Homeopathy is widely recognised as a safe, gentle and effective system of medicine which has been used for over 200 years.
It was developed by a German Doctor named Samuel Hahnemann in 1796, although its origins can be traced back to the fifth century BC when Hippocrates talked of two methods of healing: by ‘contraries’ and by ‘similars’. Paracelcus (1493-1541) also worked with the theory that ‘Like cures Like’.
How does homeopathy work?
Homeopathy works on the principle of the “Law of Similars”. The law states “that which makes sick shall heal”. In other words; a substance which causes particular symptoms in a healthy person will cure those same symptoms in an ill person. This can be illustrated when we look at the physical symptoms caused by peeling an onion. Many people experience a runny nose and stinging, streaming eyes. The homeopathic remedy that is made from an onion is one of the remedies that may be used to help those suffering from symptoms of a runny nose and streaming eyes. It is very different from allopathic or conventional medicine in that it treats ‘the whole person’ (an holistic approach). As a homeopath I am not so interested in the ‘disease label’ that you may have been given by the doctor, but how this imbalance affects you as an individual and how it impacts on your whole person. Three people may approach me in one week with ‘flu’. One may have the focus on their chest and lungs and feel weepy and vulnerable and exhausted. Another may have a very sore throat and watery discharge from eyes and nose and be feeling very cross and frustrated because their exhaustion has forced them to take to their bed. A third may have extreme aches and pains and feel the main focus in their tummy, feeling sick and not wanting to eat. I may prescribe a different remedy for each of them according to their individual symptoms.
What are homeopathic remedies made from?
Homeopathic remedies are sourced from many areas. Some are made from plants. Others are taken from the mineral world, and some are made from animal material. The little pillules that carry the medicating remedy are made from sugar – usually lactose, but lactose-free ones can easily be obtained.
How are the remedies made?
There are five regulated homeopathic pharmacies in the UK that make remedies. There are many different remedies made from a wide variety of plants, minerals and the animal kingdom. The raw extracts from the materials are made into a ‘tincture’ with alcohol which forms the basis of the remedy. There is then a complex dilution procedure involving multiple dilutions and succussion (vigorous shaking). Dilutions are made resulting in the 6x, 6c or 30c potencies that may be bought over the counter. Higher potencies are available to Homeopaths through the homeopathic pharmacies. Remedies can come in various forms including liquid, powders, hard pills, and soft pills for Babies and Children
What about the ‘Placebo effect’?
It is true that there is an element of placebo in any therapeutic relationship, but evidence based research trials have looked at this area more specifically, with some positive results. Dr David Reilly and his team at Glasgow University have conducted four double blind placebo controlled trials, carried out over a period of 18 years, specifically designed to examine the evidence for the hypothesis that any benefits of homeopathy are due to the placebo effect. All four trials involving a total of 252 patients have produced similar, positive results demonstrating that homeopathy has an effect greater than placebo and that these results are reproducible.
How do such dilute remedies work?
The remedies are so dilute that there is no molecule of the original substance remaining. Although there is plenty of proof to show that remedies work, scientists have yet to discover exactly how they work. The answer is more likely to be found in the field of quantum physics, where recent advances have shown that water may retain a ‘memory’ of any substance that it has been exposed to.
Is there any research on homeopathy?
For further information and up to date research on the evidence base for homeopathy see the Society of Homeopaths website under links.
Are homeopathic remedies safe for children, babies and pregnant women?
Homeopathic remedies are safe to use at all ages. Many women use homeopathic remedies throughout their pregnancy and birth. Common problems in both pregnancy and childbirth such as nausea, back pain, indigestion, heartburn, emotional distress etc can all be helped significantly by the use of Homeopathy. I have a birth kit that it is possible to borrow for a small charge providing you have attended a ‘birth consultation’, preferably with your partner or whoever will be present with you at the birth. Babies also respond very well to homeopathy, with conditions such as colic, nappy rash, teething, cradle cap and eczema all being seen commonly by Homeopaths.
Do homeopathic remedies have any side effects?
The remedies are non toxic and non addictive with no harmful side effects. After taking a remedy you may notice some changes. Some people experience feelings of increased energy and wellbeing. Sometimes symptoms may appear to worsen for a short time. This is a positive sign which shows the remedy is taking effect. Sometimes your body may have an initial ’clearing out’ (for example a discharge may be experienced in the form of a cold). These reactions indicate to the Homeopath that the self-healing process has begun.
Can I buy homeopathic remedies to use myself?
It is possible to buy some common over-the-counter remedies to help with minor injuries such as sprains or bruising, or ailments such as colds, earaches and teething problems in children. However, recurrent problems such as hay fever, eczema will respond much more successfully to an assessment by a qualified homeopath who can examine the underlying causes and determine the most appropriate remedies.