About Homeopathy

What is Homeopathy?

Homeopathy is a holistic system of medicine that assists the body to heal itself. The remedies used are safe and are not chemical drugs. Homeopathy takes into consideration the wider holistic aspects of the patient’s life and situation, as well as their presenting symptoms.

The detailed homeopathic consultation and assessment allows the homeopath to consider all these aspects and select remedies to match the constitution of the individual person aswell as their symptoms. Remedies are believed to stimulate the body’s own natural healing ability and general energy. Homeopathy can be used to complement conventional medical treatment, or can be used as an alternative choice of treatment.

Although a scientific mechanism for the action of homeopathic remedies cannot yet be explained, research has shown a clinical effect and many satisfied patients confirm the benefit they have experienced from this type of medicine.

The Law of Similars

The therapy is based on the principle of treating “like with like” , or the Law of Similars, which was demonstrated by Dr Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) and developed into this system of medicine over 200 years ago.

The principle had even been recognised by Hippocrates 2,500 years ago. It means that a substance that can produce symptoms in a healthy person, can be used to treat similar symptoms in a sick person.

A simple example of this principle is to consider what happens when cutting and peeling an onion. This usually causes irritation to the eyes and nose, causing the nose to stream and the eyes to water.

Thus the homeopathic onion remedy (Alium cepa) can be used to treat a person experiencing similar symptoms in their illness, for example due to hayfever or a streaming cold.

What conditions can be treated with homeopathy ?

People often ask this question, without appreciating the explanation given above, that homeopathy treats the whole person not just the symptoms. Therefore many illnesses and conditions that are treated by the GP can be treated with homeopathy. People seek out homeopathy for many reasons.

  • It can be used as complementary therapy alongside medical treatments and drugs
  • It can be used as alternative therapy by those who prefer a more gentle and natural treatment
  • It is often chosen to avoid (or minimise) drug medication, or if drug treatment has not been tolerated or it failed to help.
  • It is often sought by mothers wishing to avoid drugs for their babies and children, and because it is safe to use in pregnancy and when breastfeeding.

When a person is unwell they may have very clear specific symptoms such as a rash or a headache.. However they may just feel rather vaguely unwell or run-down and express their lack of vitality in terms like feeling ‘out of balance’, ‘not myself’, ‘out of kilter’, ‘lacking in energy’.

In some cases this may have been triggered by life events or stress (including anxiety, grief, sadness, anger, bereavement, job loss, divorce etc) or may be a result of slow recovery from infection, surgery or prolonged (chronic) illness. Homeopathy helps to restore this vitality and health.

Homeopathy therefore has a wide range of application, for all ages. It can be quick and easy to use in some simple (usually self-limiting) acute illnesses and help to reduce the severity and duration of the complaint.

More complex conditions may take longer to resolve, or need several remedies over time to achieve a good response. In many chronic illnesses homeopathy can help to bring some relief to the severity of the symptoms, even though it may not reverse the permanent damage that has occurred to the body as a result of long-term or severe illness (eg joint deformity in severe arthritis). Symptom relief and improved vitality may help the individual to cope better with the condition.

What are homeopathic remedies?

Remedies are prepared from many natural origins including plant and mineral sources, but should not be confused with Herbal Medicine.

Most controversy and scepticism about homeopathy surrounds the unusual process of the preparation of the remedies and the lack of a satisfactory scientific explanation for their mechanism of action , particularly at the extreme dilutions used.

The original substance for a remedy is made into solution and then sequentially diluted and agitated (succussed) in a process called ‘potentisation’ of the remedy. After a certain number of these dilutions, and according to the laws of chemistry, the solution cannot contain any molecules of the original substance. Potential direct toxic effects of certain substances are therefore also lost in this process.

One theory suggests that potentisation imprints characteristics of the substance through the ‘memory’ of the water in the solution. In spite of the lack of a scientific explanation yet, lab research has evidence that water may retain information like this, and that even ultra-molecular dilutions can exert biological effects.

The potentised remedy is then taken in a variety of forms including tablets, pillules, granules, powders and drops. Instructions on how and when to take the remedy will be given by the homeopath prescribing it.

What is a Medical Homeopath?

This is a medically qualified doctor who has undertaken post-graduate specialty training in homeopathy, in addition to their conventional medical training, and has passed the qualifying exams denoted by the letters MFHom or FFHom after their name.

These doctors are registered with The Faculty of Homeopathy, their statutory regulatory governing body, in addition to their other professional organisations. The benefit of consulting a medically qualified homeopath is that they have clinical skills and knowledge about medical conditions and drugs, can perform a physical examination if required and can advise you appropriately.

They can liaise with your own doctor or specialist (with your permission) should this be necessary.

Research in Homeopathy

There is in a large and increasing body of clinical evidence to show that homeopathy has a positive effect. This includes randomised controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews and an increasing amount of published observational studies.

For example, a large study from The Bristol Homeopathic NHS Hospital published in 2005, which included 6,500 patients over 6 yrs, reported that 70% of patients indicated an improvement in their symptoms after homeopathic treatment. [For more details and references, see link to Faculty of Homeopathy website ]

Many sceptics dismiss homeopathy as purely a placebo effect and suggest that the benefit is derived from the long consultation with a therapist and a sympathetic listening ear. However this fails to explain the beneficial effect of homeopathy when given to babies, very young children and animals. (Indeed homeopathic veterinary practice is increasingly widespread and popular in this country).

The British Homeopathic Association

The Faculty of Homeopathy

Homeopath

Dr Gill Pearson

Dr Gill Pearson MB ChB MFHomMedically Qualified Registered Homeopath

Dr Gill Pearson is a medical doctor and a qualified classical homeopath, registered with the Faculty of Homeopathy (MFHom). She has a background in General Practice and currently specialises in osteoporosis at Southampton Hospital...

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