HOMOEOPATHY, PART OF A QUIET REVOLUTION IN THE WAY THAT WE LOOK AT OUR HEALTH
Homoeopathy enjoys considerable popularity throughout the world, but is often simply misunderstood.
The word ‘homoeopathy’ originates from the Greek words homoios (similar) and pathos (suffering). At the heart of the practice of homoeopathy lies the principle of similars. This refers to repeated observation that an overdose of a substance which causes certain symptoms in a healthy person, elicits a healing response when administered in specially formulated, very small doses to a person whose illness has similar symptoms. These doses undergo a specialised process which includes the dilution of ingredients (potentisation) as well as hard, vigorous shaking (succussion).
A simple example of the principle of similars is that of the plant Deadly Nightshade which, when given in an overdose, induces symptoms such as a throbbing headache, high fever, burning hot skin, redness and delirium (to name but a few). These are all common complaints of fever in many common illnesses. When administered in a homoeopathic dose (the medicine is known as Belladonna), it may stimulate a healing response and can bring about an improvement of these symptoms, which represent the body’s best efforts to defend against stress or infection. Homoeopathic medicines mimic such defence processes, instead of suppressing or inhibiting them. Another example would be that of coffee. Coffee has the effect of stimulating the nervous system and producing a highly nervous or excitable state in some people, along with difficulty sleeping. Given in a homoeopathic dose, coffee can improve symptoms of insomnia and such a nervous or excitable state in a patient. What is toxic in a large dose can be therapeutic in a minute dose.
Homoeopathic preparations are derived from the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms. These formulations are extremely dilute and, through the processes of potentisation and succussion, render the source materials and substances low-risk for the human (or animal) living system. The resulting potentised preparation is thought to retain the properties of the original source substance and stimulates the body’s Vital Force, or innate healing ability, to overcome the imbalance or condition. A single dose or repeated doses may be given. Such highly diluted and small amounts of these preparations are sufficient and may stimulate the body’s inherent healing ability.
Homoeopathic medicines are low risk. A variety of responses may be experienced. There may be an immediate improvement, or the patient may experience a feeling of increased well-being and energy but the physical symptoms might remain in the initial stages. Sometimes, old symptoms can recur and represent a clearing effect. They may be an indicator of the re-balancing process taking place. Homoeopathic preparations may be effective only when used according to homoeopathic principles, and under the supervision of a Registered Homoeopathic Practitioner.
Contrary to what many may believe, homoeopathic preparations can still be taken in conjunction with prescription drugs. They will still act (when used in accordance with homoeopathic principles). Generally there are no contraindications with homoeopathic medicines, but it’s always advisable to check with your medical healthcare practitioner. Professionally qualified and registered homoeopaths view the management program of their patients with a great sense of responsibility, and are keen to work alongside any medical treatment the patient may currently be undertaking. The patient does not have to ‘choose’ between either undergoing conventional medical treatment or homoeopathic management. However, each case is thoroughly and carefully analysed on its own merit, always with the safety and overall good of the patient at the forefront of the homoeopath’s mind. Freedom of choice for the patient, as well as patient safety and wellbeing are the first priority. A responsible homoeopathic practitioner will always refer a patient to their doctor if it is deemed in any way necessary. It is entirely outside of the code of professional ethics and conduct for homoeopathic practitioners to fail to advise a patient to seek medical advice and care where deemed necessary, or when any doubt exists about the seriousness of a patient’s complaints. A homoeopathic practitioner who acts in this manner is failing in their Duty of Care towards their patient.
Well documented results from thousands of experienced homoeopaths around the world, and their millions of patients, suggest that homoeopathic preparations may produce significant health benefits. It is not necessary to ‘believe’ in homoeopathy for it to be effective. Homoeopathic preparations are used by parents to assist in managing the many ailments of infants, such as colic, teething, nappy rash, sleeplessness etc. Many veterinarians use homoeopathic medicines with animals. Can one apply the concept of the placebo effect to infants and animals? Homoeopathic preparations are popular in Europe, where over thirty million people regularly use homoeopathic medicines. 50% of the French population alone use homoeopathic medicines and family doctors in many European countries frequently prescribe homoeopathic medicines for their patients, including 20% in Germany, 39% in France and 10% in Italy.
So, when you go to a homoeopath, what should you expect? Homoeopathic preparations are not selected on the basis of a disease name but are chosen by very careful recording and analysis of the physical, mental and emotional symptoms of the patient so that a complete understanding of the whole person can be gained. Each person has a unique and often complex state of being. A homoeopathic preparation is chosen based on this analysis and is intended to assist in addressing the underlying cause. By applying the Law of Similars, the homoeopathic preparation mimics the current or presenting symptoms. This may have the effect of stimulating the body’s own defence mechanisms and can overcome the original malady, working with the body, rather than inhibiting or suppressing the symptoms (the Law of Opposites).
The role of the homoeopath has often been likened to that of a detective, whose role is to gather and process information, and then determine the inner or underlying disturbance. Every minor nuance or complaint a patient may offer adds another (often significant) piece to the jigsaw puzzle in front of the homoeopath, who also keenly observes the body language, posture, expressions and overall demeanour of the patient.
In mainstream medicine today, allergy treatments and immunisations are two examples of stimulating the body’s own defence mechanisms for the prevention or treatment of some diseases. These are derived from the same Principle of Similars already inherent in Homoeopathy. Cutting-edge medical research is looking increasingly towards stimulating the body’s own defence mechanisms in response to a growing avalanche of chronic disease. Working with the body’s inherent wisdom, and activating its own highly intelligent healing ability, has become the new paradigm in today’s research, as the medical and scientific community battle to find answers and solutions to what clearly appears to be an increase, rather than a decrease, of chronic disease. It would seem that the principle of similars (stimulating the body’s corrective measures by mimicking them) as opposed to the principle of opposites (suppressing those same measures), has finally come of age, and is capturing the interest of a much broader demographic within both the general population and the more scientific-based community.
(Please discuss any homoeopathic support and management you may be considering with your doctor or medical healthcare practitioner, if you are currently under their care. Generally there are no contraindications with Homoeopathic medicines, but check with your healthcare provider.
Homoeopathy is a traditionally used medicine. It may be used in conjunction with other medicines. For any ongoing chronic condition, it is important to be assessed or examined by your healthcare professional or specialist. Always seek medical advice in emergencies.)
Carolyn is a Professional member of the Australian Homoeopathic Association and is registered with the Australian Register of Homoeopaths. Health fund rebates with most private health funds are available. Her Clinic is located in Noosa Heads on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.