One of the most frequently questions I get asked is “How does Homeopathy work?” In order to answer this question we need to look at things slightly differently because two people with the same disease or health concern may manifest different symptoms, Homeopathy treats the individual. So rather than treat the name of the disease, the homeopath will use the persons physical and psychological reactions to the disease (among other things) to indicate the best remedy for that person. For the homeopath, although two people may have the same diagnosis the homeopath considers they are treating two different illnesses because of the individualisation.
The great thing about homeopathy is that it works on treating the underlying cause of ones health problems. This means you overcome your presenting problem while improving your overall health.
Homeopathy originated in Europe in 1796 by a German doctor, Samuel Hahnemann. Hahneman, like Hippocrates two thousand years earlier, realised there were two ways of treating ill health: ‘the way of opposites’, which is most commonly used by conventional medicine and ‘the way of similars’.
The principle of similars (or “like cures like”) is a central homeopathic principle. This principle states that a disease can be cured by a substance that produces similar symptoms in a healthy person. So lets use the example of a person with sleep problems. Using the law of similars, the homeopath may give the patient a dose of a substance which in large doses causes sleeplessness in a healthy person. This method stimulates the patients own system to help them sleep naturally and without drugs. Of course, this is a simplified example, but you get the idea. Of course the remedy has to be matched to the presenting symptoms of the patient.
The law of similars is more common than you might first think. Perhaps the most common – though somewhat misguided expression of the law of similars is the ‘hair of the dog’.
It is clear that homeopathy is patient-centred and so a homeopath prescribes based on the totality of your symptoms i.e. how you, as an individual, experience and express them. Homeopathic prescribing also takes account aspects of your personality, your individual characteristics, both emotional and physical.
The principle of dilutions (or “law of minimum dose”) states that the lower the dose of the medication, the greater its effectiveness. In homeopathy, substances are diluted in a stepwise fashion. Homeopathy lives by what most of us know and few of us practice: ‘less is more’. Most homeopathic remedies are so dilute that current instruments cannot detect any molecules of the healing substance in the remedy. However, there are emerging theories that explain why or how homeopathic remedies retain their potency. Perhaps one of the best known theories the “memory of water”.