Homeopathic Medicine at a Glance

Have you heard of homeopathy or homeopathic medicine, but are unsure of what they are? Homeopathy, a popular way of treating aliments holistically, was founded by German physician Samuel Hahnemann some 200 years ago. The name “homeopathy” comes from two Greek words meaning “like disease.” Homeopathic remedies are derived from plant, animal and mineral sources, and form the core of a medical system that posits the substances that produce symptoms of sickness in healthy people have curing effects in diluted amounts. In other words, the prescribed applications mimic the illnesses and symptoms of the user, and promote natural healing, between body and mind (1).

Homeopathy versus Traditional Medicine
Hahnemann formulated two core principals of homeopathy: the Law of Similars (like cures like) and the Law of the Infinitesimal Dose (dilution equals potency). In the former, Hahnemann theorized that if a substance causes disease systems in a healthy person, it may take only small amounts of that substance to cure a sick person with the same symptoms. The latter law suggests that the lower the dose of medicine, the greater the benefits. Therefore in homeopathy, substances are diluted through a series of specific steps (1).

So, why is homeopathy recommended? Some prefer this healing method over conventional methods because it allows the user to trade drugs for legitimate natural healing. Contrary to popular belief, homeopaths are certified, licensed doctors. Physicians who practice homeopathy help their patients to heal emotionally, mentally and physically by addressing their patients’ needs specifically—while treating whole health at the same time.

Though a visit to a homeopath is different from seeing a physician, surveys have proven that homeopathic doctors spend far greater time with patients during initial consultations than traditional doctors, with interviews lasting anywhere from one to two hours. A homeopath completes this detailed analysis to get a sense of a patient’s overall health and lifestyle, which means the physical, mental and emotional level of each patient, must also be evaluated. In doing so, patients often complete a lengthy questionnaire about their medical/family history, followed by an interview with the doctor, who asks the patient several more questions. However, it is not uncommon for a homeopathic doctor to use lab tests to gauge a patient’s level of health (1).

You may be surprised to know that homeopathic care is quite cost effective; initial visits can be anywhere from $50 to $300. Follow-up visits cost less, at $35 to $100 (1). High-quality homeopathic remedies are often less expensive than pharmaceuticals, with most remedies costing between $2 and $10; however, some doctors provide remedies free of charge (1).

Homeopathy is a safe therapeutic for ailments because it is believed to produce minimal side effects. Also, its non-toxic properties make it an excellent option for treating children’s illnesses.

Read further to learn about some common homeopathic remedies.

Homeopathic Herbs
may be used at the first signs of trauma, muscle aches, bruises or shock to decrease strain and tension. It can also be used as a remedy for many injuries. Adding to Arnica’s benefits its use for muscular strains and overexertion. Arnica (often found in topical gels) may also quell body soreness or pain caused by muscle or joint pain (2, 3).

Calendula has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It is said to be suitable for wound-related aliments such as scrapes, cuts and muscle strains. It is a recommended therapeutic because it heals wounds quickly, seals the edges of minor cuts and prevents scar tissue from forming. Calendula may also be used as an aid for infection, abscess, ulceration and even gangrene (2, 3).

Symphytum assists in bone building and cartilage repair. To that end, it also is said to help injury sustained to the periosteum or bone linings, bruising of the bones and shins, and other types of injury (2).

Camphora is a therapeutic often used for cold extremities, cramps and anxiety (4, 5). It may also help minor physical trauma symptoms and the recovery from cold/flu symptoms.

Hypericum (or Saint John’s Wort) has much research backing for mood support, particularly those who have depression.

If you are thinking about trying homeopathy, speak with a trained homeopath and your healthcare practitioner before taking homeopathic remedies. WF

1. “Homeopathy,” Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health, www.enotes.com/nursing-encyclopedia, accessed July 14, 2009.
2. A. Hershoff, Homeopathic Remedies (Avery Publishing Group, New York, NY, 2000).
3. A. Lockie and N. Geddes, Natural Health Complete Guide to Homeopathy (Dorling Kindersley Publishing, New York, NY, 2000).
4. V. McCabe, Household Homeopathy (Basic Health Publications, North Bergen, NJ, 2005).
5. P. Chappell, Emotional Healing with Homeopathy (North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA, 2003).

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, Sept. 2009