Basic Facts of Classical Homeopathy
The founder of homeopathy was Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). Based on his observations, he formulated the so-called PRINCIPLE OF SIMILARITY, which states that a given substance can cure in a diseased person the symptoms that it produces or causes in a healthy person.
Homeopathy is a well-described, scientifically based system of approaching health and disease. “Scientific” because the insights are based on reproducible experiments. “Well-described” because from these observations a number of precise basic fundamental rules became evident, first among them the “similarity principle.”
Hahnemann published his ideas and experiences in a book called the Organon. The first edition appeared in 1810 and he wrote the last edition (which appeared posthumously) in 1842. As was the custom in those days, he gave numbers to each paragraph in which he explained his different concepts. What is so striking is that Hahnemann’s fundamental concepts still hold true today nearly 200 years later. This is not to say there has been no progress in homeopathic thought but rather to the fact that subsequent investigators have been able to confirm and reconfirm these basic principles. Every serious study of homeopathy even today begins with a study of the Organon.
What is Classical Homeopathy?
Although homeopathy is only 200 years old, it is now practiced in a variety of ways, most of which bear little resemblance to what Hahnemann taught. In the public mind the word “homeopathy” has become so vague that for some it means only an “alternative medicine” and for others a combination of homeopathic medicines that you buy in the health food store, one mixture for allergies, another for headache, etc.
Unitary homeopathy (often called classical homeopathy) must be differentiated from all other so-called forms of homeopathy. The hallmarks of unitary homeopathy are:
- A thorough interview to discover the totality of signs and symptoms. This total picture is our most important guide to the medicine. By “signs” we mean that which can be objectively assessed by the physician. By “symptoms” we mean what the patient himself feels subjectively.
- How a homeopathic medicine acts is found out by administering it to healthy volunteers and recording the symptoms the volunteers report. By repeating these trials often, we get a complete profile of the medicine. Such trials are known as “provings.” All homeopathic medicines have been “proved” on healthy volunteers to learn how they act.
- The total picture of the patient should be as similar as possible to the drug picture of the selected remedy. This is known as similia similibus curentur (let similars be cured by similars). The medicine should match the so-called characteristic (striking, unusual, and uncommon) symptoms of the patient as closely as possible.
- Since a homeopathic remedy corresponds only superficially to a particular disease, it must be customized to match the individual with that disease, a process we call “individualization.” The very same illness in another patient will most often be cured with an entirely different remedy — thus we could have two different remedies that cure two different patients with the same disease.
According to the homeopathic way of thinking, a disease originates from a disturbance of the patient’s “vital force.” This is the life force energy that sustains life. As the origin of disease occurs on this energetic level, the homeopathic remedy has also to be on this level.
- Such an energetic medicine is made by diluting the remedy and succussing (shaking) it. All homeopathic medicines are “potentized”, i.e., diluted and succussed. This method of preparation imparts considerable energy to each substance.
- “Unitary” homeopathy means that only one remedy is given at a time because only one remedy can correspond perfectly to the total picture of the patient. A prescription that does not aim for this totality is not homeopathic.
Taking the Homeopathic Remedy
Homeopathic medicines can be administered in drops, grains (approx. 3mm in diameter) or globules (approx. 1mm in diameter). The medicine is taken once, meaning that a given number of drops, grains or globules are taken on a single occasion and only once. Sometimes the medicine is repeated, e.g., two times a day or every three hours, etc.
You must follow the instructions carefully. Usually the remedy is repeated until a reaction occurs. When a dose is taken can be important. Usually you will be instructed to take it before a certain meal, usually breakfast. It is best is to eat no food, alcohol, tea or coffee before taking the remedy. Also do not brush your teeth at that time. After a couple of minutes the remedy is absorbed and you can eat breakfast.
How to Take the Medicine
Follow the instructions of your physician. Drops can go directly into your mouth or be dissolved in water and then administered in teaspoonful doses. Grains and globules can be placed under the tongue. It is better not to touch the remedies, so use the cap of the vial or tube. Store your homeopathic remedy in a place where there is no sunlight or strong odors and where it is neither too hot nor cold. This way it will remain active for a long time.
Homeopathic remedies are sufficiently diluted so that no poisoning will occur if a child should accidentally ingest a tube of granules, though it is possible that he might prove the medicine so you might have to consult your homeopathic physician.
After you have taken your medication it is important to observe yourself. Be sure to keep the follow up appointment which will be two to eight weeks after the initial appointment. Typically in the treatment of a chronic illness the follow up will be one to two months later. The better the treatment goes the longer will be the intervals between appointments until you are eventually cured. Cure is not simply the disappearance of one or several complaints but an optimally stable equilibrium physically as well as well as psychologically.
[Adapted from the forthcoming book by Frederik Schroyens, M.D.: Getting in Touch with Yourself, Finding Your Homeopathic Remedy]
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