Homeopathy: What, How and Why?

by Dr Uzelac

Almost everyone has heard about homeopathy, however, many people do not really understand what it is and how it works. When I interview patients at my office, they often report they take homeopathic medicine, but when we get into the details, it ends up they actually take herbal supplements or other natural remedies which are NOT homeopathic at all. I hope this article helps you clear this confusion and learn more on how these remedies really work.

What the heck is Homeopathy?

Homeopathic Medicine was developed into a medical system by the German doctor, Samuel Hahnemann, 200 years ago. It uses natural substances (minerals, plants, or even animals) in ultra - dilute doses to stimulate the body to "rebalance" and heal itself. Ultra dilute means the homeopathic medicines (also called remedies) are often so diluted that they conceivably may not contain even a molecule of the original substance. Thus, the activity is not pharmacologic. This makes it super safe, and with no chance of overdose or adverse effects. 

*Homeopathic medicines have been FDA regulated since 1938, and though the mechanism is not understood, studies support a definite effect beyond placebo.These medicines are individualized. There is not just one medicine for flu, colds, allergies, or abdominal pain. The details of symptoms and signs of the illness, factors that improve or worsen those symptoms along with other seemingly unrelated changes (behavioral as well as physical) are important in determining what homeopathic medicine may be most effective for that particular problem. A single medicine or a several medicines may be given at a particular time. The symptoms might change during the course of treatment (which may take many weeks or months in chronic cases) and then the medicines are then changed accordingly.

 

How Does Homeopathy Work?

* The mechanism of Homeopathic medicines (or how they work) is not understood. They do not work like drugs or even supplements as they do not contain appreciable (or any) amount of the original substance. Homeopathic medicines seem to send a signal to the body, stimulating the body's natural healing mechanism; but as of yet, no theory adequately explains its effects scientifically. However, there is a large body of scientific literature supporting the positive effects of homeopathy. This includes human clinical trials as well as animal and cell culture studies. 

I usually explain it in a way that the energy (vibration) of the diluted plant, mineral or animal (captured in the homeopathic medicine) is transferred through our body water (70% of our body consists of water) to the tissue that needs that particular frequency / vibration in order to self - heal. 

 

 

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Safety 

Homeopathic medicines are considered extremely safe, simply because they do not contain significant quantity of any particular substance,  they have no active ingredients, and mostly contain just the energy (vibration) of the particular plant, mineral, etc. Hence, they are safe to use even for children and babies. However, for best results, you do need to know precisely which medicine and what dilution to use, and this information is best provided by a medical professional who is also certified in homeopathy. This integrative medicine specialist (usually a medical doctor) can safely decide if homeopathic medicine is the right medicine for you or your child.

* Homeopathic remedies have no toxic or pharmacological side effects. There are there no drug interactions so they can be taken with other medicines without fear of interaction. Unlike herbs and supplements the manufacturing of homeopathic medicines are FDA regulated.

Homeopathic medicine is also safe to use in people with lactose intolerance, since it contains minimal lactose amounts, which do not irritate the gut at that level. Also the sugar amount in the medicine is minimal and safe to use even with people who need to avoid it.

If your child accidentally ingests the whole bottle content of homeopathic medicine, nothing scary will happen, since it is the same effect as if he/she took just the serving size: you will get the same results if you take 5 pellets or 5 pounds of pellets at once. Yes, it is THAT safe!

 

Preparations

* Generally, medicines are diluted as a 1 in 10 dilution (X or decimal dilution), 1 in 100 (C or centesimal dilution) or 1 in 1000 (M or millennial dilution) and each dilution is carried out several times. For example, a 12C medicine has undergone serial (1 in 100) dilutions 12 times. This is a dilution of 1 x 10-24. The effects of homeopathic medicines are qualitative not quantitative. Each dilution works best at a certain level (symptoms that are local, general, physical, functional, or behavioral)

 

 

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What this means is that two 6C dilutions do not equal a 12C dilution and twice as many homeopathic pellets of 6C do not equal a 12C. The 6C and 12C simply work best at different levels. A 12C dilution is not stronger or weaker than a 6C dilution. Each dilution simply works best at a different level.

How to use

* Homeopathy is particularly appealing for pediatric use. Homeopathy is exceptionally safe, even for the young child or infant. The tablets and liquids are very acceptable to the young palate, so treatment is readily accepted.

If using the Boiron product (most commonly available):

1.  Hold the (blue) tube upside down and twist the cap until the correct number of beads fall into the cap.

2.  Wiggle the cap off carefully and put the pellets into the mouth to dissolve under the tongue.

3. The medicine is absorbed in the mouth (best under the tongue), not the stomach. The pellets should not be handled (held in the hand).

 

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Infants and young children

Alternatively 10 pellets can be dissolved in water (2 - 4 oz) and a small amount of the water (as little as 1-2 teaspoons or 5-10 ml) can be given. The same water can be saved for the remainder of the day, having him/her drink/sip throughout the day. A fresh batch should be made up each day. Mind you, always use the plastic teaspoon - the metal one can "de-charge" the medicine and therefore it can weaken its healing properties.

Single dose tubes

A few medicines may be given in smaller single dose tubes (such as Oscillococcinum). Each of these tubes contains many very tiny pellets, looking like "nerds" candy, just white.

The entire content goes into the mouth to be dissolved. Do not open this smaller tube upside down like the larger tubes because, everything will spill out. Instead hold the tube upright while removing the cap and empty the contents into the mouth.

There is kids and adults dose - it really does not matter which one you use, since the effect is the same.

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Integrative Medicine

The greatest challenge with homeopathic therapy is to find the root cause and than prescribe the right medicine, in right dilution.

In my opinion, the homeopathic prescriber should be an excellent diagnostician. Finding a medical doctor, who is also certified homeopath and possibly knowledgeable in other healing arts like: acupuncture, ayurveda, energy medicine, etc is the ideal option. 

This kind of doctor is usually specialized in INTEGRATIVE medicine, therefore he/she is able to integrate their medical knowledge with other healing techniques /options and carefully choose the best therapeutic combination for your particular problem.

 

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References:

R. DuMont, MD handout on homeopathic medicine, * paragraphs are quoted
CEDH (Center for Education and Development of Homeopathy) materials 
Boiron website

Photos by:
Nenad Uzelac and Boiron