How Do Homeopathic Treatments Work?
Homeopathic treatments were first developed by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann – a German physician and doctor who was later known as the father of homeopathy – around two hundred years ago. Back then, medicine was still in its infancy. And so, to cure health issues, it relied heavily on practices that were traditional at the time, yet would be considered shocking by modern standards, such as bloodletting. When Dr. Hahnemann noticed what the problem was with mainstream medicine in the past – that it harmed the body – he began to address the issue. He did this by actively pursuing ways to create a new medical approach that was not harmful – or at least less harmful – to one’s normal bodily functions. After running a series of experiments on his subjects, as well as on himself, he figured out that certain substances that lead to symptoms can, surprisingly, also be used to heal. This medical approach, which was finally directed to do more good than harm, is nowadays known as homeopathy.
Regardless of the controversy that has surrounded it, homeopathy is considered to be one of the most natural approaches to medicine, since it doesn’t involve the use of toxic chemicals, nor does it physically invade the organs. With suitable remedies, homeopathy can organically heal with medications created from plants and animals. Understanding these treatments and how they work can help you enjoy a more natural way to gain better health and mental well-being. Read on to learn about homeopathy, its fundamental principles, common homeopathic remedies, and what science says about this unique medical system.
What Are Homeopathic Treatments?
Homeopathic treatment, also known as “homeopathy” and “homoeopathy”, is a branch of alternative medicine that aims to strengthen bodily functions by stimulating the immune system. These treatments use “homeopathic remedies” as a medication to treat health problems in a highly customizable and individualized way. There are numerous types of homeopathic remedies. The majority of these medicines are organic, as they are usually made of different parts of plants: seed, root, stem, leaf, flower, and fruit; and natural products from animals such as spiders, bees, and snakes. Homeopathic remedies are also made based on a few key principles (which will be explored later) that are different from modern western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. For this reason homeopathy is often considered to be a rather unique healing modality.
The 3 Principles of Homeopathic Treatments
Homeopathy centers around the idea that the substance that causes the symptoms can actually help to manage the symptoms, and maybe even cure an individual. According to Dr. Hahnemann, it works based on three key principles:
- Like Cures Like: The first principle suggests that taking a smaller amount of a substance - the same one that initially causes the illness - can help treat the symptoms. This principle is based heavily on what Dr. Hahnemann had observed in his own experiments, wherein he discovered that different dose sizes of a substance can lead to different medical effects that are either harmful or protective to one’s bodily systems. To put it simply, while having a larger dose of a substance can contribute to the onset of symptoms that can negatively affect one’s health, having a smaller quantity of the same substance can help to cure these symptoms.
- Law of Minimum Dose: The second principle, also called dilution, highlighted the importance of decreasing the concentration of the substance. Dr. Hahnemann believed that the smaller the substance, the more effective and powerful the medical effect. Based on this understanding, homeopathy works by diluting the substance repeatedly in either alcohol or distilled water, until almost none of it remains in the liquid. This process is often guided by a “dilution scale” – a tool or formula for controlling the proportion between the substance and fluid. And as the concentration reduces during the process, the overall healing effect increases.
- Succussion: The third principle proposes that succussion – an act of shaking – can help a body or container of water to remember the substances within it. It may seem like a somewhat abstract concept, but Dr. Hahnemann puts forth the idea that the water, or liquid in general, can remember what substances have been diluted and dissolved in it. According to this principle, the water memorizes the substance during the making of homeopathic medicine. And to facilitate the water’s unique “remembering process”, the practitioner needs to shake the bottle as the substance dilutes in the water. Dr. Hahnemann believed that shaking the bottle can also help the water to remember the substance, accurately attaining its healing power. As the person takes the remedies, the water molecule – inside the medicine – can transfer the medical effects of the substance, which the water remembers, to their bodily systems.
Common Homeopathic Remedies
Practitioners use homeopathic remedies to treat various health issues. This medicine is prepared based on the three principles through a strict production process: from choosing a substance, to diluting it into a liquid, to merging them by vigorously shaking the flask it is contained in. The making of remedies is progressive. You may expect that the final product will only have little – or nearly none – of the original substance left. One may question the effectiveness of the remedies, but remember the “law of minimum dose” principle? Homeopathy believes that such a small amount of substance can already provide sufficient healing power.
Generally, these remedies use the ingredient that initially causes the issues that need to be treated. Below are some common homeopathic remedies:
- Coffea Cruda: This remedy contains a tiny amount of unroasted coffee beans. While coffee beans may initially cause sleeping issues, coffea cruda can help tackle insomnia, or difficulty falling asleep.
- Bee Venom: This remedy is produced naturally by bees when they are anxious and threatened. This liquid substance can help treat bee sting swelling as an anti-inflammatory medicine.
- Allium Cepa: This red onion can help manage symptoms of various issues, from allergies and common colds to eye and throat issues. Even though onions are well-known for their annoying ability to make our eyes water!
Homeopathic Treatments: Are They Effective or Not?
The effectiveness of this treatment is controversial. While some believe it can help to tackle health issues, some hold a skeptical view of its effectiveness. Many of the criticisms focus on its core principles. For instance, according to the National Health Service (of the United Kingdom), there's a lack of scientific evidence to support homeopathy’s effectiveness. Some challenged the idea that "water can remember" and highlighted the unsolved questions like: "How exactly does the water attain the information?" and "Why does the water only remember the selected ingredient, but forget others?" Others argue that rather than a well-established treatment, homeopathy, to a large extent, can be a "placebo effect" – a psychological effect that as long as people strongly believe the "medicine" can work, even though it's just a glass of distilled water, they can recover from the issue. In other words, the body might still naturally heal itself, with or without the homeopathic remedies.
Despite the challenges and criticisms this alternative medicine receives from time to time, we can't deny the fact that homeopathy was one of the biggest breakthroughs of medicine in history. Not only did it offer non-invasive method treatments (when mainstream medicine in the old days could damage the bodily systems), but it also provided a new way to view medicine, which had likely inspired many healthcare professionals through the years that followed. While Dr. Hahnemann's work might be worth skepticism to many people in the modern world, especially with the domination of conventional western medicine, homeopathy did – and is continuing to – offer an inspiring perspective. This holistic method has, at least, has been quite valuable to some individuals.
All of the content on our website is thoroughly researched to ensure that the information shared is evidence-based. For more information, please visit the academic journals and other resources that influenced this article: Samuel Hahnemann - Britannica; Homeopathy: What You Need To Know; Homoeopathy: 1--What is it?; What Was Bloodletting All About?; What Is Homeopathy?; What Are Homeopathic Remedies?; The History of the Memory of Water; What is Coffea Cruda and What Does It Treat?; Bee Venom - Uses, Side Effects, and More; Know Your Remedies: Allium cepa (All-c.); Homeopathy - NHS; Homeopathy: The Controversy Ensues; Are the Clinical Effects of Homoeopathy Placebo Effects? Comparative Study of Placebo-Controlled Trials of Homoeopathy and Allopathy.
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