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What is homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a system of medicine that is based on the Law of Similars. The truth of this law has been verified experimentally and clinically for the last 200 years.
Let’s look at an example: If your child accidentally ingests certain poisons, you may be advised to administer Syrup of Ipecac to induce vomiting. Ipecac is derived from the root of a South American plant called Ipecacuanha. The name, in the native language, means “the plant by the road which makes you throw up.” Eating the plant causes vomiting.
When a group of healthy volunteers took this substance to determine the effects of this drug, they found that the drug induced other symptoms as well. The mouth retained much saliva. The tongue was very clean. There was a cough so severe that it led to gagging and vomiting. There was incessant nausea. While it is expected that vomiting would usually relieve the nausea, this was not the case.
Such an experiment, using healthy volunteers, is called a proving, and it is the homeopath’s source of information about the action of a drug.
Of what use could this plant be? If a person were suffering from a gagging cough after a cold, or a woman were experiencing morning sickness with incessant nausea that is not relieved by vomiting, then Ipecacuanha, administered in a minute dose, especially prepared by a homeopathic pharmacy in accordance with FDA approved guidelines, can allay the “similar” suffering.
Samuel Hahnemann described this principle by using a Latin phrase: Similia Similibus Curentur, which translates: “Let likes cure likes.” It is a principle that has been known for centuries. Hahnemann developed the principle into a system of medicine called homeopathy, and it has been used successfully for the last 200 years.
How does homeopathy differ from conventional medicine?
How does the concept of homeopathy differ from that of conventional medicine? Very simply, homeopathy attempts to stimulate the body to recover itself. Let’s look at an example: the common cough.
First, we must accept that all symptoms, no matter how uncomfortable they are, represent the body’s attempt to restore itself to health. Instead of looking upon the symptoms as something wrong which must be set right, we see them as signs of the way the body is attempting to help itself. Instead of trying to stop the cough with suppressants, as conventional medicine does, a homeopath will give a remedy that will cause a cough in a healthy person, and thus stimulate the ill body to restore itself.
Second, we must look at the totality of the symptoms presented. We each experience a cough in our unique way. Yet conventional medicine acts as if all coughs were alike. It therefore offers a series of suppressive drugs something to suppress the cough, something to dry the mucus, something to lower the histamine level, something to ease falling asleep.
Homeopathy, on the other hand, looks for the one substance that will cause similar symptoms in a healthy person. The person with a cough characterized by being worse when breathing cold air, and sounding like a deep bark, will need a quite different remedy than the person whose cough is loose in the morning, dry in the evening, and better when sitting up in bed. We characterize both as “coughs” but they are different illnesses in the individuals, and therefore require different homeopathic treatment.
In conventional medical thought, health is seen simply as the absence of disease. You assume that you are healthy if there is nothing wrong with you. To a person versed in homeopathy, health is much more than that. A healthy person is a person who is free on all levels: physical, emotional, and mental. Obviously, a person with a broken leg is not free, on the physical level, to move around. But on a more subtle level, a person who cannot eat certain foods or is allergic to certain materials is also experiencing a lack of freedom. It is a good emotional release to cry at a “tear jerker” movie, but someone who continues to cry for several weeks afterwards is experiencing a lack of freedom on the emotional level. Likewise, a person who cannot absorb what he has read or cannot remember day to day appointments is experiencing a restriction on the mental level. The homeopath recognizes such limitations and attempts, through the use of the properly selected remedies, to restore the person to health and freedom.
An important basic difference exists between conventional medical therapy and homeopathy. In conventional therapy, the aim often is to control the illness through regular use of medical substances, even if the medication is nothing more than vitamins. If the medication is withdrawn, however, the person returns to illness. There has been no cure. A person who takes a pill for high blood pressure every day is not undergoing a cure but is only controlling the symptoms. Homeopathy’s aim is the cure: “The complete restoration of perfect health,” as Dr. Samuel Hahneman said.