Last year, I learned about Homeopathy, a medical system that basically turns ours on it’s head. Everything I ever learned in the hours of grueling chemistry about reactions, particles and concentrations would be considered incorrect in this methadology. The idea of treating an ailment by throwing high concentrations of (insert drug or treatment of choice) is considered bizzarre to say the least by practitioners of this system. Of course, mainstream Science/Healthcare historically don’t like being told their wrong about anything, which is why this approach to health has landed it it’s place on the ‘scary holistic medicines that nobody can understand list’. Now me? I’m drawn to mystery, and love figuring out how things work, if at all. However, with 100 million people worldwide depending solely on homeopathy and homeopathic doctors, there has to be some basis of truth. And so my search began…..
Let’s start with a brief history though. Homeopathy’s roots emerge from the findings, teachings and writings of Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). He actually graduated from medical school in 1779 and started his own medical practice. He soon began his first homeopathic experiments in 1790, because he wasn’t satisfied with many common medical practices of the day which have since been mostly discontinued such as purging, bloodletting, and the use of toxic chemicals. Note: Bloodletting is still used in some cases. Hahnemann began working on a project to translate William Cullen’s Materia Medica into German that he began his quest for a better way of providing healthcare using the principles of “Similars.” While working on this project, he became fascinated with a species of South American tree-bark (cinchona) which was being used to treat malaria-induced fever. He ingested the bark and discovered that it caused symptoms similar to malaria. The basis of homeopathy, is actually very similar to the basis of vaccine use. Introduce a vector, whether that is a weakend form of a nasty bug or in Hahnemann’s case, the bark of a tree, into a healthy human being and the allow the body to build up a natural defense to whatever the disease is.
So, in simpler terms, a homeopath searches for a substance that produces in a healthy person symptoms a sick patient experiences. You take something that would make a person sick, dilute it past the point that it would not make scientific sense that the toxin is still a major component of the mixture, and then give it to the patient.
The homeopath regards symptoms as the body’s healthy attempt to restore itself to balance. That is why a homeopath will choose a remedy that supports the symptoms—rather than opposing them or suppressing them as in conventional medicine. In conventional medicine, a cold or hayfever sufferer is given an antihistamine to dry up the runny nose and watery eyes artificially. But this medication often comes with unpleasant side effects like sleepiness and constipation. With the correct homeopathic remedy, however, there are no side effects and a person is restored to health naturally.
Homeopathy gained much recognition in the 1800’s because of its success in treating the many epidemics at the time including scarlet fever, typhoid, cholera and yellow fever. Boston University, Stanford University and New York Medical College were just a few of the 22 educational institutions that were teaching homeopathy at the time. However, it was not long after this period of time (in the early 1920’s) that many of the schools closed — mostly due to the decline of homeopathy’s popularity which was greatly effected by the American Medical Association and the introduction of mainstream pharmaceuticals.
So what can homeopathy be used for? Honestly, anything and everything under the sun. It is used to treat acute illnesses, like colds, ear infections, migraines, and sore throats, but also useful to treat chronic conditions, like asthma, depression, autism, and arthritis.
Homeopathic medicines – known as “remedies” – are made from natural sources (e.g., plants, minerals), and are environmentally friendly and cruelty free. Most are available over the counter in grocery stores, drug stores, health food stores, homeopathic pharmacies, and online. Homeopathy is also extremely affordable compared to other healthcare options. There are limited studies on Homeopathic remedies, however, in my own research, when individuals used treatments as directed, I did not come across any adverse affects, including pregnant and nursing women, infants, children, and adults. They are given in such small doses that they don’t cause side effects.
One thing to note is that the word homeopathy is not a general or “umbrella” term that describes a variety of different natural therapies. Although homeopathic remedies are derived from natural substances, homeopathy should not be confused with herbal medicine, Chinese medicine, or other types of natural medicines. It is its own, unique therapeutic system.
Homeopathy also recognizes that each person exhibits his or her disease in a unique and slightly different way. That is why two people with the same disease will not necessarily receive the same homeopathic remedy. A cold sufferer with a stopped up nose and dry eyes would receive a different remedy than one with a runny nose and watering eyes. Unlike the “one size fits all” approach to prescribing often used in conventional medicine, a homeopath chooses a remedy that matches the unique symptom profile of the individual. Conventional medicine seeks to control illness through the regular use of medications; if the medicine is withdrawn, the person’s symptoms return. This is the very thing that drew me into researching a bit more. Unlike our western approach to medicine, homeopathy and systems like it really focus in on individuals, rather than seeing a patient as another number that you mindlessly administer treatments to. Yes, these treatments are tried and true, but we have found ourselves continuously running into a wall when it comes to preventative care and chronic illness management. I for one, see a world of possibilities, if only homeopathic studies got the funding they need to perform on a level that is up to par with what we have now. Check out my post about my experience with a homeopathic treatment of Arnica that worked wonders for me and judge for yourself!
As usual, I would love to hear your thoughts? Have you ever used a homeopathic treatment?