Homeopathy – The Ultimate Guide

In today’s world, some illnesses are proving difficult or too costly to treat using conventional medicine. Homeopathy comes out as a reliable treatment alternative. There are many kinds of alternative medicine. However, homeopathy, which has been in existence for about 200 years now, stands out as one of the best alternative medicines for treating different kinds of illnesses. In this article, you will get all the information you need to know about homeopathy. The information includes the meaning of homeopathy, how homeopathy works, and the conditions that can be treated using homeopathy and those that should not be subjected to homeopathic treatment. You will also learn about how homeopathic treatments are prepared, the efficacy, safety and cost-effectiveness of homeopathy, and whether homeopathy is accepted as an alternative form of treatment. 

What is homeopathy?

The word homeopathy is derived from two Greek words, ‘omeos’, which means similar, and ‘pathos’, which means suffering. Based on the two words, homeopathy is concerned with treating an illness using a substance that can cause symptoms that are similar to those of the illness being treated. 

In the literature, it is noted that homeopathy is a type of treatment that is based on the view that the body can treat itself. Homeopathic treatment was founded by Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician, in the 18th century. The Society of Homeopaths, which is an organization that was formed by homeopaths (providers of homeopathic treatment), notes that homeopathy is founded on the philosophy of treating a condition based on a treatment method that is closely related to that condition. The same organization also notes that the symptoms of a condition are congruent with the feeling experienced by a healthy individual who has been treated for that condition. Homeopathic treatments are created by diluting an active substance that is the root cause of a given symptom in the belief that doing so will reduce the possibility of harm. Homeopathy involves the use of small amounts of natural substances like minerals to initiate the process of healing. 

How does homeopathy work?

According to WebMD, an American website that publishes information about human health and wellness, homeopathy is grounded on the belief that ‘like treats like’. The meaning of ‘like treats like’ is that something that causes certain symptoms in a healthy individual can – when used in very tiny doses – be used to effectively treat an illness that has similar signs. The thinking behind this approach is that a substance that causes certain symptoms in a healthy individual can spur self-healing in a patient who has similar symptoms. 

In an article that was written by Dr. Edward Shalts, who is a member of the faculty at the Center for Health and Healing in the United States, several examples are provided on how homeopathic treatment is used to stimulate the healing process in patients. 

  • A person who suffers from seasonal allergies who has symptoms such as pain at the base of the nose, irritation, lacrimation, and a feeling of being dull can be treated using an onion preparation. This is because the onion (Allum cepa) produces an irritating feeling when it is brought close to the eyes or the nose. It is for this reason that an onion can be effective in the treatment of allergies. 
  • Another example of homeopathic treatment as suggested by Dr. Shalts is the use of Euphrasia (eyebright) to treat patients who experience seasonal allergies that are characterized by symptoms such as an irritating eye discharge, or a non-irritating nasal discharge. Euphrasia is considered for treating the aforementioned conditions because it produces similar signs in healthy people. 

Further examples of homeopathic treatments have also been provided by WebMD. According to WebMD, substances such as white arsenic, poison ivy, the arnica herb and crushed whole bees can be used to treat different types of ailments. How some of these substances are used as homeopathic treatments is detailed next. 

  • Highly diluted white arsenic is used in the treatment of ailments and conditions such as asthma, abdominal cramps, mild breathing difficulties, food poisoning, diarrhea, runny nose, vomiting, and head colds. This is because of the highly toxic nature of white arsenic. 
  • The arnica herb, which grows in central Europe, Siberia and in the temperate regions of North America, is used as a homeopathic treatment for conditions such as osteoarthritis. It can also be used as an antibiotic, pain reliever and has anti-inflammatory properties. 
  • As regards bees, the National Center for Homeopathy notes that dilutions of honey-bee poison can be used in the treatment of conditions such as abscess, apoplexy, asthma and bladder infections. 

The examples that have been provided above demonstrate that homeopathy works by using a substance to treat symptoms that are similar to those symptoms caused by the same substance to healthy people. For instance, onions cause eye and nose irritation and are used to treat allergies. Similarly, bee poison, which causes swelling and pain, is used to treat stinging pain as well as swollen, itchy and sensitive skin. 

What conditions can be treated using homeopathy?

Some of the conditions that can be treated using homeopathy have already been mentioned in the preceding discussion about how homeopathy works. The fact is that there are so many conditions that can be treated using homeopathy. Some examples are listed below: 

  • Different types of allergies
  • Migraines
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Premenstrual syndrome 
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Apoplexy
  • Bladder infections 
  • Mild breathing problems
  • Skin inflammation and pain
  • Abdominal cramps 
  • Food poisoning
  • Irritable bowel syndrome

You can also use homeopathic treatments if you have any of the following conditions: 

  • Minor scrapes and bruises 
  • A cold 
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Toothache

Conditions that should not be treated with homeopathic preparations

Although the list of illnesses that can be treated using homeopathic medicine is almost endless, it is important to note homeopathic treatments are not recommended for life-threatening conditions. Such conditions include heart disease, cancer, and emergency situations such as serious injuries from accidents. Homeopathic treatments are also not recommended for use as substitutes for vaccines.  

How are homeopathic treatments prepared?

Knowledge about how homeopathic treatments are made is important because it helps you understand the substances that are used to treat any given condition. When you go for homeopathic treatment, you will definitely be eager to know the components of your medicine and how the preparation was done.

Preparation of homeopathic treatments follows a homeopathic principle called the law of infinitesimals. This law states that the lower the dose of a treatment, the more effective the results of the treatment. The lower dose is arrived at by highly diluting the substances that cause symptoms that are similar to that of the condition that needs to be treated. For example, to prepare an onion treatment, the contents of an onion are repeatedly diluted in a process called homeopathic dilution until very few molecules of the substances contained in an onion remain. Repeated dilution, also referred to as potentization, is believed to increase the potency of the treatment. Dilution is also done repeatedly to eliminate the possibility of chemical toxicity, especially when dealing with hazardous substances such as bee poison, poison ivy, and white arsenic. Thus, repeated dilution makes it possible to use as homeopathic treatments many substances that would ordinarily not be safe to use as medicine.

Efficacy, safety and cost-effectiveness of homeopathy

If you are ill and seeking treatment, one of the questions that you are likely to ask yourself is whether the treatment that you will get is effective. Another question that will ring in your mind is whether the treatment is safe – that is, it will not cause harm to your body. The third question that you are likely have in your mind is whether you can afford the treatment. These three questions are answered below.

  1. Efficacy and safety of homeopathy

Efficacy and safety of medicines are issues that go hand in hand. This is because if you inquire about a treatment’s effectiveness, you will undoubtedly also want to know about the treatment’s safety. To answer these two questions, it is important to look at some studies and literature about the effectiveness and safety of homeopathy. One such study is a research titled ‘Effectiveness, Safety and Cost-Effectiveness of Homeopathy in General Practice – Summarized Health Technology Assessment’, which was published in the Forsch Komplementärmed journal in 2006. In this study, the authors assessed the efficacy, safety and cost implications of homeopathy. The authors made a conclusion that homeopathic treatments indeed have high potencies that induce and regulate various activities as well as make specific changes to the cells and living organisms. Further, it was noted that homeopathy’s effectiveness can be proven by clinical evidence.

Information about the effectiveness and safety of homeopathy has also been published on various websites. For instance, Versus Arthritis, an organization that provides information about arthritis, has published information about homeopathy trials for various conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. According to the information on the website, the results of homeopathy trials for rheumatoid arthritis showed that homeopathy had a significant benefit for patients with the disease. Versus Arthritis also reports that in trials involving homeopathic treatment of osteoarthritis, there was a significant reduction of pain among the patients. Similarly, in trials involving homeopathic treatment for fibromyalgia, participants who took the treatment exhibited notable improvement in regard to the level of pain, the number of tender points, and the overall quality of life.  

As regards the safety of homeopathy, it has been established that many homeopathic treatments are well tolerated. In the book The Patient’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicine, written by Robert Ullman and Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman, the authors note that ‘homeopathy is one of the safest forms of medicine, even for pregnant women, infants, and the elderly’. 

The same authors point out that the safety of homeopathic treatments is guaranteed because any toxic substances contained in the crude substance that is used in treatment are usually eliminated during the process of homeopathic preparation. This point corroborates the argument that was made earlier in this article that homeopathic treatments are diluted several times to reduce their toxicity and enhance their potency. Another important point concerning the safety of homeopathic medicines is that such medicines do not cause allergic reactions.

  1. Cost-effectiveness of homeopathy

One of the reasons why homeopathy is preferred as an alternative to conventional medicine is its cost-effectiveness. Unlike pharmaceutical medicines, homeopathic treatments can be accessed at a very low cost. As noted by Robert Ullman and Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman, enough homeopathic medicine that can last a number of years or months will generally cost less than one course of conventional antibiotics. The major cost that patients seeking homeopathic treatment are likely to incur is the visit to the homeopath’s office. Because of this, many people consider homeopathic treatment a bargain compared to the use of conventional medicine and other forms of treatment available. Homeopathy may also help you stay healthy and thus avoid future hospitalizations, which helps you avoid spending more money on medical bills. Additionally, homeopathy patient visits are less frequent compared to treatments such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, and conventional medicine. Homeopathy is therefore a good way of helping manage healthcare costs in countries such as Canada, the United States, and others in the Western world, where the cost of healthcare has risen significantly in recent times.

Is homeopathy accepted as an alternative form of treatment?

If you are asking yourself whether homeopathy has been recognized by countries as an alternative form of treatment, the answer is an emphatic yes. Homeopathy is practiced not only in Canada but also in other countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Romania, Chile, Cuba, Spain, Nigeria and Ukraine among others. In Canada, homeopathic products are reviewed by Health Canada to ensure that they are safe and that the claims made about these products are supported by academic references related to homeopathy practice. 

The bottom line: You need to try homeopathy

If you have been thinking about alternative medicine, you need to try homeopathy. Homeopathic preparations are diluted to ensure that any toxic effects that the substances may have are significantly reduced. Hence, homeopathy is safe. Additionally, you can have a wide range of illnesses treated using homeopathic medicines. The low cost of homeopathic treatment coupled with the treatment’s effectiveness means that you can make significant savings and stay healthier for longer. 

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