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What are Homeopathics?

Homeopathic remedies (also called homeopathics) are a system of medicine based on three principles:

  • Like cures like
    For example, if the symptoms of your cold are similar to poisoning by mercury, then mercury would be your homeopathic remedy.
  • Minimal Dose
    The remedy is taken in an extremely dilute form; normally one part of the remedy to around 1,000,000,000,000 parts of water.
  • The Single Remedy
    No matter how many symptoms are experienced, only one remedy is taken, and that remedy will be aimed at all those symptoms.

Similar principals forms the basis of conventional allergy treatment, where the allergic substance is given in a small dose, and in vaccines where an impotent form of the virus is given to bolster the immune system against that particular virus.

Why use Homeopathics?

Homeopathy is the second most widely used system of medicine in the world. Its growth in popularity in the United States has been around 25 to 50 percent a year throughout the last decade.

This success is fueled by several factors:

  • Homeopathy is extremely effective. When the correct remedy is taken, results can be rapid, complete and permanent.
  • Homeopathy is completely safe. Even babies and pregnant women can use Homeopathy without the danger of side effects. Homeopathic remedies can also be taken alongside other medication without producing unwanted side effects.
  • Homeopathy is natural. Homeopathic remedies are normally based on natural ingredients.
  • Homeopathy works in harmony with your immune system, unlike some conventional medicines which suppress the immune system. (For example, cough medicines suppress the cough reflex, which is your body's attempt to clear the lungs)
  • Homeopathic remedies are not addictive - once relief is felt, you should stop taking them. If no relief is felt, you are probably taking the wrong homeopathic remedy.
  • Homeopathy is holistic. It treats all the symptoms as one, which in practical terms means that it addresses the cause, not the symptoms. This often means that symptoms tackled with Homeopathy do not recur.

Homeopathy - Like Cures Like

Homeopathy, from Greek homoeo (meaning similar) and pathos (meaning suffering) is a system of medicine based on treating like with like. The same principle is widespread in mainstream medicine, the most notable examples being antidotes and vaccines. However, Homeopathy takes this premise a step further: if my symptoms produce an effect on me similar to a tarantula's bite, then tarantula venom would be my homeopathic treatment, even though I've not actually been bitten by a tarantula.

The theory that like can be treated with like can be traced back as far Hypocrites (468 -377 BC), but it wasn't until the work of Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) that the theory developed into a usable practice.

Hahneman's provings consisted in giving doses of various substances to both himself and his healthy volunteers, and noting the effects in detail. For safety reasons, the substances taken were very dilute, and it is here that Hahnemann chanced upon one of the more puzzling aspects of Homeopathy. The more dilute a homeopathic medicine is, the more effective it is in treating illness.

Hahneman's work was continued by James Tyler Kent in 1877-78. Kent's interest in Homoeopathic medicine was prompted by his wife's serious illness, which failed to respond to any other form of medicine available at the time. Kent's position as Professor of Anatomy (at the American Medical College, St. Louis) placed him perfectly to observe the effects of substances in precise detail. Kent's research into Homeopathy became his life's work, and he conducted provings on some 650 materials, observing over 64,000 symptoms. Even today, Kent's is still the most widely used repertory in Homeopathy.

The repertory used in this site's remedy finder is based on Kent's, with no additions, but some changes have been necessary in order to make its use easier for the modern day layman, including plain English Terminology, and categorizing symptoms where possible.

Classical Homeopathy - Treating the Whole Person

Classical Homeopathy is a holistic medicine; in other words it aims to treat the whole person. It may seem unusual to those used to allopathic (conventional) medicine, where one medicine is taken for a skin complaint, another for a headache, and yet another for sleeplessness.

If you use the remedy finder frequently, you may find that one particular remedy comes up time and time again for your complaints - however diverse they appear to be. For example, in testing the online remedy finder, on my own symptoms ranging from insomnia, headaches, to stomach complaints, Phosphor was frequently the suggested remedy. There is something in my nature, underneath any passing symptoms, which is akin to Phosphor.

A common cold, for example, is one virus which produces a myriad of effects, subtly different in different people. Different people with a cold caused by the same virus may exhibit different symptoms. It is for this reason that each case should be assessed by close and careful analysis of all the relevant symptoms.

Classical Homeopathy - Finding the Simillium

The Similium is the single substance which if given to a healthy person would produce exactly the same symptoms as exhibited by the patient.

In addition to the range of symptoms which must be included in a case to find the right homeopathic remedy, precision is also important. For example there are nearly 5,000 headaches in our symptom database; a different remedy may be prescribed depending on when symptoms occur, the type of pain, where in the head it is, what may have bought it on, what other symptoms are experienced, etc.

Using Homeopathic Medicine

First, do no harm...

The first concern of anyone using any new medicine is "Is it safe?". The short answer is yes, homeopathic medicine is completely safe. However, you should not stop taking any existing medication without first consulting your doctor.

Dosage and Potency

Not all homeopaths agree on dosage and potency, and the potency to be taken depends on both the sensitivity of the patient, and the exact remedy being taken. But as a general rule, chronic illnesses (i.e. those that you've had for a long time) should be treated with high numbers i.e. 30C - 200C and Acute (i.e. those that are relatively new) with low numbers i.e 6C.

However, there are exceptions, particularly where an accident started off the symptoms and you might give the body a kick start with a high potency dose such as Arnica 200C first and then follow with a lower potency remedy. Low numbers are used more frequently than high numbers.

Another general rule is that high potency homeopathic medicine should only be taken when you know it is the right remedy, so start off with a low potency remedy, and then increase the potency if improvement is felt, though incomplete.

Taking Homeopathic Medicine

Homeopathic medicine should be taken on a clean pallet. While on a course of homeopathic treatment, you should avoid strong flavours such as mint (including toothpaste), coffee or camphor.

They are normally taken as pills which are placed under the tongue. Take two tablets every two hours for the first six doses, and then four times daily for up to five days. For some complaints remedies are taken as an ointment, for example, arnica cream applied directly to bruising.

If you are taking the remedy in pill form, you should avoid contact with the skin (including fingers). Just drop a few pills into the lid and pour them directly into the mouth.

Once relief from the symptoms if felt, stop taking the homeopathic medicine. Only take it again if exactly the same symptoms come back.

Homeopathy and conventional (allopathic) medicine

Conventional Western, or Allopathic, medicine has achieved significant leaps in preserving both the quality and longevity of life, and it is important to recognise this contribution. A world wide vaccination program by the WHO has eradicated smallpox; Insulin has enabled many type I diabetics to control their condition; antibiotics, though not without their own problems, can render potentialy lethal infections harmless.

There are many homeopaths who frown on the entire spectum of allopathic medicine, though in practice, a more balanced approach is often more effective. It is unwise, for example, for an insulin dependent diabetic to discontinue their insulin.

However, conventional medicine is a wide label, and not all conventional medicine is beneficial. While in many cases symptoms are relieved, cured, or prevented many allopathic medicines can do a lot of harm to your body.

The symptoms of a disease, for a Homeopath, are your body's attempt to cure itself. By contrast, conventional medicine often works by suppressing your body's natural reactions. For example:

  • A cough is usually the result of foreign bodies in the lungs; the muscles spasm in an attempt to remove it. Cough medicine simply stops this reflex.
  • A headache tablet is a painkiller and simply suppresses the feeling of pain, leaving the body to undergo whatever torment it was before, but divorced from our consciousness. This is a very bad thing. For example, many headaches are due to dehydration - once the headache isn't felt, the patient no longer feels the need to stop running around, working up a sweat and dehydrating further.
  • The conventional approach to treating infections is antibiotics. Antibiotics simply eat other bacteria. Our body also has bacteria that serve the same function (indeed, there are many types of bacteria naturally occurring in the body, all of which are beneficial) alas these are also consumed by antibiotics. In addition, a widespread concern is that bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics.
  • Antidepressants generally work by blocking emotional responses. Unlike homeopathic remedies, dependence builds up quickly, and once a course of antidepressants has begun, it is often a step down a long, slippery slope to dependency.

Conventional medicine is a very blunt instrument. Part of its success lies in this very general nature. The sheer number of possible factors that need to be considered for effective treatment with homeopathic remedies have meant that it has required a long, and often expensive consultation with a trained specialist. In contrast, regardless of the type of pain, or even where it is, the conventional relief is a pain killer. Compare that to homeopathy - in our remedy finder database, we describe nearly 5,000 types of headaches.

Despite the best efforts of pharmaceutical companies, the research into medicines and their side effects is often woefully inadequate. The most famous case of this is thalidomide - a drug prescribed for morning sickness, which produced severe birth defects. More recently controversies include Seroxat, an antidepressant which, though benficial for some, has been linked to addiction, suicide, self harm, and aggressive behaviour in some people.

Despite the damaging side effects of conventional medicine, sadly, prescription medicines are without benefit for most people that take them. (source: Allen Roses, a Vice President of Glaxo SmithKline: one of the worlds largest drug producers. See here for more)

The approach of conventional medicine denies our body's efforts to heal itself and damages these systems.

Homeopathy does not work in the same way; how it does work remains a mystery. Chemists have concluded that in the very high homeopathic potencies there is actually none of the original substance left. Theories explaining homeopathy have been put forward, resting on vibrations, electromagnetism, or the memory of water.

However, is it not fitting that your body, a miracle way beyond understanding, can be cured by something which is also out of the reach of your rational mind?