What is Homeopathy
Homeopathy is a system of medicine which aims to restore health by harnessing the body’s own natural tendency to heal. It is used in the treatment of a range of health problems such as migraines, respiratory problems, menstrual imbalance, digestive complaints, repeated infections, insomnia, anxiety, behavioural problems, grief, shock and the effects of other traumas. It has a particular view of health and disease , it treats the cause not the symptoms, it works on the principle of like treats like and its medicines are known as potentised remedies. What does all that mean? Read on ….

I had suffered from 'Irritable Bowel Syndrome' (IBS) for 14 years.

Being both a physical and emotional ailment it was difficult to find a cure and I was beginning to feel that it was just something I was going to have to live with. I tried homeopathy as a last resort.

After a thorough consultation, I was given two remedies which matched my individual symptoms. I was to use 1 when I had acute episodes, and 1 to take for the underlying imbalance.

Not only did I get immediate relief from my ailments but after 3 months I no longer had any ailments of IBS. Amazing, homoeopathy actually worked!

Now I treat myself and family for everyday things from cuts and bruises to colds and upset tummies. I see my homeopath as I need to and can not recommend her highly enough.

Homeopathy is definitely worth a try!"

'T' July 2006

Dr Samuel Hahnemann


founder of homeopathy


Health and disease

Have you ever considered what it is to be really healthy? A common definition for health suggests that it is the absence of disease – you are healthy when you have no disease or ailments. Perhaps this sounds a bit too negative for some people, as it focuses on disease rather than health, and anyway, how many people do you know that haven’t got at least some minor ailment?

A modified version of this definition is that it is the absence of illness. This makes the difference between illness and disease on the basis that how you feel is an important part of being healthy. You can feel ill without any apparent symptoms of disease and you can have an ailment whilst not feeling ill or unable to function normally. For instance someone might have a slight cold but shrug it off, plough through it and get on with life regardless. Is this person ill? Are they diseased? Are they healthy?

The World Health Organisation tried to define health in a way that is as broad and positive as possible. They define health as a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being, not just the absence of disease and infirmity. This brings together the ideas of wellbeing, social aspects and the idea that health is not just about illness or disease.

In homeopathy a person is seen as healthy when they are free to respond to life’s changing demands in an appropriate and creative manner. What this means is that health is seen as a fluid, dynamic, thing which is not just about the individual but about how that individual interacts and responds to their environment. It also means that we are healthy when our natural creativity is free to be expressed.

The body and mind naturally tend towards a state of health and they are constantly trying to maintain a functional balance. A simple example of this sort of balance can be seen if you go out into cold weather and get goose bumps. That is the body constricting areas of the skin responsible for heat maintenance as it tries to conserve body heat. If you instead go out into hot weather the skin begins to sweat, which acts to cool you down. So this demonstrates how the healthy body responds appropriately to it's environment - and by 'environment' we mean all things that interact with the person, including for instance what we eat, our social interactions, accidents, emotional stimulants and the things we learn.

Problems arise when this natural tendency for maintaining balance is hindered in some way. As a result there is deep internal tension, so the body or mind struggles to resolve the tension and restore balance. This struggle is a state of ‘dis-ease’. It is trying its best to return to a state of dynamic balance but is struggling and this struggling results in a number of symptoms becoming evident to the outside world.

It’s not ideal to compare the body to a machine but just by way of example: a car engine runs smoothly when all parts are functioning well. However, if for instance there is a block in the air intake, the cylinders will get an extra rich mix of fuel and air. This causes the engine to struggle under less than optimal conditions and the result is that it will lose performance and backfire occasionally. Maybe this is the cars equivalent of being run down with a cough? The symptoms are lack of energy and cough but the cause is struggling to cope in less than optimal conditions. In this case the underlying cause is a block in the air intake leading to strain in the cylinders, but the strain actually affects all parts of the engine’s performance.

  Treat the cause not the symptoms        
  In homeopathy the symptoms are just that – symptoms of the problem rather than the problem itself. The aim is to remove the cause so that the body can restore natural balance and get on with the process of healing itself.

Any one causal factor will give off a range of symptoms at the physical, mental and emotional levels and these will be specific to each individual. For instance imagine two people who feel they have caught a ‘flu’ that is going round. They may report the following symptoms:

  Patient A Patient B
Physical symptoms Headache throbbing worse in the morning
Chilled and can’t get enough heat
Aches and pains in joints
Loss of appetite
Stabbing headache mainly in the temples worse from light
Flushing fevers with sweat
Aches and pains in joints but also in stomach
Aversion to rich food
Mental symptoms Confusion
Want to be alone and away from people
Memory loss
Seeking sympathy and needs someone to look after them
Emotional symptoms Irritation with mild anger – irritated by people
Generally feeling down and depressed
Anxiety at inability to function
Fear of disease leaving some permanent weakness
Anxious to get better as soon as possible

The same ‘flu’ results in subtly different symptoms in different people. Furthermore flu, like most if not all conditions, is not only a physical problem but affects the mental and emotional reactions as well.

This is an important point because it means that when we are trying to work out what is wrong we need to take all symptoms into account. It’s no good treating a person’s eczema and their irritable bowel and their unusual annoyance with their family and their sleeplessness as separate things. If they are all present in the one person at the same time they are all symptoms of the one underlying disturbance. So in homeopathy, what we are looking for is the ‘totality’ of the disease, which means all the signs and symptoms that the underlying internal tension is producing for the outside world to see.

We like to think of symptoms as the body throwing out lots of little cries for help. The inner world of the person is doing its best to put out messages to the outside world to say that it is in trouble. The problem is that the messages are in the language of the subconscious. This is the language of metaphors and therefore very difficult for our conscious brain to interpret. Collecting together all the little clues, the totality, gives us a better chance of reading the underlying pattern of disturbance with which the subconscious is wrestling.

  Treat like with like    
  If we take the flu example again, it seems fairly logical that since different people react differently to the same flu virus, the actual cause of the problems we see in symptoms is not just because of the virus but actually has something to do with the way the body interacts with that virus. So considering the fact that people react in an individual way, homeopaths will give different homeopathic remedies to different people. In choosing the remedy, the homeopath aims to treat ‘like with like’. When we say ‘like with like’, we don’t mean treat flu with a flu virus. We are looking to treat the weakness that causes the symptoms with something that could potentially cause similar symptoms in a healthy person when it is in a non diluted state.

Like with like in homeopathy refers to giving a potentised remedy (see below for a description of this) which matches the symptoms of the sick person.

“Homeopathy helped and supported myself and my husband through the long stressful journey of adopting our beautiful daughter overseas. We had skin, stomach and sinus problems due to the many challenges we faced before and after we travelled home with her. The remedies are still helping us to settle into our new busy exciting lives now.”

D & L, August 2006

Potentised remedies

In homeopathy, potentised remedies are given in the form of pills, powders or liquid drops. These remedies are made by taking a substance and diluting it with either lactose (milk sugar) or alcohol depending on what is appropriate to the material, usually 1 part substance to 99 parts solvent. This is then ‘succussed’ which means vigorously shaken for a set number of succussions. Once it has gone through this process it is classified as a 1C potency. The process is repeated with one part of the 1C to 99 parts of solvent and it becomes 2C. Repeating this process again and again takes the remedy potency up to typical values of 30C, 200C and 1M (1,000C).

Under conventional wisdom it appears as if the substance is getting progressively weaker and more dilute. In actual fact it is indeed getting more dilute but it is becoming more ‘potentised’ at the same time. The best way of thinking about this is that it is getting more purified. The material is becoming more dilute, but the essence of that material is becoming more purified and the remedy is correspondingly more potent. It is more potent because it works at a deeper and deeper level.

Preparing a remedy in this way means that a potentially strong substance can be administered in a very gentle way, thus minimising side effects.

30C remedies can be bought over the counter in pharmacies and health shops but high potency remedies can be prescribed by a licensed homeopath after a detailed consultation and consideration of the underlying cause of the symptoms.

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