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Discover the Benefits of Homeopathy
Discover the Benefits of Homeopathy
Homeopathy is a safe and surprisingly effective tool to have in your arsenal of healing. If you’re not familiar with homeopathy, a little education goes a long way to demystifying how it works.
“It’s a gentle, nontoxic system that specifically stimulates an individual’s ability to heal,” says Jody Shevins, ND, who has taught at the Colorado Homeopathy School for almost two decades.
At the heart of homeopathy are three fundamental beliefs: the body’s natural ability to regain equilibrium, a treatment plan based on the law of similars and a highly individualized approach to healing arising from the patient’s lifestyle and proclivities.
More than the sum of your symptoms
Homeopathy means, literally, similar suffering. This medical system was founded in Germany in the late 1700s and has gained a wide following throughout the centuries. Today, more than 200 million people use homeopathy, according to the National Center for Homeopathy, making it the second most commonly practiced form of medicine worldwide.
Homeopathy is governed by the idea that like cures like. The remedies, tailored to each person, are very small doses referred to as microdoses. According to the body of homeopathic research, called provings, these microdoses produce similar symptoms of illness in healthy people—if they were to be given in large doses. For instance, if hay fever is causing your eyes to water and your nose to burn, a homeopath might prescribe a remedy that contains a microdose of onion, which produces the same symptoms.
Because the doses are so minute, homeopathic medicine has an extremely safe reputation and is rarely contraindicated with specific conditions. Its gentleness, says Shevins, makes homeopathy especially ideal for pregnant women, babies and children.
The key to homeopathy lies in the expertise of the diagnosis. “What’s unique about homeopathy is that it addresses the whole totality of symptoms a person is exhibiting,” says Nancy Gahles, a homeopath and president of the National Center for Homeopathy. “Homeopathy mirrors, on an individual level, how a person is suffering. The patient’s symptoms get paired with substances in nature that mimic their condition.”
Every condition—even colds and flus—are treated individually and specifically, with the pattern of how and when symptoms occur given utmost importance.
But homeopathy does not limit itself to treating the sum of one’s symptoms. A homeopath will also examine aspects of the patient's physical, emotional and mental states. “The practitioner must listen to the patient’s story,” Gahles says. “The story holds the solution.”
A practitioner identifies the underlying reasons for the sickness by ascertaining under what circumstances—stress, lack of sleep, or diet, for example—symptoms emerge. Only then does he choose a remedy “that is the best stimulus for the body to rediscover its appropriate rhythm, to find home,” says Gahles.
Homeopathy is no substitute for surgical intervention, such as setting a broken bone, says Shevins. But homeopathy can help people recover more quickly from injury, and also can be used to relieve a wide range of chronic conditions such as allergies, arthritis, behavioral problems and even premenstrual syndrome. A 2011 study published in Patient Education and Counseling suggests, for example, that homeopathy helped patients cope better with their arthritis.
And while many in the medical field question homeopathy’s curative capacity, a vast body of research suggests that homeopathy has considerable benefit. The National Center for Homeopathy asserts that hundreds of high-quality, preclinical and clinical studies demonstrate homeopathy’s efficacy. In 2010, the Homeopathic Medicine Research Group conducted a meta-analysis of homeopathy trials, published in Homeopathy, concluding that homeopathy’s positive effects were more significant than mere placebo.
Establishing an ongoing relationship with a homeopath can help you nip ailments in the bud. “If you don’t let yourself stray too far from your optimal set point, it’s much easier to get back into order,” says Gahles. “Listening to the language of the body, and acting on that understanding, gives a sense of ownership in the healing process.”
The patterns of symptoms each person carries may go deep, and as a person starts to heal, more superficial symptoms might start to manifest. What’s at play is the homeopathic axiom called the “direction of cure”—in which the patient’s overall energy improves, despite the presence of symptoms.
“Getting a cold could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the direction of cure,” Shevins says. Because homeopathy supports the body’s natural immune system response, and encourages expression over suppression, those sneezes and sniffles may well indicate the worst of the cold is behind you.
For more information about homeopathy, visit www.homeopathic.org.
Elizabeth is an award-winning journalist who has written about everything from agave syrup to placebos to zero waste. She writes for the magazines Natural Health, Backpacker and FitPregnancy, among others, as well as a handful of websites, including Gaiam and Natural Medicine Journal. She also has coauthored a 52-card oracle deck with guidebook called The Mother’s Wisdom Deck (Sterling Publishers).
March 8th, 2012