Go into any health food store and there amongst the vitamins, herbs and supplements you will find various homeopathic remedies. Reading the label doesn’t tell you much other than what condition and symptoms the remedy could be used for. The ingredient label is a list of strange looking botanical names like rhus tox and calendula officinalis. Unlike other over-the-counter or prescription medications there are no warnings, no overdose information, no listed side effects. A medicine that has no side effects, taken in miniscule doses – it makes one wonder how they work?

The basic principle of homeopathy, "like will be cured by like," has been studied and used since ancient times by Indian sages that developed the system of Ayurveda over 5,000 years ago and then later by the Greek physician Hypocrites. Modern day homeopathy is based on the work of an 18th century German -born physician, Samuel Hahnemann. Disheartened by the practices of the medical establishment of the day such as bloodletting and purges, he began experimenting with this simple idea after his daughter fell ill. As his daughter began to regain her health from a seemingly fatal condition with these simple remedies, his reputation to help the sick and lame spread, despite his methods being rejected as quackery by his colleagues.

Hahnemanns’ reputation was exonerated during an outbreak of cholera in central Europe in 1831 by successfully treating thousands with homeopathic dosages of camphor. Thousands more were saved with his use of quarantines to prevent spread of the disease. Outraged at first with the idea of quarantine, his theories proved to be successful once again using a more common sense practical approach.

Modern day homeopathy is a flexible system of medicine that can be used by lay people and medical professionals alike. In fact, its flexibility is one of the basic concepts peculiar to homeopathic medicine. To the practicing homeopathist treating illness, no two cases will be treated the same. For example, in orthodox medicine, several people suffering from stomach flu would receive the same diagnosis and the same type of treatment (no flexibility) even though they do not necessarily have the same symptoms, nor react in the same way. In homeopathy, the remedy is chosen not only to match the symptoms as closely as possible but also is matched to the individual’s unique set of emotional and physical traits.

The homeopathist is looking to match vibrational patterns – remedy to patient. Remedies are usually plant-based and work to rebalance the normal healthy vibrational patterns present before the patient became ill. That’s a highly oversimplified explanation of homeopathy granted, but true – herein lies the power of these simple plant-based medicines.

Homeopathic remedies are very weak dilutions of naturally occurring substances that help restore the body’s vital or vibrational force by strengthening immunity. The concept of the vital force is also recognized by orthodox medicine as the body’s own healing power.

Homeopathic remedies are many times compared to vaccinations. The concepts are similar, yet homeopathic remedies are much more dilute and have absolutely no side effects. As yet no theory has been put forward to convincingly explain to traditional medicine just how the remedies work. This is due largely to the limitation of medical science at the present time. As our science and understanding grows, no doubt in the future the phenomenon of the homeopathic remedy will be fully understood.

Till next time, Rebecca.