Homeopathy is a traditional system of medicine that has been used for more than 200 years and works by stimulating the body’s immune system to overcome any unwanted symptoms which are making a person unwell. It recognises that all symptoms of ill-health are expressions of disharmony within the whole person and that it is the patient who needs treatment, not the disease. Homeopathic treatment is based on the philosophy that the body, mind and emotions are not separate parts of a person, but are all affected by each other; therefore the homeopath seeks to observe a pattern in the disharmony which is reflecting the complete individual. Homeopathy is truly holistic medicine that treats the individual on all levels – mind, body and emotions.
It was developed by German medical physician and chemist, Dr Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) and is based on the principle of “let likes cure likes”. Meaning that substances which can produce symptoms in a healthy individual can also be used to treat those same symptoms in a sick individual. This principle is not a new idea, in fact it is a well-researched method of healthcare that goes as far back as Hippocrates (470-400BC), the Father of Medicine, and other ancient healers such as Paracelsus (1493-1541). Homeopathic medicines are non-toxic, non-addictive and can be safely used alongside any other forms of medicine, including medicines prescribed by your medical doctor.
The WHO (World Health Organisation) recognises that Homeopathy is a valid form of healthcare and state that Homeopathy is used by 300 million people in 80 nations worldwide (Swiss Government Report, 2011).
2. How Does Homeopathy Work?
An example of the “let likes cure likes” principle is in the symptoms produced in many people when they cut onions. Some people are very sensitive to the fumes produced by cut onions when they are handled. They may experience hay fever like symptoms, such as a runny nose and watery burning, itchy eyes – the exact same symptoms that often occur with the common cold or allergies and the very same symptoms which would be caused if one were cutting an onion. However, when onion is prepared in a homeopathic manner and administered as a homeopathic medicine, it can help the person’s body in a deep and often permanent way to overcome those very same symptoms.
3. What May Homeopathy Treat?
Homeopathy treats the whole person, taking into account their personality and other factors affecting their health, such as diet and nutrient status, digestion, sleep, nervous system, other body systems, past history and family history.
Each prescription will be different regardless of the conventional medical diagnosis and since all patients are unique, homeopathic medicines are prescribed to treat patients as individuals. While it is possible to treat the symptoms only, we get the best results when we look at the whole person.
Homeopathy may benefit individuals of all ages and at any stage of the lifespan, including pregnant women, mothers, fathers, babies, young children, teenagers, and the elderly. Homeopathy may treat the symptoms of a wide range of conditions including (but not limited to), for example:
4. What Does A Visit To A Homeopath Involve?
Your initial homeopathic consultation may take approximately 90 minutes, however simple acute conditions may only take 30 minutes. Homeopaths do everything a conventional doctor should do. They take a full history as well as doing an examination if necessary. In addition to this, your Homeopath will ask you a lot of questions about yourself and about your problem as well, but they will gather much more detail about your problem than an ordinary doctor would do. Tremendous detail is taken about you. For example, if you had a pain in your leg, your Homeopath would ask you questions like: When does the pain occur? Is it in the morning, or is it in the evening? What makes the pain better or what makes the pain worse? Is it better in cold weather, or is it better in warm weather? Do thunderstorms affect it? Does what you eat affect it? Do your emotions affect it? What sort of foods do you like? Are you a hot or a cold person? What side do you prefer to sleep on at night? Do you have recurrent dreams? What is your personality like? Are you an angry person? Do you lose your temper? Are you a calm person? Do you keep your emotions bottled up inside? Do you express emotions? Do you have any fears? Do you have any phobias? What are your likes and dislikes in life? And many more questions.
5. Why Would A Homeopath Ask All These Questions?
The reason is that your Homeopath wants to understand how your whole body functions, not only the details about your illness or disease. Your Homeopath wants to understand how the whole of you works, including a lot of details about your illness.
6. Why Does A Homeopath Need To Know This?
In order to prescribe a homeopathic medicine, your Homeopath needs to understand the whole of you, in essence – how you tick. So a Homeopath’s goal in prescribing a homeopathic medicine and what they would like this medicine to do for you is to stimulate your body’s natural healing ability. In other words, your Homeopath wants to push your body to heal itself if it can. An illness itself, cannot be pushed, stimulated or provoked to heal itself, but it is possible to push, stimulate or provoke the whole human organism to heal the disease or ‘dis-ease’ within its whole. This is the goal of homeopathic medicine. The homeopathic medicine needs to suit not only the illness or disease, but it also it needs to suit the individual in whom the illness or disease is occurring. Then you will be given a medicine in a very low dose to stimulate your body to heal itself.
7. How Do We Match A Homeopathic Medicine To A Person Who Has An Illness Or Disease?
Homeopathic medicines in their gross undiluted states, for example in plants like Belladonna or Aconite, would produce certain symptoms in people. These symptoms have been recorded both in toxicology (which means the study of poisonous reactions in people) and by giving people medium doses of certain medicines and observing what symptoms develop in those people, whom we call ‘provers’. These are both methods of discovering what effects certain medicines, poisons, plants, minerals and herbs have on healthy people.
Homoeopathically, we give these medicines in a very dilute or potentised form, which is produced in a very special way. Homeopathic medicines are given to people who are having the same symptoms that the medicine would have caused them to have in a gross form if they were healthy. In other words, we are treating “like with like” (compare this to orthodox medicine which treats with opposites, meaning they suppress or oppose any and all symptoms which occur in the human body, creating only symptomatic relief without addressing the true cause of the illness or disease, essentially creating a band-aid approach to that illness or disease). When a medicine is prepared homeopathically and is given in a very low dose, instead of poisoning or causing certain symptoms in the body, it actually stimulates the body to go and fix the cause of those symptoms.
Homeopathic medicines are made from a variety of sources, such as plants, animals and minerals. They are prepared according to strict guidelines set out in international pharmacopoeias, and under the control of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
These medicines can be given in the form of pillules, liquid, granules or tablets. A single dose or repeated doses of medicine may be given. These small amounts of medicine are sufficient to stimulate the body's healing process. Where illness has developed over a long time, several successive medicines may be needed during the course of weeks, months or years.
Homeopathy is an example of a wholistic stimulus to the whole person. It stimulates the body, to balance itself and by balancing itself, it also heals the illness within. This is the goal of prescribing a homeopathic medicine.
8. What Will Happen When I Take A Homeopathic Medicine?
Simply - you will start to feel better.
Homoeopathy is a low risk form of treatment, however healing may take place in different ways and responses to homeopathic medicines by individuals may vary. Sometimes there is an immediate improvement. Sometimes you experience a sense of wellbeing even though some of your symptoms remain for a time. In some cases old symptoms which have been suppressed in the past by pharmaceutical drugs may recur as part of the healing process, this is referred to in homeopathy as a 'return of old symptoms'. Occasionally there can be a temporary worsening of the symptoms prior to improvement. You should tell your homeopath if you have any of these reactions. Your homeopath may also work in consultation with your other healthcare providers if necessary.
9. Is It Safe To Take Homeopathic Medicines Along Side Herbs, Acupuncture, Pharmaceutical Drugs & Supplements?
Homeopathic medicines are traditional medicines which are classified by the TGA as being low-risk and may be used along side any other treatment.
10. Homeopathy and Naturopathy
It is important to note that Naturopaths are not Homeopaths. Naturopathic training does not meet the Australian Government’s education standards for Homeopathy, although some Naturopaths may have undertaken additional studies to meet these requirements. If a person dispenses homeopathic medicines it does not necessarily mean that they are a fully qualified and Registered Homeopath.
Many people mistakenly think that “Homeopathy” and “Naturopathy” are one and the same thing. Naturopathy is a broad-spectrum practice which tends to rely on dietary changes and expensive on-going supplementation. Your Homeopath may also give you nutritional advice, however we primarily use our homeopathic medicines to stimulate your body's own immune system. Acupuncture does this too, except with the use of needles instead of medicines. Naturopaths are often considered to be the 'General Practitioners' of natural therapies, whilst Homeopathy is a specialist and separate therapy in its own right.
Naturopathic training only includes basic education in Homeopathy amongst a range of other therapies, rather than as the major dedicated focus of study. Government endorsed training standards specifically state that Naturopaths who have not undertaken the full training required to become a Registered Homeopath, are only qualified to treat acute and simple first aid cases homeopathically, and that they should refer more complex or chronic cases to a qualified Registered Homeopath.
All professional members of the Australian Homeopathic Association (AHA) are registered with the Australian Register of Homeopaths (AROH).