The body has an amazing innate ability to fend for itself and to heal itself when an imbalance exists. Illness occurs when the body's resistance has weakened and the illness has penetrated the body's defense system.
The body has an amazing innate ability to fend for itself and to heal itself when an imbalance exists. Illness occurs when the body's resistance has weakened and the illness has penetrated the body's defense system. Disease is most likely to affect the weakest link in the body network, causing a predisposition to disease at this particular link.
Homeopathy strives to restore health by reinforcing the body's efforts to remove the underlying disease and heal itself. Homeopathic remedies strengthen the body's resistance and its ability to fight disease. Given renewed strength, the body is then able to kill the germs and do whatever is necessary to restore health.
Remedies are chosen according to the character of the symptoms, such as throbbing pain, high fever, or restless anxiety. Symptoms are the body's warning signals, our natural sirens indicating that something is wrong. Just as we pay heed to a wailing ambulance, we need to listen to our body. Identified symptoms are matched to a homeopathic remedy that produces similar symptoms in a healthy person on the principle that like remedies cure like illnesses. For example, hay fever symptoms of a burning, runny nose, teary eyes and other symptoms similar to those of a person chopping onions could be treated with Allium cepa, the homeopathic remedy made from onion. Conventional ipecac syrup induces vomiting, while its homeopathic counterpart Ipecacuanha treats stomach flus and motion sickness that cause unbearable nausea and vomiting.
Homeopathic principles were devised in the late 1700s by Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician and chemist. Although the roots of homeopathy can be traced back to philosophers of ancient times, Hahnemann was able to devise a system of medicine based on natural laws. He called it "homeopathy" based on the ancient Greek language, meaning "similar suffering," and reflecting the principle of "like cures like."
Samuel Hahnemann became frustrated by the inadequacies of the medical practices during his time. He found the common medical techniques of bloodletting (making patients bleed in an attempt to cure them) and purging to be largely ineffective and often dangerous to the patient. As a translator of medical literature, he found a document which heralded the use of Peruvian bark for malaria, suggesting that the bitterness was the property responsible for healing. Not satisfied with this explanation, Hahnemann carried out experiments in which he took enough doses of the medicine to establish its effects. He observed that the same bark used to treat the fever of a person with malaria could cause similar fevers in a person who was healthy. This was his first evidence that like remedies could cure like diseases.
With this fascinating discovery, Hahnemann and his colleagues researched the effects of other medicinal substances on the human body. This research later became known as "provings," a technique which became an integral part of homeopathy because it established the symptoms each particular remedy treats. During a proving, researchers organize a group of people to take a chosen homeopathic remedy until symptoms of the remedy appear. For example, persons taking the homeopathic remedy Ipecacuanha eventually develop nausea, but small doses of the same remedy cure it. Once the data is collected and compiled, more exact information is known about each remedy and which symptoms and illnesses it treats.
Hahnemann's further research in chemistry made homeopathic doses safe without altering their curative effects. With his discovery and refinement of dilution and potentiation techniques, Hahnemann found that when the harmful elements of a substance, such as mercury or venoms, were removed, the medi-cinal effects of a substance were enhanced. With this last discovery, homeopathy and its prin-ciples took shape. Hahnemann outlined his findings in the book, The Organon of Medicine. This book and its principles are still a foundation for homeopathic philosophy and practices today. The homeopathic remedies listed in the materia medica (list of substances used in the practice of medicine) at the end of this section are reli-able because they have been tested and used for two hundred years.
The homeopathic remedies presently in use are natural they do not contain any synthetic materials. These medicines originate from plant, mineral, and animal sources. Only the very smallest quantities of these substances are required to trigger the body's self-healing processes when used correctly.
Each remedy is carefully prepared according to Hahnemann's stringently defined pharmaceutical principles. Plant and animal products are first assimilated into an alcohol tincture. Minerals are ground finely and dissolved. Dilution of the remedies and potentiation then give the wide range of strengths available in homeopathic remedies.
All potencies are labeled with a number and letter, following the name of the substance, for instance Aconite 30c or Sulphur 6x. The letter c or x refers to the dilution factor and the number 30 or 6 refers to the number of times it has been diluted. The x potencies have been diluted at a ratio of one part medicinal substance to nine parts of an inert sugar base, alcohol or dis-tilled water. The c potencies are made in exactly the same way except that the dilution factor is one to ninety-nine. All c and x combinations are knocked against a hard object to potentiate or imprint the base substance with the medi-cinal material. This process is repeated many times over to give various potencies 3x or 3c, 4x or 4c, and so on.
The homeopathic remedies increase in potency with each subsequent round of dilution and potentiation. A more diluted 30c strength is stronger and deeper-acting than a 6c potency. The potentiation of the remedy refines each succeeding imprint of the base substance within the medicinal material. Homeopaths are turning to models in quantum physics to explain this process. For the self-help user, it is enough to know that a therapeutic dose of 30c has a longer-lasting effect and will not need to be repeated as often, whereas a 6c dose requires more frequent repetition as its action does not last as long.