Homeopathic Healing

Explore this unique approach to healing that packs powerful remedies into minute doses.

| May/June 2003

  • Homeopathic products for internal use are available as tiny tablets and liquid tinctures.

Sylvia Chatroux, a medical doctor in Ashland, Oregon, recently treated a patient complaining of a high fever, chills, nausea and diarrhea. Most conventional doctors would have prescribed pharmaceutical drugs to lower the fever and stop the diarrhea and nausea. But Chatroux gave her patient homeopathic arsenicum, a specially prepared and highly diluted form of arsenic. The patient quickly recovered.

In its pure form, arsenic is a poison that, in healthy individuals, causes symptoms similar to the distress Chatroux’s patient was experiencing. “This is the basic principle of homeopathy — to try to match up the complaints of the person with the characteristics of the remedy,” Chatroux explains. “The goal is to stimulate the innate healing abilities of the body.”

How Homeopathy Works

Unlike allopathic medicine, which focuses on controlling the symptoms of a disease, homeopathy views symptoms as the body’s attempt to restore balance. Homeopaths believe allopathic drugs may actually drive disease deeper into the body because such drugs suppress symptoms instead of treating the underlying cause of the illness.

“Homeopathic medicines work with, rather than against, a person’s natural defenses,” says Dana Ullman, author of The Consumer’s Guide to Homeopathy (Tarcher/Putnam, 1996). “Symptoms are the way that the body is trying to heal itself. So we look for catalysts that will enhance the body’s efforts.” In homeopathy, these catalysts take the form of plants such as arnica, monkshood and onion; minerals such as arsenic, sodium chloride and copper; and seemingly bizarre substances such as cuttlefish ink, bushmaster snake venom and roasted sponge.

Homeopathy was founded in the early 19th century by Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician disillusioned with the standard medical practices of his time, which included bloodletting and the administration of toxic drugs such as mercury. In his search to find a more humane approach to treating illness, Hahnemann observed that a substance producing certain symptoms when given to a healthy person could cure the same symptoms in someone who was sick. He first noticed this phenomenon while experimenting with cinchona, a Peruvian bark that was used as a treatment for malaria. Hahnemann took cinchona twice daily and soon began suffering the intermittent fevers characteristic of malaria. When he stopped taking the cinchona, his fevers stopped. Hahnemann went on to experiment with hundreds of substances and developed homeopathy from his findings.

This basic principle of homeopathy, the Law of Similars, refers to his observation that “like cures like.” This theory was proposed as early as the fourth century b.c., when Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, wrote, “Through the like, disease is produced, and through the application of the like it is cured.” Although homeopathy has little in common with conventional medicine, the Law of Similars is the basis for the approach conventional medicine uses for immunizations and allergy treatments: Vaccines are made up of weak formulations of a specific virus to bolster the body’s immunity to the illness; allergies are treated by injecting minute amounts of the allergen into the body to strengthen the body’s ability to cope.

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