What is homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a complete system of holistic medicine; it is based on the principle of “let likes cure likes”. This law or principle has been known and respected as a principle of healing, since as far back as Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, and other ancient healers such as Paracelsus. This principle, that substances that produce symptoms in a healthy individual can be used to treat similar symptoms in a sick person, was developed by German physician and chemist, Dr Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) and his work continues to underpin the practice of homeopathy to the present day.
Holistic medical systems view a human being is an organism maintained by an energy flow. Ill health stems from an imbalance in this energy flow, which will affect all facets of a person. A homeopath will assess physical, emotional, mental and spiritual symptoms regarding them as intimately connected, since all are aspects of the whole person. The mind and body connection is integral to wellbeing and to how homeopathy works, and as a result there is quite an art to the diagnosis and prescribing of homeopathic remedies. The ability for the body to heal itself is one of the principles that underpins traditional homeopathic prescribing. Homeopathic treatment is believed to stimulate the body’s ability to fight infection, reduce inflammation, restore health and reduce susceptibility to disease.
An example of this principle, “let likes cure likes”, is the effect of coffee. Some people are very sensitive to the effect of coffee and can be over stimulated by taking it. They may experience heightened mental and physical alertness, insomnia, trembling and become unusually reactive to normal stimuli such as sounds and smells, etc. When a person presents at a homeopathic clinic with symptoms of insomnia, headache, irritability and an over stimulated nervous system, a homeopathic dose of Coffea cruda (coffee) may be chosen to alleviate their condition, prepared according to homeopathic principles.
Homeopathy is now used worldwide, with a 200 year history of clinical experience. It is recognised by the World Health Organisation as a valid form of healthcare.
In the United Kingdom, there are five homeopathic hospitals, including the London Homeopathic Hospital and homeopathic medicine is available under the National Health Service (NHS). The English Royal family has used it since Queen Victoria’s time in 1830, and it has wide acceptance throughout Europe. In France the most popular cold and flu remedy is a homeopathic medicine, and in India and South America over 10,000 doctors use homeopathic medicines to treat their patients.
Homeopathy may be used in the treatment of chronic illness, acute conditions and minor injuries requiring first aid. It is a complementary medicine and can work alongside conventional treatments and medications where applicable or required.
How does homeopathy differ from conventional medicine?
Conventional medicine is based primarily on the concept that diseases are caused by harmful organisms such as bacteria and viruses. Treatment aims to either kill or suppress these organisms or to oppose the resulting local symptoms with pharmaceutical medicines.
Homeopathic treatment strengthens a person’s health, acting as a catalyst, stimulating and directing the body’s ability to fight infection and inflammation as well as resolving any underlying susceptibility to disease. Homeopathy views physical, emotional and mental symptoms as the body’s expression of underlying tendencies to ill health. In this context, mental and emotional symptoms can sometimes play an important part in understanding this susceptibility.
What conditions can homeopathy treat?
Homeopathy is holistic medicine and aims to treat the whole person, taking into account personality, lifestyle choice, hereditary and familial factors as well as the history of the disease. Since all patients are unique, homeopathic medicines are prescribed to treat patients as individuals. For example, five people presenting with headache, would each be treated with different medicines, according to the patient’s individual symptoms.
Homeopathy can be of benefit for all ages, at any stage of life. Homeopathy may also be helpful during pregnancy, when many pharmaceuticals are contraindicated, and for patients who are sensitive to conventional medications.
Homeopathy can treat the symptoms of a wide range of conditions including, for example:
- Acute (short duration) complaints – coughs, colds, earache, food poisoning, travel sickness etc.
- Chronic (long term) complaints – skin conditions, hormone imbalances, depression, headaches, behavioural problems, digestive disturbances, asthma, arthritis etc.
- First aid situations – bites, stings, hives, cuts, bruises, etc.
- General symptoms – where there are no identifiable causes of disease, but the person feels unwell.
Please contact us to discuss our treatment protocols.
What does a visit to a homeopath involve?
The initial constitutional consultation with a homeopath may take 1 to 1 ½ hours. A homeopath will ask you questions about your current symptoms, past medical history and present health, life experiences, patterns of health in your family and your personal characteristics. Questions may be asked about diet and appetite, sleep and lifestyle. This will include looking at the physical, mental and emotional aspects which make you a unique individual.
Physical examinations may be required according to the particular complaint.
Consultations are confidential.
Subsequent follow up consultations will last 30 to 40 minutes.
Acute complaints (such as a fever with earache) may only take a 15-30 minute consultation.
Treatment then involves the prescription of the homeopathic medicine, which matches as closely as possible, all of the symptoms and individual characteristics of the patient to the medicine. Two people with the same condition may have very different prescriptions because of their own unique set of symptoms. The practitioner might advise general lifestyle and dietary changes as part of a treatment plan.
What type of medicine will be given?
Homeopathic medicines are prepared from a variety of sources, such as plants, animals and minerals. They are prepared according to strict guidelines set out in international pharmacopoeias, and under the control of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The production of the remedies produces no chemical by-products, their contents are non-toxic and they are prepared in minute doses so no form of harmful waste is created. Homeopathy is sustainable medicine, helping people and helping the planet.
Homeopathic medicines are not patented and therefore are not owned by international pharmaceutical companies, so that they are accessible to people in both developing and developed countries.
Since the medicines are highly diluted, homeopathic medicines are considered to have low risk of side effects when prescribed by a registered homeopath. These medicines can be given in the form of liquid, granules, powder or tablets.
A single dose or repeated doses of homeopathic medicine may be given. These small amounts of medicine are sufficient to stimulate the body’s healing process.
What can I expect from my homeopathic treatment?
In acute (short term) conditions, results may be gained very quickly. In chronic illness, which has developed over a long period of time, several treatments may be necessary over a period of months.
Where a chronic illness has developed over a long time, several successive medicines may be needed during the course of weeks, months or years. A homeopath will prescribe different remedies according to the different stages of a health problem. For example a certain remedy may be prescribed for an acute problem such as a ‘flare up’ of rheumatoid arthritis, then a little later a constitutional remedy might be prescribed to improve the overall health and well being of the person.
Recovery takes place in different ways depending on the nature and history of your condition. Generally you will notice an increase in energy and well being during your recovery.
Are there any side effects?
Healing takes place in different ways and reactions to a medicine vary. Sometimes there is an immediate improvement. Sometimes healing begins with an increased feeling of well being, even though symptoms initially remain. In some cases, old symptoms recur as part of the healing process. Occasionally there is a temporary worsening of the symptoms prior to improvement. It is important to inform the homeopath if any of these reactions occur.
Homeopaths may also work in consultation with medical practitioners or other healthcare practitioners if necessary.
Can homeopathic medicines be taken with conventional medicines?
Homeopathic medicines may be taken in conjunction with conventional medicines without any adverse effects; however, it is recommended that the advice of an AROH-registered homeopath be sought regarding this matter. All professional members of the AHA are registered with the Australian Register of Homeopaths (AROH).
Homeopathy can assist a person with serious, chronic health issues complementing conventional medicine. For example, homeopathy may help a person to improve sleep patterns and appetite, while reducing anxiety and depression, without interfering with other medical treatments. As homeopathic medicine helps to improve the health of the person, it may also assist to alleviate other health problems and their symptoms, and may reduce the need for conventional treatments. For example, a child with asthma may become less dependent on and require fewer inhalers as the condition improves.
How to take homeopathic medicines?
- The medicine is usually taken away from food or drink, or as directed by your practitioner.
- Avoid taking the medicine immediately after such substances as tobacco, coffee or toothpaste.
- Store the medicine away from extreme heat, direct sunlight, electrical (radiation) devices and strong smelling substances such as strong perfumes, mentholated liniments and camphor.
- If you have any questions concerning your treatment, please contact an AROH-registered homeopath.
Naturopathy and homeopathy?
Many people mistakenly think that “Homeopathy” and “Naturopathy” are one and the same thing. Naturopathy is a broad-spectrum practice which includes a number of natural therapies, and practitioners are likely to prescribe multiple medicines and treatments such as herbs, nutritional supplements, massage, acupuncture, diet and iridology, and may include some homeopathy as well. Naturopaths are often considered to be the ‘General Practitioners’ of natural therapies, whilst homeopathy is a specialist therapy in its own right.
Homeopathy is a form of treatment that may sometimes fall under the umbrella of Naturopathy, however it is a unique system of medicine in its own right, and utilises principles and medicines that may not be found in other forms of naturopathy.
It is important to note that naturopaths are not homeopaths. Naturopathic training does not meet the government’s education standards for homeopathy, although some naturopaths may have undertaken additional studies to meet these requirements. If a person dispenses homeopathic medicines it does not necessarily mean that they are a fully qualified and registered homeopath.
Choosing a Practitioner
Consult a registered practitioner. All Professional Members of the Australian Homeopathic Association (AHA) are registered with the Australian Register of Homeopaths (AROH), and are recognised by all the major health insurance funds for rebates on ancillary benefit tables.
In order to be completely accurate and politically correct in my description of homeopathy as a system of medicine I have accessed information from the Australian Homeopathic Association http://www.homeopathyoz.org