What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a natural, safe, and effective system of medicine that stimulates the immune system to help heal the body from the inside out. Most homeopathic medicines are made from plants and minerals occurring in nature and have few side effects.
Homeopathy does not suppress symptoms but targets the root cause of the illness, which helps prevent a recurrence of chronic conditions.
A homeopath does not diagnose. That is not in our scope of practice and there is no need for us to do this. We deal in terms of the signs and symptoms presented by an individual. These signs and symptoms are the body’s way of telling us that there is an imbalance and they are indications of the medicine that the body needs.
Every individual has a different susceptibility to illness and disease. Homeopathic treatment strives to raise the level of wellness of an individual and reduce susceptibility to disease.
Homeopathy facilitates healing from the inside out. This is most evident with skin issues. Skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, warts, and rashes always develop from within the body and to achieve permanent results we need to treat those conditions from the inside out. The body always tries to push out illness away from the vital organs and we can see this when it reaches the skin. When we suppress skin conditions, we are forcing the illness back inside the body and back toward the vital organs. This is not a good thing. Topical ointments and steroid creams applied to skin conditions may relieve symptoms temporarily but they don’t get to the root of the problem. Homeopathy does – eliminating it at the source so future recurrences are less likely.
Homeopathy can treat many conditions safely and effectively. If you have never tried a homeopathic remedy before you will notice its action in an acute situation. Chronic conditions that recur can also be effectively treated with homeopathic medicine. The action of the remedy may not be as noticeable right away and you may need several different remedies or a change in potency to bring about the desired change in health.
What is Classical Homeopathy?
Classical Homeopathy identifies the closest match between a remedy symptom picture and the symptom picture of an individual. Only one remedy is given at a time. This enables the Homeopath to see how the remedy is acting and to make any necessary adjustments based on that action. Remedies work differently on different individuals. Sometimes a higher or lower potency is indicated, often based on the sensitivity of the individual. Sometimes a repeat of the original dose is needed, especially if the remedy was antidoted by another substance that the individual came in contact with. At other times, a total change in remedy is required. It will depend on how the individual reacts to the initial remedy and what other symptoms are produced.
There are products in the marketplace labeled as “Homeopathic” preparations that contain many ingredients. These are not considered as Classical Homeopathy. When multiple ingredients are combined, it is not really possible to identify which ingredient is providing the benefit.
What is meant by the Totality of Symptoms?
In aphorism 7 of the Organon of the Medical Art (Brewster O’Reilly 1996), Hahnemann states that, “The totality of these symptoms is the outwardly reflected image of the inner wesen of the disease, that is, of the suffering of the life force. The totality of symptoms must be the principal or the only thing whereby the disease can make discernible what remedy [curative means] it requires, the only thing that can determine the choice of the most suitable helping-means. thus, in a word, the totality of the symptoms must be the most important, indeed the only thing in every case of disease, that the medical-art practitioner has to discern and to clear away, by means of his art, so that the disease shall be cured and transformed into health.” He goes on to say that, “A single symptom of the disease is no more the disease itself than a single foot is the man himself.”
It is important to take into consideration all of the symptoms of the individual when taking a case. The totality of the symptoms will help in arriving at the most suitable remedy for the individual. It is the characteristic symptoms of the remedy that best matches the symptom picture of the individual that should be considered when choosing the similimum. The individual may present with physical symptoms but through proper questioning techniques, the homeopath can draw out the mental and emotional symptoms if they are not readily given by the patient. General symptoms are important also, especially physical generals with modalities describing the symptom. Location and Sensation are key helping to define characteristic symptoms. Any symptom that is strange, rare, and peculiar should be ranked with high importance. Also, symptoms that are volunteered by the patient should have more weight than those elicited by the homeopath.
What is meant by the Minimum Dose?
Hahnemann said that to bring about the desired change in human vitality, the amount of quantity (dose) of medicine required is the least possible. It should be the minimum amount of stimulus needed to excite the vital force to effect a curative action. A single remedy should be administered to a patient at a time and remedies should not be given in combination in true Classical Homeopathy. Often, a remedy produces an aggravation that usually signals that curative action will happen. By administering the minimum dose, that aggravation can be minimized or even prevented.
In aphorism 279 of the Organon of the Medical Art (Brewster O’Reilly, 1996), Hahnemann states that, “ …the dose of a homeopathically chosen, highly potentized remedy for the beginning of treatment of an important (especially chronic) disease, as a rule, can never be prepared so small that it would not
- be still stronger than the natural disease,
- be able at least in part, to over-tune the natural disease, and
- even be able to extinguish apart of the natural disease in the feeling of the life principle, thus producing a beginning for the cure.”
The Theory of Health and Disease
We are all spiritual individuals in a material form. it is the vital force within us that controls the actions of our mind and body and drives us to advance and evolve. Hahnemann stated in Aphorism 9 of the Organon of the Medical Art (Brewster O’Reilly, 1996), “In the healthy human state, the spirit-like life force (autocracy) that enlivens the material organism as dynamis, governs without restriction and keeps all parts of the organism in admirable, harmonious vital operation, as regards both feelings and functions, so that our indwelling, rational spirit can freely avail itself of this living, healthy instrument for the higher purposes of our existence.“
That vital force is what keeps us healthy. When there is a pathological disturbance in the vital force, it produces a diseased state resulting in signs and symptoms of the disease in the individual. The disease is dynamic in nature and therefore, homeopathic remedies must be dynamic in nature also to have an impact on the disturbance of the vital force.
In finding the most appropriate homeopathic remedy for the diseased state, it is important to match the dynamism of the remedy with the dynamism of the diseased state. Homeoopathic remedies are energy medicine that interacts with the vital force to help the individual heal herself. The symptoms of the individual are key to determining the similimum. They highlight the path of disturbance and a remedy is given to stimulate the individual toward the same path of outward movement, the natural direction of cure. The curative process is seen when symptoms move from top downward and from the inside to out. Hahnemann stated in Aphorism 10 of the Organon of the Medical Art (Brewster O’Reilly, 1996) , “In other words, the morbid mistunement of the life principle makes itself discernible by disease symptoms; in no other way can it make itself known.”
What are the Principles and Methods of Cure?
In aphorism 2 of the Organon of the Medical Art (Brewster O’Reilly, 1996), Hahnemann states that, “ The highest ideal of cure is the rapid, gentle, and permanent restoration of health; that is, the lifting and annihilation of the disease in its entire extent in the shortest, most reliable, and least disadvantageous way, according to clearly realizable [in-seeable] principles.
Hahnemann discovered truths and laws of nature by inductively studying facts. Homeopathy is a scientific system of healing that is based on those laws of nature and developed by inductive reasoning. The principles and methods of cure stemmed from this overarching philosophy of what constitutes a professional of the medical art. In the Organon of the Medical Art (Brewster O’Reilly, 1996), Hahnemann states, “To be a genuine practitioner of the medical art, a physician must:
- clearly realize what is to be cured in diseases, that is, in each single case of disease (discernment of the disease, indicator),
- clearly realize what is curative in medicines, that is, in each particular medicine (knowledge of medicinal powers)
- be aware of how to adapt what is curative in medicines to what he has discerned to be undoubtedly diseased in the patient, according to clear principles
In this way, recovery must result. Adapting what is curative in medicines to what is diseased in patients requires that the physician be able to:
- adapt the most appropriate medicine, according to its mode of action , to the case before him (selection of the remedy, that which is indicated),
- prepare the medicine exactly as required,
- give the medicine in the exact amount required (the right dose),
- properly time the repetition of doses,
- Finally, the physician must know the obstacles to recovery in each case and e aware of how to clear them away so that the restoration of health may be permanent.
[If the physician has this insight, discernment, knowledge and awareness] then he understands how to act expediently and thoroughly, and he is a genuine practitioner of the medical art.”
So, first off, the homeopath must realize what needs to be cured. She will do this in case taking by eliciting responses to questions about mental, emotional, physical, and general symptoms. She will review the health history with the patient. She will be an unbiased observer and take into account her own objective observations of the patient as well as what the patient says and what the patient’s family and friends say.
She will assess the total symptom picture of the individual and find the best match with symptom pictures of appropriate remedies to arrive at the similimum for that individual. Like cures like, according to the law of similar.
The remedy will be administered using the principle of minimum dose in order to minimize any potential aggravation of symptoms. A single remedy will be given, not in combination with any others as per the principles of Classical Homeopathy. The homeopath will watch and wait to see how long the homeopathic remedy will act so that she can repeat the remedy if necessary, or change the remedy if indicated. She will endeavor to remove any obstacles to cure or to advise the patient on those obstacles so that the patient may make any lifestyle changes required to facilitate healing.
The homeopath will watch the direction of cure. Hahnemann noted that allopathic treatment of disease resulted in a metastasis that deepened the disease so that it became chronic. Hering discovered that when the disease symptoms intensified, they moved from the exterior or surface of the body to the interior of the body and also from the less vital organs to the more vital organs. Similarly, when the disease symptoms lessen, or a cure is effected, those symptoms reverse in direction. They move from the inside, out and from vital organs to minor organs. it is a good sign when homeopaths see skin eruptions following a remedy because it shows that the disease is being pushed to the surface and healing is taking place. Symptoms also move from the top, downward in the direction of cure. Sometimes homeopaths see cases of eczema that appeared on the chest or upper body move direction to the extremities. That is a curative direction. In a cure, symptoms that have appeared last will be the first to go. They will be removed in the reverse order of appearance.
Homeopathic remedies have both primary and secondary action. The primary action is the direct action of the remedy on the vital force which causes a shift in the overall health of the individual. The secondary action is the action of the vital force after the remedy has caused the shift. In Aphorism 64 of the Organon of the Medical Art (Brewster O’Reilly, 1996), Hahnemann discusses this, “As seen from the following examples, during the initial action of the artificial disease potencies (medicines) upon our healthy body, our life force appears to comport itself only conceptively (receptively, passively as it were) and appears as if it were forced to allow the impressions of the artificial potence impinging from without to occur in itself, thereby modifying its condition. The life force then appears to rally in one of two ways:
- Where there is such a one, the life force brings for the exact opposite condition-state (counter-action, after-action) to the impinging action (initial action) that has been absorbed into itself. The counter-action is produced in as great a degree as was the impinging action (initial action) of the artificial morbific or medicinal potence on it, proportionate to the life force’s own energy.
- If there is no state in nature exactly opposite to the initial action, the life force appears to strive to assert its superiority by extinguishing the alteration produced in itself from without (by the medicine), in place of which it reinstates its norm (after-action, curative-action).”
Potentization of the Medicines
Potentization is the process of energizing a homeopathic remedy. The purpose is to make the remedy more dynamic and curative. This is done by taking the Mother Tincture, a tincture of the medicinal substance to be used. A plant tincture is usually made by soaking a part of the plant in alcohol or a water and alcohol solution. Tinctures of metals are made by trituration, which is the grinding of the substance with an inert substance or vehicle like milk sugar until the substance becomes soluble. Usually, the amount of medicinal substance in the Mother Tincture is one tenth of the vehicle.
Next, there is a series of dilutions of the mother tincture. There are different methods or scales for doing this. The decimal scale is a ratio of 1:10, one part medicinal substance and 9 parts vehicle. This would be represented by an X or a D after the name of the remedy and potency. eg. Pulsatilla 6X. The Centesimal scale is a ratio of 1:100, one part medicinal substance and 99 parts vehicle, represented by a C or CH following the remedy name and potency. eg. Sulphur 30CH. There is also the Millesimal scale, LM potencies, which are one part 3C potency and 50,000 parts of the vehicle.
The process of dilution goes like this. 1 drop of Mother Tincture of Chamomilla is put into 99 drops of a water and alcohol solution. The alcohol and water solution should be 40% alcohol and 60% distilled water. The solution is succussed to produce a 1C potency. Succussion is the vigorous shaking of the solution that makes it more dynamic. Then one drop of the 1C potency is put into 99 drops of a new water and alcohol solution. Then that is succussed to make a 2C potency and so on in similar fashion until the desired potency is achieved.
In Aphorism 269 of the Organon of the Medical Art (Brewster, O’Reilly, 1996), talks about the potentization of substances, “For its own special purpose, the homeopathic medical art develops to a formerly unheard of degree the internal, spirit-like medicinal powers of crude substances. it does so by means of a procedure which belongs exclusively to it (and which was untried before my time) whereby these substances become altogether more than ever – indeed, immeasurably – penetratingly effective and helpful even those substances which , in their crude state do not manifest the least medicinal power in the human body.. This remarkable alteration in the properties of natural bodies is achieved through mechanical action on their smallest particles by trituration and succession while these particles are separated from one another by means of an intervening, indifferent substance that is either dry or liquid. This procedure develops the latent dynamic (fn 11) powers of the substance which were previously unnoticeable, as if slumbering. The dynamic powers of these substances have an influence on the life principle, on the condition of animal life. Therefore, this process is called dynamization or potentization (development of medicinal power). Its products are called dynamizations or potencies of different degrees.”
Proving and Action of Medicine
In aphorism 120 of the Organon of the medical Art (Brewster O’Reilly, 1996), Hahnemann discusses the importance of thoroughly testing remedies on healthy individuals in order to determine the true action of the remedy and to be able to differentiate one remedy from another. He says, “Therefore, the medicines upon which the life and death, the disease and health of human beings depend must be exactly, painstakingly distinguished from one another. For this reason, through careful, pure experiments, they must be tested as to their powers and true actions in the healthy body so that we may become exactly acquainted with them and avoid every mistake in their use with diseases, since only an apt selection of medicine can quickly and permanently restore the greatest of earthly blessings, the well-being of body and soul.”
Homeopathic provings are the best sources of support for remedy choices. Homeopaths are able to prescribe with confidence when basing the remedy choice on information found in provings. In researching remedies for cases, if a proving is not available for a particular remedy, Hering or Allen are good references. These authors of Materia Medica offer details on remedies that are arguably closest to proving than other Materia Medica.
With regard to the action of the medicine, any substance or remedy given in a dose large enough to bring out certain symptoms can also ameliorate those symptoms when it is taken in a diluted homeopathic dose.
Allen, Allen’s Encyclopedia of Pure Materia Medica, vol 1-10, Retrieved September 20, 2014 from http://homeoint.org/allen/a.htm
Brewster O’Reilly, W, PHD., (1996) Organon of the Medical Art by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (6th Edition), Palo Alto, Birdcage Books
Hering, The guiding Symptoms of the Materia Medica. Retrieved October 25, 2013 from http://www.legatum.sk/en:mm:hering:start
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