about 200 years ago with a discovery by a German doctor, Samuel Hahnemann. Wondering why quinine was useful in treating
malaria, he took the medicine himself and found that, given to a healthy person, it temporarily produced the symptoms found
in malaria. When given to a malaria patient, however, it was curative.
Homeopathy means literally to "treat with
a similar disease". Its central principle, "Like cures like", contrasts with other medical approaches.
The term allopathic means to "treat with other than the disease" and is used to denote the standard medical approach
of today, which attempts to counteract symptoms. For example, a patient with diarrhea may be given a drug that slows
To better understand how homeopathy works, it helps to consider two aspects of a disease.
First, there is the immediate cause, such as a bacterium, virus, toxin or internal immunological activity. Second, there
is the patient's response, their reaction and defenses, such as fever, inflammation and discharge. These are the
body's attempts to eliminate pathogens and toxins and to heal the tissue.
While homeopaths do not ignore immediate causes,
such as infection, their primary focus is on the patient's attempts to respond and heal. Their aim is to strengthen
the patient's defenses and shift the balance in favor of recovery.
Dr. Hahnemann found that substances could be
used to stimulate healing by applying the principle of "like cures like" in very specific ways. He would give
the patient a substance that would gently nudge the patient's system in the direction of the "disease", reproducing
the same (or almost the same) syndrome or whole set of particular symptoms in a mild form. He found this to be
a very effective way to stimulate natural defenses of patients. It is almost as if the patient's defenses cannot
distinguish between the natural disease and what the similar substance is doing. Thus, homeopaths fine tune the use
of medicines to enhance the patient's own attempts to overcome the disease.
In this manner, homeopathy employs
hundreds of substances that have all been thoroughly studied as to their unique effects on the body, emotions and mind.
Some of these are common herbs; others are from poisonous plants; some remedies are made from toxins and venoms.
Homeopathic pharmacists carefully
prepare these many substances in a time tested manner that enhances their usefulness while minimizing potential harm.
They carefully dilute them to eliminate toxic effects, at the same time shaking them in a way that makes them more effective.
This use of a dilute similar substance is somewhat similar to the use of vaccines or the method of allergy desensitization.
summary, homeopathy stimulates the healing process though temporarily establishing an artificial disturbance of health with
medicines. This disturbance, when similar to the disturbance caused by the disease, makes the body work harder to get
well. The healing changes that follow are the result of this stimulation.
While simple in theory, this process
requires skill and experience, particularly in chronic conditions. The homeopathic doctor carefully evaluates the changes
that occur after use of each homeopathic medicine. In this way, the patient can be guided to recovery of their health
over the weeks or months necessary for the body to repel the disease and regenerate damaged tissues.
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