About Homeopathy

What is Homeopathy?What is Homeopathy

Homeopathy is a gentle yet deep method of natural healing for the whole person. It is not new or ‘new age’; it has been practiced for 200 years and is well established in Europe and India, where it is often practiced in hospitals. In France and Germany 30 to 40% of MD’s use homeopathic medicines in their medical practices.

Homeopathy is Science Based Medicine – read more about the scientific evidence for homeopathy here.

Although the terms homeopathy and naturopathy are used interchangeably by the media, they are not the same. Homeopathic medicine is a distinct system of medicine which uses micro doses of plant, mineral, and other substances to stimulate the immune system in accordance with the ‘law of similars’ (see below). Homeopathy is not the same as herbal medicine, and does not interfere with pharmaceutical drugs you may be taking.

How does Homeopathy Work?

While the basic principles of homeopathy are found in ancient writings they were first scientifically developed over 200 years ago by German physician and chemist Dr. Samuel Hahnemann. Curious about the reasons why Chinchona bark was helpful for malaria, he ingested some of the bark himself, and found that he developed malaria like symptoms. This was the ‘eureka’ moment of homeopathy. This discovery led to many years of experimentation by a group of chemists and physicians, and they observed a repeating pattern; ¬† any substance that in large doses causes symptoms in a healthy person, will, in a minute dose,¬† cure similar symptoms in a sick person.

A simplified example can be seen with the common onion. Slicing an onion causes symptoms of burning and watery eyes and a runny nose. Many hay fever sufferers with matching symptoms have benefited from the remedy Allium cepa, made from a diluted tincture of red onion.

Over years of experimentation, Samuel Hahnemann made many interesting observations. In trying to eliminate all side effects of the¬† substances he was using medicinally, he started diluting the original tinctures more and more. As one would expect, after a certain amount of dilution the remedy lost its medicinal effect. He decided one day to ‘succuss’, or vigorously shake, the remedies during preparation, in between each dilution. He observed¬† that this action increased the medicinal effects with each dilution, while eliminating the side effects. He experimented for years through observation and application in his clinic of different levels of dilution, until he reached the optimum point at which the medicinal action is strong but the toxicity is gone. Today, scientists are still trying to understand exactly why this works, and for skeptics it remains a point of contention – they claim it can’t possibly work.¬†¬† However, there is emerging science that shows that ultra-diluted substances do have specific biological effects on cells (see link above -scientific evidence). There are also over 63 randomized, controlled clinical studies, published in peer reviewed journals.¬† These studies show that homeopathy does have an effect greater than placebo.

And now, 200 years of clinical use of homeopathic medicines is supported by randomized, placebo controlled studies demonstrating the effectiveness of homeopathic treatment. Today homeopathy is the fastest growing form of alternative medicine in the world. It many countries it has become integrated into national health care programs, such as the UK, India and Cuba.

Homeopathic medication

Healing for The Whole Person

The first thing you will notice when you come for a consultation with a homeopath is the relaxed, comfortable atmosphere and the length of time allowed for discussing all aspects of your health problems.

In homeopathy, we look for the connections between symptoms – so anything that you feel is relevant to your current problem is discussed, not treated as a separate problem with a separate solution. Together we build a complete picture of your overall state of health which I then use to select an individualized remedy that ‘matches’ your picture.

Homeopaths do not view symptoms as discomforts to be eradicated, but as clues to the whole picture, hints as to where we are ‘stuck’, where the energy is not flowing freely, where we find obstacles to being happy, healthy and whole. What is happening in the body is often a mirror for what is happening in the mind. Often people who are treated for a physical symptom find that they also experience improved energy and overall sense of wellbeing.

Simplicity

Although finding your deepest acting, best ‘matching’ homeopathic remedy is anything but ‘simple’ and requires years of study on the part of the homeopath, the treatment from the patient’s perspective is simple because it does not require challenging dietary changes or long term use of expensive herbal or dietary supplements.

This is because we are not using homeopathic remedies to alter your body’s chemistry in a piecemeal way, adding a nutrient here or increasing a hormone over there; homeopathy goes deeper and treats the underlying imbalance that is giving rise to all the symptoms.

Obviously, we believe patients will do better with an overall healthy lifestyle, and the remedy will not do its best work if there are serious lifestyle/diet issues. But what I have seen in practice is that the deep acting homeopathic remedy will help the patient make needed changes, because when they feel better overall, and their symptoms are relieved, they will cope with stress better, their anxieties are alleviated, etc.

Scientific Research

Homeopaths have built a substantial body of knowledge over 200 years, mainly through examining repeating patterns from case studies of successful treatment. The list of symptoms that each homeopathic remedy is able to treat has been added to and developed by painstakingly mining data from case studies. So our main tool, the Homeopathic Repertory, has been compiled based on observations from thousands of cases, as well as proving information, and is still continually updated based on new data.

Nevertheless, today’s standard of evidence requires that Homeopathic medicines be tested as if they were chemical drugs, for diseases. The methodology for randomized, placebo controlled trials was developed to test one drug against one ‘disease’, for example Tylenol for headaches.¬† However a Homeopath must differentiate between hundreds of possible remedies for a headache, based on the differences between symptoms (eg different remedies for right sided vs left sided, migraines, types of pain, triggers of onset etc).

It is critical that we are able to compare homeopathic medicines against placebos in studies, and efforts have been underway for some time to design research studies that can accurately test homeopathy’s individualized approach.

While more research is needed, many randomized, placebo controlled clinical trials already support homeopathy’s effectiveness beyond placebo, and new techniques in basic science demonstrate specific biological effects of ultrahigh dilutions.  Clinical outcome studies reveal that homeopathic patients find treatment beneficial in a high percentage of cases.

The National Center for Homeopathy website has links to over 80 studies here and a pdf of studies that you can download.

Several Meta-Analyses have been conducted which review large numbers of studies to look for an overall pattern. For example, one review of high quality clinical studies has shown that homeopathy is overall 200% more effective than placebo. (Lancet Sept. 20, 1997; see also British Medical Journal, Feb. 9, 1991).

What about the Placebo Argument?

Despite the fact that there are so many studies showing homeopathy’s effectiveness (see link above)¬† and so many documented cases of cure, some critics of homeopathy argue that the successes must be due to the ‘placebo effect’ (ie that patients are all getting ‘dummy pills’ with no medicinal effect and it only works because they ‘believe’ in it). This argument, however, fails to explain the success of homeopathy in treating livestock through water supply, and very young babies,¬† neither of which are susceptible to the placebo effect.¬† While an animal being taken to a homeopathic vet may experience some conditioned responses,¬† homeopathic remedies given to herds of dairy cattle (which work just as well as antibiotics, according to a new study) can hardly be called a placebo effect.¬† Also,¬† homeopathy has performed well when compared with placebo in many existing studies.

There are many cases in orthodox medicine in which we do not understand the exact mechanism behind a medicine, yet we use it because it is effective.¬† In fact, there are many cases in which we have made use of observations of natural phenomena before we understood exactly what was happening.¬† This is how most of the world’s traditional medicines were developed¬† – by observation and experimentation over long periods of time, following what works.

There is at present an organized, well funded campaign to discredit homeopathy in the media and in blogs.  I have included a page of references to scientific studies that support homeopathy in the hopes that you will not rush to judgment based on something you read on the internet or a sensationalized media piece.   read more here. http://homeopathyresource.wordpress.com/

The Remedies

A homeopathic remedy may be made from any plant, animal or mineral substance.

Homeopathic medicines are safe and non toxic.
Homeopathic remedies do not interfere with other medications or treatments when prescribed by a qualified homeopath.
The manufacture and sale of homeopathic remedies is regulated by Health Canada.
NOTE: It is important to distinguish between herbal and homeopathic remedies, as herbal remedies can interfere with some pharmaceutical drugs.