What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a system of natural medicine introduced and developed by a German physician, Samuel Hahnemann, at the end of the 18th century. Recognizing that the whole person-mind, body, spirit-is affected when there is illness, homeopathy seeks to treat that whole person. The focus is not the diseased part or the sickness, rather the totality of the individual. Homeopathic medicines, or 'remedies', stimulate the body's self-regulating mechanisms to initiate the healing process.
When a person becomes ill, it is the whole that is sick: body, mind, spirit. The body manifests symptoms of illness but it is not the origin of the illness. Upon death, the physical body remains, but it is no longer curable. That which is curable, the 'vital force', has left the body. The origin of illness lies in an imbalance of the vital force. The symptoms expressed by the body, mind, and spirit are the manifestation of that imbalance. By matching the symptoms of illness with the appropriate homeopathic remedy, the vital force returns to balance. The symptoms disappear as the person heals themselves.
Homeopathy has 4 principles that are its foundation. They remain unchanged over the last 200 years as their truth is demonstrated through successful treatment of the sick.
The cornerstone principle is Similia Similbus Curentur, "Let likes cure likes" Homeopathy actually derives its name from the Greek, homoeo='similar', and pathos='suffering'. Through research and practice Hahnemann verified cure through the use of similars. A substance that can produce disease in a healthy person is used to elicit a healing response in someone presenting with a similar disease. Each person shows symptoms of the body/mind/spirit when they are sick. Some of these symptoms are common to that sickness, others are characteristic of that person in their sickness. The homeopathic practitioner matches the symptom picture of the homeopathic remedy to the symptom picture of the person, with particular attention paid to those symptoms which are unique to the individual.
The second principle of homeopathy is The Single Remedy. Only one homeopathic remedy is given at any one time. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain the action of multiple homeopathic remedies given all at once. The response of the vital force would be unpredictable and ambiguous. Though Hahnemann experimented with this approach he abandoned it as unsatisfactory.
The third principle of homeopathy is The Minimum Dose. This refers to the infinitesimal doses of medicine given as well as to the repetition of dose only when necessary. Drugs given to individuals in material doses frequently cause side effects or adverse reactions. To curtail this problem, the homeopath administers the smallest possible dose so as to maximize beneficial effects and minimize side effects. Repetition of dose is determined by the individual's response to the remedy. Unnecessary repetition may lessen the response, even to the correct remedy. In homeopathy, less is better.
The fourth principle of homeopathy is The Potentized Remedy. Homeopathic remedies, though made from natural substances such as plants, minerals, animals, etc., are manufactured unlike any other medicine. Through a process of serial dilution a very dilute extract is made. With every step of dilution the remedy is vigorously shaken-succussed. This process of succussion is designed to arouse the dynamic nature of the medicine. To affect the vital force, a similarly energetic, homeopathic remedy must be employed.
- Dynamis - life energy, vital force
- Potentized - usually refers to a substance prepared according to homeopathic pharmaceutical standards. This means that it has gone through serial dilution and succussion
- Remedy - medicine, as in homeopathic remedy
- Succussion - the process of forcefully striking a homeopathic remedy against a firm surface
- Vital force - the energy that maintains life in the individual (see Organon aphorisms 9-12)