What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a system of medicine that has been practised throughout much of the world for the past 200 years. Its founder was a German doctor called Samuel Hahnemann.
Homeopathy is based on the principle of like curing like, meaning that a substance that can cause symptoms in a healthy person can cure those same symptoms in a sick person. In fact Hahnemann was not the first to discover this. Hippocrates, the ‘father of medicine’, stated that cure takes place through the way of opposites or the way of similars, more than 2000 years ago.
In 2000 the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology cited homeopathy as one of the five Group One therapies, having an ‘individual diagnostic approach’, along with acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal medicine and osteopathy.
According to the World Health Organisation homeopathy is the second most widely used system of medicine in the world.
1. House of Lords Select Committee on Science & Technology. ‘Complementary & Alternative Medicine.’ Session 1999-2000, 6th Report. The Stationery Office, 2000
The Law of Similars
The word homeopathy comes from the Greek ‘homeo’ meaning similar and ‘pathos’ meaning suffering. A good example of the law of similars can be seen in the treatment of insomnia. Conventional medicine will use a drug which will induce sleep, given in large and regular doses. This may cause side effects or possibly dependence. Treatment by similars, as Hahneman called it, would be to give a minute dose of a substance, such as coffee, which in large quantities would cause sleeplessness in a healthy person. This will result in natural sleep.
Another simple example is with the remedy which is made from onion. Onion can cause stinging, watery eyes and a running nose. In homeopathy the remedy Allium Cepa (the latin for onion) is used successfully in cases of hayfever with these symptoms.
Homeopathy is a holistic system of medicine. A homeopath sees the mind and body functioning as an integrated whole. Disease is seen not as an isolated event but as an expression of disharmony within the whole person. Homeopathic treatment is aimed at restoring this harmony by stimulating the body’s own healing ability. This will result in the removal of symptoms and a return to health.
Just as every individual is unique, so too is each individual’s experience of ill health. A homeopath will work to understand what that individual experience is, and to find the remedy which most accurately matches it. A homeopath enquiring about a particular symptom might ask exactly what it feels like and what makes it worse or better, about its history and about any treatments or medications taken.
Homeopathic medicines are safe and free from side effects. They are specially prepared in homeopathic pharmacies, using minute quantities, from plant, mineral and animal sources. Homeopathic remedies have been tested on healthy human volunteers in what Samuel Hahnemann called ‘provings’. Provings are still conducted today as more substances are introduced into homeopathy.