Homeopathy is the second most widely used system of medicine in the world today, although it is still relatively obscure in the United States. The discipline uses remedies that work by rousing the body’s own natural systems to restore health.
Homeopathy dates back to 1790, when Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, discovered the “Law of Similars,” which states that effective drugs should produce symptoms in healthy people that would be similar to those produced by the diseases the drugs would be expected to treat. Hahnemann proceeded to develop his approach based on this simple theory. The literal translation of homeopathy means “similar suffering,” which is one of the main principles on which homeopathy is based.
Remedies are selected according to the principle of “like cures like.” For example, since chopping onions causes a sensation of burning eyes, steaming tears and burning nasal discharge, a homeopathic remedy made from red onion (Allium Cepa) is used to treat precisely these symptoms. In this case, the homeopath doesn’t have to distinguish whether the cause is viral, bacterial or the result of an allergic reaction in order to treat it. Instead, the treatment is based on both knowing the symptoms the client is experiencing and their mental, emotional and physical state at that given moment. A trained homeopath will always choose a remedy for the person instead of a remedy for the symptom. In homeopathy, it is almost never a question of if there is a remedy for you, but rather a question of which remedy is the right remedy for you.
Homeopathic remedies are highly diluted substances. Each remedy begins with a substance found in nature and undergoes a repeated process of dilution and vigorous shaking to bring out the therapeutic properties. What is so interesting about homeopathic remedies is that the more diluted the substance, the more potent it is and the stronger the effect. Remedies come in the form of pellets, tablets, tinctures, creams, gels, ointments and they are available in many health food stores and pharmacies. These remedies are popular across the world because they are safe and effective, and can even be used to treat infants, children and pregnant women. Homeopathic remedies are derived from natural sources (plants, minerals, animals), are free of side effects and drug interactions, and can be used for acute or chronic conditions. They are not addic- tive and once relief is felt, treatment can be discontinued. (If no relief is felt, it is likely that the wrong home- opathic remedy was used.)
In the Unites States, homeopathy has a long tradition of self-care. Although seeking professional advice from a trained homeopath will most likely lead to faster and better results, the use of the remedies is so safe that most people choose to select a remedy on their own. Here are some key points to consider when using homeopathic remedies: Choose a potency that is 30C or less. Only use the remedy when you are symptomatic, and STOP using it when symptoms improve. If there is no effect after four to six doses, change remedies. The most common dose is three to five pellets or four to six drops if it is a tincture. Whenever pos- sible, do not touch the dose with your hands, which means that the remedy should go directly from the container to the site of administration. And do not return any unused por- tions to the original container.
If you are interested in trying a homeopathic remedy, I recommend arming yourself with some Arnica Montana, which is perhaps homeopathy’s most popular single remedy. Arnica is an exceptional trauma remedy and is widely used to treat both current (acute) and chronic pain from previous injuries. It is commonly used to relieve intense muscle pain from over-exertion and bruising. Another terrific remedy that will come in handy is Kali Phosphoricum, which is considered a “nerve remedy.” This remedy will help support nerve tissue, relieve nerve pain and can even help with nervousness. For intense nerve pain that causes burning, tingling and numbness from an acute injury, Hypericum is often used. Rhus Tox, Ruta and Calendula will also find their way in to even the beginner’s kit of remedies.
There are at least two excellent reference books to help introduce newcomers to homeopathy, and I recommend either one for those who would like more information. They are “Homeopathic Medicine at Home” by Panos and Heimlich, and “Everybody’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicines” by Cummings and Ullman.