What is Homeopathy? An Introduction

What is Homeopathy? An Introduction

So, what is homeopathy anyway?

A VERY brief introduction to the history of homeopathy and its uses around the world today. Homeopathic medicines have been used successfully for over 200 years. Remedies are regulated as drugs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (the FDA) and are recognized as such as being both SAFE and EFFECTIVE. Homeopathic medicine is used world wide by doctors, practioners, and lay persons.

Homeopathy is:

  • -Effective
  • -Individualized
  • -Gentle
  • -Affordable
  • -Non-invasive
  • -Non-allergenic
  • -Non-toxic
  • -Non-addictive
  • -Recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO)
  • -FDA Regulated

“I can’t manage without homeopathy. In fact, I never go anywhere without homeopathic remedies. I often make use of them.” —Paul McCartney

“Homeopathy is the safest and more reliable approach to ailments and has withstood the assaults of established medical practice for over 100 years.”—-Yehudi Menuhin, World famous violinist
Read On………..

My journey
….or how I got mixed up in this thing called homeopathy in the first place.

Once upon a time my eldest daughter had a cold. No biggie, she got over it (sort of). After she was “better” one little symptom lingered – she still had coughing fits. She felt fine, it was just annoying. I took her to see our doctor who assured us that it was probably just a little irritation in her larynx. Her lungs were clear, she didn’t have any infections, “just give her some cough drops” he said.

The cough drops didn’t do a thing. Nada. Zip. Zero. In fact, I’m fairly certain that we purchased and tried every single cough drop we could find – medicated, non-medicated, herbal, you name it. So I took it up a notch to cough syrup. That didn’t work either. Nor did just about every “natural” or “home-remedy” you could think of. While looking in Walgreens for a different type of cough medicine I made a discovery – every single brand of cough suppressant, pill or syrup, was the exact same drug.

Knowing that particular pharmaceutical wasn’t helping her at all I asked the pharmacist on duty that day for his help. He told me that usually the antihistamine in Benadryl worked really well for these kinds of coughs in children her age. Great! I went home with a bottle of Children’s Benadryl Syrup and dosed her up.

AND IT WORKED!!! Really, really well. You know how Benadryl tends to make adults sleepy and has the opposite affect in kiddos (making them hyper and nervous)? Not with her – nope. Twenty minutes after the first dose the cough was totally gone. And so was she – zonked out on the floor. She slept well, though, no coughing fits waking her up. Uh, not too good to have a zombie child though, I had to find something else.

Remembering that the pharmacy near our hospital carried “alternative” stuff (no idea what that really was at the time, though), I went there and found Hyland’s Children’s Cough Syrup. A Homeopathic remedy. Well, I thought, it won’t hurt to try……………..(and it worked like a charm – but then, you knew I was going to say that, didn’t you!)

Fast forward a bit. I used to suffer from painful sinus infections several times a year. I had given up on prescriptions and over-the-counter stuff a long time before since I had already learned that they didn’t help a darn bit for me. I stuck to neti pots, herbal stuff, and whatever else I could get my hands on for a little temporary relief. Some of them did work OK, but the key word was Temporary. One day as I felt another doozy coming on I decided that I was going to be proactive and find something to rid myself of the sinus curse.

Remembering the half-used bottle of Hyland’s syrup in the medicine cabinet, I went online and surfed around to see if there might be something “homeopathic” to help me (I still didn’t really know what that meant, but I was a desperate woman!). That led me to a little remedy called Ferrum phos. I tried it and was BLOWN AWAY by its effectiveness.

You have to remember, I had tried EVERYTHING and had never experienced a level of satisfactory relief before. When I first tried it, I didn’t even expect it to do anything, but like I said, I was desperate. BANG – knocked that sinus infection dead in it’s tracks before it could even turn angry and raging.

Fast forward a few months later. Here comes another sinus infection. What the heck! I still had some Ferrum phos. left, I might as well see if it works again, although I didn’t really expect it to. “Who knows?” I thought, the first time may have been a coincidence, right? WRONG! It worked AGAIN. Cool. I was THRILLED that I had found a way to nip these suckers in the bud before I had to suffer for a week with them. I made sure that I had a couple of extra bottles of it on hand and I was good to go!

Are you ready for the AMAZING part? The really, really, really amazing part?

That was the LAST bad sinus infection I EVER got. Seriously. After YEARS of dealing with them, they stopped coming back. I kid you not, I had “accidentally” cured myself!

Armed with this new-found eureka – I decided to explore this homeopathy stuff some more. I mean, if it really could knock my daughter’s cold out and my wicked sinus issues, what else was it capable of??

Don’t Laugh
This is a REALLY great book to get you started!
Complete Idiot’s Guide to Homeopathy
by: David W. Sollars

Seriously, I even have this one in my own library. I love the “Idiot’s” books, they make everything so easy to understand and are entertaining as well.

The Hahnemann Monument, Washington D.C.
Dr. Samuel Hahnemann
The father of homeopathy

The principles of Homeopathy were discovered by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), a sucessful medical doctor who became increasingly discouraged by “modern” medicine’s abilities. He treated his patients exactly how he was taught in school, yet there were too many that were beyond any help he could provide. He realized that the barbaric practices of the day such as leeches, purgatives, and blood letting were hurting people much more than helping.

In frustration, he gave up medicine and took a job translating books. One that he worked on was a text about the use of Quinine, from the tropical Cinchona, as a treatment for Malaria. The author postulated that Quinine worked because of its “bitter” nature. Dr. Hahnemann immediately saw the error in this, since he knew of MANY bitter substances that had no effect at all on Malaria. He did his own experiment by taking doses of Quinine over the course of several days and was surprised when he suddenly developed the symptoms of Malaria even though he did not have the disease. Tested on others led to the same results.

This led him to the first “law” of homeopathy – like cures like. A substance which can cause symptoms in a healthy person can cure a person who is suffering from a disease with those same symptoms. You just need something “stronger” to overtake the original stimulus (of the disease).

To put it VERY simplistically, I like to explain it like this: A fly lands on your arm and it tickles. The fly has stimulated the nerve endings in your skin. So, what do you do? You scratch it. You apply MORE of the same stimulation which caused the itch in the first place, and the tickling sensation goes away. This is much like the action of homeopathic remedies – taking a substance which causes your symptoms only stronger, will “knock out” the symptoms you were suffering from. It overpowers them, and stimulates your body to mount a defense.

Dr. Hahnemann experimented further and discovered that he could achieve the same therapeutic effects with much, much lower doses (after all, a person suffering from symptoms similar to Mercury poisoning would hardly improve their health by overdosing on Mercury to try and heal themselves). This led to the discovery of using infentessimally small doses of substances to achieve a cure in a safe manner. Hahnemann’s work led him to further discover that succussing (a method of diluting the substance sequentially and applying vigorous vibrations through shaking or hitting the remedy hard against something) increased the strength of the remedy. This is what the higher numbers on the remedy label mean – although the higher you go, the less of the original substance is present, the mechanical action of succussion increases its strength.

Although initially scoffed at by the medical community, Dr. Hahnemann and his methods slowly began to be accepted. Much of his acclaim began to grow during an outbreak of Cholera when patients treated in his homeopathic hospital had a much greater rate of recovery than those at “traditional” hospitals.

As more and more remedies were discovered (remedies are tested through a process called “proving” where people take dose after dose of them until specific symptoms develop), Dr. Hahnemann stressed the “Totality of Symptoms”. This means that, in order to find the best remedy for a person, you must take all of the symptoms in to account as a whole – their physical symptoms, their mental state, their emotions, and to note anything that makes the symptoms better or worse. Often only slight differences in symptoms differentiates between remedies. Some remedies are very similar, but may have specific differences.

Since his death, Dr. Hahnemann’s vision and dedication to healing have been carried on by each new generation of homeopaths. Homeopathy has a proven track record spanning over 200 years. The concept of “like cures like” has actually been around in some form, albeit rather rudimentary before Hahnemann, since the writings of Hippocrates in 400BC. Homeopathy also draws concepts from ancient Chinese and Asian texts (the concept of Vital Force or Life Energy, that which we may confuse today with our immune system).

By the mid 1820’s homeopathy had spread through Europe and reached the United States. By the turn of the century, the US was home to a great many homeopathic clinics, hospitals, sanitariums, medical schools, and nursing homes all utilizing Dr. Hahnemann’s concepts of sanitation, humane treatment, and the proper use of homeopathic remedies. In honor of Dr. Hahnemann’s contributions to medicine, a monument was errected to him in Washington, D.C.

As modern medicine began to make new discoveries and grow in popularity and effectiveness, the practice of homeopathy began to decline. It never completely went away, though, and in the 1970s began to grow once again. Today, homeopathy is taught in many countries around the world and is supported by the World Health Organization as a viable, accessable, affordable, and effective health care system. It has the strongest following in India, The UK (where it is covered by the National Health System), Canada, The United States, The European Union, Australia, the former Baltic States, Greece, Pakistan, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates. In the United States, homeopathic remedies are regulated as over-the-counter drugs by the FDA.

“The highest ideal of cure is rapid, gentle and permanent restoration of health.” – Samuel Hahnemann

Food for thought
A different way to look at “like cures like”

Think about how hyperactivity is treated in children with ADHD. Do doctors prescribe a sedative to calm them down? No, the ADHD medications, like Ritalin, are STIMULANTS. Yet, these stimulants actually counteract the hyperactivity.

“There have been two great revelations in my life. The first was bebop, the second was homeopathy.” – Dizzy Gillespie

What can homeopathy do for YOU?

Homeopathy is used to treat a myriad of physical illnesses. Anything that you can think of that doesn’t require immediate surgical intervention (meaning emergencies such as broken bones, ruptured organs, serious wounds requiring repair, burst appendix, etc.) can benefit from homeopathic treatment. It can also be effective in helping mental problems, chronic conditions, first aid situations, and improving the overall quality of your life.


A homeopathic consultation is quite different from what you may be used to with western doctors. During the process of taking your case, you will be asked numerous in-depth questions. The information you give is essential to understanding your totality of symptoms. You will be asked to give detailed information on your main complaint, questions about your emotional health, your health history, your habits, the way you handle stress, what things make you feel better or worse, if you have any fears or anxieties, what your diet and lifestyle are like, what, if any, prescription, over-the-counter or herbal medicines you are taking, any supplements you take, your sleep patterns and quality, any diagnoses or lab results you’ve gotten from other doctors, and other items of importance which may come up.

You’ll be instructed on how to take your remedy – usually by placing the sweet tasting tablets or pills under your tongue to dissolve, or by dissolving them in a glass of water or prepared dropper bottle. The important thing to remember about homeopathic remedies is to stop taking them as soon as you notice improvement. A follow-up consultation will judge how well the remedy is working for you and if your remedy needs to be repeated or changed. For long-term chronic conditions, an ultra-low dose is often taken several times a day from a dropper bottle over a period of weeks to see the most improvement.

“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a doctor. The doctors I knew as a very young child must have helped to plant the desire in me, when I was as young as five or six. One homeopathic physician, Dr. Justice Gage Wright, was a great model.” —C. Everett Koop, M.D., former Surgeon General of the United States

One Size Does NOT Fit All
Individualizing remedies
Homeopathy takes into consideration a person’s entire sympotom picture when prescribing. This means that something that works for one person may not work for another. Here’s an example:

Imagine two people with the same flu virus. One may have a headache, fever, and coughing fits with a sensitivity to noise and light. The other may have the headache and fever, but very little coughing, sore legs, and is very cranky.
They have the same virus, but they need different remedies. This is where a good reference book or a good homeopath comes in handy.

“Homeopathy cures a greater percentage of cases than any other method of treatment.” – Mahatma Gandhi

The Complete Homeopathy Handbook
by Miranda Castro
My top recommendation for your bookshelf.
The Complete Homeopathy Handbook: Safe and Effective Ways to Treat Fevers, Coughs, Colds and Sore Throats, Childhood Ailments, Food Poisoning, Flu, and a Wide Range of Everyday Complaints
by: Miranda Castro

Miranda Castro is one of the top homeopathic authors today. Her books are an excellent starting point for beginers and a great reference for practitioners to keep on hand. Her writing is concise and easy to understand, and this book is organized for ease of use.

What about the law?

In the U.S., at least. Because of their long use in the United States, the U.S. Congress passed a law in 1938 declaring that homeopathic remedies are to be regulated by the FDA in the same manner as nonprescription, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, which means that they can be purchased without a physician’s prescription. Bach Flower Essences are classified by the FDA as Homeopathic Remedies.

Remedies are required to meet certain legal standards for strength, quality, purity, and packaging. In 1988, the FDA required that all homeopathic remedies list the indications for their use (i.e., the medical problems to be treated) on the label. The FDA also requires the label to list ingredients, dilutions, and instructions for safe use.

The guidelines for homeopathic remedies are found in an official guide, the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States, which is authored by a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization of industry representatives and homeopathic experts.The Pharmacopoeia also includes provisions for testing new remedies and verifying their clinical effectiveness. Remedies on the market before 1962 have been accepted into the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States based on historical use, rather than scientific evidence from clinical trials.

Care For Our Companions

Homeopathy works for animals too.

Homeopathic treatment is safe and effective for a wide range of health problems in animals. Many Veterinarians incorporate homeopathy in to their regular practice and and the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy can help you locate a practice in your area. Many professional homeopaths with human clients can also treat your pets as well.

Different types of treatment

There are 4 “rough” categories that treatment falls into:

– Emergency or first aid treatment. These are remedies which are helpful in cases of shock, pain and swelling from injury, insect stings, trauma, dental pain, etc.

-Acute treatment. This covers illnesses like colds, flus, other infectious diseases, hay fever, croup, pneumonia, laryngitis, etc., and also for assisting with situations such as childbirth, surgical recovery, or convalescence.

-Chronic treatment. Treatment for long-standing, chronic conditions such as arthritis, asthma, lupus, hormonal problems, recurrant urinary tract infections, digestive disorders, prostate conditions, long-term skin conditions, fibromyalgia, etc.

-Constitutional treatment. This crosses over with Chronic treatment. Constitutional treatment uses a comprehensive remedy to treat the whole person, whether they are having specific health issues or not. It improves all areas of health – mental, emotional, and physical. A “healthy” person can benefit greatly from using their constitutional remedy to keep them healthy, in a positive frame of mind, boost their immune system, and keep them well prepared for life’s unexpected stresses. I list chronic and constitutional seperately because many people do not consider themselves to have a chronic disease or health problem, but still can benefit from this type of remedy.

“If I was not an actress, I would be a homeopathic doctor. —Lindsay Wagner”

Warnings and Side Effects

The FDA has learned of a few reports of illness associated with the use of homeopathic remedies. However, the FDA reviewed these reports and decided that the remedies were not likely to be the cause, because of the high dilutions.

Here is some general information that has been reported about risks and side effects in homeopathy:

-Homeopathic medicines in high dilutions, taken under the supervision of trained professionals, are considered safe and unlikely to cause severe adverse reactions.

-Some patients report feeling worse for a brief period of time after starting homeopathic remedies (this does not apply to Flower Essences). Homeopaths interpret this as the body temporarily stimulating symptoms while it makes an effort to restore health.

-Flower Essence remedies and some liquid homeopathic remedies can contain alcohol and are permitted to have higher levels of alcohol than conventional drugs for adults. This may be of concern to some consumers. However, no adverse effects from the alcohol levels have been reported either to the FDA or in the scientific literature.

-Homeopathic remedies are not known to interfere with conventional drugs; however, if you are considering using homeopathic remedies, you should discuss this with your health care provider. If you have more than one provider, discuss it with each one.

-As with all medicinal products, a person taking a homeopathic remedy is best advised to contact his health care provider if symptoms continue unimproved for more than 5 days.

-Keep all remedies out of the reach of children.

-Consult a health care provider before using the product if the user is a woman who is pregnant or nursing a baby.

Where To Go For Help

The National Center for Homeopathy
A great starting point for learning more.

ABC Homeopathy
Online pharmacy and user-friendly remedy finder.

The Homeopathy School of Colorado
I am a graduate of the Homeopathy School of Colorado and hold the designation of CHom (Classical Homeopath). While at the school, I had the privelege of training under homeopaths Alastair Gray, DSH, PCH, Judith Reichenberg-Ullman, ND, DHANP, MSW and Robert Ullman, ND, DHANP, and Kim Elia. I also participated as a supervisor in the published proving of Aquilegia vulgaris – the common Columbine.

Homeopathy for Everyone
An excellent site featuring articles from homeopaths around the world plus a free online introductory course.

Homeopathicmedicines.biz – My website

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One thought on “What is Homeopathy? An Introduction

  • Thank you for this great article! There are a lot of people who really can’t afford surgical treatment and needs this kind of treatment at home.


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