Homeopathy is one of those terms that a lot of us are probably familiar with, but when it comes down to actually using it in a sentence, we might suddenly find ourselves unable to really explain what it means. Basically, homeopathy involves using very very small doses of medicines or remedies to try to help treat and heal a huge variety of symptoms and ailments. Homeopathy is not the same as herbal medicine, although some herbs are definitely used in the remedies. But homeopathy can also use minerals too, or other things from nature like other plants and animals.
According to the National Center for Homeopathy’s website, homeopathy follows an intriguing rule called “The Law of Similars,” that essentially boils down to the idea of “like curing like.” In other words, homeopathic medicine can help an ill person get better if it can cause similar symptoms in a healthy person. In fact, the word homeopathy describes this concept; it is from the Greek words “homeos” meaning “similar” and “pathos” meaning “disease” or “suffering.”
A classic example of this idea, according once again to the website, is that if cutting up an onion makes your eyes water and your nose run, if you had similar symptoms during a common cold or an allergy attack, a homeopathic dose from the red onion or Allium cepa would help your body heal itself.
This whole theory goes way back in time, to around the time of Hippocrates in 400 B.C. Fast forward over two thousand years to the early 1800s, and Samuel Hahnemann, a doctor and chemist from Germany, really got the whole homeopathy thing off of the ground by testing small amounts of medicines on himself. By about 1900, about 20 percent of physicians in the United States were homeopaths, but due to different changes it became pretty unknown until just recently, when it began to gain in popularity again.
One point about homeopathy that I learned while researching this article, and that I personally found to be very interesting is that it does not strive to treat an actual disease, but rather the person who is not well. Homeopaths believe that when someone is sick, either from an on-going illness or a one-shot deal like a cold or flu, all of the symptoms—physical, emotional, and mental—are all part of the imbalance that is unique to that person. So a homeopath, rather than just saying “okay, you have a runny nose, take this tincture” will listen to and find out all of the patient’s symptoms and decide how the entire person may be treated in order to get well. That holistic way of thinking, to me, makes a lot of sense.
In the second part of this article, we’ll look at how homeopathic remedies can treat two of our most common health issues: stress and anxiety.