What is Homeopathy?
SIMILIA SIMILIBUS CURENTUR
A short answer:
Homeopathy is a system of medicine, a scientific healing art, created over two hundred years ago by the brilliant Doctor Samuel Hahnemann, which involves healing a sick subject with the administration of a single specifically chosen and prepared plant, mineral or animal substance (Homeopathic Remedy) in the smallest possible dose according to scientifically observed and proven principles.
A longer answer:
Starting with some of the main principles and theories of homeopathy:
a) Vitalism -In health, the “spirit-like enlivening power-force-energy” of the body (the vital force) maintains the organism in a state of relative homeostasis, a stable equilibrium between interdependent elements during growth, aging, or any physical, mental, emotional or spiritual challenges. In health, the vital force responds effectively to throw off any “morbific” (causing disease) influence - during this process symptoms may be observed temporarily and then will pass. (See quote from Hahnemann’s Materia Medica Pura below.)
b) In disease, the vital force becomes “mistuned.” Illness is not material (physical) but is only energetic or spiritual - a “mistunement” of “the spirit-like enlivening power-force-energy of the human body.”
c) Symptoms are not “the disease;” rather, symptoms are signs of the above mentioned “mistunement” of the “vital character of the organism”- this energetic mistunement is the disease. As Hahnemann pointed out, we cannot see this energetic derangement except indirectly by way of our senses, by the observation of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual symptoms. These symptoms in their totality and in their essential nature are the reflection of the disease.
d) In order to cure disease, a medicine or treatment must stimulate a healing response where disease “is;” in other words, at the level of the unbalanced vital force, at the level of the energetic mistunement.
e) The Law of Similars (“likes are cured by likes”) – any “drug” which is capable of producing morbid symptoms (disease symptoms) in the healthy will remove similar symptoms occurring as an expression of disease in a sick person. This was a law of nature that was known as far back as Hippocrates and which Samuel Hahnemann used as the basis of homeopathy and in experiments or provings which he did in which he ingested various substances to see what disease symptoms –physical, mental, emotional - they would produce. He observed that the totality of symptoms and the essential nature which unites a group of symptoms is specific to a given remedy. If this totality is “the most similar” (the simillimum) to a natural disease in question (i.e.: if it causes to appear very similar symptoms to those which a sick person is exhibiting) it will stimulate a healing response in that sick person - the vital force will be prompted to finish what it was trying to do in the first place by the creation of symptoms. The remedy allows a subtle, powerful and temporary response by the vital force – a restoration of harmony and balance. The influence which caused the natural disease had also stimulated a response by the vital force, but the vital force, because of the toxic strength or duration of the influence (the virus, toxin, negative emotion, whatever) was unable to restore order and instead created symptoms which did not resolve. The remedy which is medicinal in nature – diluted such that it stimulates a response but does not overwhelm, potentized so that it is just enough stronger than the natural disease, and given in the smallest dose possible so that it acts only temporarily - and which is the simillimum of the natural disease allows the vital force to be effective in eradicating the symptoms of the natural disease without creating any lasting symptoms of its own.
To further elucidate the concept of “vitalism,” here is a quote from Hahnemann’s Materia Medica Pura:
“To the explanation of human life, as also its two-fold conditions, health and disease, the principles by which we explain other phenomena are quite inapplicable. With nought in the world can we compare it save with itself alone; neither with a piece of clock-work, nor with a hydraulic machine, nor with chemical process, nor with decompositions and recompositions of gases, nor yet with a galvanic battery, in short with nothing destitute of life. Human life is in no respect regulated by purely physical laws, which only obtain among inorganic substances. The material substances of which the human organism is composed no longer follow, in this vital combination, the laws to which material substances in the inanimate condition are subject; they are regulated by the laws peculiar to vitality alone, they are themselves animated and vitalized just as the whole system is animated and vitalized. Here a nameless fundamental power reigns omnipotent, which abrogates all the tendency of the component parts of the body to obey the laws of gravitation, of momentum, of the vis inertiae, of fermentation, of putrefaction, etc., and brings them under the wonderful laws of life alone, - in other words, maintains them in a condition of sensibility and activity necessary to the preservation of the living whole, a condition almost spiritually dynamic.”
What a remarkable achievement for Hahnemann to have put together this system of healing which acknowledges the non-material basis of life.
More on provings: The experiments that Hahnemann did and that are still done to this day to discover the illness producing/curative properties of substances are called provings. Hahnemann and his followers did provings on a hundred or so substances and today in the 21st century there are thousands of plant, mineral, and animal substances for which provings have been conducted. The results of provings and cured cases are collected in books called Materia Medica; Homeopathic Remedies are listed alphabetically and their illness producing/curative properties are listed systematically by symptoms which are created in the mind, the parts, systems and functions of the body, and so on. The practitioner of homeopathy must have a thorough knowledge of materia medica as well as a thorough knowledge of what is health to be able to identify the single homeopathic remedy which is the simillimum (the most similar to the totality of the illness with which a patient presents) and which will therefore be curative in the proper potency and dose. Understanding the totality of the illness (or remedy) means identifying what are real and significant symptoms and what is the idea that gives these symptoms coherence as a group.
Homeopathic remedies are non-toxic, non-addictive, and prepared according to the standards of the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States. Homeopathy is cost effective - by supporting and strengthening the body’s own healing mechanisms, homeopathy helps to prevent chronic illness, saving countless dollars and untold misery. The ultimate goal of Homeopathy is to help you live to your fullest capacity mentally, emotionally, spiritually, socially, and physically.