What Is Homeopathy?
The principles of homeopathy were first formulated at the end of the eighteenth century by Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician. He had given up the practice of medicine when he found the therapies of his time to be ineffective and harmful, and did not resume practice until he discovered in homeopathy a means to help people heal gently, rapidly, and reliably. Homeopathy spread quickly throughout Europe and to the United States, where at the beginning of this century, 15-20% of all doctors practiced homeopathy. Despite repeated criticism from orthodox medical circles, the validity of Hahnemann's ideas continues to be demonstrated over 200 years later.
Stimulus to the body. Homeopathic treatment, like all truly natural therapies, seeks to stimulate the innate healing power of the individual so that all physiological systems function at their best. As the person moves toward his or her optimal level of general health, he or she feels better. Subsequently, specific symptoms improve as the strengthened body defenses become active. But the homeopathic remedy does not directly treat a symptom or condition. Instead, it simply helps to initiate the process by which the person heals himself or herself.
Totality of symptoms. The homeopath views a person's health as a condition of the entire individual rather than in terms of isolated symptoms. Homeopaths do not diagnose disease or treat diseases. Remedies are selected that best correspond to the person's total state of illness. Evaluation of the individual's level of health and choice of the correct remedy does depend in part on a thorough understanding of all symptoms. But in addition, important indicators of general health, such as the level of vitality the person experiences and his or her emohonal well-being, demand close attention.
Law of similars. Homeopathy is based on the principle that 'like helps like." A remedy is chosen that is capable of causing, in a healthy person, symptoms similar to those of the sick person. The symptoms the sick person experiences are thus the most important guide to the choice of the correct remedy.
Remedies. Homeopathic remedies are usually made from plants and simple minerals. These substances are prepared by a process of repeated dilution and shaking, which makes them capable of stimulating the healing process. Remedies are given to stimulate the whole body to heal itself, while herbs and regular drugs and medicines are given to take away specific symptoms generally from specific parts of the body.
Minimum dose. As little remedy as possible is used. After a remedy is given, the individual's response is carefully observed, and the remedy is changed only if necessary.
Scope of homeopathy. Since homeopathy is used to assist people rather than to treat illness, anyone, whatever his or her diagnosis, can benefit from homeopathic care. Homeopathy helps by increasing the individual's strength and resistance to disease. Homeopathy is not a substitute for good health habits. In the long run, health depends in good measure on eating well and exercising adequately, getting enough rest, dealing effectively with stress, and living creatively
Acute illnesses. Homeopathic care is often effective during acute illness. Again, the remedies are not directed at removing symptoms or killing germs, but rather toward strengthening the person so that his or her own healing capacities work better.
The Homeopathic Consultation
Essential to effective homeopathic care is the information that you provide to the practitioner. The homeopathic interview involves extensive questioning that may cover unfamiliar ground for those who are accustomed to a few quick questions from a busy doctor. To better prepare you for the consultation, following are the kinds of information that homeopathy requires.
Reason for visit. The homeopathic practitioner will want you to describe as fully as possible, in your own way, the conditions that have caused you to seek homeopathic care. Your description should include everything that is truly characteristic of your problems. Precise details are best, but only if you can be definite about them. If applicable, your account should include, but not be limited to:
Diet. Be ready to describe the kinds and approximate amounts of food you usually eat. In addition, you'll be asked to list the foods you crave or have strong preferences for (even if these are foods you don't think are good for you) and foods that you strongly dislike.
Sexuality. Understanding your sexuality can be an important part of health awareness, and the homeopath will ask you to describe the usual level of sexual energy you feel. You are welcome to discuss your sexuality as fully or as little as you feel comfortable.
Emotional patterns. Finally, the homeopath will want you to discuss your mental/emotional nature. What are the most characteristic emotional patterns you experience? During what activities or in which situations do you feel most happy? What emotional patterns most limit your ability to fully express yourself or reach your full potential? How expressive of emotional states are you, and in what ways do you express them? What about your memory, clarity of thought, and so on?
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