Homeopathy is a natural modality that uses nontoxic, single origin remedies to gently stimulate the body’s innate efforts to heal and return to a state of balance and wellness. Conceived and carefully developed by German physician, Samuel Hahnemann in the 1800s, homeopathy spread around the world and has established over 200 years of clinical evidence and reinforcement.
The efficacy of homeopathy is found in its fundamental principles: the law of similars, the minimum dose, and totality of symptoms.
The law of similars
The law of similars can be found throughout the natural world, but in the case of medicine, it means that a substance which can evoke a set of symptoms in a healthy person, can heal those same symptoms in a sick person. For example, syrup of Ipecac is given to induce vomiting. Homeopathically prepared Ipecac may help alleviate vomiting in intestinal illness, or morning sickness for example.
The minimum dose
The minimum dose is a key component in the efficacy of the law of similars. A sick person is very sensitive and requires a minimum amount of the appropriate medicine to stimulate healing. For example, a healthy person would likely have to eat, say 46 bowls of chicken soup to feel ill. But a sick person may only have to smell chicken soup to feel ill. In a state of illness, our sensitivity is heightened by giving a similar remedy in a minute amount and the body responds.
Treatment of the totality of symptoms
Hahnemann also discovered through his meticulous observation, that homeopathy works best when applied to the totality of symptoms. Using the above example: matching Ipecac to the symptom of vomiting may be effective, but it is more likely to be the most similar and effective remedy if it matches other aspects of the patient as well, like their temperament and general preferences like thirst, appetite, heat and cold.
This is often called treating the patient’s constitution and it refers to considering the whole patient: physical, mental/emotional, and general symptoms when choosing a remedy.
New patients to homeopathy undergo a detailed consultation of the chief complaint and current symptoms, along with the details of the health history and family history, if applicable. The homeopath makes a careful study of all the symptoms and their relationship to one another. Where a patient may see a handful of unrelated, inconsistent symptoms, the homeopath finds a revealing pattern with careful consideration of inciting cause. The homeopath will choose a remedy that best matches that overall pattern, and the treatment begins. Sometimes it takes trying a couple of remedies to find the best match. Once that match is found, however, the improvement is often immediate. Treatment will be carefully managed by the homeopath to increase improvement over time until the symptoms have been fully extinguished.
Because of its gentle, nontoxic nature, homeopathy is suitable for all ages, including pregnant and nursing mothers, newborns, elders, and even palliatively for those in hospice care.
Research and Evidence
Because remedies are so drastically different than conventional pharmaceutical drugs, and each patient is treated as individual rather than an expression of a recognized diagnosis, homeopathy does not conform well to standard medical trials. That being said, In the past couple decades there has been increased effort to quantify the results of homeopathic treatment. Despite its energetic mode of action and individual treatment, homeopathy *has* shown positive results in much of the research conducted. With the advanced tools available today, we are even getting closer to understanding the underlying mechanism of homeopathic remedies, which is believed to be in the realm of quantum physics.
The National Center for Homeopathy (www.homeopathycenter.org) maintains a Research Library where you can find articles on: mechanism of action, metaanalysis, clinical trials, longterm benefits, and epidemiology.
The International Homeopathic Research Institute (www.hriresearch.org) is also dedicated to funding and supporting research to better understand how homeopathic medicines work, the results of treatment, and making this evidence available to the public.