About homeopathy


Homeopathy is a medical system built on the principle that like cures like. It primarily uses potentised (extremely diluted) remedies to stimulate the body’s own healing functions.

The word homeopathy comes from the Greek words homios (similar) and pathos (suffering), and the basis of the method is that like cures like. Homeopathy started to develop during the end of the 18th century, although some fundamental ideas have been known for a long time in Indian and Oriental Medicine. They have also been noted by historical medical personas like Hippocrates and Paracelsus.

“Through that which is similar arises illness, and through use of that which is similar illness is cured” Hippocrates in “On the Nature of Man”

However, Christian F Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) is considered the founder of homeopathy. He was active as a medical doctor, but grew increasingly critical towards certain aspects of the prevalent health care of the day, e.g. bloodletting and purging. When working on translating a medical work, he noted that the symptoms caused by quinine in a healthy body was similar to those that quinine was used to alleviate.

Hahnemann begun with practical research into the area, with the departure point that certain substances provoke certain phenomena in the human body. During a twenty-year period, the effect of around seventy substances from the plant, animal and mineral kingdoms were mapped out. Healthy individuals tested one substance at a time, and all reactions and symptoms were recorded. In 1796, Hahnemann formulated the principle similia similibus curentur (like cures like, also known as the Law of Similars), and in 1810 he made public his research findings in the work Organon der rationellen Heilkunde.

The idea behind remedies being tested, today as they were then, on humans and not animals is that the former can register all their symptoms so that both physical and mental effects can be recorded.

The mapping has continued after Hahnemann’s time, and today revised editions of his Materia Medica (remedy science) lists around 2000 homeopathic remedies, of which 200 are the most commonly used. In 1879, Constantin Hering (1800-1880) published his work Guiding Symptoms, based on 50 years of clinical practice. Other individuals who have been significant for the development of homeopathy is James Tyler Kent (1849-1916), Pierre Schmidt during the 20th century and in present times George Vithoulkas, working in Greece.

Today homeopathy is most developed in its original country, Germany, where it is practiced by naturopaths (heilpraktiker) as well as medical doctors. The method is also broadly disseminated in England, the British Commonwealth, certain European countries and on the American continent.

Man and disease
Homeopathy regards the human being as an integrated whole which at any given time operates on three different levels: the mental/spiritual, the emotional/psychological and the physical level. The organism always works as a whole, whether well or affected by disease-generating factors. A disease is a deviation from the normal health condition and not something which is an isolated phenomenon in and of itself. If a stimulus is more potent than the resistance of the organism, it leads to imbalance and various symptoms. The homeopathic medicine bases its whole therapy on an analysis of subjective symptoms – it is the sum of symptoms which makes up the patient’s very own disease, and thus every case of illness must be treated individually. The basic idea in homeopathy is to stimulate the body’s self-healing abilities.

Homeopathic (homoeopathic) Remedies
Remedies used in homeopathy are usually potentised, which means that they are diluted in several stages. Other remedies are used as well.

A substance from the plant, animal or mineral kingdom will be mixed with for example alcohol or lactose. The degree of dilution is normally specified with the letter D in Europe (deci=one tenth) and a number. The exception is England, where a centi-scale is used (C). D1 means dilution to a tenth of the original concentration. To get D2, D1 is diluted another ten times, and so forth. At D23, the so called Avogadro’s number has been reached, where it is no longer possible to prove any molecules of the original substance in the solution. However, physical changes in the water medium have been found even in higher dilutions than D23.

The theory behind the potentization is that the effectiveness of a remedy is inversely proportional to its main substance. The potency isn’t in the substance itself, but in its pattern, and the less there is of that substance the more powerful the pattern. This is explained by that energy is created and augmented through the rhythmic shaking of the solution when it is diluted.

It is also said that potentization increases the potency in the electromagnetic field of the substance. All living organisms and all substances have electromagnetic fields. A substance can influence an individual in two different ways: either through direct chemical effect or through exchange between the electromagnetic fields, provided that their respective frequencies are close enough to one another for a resonance to be possible. In this way, the original substance’s electromagnetic field is transferred to the solution’s molecules without their resonance frequency being altered.

Not all remedies within homeopathy are potentised. Hering has developed the nosode science (from the Greek noxe=damage). A nosode is a remedy which has been developed from the disease inducing substance. Nosodes are used for example in treating infectious diseases and allergies. The procedure is similar to the desensitization therapy used in regular health care.

Treatment principles
As stated earlier, the homeopathic fundamental principle is that like cures like. That substances which can provoke diseases also can cure these, is presumed to be the case because these substances activate the body’s defence systems. The patient’s defence system can only manifest its activity through the display of symptoms. That is why a favourable response to a homeopathic remedy can be preceded by an apparent “deterioration” of symptoms, a so called “primary deterioration”. This can thus be regarded as a desirable reaction: the patient initially gets worse in order to then get better. If, however, an ordination is repeated too often without being called for, the deterioration can be harmful; the defence mechanism can be over stimulated.

Allopathic drugs (allopathy= remedies produce effects antagonistic to those caused by the disease itself), i.e. those which are often used in regular medical science, is seen as disease-generating stimuli. What is usually called “side effects” is in fact a sign of the body’s defence mechanisms reacting to this disease-generating influence. The repressive effect of these drugs is the result of suppressing the best possible response from the defence mechanisms. This is viewed within homeopathy as an important factor in the rise and continuation of chronic illnesses of our time.

Hering’s law, named after the historical homeopath C. Hering, means just this: that diseases which do not get adequate (i.e. homeopathic) treatment can go from an acute to a chronic stadium. They also have a tendency to move from the outer parts of the body to the inner parts, from lesser to more important organs and from the lower parts of the body to the higher. A genuine healing process goes in the opposite direction: upwards and down, the most important organs getting relief first, inside and out. This process oftentimes means that earlier stages of disease get relived.

While homeopathy emphasises that every diagnosis and treatment must include the whole body, only sick cells is thought to react to the remedy given. The reason is that the resistance of these cells is lower and that the cell’s vital pattern is presumed to agree with the main pattern of the remedy’s substance (alternatively, its electromagnetic frequencies). Precisely because of this, and due to the lack of genuine material substances in the homeopathic remedy, the risks for harmful side effects or harmful effects of an incorrect remedy is small. In spite of this, the preference is for the lowest possible dosage of a remedy.

In order to establish which homeopathic remedy that needs to be prescribed, the homeopath compares the patient’s symptom picture with various substances’ symptom pictures to find the best match. The core of the homeopathic prescription is choosing that similar substance.

For each remedy in the Materia Medica is a description of the symptoms and signs associated with the substance in question, listed under bodily symptoms. Listed are also factors which affect the patient’s symptoms, such as types of pain and what improves and aggravates it such as movement, rest, heat, cold, time of day etc. Apart from localised symptoms, generic symptoms affecting the whole person and expressions of emotions and tempers are mentioned. However, it is not the symptom or symptoms in themselves which are then treated. The symptoms are clues – it is the concealed disorder behind them which is attempted to be reached and treated.

Homeopathic remedies are used both for urgent and chronic problems. They are said to be especially effective with allergies (asthma and eczema), headache, migraine, feminine diseases and geriatric care. On the other hand they are not as helpful when it comes to cancer, MS and other diseases in which organs and tissues have been destroyed, as well as in those cases when the patient’s own strength has been diminished by forms of abuse and prolonged treatment with cortisone, psychopharmacology, chemotherapy and radiation.

Science cannot explain how homeopathy works. Just like in many other instances where different paradigms about human health meet, as for example in the case of acupuncture, it is possible to establish that it works without being able to explain how. Acupuncture is a part of modern healthcare today, e.g. at childbirth. Homeopathy is part of regular healthcare in many countries, such as the India, Austria and Brazil. Over 12,000 medical doctors and licensed health care practitioners administer homeopathic treatment in the UK, France, and Germany. There are projects striving to bridge the gap between Western and Eastern medicine, like the Osher Centre for Integrative Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

When these difference perspectives on health meet, it is of utmost importance that we cultivate respect for the other way of thinking and focus on the result. Only in this way, we can begin to approach each other in order to give the patient the best possible care there is.