Everything You Need to Know About Homeopathy
What is homeopathy?
Practiced holistically, homeopathy is a powerful and effective western medicine system that is very individualized to treat all of a person’s mental, emotional, and physical symptoms with a single remedy at a time. Persons with recurrent or chronic conditions receive constitutional treatment, which begins with an extensive intake appointment of 2-3 hours. The practitioner then selects one remedy from over 4,000 remedies originally made from plant, mineral, or animal substances. The remedies are carefully prepared in homeopathic pharmacies and so diluted and shaken in water that they work entirely at the energetic level. Homeopathy is different from herbal medicine, which uses traditional and evolving knowledge of plant properties at the material level to promote health and heal disease.
How is homeopathy different from conventional medicine?
Both conventional medicine and homeopathy define health as a state of well-being, with all body systems working in balance. Conventional medicine classifies disease by its perceived material cause and acts to suppress the cause and the symptoms. For example, sinusitis is believed to be caused by either a viral or bacterial infection traveling from the nose as a typical complication of a common cold. When you are sick with sinusitis, you go to the doctor for your diagnosis and prescription drugs such as antibiotics, decongestants, and antihistamines. You usually feel better after a time and consider yourself cured. However, the drugs have side effects, the sinusitis often returns with the next cold, and you may eventually develop recurring bronchitis.
Homeopathy describes disease as the body’s energetic vital force becoming mistuned and disordered and creating symptoms. All symptoms are considered valuable information to identify an appropriate remedy. Homeopathic practitioners do not focus on a specific illness, but rather on the whole picture of mental, emotional, and physical symptoms a person currently presents. When that picture is well matched with a remedy, the remedy acts as a catalyst to the body’s vital force, which gradually returns the immune system and all body systems to genuine balance and harmony.
Who can benefit from homeopathy?
Homeopathy can benefit anyone interested in strengthening their mental, emotional, and physical health. It can help or heal persons with almost any chronic or acute medical condition. For over 200 years, homeopathy has been used to treat people around the world with a wide variety of physical, mental, and emotional health concerns. It has been used effectively in cholera and flu epidemics, including the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918. Even with advanced pathology, a well-chosen remedy can reduce pain and enhance a person’s mental-emotional state, thus improving his/her quality of life.
Persons with acute conditions, such as bronchitis, food poisoning, or sprains may recover in a matter of days with homeopathy. Children’s ear infections, coughs, sore throats, and other childhood illnesses may respond even more quickly and dramatically to a well-chosen homeopathic remedy. Homeopathy can help women have a healthier pregnancy, labor, and delivery and help people recover more quickly from surgery or accidents. Adults can learn to treat their own minor illnesses and those of family members and companion animals with a homeopathic handbook and a home remedy kit, but will find capable assistance from a trained homeopathic practitioner.
Persons with recurrent or chronic conditions, for which conventional medicine may have little to offer beyond suppressing symptoms, may soon feel more energetic, although more time will be required for clear improvement of other symptoms. Menopausal women, children with ADHD or autism, and people with depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, sleep disorders, migraine headaches, pains of aging, and other ailments ‘ or immune system disorders such as asthma, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, colitis, or fibromylagia, may find their quality of life significantly improved by working with a skilled homeopathic practitioner.
What are homeopathic remedies and how do I take them?
Remedies are initially natural substances taken from the animal, mineral, and plant kingdoms. Tinctures are prepared from the substances and then potentized by sequential dilution and succussion ‘ the forceful pounding of the liquid dilution against a firm but resilient surface. Remedies are prepared by homeopathic pharmacies according to precise standards established by the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States (HPUS) and the regulatory requirements of the FDA.
Homeopathic remedies are taken either in solid or liquid form. Solid remedies can be pellets, tablets or granules that are dissolved under the tongue. A single dose consists of a specified number of small pellets. For acute conditions, a remedy may be repeated frequently in a short period of time. For chronic conditions, doses are generally repeated much less frequently, although liquid remedies are often taken daily.
How does the practitioner know my remedy is working?
In assessing clients’ reactions to constitutional remedies, homeopaths are guided by Hering’s Law of Cure, named after Dr. Constantine Hering, an American homeopath. Its first and most reliable principle is that healing proceeds from the inside out, from the most important internal organs out to the skin. Even before you notice a measurable difference in your physical symptoms, you may experience an increase in well-being, optimism, and energy within days or weeks of taking a well-chosen remedy. The mind is of utmost importance, and this is a signal that healing has begun from within.
The second principle of Hering’s Law of Cure is that healing proceeds from the top down. Although not always true in practice, stiffness and pain in the upper body may lessen before improvement is noticed in the lower extremities and joints. You may find your headaches improve, while your knee pain remains the same or temporarily worsens before later improving.
The final principle is that symptoms disappear in reverse order of their appearance. If you had severe eczema as a baby, then developed bronchitis, then asthma, you usually find your asthma symptoms improve first. You may then develop a bronchial cough which, if it runs its course without antibiotic suppression, will no longer be a common winter occurrence. Old skin symptoms of eczema may then reappear. If cortisone and similar suppressive treatments are avoided, your body will eventually heal itself of this more superficial, although unpleasant, symptom. In the meantime, you enjoy heightened energy and well-being, as well as overall better health and ease in your daily life.
How is homeopathy different from naturopathy?
Both homeopaths and naturopaths study physical and medical sciences, including anatomy and pathology. High quality training programs are about four years in length and include professional ethics and supervised clinical experience with clients. In addition, naturopaths study homeopathy, acupuncture, nutrition, herbalism, and a variety of other healing modalities. In contrast, homeopaths study in depth a wide variety of remedies (Materia Medica), repertory, homeopathic philosophy and history, miasmatic theory, case-taking, case analysis, and case management. To use a medical analogy, a naturopath is somewhat similar to a family practitioner or internist, and a homeopath is somewhat similar to a specialist.
Do I have to give up coffee and peppermint toothpaste?
Coffee (either regular or decaf) in moderation (about 2 cups per day) does not usually interfere with the action of homeopathic remedies. If you are very sensitive to coffee, you may want to limit its use for reasons other than its possible interference with homeopathy. Peppermint-flavored toothpaste, foods, and teas generally do not interfere with remedy action, but you may want to avoid peppermint-flavored Altoids. Black, green, or herbal teas and other caffeinated drinks do not interfere with remedies.
What kinds of things may interfere with the action of homeopathic remedies?
Using substances with camphor such as Tiger Balm, Noxzema, Vicks, and Carmex lip balm; using a lot of tea tree oil; sleeping all night with electric blankets, heating pads, or heated waterbeds; exposing remedies to direct sunlight or extreme heat such as a closed car on a hot summer day or to strong X-rays such as those airlines use for checked baggage; touching remedies with your hands; or undergoing dental work with drilling and chemicals may interfere with the action or potency of homeopathic remedies. Be sure to store all homeopathic remedies away from microwave ovens, computers, TVs, and other electromagnetic devices. Talk with your practitioner if any of these factors may be affecting your response to homeopathy.
Do I have to be off all other medications or supplements for homeopathy to work?
No, homeopathy works at the energetic level, on a different plane from conventional medications or supplements, which work at the material level. Homeopathy will not interfere with any medications you are currently taking. It is important, however, to inform your homeopath of all current medications and supplements you are taking, so your remedy dosing can be adjusted to be most effective. You should not discontinue any prescribed medications without first consulting your doctor.
Will I have to keep seeing my homeopath frequently for an extended period of time or years?
This varies by individual. Homeopathy works by stimulating the body-mind to heal itself and come back into balance, and each person’s response to a remedy is unique. For best results with recurrent or chronic conditions, you should plan on seeing your practitioner for 30-60 minute follow-up appointments every 4-8 weeks for up to six months. The purpose of these appointments is to ensure that your remedy is right for you, working well, and being taken at the optimal potency and frequency. After several months on a well-chosen remedy, clients are usually familiar enough with the subtle but powerful way homeopathy works and can simply schedule appointments as needed. If you have complex and long-standing symptoms, you may need to continue to see your homeopath every 8-10 weeks until you feel such frequency is no longer necessary. For acute conditions, such as influenza or an ear infection, a brief phone or email consult with your practitioner and a well-chosen remedy can produce results in minutes, hours, or days.
Does homeopathy work with animals?
Yes, homeopathy works beautifully with animals. Both practitioners at our clinic enjoy and have experience working with animals. Between the two of us, we have worked with horses, birds, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and others. As with humans, acute conditions of animals generally respond more quickly than chronic or recurrent conditions, and homeopathic remedies do not interfere with any medications prescribed by veterinarians. After the intake appointment and one or two follow-ups by phone or in person, you can usually take over the care of your animal, contacting us with any questions.
Why should I work with a practitioner at the Homeopathic Health Clinic?
Both Homeopathic Health Clinic practitioners are graduates of the Northwestern Academy of Homeopathy and have extensive prior career experiences that enrich their practice of homeopathy. Both are experienced and skilled at working with people and animals with recurrent or chronic conditions. Both pursue continuing homeopathic education. Both use contemporary and evolving methods of case-taking, but firmly ground these contemporary techniques in those of Hahnemannian classical homeopathy. Click on Practitioners for more information.