WHAT IS HOMEOPATHY
AN INSIGHT INTO A DIFFERENT SKILL
Homeopathy (homoeopathy / homœopathy) is a system of medicine that bases its therapeutics on the principle of ‘let like be cured by likes’ – ‘similia similibus curentur’.
The medicines used may be derived from animal, vegetable or mineral sources and, in latter times, remedies have also been derived from man-made substances. The initial requirement for treatment is knowledge of what effect a particular remedy or substance will have on a healthy body (i.e. what signs and symptoms it can provoke in a healthy body).
The signs and symptoms presented by a sick animal or person are then compared to this ‘symptom picture’ of the various medicines, choosing that medicine which is the closest ‘match’.
There is no risk of: a) toxic side-effects, b) medicine residues in farm animal products, c) ‘doping’ or residues in sporting animals, d) stimulation of antibiotic resistance. Furthermore, laboratory animal research is not required for its development.
The strategy of a homeopathic consultation is to find the correct stimulus for the body’s inherent healing potential (i.e. the correct homeopathic remedy) and, as an essential adjunct to this, to remove or to minimise any factors and influences that could obstruct or impede that healing process. For this reason, attention to the patient’s diet is an essential part of the procedure, with a conscious attempt to feed each species as naturally and as healthily as possible, in line with its evolved needs.
Information concerning the effect of substances on the healthy body comes primarily from three sources:
- Provings in which healthy human volunteers take the remedy under investigation and record the effects. Modern proving protocols employ ‘blinding’ techniques to avoid bias and the placebo effect.
- Toxicology reports where appropriate
- Clinical Experience
Although many of the remedies have, as their source, substances which, in material doses, are toxic, the process of homeopathic preparation removes the toxic properties, leaving only a healing potential
The process of homeopathic preparation involves three distinct stages:
The substance is put into solution, using a water/alcohol solvent. This solution is known as a ‘mother tincture’.
Insoluble substances first undergo a process of trituration, which entails the thorough mixing and grinding together of the material with fixed amounts of lactose, for three successive stages. Following this a tincture as above is prepared.
The exact mechanisms involved in this process have not been completely established. Various models have been proposed, based on modern developments in physics and allied disciplines, which satisfactorily explain the observed facts and overcome the objections inherent in Avogadro’s Constant.
According to these models, there are two requirements for the action of homeopathic remedies. One is tropism, which involves a communality of target organ or system for both ultra-dilute and undiluted substances. The other is an inversion of effect whereby a dilution creates the potential to interfere with the action of the original substance.
Numerous physiological experiments have demonstrated the existence of both these effects. New work on the effects of cavitation on water structure and the clumping of molecules in dilution (‘bucky balls’) may also have interesting relevance to homeopathic dilutions/potencies. The emerging field of bio-energetics and the Arndt-Schultz phenomenon may give us more insight into the biological mechanisms involved in homeopathic medicine.
Clinical trials, meta-analyses and experience have also established the validity of the homeopathic method.
Websites with research information
Homeopathy: A Frontier in Medical Science. BELLAVITE P., SIGNORI A, Berkley 1995, North Atlantic Books
Is evidence for homeopathy reproducible? Lancet, Vol. 344 Dec 10th. Pp1601.REILLY D, TAYLOR M, BEATTIE N, CAMPBELL J, McSHARRY C,. AITCHISON T, CARTER R and STEVENSON R. 1994
International Research Group on very Low Dose and High Dilution Effects BHJ 1994 Vol 83 p84