The term homeopathy is derived from the Greek words ‘homo’ meaning like and ‘pathy’ meaning illness. It is based on the idea that an illness which produces certain symptoms can be cured using a substance that produces the same symptoms in a healthy person. The term ‘like cures like’ explains this treatment in a simple manner.

The founder of this system was Christian Samuel Hahnemann, a respected German physician practising in the latter part of the 18th century. He noticed that individuals with aggressive symptoms of illness seemed to recover better than those who only had a mild response. He initially experimented by using the bark of the chinchona tree on individuals who had what we now know to be malaria. This bark caused the same symptoms as malaria, and when given in minute quantities seemed to stimulate the body’s symptoms, which in turn defeated the affliction. Hahnemann was unaware of the existence of microbes but he stuck to this basic observation and experimented on himself, friends and patients and built up what is now known as a Materia Medica of plant, mineral and animal extracts that exhibit symptoms similar to diseases. He found that using large amounts of a compound actually poisoned a system, but that using very small amounts would stimulate the body’s own defences and enhance reactions that were in themselves curative.

To his surprise and to the disbelief of scientists today he found that by shaking the original substance vigorously in water he could dilute down the compound much more. With the advent of modern scientific techniques we can actually measure the amount of a substance within a solvent and in most homeopathic remedies over ‘potency 20’ there are no molecules of the original substance left. This defies the Law of Mass Action and therefore science discredits homeopathy as being a placebo effect. There are, however, over 160 papers on homeopathy published in reputable medical journals, all of which show a positive effect. Of these, 22 stand up to the most vigorous scientific standards, but the orthodox world still disbelieves the effects.

The work of a Professor Benveniste from Paris has suggested that water may have the ability to imprint upon its electron structure the electron energy from another substance. Professor Benveniste is a scientist and not a homeopath and has been ostracized from the scientific world because of his findings. He goes to great lengths to point out that he has no homeopathic bias and that he is only reporting his own scientific experiments. He is currendy considered a maverick but his work is probably the most important alternative study taking place at the moment. I, personally, wish him the very best and hope that he can find the funding necessary to continue his experiments.

Homeopathic remedies prepared by vigorous shaking, known as succussion, are diluted 10 or 100 times before being succussed again. Each time this happens the potency increases a number. Most remedies come in potencies of 6, 7, 10, 12, 30, 200,1,000 , 50,000 or 100,000 . Remedies and their potency often have the letters X or D after the potency number and these denote a dilution of 1 in 10, whereas the letter C denotes a dilution of 1 in 100. These letters should not be confused with LM and CM which represent the number of times a remedy is diluted, as described above. There is, generally, little difference in an X or a C dilution. The lower the potency the more physical the effect; and the higher potencies are generally reserved for psychological aspects of a patient.

A homeopath chooses a remedy based on a symptom picture of the person as a whole. There are, for example, over 400 remedies that have a fever, of which 200 will include sweating, 50 include flushing, 25 include trembling or shaking, 10 will be thirstless, 7 associated with diarrhoea, etc. The more symptoms presented, the more likely a remedy will be accurately prescribed.

A homeopath will also look at the constitution of an individual, which describes the temperament and personality of the person when well. A homeopath needs to have an understanding of where a patient needs to be returned to when choosing medication accurately. If one person is naturally a sweaty type, then remedies that are particularly dry may move the individual away from their constitution and slow down the healing process.

Homeopathy is a complicated matter and modern pharmacies try to simplify it by advising that, for example, Arnica is good for bruising, Belladonna for fevers, and Pulsatilla for earache. Homeopathy cannot be prescribed in this way because it must take into account the whole person and not just the symptom. When it is so used it often fails. This gives the practice a higher level of failure than it deserves.

Homeopathy can be safely used in any condition where the vital force of the individual is strong or intact, because a remedy will create reactions of healing from within. Homeopathy should not be used where the body is particularly weak because the underlying energy may not be strong enough, which at best will render homeopathy useless or may worsen an individual’s health by using up the remaining energy more quickly.