Alternative and complementary medicine has been receiving a lot of attention in the press in the last few years. Yet, few people realize that it is not a specific medical specialty. Rather, it is an umbrella covering a multitude of different methods of healing. Of all these methods, homeopathy is probably one of the least understood. Let’s see if we can shed some light on this matter.
First of all, we need to discuss the idea of energy medicine. Conventional medicine, as we know it, views the body as a big chemical reaction, which it strives to understand in great detail in order to be able to change it. So, for example, when a person has a stomach ulcer, their doctor may give them a drug which interferes with their body’s ability to generate acid in the stomach and the ulcer heals up. By knowing how acid is made in the stomach, we know how to block its production.
It is amazing how much we know of all the chemical processes that go on in our bodies. Yet, when one of them goes out of whack, we can rarely explain why it happened. Yes, we can modify the runaway process by other chemicals (drugs), but the effect is often short lived, and as soon as the drug is discontinued the problem comes back. The more we study all these processes in conventional manner, the more detail we know, but we are no closer to understanding the underlying cause of the problem. So, we continue prescribing drugs, and more drugs, in an effort to get the patient to feel better.
Some physicians believe we are looking for the explanation in the wrong place. They feel that the body’s chemistry, while important to be understood, does not contain the cause of disease. They feel there is a deeper level of control in the body. It is referred to as the body’s energy, or Vital Force. Chi, almost a household word by now, is the Chinese word describing the same concept. It is felt that this energy controls all of the body’s chemical processes, and when it is in balance, the person feels healthy. On the other hand, when the Vital Force is disturbed, the chemistry becomes disordered and one feels the symptoms on the physical level. So, for example, when we get too much acid in the stomach and it causes some irritation and possibly even an ulcer, a drug can decrease the acidity of the stomach contents, but the underlying disturbance in the Vital Force is untouched by the drug. Therefore, the symptom comes back as soon as we stop the drug. The answer is to treat the energy disturbance directly, and therefore get at the cause of the problem, rather than treating its effect.
There are many methods to affect the body’s energy. The better known ones are acupuncture, healing touch, and some others. Homeopathy is one such method. Homeopathic remedies are, in effect, energetic messages administered in the form of a pellet or a drop of liquid, that can be taken by mouth. It may sound too incredible, but this 200-year-old system of medicine has survived multiple attempts to discredit it, and its practitioners are now more numerous than ever. In fact, it now boasts a large body of medical research that proves its effectiveness as compared to placebo (a sugar pill).
Another way of looking at this is to make an analogy with a computer. When a computer malfunctions, the problem could be in its hardware, but software issues are also as common. All sorts of software viruses, bugs, etc, can affect the computer functioning. A good technician must look at both sides of the equation to fix the machine. The same applies to the human body. The energy we talk about is probably something like the body’s software, which can be “bugged”. Homeopathic remedies then are the debugging programs, like Norton or MacAffee “anti-virus”.
While it is quite effective in acute diseases like colds and flues, injuries, ear infections, infectious diarrhea, etc, it really shines in the treatment of chronic disease, where conventional medicine provides only a temporary, and often very inadequate, solution. Many sufferers with asthma and other lung diseases, migraines and other headaches, all kinds of colitis and irritable bowel syndrome, depression and anxiety, ADHD, eczema and other skin complaints, a host of auto-immune diseases, etc, can often be permanently relieved of their complaints with a single well chosen homeopathic remedy. In many cases they can be weaned off of the conventional medications they have taken for years to cope with their symptoms.
Homeopathic remedies are chosen on the principle of similarity. That is, a substance that can cause a certain group of symptoms in a healthy person will cure a sick person presenting with similar complaints. The remedies used in homeopathy are incredibly dilute, which creates a lot of skepticism in the minds of scientists. Yet, as I have already mentioned, well designed studies prove its effectiveness, and the documented experience of thousands of homeopaths working all over the world for close to two hundred years leaves little room for doubt.
I don’t have the space here to explain how the remedies are prepared and prescribed, or how they are tested to determine what they can treat. Neither can I give justice to homeopathy’s rich history. All these subjects are covered in my book Demystifying Homeopathy, available on this site at no charge.
It’s about time the science of homeopathy was better known, so that more people could reach the level of health that can only be dreamed of in the conventional medical paradigm.