Homeopathy is a system of medicine developed between 1790 and 1843 by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician whose aim was to restore health to the sick through rapid and gentle means. By restoring health and harmony, homeopathy helps enable you to strive for your highest potential in life. It is a profound and complex science that applies a set of definite principles to all cases and situations, making it comprehensive and logical in its reasoning and methods. Below you will find a basic outline of some of the principles and methods of homeopathy as described by Samuel Hahnemann and other renowned homeopaths.
Homeopathy is a Holistic Medicine that Treats Your Totality of Symptoms
Homeopathy is a holistic system of medicine which understands that when you are ill, you will display a unique set of symptoms through your mind and body together. The totality of your mental, emotional and physical symptoms reflects the whole of your health. It is precisely this totality of symptoms that homeopathy treats. Treating you as a whole person, rather than simply treating one condition, symptom, organ, or vital system, is what makes homeopathy a truly holistic system.
Treatment consists of giving the one remedy that best matches, and therefore is most suitable for, your unique symptom totality. Giving the remedy that is most suitable for your symptom totality, and therefore for your whole state of health, stimulates your body's inherent ability to heal itself. This way, you receive the best treatment for your unique health needs.
Treatment Requires Knowing Your Symptoms in Great Detail
The totality of symptoms you experience is comprised of a collection of individual symptoms, and each individual symptom is itself a totality with several details. For example, if you get headaches, your headaches may feel dull, splitting, pounding, pressing, or like a nail in the side of your head. The pain may be aggravated by light, noise, moving about, eating, being outdoors, or at night; or it may be better from lying down, sleeping, eating, being outdoors, or applying pressure or cold to your head. Your headaches may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, a raised body temperature, perspiration, a need to lie down or to be alone, sparks in your vision, or anger. Your headaches may be brought on by perfume, sunlight, heat, certain kinds of food, or from not eating when hungry. You can see that a simple headache actually has a whole host of characteristics to it. The homeopathic remedy best suited for you and your headaches has to match these characteristics, along with all the other symptoms you experience. There are many remedies that help for headaches, but there is only one that suits your headaches and your totality of symptoms.
The homeopathic consultation, then, is a dialogue between you and your practitioner with the aim of getting to know the details of your symptoms. First, you would convey all that has been troublesome about your health and all that keeps you from living life to the fullest. The practitioner then asks for clarification by inquiring about further details, for example, about how all your symptoms feel, what makes them better or worse, where they are located or felt, and when they first started. In this way, you and your practitioner together arrive at a full description of your health. The practitioner then uses your detailed symptom picture to find the remedy that would be most suitable for you.
Homeopathy Holistically Treats Chronic Illnesses
If you get headaches regularly — for instance, every week, or every time you are exposed to heat, sunlight, perfume, or certain foods — then headaches are part, and only one part, of your everyday, chronic state of health. To treat your chronic headaches successfully, the remedy must address not just the characteristics of your headaches, but the entirety of your mental, emotional and physical symptoms as they have existed over the course of your life. The reason for this is that the headaches are not an isolated occurrence, but an aspect of your overall health. It is because your overall state of health is out of whack that you are having headaches. To truly rid yourself of your headaches, the whole of your health must be improved. Only then will the fundamental cause of all your symptoms be addressed.
The same approach is used for acute illnesses or situations like colds, the flu, poison ivy, injuries, or anything else that has come on which is not part of your chronic picture. The totality of symptoms of the acute illness, with all existing details, must be collected to find the one remedy that best suits your acute state.
When the body is vulnerable to illness, it is “susceptible” to becoming ill. For example, not everyone gets the flu during flu season – only those who are susceptible to the flu will get it. And of those who do get the flu, there will always be some symptomatic difference from person to person, as each has their own unique way of becoming sick and therefore has their own unique symptom totality. This is true for both acute and chronic illnesses. No matter what the condition, everyone has their own unique manner of being susceptible to illness and therefore has their own unique symptom totality. The most suitable remedy for your unique totality of symptoms lessens your susceptibility to becoming sick, and health prevails.
Using a Single Remedy to Holistically Treat Your Overall State of Health
The underlying cause of illness is your susceptibility to becoming ill. Homeopathy works by changing your susceptibility so that your tendency to become sick is decreased, which results in the disappearance of your symptoms. To do this, you as a whole person must be treated. Health exists when your whole body is functioning properly. Conversely, illness with its totality of symptoms is the consequence of your body’s inability to function properly. To change this inability to function properly, your body as a whole (that is, your susceptibility) must be therapeutically affected. This is the basis of true holistic medicine: treating the whole of your body, the whole state of your health as expressed by your totality of symptoms. Therefore, we give a single remedy that addresses your totality of symptoms.
If multiple remedies were given, each one for treating a specific symptom or aspect of your symptom picture, rather than a single remedy for your totality of symptoms, we would not actually be treating your state of illness in its entirety. Because all symptoms arise from the general condition of your body, treating those symptoms independently would only be removing them in a relatively surface way. In other words, symptoms would be made to disappear, but the underlying cause of the disease-state – your susceptibility to becoming sick – would not be treated, and therefore the tendency to become ill would not have been subdued. Only by using the one homeopathic remedy that is most suitable for your totality of symptoms will complete health be achieved.
Homeopathic Medicines Affect the Whole Person
Since we want to treat the whole of your state of health (your susceptibility) by treating the totality of your symptoms with a single remedy, we need to have medicines that can do just that. This is possible since every substance we ingest has an effect on the whole of our bodies or health to one degree or another, and not strictly on one part or organ. Even if a substance primarily affects one organ or physiological system, that organ or system is still part of the whole organism, and therefore other parts of the body are affected in some fashion. Hence, we want to give a medicine that has a beneficial influence on you as a whole person. This is the aim of homeopathy as a holistic medicine: to give a single remedy that affects the whole of a person’s state of health in order to effect beneficial, healthful change. But to be successful, we have to know which medicines actually affect us in this holistic way, and exactly how they affect us. We gain this knowledge through homeopathic provings.
Homeopathic Drug Trials: Provings
To know how to match a remedy to your totality of symptoms, we need to find out how remedies affect people’s health. Knowing how a remedy acts enables us to use them accurately and holistically. The effects homeopathic remedies have on people’s health are discovered through homeopathic drug trials called “provings” (also known as “homeopathic pathogenetic trials”). During a proving, the provers (healthy people participating in the proving) take one homeopathic remedy regularly until they start coming down with symptoms, which are then recorded. These records document how the remedy affected the provers’ minds and bodies – in other words, what totality of symptoms the remedy produced. With the involvement of a variety of men and women in provings, we gain a wide array of information about how each remedy is capable of affecting people’s health. Thus, provings show us the specific ways each remedy acts by presenting to us the unique totality of symptoms each remedy causes. The proving information is collected and compiled in the homeopathic “Materia Medica”: a catalog documenting homeopathic remedies and the effects they have on people’s health. The Materia Medica, along with the Repertory which catalogs all the symptoms produced in provings and which remedies caused them, are essential tools for finding the remedy that best matches your totality of symptoms.
How Homeopathic Treatment Works: The Law of Similars
Having documented the symptoms remedies cause in healthy people, we are able to match a remedy to a person's state of illness (that is, find a remedy that corresponds to one’s susceptibility). To do so we use a law of Nature called the “Law of Similars”: a substance which causes a certain set of symptoms will be able to treat a state of illness that has a similar set of symptoms. In other words, when a person suffers with a certain symptom totality, we give a medicine that has been shown to cause a similar totality of symptoms during the provings.
Hahnemann first caught a glimpse of the Law of Similars in 1790 when he tested the prevailing (and to his mind, suspicious) theory as to why Peruvian bark (the natural source of quinine) cured malaria. After taking Peruvian bark repeatedly to see what exactly it did to the human body, he came down with malarial symptoms. He repeated the experiment and came up with the same results. This experiment – Hahnemann’s first proving – showed that natural substances can change the state of people’s health just as diseases do: Peruvian bark changed Hahnemann’s state of health in the same way that malaria would. From this, Hahnemann discovered that treating a disease with a substance that produces symptoms similar to that disease will cure that disease, just as Peruvian bark (also known as China or Cinchona) could cure certain cases of malaria because of its similarity of action.
Hahnemann’s account about why the Law of Similars works can be summarized in this way: The homeopathic remedy affects the person in the same way as the illness, but to a stronger degree. By giving the body something that is similar to but stronger than the disease, the body has to mount a stronger reaction to the remedy than it does to the disease. But the remedy is transient, affecting the body for a very short time. Once the impact of the remedy has ceased, the body is now in a stronger position to address and ultimately overcome the illness. Once the illness has been overcome, symptoms disappear.
The name “Homeopathy” expresses the Law of Similars, as it stems from the Greek words “homoios,” meaning “like or similar,” and “pathos,” meaning “suffering.” Hahnemann coined the word “homeopathy” because the Law of Similars is the central principle of homeopathy.
The Direction of Cure
A homeopathic remedy is most suitable for you if it satisfies the Law of Similars, meaning that it most closely matches your state of health as expressed through your totality of symptoms. Being most similar to your state of health, this homeopathic remedy frees your body from the influence of the illness, allowing your body to heal itself. In this way, the homeopathic remedy acts as a catalyst, enabling the whole of your body to change from a state of illness to one of health. This beneficial change in the whole of your state of health is called the curative response. But what does the curative response actually look like?
From the homeopathic viewpoint, we observe people as having different levels, so to speak. At the very center of the person lies the mind, complete with one’s emotions, intellectual faculties, personality, sense of self, and purpose in life; in addition, one’s overall sense of well-being and level of energy are central to one’s being. From there we observe the vital organs, the non-vital organs, and so on, out to the skin. We view these “levels” as going from the innermost to the outermost of the person: the innermost being the mind, the outermost being the skin. If we are to truly achieve health, we must be sure that improvement comes from the innermost of the person, arising out of their core, the center of who they are. But if physical symptoms are treated without considering the state of the mind or emotions or one’s general condition, then the disease state will not truly be affected. The totality of symptoms must be addressed, otherwise only some symptoms will be treated while leaving susceptibility unchanged.
Since the homeopathic remedy works with your body at its deepest levels, its effects work from the center outward. This rule is called the “Law of the Direction of Cure.” No matter what the situation, health has to begin with an improvement of your mental and emotional state, as well as anything else that corresponds to you as a unique individual on general and essential levels, such as your level of energy, your sleep and your sense of well-being. When healthful change occurs in accordance with the Direction of Cure, your vitality will increase and sustain your newly achieved healthy state.
The Homeopathic Aggravation
As part of the curative response, some of your symptoms may be temporarily exacerbated, given that the remedy is similar to but stronger than the disease. This is called the homeopathic aggravation (sometimes referred to as a “healing crisis”). The homeopathic aggravation is nothing more than the perceptible effect of the remedy in its curative action in accordance with the Law of Similars. Aggravations can be more or less pronounced, but they soon pass as the body moves past the effect of the remedy and proceeds to gently heal itself.
Now that we have a general idea as to how homeopathy works, what are the remedies and how are they made?
How Homeopathic Remedies are Made: Homeopathic Potencies
Homeopathic remedies are typically made from substances of the various natural kingdoms (plants, animals, chemicals, fungi, etc.) by taking a small amount of the substance and diluting it in a larger amount of water, alcohol, or powdered milk sugar (depending on whether the medicinal substance is soluble or not). Friction is then applied to this mixture of the medicinal substance diluted in water, alcohol, or milk sugar. The friction is applied by succussion (vigorous shaking of the liquid) when the remedy is diluted in water or alcohol, or by trituration (grinding with a mortar and pestle) when in milk sugar. The number of succussions applied to the liquid dilution could be 2, 10, 20, or even 40; each manufacturer chooses a specific number for their line of production. Each trituration session is done for an hour. This process of dilution and succussion or trituration creates the strengths or “potencies” of the homeopathic preparations. There are three potency scales available in homeopathy:
- The C potency (also known as the centesimal potency), which uses a dilution ratio of one part medicinal substance to ninety-nine parts water, alcohol, or milk sugar. “C” is the Roman numeral for 100, as in a dilution ratio of 1:100.
- The X potency (also known as the decimal potency, and sometimes called the D potency), which uses one part medicinal substance to nine parts of the diluting material. “X” is the Roman numeral for 10, as in a dilution ratio of 1:10.
- The LM potency, which uses one part medicinal substance in fifty thousand parts of the diluting material. “LM” stands for 50,000, as in a dilution ratio of 1:50,000. (The LM potency is also called the Q potency, stemming from the word “quinquagintamillesimal,” which is a combination of the Latin words for “50” (quinquaginta) and for “1,000” (millesimal), forming a word for 50,000).
There are also remedies labeled as M potencies, but the “M” is just shorthand for centesimal potencies at 1,000C or higher, with “M” being the Roman numeral for 1,000. For example, the 1M potency means 1,000C. To be clear, there is no such thing as an actual M potency, as an M potency would be a 1:1,000 dilution ratio, which does not exist. Again, it is simply shorthand for the centesimal potencies of 1,000C and up.
Potencies are always identified by a number and relevant letters, for example, 30C, 30X, LM1, etc. The number in the potency indicates how many steps of dilution and succussion or trituration the remedy has been taken through, while the letter identifies the dilution ratio used. For example, “30C” means the remedy has been taken through 30 steps of dilution and succussion at the 1:100 dilution ratio. Here are two examples of how remedies are made in the centesimal potency scale.
Salt is soluble in water. To make a remedy out of salt, we take one part of salt and put it in 99 parts of water to make a 1 in 100 dilution ratio. This liquid dilution is then succussed the chosen number of times. Once succussed, we have the 1C potency. To make the 2C, we take one part of the 1C and put that in 99 parts of water or alcohol, and succuss it. To make the 3C, we take one part of the 2C and put that in 99 parts of water or alcohol, and succuss it, and so on, going ever higher along the centesimal scale. Each step of the way, the remedy is being diluted by 100 and succussed the requisite number of times.
Gold is not soluble. To produce a C potency of gold, we triturate one part of gold in 99 parts of milk sugar for an hour. To make the 2C, we take one part of the 1C and triturate that in 99 parts of milk sugar for an hour. The 3C is then made by triturating one part of the 2C in 99 parts of milk sugar. After these three steps of trituration, the previously insoluble gold is a soluble substance, so we can continue the process through liquid dilution and succession. We take one part of the 3C triturate and put it in 99 parts of water and succuss it to make the 4C. We continue from there with liquid dilution and succussion.
The LM scale uses the 3C as its starting material, since any substance is soluble at that potency and therefore establishes a consistent baseline of production. The 3C is diluted at a 1:50,000 ratio and succussed 100 times; this creates the LM1. One part of the LM1 is diluted at the 1:50,000 ratio to make the LM2, and so on.
We proceed with our series of potencies in the various potency scales through serial dilution and succussion. For example, in the centesimal scale, the standard potencies are 6C, 12C, 30C, 200C, 1,000C (1M), 10,000C (10M), 50,000C (50M), and 100,000C (CM). In the LM potency scale, we have the LM1, LM2, LM3, and higher.
Dilution and Succussion Create Potent Medicines
By diluting a substance by a particular dilution ratio (1:10, 1:100 or 1:50,000) and then applying friction to it, the inherent medicinal quality of that substance is developed. Even though the substance becomes more and more dilute with each step, its medicinal quality greatly increases as the friction develops the medicinal potency or energy inherent to it. This makes sense when we think about how when we strike a match it ignites: we create energy or release inherent power in the form of fire through the applied friction. Every substance in Nature is energetic, and in so being, has its own inherent capacity or power. Einstein proved that all matter is energy through his formula E=mc2. Everything has energetic potency, and medicinal potency is created as we apply friction to a diluted substance. Homeopathy utilizes the inherent qualities of substances to make medicines gained through serial dilution and succussion or trituration.
To say that we are developing medicinal energy is simply to say we are developing the medicinal action, capacity, force or power of the substance. “Potency” means power, but it also means inherent capacity for development. Hahnemann was developing the inherent medicinal capacity of substances when he made his remedies through serial dilution and succussion, a process he called “Potentization.” For example, a substance that is essentially inert in its raw state, like charcoal, is developed into a powerful medicine through serial dilution and succussion due to the friction freeing and making available the inherent medicinal capacity of the diluted charcoal.
The Minuteness of Homeopathic Potencies
As the remedies are potentized through serial dilution and succussion, their strength or potency is increased, not decreased. For example, the 30C is a higher potency than the 6C, and the 10M is much higher in potency than the 30C, while the CM is an extremely high potency. This means that the highest potencies have the least amount of material substance in them. Of course, not only do they have the least amount of material substance, they also have had the greatest amount of friction applied to them over the course of serial dilution and succussion, meaning that they have had the greatest amount of medicinal development.
To further illustrate the minuteness of these potent remedies, the amount of medicinal substance in a 1C is one part in one hundred (with 99 parts consisting of water, alcohol or milk sugar). The 2C has one part medicinal substance in 10,000 parts (because the medicinal substance has been diluted by 100 twice (100 x 100)). The 3C has a ratio of 1:1,000,000, since the medicinal substance was diluted by 100 three times. The 30C has one part medicinal substance in 1 followed by 60 zeros (1x10-60). The 10,000C has one part medicinal substance in 1 followed by 20,000 zeros (1x10-20,000).
This may seem paradoxical, if not impossible, when we are used to medicine being more powerful when there’s more of it, as in the case of 500mg of aspirin being stronger than 250mg. But this is one of the many aspects of Hahnemann’s genius. He discovered that, with serial dilution and succussion, we develop to ever greater degrees the potency of a given medicinal substance: the more diluted and succussed the remedy, the more powerful it is.
Homeopathy and Nanomedicine
With the discovery of nanoparticles, we can better understand this phenomenon. Nanoparticles can be as small as one billionth of a meter, making them smaller than many kinds of molecules. Particles of that size are much more bioavailable to the body than larger, coarser molecular structures, meaning that they are easily able to infiltrate the body. Nanoparticles are capable of penetrating cellular walls or traveling along neural pathways (e.g., trigeminal or olfactory nerves leading to the brain), hence they can efficiently reach parts of the body coarser matter cannot.
Many experiments have shown that potentized homeopathic remedies – even the highest potencies – consist of nanoparticles. This means that these highly diluted (and succussed) substances do contain parts of the original raw material, though now in the form of nanoparticles. As a nanomedicine, homeopathic remedies can permeate the body in this profound way. Hence, the greater the development of the remedy as a nanomedicine through serial dilution and succussion, the greater its medicinal capacity to reach and affect the body at this deep and minute level.
Homeopathic Remedies and the Vital Principle
When talking about the energetic capacity of a remedy, or the medicinal potency that has been developed through dilution and succussion, we ought to relate it to the body itself. The body has its own energetic capacity – a capacity to keep itself healthy or to fall ill. Hahnemann called this energetic condition of the body the “vital force” or the “vital principle”: that which automatically animates, governs and protects us. According to Hahnemann, our health is determined by the state of our vital principle: if it is in a harmonious state, we are healthy; if it is in a discordant or disturbed state, we become ill. Our illness, with its totality of symptoms, is the expression of our vital principle trying to remove or push out the disturbance as best as possible. If our body is unable to rid itself of the disturbance, medicine is called for. To affect and assist us at the level of the vital principle, we need to make medicines that act at the deeper levels of our body. The process of serial dilution and succussion turns a crude substance into a nanomedicine which penetrates these deeper parts of the body. Therefore, it is only through something like potentization that the fundamental condition of the body can be affected, thereby changing your state of illness into a state of health.
Homeopathy Without Side Effects
Because homeopathic remedies become so greatly diluted, they are rendered nontoxic, regardless of the toxicity of the original raw material. And because they are nontoxic, they do not cause side effects.
To be sure, the homeopathic aggravation, which was talked about above, should not be confused with side effects: the homeopathic aggravation is a transient curative effect of the remedy, while side effects are symptoms caused by the toxicity of a drug. Of course, in spite of their lack of toxicity, homeopathic remedies have to be used correctly and wisely like any other medicine. When they are used appropriately, in accordance with the Law of Similars and the Law of the Direction of Cure, they work in concert with your body, safely and effectively.
Administration of the Remedy: Dry Doses
The way the remedy is administered is determined by your needs. The remedy is typically given in one of two ways: in a dry dose or in a liquid preparation. When given in a dry dose (in the form of dry, medicated sugar pellets), you usually take a single dose, especially if you are taking potencies of 30C or higher. A single dose means taking the remedy only once – not once daily, weekly, or monthly, but one time and that is all.
In the case of a chronic illness, after taking this one dose, improvement ought to be noticed within a month’s time, if not even within a few days. Acute cases ought to respond within a few hours if not sooner. As long as improvement continues, no medicine is given. The momentum gained from the one dose should be allowed to progress naturally until improvement stalls or symptoms start to return, then the second dose may be given in a higher potency. Please be aware that your practitioner may practice differently and use different dosing regimens.
Administration of the Remedy: Liquid Doses
If it is determined that a liquid preparation is better suited for your needs, medicated pellets are dissolved in a bottle of water and administered in a particular way, depending on the potency scale being used and what your needs are. In any case, the remedy is taken regularly by the spoonful or dropper as directed. In addition, the stock bottle is usually succussed a number of times to raise the potency of the remedy with each dose. A truly beneficial effect is gained only when these succussions are applied to the remedy, as they raise the potency and allow the remedy to act more deeply.
Resources About Homeopathy
This has been a very brief description of homeopathy. If this is new to you, much of what has been said may be somewhat strange or difficult to understand. Nevertheless, homeopathy is based on sound science. If you wish to read further to gain a better understanding about homeopathy, the best sources are the writings of the most celebrated practitioners of homeopathy, namely, H.C. Allen, J.H. Allen, T.F. Allen, Clemens von Boenninghausen, C.M. Boger, Stuart Close, Harvey Farrington, Constantine Hering, G.H.G. Jahr, James Tyler Kent, Adolph Lippe, Constantine Lippe, E.B. Nash, Herbert Roberts, Margaret Tyler, Elizabeth Wright-Hubbard, and, of course, Samuel Hahnemann, the father of homeopathy.