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What is Homeopathy?

 

homeopathy-imageWhat is Homeopathy?

by Jerry Gore, M.D.

Introduction

Homeopathy is a system of medical therapeutics developed by German physician Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). The medicines (remedies) are prepared from natural substances such as plants, minerals, and animal tissues and are prepared and recognized in accordance with the US Food and Drug Administration. They are non-toxic, used in extremely low doses, and are safely used with infants, children, and adults. Homeopathy is practiced in England (widely practiced, recognized, and paid for by health insurance plans), France (30%of the population has used remedies and 6 medical schools offer courses), Germany (60%of all orthodox physicians use remedies), India (government sponsored homeopathic hospitals and medical collages), Latin America as well as becoming more popular in the United States.

 How does it work?

1. Remedies are made through a process of diluting and shakeing. For example, a piece of red onion (allium cepa) may be diluted with distilled water and alcohol by taking one part onion and 99 parts of alcohol and water thus giving us a 1C potency (1/100th). This is commonly given in a 30C potency meaning that this dilution has been repeated 30 times resulting in a remedy that has the “energy”of the onion without actually having any onion left in the dose. Therefore homeopathy is called an “energy medicine”.

2. The remedy (in this case allium cepia) is then prescribed for allergic symptoms, hay fever, etc., characterized by a burning, watery discharge from the eyes; just as if the person was exposed to an onion! This is called “like cures like” meaning that if a substance (the onion) can cause symptoms in a healthy person (burning, tears) then it can stimulate self healing of the same symptoms in a sick person (allergy, flu, etc.). Another example would be the herb chamomile. When diluted into a remedy and given to a healthy person, the person develops symptoms of irritability and impatience. Therefore, when given to a child with an ear infection and irritability, or a teething baby with swollen gums showing a restless, whiney snappish irritability (sound familiar?), self healing is stimulated and the child becomes cured.

 What does homeopathy treat?

Pregnancy:

Nausea of pregnancy

Aches and pains associated with carrying the baby

Toning uterine tissues to make delivery easier

Nursing mothers:

Breast infections

Children:

Teething made easy

Ear infections

Side effects from vaccinations

Eczema and allergies

Asthma

ADD/ADHD type problems

Emotional problems

Women’s health:

Cystitis

Yeast

Fibroids

PMS/PMDD

Infertility

Pre and post menopausal symptoms

Osteoporosis

Men’s health:

Prostate difficulties

Infertility

Adult (both sexes):

Colds

Sinusitis

Irritable bowel

Fatigue

Skin problems

Headaches

Hypertension

Heart problems

Arthritis

Insect bites

Injuries

Recovery from accidents or surgeries

Anxiety

Depression

Grief

Transitions in life

and more…

Elderly:

Joint pain, memory loss

What does the doctor do?

Study the symptoms

The doctor will ask for all your physical and emotional symptoms and try to individualize, i.e. what makes these symptoms unique to you. For example, a 35-year-old woman complains of a sore throat and cough. She is under stress of children, car pooling, school needs, etc. and has been feeling anxious lately (physical and emotional history). The Doctor now finds out what is unique to her: the sore throat is right sided, feels burning, and is better from hot drinks.  Her anxiety is worse from the disorder in her life (others thrive on disorder). This history points to a specific remedy that fits her unique set of symptoms (arsenicum). One dose, consisting of 5 pellets melted on the tongue, and her sore throat and anxiety disappeared. (Remember- a remedy to fit your unique symptoms).

 Study the person

People can be said to have different constitutions. For example, 2 men desire help for their headaches. Mr. A has the following characteristics that are unique to him: he is warm (kicks the covers off at night), messy (but knows where everything is) forgetful and spacey (misplaced the keys), collects things (may be a packrat) and likes to talk (argue, speeches, etc.) and often has red itchy rashes on his skin. Mr. B. has a different constitution. He is serious, holds on to old hurts, feels worse after being consoled, craves salty foods and suffers with hangnails, cracked lips, and eye problems. Mr. A. received a dose of the remedy Sulphur. Not only did his headache go away, but he cleaned his house, threw away old “stuff” and found his memory improved. Mr. B received Nat. Mur. (sodium ) as a remedy. His headache improved, his disposition became lighter, he and stopped craving chips (salt). Therefore, by studying the person, we look for their individuality and give the remedy that fits their constitution thus enabling the self healing to take place. Remember a remedy is specific to your unique constitution.

Study the remedy

After studying the symptoms and or studying the person’s constitution, the doctor is now ready to choose a remedy that best fits the person. We do this by looking up these symptoms or constitutional characteristics in books loaded with information about remedies. For example, the books tell us that a right sided sore throat made better by hot drinks is the remedy Arsenicum, as mentioned above. But a left sided sore throat made worse by hot drinks is Lachesis (made from snake venom!). There are hundreds of remedies to choose from and each remedy has several pages of information about how it affects the entire body and mental functioning of the person. Through a combination of the doctor’s experience, our knowledge of the remedies, and the patient’s ability to notice their symptoms, a remedy is then selected for the person

Following the progress                    

We are able to tell if a person is going in the right direction in their health care. We use the following rules:

  • Relief from the physical symptoms
  • Improvement in energy
  • Improvement in mental functioning (balance, focus)
  • A restored sense of purpose or meaning in life

Case example: A 28 year old woman complained of PMS symptoms including swollen ankles, stomach upset, insomnia, fatigue and irritability. After studying the symptoms, the person, and the remedies, we selected Nux Vomica and gave her 5 pellets on the tongue once each night for a week. An ideal response would be to see healing on all the levels i.e., the swelling becomes less, her energy picks up, and she feels calmer and more whole. Beware of treatments that bring relief of physical symptoms while the person becomes worse on the energy level (“I just don’t feel right”) and/or  worse on the mental level (depressed, confused) or on the spiritual level(relationships, work, life choices, lose their sense of rightness).

Case example: A 72 year old woman complained of joint pain. A history showed that the pain was better from motion and warmth and worse from rest. She was also unsure about where to live and some important decisions to make. Anti-inflammatory medication had helped with the pain but left her feeling tired. She was beginning to feel discouraged (physical symptoms better, energy and mind worse). A remedy immediately came to mind that usually helps the pain in joints that is worse from rest and better from motion and warmth. But would it help or hurt her ability to feel, think and make decisions. With the whole person in mind, we selected a remedy that helps with arthritis and discouragement. After one dose of a middle potency, she returned and stated, “I feel my life is in order. I’m beginning to think through things properly and making progress on my living situation and thank you, my hip and knee are slowly but surely improving.”

Side effects

There are few side effects with remedies. That’s because they are diluted as they are prepared (described above) so that only the “energy” of the substance is given to the person. If an incorrect remedy is given over and over to a person, it is possible for that person to develop symptoms, so be sure to follow the advice of a practitioner that is well trained and experienced in homeopathic medical practice.

Cost

In most cases, homeopathic tissue salts and remedies are relatively inexpensive when compared to traditional pharmaceuticals.

Summary

Homeopathy is a system of medical therapeutics using natural substances in very small doses. It is known and practiced throughout the world. It’s becoming increasingly popular in the United States as  articles appear in national magazines, new research studies are funded, new training programs and societies emerge and hospitals embrace holistic medical programs

Why the renewed interest? As a practicing physician, I find the ideal medicine would be safe, cost effective, and useful in the incredible variety of situations as described above. It would work on all the levels (the physical, energetic and mental) needed in the daily practice of general medicine. The medicine would be flexible enough to span the age gap from infancy to elderly and the power should be adjustable so that a weaker or stronger potency can be individualized. Homeopathy fits this picture and gives me a powerful tool in treating the whole person!

Please accept this as a brief introductory explanation about the art and science of homeopathy. I’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have.

Jerry Gore, M.D.

Director Center for Holistic Medicine

Riverwoods/Deerfield