Homeopathic medicine is the second most common form of alternative medicine in the world today and is the fastest growing.
Why is it so popular?
When a national survey of homeopathic patients asked what they like most about homeopathy, most said because it works! In fact, the same survey reported an 80% success rate, including improvement in overall well-being.¹
What Is homeopathy?
According to the American Medical College of Homeopathy, homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine that is holistic, scientifically based, safe to use, inexpensive and curative of chronic disease.²
Founded by Samuel Hahnemann over 200 years ago, although the principles on which it is based have been utilized in healing for thousands of years, homeopathic remedies work through activating the body’s own powers of self regulation and self-healing. Since its inception, homeopathy has benefited people from all walks of life, despite their age, in countries all over the world. Homeopathic medicine is the most common form of alternative medicine in North and South America.
The word homeopathy comes from the Greek “homios” (meaning similar) and “pathos” (meaning suffering). One of the basic principles is the “Law of Similars” which states that substances which can cause certain symptoms in healthy people can cure those same symptoms when they occur in an ill person. This is already known in conventional medicine through treatments such as allergy desensitization shots and vaccinations.
Hahnemann rediscovered this ancient principle when he took quinine (a substance noted to treat malaria) and began to develop all the symptoms of malaria. Over time, he began to conduct ‘provings’ in which he would give homeopathic substances to healthy people and carefully record the symptoms of the remedy.
Another important principle in homeopathy is that each of us is unique. The same diet, the same advice and the same homeopathic remedy will not necessarily help everyone with the same disease. Homeopathy treats the individual, not the disease. By finding the unique remedy that fits the individual people discover how to self heal. Classical homeopathic treatment only uses one remedy at a time to treat and cure chronic disease.
Homeopathy brings the individual to a greater level of health and therefore more resistant to disease. Health in homeopathy is defined as freedom to express oneself on all levels of being.
How do you get started?
A homeopathic evaluation generally takes several hours and focuses on deeply understanding an individual at all levels of his/her being (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual). The homeopath is concerned with symptoms that are idiosyncratic of the person or uniquely define who they are. Examples include sleep position, food cravings, favorite hobbies, dreams, fears and many other habits. Based on the symptoms that are elicited when the case is taken, a single remedy is chosen that most closely matches those symptoms. Homeopathy is not only effective in treating chronic disease, but also highly effective in treating acute disease and first aid.
What do homeopathic remedies consist of?
There are over three thousand homeopathic remedies from which to choose. These consist of herbs, plants, minerals, metals and animal products which are prepared in a certain way that brings out the healing power of the substance. They are quite safe, gentle and do not produce side effects. They are also quite inexpensive compared to the cost of standard medical treatment and medicines.
How is homeopathy different than conventional medicine?
Listed below are some ways to help differentiate homeopathic medicine from conventional medicine.
- Homeopathy rests on a core philosophy and a set of principles that guide its practice. Conventional medicine has no real philosophy or principles.
- Homeopathy is a much safer and more gentle form of healing than conventional medicine. Conventional medicine is far more intrusive.
- Homeopathic medicine is much cheaper than conventional medicine. For treatment, homeopathic patients generally spend about 20% of most conventional patients. In addition, homeopathy medicines average about 10% of the cost.
- Homeopathic treatment is non-suppressive. By treating symptoms rather than the whole person, conventional medicine often suppresses illness deeper into the organism.
- Homeopathic medicine treats patients on all levels of their being (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual). Conventional medicine typically only focuses on one level at a time.
- The goal of homeopathic medicine is the cure of chronic disease whereas the goal of conventional medicine is generally management of chronic disease.
- Homeopathy is a form of energy medicine whereas conventional medicine is a form of material medicine.
- Homeopathy focuses on healing from within and using the self-healing capacity of the body. Conventional medicine focuses on healing from without.
- Homeopathy recognizes and utilizes the healing power of nature. Conventional medicine largely ignores this.
- Historically, homeopathic medicine is derived from the Empirical Medicine tradition of experiential healing. Conventional medicine is derived from the Rationalistic Medicine tradition of reductionistic healing.
- Homeopathy utilizes minimum doses in the practice of healing (less is more). Conventional medicine typically utilizes large doses.
- Homeopathic medicine is humanistic and patient-centered. Conventional medicine is focused on diagnosis and system-centered.
How is homeopathic medicine different than other forms of alternative medicine?
With over 250 forms of alternative medicine, it can be confusing to separate one system from another. The following are some distinctions that make homeopathic medicine unique:
- Homeopathic medicine is one of the older forms of alternative medicine with historical roots dating back to ancient Greece. Homeopathy is the heir to the vitalist (empirical medicine) tradition of healing.
- Homeopathic medicines are standardized in their preparations and more often accepted by the FDA than medicines from other forms of alternative medicine.
- Homeopathic medicine is a complete system of healing unto itself. Most forms of alternative medicine are treatment modalities without an underlying system.
- Homeopathic medicine is more firmly based on core principles that guide its treatment than other forms of alternative medicine. Much of alternative medicine utilizes principles that are derived from conventional medicine.
- Homeopathic medicine is the third most common form of alternative medicine in the world today (behind herbal medicine and oriental medicine) and is said to be the fastest growing.
- Homeopathic medicine is better researched than most other forms of alternative medicine.
- Homeopathic medicine is more successful in treating acute conditions such as epidemic disease than most other forms of alternative medicine. This was an important reason for its historical success.
- Homeopathic practitioners spend more time with their patients and get to know them better than most other forms of alternative medicine.
- Homeopathic medicine is one of the least expensive forms of alternative medicine.
- Homeopathic medicine is one of the most holistic forms of alternative medicine. It truly treats patients on all levels of their being. Alternative medicine is often more symptom focused.
- Homeopathic medicine is a form of energy medicine. Many forms of alternative medicine are matter-based.
- Homeopathic medicine has a unique focus on the healing power of nature.
- Homeopathic medicine has a unique focus on the principle that less is more.
- Homeopathic medicine is on the cutting edge of our understanding of life and the natural world.
¹WHO Global Atlas of Traditional Complementary and Alternative Medicine (Map Volume); C.K. Ong, G. Bodeker, C. Grundy, G. Burford and K. Shein; Kobe Japan; 2005
²National Homeopathic Patient Survey conducted by the American Medical College of Homeopathy, Department of Research, 2007.