What is Homeopathy?

Homeopathy is a system of medicine used by around 200 million people worldwide each year and is listed by the World Health Organisation as the second most commonly used form of medicine in the world. It seeks to treat each person individually, using remedies made from natural substances which are prepared in such a way that they are potent but non-toxic. The remedies are selected on the basis of “like cures like”. A well- selected remedy (from the many thousands available) will stimulate your body’s own healing capacity. A remedy that does not match your symptoms will not produce any significant effect.

If you would like to know more, please read on.

The name, Homoeopathy, comes from the Greek: homoeo –meaning the same; pathos meaning disease.

Homeopathy is a system of medicine which dates back over 200 years to a German physician called Samuel HahnemannHe was greatly disillusioned by the medicine practised in his era: leeches, purging, bleeding, mercury, etc. His breakthrough came when he decided to see what the effect would be on a healthy person (himself) of taking a new wonder drug – chinchona bark (quinine), which was being used to treat malaria. To his astonishment, he found that it induced in him symptoms similar to those of malaria. This led him to hypothesize that a substance which can induce a certain clinical syndrome in a healthy person can also be used to treat that exact syndrome when it occurs as an illness in someone else.  This was an idea that had been considered for millennia: Hippocrates believed that:  “like cures like”.

Hahnemann went on to test this idea extensively by asking friends and colleagues also to test the same substance on themselves and note down precisely any symptoms in mind, emotions or physical health that arose. The descriptions given by each tester or “prover” were combined to give the “proving” of the first homeopathic remedy, China.

Subsequently, Hahnemann and his colleagues tested many other substances in this way. The “proved” medicines were then given to sick people who showed the exact same symptom picture demonstrated in the provings and the physicians noted down the reactions in their patients, whether they recovered or not. In this way, they showed that Hippocrates and Hahnemann were right; that like cured like.

This extensive experimenting, which has now been going on for over 200 years has repeatedly re-confirmed Hahnemann’s hypothesis.

The second fundamental principle of homeopathy is the use of the Minimum Dose.

Hahnemann discovered that he could reduce the toxicity of the medicines he was using by diluting them. If they were simply diluted, they did not retain the capacity to cure; however, if they were vigourously shaken with each step along the dilution process (known as succussion) then the medicinal effect would persist while the toxic effect reduced. In fact, the medicine would, through this process of dilution with succussion, become less toxic and more potent.

Again, this hypothesis has been extensively re-confirmed throughout homeopathy’s long history.

It is not understood how this happens, since it seems contrary to Newtonian concepts of physics. It is for this reason that detractors say it cannot work. However, there is a substantial and growing body of evidence that these ultradilute homeopathic solutions do work: in people, animals, test-tube samples of cells, plants and even in basic physical chemistry experiments (see The Evidence for Homeopathy). Although funding is not available from large corporations to try to understand how these effects take place, there are a number of science laboratories around the world working on this question and finding some very interesting results.

Homeopathy is safe, effective and cost-effective. People have found it helpful in many different conditions, including in cases where patients cannot tolerate the side effects of conventional medicines or where all conventional treatments have failed. A poorly-matched homeopathic remedy is unlikely to do anything for you; hence, a lot of people who buy over-the-counter homeopathic remedies without finding an exact match for their particular combination of symptoms, might gain no benefit and conclude that homeopathy doesn’t work. By contrast, a well-chosen remedy might transform their health.

For more detailed information, see page on The Evidence for Homeopathy.