What is Homeopathy
Homeopathy is a branch of medicine with a unique way of prescribing medicines and its own range of medicines.
Its aim is to promote general health by stimulating the body’s own natural healing capacity. Homeopathy does not have treatments for diseases rather it has remedies for individuals with diseases or ailments.
Therefore it works in a totally different way to conventional medicine (or allopathic drugs). Allopathy means different from the suffering i.e. the majority of conventional drugs are given to work against the disease or symptoms experienced.
While homeopathy means similar to the suffering. A key principle of Homeopathy is the Law of Similars which means “let like be cured with like” i.e. homeopathic remedies that can cause symptoms when given to healthy people can help to heal those who are experiencing similar symptoms.
Where does Homeopathy come from?
Homeopathy was founded by Dr Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), a German physician and chemist.
In 1790 Dr Hahnemann discovered the principle of ‘like cures like’. At the time cinchona bark (the source of quinine) was the main treatment for malaria. Hahnemann wondered what would happen if he, though not having malaria, took the drug. He was amazed to find that while taking it he developed symptoms typical of malaria. He then deduced that the drug might be effective in treating malaria because it could cause similar symptoms in a health person.
This discovery led him to experiment further (on himself, family, friends) and he found that any substance of plant, mineral or animal origin given to healthy people in repeated doses will cause that person to develop symptoms. Thus the same substance (in different dosage and form) will treat a sick person with a similar set of symptoms.
Hahnemann began to treat people basing his prescriptions on this principle of treating “like with like”. He would gather from his patients all their symptoms and then choose a remedy which had produced symptoms that closely matched the symptoms of the illness.
From the outset his results were outstanding.
What is involved in visiting a homeopath?
Homeopathy is very thorough and with chronic problems an initial consultation may require about an hour or more. When asking the client to describe symptoms, the homeopath wants to go beyond such blanket terms as merely “rheumatism” or “asthma” and discover how that particular problem presents in you as an individual in your own unique response to the disease process. To get a complete picture of the underlying disturbance and to clearly identify the physical, mental or emotional problems impacting on your life, a lengthy, detailed and personal interview is often necessary. This in-depth exchange is quite different to routine medical visits with a conventional doctor. Homeopathy is highly demanding of the homeopath, to get a complete understanding of the client and to select a remedy that best match the symptoms of the individual.
The remedy may be posted to you or otherwise available for pick-up at the clinic at a later date. You may be given a single dose or several doses.
Where a complaint has developed over years and is in a chronic state, treatment time can take longer to heal and follow-up appointments are necessary to maintain a continued return to health. It is generally recommended that you book a follow-up appointment within 4 weeks after taking the remedy – always liaise with the homeopath for further advice.
How are the medicines prepared?
All kinds of substances are used to create homeopathic remedies; plants, animals, minerals. The first step is to create a mother tincture. An example is extracting the juices of a plant and adding them to equal quantities of alcohol or in the instance of insoluble substances a method known as trituration is used. Here a portion of the substance is ground together with a powder.
Hahnemann found that the process of successive dilution lead to less discomfort to the patients and minimised the toxic properties and at the same time magnified the potential to cure. This process is called potentisation and involves dilution in steps with rhythmical shaking between the steps. This shaking is known as succession.
The medicines that are diluted 1 part medicine in 99 parts diluent are called centesimal potencies and are labelled with a c , while those diluted in 1 part medicine to 9 parts diluent are called decimal and labelled x. e.g. 30x or 30c have been diluted & succussed thirty times.
There are several pharmacies in New Zealand which make and sell homeopathic medicines, following strict pharmacological practices.
Guidelines on taking a homeopathic remedy
Avoid handling the remedy directly i.e. use a teaspoon to administer is ideal. Store any unused remedies away from heat sources, light and strong smells i.e. a drawer is suitable.
Ideally do not take with food or drinks (follow dosage instructions given).
Do homeopathic medicines cause side-effects?
Because the medicines have been considerably diluted, all toxicity is removed. There is therefore no risk of dangerous side-effects. However potentised medicines should still be taken as prescribed and only repeated if directed. The principle of the minimum number of doses applies, where the body once stimulated to begin the healing process, should be allowed to complete its action and repetition may not be needed for some time in the future.
Can homeopathy be used with conventional drugs?
Yes you can take conventional drugs as well as homeopathic medicines. Make sure you inform your doctor or specialist that you taking homeopathic treatment and do not stop taking the conventional drugs without their advice. Likewise inform the homeopath of what conventional drugs you are taking as a full range of symptoms needs to be gathered and some may be masked or suppressed by the drug or be side effects of the drug that need to be taken into consideration.
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