Homeopathy: What is it and does it work?

Homeopathy is an alternative medical system based on the theory that “like cures like.” The system of homeopathic treatment was founded by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796 but there were others before him who believed that what makes you ill can also cure you.

Homeopathy - Image of a bottle, rock, purple flower and little white round pulls on a glass table

That philosophy led to Hahnemann preparing dilutions of poisons to treat people who had symptoms like those that would be produced by being poisoned by the same substance. A little like vaccinations…

We call homeopathic medicines “remedies,” and they are so much diluted that very little of the original substance remains, leading to allopathic naysayers calling them sugar pills. Proponents claim that energy remains, so you could call it energy medicine.

Like other alternative practices where the treatments are either natural or inexpensive to produce, there’s no big pharma to run studies and trials, so little research has been done, relatively speaking.

It is a difficult treatment system to study because it is designed to treat the whole person and his or her symptoms, and does not treat specific diseases. If you and your friend Fred have the flu, and Fred feels worse in the morning while you feel worse in the evening, you might take a different remedy than Fred. So we couldn’t test a specific remedy for a specific disease. (yet most of the trials have done just that). We could perhaps take a group of people suffering from flu and have them all take whatever remedies are indicated for them and have another group of people with the flu taking nothing and do a comparison that way. However, all the people using homeopathy would have to have the same doctor because, more than in mainstream medicine, the skill of the practitioner is paramount.

The NCBI reviewed 17 studies in 2002 and found no results to support homeopathy as an evidence-based treatment.  However, the British Homeopathic organization reports on more recent research that shows homeopathy has a positive effect. Here is a link to an article if you have interest (or paste it into your browser): https://www.britishhomeopathic.org/evidence/the-evidence-for-homeopathy/

My family used homeopathy from the time I was nearly 28 until I was about 50. My children were raised with it. My younger son was in the womb when we began. We were blessed to have a gifted practitioner who was, during his career, well-known in the profession. He was an M.D. as well as a homeopath but as far as I know, his practice was all about classical homeopathy…the magic of the minimum dose. I have tried a few practitioners since he retired but did not have the same positive experiences and outcomes. I was excited to find an MD/Homeopath in California but he was more MD than Homeopath. I was satisfied with his doctoring skills, but what I wanted was a true Homeopath.

Where I now spend much of my time, there are several homeopathic practitioners, none of them doctors. They may be wonderful and I may try them out one day, but for now, I am doing other things. Still, for over 20 years, homeopathy (or my particular doctor) never let me down. My kids were healthy all the way through school, with hardly any missed classes and no serious illnesses at all.   My husband was treated for psoriasis, which nearly cost him his profession and while not completely cured, was so much better that he could continue to draw without bleeding all over his renderings.

If you want a balanced view of homeopathy, please don’t rely on that online encyclopedia that begins with a W. The bias in their articles on alternative or complementary medicine sometimes borders on vitriol.

Homeopathy won’t hurt you. The worst that might happen is that you might “prove” a remedy, which to exhibit some of the symptoms of poisoning by the original substance, like a reaction to a vaccine. How can that be if it’s just a sugar pill?  Considering the safety, you can in this, as in other complementary treatments, be your own research scientist…and experiment.

Mainstream medicine will tell you that the benefit of Homeopathy is just a placebo effect. While I don’t believe that, my response has to be that if I am better and the goal was to be better, then I am happy with the result. To me, that just suggests that we have the innate capability of healing ourselves without interference as long as our thoughts are in the right place.

It bears repetition that the best way to make use of homeopathy is with a skilled doctor.  However, remedies come in handy to the lay person for first aid treatments: shock, strains, sprains, bruises, bites, etc.  First aid remedies are often used in 30C dilutions and may be given more than once.  They are all different, though, so having a reference guide for each one is helpful; there are homeopathic first aid books available which will give you more detailed information.

  • Allergic reactions: rhus tox (esp. for poison ivy)
  • Bites and stings: ledum, apis (apis can be taken as prevention)
  • Black eye: ledum
  • Burns, scalds: cantharis, urtica urens
  • Bruising: arnica
  • Cold or cough: aconite, gelsemium
  • Concussion: arnica
  • Dental pain: hypericum
  • Exhaustion: belladonna
  • Eyes (irritation from removal of a foreign object): Euphrasia officinalis
  • Fever: belladonna
  • Food poisoning: arsenicum
  • Hangover: nux vomica
  • Heatstroke: belladonna, glonoinum
  • Homesickness: ignatia
  • Indigestion: nux vomica
  • Motion sickness: cocculus indicus, tabacum
  • Muscle strains, sprains, soreness: arnica, rhus tox, ruta graveolens
  • Nerve injuries: hypericum
  • Nosebleeds: phosphorous
  • Scrapes: calendula cream
  • Shock:  aconite
  • Splinters: silicea (helps to expel things embedded in flesh)
  • Sunburn: cantharis, belladonna
  • Wounds, puncture: ledum
  • Wounds, punctures and lacerations: hypericum
  • Wounds, superficial: calendula

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