People incorrectly label all holistic practitioners as being homeopathic. Homeopathy should not be confused with herbal medicine, Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine or other types of natural medicines. It is its own, unique therapeutic system that embraces a holistic, natural approach to the treatment of the sick where they believe that illness results from imbalances in the body systems and good health is defined as freedom from illness. Homeopaths consider that when the general physical and emotional well-being are addressed together and stimulated and nurtured by homeopathic treatment, the patient has a greater capacity for self-healing.
Homeopathy is Not the Practice of Charlatans
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), homeopathy is the fastest growing and second most used medicine system in the world, estimating that it is currently practiced by over 500 million people worldwide!
Homeopathy is practiced by a wide variety of health-care practitioners including medical doctors, osteopaths, naturopathic physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, dentists, veterinarians, chiropractors, acupuncturists, nurse midwives, podiatrists, as well as certified professional homeopaths. They are responding to a public trend away from some aspects of conventional, drug-based medicine. This is in part due to rising healthcare costs, the risky and dangerous side effects of some medical treatments, and the lack of success in conventionally treating some conditions.
Homeopathy is Legal, but with Much Debate
Homeopathic remedies are officially recognized under the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the 1965 Medicare Act, and the 1987 FDA Compliance Policy Guidelines. The remedies are derived from natural sources, whether vegetable, mineral, or animal in nature and are produced according to the U.S. FDA-recognized Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States. The FDA, however, does not evaluate homeopathic products for efficacy and safety. As a result, scientists are quick to dismiss homeopathy since it cannot be measured or explained scientifically.
Many skeptics claim that homeopathy works simply because people believe it will – the placebo effect. Homeopathy, though, has been shown to work on animals and babies, who are obviously unaware of what preparations they are given. Regardless of scientific studies, it’s hard to argue against the value in safety and healing of a placebo that works.
Individual States Regulate the Practice of Homeopathy
There are many training programs and courses in homeopathic medicine in both the U.S. and abroad. However, no diploma or certificate from any school or program is recognized as a license to practice homeopathy in the United States. Even so, look for qualified homeopathic doctors or practitioners that use the titles DHANP (Diplomate of the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians) or CCH (Certified in Classical Homeopathy) or DHt (American Board of Homeotherapeutics).
Each state’s laws and requirements for practice are different. Practitioners may be certified by one of several certifying organizations based on their medical professional status and their homeopathic education. Such certification attests that a practitioner has met certain criteria and developed a certain level of expertise in homeopathic practice. The aim is to ensure that homeopathy is being delivered to the public by suitably qualified and regulated practitioners operating according to a strong code of ethics to protect the patient.
Homeopathy Focuses on the Whole Person (Or Animal)
First developed in Germany in the late 18th century by physician Samuel Hahnemann, homeopathy is a natural method of treatment that works in harmony with the immune system and triggers or intensifies the body’s own healing mechanisms. It is based on his doctrine of “treating like with like” – a substance that causes symptoms in a healthy person, can be used to treat similar symptoms in a sick person. Instead of suppressing the symptoms of an illness, homeopathy mimics them for a short time and therefore encourages the body’s healing process. It works with rather than against the body’s own repair mechanisms.
Homeopathy is holistic because it treats the whole person or animal, rather than focusing on a diseased part, physical symptoms, or a labeled sickness. It works on the principle that the mind and body are so strongly linked that physical conditions cannot be successfully treated without an understanding of the person’s constitution and character. Thus, a homeopathic practitioner conducts a detailed, comprehensive interview of the patient or pet owner, called the homeopathic case-taking, to reveal the emotional, and psychological aspects as well as the physical complaints.
Also taking into consideration the patient’s temperament, state of mind, and lifestyle, the homeopath then finds the homeopathic remedy that in the Materia Medica (drug picture) is most similar to the sum of the characteristics presented by the patient. If the wrong medicine is given to a person, nothing will happen. It is free from side effects. However, if the correct medicine is given, the medicine kick-starts the body’s defenses and the process of healing starts. Instead of masking symptoms, the medicine sends the body a signal to help it rebalance and heal.
The More Diluted, the More Potent is the Homeopathic Remedy
Homeopathic remedies use materials derived from flora, fauna and minerals, which are prepared by repeatedly diluting the substances. At each step there is a vigorous agitation of the solution called succussion, and medicines which have been prepared this way are called “potentized” medicines. The amount of actual substance decreases with each dilution, to the point where the substance can no longer be chemically detected. As paradoxical as it may seem, the higher the dilution, the more potent the homeopathic remedy. The substance, while no longer present in a molecular state, has imprinted its “energy pattern” on the remedy, increasing its curative power.
Only a highly trained and experienced homeopath can determine which of the available remedies would be right for a specific patient in any given chronic health condition. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has declared that, “A systematic review has found that homeopathic remedies in high dilution, taken under the supervision of trained professionals, are generally considered safe and unlikely to cause severe adverse reactions.
Self-Treatment with Homeopathic Remedies
More and more people want to understand what they can do themselves to prevent illness and determine how they can help themselves recover. Homeopathy offers a simple, effective, relatively inexpensive, and extremely safe way of accomplishing this. By boosting the immune system and overall health, homeopathy is great for preventative care as it improves a person’s resistance to infections and possible illnesses. And provided it is practiced with common sense, homeopathic remedies can be used for self-limiting acute ailments.
Acute treatment is for illness of recent onset; it may be self-limited. Like other over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, homeopathic remedies can be used to relieve symptoms of a wide range of acute health conditions such as allergies, coughs, colds, flu, stress, arthritis pain, muscle pain, and teething. In such an illness the body might overcome the illness sooner or later, but the appropriate homeopathic remedy gently stimulates the body to recover more quickly and efficiently.
Homeopathic OTC products are available in numerous dosage forms including capsules, creams, eye drops, gels, granules, liquids, lozenges, nasal sprays, ointments, pills, tablets, suppositories, and syrups. Homeopathic medicines are one of the safest choices for self-treatment.
– No known side effects such as drowsiness
– No interactions with conventional medications or herbal remedies
– No contraindications with pre-existing conditions
– No masking of symptoms
As with all other medicines, the user should read the product label carefully prior to taking any homeopathic product and comply with all dosing instructions. It is generally recommended that people treat themselves for non-threatening acute conditions only and obtain professional care for chronic or potentially dangerous health conditions. A conventional doctor should be consulted for any ailment that can be quickly and effectively treated by conventional medicine, or for any condition that requires conventional investigation. Babies and small children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with chronic medical conditions need careful consideration in terms of self-help treatment.
Homeopathic Practitioner Supervision
Chronic or constitutional treatment is the other main category of treatment. A chronic disease is long standing or a recurrent health problem. Some symptoms may be indicative of a serious ailment and require the attention of a conventional doctor. If pharmaceutical drugs are already being taken, it may be necessary to consult a doctor before considering additional medication.
It is not recommended to replace your medical doctor with a homeopath. However, you should inform both your doctor and homeopath of medication and treatment, for their treatment to be complementary. In most cases when starting homeopathic treatment, you remain on your current conventional medicines until your symptoms improve and your doctors can reduce your conventional medicine in a safe way while continuing to monitor your progress.
The length of homeopathic treatment and the challenge to achieve positive results is affected by many factors, including the nature of the problem, the early health history, the family medical history, the previous treatment, and the person’s inherent constitutional strength. The goal is to help the person to return to a state of well-being through individualized homeopathic treatment. With the correct homeopathic remedy, there are no side effects and a person is restored to health naturally.
Homeopathy is Just Another Tool in the Healing Toolbox
It is best to take only one homeopathic remedy at a time. All remedies are best combined with good nutrition, a low-stress environment, exercise, and emotional and intellectual states that promote balanced body systems. Many other aspects of a person’s life, such as how they combine work and play, whether they have a network of family and friends and their general outlook on life, can help or hinder healing.
In contrast to conventional prescription meds that act promptly but often only suppress the disease symptoms, homeopathic medicines aim to cure both the symptoms and cause of disease by mobilizing and reinforcing the body’s natural healing abilities. Recovery is gradual as the body adjusts until health is fully restored.
To be fair, no one system of medicine can cure every illness every time in every patient. If you and your medical doctor are open to alternatives, homeopathy and conventional medicine can work well together as an integrated approach to health care. Start with prevention of supporting the immune system. Peruse the homeopathic remedies at your local health food store for acute problems such as bruising, minor allergies, or a cough. For more chronic problems find a qualified homeopathic practitioner. Search by the homeopathic modality in our directory. Be well.