only the smallest dose possible should be given in order to bring about relief in the gentlest way.  This may mean that a person is only given one dose and then waits until any signs of symptoms return.  In some cases, for example in the more acute stages of injury or infectious illness, a low dose could be given several times in one day for  a few days, until the injury starts to heal or the fever etc breaks. It is a bit like the layers of an onion, and each layer needs to be addressed in turn. 

During a consultation the homeopath will ask many questions about how the individual adapts and relates to the environment around them e.g. sleep, food preferences and aversions, temperature preferences etc. This information is then used to find the remedy that best suits the individual charateristics of the person, as well as the presenting symptoms.

Because homeopathic remedies work on the energetic spectrum, there are certain ways that they must be stored so that they are not deactivated or contaminated by other substances around them.  Similarly, when a homeopathic remedy is taken, the mouth should be free of food and drink for a minimum of 15 minutes before and again after taking the remedy.  Written instructions will be given about this whenever a remedy is prescribed.