by Jonathan Damonte RSHom (NA), CCH, CBT
Certified Classical Homeopath
Homeopathy sees health as freedom on the physical level. Where each part of the body from the cells to the organ systems operates with ease, grace and energy in an integrated harmonious way for optimum efficiency, allowing us to respond quickly and appropriately to situations with little pain or limitations.
Homeopathy sees health as freedom on the emotional level. Where we experience the widest array of emotions possible. We have satisfying relationships with family, friends, society and ourselves. We do not repress our grief or have uncontrolled anger.
Homeopathy sees health as freedom on the mental level. When the various functions of the mind operate with clarity and efficiency. We experience self expression using our thoughts, our short and long-term memory work, or our mind is able to shut down from the days’ events and anxieties at night to allow us to recuperate.
As a Practitioner of Homeopathic Medicine it has always amazed me of how little easily understood information there was available to explain to my patients this amazing therapy. My aim here is to provide another avenue for understanding this simple and effective form of medicine. Homeopathy remains a complex and difficult to master system of medicine but its principles are really simple. By no means does this article provide all the answers to questions about Homeopathic Medicine. It attempts to put together relevant facts in a simple manner to better understand this amazing system of medicine.
Oftentimes, people come on referral from a prior patient who was treated and improved. They may have no idea what to expect or what sort of alternative treatment they are embarking upon. It is an exciting conversation when it comes time to explain how Homeopathic Medicine can work for their particular complaint. It usually strikes me then, how much more tangible and easily understood are those principles and processes of Homeopathic treatment when my explanation addresses the very problem they are so familiar with, their complaints. The principles come through in an easily understood and tangible manner as the explanation includes their complaints.
Creating a generic explanation simply doesn’t help a person really understand what has happened after a Homeopathic Medicine. If ten people came to a Homeopath for treatment with Rheumatoid Arthritis in the hands those ten people would likely get ten different prescriptions. This occurs in Homeopathy because a Homeopath prescribes not upon the diagnostic label of the disease, in these cases Rheumatoid Arthritis of the hands, but on a whole and a much more complex understanding of the individual patients’ problems. These problems may appear similar in that each of these ten patients have Arthritis of the hands and yet on closer enquiry a Homeopath learns that each have completely different characteristic symptoms of their Arthritic hands. One might have aching pains only at night, another might have stitching pain that radiates up the arms and is only better when soaked in warm water, another might have no pain and only has weakness but crippling deformity of the joints, another’s symptoms only occur after a particular life stress, and so on. What Homeopathic Medicine does so well is treat those characteristic symptoms and not just the disease name. The resulting treatment both addresses these characteristic symptoms while also addressing the underlying cause of the disease. A Homeopath first observes the symptoms’ characteristics in the patient then follows a path of treatment that stimulates an individualized and healthier response to each individual symptom.
When the patient hears that the Homeopathic Medicine is chosen on the information derived from an understanding of all their symptoms’ characteristics, and that the remedy chosen if taken by a healthy person the healthy person would develop a set of disease symptoms like their own complaints. Furthermore, because the Homeopathic Medicine is given in minute amounts this will not occur after they take it. What does happen after the remedy is taken by them is a healthier and healing reaction to the the similar symptoms they themselves are suffering from . The medicine provokes a healing response. For an as yet not fully explained reason a patients response to a well-chosen Homeopathic Medicine occurs. If there is not the science available to fully explain this action does it matter? There are many phenomena in our lives as yet not understood by science. We can emphatically follow a response to a Homeopathic Medicine as countless studies and Centuries of use have shown.
A Homeopath views the patients’ symptoms not as a diagnosed disease but rather as an expression of its inability to manage its health in the most appropriate way. In other words, we see the body as stuck in a pattern of reaction to the problem it should have solved and is making its best effort to resolve. For example, a seasonal nasal allergy is in simple terms an over-reaction to an allergen, like pollen. If we can somehow reduce the reaction to a more appropriate level of reaction the symptoms of common pollen allergies will be reduced and the body will eliminate those foreign pollens in a more appropriate manner. Homeopathic Medicine acts as a stimulus to the body causing it to stop over-reacting. This principle can be used in all manner of conditions and whenever we see a chronic pattern of disease we need to ask why is the body unable to heal itself? What’s wrong with its function? And, what keeps it stuck in this inappropriate function? When a Homeopath asks these questions, the answer is an assessment exploring the manner of stuckness, like when a person has a fear of heights any amount of rational thinking cannot undo that fearful reaction each time they are up on high. The fear is so much stronger than their rational mind. They are unable to let go of the fear, and they are stuck with that fear. A Homeopathic Medicine acts as a stimulus to the unconscious mind to react more appropriately then to let go its fear and its hold over the rational mind. A Homeopathic Medicine acts as a stimulus to the unconscious physical vitality to let go its pattern of reaction when it is not rational and to react more appropriately too.
A Homeopathic Medicine is chosen with careful thought and consideration of its action, it must precisely affect all the symptoms belonging to the patient be they physical, mental or emotional and be they chronic or acute. A Homeopathic Medicine is a single substance that if given in large doses would produce the very symptoms it is being used to treat. It is given in minute doses that have only a stimulating effect and not a toxic effect. It is an artificial dose of the same disease symptoms, and same symptom characteristics that are the body’s expression of the disease affecting the patient. It acts as an artificial disease, and if properly prescribed an even stronger artificial disease that causes the body to react now to its symptoms and it is that stronger reaction that is the healing response the Homeopath is helping to instill in the patient. Because, by getting the person’s body to react strongly to the artificial disease that is similar to the disease they suffer from the symptoms of that disease will heal from their reaction to the artificial disease.
True healing and cure is never a matter of medicine it is the body that always does that work. Homeopathic Medicine has no drug effect, as it is too dilute. It has a curative effect because it gets the diseased persons’ own body to work at healing its own disease. Therefore, we see not just the amelioration of disease symptoms after treatment with Homeopathic Medicine but the absence of them.
“The body heals itself; the physician is only nature’s assistant”. Hippocrates
Homeopathy was termed by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann in the late Eighteenth century by uniting two Greek roots, homoios meaning “similar,” and pathos meaning, “what one feels”. He was born April 10, 1755, one year before Mozart. Hahnemann was brought up on the philosophical principles of Rousseau and Paracelsus (The Father of Chemistry). This period saw a revolution in thought. Eighteenth century Germany was the birthplace of the political, spiritual and intellectual movement known as the Age of Enlightenment. Because of his gift for learning Hahnemann was allowed to attend school freely. By 1775 he was studying medicine and chemistry in Leipzig University, he paid his way by translating medical texts, an easy task given the 22 languages he spoke, and was bestowed with the honour of working with the Royal Physician. He graduated as a physician in 1791 and practiced medicine for nine years. He was the first to write on hygiene as important to health, was the first to talk on the principle of gentleness in the treatment of the mentally ill and infirm who were subjected to horrific treatments at that time. He became disenchanted with the toxic effects of over–drugging and so in 1782 he retired from practice to do research on medicines.
“I am too conscientious to prolong illness or make it appear more dangerous than it really is…soon after my marriage, I renounced the practice of medicine, in order that I might no longer incur the risk of doing injury, and I engaged myself in chemistry and literary occupations.”
In 1790 he was doing experiments on a drug, still used today, that treats Malaria. Using Peruvian bark (Quinine) to ascertain the curative action in malarial type symptoms. He actually developed those very same symptoms of the disease (intermittent fever, etc.) when he took the drug himself. From this he hypothesized that the curative power of the medicine resulted from its capacity to create similar symptoms to the disease.
Like cures like – similia similibus curantur – and this is a fundamental principle of Homeopathic Medicine. A substance capable of creating a disease in a healthy person is capable of curing it in a person who is sick. Hippocrates in the 5th century wrote about the same principle and ‘there are two methods of healing: by contraries and by similars’. It was Hahnemann who used this principle to develop system of medicine. He began again to practice medicine using the principles he had discovered. His methods were met with disbelief and he was ridiculed by his colleagues.
In 1796 Hahnemann wrote his first essay on a New Principle for Ascertaining the Curative Power of Drugs. This was the idea of proving (testing) what are the healing powers of a drug on healthy subjects, he was adamant about using one single medicine, nor combinations of medicines, so he could fully understand all the symptoms the drug could create, as it was important to know the curative potential of each medicine. Remember, the medicine of the time was harsh. Physicians would give very strong and noxious tonics with horrific side effects.
In 1799 he began the work of finding the right dose that could still cure, after all the drugs of the time were toxic in any dose. What he discovered was that by diluting the medicine he could gain a positive effect, and not so strong a side effect.
In 1810 Hahnemann published the Organon of Rational Medicine, later The Organon of the Healing Art, of which he published six editions. Each one expanded and further developed Homeopathic Medicine. In it he writes.
“The highest ideal of therapy is to restore health rapidly, gently, permanently; to remove and destroy the whole disease in the shortest, surest way, according to clearly comprehensible principles”.
By 1827 his concept of potentization was defined more clearly, whereby the medicinal substances were diluted and succussed (shaken vigorously) at each successive dilution, this is done to seemingly incredible dilutions. The resulting medicine is one with a stimulus to the patient but without the toxicity.
In 1831 Cholera swept through Europe and Hahnemann published papers on the Homeopathic treatment of it. In cities that had Homeopathic Physicians who followed Hahnemann’s instruction the mortality rate was less than 4% whereas; conventional medical treatments had a mortality rate of 59%. And so his fame spread.
Hahnemann died in 1843 in Paris. His achievements in life were enormous. He developed a system of medicine now practiced in most countries around the world today, more than 160 years after his death.
Other Homeopath’s followed Hahnemann notably,
|Baron Von Boenninghausen
|James Tyler Kent
|John Andre Damonte
- During the infamous Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-19, it has been estimated that 25 to 50 million people died worldwide. In the United States alone, 550,000 died, approximately 10% of the people afflicted with the flu. Homeopathic physicians documented then more than 62,000 patients treated with homeopathy resulting in a mortality of 0.7%. For people who were sick enough to be hospitalized, conventional medicine had a mortality of 30% while with 27,000 documented hospitalized cases, homeopathy was reporting a mortality of 1.05% (Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy 1921; 13:1028-43).
- In Montreal, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital was formerly called the Montreal Homeopathic Hospital. In Toronto, the Princess Margaret Hospital was once a homeopathic hospital. In almost all pharmacies of Europe and Quebec, one can find a homeopathic department. Since 1992 Medical Doctors in Germany must graduate with a course in Homeopathic First Aid, for two reasons, one is cost effectiveness, and secondly with the failing of antibiotics Homeopathic Medicine is a very important treatment for infections. In Brazil there are 17,000 practicing Homeopath’s and in Indo Asia 300,000 homeopath’s practice with 70,000 registered to state boards where there are forty Homeopathic Medical Colleges. In Toronto there are a dozen Homeopathic schools.
- Homeopathy today is growing in popularity once again and it is as effective a principle of healing as ever. Interestingly, the AMA (American Medical Association) was founded by Homeopaths. The rise of modern medicine into the era of quick fix solutions had suppressed the practice of homeopathy and the quality of training at the turn of the century suffered as a consequence, and this is once again a concern as Homeopathy increases in popularity.
Homeopathic treatment can open a door to a healthier life. You have the choice whether or not to walk through the door and make the changes in your life that will prevent the same patterns of illness from emerging again.
Your understanding of the Homeopathic process and your willingness to follow your Practitioners guidelines makes a big difference in the success of your treatment. Take an active role in your treatment, observe yourself and your symptoms, changes in those symptoms and recurrences of older ailments or states must be monitored closely. Ask questions, be aware of your response to the treatment and tell your homeopath about it. Be aware of those factors or influences that interfere with Homeopathic treatment and avoid them. Staying with the process over time is also important as your Homeopath can monitor slight changes in your health that might lead to a relapse to ill health. As your health improves fewer visits will be necessary, prevention is an important part of the process, it is at this point that a Homeopath looks at the role of nutrition and lifestyle to maintain good health.
What Can And Cannot Be Treated?
Almost every disease of man can be treated or helped with Homeopathy. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Homeopathy cures a larger percentage of cases than any other form of treatment”. In acute and chronic disease, whether the symptoms are physical, mental or emotional, Homeopathy produces subtle yet often dramatic healing. From newborns to centenarians, most people can benefit from Homeopathy. Homeopaths treat common illnesses such as allergies, asthma, digestive disorders, gynecological problems, skin conditions, insomnia, chronic fatigue, headaches and arthritis. If the Homeopath can find the similar substance (similimum) for the individual, most diseases with reversible pathology can be treated. Homeopathy treats chronic autoimmune or hereditary diseases such as diabetes, schleroderma, psoriasis, and systemic lupus erythematosis. Rheumatoid
arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis and Schizophrenia also respond well to treatment.
Although a Homeopath prescribes for the whole person rather than the specific disease state, injuries and acute illness, such as: colds, flu’s, fevers, sore throats and bronchitis can improve very quickly under homeopathic treatment. Homeopaths know that antibiotics are not the only treatment for infections of the ear, bladder and pneumonias. Many people quickly appreciate the speed with which a Homeopathic medicine acts or have been amazed at the relief Arnica (Leopard’s bane) provides for injuries from falls and so on.
The Homeopathic Interview
This is often the most surprising event for people new to Homeopathy. For some its the first time anyone has ever asked such in depth questions about their nature and the state of their lives under the effects of their particular disease. The questions are exhaustive compared to other medical interviews they have experienced in the past. Questions as to time of aggravation and what makes the symptom better or worse, the nature of the pain, subjective and objective observations are taken into account in selecting the Homeopathic medicine. Harvard medical school sends its graduating doctors to Homeopaths to learn the art of complete case taking. Perhaps the most unusual aspect is when the Homeopath enquires as to the feelings of the patient in the situations of their life and the way they react to those certain situations, as it is absolutely essential for the Homeopath to understand the very essence of the individual. The person is allowed to express themselves fully in their own words’, the Homeopath takes only what they say, without inference or judgment. They may ask about hobbies, fears & phobias, food cravings, sleep patterns and dreams. All this is to understand the individual nature of a person and their individual expression of their disease. With all that information the Homeopath finds the appropriate remedy and a dose is given.
Follow up appointments are usually shorter and are used to evaluate the effectiveness of the medicine. It is essential to know precisely how the medicine has acted and if the action is a healing one. The wonderful aspect of taking one remedy at a time is that you always know exactly what is working or not, as the case may be.
Who Is A Qualified Homeopath?
There has been a true resurgence in Alternative Medicine and its myriad of different practices and there are all kinds of different therapies. Homeopathy is lumped together with all that hype and interest. Unfortunately all these new therapies are available from people with few laws to regulate what they do, and Homeopathy is no different, at present in Canada anyone can practice Homeopathy with little governance to protect the public. It has fallen upon the profession itself to provide the guidelines. Fortunately, groups of like-minded Homeopaths concerned about the standard of the profession are working towards providing the public with a means to distinguish the competency of any chosen Homeopath. There are several associations concerned with providing standards of training, practice and ethics. These include:
- North American Society of Homeopaths (NASH)
- Council For Homeopathic Certification (CHC)
- Canadian Council For Homeopathic Certification (CCHC)
- Association Of Homeopathic Naturopathic Physicians (HANP)
- Council For Homeopathic Education (CHE)
- National Centre For Homeopathy (NCH)
- Academy Of Veterinary Homeopathy (AVH)
- American Association Of Homeopathic Pharmacists (AAHP)
- American Board Of Homeotherapeutics (ABHt)
- American Homeopathic Pharmaceutical Association (AHPA)
- American Institute Of Homeopathy (AIH)
Go to www.homeopathicdirectory.comfor more information or to find a qualified Homeopath in your area.
Homeopathic Medicine requires an understanding of pathology, differential diagnosis, laboratory analysis and pharmacology; otherwise the analysis of the patient is incomplete. So it’s important for the public to be aware of what and where and how much a Practitioner has studied before they decide to be treated using Homeopathy. A Homeopathic medicine, though incredibly diluted, is a stimulant to the vitality and can cause a reaction that must be evaluated and interpreted, if the Practitioner doesn’t recognize this you’re in trouble. We are as concerned with untrained Doctors jumping onto the ‘Alternative Medicine’ band–wagon as we are about Lay Practitioners who have not studied medicine.
People are often confused by research, not only because it can be overly technical, because some studies show that a therapy works and other studies shows that it doesn’t. To solve this problem, a recent development in research is used, called a “meta-analysis,” which is a systematic review of a body of research that evaluates the overall results of experiments.
In 1991, three professors of medicine from the Netherlands, none of them homeopaths, performed a meta-analysis of 25 years of clinical studies using homeopathic medicines and published their results in the British Medical Journal. This meta-analysis covered 107 controlled trials, of which 81 showed that homeopathic medicines were effective, 24 showed they were ineffective, and 2 were inconclusive.
The professors concluded, “The amount of positive results came as a surprise to us.” Specifically, they found that:
- 13 of 19 trials showed successful treatment of respiratory infections
- 6 of 7 trials showed positive results in treating other infections
- 5 of 7 trials showed improvement in diseases of the digestive system
- 5 of 5 showed successful treatment of hay fever
- 5 of 7 showed faster recovery after abdominal surgery
- 4 of 6 promoted healing in treating rheumatological disease
- 18 of 20 showed benefit in addressing pain or trauma
- 8 of 10 showed positive results in relieving mental or psychological problems, and
- 13 of 15 showed benefit from miscellaneous diagnoses.
Despite the high percentage of studies that provided evidence of success with homeopathic medicine, most of these studies were flawed in some way or another. Still, the researchers found 22 high-caliber studies, 15 of which showed that homeopathic medicines were effective. Of further interest, they found that 11 of the best 15 studies showed efficacy of these natural medicines, suggesting that the better designed and performed the studies were, the higher the likelihood that the medicines were found to be effective. Although people unfamiliar with research may be surprised to learn that most of the studies on homeopathy were flawed in one significant way or another, research in conventional medicine during the past 25 years has had a similar percentage of flawed studies.
With this knowledge, the researchers of the meta-analysis on homeopathy concluded, “The evidence presented in this review would probably be sufficient for establishing homeopathy as a regular treatment for certain indications.”
A recent clinical trial evaluating homeopathic medicine was a unique study of the treatment of asthma. Researchers at the University of Glasgow used conventional allergy testing to discover which substances these asthma patients were most allergic to. Once this was determined, the subjects were randomized into treatment and placebo groups. Those patients chosen for treatment were given the 30c potency of the substance to which they were most allergic (the most common substance was house dust mite). The researchers called this unique method of individualizing remedies “Homeopathic Immunotherapy” (homeopathic medicines are usually prescribed based on the patient’s idiosyncratic symptoms, not on laboratory analysis or diagnostic categories). Subjects in this experiment were evaluated by both homeopathic and conventional physicians.
This study showed that 82% of the patients given a homeopathic medicine improved, while only 38% of patients given a placebo experienced a similar degree of relief. When asked if they felt the patient received the Homeopathic Medicine or the placebo, both the patients and the doctors tended to guess correctly.
The experiment was relatively small, with only 24 patients. As noted, for statistically significant results, small experiments must show a large difference between those treated with a medicine and those given a placebo. Such was the case in this study.
Another recent study, published in the American journal Pediatric, tested homeopathic medicine for the treatment of a condition recognized to be the most serious public health problem today, childhood diarrhea. Over 5 million children die each year as the result of diarrhea, mostly in non-industrialized countries. Conventional physicians prescribe oral re-hydration therapy (ORT, a salt solution that helps children maintain fluid balance), but this treatment does not fight the infection that underlies the diarrhea.
Conducted in Nicaragua in association with the University of Washington and the University of Guadalajara, this randomized double blind, placebo-controlled study of 81 children showed that an individually chosen remedy provided statistically significant improvement of the children’s diarrhea as compared to those given a placebo. Children given the homeopathic remedy were cured of their infection 20% faster than those given a placebo, and the sicker children responded most dramatically to the homeopathic treatment. A total of 18 different remedies were used in this trial, individually chosen based on each child’s symptoms.
A study of the homeopathic treatment of migraine headache was conducted in Italy. Sixty patients were randomized and entered into a double blind, placebo-controlled trial. Patients regularly filled out a questionnaire on the frequency, intensity, and characteristics of their head pain. They were prescribed a single dose of a 30c remedy at four separate times over two-week intervals. Eight remedies were considered, and prescribers were allowed to use any two with a patient. While only 17% of patients given a placebo experienced relief of their migraine pain, an impressive 93% of patients given an individualized homeopathic medicine experienced good results.
A randomized double blind, placebo-controlled trial was performed on 175 Dutch children suffering from recurrent upper respiratory tract infections . Children in the treatment group were prescribed a “constitutional medicine” for their overall health as well as acute medicines to treat the acute respiratory infections they developed. The study found that the children given homeopathic medicines had a 16% better daily symptom score than children given a placebo.
This study also found that the number of children given a placebo who had to undergo adenoidectomy was 24% higher than for the children given homeopathic remedies. A 54.8% reduction in the use of antibiotics in the children given homeopathic medicines was reported, while the children who received a placebo experienced a 37.7% reduction in antibiotic use. (This reduction in both groups was determined to be the result of the normal growth and development of the child, dietary changes–the study provided written nutritional advice to the parents–and the change in expectations as the result of being under medical care.)
The statistical possibility of these results happening by chance was 6% (P=0.06). Because statistical significance in science is recognized when there is a 5% or less chance of results happening at random, the researchers concluded that homeopathic medicine seem to add little to the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections. This more conservative conclusion appeared to be influenced by the fact that the authors sought and received publication of their study in the British Medical Journal. They should have more accurately said that homeopathic medicines provided benefit to children with upper respiratory infections, but there is a small chance (6%) that these good results happened at random.
Considering the closeness of these results to 5%, considering the other improvements in the homeopathic group’s health, and considering the increasingly widespread desire to avoid antibiotics, it makes sense for physicians and parents to consider seeking homeopathic care for children’s upper respiratory infections.
Another study that involved individualized homeopathic care was in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The study involved 46 patients. Two homeopathic physicians prescribed individually chosen medicines to each patient, though only half of them were given the real remedy, while the other half were given a placebo. The study found that 82% of those given an individualized homeopathic remedy experienced some relief of symptoms, while 21% of those given a placebo experienced a similar degree of relief.
One other very interesting trial that utilized semi-individualization of care was in the treatment of primary fibromyalgia (also called fibrositis). Patients with fibrositis were admitted into a trial in which homeopathic physicians chose between three possible remedies, Arnica, Rhus tox, and Bryonia. Half of the patients were given one of these remedies, and the other half were given a placebo. There was no discernible difference between these groups. However, as an integral part of the experiment’s design,a panel of homeopaths evaluated the accuracy of each prescription. This analysis found that those patients whom the panel considered to have received the correct remedy experienced a statistically significant improvement in symptoms as compared to those patients given the “incorrect” remedy or the placebo.
These same researchers next conducted a more sophisticated trial in the treatment of primary fibromyalgia . This double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial admitted only those patients who fit the symptoms of Rhus tox. The researchers found that this constituted 42% of the patients interviewed. One-half of these 30 patients were given Rhus tox 6c during the first phase of the experiment, while the other half were given a placebo. During the second phase, those patients initially given the medicine were given a placebo, and those patients initially given a placebo were now given the homeopathic remedy. Researchers determined at the beginning of the experiment that improvement in pain and sleeplessness were the outcome measures most important in evaluating the results of this trial, and the results showed that 25% more of the patients experienced pain relief when taking the homeopathic remedy compared to when they were given a placebo and almost twice as many had improved sleep when taking the remedy.
The best-selling flu remedy in France is actually a Homeopathic Medicine. Anas barbariae 200c, commonly marketed under the trade name Oscillococcinum™, is also popular in the U.S. and is effective primarily at the first signs of influenza. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study with 478 patients suffering from influenza was conducted, making this the largest trial yet performed testing a homeopathic medicine. This trial showed that almost twice as many people who took the homeopathic remedy got over the flu after 48 hours as compared to those given a placebo.