The term "Homeopathy" is composed of two Greek words: "homeo", which means "the same" and "pathos" which refers to empathy and the act of healing. Thus the term "Homeopathy" means: "healing that is similar in nature to the illness".
The principle of Homeopathy holds that a given condition can be improved or cured by the administration of small amounts of medicine, that in large doses has been shown to produce the same or similar symptoms to that disease. Homeopaths postulate that in small doses the similar nature of these medicines "reprograms" the immune system and the body in general to fight the condition more effectively and thus facilitates the cure of the condition.
Beginnings of Homeopathy.
The term Homeopathy was originally coined by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), who was a German physician, chemist and linguist, and the originator of this form of medicine.
Samuel Hahnemann became appalled by the deadly and ineffective medical practices of his time, which involved the administration of medicines containing large amounts of violent poison, the use of purges and the practice of blood-letting. As a result he set out to develop a medicine that would be safe, gentle and effective.
His reading of the classical Greek texts of Hippocrates (around 460 B.C.-370 B.C.) and his personal experimentation led to the discovery that different medicines can produce symptoms that mimic those of different diseases.
as a German Doctor.
He found through further experimentation and trails on human volunteers that very small doses of these same medicines would cure those diseases, and without any of the nasty side-effects of medical drugs. He had found a way to direct the body to heal itself.
As a result he formulated the concept that "like cures like"; he had discovered the medicine he was searching for, and from then on devoted the rest of his life to this new-found medicine.
In 1830 Hahnemann became a widower and some years later married his second wife, a French woman. He subsequently moved with her to Paris, where he continued to develop and practice Homeopathy until his death in 1843.
Paradoxically, it was his move to France that ensured that two separate and distinct schools of Homeopathy developed. While he was in Germany, he used relatively low dilutions for his medicines, but during the later stages of his life he started using greater and greater dilutions. The end result is that the German school of Homeopathy uses one and sometimes several compounds of relatively low dilution (usually up to 1 part per million) in their medicines; while the French school of Homeopathy always uses one single compound for its medicines that is often more dilute than one part per billion.
during his later years in Paris.
There can never be any doubt as to Samuel Hahnemann's dedication towards the easing of human suffering. The person he was can perhaps be best summed up with his own statement at the beginning the Organon, which is without doubt his greatest literary work:
"The Physician?s only mission is to restore the sick to health, to cure, as it is termed."
Homeopathy in Practice.
Since the days of Hahnemann, thousands of Homeopathic remedies have come into use. And as the success of Homeopathic treatment depends on finding the medicine that most closely matches the symptoms of the condition, prescribing a Homeopathic medicine is a complex undertaking that usually takes time and involves the use of a Homeopathic Materia Medica, in order to avoid any errors.
Once the matching medicine has been found, the correct dilution must be considered. As a general rule of thumb, acute conditions require larger doses, that is a lower dilution of a medicine, than chronic conditions; while emotional disorders require the highest dilutions. But this in turn depends on the medicine being prescribed; by-and-large mineral medicines are given at much greater dilutions than plant medicines. Because of all these considerations, effective Homeopathic prescribing takes a great deal of expertise.
Forms of Homeopathic
medicines: tablets, pillules,
powder and tincture.
Because Homeopathic medicines are so dilute, there are a number of things to take into account when taking these. Firstly, one should not take Homeopathic medicines close to, or during eating or drinking, as the food or beverage will simply "swamp" the medicine. In addition, some foods and beverages should not be taken during the time one is undergoing treatment with Homeopathic medicines; some of these are: very spicy foods, "junk" food, certain food supplements, soft drinks, drinks containing caffeine, and alcoholic beverages. Equally, Homeopathic treatment will not work in conjunction with most medical drugs. Because these restrictions are rather limiting for most adults, it can be difficult to get full compliance, which means that the Homeopathic treatment may fail, in which case another approach such as herbal medicine may be more appropriate. Usually these issues do not arise in the treatment of infants or young children, and as a result Homeopathic medicine is often the medicine of choice in this clinic for these particular age groups.
One relatively recently developed application of Homeopathy is allergy and intolerance desensitisation. Homeopathy with its "like cures like" approach is particularly adapted to this form of treatment. Firstly the exact offending substance must be determined by the practitioner. Once this has been done, a purified form of this substance is diluted according to Homeopathic principles, and is administered to the patient who suffers from the reaction to that substance, over a period ranging from one to several weeks. There is often a marked improvement in the patient after this form of treatment as regards the tolerance to the particular substance. In some cases this treatment is repeated a second and more rarely a third time, with different Homeopathic dilutions in order to achieve the best results. In Homeopathic desensitisation, the expert selection of the right dilution is of great importance, as the use of an incorrect dilution will of course not provide the desired result and can in some cases actually cause an exacerbation of the sensitivity.
The advantage of Homeopathic desensitisation is that if a reaction to the desensitisation does take place, it tends to be rather mild; serious reactions are most unlikely with the high dilutions used in Homeopathic medicines. This sets this approach apart from other approaches, such as desensitisation by means of injections, where serious and potentially life-threatening reactions are always a possibility. Because of this risk, the practitioners of this clinic only use Homeopathic desensitisation and do not use desensitisation by means of injections.
Homeopathic desensitisation works best on minor sensitivities and allergies, such as those related to air-borne allergens and those associated with food intolerances. It is highly unlikely that those suffering from severe allergies, such as nut allergies, will be able to ingest these with impunity after Homeopathic desensitisation, although it may be able to provide them with more of a safety margin in the case of accidental exposure. Equally, Homeopathic desensitisation cannot restore purely physiologically caused sensitivities such as lactose intolerance. This does however leave a great deal of scope for Homeopathic desensitisation, and some conditions this has been applied to with benefit are, among others: hay fever, asthma, chronic skin conditions, migraine and irritable bowel syndrome.
Copyright © Paul Hysen PhD. December 2012