Homeopathy works on the fundamental principle that ‘like cures like’. A substance which causes symptoms in a well person can reduce or stem the same symptoms in someone who is unwell. Imagine chopping up onions – the watering, sore eyes, the runny nose. Now imagine you’ve already got those symptoms from an allergy or cold – a tiny dose of onion (allium) can reduce and often prevent the symptoms.
Homeopathy sees you as a whole person – you don’t fight or overcome an illness, but instead help your body to strengthen its natural recovery process. Science has shown us that the human body has an amazing ability to recover – homeopathic medicine supports those natural mechanisms.
The breakthrough that led to present-day homeopathy came in the late 18th century, when Dr Christian (Samuel) Hahnemann experimented with doses of natural substances which could make someone seem unwell if they were without symptoms, but could treat the very same symptoms in a sick person. Concerned about using substances which could be toxic in larger doses, he finally discovered that the effective dose could be reduced to almost nothing, through a process called potentising. Not only did this create a gentle treatment, but it actually made the remedy more effective.
Of course, the fact that homeopathic remedies contain so little of the active ingredient gives us some problems convincing sceptics. “It’s not even there!” they might say “so how can it work?” This is where those who use homeopathy get accused of credulity and faith. But the medicine is used effectively on animals – who can’t be told what to expect – and on babies. What’s more, generations of people have used homeopathy first, to great effect, and in recent times people report success treating distressing conditions that will not respond to conventional medicine.
Homeopathy can be used safely at home, with over-the-counter remedies, for many common afflictions – from hayfever and rheumatism to sleeplessness and stress. There are also many homeopathic practitioners who can fine-tune remedies for more complex or stubborn conditions. The treatments have no side-effects, they can be used by everyone from babies to very elderly people and, most importantly, they actually work.
There’s nothing new about homeopathy – it’s been around as a recognised system of medicine for centuries – but with a 21st century awareness of how everything is connected, people who care about well-being are rediscovering this gentle, trusted and proven route to health.