How does homeopathy work, anyway?
By Susy Parker Goins
Homeopathy can seem like a completely foreign concept to those of us brought up on mainstream, allopathic medicine. The principles of homeopathy are easily understood, however, by even novice users. With a little study and good reference materials, you can understand and apply homeopathic medicine to your family’s health.
The four fundamental laws of homeopathy -- the Law of Similars, the Law of Single Remedy, the Law of Minimum Dose and the Law of Direction of Cure – form the philosophical basis of this powerful healing modality. Each law identifies an aspect of homeopathy that sets it apart from other healing philosophies.
As like is to like
The Law of Similars, so named by homeopathy’s founder, Samuel Hahnemann, has been known for thousands of years. Physicians discussed theories on symptoms substances caused and were capable of curing as early as the time of Hippocrates and the Oracle at Delphi.
It was Hahnemann who began the process he called “proving,” taking notes on the reactions a healthy person (himself) had in response to a given substance. For example, the symptoms he developed after drinking cinchona bark extract were similar to the symptom picture for malaria. The treatment for malaria is quinine, a product from cinchona bark. Hahnemann drew the conclusion that if cinchona bark can cause the symptoms, it should be able to resolve them too.
One thing at a time
The second homeopathic fundamental is the Law of Single Remedy. Hahnemann believed that a practitioner should not prescribe more than one remedy at a time.
There is a lot of wisdom in this concept. Say you take a multiple-remedy product. If it doesn’t work -- well, too bad, try something else. But if it does work, how can you know which of the five or six or 12 ingredients in the product is the remedy that worked? And what are the chances that the remedy that was beneficial is the same remedy that promoted complete healing?
To determine which single remedy best suits your individual needs, you must get a complete picture of your state of being at that moment. Several excellent reference volumes can assist you in sorting through the options. A consultation with a homeopathic practitioner will give you a thorough understanding of your needs. Remember: A scattershot approach with a multiple-remedy formula won’t necessarily lead to complete healing, just relief from immediate symptoms.
A strategic nudge
The third law, the Law of Minimum Dose, states that you should take the smallest possible dose to nudge your vital force to start the healing process. This conservative attitude allows practitioners to ease clients into the healing process. Hahnemann believed that healing should be “rapid, gently and permanent.”
To use too much of a remedy frequently aggravates symptoms before creating any improvement. This can put patients off the homeopathic modality entirely. I twisted my ankle some years ago at my in-laws’ house and took arnica montana for it. This was indeed the correct remedy, yes -- but due to my inexperience with homeopathy, I took several doses of 30C potency. The result was an incredibly painful night with little sleep. Had I researched more deeply into my particular situation, I would have taken far less and been able to get some sleep.
Improvement may take a little longer using the minimum dose standard, but it is much easier and less disruptive to increase dosages than it is to step back.
Which way from here?
The fourth fundamental law of homeopathy describes the Direction of Cure. As you work your way closer to a state of health, an identifiable pattern of healing emerges. First, healing works its way down from head to foot. Second, healing works from major organ to minor organ. Third, it works from the inside to the outside. And finally, you see a reversal of symptoms.
The first three directions follow a logical path down and out the body. The fourth direction can be surprising. As the most recent ailments resolve, older or previously suppressed symptoms can reappear. You might find that an old knee injury you thought was completely healed resurfaces after you resolve a series of migraines.
Rapid, gentle and permanent
These four fundamental laws – the laws of Similars, Single Remdy, Minimum Dose and Direction of Cure – form the philosophical framework for homeopathy. Many health care providers and patients apply allopathic sensibilities to the healing process by suppressing symptoms or using more remedy than is necessary. These laws allow the use of homeopathy for healing as Samuel Hahnemann believed it should be: rapid, gentle and permanent.
Watch future issues of Natural Family Online for further installments about homeopathy.
This article first appeared in Sno-Isle Natural Foods Co-op's November/December 2003 member newsletter.
An informal student of natural health for years, NFO Bookshelf and Natural Beauty Editor Susy Goins received her certificate in homeopathy from the American College of Health Sciences. The self-proclaimed out-of-the-mainstream mama of three is a writer, belly dancer, actress, costumer and cook and will soon be celebrating 20 years of marriage to her husband.