What Does Homeopathic Mean?
Homeopathy is a system of medicine that is incredibly thorough and complex and for some people, can be effective. Like all medical approaches, it is a fit for some and not for others. Unfortunately, a lot of misinformation surrounds homeopathic medicine and its practitioners. As we’ve seen with numerous traditional systems of medicine or “folk” medicine, these systems often do not fit into the modern day model of western medicine and are therefore discounted. This article aims to clear up some confusion around homeopathy.
What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathic medicine is truly holistic, as it treats the patient as a whole person using a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual approach. While modern, western medicine tends to take a symptoms-based approach (treating symptoms without finding the root cause), homeopathy is just the opposite.
Homeopathy originated in Germany in the late 1700’s, and comes from the Latin root meeting “like disease,” which brings us to the first principle of homeopathy (more on this in a moment).
While this holistic system of medicine is much more complex, a simplistic description is that it uses minimum doses of homeopathic “remedies” that include FDA-approved medicines (mostly herbs) that are similar to the disease/symptoms shown by a patient in order to stimulate the body’s natural healing capacities.
Principles of Homeopathy
Homeopathy is based around three main principles:
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This principle actually dates much further back to Greek systems of medicine and begins with a very thorough patient interview that covers not only medical history but emotional, psychological and family history, as well. The practitioner then finds a remedy (a carefully and specifically prepared mixture of medicine in varying, low doses) that most closely matches the patient’s symptoms/ailments in order to stimulate the body’s natural healing mechanisms.
The second principle is that homeopathy uses minimum doses of medicines to heal. For example, the doses of herbs you would be prescribed by a Homeopath would be much lower than by a western Herbalist. The founder of Homeopathy (Dr. Samuel Hahnemann) concluded that while full strength herbs were curative, they also caused side effects and that through careful dilution and preparation of herbs, patients experienced better results. Different remedies have different “potencies,” and some are more likely to be safe for populations such as seniors, babies, children, pregnant and nursing women.
The last principle means that practitioners will usually prescribe just one remedy at a time to determine if it is the right one for the patient. This allows proper evaluation of the remedy’s results without confusing them with potential other medications or remedies.
Conflicts Between Western Medicine and Homeopathy
While we are all allowed to decide which systems of medicine are right for us, homeopathy (as with many other holistic systems of medicine) does not exactly fit into the modern-day, western model. Homeopathy believes that the human body has the innate ability to heal on its own if properly supported, and western medicine is much more symptoms-based.
Needless to say, modern medicine has been nothing short of miraculous in many cases and has certain capabilities that homeopathy does not. Some modern medical doctors and practitioners label homeopathy as “pseudo-science,” as it does not fit into the western model whatsoever.
How to Find a Qualified Homeopathic Practitioner
Homeopathic practitioners should be properly trained and licensed, and you can search for a qualified homeopath through the American Institute of Homeopathy (AIH). Here, you can also learn more about homeopathy, what certification entails, and its standards of practice.
As with any system of medicine, you should always do your research and decide what is best for you and your health. When it comes to medicine, there certainly is no one-size-fits-all approach.
Always consult a doctor before starting a new medicine regime.
Rachel Fiske is a Holistic Nutrition Consultant and graduated from Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition in Berkeley, California. She is also a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Rachel focuses on issues of weight management, GI problems, hormonal imbalances, fatigue and more via a whole foods diet and lifestyle changes.