In health food stores and on the signage of alternative medical practices, you may have seen an unusual word: Homeopathy. Homeopathy (home-ee-AHP-uh-thee) is a fast growing area of alternative medicine first developed by German physician Samuel Hahnemann in 1796. Based on the Law of Similars, homeopathy holds to the idea that what makes you ill can also cure you; that “like cures like.” A holistic health treatment, homeopathy takes into consideration not only the patients’ symptoms of disease, but their physical and psychological states as well.
Most medical treatments focus on the cause of a disease, however homeopathy looks at how each individual person is affected by the symptoms of a disease, which can vary widely. This individualistic treatment is refreshing compared to mainstream medical culture that usually assigns you a number and forgets to ask “how are you” before poking you with a needle and throwing a handful of pills in your direction. Homeopathy is a patient-centric healing system, not a system-centric patient healer, which can mean a world of difference to someone suffering with disease.
Homeopathic remedies use heavily diluted animal, plant, mineral and synthetic substances, which are usually delivered to the body in pill form and allowed to dissolve under the tongue. If taken in a large amount, these substances would cause the very symptoms that they are trying to cure, but in such extremely diluted amounts, they work by subtly stimulating the body’s defense system to cure itself. Homeopaths, or practitioners of homeopathy, hold that disease has spiritual as well as physical causes. Like much of alternative medicine, homeopathy is not regulated by governing bodies like the FDA, which puts the responsibility of the patients’ health on the patient instead of the government.
Although the efficacy of homeopathic treatments beyond the placebo effect (which accounts for 1/3 of any medicine’s performance) has not been supported by the collective weight of scientific or clinical trials, thousands of healthy users disagree - including the Queen of England, Beethoven, Tina Turner and Beckham. Extremely popular in Europe and the United Kingdom, homeopathy holds that disease is caused by more than just physical factors, and is caused by a disturbance in your vital energy or life force.
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While this may never be proved, it has been proved that the conventional, Newtonian method of treating the body like a piece of machinery whose parts can be fixed is also lacking in efficacy. Homeopathy takes into consideration the patient when treating the disease, something that much of Western medicine has otherwise somehow overlooked.
With over 3,000 remedies to choose from, choosing a homeopathic course of treatment can be daunting, which is why it is important to consult a homeopath that knows his or her business. The remedies are very diluted however, often compared to a pinch of salt in an ocean of water, so there is little risk of hurting yourself with the wrong remedy. Some popular homeopathic remedies include:
- Arnica: bruises, sprains and scrapes
- Cantharis: burns and burning sensations, such as those of urinary tract infections
- Sulfur: worms and skin infections
- Belladonna: fever, red face, dilated pupils and headaches
- Ignatia: anxiety, digestive disorders and stress
Like any medicine, homeopathy works differently for different people, so you must try out homeopathy to see if it helps you. Not all remedies work for everyone, but some might work for you. You must take responsibility for your own health and find what methods suit you best, whether that is homeopathy, herbs, supplements or conventional treatment.