What is homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a natural system of medicine, based on the fact that all living beings are animated by a 'vital force'. When it is disturbed illness follows.
Homeopathic remedies are energy medicines that resonate with the body's life force and stimulate it to restore health and well-being. "The spirit of the drug acts on the spirit in man." (Hahnemann)
Dr Samuel Hahnemann
1755-1843, creator of homeopathy
Homeopathy was discovered and developed over 200 years ago in Germany by Dr Samuel Hahnemann. It is now practised around the world and has provided relief and cure to millions of people of all ages - babies, children, adults and the elderly.
Treatment is entirely natural and safe. Homeopathy is gentle yet so powerful. It heals all ailments: acute and chronic illnesses; mental and emotional conditions; as well as physical problems. Remedies bring immediate relief, but also go to the root of the problem to cure the patient thoroughly.
Importantly, homeopathy is non-invasive, non-suppressive and non toxic. It works with the body and stimulates your own healing energies according to the laws of nature.
The benefits of homeopathy build over time. The longer you use it, the stronger your immune system develops. Often patients experience a sensation of being their old selves again. Life once again flows harmoniously through them.
Homeopathy is holistic. Ill health is an expression of disharmony within the whole person or a disturbance of the 'vital force'. Homeopathy treats each patient individually and as a whole on all levels - mind, body and soul. There is no standard treatment. Several people with the same main complaint may each need a different homeopathic remedy because their constitutions are different. The medicines are individually chosen and tailor made according to the personal needs of the patient.
'Remedy' is the name used for a homeopathic medicine. Remedies are dynamic, they are prepared from highly diluted substances such as minerals, plants, animal venoms and even poisons like arsenic.
They are administered in such minute quantities, according to Hahnemann's Law of the Minimum Dose, that they have a stimulating effect on the body rather than a harmful effect.
Most often there is no physical substance of the original left in the remedies, just the energy, activated through a process of potentisation. This is why homeopathy is dynamic or pure energy medicine.
The discovery of homeopathy
or Theophrastus Phillippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim
Both the physician and alchemist, Paracelsus, in the 16th century and Hippocrates, the father of medicine, talked about the principles of homeopathy. Hippocrates knew about the idea of the "life force" and Paracelsus developed it further. He also discovered the 'law of similars' similia similibus curantur or 'like heals like'. And he studied the toxic properties of a lot of chemical substances i.e. arsenic and discovered that everything was more or less toxic. Intoxication was not only dependant on the kind of material but it was highly dependant on its amount. He coined the phrase: 'Dosis sola facit venenum' 'Dosage alone makes the poison'.
But it was Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), a German medical doctor, who gave homeopathy its name and developed it into a system of healing.
Hahnemann was a respected doctor, but the systems of medicine prevalent at that time, like bloodletting, strong herbal purges, leeches and use of toxic chemicals, greatly disturbed him. When Austria's ruler and other well known society figures died due to these treatments, Hahnemann gave up his flourishing practice saying: "I shall not kill if I cannot cure".
Quinine (cinchona officinalis)
Image © Raintree Nutrition, Inc. All rights reserved.
Hahnemann was translating the Materia Medica (a compendium of the actions of therapeutic agents) by Professor Cullen of London University. Cullen devoted 20 pages to China Officinalis or Peruvian Bark/Quinine claiming its effectiveness in treating malarial fever was due to its bitterness. But Hahnemann, dissatisfied with this explanation, did something unusual. He took a few doses of Peruvian Bark himself - this kind of self-experimentation was unheard of at the time.
He nearly poisoned himself, experiencing sweating, fever, heart palpitations, cold fingers and feet, rigidity and numbness. When he stopped taking the bark he recovered fully.
Dr Samuel Hahnemann
Hahnemann realised that he had suffered the symptoms of malaria. He observed that a drug known to cure malaria actually produces the same symptoms in a healthy person. He wondered whether the reverse would be true. So he continued his experiments with Peruvian Bark and other drugs, and found the same result.
A substance that produces symptoms in a healthy person cures a patient with the same symptoms.
By applying this principle of 'like cures like', he gave patients a substance that gently nudged their system in the direction of the 'disease', reproducing the symptoms in a mild form. He found this to be an effective way to stimulate the natural defenses of patients.
Central to the practice of homeopathy is Hahnemann's Law of Similars. He also developed the process of potentisation, which activates the remedies and through the dilution helps overcome any side effects.
The development of homeopathy
The German doctor, Samuel Hahnemann, founded homeopathy over 200 years ago. He challenged medical wisdom at the time, developing a more natural and gentle system of healing for his patients - an alternative to the invasive, toxic and dangerous methods used by others.
Samuel Hahnemann bequeathed a principal of healing:
"The highest ideal in medicine is the rapid, gentle and permanent restoration of health, or the relief and eradication of the disease in its entirety, choosing the shortest, most reliable and least detrimental route."
In the 1820s two US doctors expanded on the theories of Hahnemann in two important ways. Dr Constantine Hering developed the Law of Cures. Dr James Tyler Kent introduced the concept of 'Constitutional Types' by which patients are classified according to their particular constitutional group.
By the 1840s homeopathy had spread around the US, becoming part of the Popular Health Movement. This was a rebellion against established medicine, giving birth to herbalism, self-help homeopathy and the concept of health food (inspiring, among others, Dr Kellogg, of breakfast cereal fame).
Now homeopathy is practised around the world. It has provided relief and cure to millions of people at all levels of society from Britain's royal family to rural communities in developing countries.
Other eminent homeopaths who contributed greatly to the science of homeopathy as it is understood today include Robin Murphy, Rajan Sankaran, George Vithoulkas, Dorothea Shepherd, Frans Vermeulen and Jan Scholten.
The life force
The vital force inherent in all living beings is the key to understanding homeopathy. This dynamic force or 'Lebenskraft' as the inventor of homeopathy termed it, differentiates a corpse and a human being. It always strives to bring the body back to optimum health."In the healthy condition of man, the spiritual vital force, the dynamism that animates the material body (organism), rules with unbound sway, and retains all the parts of the organism in admirable, harmonious, vital operation, as regards both sensations and functions, so that our indwelling, reason-gifted mind can freely employ this living, healthy instrument for the higher purpose of our existence."
Samuel Hahnemann: The Organon Aphorism 9
When we are run down, burnt-out, and our life force is weak, we are more susceptible to falling ill. When we are ill with a cold or flu, and don't do anything except rest, we get better on our own - this is the life force, or the body's own healing power, always striving for perfection. When the disturbed organism of a patient is properly tuned through the administration of the right homeopathic remedy, the patient not only experiences the alleviation of symptoms, but also has the feeling that life once again is harmoniously flowing through him.
Homeopathy not only recognises the presence of the healing powers of the body and of nature, the vital force, but it actually bases its entire system upon the stimulation of that force. Homeopathic remedies are energy medicines or energetic / vibrational forces (see The process of potentisation) that resonate with the body's life force, and stimulate it to restore health and well-being. "The spirit of the drug acts on the spirit in man." (Hahnemann)
The doctrine of vitalism has a long history in medicine. It can be traced all the way back to the roots of medicine. Hippocrates advanced the idea that it was nature (physis) in the organism which healed the patient. The doctor could assist the physis through means such as nutrition and the removal of waste products. Seven centuries later, the doctrine of the vital force was modified by Galen. He introduced the concept of the pneuma or spirit acting within the human organism. Paracelsus however devised an approach which was quite different. He saw the life force as an active, directing intelligence which maintained and repaired the organism in a dynamic fashion. He called it archeus. He saw it as the arch-principle dominating life processes in a biological entity. It was all pervading within that milieu, yet invisible to the material eye. Only through its effects could the existence of the archeus be known. Hence life was governed by a self-regulating and self-healing intelligence. The archeus of the physician could comprehend and interpret the archeus of the patient.
Law of Similars/Law of Cures
The essence of the plant is similar to the essence of the disease, organ or constitution to which is suited as a medicine. This similarity was for Paracelsus the Divine principle behind cure. He coined the Latin phrase, similia similibus curantur, 'like treats like' and was emphatically opposed to the 'law of contraries' as the basis of treatment as in allopathy. 'Allo' means contrary: pathos means suffering. Paracelsus foreshadowed the work of Hahnemann, who based homeopathy solely on this principle.
The difference between the two approaches was, while Paracelsus based his similitude primarily on the doctrine of signatures, Hahnemann looked to similarity between the symptoms caused by the poison and the symptoms produced by the disease.
Put simply, a substance that produces symptoms in a healthy person cures those symptoms in a sick person. Homeopathic remedies are given according to the 'Law of Similars' or the principal 'like heals like'. This gives homeopathy its name: 'homeo' means similar.
If, for example, someone suffers from insomnia it can be treated with a remedy made from coffee, Coffea. Streaming eyes can be healed with a remedy made from the onion, Allum Ceppa. Belladonna is deadly nightshade. Taking it produces scarlet fever like symptoms, but it cures scarlet fever itself. (It is also useful for middle ear infections.) Apis (bee venom) is great for stings, or any sudden red, hot swellings, as well as allergic reactions when the throat swells. It even works for arthritis attacks when the symptoms are also redness and swelling.
In homeopathy we match the symptom picture of the patient with the remedy picture. The closer the match, the more profound the healing results. If the remedy is not quite right the ailment may only heal partially.
As a minimum, you need a three-legged stool! At least three strong symptoms in the patient must match three symptoms of the remedy picture.
Unusual symptoms are more important than common ones. Treatment works according to Hering's 'Law of Cure'.
Process of potentisation
Dr Samuel Hahnemann discovered that in order to benefit from the healing qualities of a medicine without suffering from the side effects, the process of potentisation is crucial. This means potency stems from a combination of dilution and succussion.
Dilution quite simply means lowering the dose of original material used in a medicine. Succussion is the process of agitating a freshly diluted solution by banging its container against a firm but elastic object such as the palm of your hand or a leather-bound book.
The succussions energise the remedies, the molecules in them move faster. The energetic force of the remedy becomes stronger as physical matter is left behind. This means their curative effect is not a material affair but is based on energy!
This energy is being released and harnessed for the cure of disease.
The higher the potency, the stronger the effect and the higher the healing potential.
Homeopathic remedies are dynamic. They are classified into three levels of potencies, x, c and m, referring respectively to factors of 10, 100 and 1,000 times dilution. So, while a c is more diluted than an x, the c is stronger.
Pharmaceuticals have not yet discovered the process of potentisation. Hahnemann's original dilutions are still working beautifully.
Potentising a homeopathic remedy
'Remedy' is the name used for a homeopathic medicine. Remedies are made from substances that have been found to produce a reaction in the body. Many remedies are made from substances normally regarded as poisonous, such as arsenic and bee venom. However, they are administered in such minute quantities that they have a stimulating effect on the body rather than a harmful effect.
To make a homeopathic remedy, the original medicinal material is chopped or ground. It is then soaked in a mix of 90% alcohol and 10% distilled water. This is left to stand for up to four weeks in a sealed jar. From time to time it is shaken.
Finally it is strained into a dark bottle and is known as 'mother tincture'. Just one drop of tincture is diluted in 99 drops of alcohol with 10 succussions. This creates the 1c. One drop out of that is then diluted in 99 drops of alcohol and succussed 10 times to obtain the 2c potency. After each dilution the solution is succussed. This shaking activates the remedy.
After 12 repetitions there is no physical substance of the original material left, no molecules at all, just the energy. This is why homeopathy is pure energy-medicine.
The remedies get stronger the more they are diluted and succussed.
The substance in which they are diluted has a memory (see Health news, Water wonders).
The higher potencies of 200c and up are used in violent, acute situations. The potency 30c is in the middle. Homeopaths use lower potencies like the 6c or x for the slow and steady healing of chronic problems. An x potency has less potential, more substance, more effect on the physical body, and is often used in organ support.
The solution is then made into pills, powders, tinctures or creams.
Scientific proof: homeopathy works
In 1997 Dr Klaus Linde from the Centre for Natural Medical Science at the Technical University in Munich researched the efficacy of homeopathy with strictly controlled double blind trials. The results show that two-thirds of the test cases examined clearly proved the efficacy of homeopathy compared with placebos, which the other control group were given. Conventional medical drugs fare equally in similar studies.
Homeopathy has also proven to be effective in animals and even cell masses and single cells. The secret lies in the potentisation of remedies. Through the process of succussion, the information from the medicinal substance is passed onto the carrier substance and then onto the remedy (see potentising a remedy and Health news, Water wonders).