by Catherine Haug
This article expresses my own opinion. I am not a doctor and am not qualified to advise you on your specific health situation. Along with Herbology, Homeopathy is a natural-healing modality that is inexpensive and effective; the following is my own essay on the subject.
Homeopathy is a much debated healing modality; there are many who describe it as “quackery,” without scientific basis. This article is not intended to endorse the practice of homeopathy, but rather to describe it, to help you decide for yourself what you think. Here are a few sites to explore on this subject:
- homeowatch.org (1)
- Homeopathy: The Ultimate Fake, by Stephen Barrett, MD (2)
- Homeopathy — quackery or a key to the future of medicine? (3) is an edited transcript of a debate held at the University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut, USA on 25 October 2007. “Six distinguished international speakers, including advocates and skeptics concerning homeopathy, debated the plausibility, theoretical principles, clinical and basic research evidence, ethical and other issues surrounding homeopathy.”
I note that homeopathy is a regular practice in Germany and other European countries.
Introduction to Homeopathy
First, a clarification: I am not a practicing homeopath, but I have much personal experience with homeopathic remedies and have experienced great successes (and also many failures in the quest to find the ‘right’ remedy).
Homeopathy is symptom-based; symptoms result from the action of your immune system to heal properly. These symptoms may, or may not seem related to your health issue, but remember that your body is a whole being, not a group of isolated parts. So while your main complaint may be, say, stomach distress, homeopathy is concerned also with your head, heart, lungs, skeleton, extremities, mind, emotions, and so on.
- First, you make a list of symptoms both general and specific; include psychological, and emotional as well as physical symptoms.
- Look up the main symptoms to find list of applicable remedies, using a Materia Medica and/or a Repertory; for more about Materia Medica, see “For More Information” section on pages 6-7
- Then refine the symptoms to determine the correct remedy.
- Lastly, determine the potency and frequency of the remedy, again using the Materia Medica.
Oftentimes, two or more remedies will include most of your symptoms. To determine which is the one for you, you may need to delve deeper into your symptoms, and discern the difference between the two.
– Law of Similars
Homeopathic theory is based upon Hahnemann’s Law of Similars, which states that a substance that causes a particular symptom (or set of symptoms) will, with great dilution, aid the body in removing the same symptom(s).
For example, the symptoms that result from a bee sting are the result of your immune system acting to heal from the sting. A properly diluted and succussed solution of bee venom will help your immune system remove the symptoms of the sting. Bee venom remedy is called Apis Venenom. (See “Naming of Remedies,” below)
NOTE: This principle was the early basis of vaccines. But modern vaccines have strayed from this, to benefit pharmaceutical companies.
– Naming of Remedies
Most remedies are named in Latin (for example, natrum muriaticum, which is Latin for sodium chloride, or table salt); and many are named by the Latin abbreviation (nat. mur. in this example).
I think the use of Latin names keeps an air of mystery around the remedies, so that our prejudices are held at bay. This reminds me of a favorite story, as a way to explain why the Latin names are used.
A very dear friend of mine suffers from bipolar disorder. He was having difficulty with the side effects of his medication, so I suggested he try the homeopathic remedy, Nat. Mur. He had fairly good success with this, so one day asked me what was in it.
After I explained that Nat. mur., or natrum muriaticum, is Latin for sodium chloride or table salt, he wanted to know why he couldn’t just add more salt to his food. My answer, that the key to a remedy is that it is very dilute and that ordinary table salt would not work the same way, he lost faith in the remedy and stopped taking it. He went back to his mood swings and troubles.
– Dilution & Succussion
The potency, or strength, of a remedy is achieved by dilution. This is counter-intuitive, but the more dilute a remedy, the ‘stronger’ it is, and the more deeply it will work in your body/mind/spirit. Thus increased dilution increases its energy and effectiveness.
Very potent remedies can be so dilute that chemistry is hard pressed to detect it. The remedy works, not by the chemical substance itself, but by its energy. And its energy is amplified by dilution.
The dilutions are marked by Roman numerals:
- X for 10-fold dilution (one drop of substance in 9 drops of water)
- C for 100-fold dilution (one drop of substance in 99 drops of water)
- M for 1,000-fold dilution (one drop of substance in 999 drops of water)
These are preceded by a number, as in 3X, which tells how many times that dilution has been done. ‘M’ dilutions are more potent than ‘C’ dilutions; ’C’ dilutions are more potent than ‘X’ dilutions; 3X is more potent than 1X. (Read on for examples).
Examples: 1-drop of the substance mixed with 9-drops of water to make 1X; then 1 drop of 1X with 9 drops of water to make 2X; then 1-drop of 2X with 9 drops water to make 3X; and so on.
After each dilution, the mixture is succussed, which is a type of vigorous shaking, to release and amplify the energy of the substance. Succussion involves holding the bottle with one hand and striking the bottom of the bottle against the palm of the other hand, several times; I recommend 7 – 14 times – there’s something magic in the “7”.
Determining the correct potency (dilution)
Homeopathy is really an art. First, it can be difficult and time-consuming to find the right remedy; then one must find the right potency. Generally:
- Chronic (long-standing) conditions require the higher dilutions (e.g., 30 C – 200 C);
- Acute (new) conditions require the lower dilutions. Also, if you are not sure of the remedy, it’s better to start out with a low dilution, to test it.
– Taking the Remedy
Homeopathic remedies come in two forms (see below for more detail of each):
- Lactose pills are the most common. These are tiny balls saturated with the remedy, and they come in a bottle about the size of a tube of lipstick. Some have automatic dispensers and others have a screw-on lid.
- A liquid solution in a dropper bottle; this is what I get at Swan Valley Herbs.
Each time, before administering the remedy, succuss the container against your palm (I recommend 7 or 14 times).
Lactose pills: Take 2-3 of these tiny pills under the tongue until they are fully dissolved. Most practitioners warn not to touch the pills with your fingers. I’m not sure why this is, since you will be touching them with your mouth tissues; perhaps they are concerned about the oils on your fingertips.
If the pills are in a bottle with a screw-on lid, tip out 2-3 pills into the lid and then dump from lid to under the tongue. If it is an automatic dispensing type, I recommend dropping them into the lid or a small glass before dumping under the tongue. Do not use a metal container for the remedies.
Liquid: Use the eye dropper to dispense 2-3 drops under your tongue, taking care not to touch your mouth with the tip of the eye dropper.
– Antidoting substances
Certain substances with dominant aromas can antidote a remedy; that is, stop it from working. However, not all aromatic substances are antidotal, such as anise or licorice.
Classic antidoting examples are:
- mint, eucalyptus and other menthol substances (including mint-flavored toothpaste and mouthwash – use anise or licorice flavor instead)
A rule of thumb is to have nothing else in your mouth (except water) for at least 5 minutes before and after a remedy, and avoid the known antidoting substances at least 15 minutes before and after. Some remedies are so sensitive that you need to avoid the antidoting substances altogether, while taking the remedy.
Some remedies can antidote other remedies; this is usually mentioned in the Materia Medica.
– Response to Remedies
Sometimes your symptoms lessen, an indicator the remedy is helping.
Or – this is a counter-intuitive thing – if your symptoms get worse before they get better, that means your immune system is actively and effectively working. Don’t be tempted to stop a remedy if you have this kind of reaction; it’s a sign the remedy is right for you.
For example, you may have skin problems as one of your symptoms (itching, dry, rash, redness, etc.). Such symptoms are almost always rooted in the liver. The right homeopathic remedy will encourage the liver to dump toxins into your system, to be eliminated through the organs of elimination: kidneys, colon, lungs and skin. As the remedy works, you may urinate more frequently, your bowels may become more active, your breath may become foul, and/or your skin may become more itchy, red, rashy).
Remember: this change is necessary and will pass as your body works to rebalance itself.
On the other hand, if you have NO response to a remedy, neither a betterment nor a worsening, it is probably not the right remedy. But continue to take it 3 – 5 days before rejecting it for another remedy.
Single vs Combined Remedies
Early homeopathic practitioners prescribed only one remedy at a time, but today, many practitioners combine several related remedies. This leads to much discussion among practitioners, as to which is more effective.
I personally am adherent to the single remedy solution, and for several reasons; here are a few that I can articulate:
- Combining with other remedies runs the risk of antidoting each other. This means that one remedy could lessen the effect of another remedy;
- The practice can obscure your response;
- While taking a remedy that is not right for you will not, generally, cause harm (because of the extreme dilution of the remedies), I still believe that the wrong remedy could interfere with the energy changes.
– Why Combine Remedies?
This practice came about because it is difficult to isolate the specific remedy that is right for a patient at a given point in time, so by combining possible remedies, a prescriber can feel more confident that one of them will work. To this I would say that you could accomplish the same thing by trying them in sequence: Try one; if it doesn’t work, try another, and so on. However, this does take time and sometimes, time works against the situation.
Another reason given for combining is that the current disease may morph into another disease (for example, influenza may develop into pneumonia), so combine the remedies for each to thwart that process. To this I would say that remedies are not disease-specific, and so this is an irrational argument. Homeopathy treats the whole person; remedies are determined by symptoms together with the patient’s personality, and state of mind/emotions/spirit. Far better to treat the current condition; as it morphs into another, change the remedy.
This is a very intriguing concept, and much disputed among homeopaths. ‘Miasm’ refers to a cloud or fog in one’s being, resulting from the suppression of a specific condition, either by one’s ancestors, or when a child (5).
Hahnemann found that a few people with long-standing issues did not respond well to his treatment. With exhaustive study he concluded that there are three possible underlying problems, or miasms, that block healing; the only way to treat such people was first to treat the miasm. A fourth miasm was later added (4,5):
- psora (suppressed skin disorders)
- sycosis (suppressed gonorrhea)
- syphilis (suppressed syphilis)
- tubercular (suppressed tuberculosis)
This is a very deep subject; too deep for this article. If you want to learn more, here are three references on miasms to get you started:
- Homeopathe International, by T. Morrell (5).
- Dr. Bruce Berkowsky on Miasms (9),
- Miasms in Classical Homeopathy (10): and
Homeopathy can be a trial and error experience, as one searches for the correct remedy. This process can cause you to lose faith in this healing method. But I can assure you that when you find the correct remedy, the results will be profound. Here are a couple examples from my personal experience.
– Facial Rash
When I was in my early 30s, I developed a painful, itching rash on my face. My doctor sent me to a dermatologist who could not help me, and greatly distressed me when he speculated that I might have lupus. A friend suggested I see a new naturopath in our neighborhood.
Dr. Dan practiced herbology and homeopathy, and believed the problem was in my liver. He prescribed tinctures of yellow dock, milk thistle and dandelion root. This helped, but the rash persisted. He tried several homeopathic remedies, but still only mild improvement.
One Monday, he’d returned from a weekend on Mt. Hood, and brought back fresh root of Oregon grape, which he prepared in a 6X dilution for me. I took my first dose before bed that night. When I awakened, the rash was gone! But it came back a little bit after I washed my face (the rash was sensitive to water). I continued to take the remedy and after 3 days, the rash was totally gone. GONE! Never to return.
Now, I’m not saying that this remedy will work for you; it all depends on your complex of symptoms.
My Mom died from cancer while visiting me in Oregon in 1991-1992. She had come to visit for Christmas, got sick, and was never able to return to Montana. Fortunately, she was with me, so that I was able to spend time every day with her, those most precious days of my life.
Mom and I had a rocky relationship. But emotionally, I was extremely dependent upon her, and dreaded what would happen to me after she died.
I had sought the help of another naturopathic doctor – Dr. Steve – who specialized in difficult diseases like AIDS and cancer, to treat Mom during her last months. About a week before she died, and I knew the end was near, I went to Dr. Steve to help me cope with the inevitable. He prepared a 30M dilution of Ignacia amara.
I took this diligently over the next few days. I was very sad, but also brave as I faced the impending loss of my mother. Each day I felt stronger, uplifted, and protected by a sort-of cocoon. On Mom’s last day, I was courageous enough to confess some of my secrets I’d withheld from her out of fear of her retribution, and to assure her of my love and trust. When she died, I felt ”gifted’ of her love that I had never felt while she was living. And I know this was because the Ignatia opened my heart to her.
For More Information and References
Refer to Demystifying Homeopathy, an online book by Dr. Jacob I Mirman, MD (4) for a brief, general discussion of homeopathy and suggested reading list. See also Sheryl Eaglewoman’s article on Homeopathy (5).
– References for More Information:
Remedy guides are called Materia Medica; here’s a sampling of online guides:
- International Academy of Classical Homeopathy (vithoulkas.com )
- A B C Homeopathy (abchomeopathy.com)
- Materia Medica (hpathy.com/materia-medica/)
- Homeopathy Repertory (hpathy.com/homeopathy-repertory/)
– Article References (from article text)
NOTE: All links updated 12/8/18 and 10/2/22
- homeowatch.org (homeowatch.org/)
- Homeopathy: The Ultimate Fake, by Steven Barrett, MD (quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/homeo.html)
- Homeopathy — quackery or a key to the future of medicine? (sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1475491607001725 )
- Natural Health DOC, on miasms (naturalhealthdoc.net/hahnemann-and-miasms-explained/) 10/2/22: link no longer valid; check out references 9, 10 below.
- Homeopathe International, on miasms, by T. Morrell (homeoint.org/morrell/articles/pm_miasm.htm)
- Demystifying Homeopathy (the book by Dr. Jacob I Mirman, MD), or on Amazon, search for ISBN-10: 0965195023 or ISBN-13: 978-0965195027
- Sheryl Eaglewoman on Homeopathy (livingresponsibly.com/Homeopathy.htm or Living Responsibly; I’ve saved a pdf version of her article: Health-Nutrition / Podcasts-Articles / SherylEaglewoman > LivingResponsibly_Homeopathy_SEaglewoman.pdf
- Mercola article saved: Health-Nutrition / Podcasts-Articles / Mercola > Homeopathy_ForbiddenMed_EliminateNeedForDrugs_MCL_2009.pdf (by Amy L. Lansky, PhD)
- Dr. Bruce Berkowsky on Miasms: naturalhealthscience.com/miasms/
- Miasms in Classical Homeopathy: wholehealthnow.com/homeopathy_pro/miasms-03.html
– Additional Information About this Article:
This article was originally written for Essential Stuff Project (ESP or essentialstuff.org) in 2009. This current version was updated in Oct 2022 for Cat’s Kitchen (catsfork.com/CatsKitchen)
About reprints, pdf version:
Catherine Haug (author) holds the copyright for this article. No reprints or publications are to be made without her permission.
I also have a pdf version of this article, saved: Health-Nutrition / Homeopathy Documents / CatsKitchen-Homeopathy > intro-homeopathy_CatsKitchen-5_2022.pdf. Contact me for copy.
There is an older pdf version from 2018 (originally for ESP): catsfork.com/CatsKitchen/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/intro-homeopathy_EsL3.pdf; as soon as I figure out how I added that, I will update it with the 2022 version.