Homoeopathy Explained, A gentle approach to illness
In spite of the general scepticism of many conventional medical practitioners, Homoeopathy quite definitely has a place in today’s society. It is prescribable on the NHS, and their are five Homoeopathic NHS hospitals. It has been used by the Royal Family for many years.
A system of medicine based on the principle that agents which produce certain signs and symptoms in health will also cure those signs and symptoms in disease. From the Greek omeos meaning “similar” and pathos meaning “suffering”. Thus, Homoeopathy means “to treat with something that produces an effect similar to the suffering”.
Samuel Hahnemann made an extraordinary discovery in 1795 after taking a series of doses of Peruvian Bark (used for treating malaria). He found that he experienced signs and symptoms which were the same as those occurring in patients suffering with malaria. This was (and still remains!) completely at odds with accepted medical practice where a drug is prescribed specifically to treat or suppress a specific symptom. After demonstrating the effect of Peruvian Bark on himself, Hahnemann went on to experiment with many other substances and note the effects that they produced on healthy people. The experiments were termed ‘Provings’ and his healthy volunteers were known as ‘Provers’. This is, of course, another key difference from allopathic (conventional) medicine, where drugs are tested on animals initially. By the end of his life, Hahnemann had achieved over ninety provings, from mineral, plant or animal sources.
Today, there are over 3,000 remedies which form a vast ‘Materia Medica’.
PREPARATION OF REMEDIES
The crude substance is ground down and made into a mother tincture in alcohol. One part of the mother tincture is diluted to one hundred parts with a water / alcohol mixture to form the first centesimal (1C) potency.
One part of this is then diluted in exactly the same way (1:100) to make the second centesimal (2C) potency. As the dilution is continued, the physical strength becomes weaker and weaker, and dilutions of 6C, 30C, 200C or even 1M (1000C) or beyond are quite common! At each stage the diluted remedy is shaken forcefully (a process called ‘Succession’) and the dilution process is called ‘Potentisation’. The shaking procedure is essential to the homoeopathic process, and follows Hahnemann’s method of preparation.
THE VITAL FORCE
Hahnemann ascribed to man the term ‘Vital Force’, which he saw as a type of intelligent, dynamic motivating power permeating our physical being – a concept which has parallels in many other areas of healing (such as acupuncture). It was an imbalance or ‘Stuckness’ in the natural energy flow of the vital force which produced dis – ease and the outward signs and symptoms exhibited by the patient (on which the remedy selection was made) were merely signs of this imbalance in the “interior”.
Obviously the way in which the body throws out symptoms of an internal disorder varies considerably from person to person, a point not appreciated much by conventional medicine where the disease itself is treated in a standard manner – rather than the patient’s expression of their disorder. For example, two patients may be diagnosed with bronchitis and their GP may well prescribe each of them a course of the same antibiotic, for example, penicillin. However, the two patients could each express their underlying disorder in totally different ways: the first patient may have a great thirst for sips of water, have a great underlying restlessness, suffer a regular coughing aggravation at 1 a.m. and be quite chilly. By contrast, the second patient’s cough may be worse for any movement and so they will wish to remain still, they may have a thirst for lots of cold water due to their terrible dryness, and they will feel any chest pain is relieved by firm pressure. Such individual symptoms like these are priceless to a homoeopath, representing as they do the way in which the patients expresses their condition. Thus, a remedy called Arsenicum would be prescribed for the first patient and Bryonia for the second.
As a health professional practising locally for 30 years, I have been privileged to use homoeopathy increasingly over the years and never cease to be amazed at the results which can be produced by such a gentle – yet powerful and effective form of medicine, at all stages of life.
Lawrence Collin, M.R.Pharm.S, L.C.Hom, Pharmacist and Homoeopath.