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What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) based on the belief that our bodies can cure themselves. The practice involves diluting small amounts of natural substances, largely plants and minerals, in alcohol or water. The logic is that the chemical compounds inside these substances trigger responses in the body and invoke the healing process.
A fundamental of homeopathy is the aphorism that ‘like cures like,’ used to mean that treatments can be found through substances that produce similar symptoms in otherwise healthy people. This is not dissimilar to the principle of vaccination, which began when 18th-cenutry dairy farmers and milkmaids developed a natural immunity to the highly contagious smallpox virus by having first caught the similar yet much less deadly cowpox.
Homeopathy rest on this thought that the sick body can remedy itself through exposure to things that cause the same symptoms when given to a healthy body. In plain terms, it’s like giving your body the instructions for how to fix its problems on its own.
Where did Homeopathy Come From?
Modern homeopathy was officially established in 1796 by German physician Samuel Hahnemann. Already armed with around 15 years of medical experience, he came across a famous legend about a Spanish Countess of Chinchon.
Whilst traveling in Peru, the Countess had contracted a deadly fever and was promptly treated with tree bark, or more specifically the compound ‘quinine’ held inside. To her amazement, her symptoms stopped and the fever was cured. She promptly delivered the bark to the rest of Europe, with botanist Carl Linnaeus later naming the tree ‘Cinchona’ in her honour.
Quinine remains a vital element of malaria treatment today, and you may or may not be aware that this naturally occurring alkaloid is used to create the bitter taste in all of our tonic water. However, there are around 83 mg of quinine per litre of tonic water, as opposed to between 500 and 1,000 mg in a therapeutic dose.
In either case, Samuel Hahnemann had firmly established his idea that patients could be given a treatment that produced similar yet milder symptoms in healthy individuals. This observation birthed his famous maxim, ‘like cures like,’ also referred to as the ‘principle of similars.’
How does Homeopathy Work?
Homeopaths create their remedies using the principles of homeopathic dilution. A natural substance is repeatedly diluted until a very small number of molecules remain in the final solution, known as a ‘dynamisation’ to practitioners. The dynamisation is vigorously shaken in a process called succussion, which is believed to be essential to the ultimate healing process.
These dilute solutions can contain a wide variety of natural substances, depending on the illness being treated. The core belief is that ‘like cures like,’ meaning that substances causing mild symptoms in healthy individuals can also be used to treat related yet much worse conditions.
The fact that red onions make our eyes water is the reason for their use in homeopathy when treating allergies. Similarly, poison ivy’s ability to cause irritation leads homeopaths to believe that it will alleviate related symptoms like cramps, sprains and arthritis. Other common ingredients include arnica, white arsenic and even crushed bees.
Homeopathic remedies are produced in a variety of forms, including tablet, drop, cream, gel and injection. They are available in most Sydney pharmacies as well as specialist homeopathy shops online.
What Conditions are treated with Homeopathy?
Homeopathic remedies can be used to alleviate temporary symptoms or treat chronic conditions, with some of the most common examples including:
- High Blood Pressure
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
It can also be used to treat more localized issues, such as:
There are many trusted homeopaths in Sydney, as well as numerous online homeopathy shops. During an appointment, a homeopath will ask you about specific questions about your physical, mental and emotional health to determine the root cause of presented symptoms and prescribe the appropriate remedy.
Does Homeopathy Work?
Opinions are divided on homeopathy. Some research does show such remedies to have powerful results, though many believe these improvements are not caused by the medicine itself. It’s possible that the placebo effect is at play, where symptoms are relieved solely by a patient’s belief in the effectiveness of the medicine, rather than the medicine having objective healing properties.
Medical practitioners don’t all agree on the underlying theories of homeopathy, particularly those that don’t conform to the predominant principles of modern chemistry and biology. The crux of their argument is that homeopathic dilutions contain extremely small quantities of an active ingredient, and therefore cannot be considered as effective. Nevertheless, homeopathic medicines are very popular and you can find a wide range in the majority of Sydney pharmacies, and of course online.
Putting aside the disputes, there is strong anecdotal evidence that homeopathic remedies alleviate the symptoms of a wide variety of conditions. Many practitioners and patients are convinced that homeopathy has a strong impact on physical, mental and emotion health. Ultimately, the question of whether homeopathy works is unresolved, and more evidence is needed before a conclusion can be drawn.
Is Homeopathy Dangerous?
As practitioners believe that homeopathic remedies gain potency with further dilution, their ‘dynamisations’ contain very small quantities of active ingredients. Generally, these treatments are extremely low-risk, though there are exceptions if dilutes contain larger amounts of heavy metals, or toxins otherwise.
Certain substances used in homeopathic healing might interfere with your other medications, reducing their effectiveness and potentially causing side effects. If this applies to you, consult your doctor to ensure that your homeopathic treatment is safe to take with any existing medications.
Homeopathy is considered safe with a very low danger of adverse side effects. With that said, homeopathic practitioners are rarely required to gain qualifications or follow regulations, so there is no agreed-upon code of conduct and your experience may vary.
Is Homeopathy Right for Me?
If you’re wondering whether homeopathic medicines are right for you, it’s best to arrange an appointment. Either visit a local homeopathy pharmacy in Sydney or enquire further about homeopathy medicine online.
As goes general advice, you should immediately stop taking any medicine that causes adverse side effects. If you have existing conditions and long-term medication, you should consult your doctor before adopting complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) into your health plan.