Homeopathy: Classical and Contemporary

Homeopathy: Classical and Contemporary

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The Origins of Homeopathy

Homeopathy is a method of using a wide array of specially manufactured products that act powerfully upon the body to stimulate its natural defense system.

The basic principle of Homeopathic remedies is stated as “like cures like.” What is “like cures like”? The name Homeopathy comes from the Greek homeos, meaning “similar,” and pathos, meaning “suffering.” So, Homeopathy means to “treat with something that produces an effect similar to the suffering.”

Basically, that is, an illness can be treated by a substance capable of producing similar symptoms to those suffered by the patient. That’s a mouthful. I’ll provide clarification and examples of this later on.

The Rapid Growth of Homeopathy

During the 1800’s, Homeopathic philosophy spread rapidly throughout Hahnemann’s home country of Germany, across Europe, through Asia, and then to the United States.

Dr. Hering’s observations about the “process of healing” made a significant contribution to understanding the ways in which the remedies stimulated the body’s natural healing force. He called these observations The Laws of Cure.

As Homeopathy grew, many opinions developed about the best way to prescribe a Homeopathic remedy. There were arguments about:

  • the strength of the potency, either a very high dilution (weak in chemical strength, high in vibrational or energetic strength) or a low dilution,
  • the type of symptoms serving as the basis of the prescription,
  • the decision whether to prescribe primarily on physical symptoms or on emotional symptoms.

This led to a major split in Homeopathic philosophy. In spite of the fact that Homeopathy had become a very strong competitor of orthodox medical treatment, the internal split in the practice of Homeopathy severely crippled the movement.

The Rapid Decline and Resurgence of Homeopathy

During the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, Homeopathy’s power significantly decreased as a result of an all-out attack by orthodox medicine. By the 1920’s, Homeopathy had been almost totally suppressed. In fact, during the early 1970’s, it was very difficult to find anyone practicing Homeopathy. In the United States a primary impact of the decline of homeopathy was the increase of the pharmaceutical industry.

Since that time, there has been a significant resurgence in Homeopathic therapeutics. The United States is not the only country experiencing rapid growth. England, Germany, France, and India, all have very strong Homeopathic movements with very high percentages of the population using Homeopathic remedies as an alternative to pharmaceutical interventions.

How Does Homeopathy Differ from Conventional Medicine?

How does the concept of Homeopathy differ from that of conventional medicine? Very simply, Homeopathy attempts to stimulate the body to heal itself.

First, we must understand that all symptoms, no matter how uncomfortable they are, represent the body’s attempt to restore itself to health.

Instead of looking upon symptoms as something wrong, Homeopathic philosophy sees them as signs that the body is attempting to help itself. This point is the key factor in delineating the philosophical differences between the Homeopathic school and the current, mainstream allopathic school.

In conventional medical thought, health is seen simply as the absence of disease. You assume that you are healthy if there’s nothing wrong with you (no symptoms). To a person trained in Homeopathy, health is much more than that. A healthy person is a person who is free on all levels: physical, emotional, and mental.

An important and fundamental difference exists between conventional medical therapy and Homeopathy. In conventional therapy, the aim is to control the illness through regular use of medical substances, even if the medication is nothing more than vitamins.

If the medication is withdrawn, however, and the person returns to illness, there has been no cure. A person who takes a pill for high blood pressure every day is not undergoing a cure but is only controlling their symptoms. Homeopathy’s aim is vibrant health: “The complete restoration of perfect health.”

What are the Medicines?

Homeopathic medicines are drug products made by Homeopathic pharmacies in accordance with processes described in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States, the official manufacturing manual recognized by the FDA. The substances may be made from plants such as aconite, dandelion, plantain; from minerals, such as iron phosphate, arsenic oxide, sodium chloride; from animals, such as the venom of a number of poisonous snakes; or even from chemical drugs, such as penicillin or streptomycin.

These substances are diluted carefully until none of the original substance remains.

Although such infinitesimal quantities are considered by some to be no more than placebos, the clinical experience of Homeopathy shows that the infinitesimal dose is effective: it works upon unconscious people and infants and it even works on animals.

History and Legal Status of Homeopathy in the United States

At the turn of the century there were 22 Homeopathic medical colleges and one out of five doctors used Homeopathy.

The American Foundation for Homeopathy began to teach Homeopathy as a post-graduate course for doctors in 1922, and the courses, now run by the National Center for Homeopathy, have continued to this day.

The manufacture and sale of Homeopathic medicine are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States was written into federal law in 1938 under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, making the manufacture and sale of Homeopathic medicines legal in this country. Most are available without a prescription.

Forms of Modern-Day Homeopathy

Classical Homeopathy

Classical Homeopathy represents the dominant form of Homeopathic prescribing used throughout the world today. In the classical method, the homeopath will engage the patient in an extended discussion about the patient’s total symptom picture, including his physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. After analyzing the symptom picture, the homeopath will decide on what he believes to be the one remedy that matches the patient’s symptom picture. The key feature of this method is the use of one remedy and one remedy only.

Other practitioners practice a form of Homeopathy called poly-pharmacy in which the practitioner prescribes multiple remedies. This form of Homeopathic practice is very strong in France and Germany, although it can be found everywhere.

It’s very important to understand that in classical Homeopathy the Homeopathic remedies are prescribed on the basis of symptoms.

In his later years, Hahnemann moved away from the concept of treating on symptoms and began to base his practice on the treatment of what he believed was the underlying cause(s) of disease.

During an intense twelve-year period, Hahnemann postulated a theory that every living person had been infected by three diseases that he called miasms. Hahnemann believed that these three inherited diseases led to a predisposition (a likelihood to contract, to get) and a susceptibility (weakness) to becoming diseased. In a sense, this was Hahnemann’s genetic theory of disease.

Few Homeopathic practitioners have embraced Hahnemann’s philosophy about miasms, and fewer yet practice miasmatic therapy. The basis, today, of Homeopathic prescribing is, primarily, still upon the symptom picture.

Contemporary Homeopathy

During the 1950’s, many Homeopathic practitioners observed that many of the classic Homeopathic remedies were no longer working. From that observation a notion grew in many practitioners’ minds that there was some blockage in the patient’s body that prevented the healing action of the well-indicated Homeopathic remedy.

The outgrowth of this observation led to two significant changes in the way many Homeopathic workers practice:

  • the development of electronic machines to assist the practitioner in deciding on the appropriate remedy,
  • the development of new remedies whose target was the blockages that were preventing the action of the well-indicated remedy.

This led to an exponential expansion of Homeopathic therapeutics.

It’s believed, today, by homeopaths working in this area, that the primary agents that block the action of the classical remedies include environmental pollution (heavy metals: lead, cadmium, mercury; and chemicals: pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, industrial), electromagnetic radiation, drugs and pharmacological interventions, and the inherited miasms as described by Hahnemann.

Other significant factors include the shocks and traumas experienced by individuals during their lives, such as significant diseases, surgeries, accidents, and vaccinations. During the last two decades, many Homeopathic remedies have been developed to address the blockages created by these different agents.

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