From CopperWikialternative medicine first defined in the 18th century by German physician Samuel Hahnemann who understood that healing comes from the body's innate self-defense and therapeutic capacity. Homeopathic practitioners contend that an ill person can be treated using a substance that can produce, in a healthy person, symptoms similar to those of the illness.
Other important principles of homeopathy are dilution and succussion. Remedies are diluted and then "succussed," or shaken, in order to increase their potency. The process of successive dilution and succussion is called potentization. It is considered to be a very safe option that finds favour with a large number of people the world over.
Why should I be aware of this?
As Homeopathic remedies are taken in extremely diluted forms they safe to take. Bit there needs to be full awareness of the treatment and the benefits. It is important to be aware of many dos and don’ts, like frequent repetition of a dose without the advice of a professional is not recommended. And taking medicines with food or drinkcan interfere with their absorption. They should be taken at least 15 minutes before or after eating or drinking.
It is also important to be aware that at times there may be an initial worsening of symptoms which is usually a good sign and signifies that your body is responding well to the remedy. Although the physical symptoms might get worse for a short period of time, you as a whole will start to feel better almost immediately. The aggravation will subside quickly, followed by the recovery.
Homeopathy and health
The three principles which govern homeopathy treatment are: the law of similars, the single medicine, and the minimum dose.
Homeopathy is used to treat any ailment from hay fever and skin allergies to depression. Homeopathy, literally meaning “Like cures like”, and it is generally considered to be part of the traditional indian medicine. However, the practitioners of this alternative medicine have been sometimes criticized for shunning conventional cures and vaccinations, which puts the patients at considerable risk.
All about homeopathy
The Law of Similars
The philosophy underlying homeopathic treatment is Similia Similibus Curentur, or the Law of Similars. This enchanting phrase literally means ‘Let like be cured by like’. According to Samuel Hahnemann,“to obtain a quick, easy and lasting cure, choose for every attack of illness a medicine which can produce a similar malady to the one it is to cure.” (‘Organon’) That is, a medicine which causes certain identifiable symptoms in a healthy person, when given in diluted quantities, can help to relieve the same in an ailing person.
How Hahnemann reached this conclusion is the kind of exciting, eccentric stories that scientific history abounds in. It had been known for sometime by the medical community that the bark of the cinchona tree, which contained quinine, had the ability to cure malaria. Hahnemann tested this by having some of the bark himself. He started experiencing symptoms indicative of malaria- extreme thirst, feverishness, drowsiness and agitation. He inferred that if the cinchona bark could cause malaria-like symptoms in a healthy person, the same symptoms could be cured in a sick person when given in extremely diluted amounts. He conducted further experiments for a few more years, using himself, some friends and even family members as guinea pigs! During this time, he carefully documented the effects of each drug on them and compiled these into a Materia medica.
It is interesting to note that the Law of Similars was not a novel idea- the Greeks had, over 2000 years ago, already practiced it in their medicine. It was Hippocrates who had first described this law. Many other cultures such as the Indian, Chinese and Native American employed the same philosophy in their cures. Most interesting of all, even the principle on which vaccination is based is exactly the same!
Thus, based on the Law of Similars, a person suffering from asthma is prescribed a mixture of aconite, natrum sulph, byronia and antimonium tart among other ingredients. However, if given to a healthy person, these same drugs induce asthma-like symptoms. Similarly, Ipecac is a drug that causes vomiting and nausea in healthy people; yet, the same when given in dilute quantities helps to minimize them in a sick person.
Hahnemann saw dilution as an integral principle of homeopathic medicine. The more dilute the medicine, the more effective it is considered. Dilution is also thought to eliminate harmful side-effects of the drug. The first step in creating a particular medicine is by preparing its ‘mother tincture’. This is done by crushing certain plants, animal products or minerals and dissolving them in a solution of either lactose or alcohol. The mixture is then shaken vigorously or succussed. Doctors dilute this mother tincture further based on each patient’s individual requirements.
Like all other alternative medicines, homeopathy too relies on a holistic approach to health. The body is seen as a part of the mind-soul network. A person’s physical symptoms as well as his or her mental and emotional states are considered before a medicine is prescribed. The goal of the treatment is not to suppress the physical symptoms, as in conventional medicine, but rather to aid the body in healing itself.
Treatment ranges from a few days to a few months, depending on the type of ailment and the mental and emotional constitution of the patient. During treatment, the patient has to take certain precautions so as to maximize the efficacy of the medicine. Patients are usually asked to avoid strong-flavoured substances such as caffeine, onions and garlic especially just prior to or after taking the medicine.
Homeopathy is considered effective across a wide spectrum of problems ranging from neurological and gynaecological ailments to phobias, sexual disorders, depression, insomnia, teething pain, tumors, leucoderma and even warts. It is especially effective in cases of chronic diseases such as asthma, arthritis, allergies, back pain, etc. Parents do not hesitate to take their children to homeopaths. And veterinarians and pet owners alike vouch for homeopathy’s efficacy in treating animal diseases. There have been cases where homeopathy has cured parvo virus infection in pups- this is otherwise usually a fatal disease!
An important aspect of homeopathy is that in the majority of cases, it does not interfere with conventional allopathic treatment. Thus, you can take both side-by-side for maximum benefit. In cancer, for example, homeopathy helps in alleviating the side effects of chemotherapy and restoring the patient’s emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being. Of course, when beginning homeopathy, you must consult your doctor regarding any potential interference with other forms of therapy you may be undergoing.
- The rise in the popularity of Homeopathy is attributed to its low cost and lack of side effects
- It is popular across European as well as Asian countries. While Germany and France have over 10,000 practicing homeopaths at present, India has about 2.4 lakh doctors! There are 122 colleges in India that provide degrees in this field.
- In Britain, homeopathy has recently begun to be covered by the National Health Scheme, while in the US, it the only officially recognized alternative system of medicine!
- Till a few decades back, homeopathy lacked adequate research and development. Like other forms of alternative therapies, it was thought of by skeptics as yet another placebo-treatment. However, recent years have seen more and more research in this field. Even mainstream scientific journals such as Lancet and the British Medical Journal now publish results in their pages.
- Homeopathy has been advocated by stalwarts such as Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William James, Henry Longfellow and the British Royal Family among others. Mahatma Gandhi himself spoke of it as “the latest, most refined method of treating patients economically and nonviolently…”
- Homeopathy helps 70% of patients with chronic diseases. 
- Homeopathy works on emotional as well as physical symptoms. 
- Around 3,900 healthcare professionals practise homeopathy in the UK. 
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