What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a complete system of medicine developed by German physician and chemist, Dr Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), based on the principle of “let likes cure likes”. This law or principle is based on a long held belief as far back as Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, and other ancient healers such as Paracelsus, that substances that produce symptoms in a healthy individual can be used to treat similar symptoms in a sick person. Thus homeopathic treatment is believed to stimulate the body’s ability to fight infection and susceptibility to disease.
An example of this principle is coffee. Some people are very sensitive to its effects and can be over stimulated by taking it. They may experience overly heightened mental and physical alertness, and become unusually reactive to normal stimuli such as sounds and smells, etc. When a person presents at a homeopathy clinic with symptoms of insomnia, headache, irritability and an over stimulated nervous system, Coffea cruda may be chosen to alleviate their condition, prepared according to special homeopathy principles. It has been shown that this may settle the symptoms of insomnia in such cases.
Homeopathy is now used worldwide, with a 200 year history of clinical experience. It is recognised by the World Health Organisation as a valid form of healthcare.
In Britain, for example, there are five homeopathic hospitals available under the National Health Service (NHS), including the London Homeopathy Hospital. The English Royal family has used it since Queen Victoria’s time in 1830, and it has wide acceptance throughout Europe. In France the most popular cold and flu remedy is a homeopathy medicine, and in India over 10,000 doctors use homeopathic medicines to treat their patients.
Homeopathy may be used in the treatment of chronic illness, acute conditions and minor accidents requiring first aid. It is a complementary medicine and can work alongside conventional treatments and medications where applicable or required.
How does Homeopathy differ from conventional medicine?
Conventional medicine is based primarily on the concept that diseases are caused by harmful organisms such as bacteria and viruses. Treatment aims to either kill these organisms or to oppose the resulting local symptoms with drugs.
Homeopathy treatment strengthens a person's health, acting as a catalyst, stimulating and directing the body's ability to fight infection as well as resolving any underlying susceptibility to disease. Homeopathy views many symptoms in its quest to treat underlying tendencies to ill health. In this context, mental and emotional symptoms can sometimes play an important part in understanding this susceptibility.
What conditions can Homeopathy treat?
Homeopathy aims to treat the whole person, taking into account personality, lifestyle and hereditary factors as well as the history of the disease. Since all patients are unique, homeopathy medicines are prescribed to treat patients as individuals. For example, headaches in different patients would each be treated with different medicines, according to the patient’s individual symptoms.
Homeopathy can be of benefit for all ages, at any stage including pregnant women, mothers, fathers, babies, young children, teenagers, and the elderly. Homeopathy can treat the symptoms of a wide range of conditions including, for example:
• Acute complaints – coughs, colds, earache, food poisoning, hangover, travel sickness etc.
• Chronic complaints – skin conditions, hormone imbalances, depression, headaches, behavioural problems, digestive disturbances, asthma, arthritis etc.
• First aid situations – bites, stings, hives, injuries, trauma, shock etc.
• Vague symptoms - where there are no identifiable causes of disease, but the person feels far from well.
What does a visit to a homeopath involve?
The first consultation with a homeopath may take an hour or more, however simple acute complaints may only take 15-30 minutes. Information relating to current symptoms and past medical history will be required. Questions may also be asked about diet, sleep, lifestyle, and about some mental and emotional aspects. Physical examinations may be required according to the particular complaint.
Treatment then involves the prescription of the most suitable medicine, matching all of the symptoms and individual characteristics of the patient to the medicine. Two people with the same condition may have very different prescriptions because of their own unique set of symptoms. Your practitioner might also advise general lifestyle and dietary changes as part of a treatment plan.
What type of medicine will be given?
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). Since the medicines are very dilute, homeopathic medicines are considered low-risk when prescribed by a registered homeopath. These medicines can be given in the form of liquid, granules, powder or tablets and are designed to stimulate the body’s natural healing forces.
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.
Are there any side effects?
Healing takes place in different ways and reactions to a medicine vary. Sometimes there is an immediate improvement. Sometimes healing begins with an increased feeling of well being, even though symptoms initially remain. In some cases, old symptoms recur as part of the healing process. Occasionally there is 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 doctor or other healthcare practitioner if necessary.
Can homeopathy medicines be taken with conventional medicines?
Homeopathic medicines may be taken in conjunction with conventional drugs without any adverse effects.
Naturopathy and Homeopathy ?
It is important to note that naturopaths are not homeopaths. Naturopathic training does not meet the government’s education standards for Homeopathy, although some naturopaths may have undertaken additional studies to meet these requirements. If a person dispenses homeopathy medicines it does not necessarily mean that they are a fully qualified and registered homœopath.
Many people mistakenly think that “Homeopathy” and “Naturopathy” are one and the same thing. Naturopathy is a broad-spectrum practice which includes a number of natural therapies, and practitioners are likely to prescribe multiple medicines and treatments such as herbs, nutritional supplements, massage, acupuncture, diet and iridology, and may include some Homeopathy as well. 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 training in Homeopathy as an elective option amongst a range of 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 are only qualified to treat acute and simple first aid cases homoeopathically, and that they should refer more complex cases to qualified homeopaths.
All professional members of the AHA are registered with the Australian Register of Homeopaths (AROH).
Australian Homœopathic Association http://www.homeopathyoz.org/
Society of Homeopaths http://www.homeopathy-soh.org/
British Homeopathic associations http://www.britishhomeopathic.org/