What is homeopathy?
Homeopathy is an effective system of treatment, which was developed in the 18th century by the great physician Samuel Hahnemann. It uses small amounts of natural substances to stimulate the body’s own ability to heal itself. Homeopathy is in wide use around the world as a safe, gentle alternative to standard allopathic medicine.
How does it differ from conventional medicines?
According to homeopathy, all symptoms represent the body’s attempt to restore itself to health. Instead of looking at symptoms as something wrong which must be set right, we see them as signs of the way the body is trying to help itself.
For example, if a person is suffering from a cough, conventional medicine will try to suppress the cough. A homeopath will give small amounts of a remedy that, instead of simply suppressing the cough temporarily, would actually stimulate the body to restore itself to balance.
Also, homeopathy looks at the totality of symptoms. With a cough and cold, conventional medicine will try to give one drug to suppress the cough, another to dry the mucus, a third to lower the fever, and so on. A homeopath will select one substance that will address the entire pattern of symptoms. As coughs are often different from one another, so they would be given different remedies.
What are the medicines?
They are extremely dilute amounts of natural substances. The sources may be plants such as aconite, dandelion or spruce bark; minerals such as iron phosphate, sulphur or sodium chloride; or animal sources such as squid ink or oyster shells.
The original substance is diluted in 1:100 ratio many times until the desired dosage is obtained. The solution is shaken vigorously in between each dilution, and this is thought to activate or “potentize” the remedy, and allow it to work even in the smallest doses.
Even highly toxic sources are rendered harmless by this process of repeated dilution and activation, and the remedies are generally available over the counter or by mail order for lay people, without any fear of side effects, drug-drug interactions or overdose issues.
Ameet Ravital, PhD, DiHom is a homeopathic consultant and clinical psychologist, in private practice in Philadelphia, PA.
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