Developed by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician who lived between 1755 and 1843, homeopathy is a scientific method of treatment that is based on the application of the law of similar, which states that “a substance that causes, in a healthy person, symptoms similar to those of a disease state, can cure a sick person in that similar disease state.”
This law of similars is based on years of observation and a number of discoveries found throughout the history of medicine, going back before Hahnemann’s time. For instance, Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine”, stated that a cure could be achieved through the action of “similars.”
Yet despite homeopathy’s success around the globe (in 2005, the WHO stated that homeopathy was the second most used medical system internationally), classical homeopathy in North America remains vastly misunderstood. I believe the general population is still, for the most part, unaware of what constitutes the essence of classical homeopathy.
What, for instance, is homeopathy’s ideological foundation?
What is the homeopathic approach towards healing?
What Are Classical Homeopaths Attempting To Cure?
Before we consider any system of medicine, we must first ask ourselves, what exactly are we attempting to cure? Are we treating a disease or are we treating a human suffering a disease? This question is more than mere semantics and worth asking. The focus of the practitioner in treating a disease is central to homeopathy and should be fundamental to understanding any healing system.
Homeopathic Practitioners Treat Humans, Not Diseases
This is one of those comments that would immediately evoke an “of course” response; how else would we treat illness? At a fundamental level, however, this means that a classical homeopath does not diagnose illnesses and that medicine or remedies are not illness-specific. In other words, the idea of a single “cold medication” that would work for everyone is foreign to a homeopath.
Focus On Individualized Symptoms, Not A Generalized Diagnosis
Classical homeopaths are trained to understand that not everyone will suffer an ailment in the same way. Take, for instance, a generalized term like “cold”, “fever,” or “IBS”. As a restrictive term, it means little to a homeopath who is looking for a unique set of symptoms to treat and understand. Using the example of “I have a cold today,” a homeopath would ask questions to determine the nature of the “cold”, which might mean a stuffy nose, restless sleep, a hacking cough, sore neck, and feeling ill-tempered. Together, these physical anomalies form a complex symptom pattern that is unique and useful.
If We Don’t Diagnose Illness, Then What Does A Homeopath Call Disease?
Disease to a homeopath is any deviation from the normal health and well-being of a person, characterized by various symptoms in every part of the psychophysical totality. A common question most patients hear when they go to visit a homeopath is, “Tell me about when you last felt well? Describe how what you are feeling now is different than before.” A homeopath approaches every patient and every sickness as its own experience, a unique pattern based on the totality of symptoms within an individual.
Homeopathic Approach To Healing: Using Vital Force
Homeopaths believe that within our body there is a life force (similar to the idea of chi in Traditional Chinese Medicine and prana in Ayurvedic Medicine) that guides all life function and leaves the body in death. The vital force is responsible for maintaining a person’s homeostasis as well as inducing healing on the mental, emotional and physical planes. The vital force strives to attain harmony, but many of us untune our vital force through bad diets, stress, and poor exercise. Much like an out of tune piano, symptoms of illness are the physical manifestations of a vital force that is unable to sustain harmony.
Like Cures Like – A Matching Game
Think of classical homeopathy as the ultimate matching game. During the initial consultation, the homeopath collects a unique picture of symptoms from a patient; from there, they match it to a natural remedy that would cause the same set of symptoms if given to an otherwise healthy person.
For example, Bee venom causes red, hot, and swollen skin lesions. The homeopathic remedy Apis (bee venom) cures patients with similar manifestations.
I think of it as putting a red flag on a set of symptoms for the vital force to notice. When a match between the experienced disease and the remedy is close, the vital force is roused to induce a curative response in the individual that is measurable during follow-up visits. When asked, patients report that their pain has lessened in severity or has vanished. Homeopathic remedies are incredible gentle as they are potentized, ultra-dilutions with a clear symptom picture established by homeopathic provings.
What Are Homeopathic Provings?
The reason that homeopathic practitioners are able to match a patient’s unique symptom picture to a medicine from nature is because they have conducted hundreds of years of homeopathic provings. A homeopathic proving is an experiment whereby a potentized ultra-diluted substance (a remedy) is taken by a healthy individual (a human prover) until symptoms are produced. These symptoms are observed and carefully recorded so that the substance may be used in the future to homeopathically treat sick individuals experiencing that same specific symptom picture.
Homeopathy: Observing The Pure Language Of Nature
When practiced in the manner Hahnemann envisioned, homeopathy is quite straight forward. There are no diagnosis, no filters, and no extraneous theories. Classical homeopathy is nothing more than a homeopath observing the pure language of nature; the patient’s symptoms and matching it to a remedy that would cause the same suffering if given to a healthy person.
Ultimately, the homeopath believes that it is the body, not the medicine that cures. In this vein, it is their duty to create an exquisite match between the pure language of the symptoms being suffered and the provided medicine. When this is done correctly, true healing comes from within.