WHAT IS HOMEOPATHY?
Founded by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann in 18th century Germany, Homeopathy is a system of medicine which views symptoms as the body's attempt to fight infection and/or adapt to stress. Symptoms are viewed as the "language" of disease, rather than seen as separate entities to be suppressed. Homeopaths work WITH these symptoms rather than against them by seeking a remedy which imitates the body's symptoms, thereby stimulating the natural immune response. Homeopathy is based on the Law of Similars, or the principle that "like cures like." That is to say, a substance that in large amounts causes certain symptoms in a healthy individual can be used in small amounts to cure those very symptoms in a sick individual.
Some of its premises fly in the face of conventional medical thought, which explains why homeopathy usually gets mixed reviews, even in many holistic articles. Because it does not fit the (current) medical model and is difficult to validate with double-blind studies, it is often dismissed or attacked by those who are not familiar with its principles and have not seen it in action. Even some herbalists I respect find it incomprehensible and impossible to swallow. All I can say is that these people have never had the incredible experience of seeing or feeling a remedy at work. In my nine years with Charles Loops, DVM, I can assure you that it DOES WORK, for animals as well as for humans. Homeopathy is not placebo, as it is sometimes accused of being. It works on animals, infants, and even plants. While it is not the answer for everyone or every condition, in the hands of a skilled prescriber it offers a safe, gentle, economical, and sometimes miraculous benefit in many cases.
While popular in Europe, where according to a 1994 report in the British Medical Journal 40% of French physicians, 20% of German, and 45% of the Dutch use homeopathic medicines in their practice, and 40% of all British physicians refer patients to homeopaths for treatment, homeopathy is just beginning to gain popularity in the U.S. This was not always the case. At the turn of the century, there were numerous homeopathic universities and practitioners. However, the establishment of the AMA (American Medical Association) brought an assault on homeopathy by the medical community which culminated in the use of homeopathy by licensed physicians being considered a felony in many states. M.D.s who used homeopathy in their practices were threatened with having their licenses revoked and with criminal prosecution. Those who practiced homeopathy either abandoned its use, or continued quietly without fanfare to avoid scrutiny by the AMA.
Finally, on July 13, 2000, President Bill Clinton created the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The purpose of the commission is to write a report to the president containing legislative and administrative recommendations for assuring that public policy maximizes the benefits of complementary and alternative medicine for all Americans. Thirteen commissioners were chosen, among them several prominent homeopaths and M.D.s who utilize homeopathy in their practices. Perhaps in the near future homeopathy will get the attention it deserves, and emerge from the shadows of prejudice and ignorance which have plagued it for over 50 years.
Homeopathic medicines are made from plant, mineral, and some animal substances. They ARE NOT the same as herbal remedies as many people believe. Homeopathic remedies must undergo a prescribed series of dilutions and succusions (agitations) to arrive at a certain potency. The potency used in any disease picture depends on many factors, including duration and severity of symptoms, the level of disease (is it deep-seated or surface) and the patient's energy level or life force. There is a Homeopathic Pharmacopeia just as there is for allopathic drugs. Homeopathic remedies are approved for over the counter sales and are available at most health food stores in low potencies.
The most important aspect of homeopathic treatment is being sure that the practitioner you choose is well-qualified. Homeopathy is an intricate science as well as an art which takes time and practice to learn. Look for someone who is trained in Classical Homeopathy to insure that they are well-versed in its principles and application. THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. Many who claim to be homeopaths use only combination remedies of which they have little or no knowledge, only what is written on the label. Or, they have a good reference work but are not versed in the principles of remedy selection. You could practice this type of homeopathy yourself (based on the homeopathic labels you read at the health food store and the salesperson's limited knowledge). While this might get you through an acute situation (such as cold or flu, headache, muscle strain, etc.), if yours or your animal companion's is a recurring condition, it will do nothing to correct the underlying problem. Extensive use of these combination products could make a case "unreadable" or even "incurable" to a trained homeopath who could really help you or your pet.