Homeopathy is a safe, effective system of medicine, used by millions of people worldwide for over 200 years. Homeopathic medicines are prepared from natural sources and are used in extremely small amounts. They are recognized as drugs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They are non-toxic and, when properly administered, can be safely used with infants, children, and adults.
Homeopathy is based on the principle that like cures like. That is, if a substance can cause symptoms in a healthy person, then it can stimulate self-healing of similar symptoms in a sick person. Suppose a person has hay fever, with watery eyes and a burning nasal discharge. A homeopath might prescribe Allium cepa – a tiny dose of onion, specially prepared by a homeopathic pharmacy in accordance with FDA-approved guidelines – because onion is known to cause watery eyes and a burning nasal discharge. Or suppose a person can’t sleep because of agitation or an overactive mind. Instead of giving a conventional sleeping pill, a homeopath might give Coffea – a homeopathic preparation of coffee.
This principle of similars was developed into a system of medicine called homeopathy (meaning “similar suffering”) by the German physician Samuel Hahnemann in the late 1700’s, but the concept dates back to the time of Hippocrates. The exact mechanism by which homeopathy works is unknown, but 200 years of clinical experience, along with research published in such medical journals as The Lancet, Pediatrics, and the British Medical Journal have confirmed homeopathy’s effectiveness.
The following is a brief review of the scientific literature that attests to homeopathic efficacy. A meta-analysis of homeopathic research was performed by Dr. David Reilly and published in the prestigious scientific journal The Lancet December 10, 1994, 344:1601–6. The research clearly indicated that homeopathy, when used in clinical trials to treat asthma, proved to be much more effective than placebo. Another scientific study published in The Lancet September 20, 1997, 350:834–43, by Klaus Linde concluded that the trial results were “not compatible with the hypothesis that the clinical effects of homeopathy are completely due to placebo.” A recent article in The New Scientist (May, 2001) by Jane Seymour reviewed the work of Dr. Madeleine Ennis, professor of immunopharmecology at Queen’s University, Belfast. Dr. Ennis was quoted as saying at the end of her trial with “highly dilute [homeopathically prepared]” solutions of histamine on human basophils (indicators of allergic reactivity) that “despite my fundamental reservations against the science of homeopathy, the results compel me to suspend my disbelief and start searching for a rational explanation for our findings.” The results of this study are due to be published in the journal Inflammation Research this year.
Homeopathy treats the whole person – physical, mental, emotional – and treats each person individually. For example, a homeopath treating a cold sufferer does not presume that all colds are alike, but instead asks about the person’s unique symptoms: Is the person chilly or flushed? Is the nose running or stuffed up? Did the cold come on after a stress, anger, or loss of sleep? The homeopath tries to get a complete picture of the person’s individual experience of the cold. Then the homeopath chooses a homeopathic medicine that best matches this person’s unique set of symptoms.It is important to emphasize that homeopathy is a safe and effective system of medicine, used by millions of people worldwide for over 200 years. If it is simply the placebo effect that has helped this system endure, then it is certainly safe, with few side effects, and inexpensive. There are no known or suspected contraindications or drug interactions between homeopathic and conventional medicines. Most homeopathic medicines are available over the counter. Consumers can learn to treat simple, self-limiting conditions safely at home, but serious conditions should still be treated by a professional. Many veterinarians and animal caretakers get good results using homeopathic medicines for animals. As with any FDA-approved medication, homeopathic medicines come with the warning that if pregnant or nursing, or if symptoms persist, consult your practitioner. Chronic conditions usually take many years to develop. A curative response over several months or even a year is relatively speedy for chronic disease. Though some individuals enjoy a quick, dramatic change with homeopathy, most people achieve gradual yet definite improvement. Those who try homeopathy usually decide that true healing is a cost-effective alternative. After all, if the Queen of England uses it (recall that her mother lived to 100 years of age), you would think it would be good enough for us to use!
For more info, contact the National Center for Homeopathy:www.homeopathic.org or firstname.lastname@example.orgSusan Houghton, RN, has been practicing homeopathy in Falmouth since graduating from the New England School of Homeopathy in 1991. With more than 400 hours of instruction, she continues to train and collaborate with world-renowned homeopaths in the U.S., India, and Italy.
By Susan Houghton, RN, and Lauren Fox APRN, BC, Spring 2004
Lauren Fox, APRN, BC, of East Falmouth, is a family nurse practitioner who has been practicing and teaching classical homeopathy for 22 years.