The Story of Homeopathy
Homeopathic remedies, made from parts of the natural world (mostly plants, animal substances and mineral substances), can transform our moods, our thoughts and our internal chemistries—and thereby our physical and emotional symptoms. Each remedy, each natural substance, has a particular pattern of effects. Each remedy’s pattern can be seen as a “message” that speaks to specific forms of disorder and imbalance.
Remedies are prepared in a special dilution process that brings out their “message.” The “message” encoded in a remedy chosen according to your needs (as expressed by your very individual pattern of symptoms) has great potential to promote internal order and harmony, as it prompts your system to respond effectively to the challenges you face.
This is drug-free natural healing at its best, as it makes use of your own elegant internal chemistries and regulatory systems.
founder of homeopathy
Peruvian bark (cinchona officinalis)
And how were the specific effects, the properties, of these remedies identified in the first place? There’s a story about that!
In the late 1700’s, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann turned away from the practice of medicine because he had come to think of the standard medical practices of the day—bleeding, purging, use of heavy metals as medicines—as ignorant, unscientific and harmful to patients. He read widely and thought deeply about the nature of illness and cure. Reading that Peruvian bark (an herbal quinine source) cured malaria because of its “bitter astringent” properties, he thought to himself, “Hogwash! Plenty of plants are bitter and astringent, and only this one works on malaria.” He decided to dose himself with the herb, and found himself developing the fever and other symptoms characteristic of malaria. He considered this evidence to favor the old hypothesis, “like cures like,” that is to say that a medicinal substance will cure in a sick person the symptoms it creates in a healthy person.
He tested this hypothesis further by recruiting people of differing ages, gender, and constitutional types to take medicinal substances and record the symptoms they observed. Then he tried treating conditions that resembled the pattern of symptoms these drug tests (“provings”) revealed, with great therapeutic success. These homeopathic drug trials (“provings”) were the first attempt to investigate medicines scientifically. Hahnemann’s followers continued these investigations, through the nineteenth century and into the present.
Homeopaths through the years have also kept track of successes in curing disease states with these known remedies. Homeopathy gained great popularity early on, partly through its impressive success rates in the treatment of the great epidemics of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries—cholera, scarlet fever, typhoid fever and the like. Homeopaths also pioneered the field of bodymind medicine and holistic care, recognizing from the first that mental and emotional symptoms and characteristics were inextricably entwined with physical symptoms. .
The strengths of homeopathy make it uniquely suited to the complex stress-related conditions of our age. It is an “evidence-based” therapy, founded on carefully recorded observations of the effects of its remedies over the course of more than two centuries. Its remedies are substances from the natural world that we co-evolved with. It works through the power of inner cellular processes that evolved in our ancestors over millions of years. And its healing power targets the whole of our complex nature—mind, body, and spirit.
For links to research on the effectiveness of homeopathy, see my Resources page.