What is Homeopathy?

Homeopathy claims to be the art and science of therapeutics par excellence. When homeopathy is practiced at its highest standards, it is the treatment of choice to recover one’s health from the great majority of acute and chronic diseases.

Homeopathy is a scientific method of treatment that is based on the application of the law of similars. For thousands of years, man searched for a method to enhance and restore health in the most certain, efficient, gentle and permanent way. Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician who lived between 1755-1843, while pursuing this philosophical and scientific quest brought together a number of discoveries and reflections found throughout the history of medicine to develop an ideal system of therapeutics. After years of perfecting this therapeutic method, he called it homeopathy, by uniting two Greek roots, homoios meaning “similar,” and pathos meaning, “disease.” Homeopathy consists of treating sick people with remedies that, in crude doses, would produce in healthy people symptoms similar (homoios) to those of the disease needing to be overcome.

Remedies used by homeopathic physicians come from natural sources and are prepared in such a way that they are devoid of all chemical toxicity. In conventional medicine, drugs are generally given for their effects on the organism, while in homeopathy, the unique remedy is given to provoke a healing reaction of the organism. Since only the living organism can heal itself, the homeopathic remedy is merely an influence used to provoke a reaction to bring about recovery. The greater the degree of similarity between the symptoms that are provoked by the remedy on a healthy person and the symptoms displayed by the person who is sick, the greater will be the recovery reaction.

With few exceptions, people affected with chronic diseases do not expect their level of health to improve with the years when treated with conventional medicine. This is not the case with homeopathy because homeopathic treatment, in the majority of cases, directly targets the fundamental cause of the disease.

This fundamental cause is the basic susceptibility of the individual to be sick. In general, one can assert that disease is a state of imbalance resulting from the combination of several factors. To simplify, we can summarize these factors or causes into three main groups: first, the general predisposition of the individual to be sick, determined on the one hand by heredity and on the other hand by a susceptibility acquired during life; second, the environment and all factors of stress; and third, the general hygiene or lifestyle of the person, including, of course, mental hygiene.

Years of experience have enabled homeopathic physicians to confirm that in the great majority of cases, the fundamental cause of disease is the general predisposition of the individual to be sick. The imbalance, or diseased state, is in fact only the expression of this predisposition to be sick once the conjuncture of other factors has become favorable to its expression. With the most similar remedy (or in other words, the most homeopathic), the organism rebalances itself globally so that the tendency to be sick is greatly decreased. This explains the extraordinary results achieved by homeopathy!

The person, who suffers, afflicted by an acute disease (due to an infection, an intoxication, an accident, an emotional shock, etc.) or by a chronic disease (of a psychological, emotional or physical nature), presents a state of imbalance unique to him. The role of the homeopathic physician, following a complete examination of all the symptoms and aspects of the patient, will be to seek the remedy that will be the most specific for the individual in that state.

How does a visit to a homeopathic physician take place? The patient will be asked to describe all his problems in detail as well as a complete description of everything characterizing him, especially regarding his feelings, sensations, sensitivity, psyche, and all that concerns his organism in terms of energy, sleep, hunger, digestion, etc. The homeopathic physician will complete this study with a physical examination. This initial general examination is thorough and requires approximately two to three hours. The better the homeopathic physician understands his patient and his problems, the better he can individualize and find the specific and most similar remedy for this patient’s disease state.

This remedy will often be administered in a single dose, once, until the next visit. During the follow-up visit, which generally takes place two to six weeks after the original consultation for people afflicted with chronic diseases and earlier in an acute cases, the homeopathic physician will review all the changes which have occurred since the initial homeopathic remedy was taken. A follow-up visit lasts on the average between 20 or 30 minutes. If the patient reacted favorably to the remedy, the homeopathic physician will choose the ideal moment for the administration of the second dose to rekindle the healing reaction. A well-prescribed homeopathic remedy is like a spark that triggers the furnace to go on. When the furnace goes off, it is time to respark it. As long as the patient improves, there is no need to redose. Similarly, there is no need to restart the furnace that in on.

Which diseases can be treated with homeopathy? Strange but true, in homeopathy we do not treat diseases, but the person who is sick. Whether a person has an acute or chronic disease, all of their symptoms, whether physical, mental or emotional, form a whole representing a state of imbalance very specific to this individual. The goal of the physician is to recognize through the unique expression of symptoms of a patient the pattern of disturbed energy and identify among a great number of remedies available the one most homeopathic, or most similar to the patient’s disease. Homeopathy is medicine of the individual.

Can a pregnant woman or a newborn baby benefit from homeopathy? Since homeopathic remedies are devoid of all chemical toxicity, homeopathy is the ideal medicine for people of all ages, even the most sensitive like a newborn baby. Difficulties during pregnancy and the delivery or its aftermath as well as all the problems experienced by the newborn can be dealt with very effectively and without side effects with homeopathy.

How does homeopathy deal with patients suffering with mental or emotional problems? As incredible as it may be, the majority of such problems normalize with the application of the homeopathic remedy that is the most similar to the state of the patient. Patients who are under psychotherapy will recover as a rule far more rapidly after they begin homeopathic treatment.

How does homeopathy address patients with infectious diseases? Homeopathic treatment is ideal to optimize the body’s natural defenses against microbes. With the appropriate homeopathic treatment, people recover from infectious diseases, even the most serious ones, gently, rapidly and surely. Results obtained by homeopathy during times of epidemic reveal a very important and clear constancy: a very low mortality rate. This constancy remains, regardless of the physician, time, place or type of epidemical disease, including diseases carrying a very high mortality rate, such as cholera, smallpox, diphtheria, typhoid fever, yellow fever and pneumonia. The mortality under homeopathy was often 10 to 30 times lower than the mortality obtained by conventional medicine. For instance, the average mortality from cholera prior to the recent introduction of oral rehydration was around 50 percent, while the mortality under genuine homeopathic treatment was kept below three percent. Similarly, the average mortality rate for pneumonia before the advent of antibiotics was around 30 percent. Today, in patients requiring hospitalization for pneumonia, the mortality rate under the best of allopathic care and modern nursing is between 10 and 25 percent. If pneumonia develops in patients already hospitalized for other conditions, the mortality rates are higher, ranging between 50 and 70 percent. With homeopathy it is kept below 1 percent even in the most severe and complicated cases.

Which conditions are outside the scope of homeopathy? If the person has a problem that necessitates a surgical intervention, the homeopathic physician will be the first to refer this patient to a surgeon. But as surgical interventions are a shock to the organism, homeopathic treatment will be ideal to prepare patients for surgery and to help them recover from the operation. Similarly, cases of dislocation and fracture will be dealt with by an orthopedist but homeopathy will be of great assistance to diminish pain and enhance recovery. For less serious physical problems, patients will be referred to chiropractors, osteopaths, massage therapists or other appropriate therapists. Generally, people afflicted with genetic, congenital, metabolic or very advanced degenerative diseases cannot always expect to be cured with homeopathy, but are likely to receive effective palliative relief, free of the side effects usually associated with modern drugs.

With increasingly elaborate research, homeopathic medicine continues to evolve and yesterday’s limits are continually pushed back further. Homeopathy makes the most of the organism’s capacity to heal itself. The limits of homeopathy are in fact only those of the organism to heal itself, which are extraordinary when put to work. With credible scientific approach, homeopathy continues to fully explore the greatly underestimated organism’s capacity for self-healing (Incidentally, it was reported in an editorial of the British Medical Journal that only 1 percent of articles published in the 30,000 biomedical journals in existence is scientifically sound. (British Medical Journal, 1991; 303:798-9)).

To achieve the greatest success, the homeopathic physician must undertake a long and rigorous course of study to understand the subtleties of the human being, whether healthy or sick, to be able to give a precise diagnosis before choosing the remedy that will restore the healing process. The better the physician’s skill as a diagnostician, the greater will be his success.

What has been the position of conventional medicine towards homeopathy? Since the beginning, conventional medicine has tried to halt the progress of homeopathy. At best, homeopathic physicians are accused of giving “placebos” despite double blind studies demonstrating the absolutely undeniable efficacy of homeopathic treatments.

If homeopathy is so extraordinary, why is it not recognized universally? Although homeopathy has been practiced for more than two hundred years, it is still in its early period of growth. It is probably the most difficult medical discipline to master because it is based on the pure observation of nature, and the strict application of a natural law. Until very recently, of all the physicians who studied homeopathy, only a very small minority succeeded in mastering their discipline. Today, with the general disillusionment with conventional medicine, homeopathy is beginning to bloom again and spread throughout the world. People find in homeopathy a medicine that not only displays more common sense by its respect for the whole person, but which is also more efficient in restoring health to the sick since it optimizes the extraordinary innate self-healing powers of the organism.

Homeopathic remedies are to be found in almost all pharmacies in Europe. At least 40 percent of the British population receives a homeopathic prescription every year and more than one third of the French are treated with homeopathy. Famous people who used homeopathy include John D. Rockefeller (who lived 99 years), three American presidents, James Garfield, Chester A. Arthur and Warren Harding, Henry W. Longfellow, Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Twain, Samuel Morse, Sir Yehudi Mehuhin, a great part of the aristocracy and European royalty (i.e.: members of the British royal family such as the Queen mother who died at 101, the present Queen Elizabeth II, her son Prince Charles) and a number of popes including Pius X, John Paul II, and the current pope, Benedict XVI.

In some countries, homeopathy is taught at universities and is recognized as official medicine. In Germany, by a mandate of the government, all medical students must now learn the basics of homeopathy. In other countries such as Canada, homeopathy has until now been reserved for the elite. In Montreal, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital was formerly called the Montreal Homeopathic Hospital. In Toronto, the Princess Margaret Hospital was once a homeopathic hospital. In almost all pharmacies of Europe and Quebec, one can find a homeopathic department. Hopefully, one day, high quality homeopathic care will be accessible to all. Choosing homeopathy for ourselves or our families should not be a question of belief, but a decision based on knowledge and experience. One does not believe in homeopathy, one experiences it.

Picture of André Saine, N.D., F.C.A.H.

André Saine, N.D., F.C.A.H.

André Saine is a 1982 graduate of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. He is board-certified in homeopathy (1988) by the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians and has been teaching and lecturing on homeopathy since 1985. He is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on the subject of homeopathy.