WHAT IS HOMEOPATHY?
by Ellen Krug, MSW, LCSW
Homeopathy is a 200-year-old system of healing that uses very small doses of medicines (known as homeopathic remedies). The principles of homeopathy were developed into a system of medicine in the early 1800s by a German physician, Samuel Hahnemann.
Homeopathy is based on the principle of “like cures like.” Hahnemann showed that different natural substances given in large doses would cause healthy people to develop symptoms of disease. He then proved that these same substances, when specially prepared and given in small doses, would cure people who were ill with these same symptoms. For example, you might have had the experience of cutting a raw onion and having your eyes begin to burn and itch, tears run down your face, and your nose runs. You might develop similar symptoms during a cold or allergy attack. A dose of the homeopathic remedy, Allium cepa (made from onion), might help you.
Homeopathic remedies are prepared from substances found in nature, which are repeatedly diluted in liquid and vigorously shaken with each dilution. They are very safe and effective, are non-toxic, do not cause side effects, and are available over-the-counter. Homeopathic remedies are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Homeopathy can safely and effectively treat infants, children, adults, and even animals. It can be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It can treat both acute and chronic ailments and, when necessary, can be used in conjunction with allopathic treatment. Typical complaints that people seek homeopathic treatment for include (but are not limited to): menstrual, fertility, pregnancy, menopausal, urinary, gastrointestinal, headaches, respiratory, asthma, allergies, skin, sleep, anxiety, depression, and grief.
However, homeopathy treats people, not diseases. In choosing a remedy for a patient, homeopaths include all of the symptoms – mental, emotional, and physical – that each person presents. Because homeopathy treats the whole person, patients often notice positive changes in their emotional state as well as in their physical health. Thus, homeopathy and psychotherapy can complement each other well.
Homeopathy treats each person as an individual, recognizing that we each manifest illness and symptoms in unique ways. For example, one person might experience a headache on the left side with pain radiating into the neck. Another person’s headache might be on the right side with pain that is worse over the eye. It is likely that these two patients would need different remedies, even though they both have headaches.
The initial consultation with a homeopath lasts several hours, as the homeopath listens to you describe your complaints. The homeopath strives to understand you as a person: how you experience life, the symptoms that cause you distress, what makes you feel better or worse, your likes and dislikes, your fears, your dreams, and all kinds of other unusual details you may not have thought much about before. The homeopath considers all of these in choosing the best remedy for you.
The first follow-up appointment will be scheduled about 4 – 6 weeks after you take the suggested remedy. This appointment will usually last about an hour. Further follow-up appointments will be scheduled as needed to help you remain in good health and balance.
© 2013 Ellen Krug