So what does homeopathic even mean?
I was asked this point blank the other day, and I realized I wasn’t quite sure how to respond. Throughout the past few years I have been on a quest to self-educate on the topics of health, holistic nutrition, and yes, homeopathic medicine, but I didn’t know the answer to this question?!! “It’s, you know, natural medicines and alternative remedies…”
So I began investigating to get a clear, concise answer and finally understand what it means, then get it down on paper (or blog, rather), THEN commit it to memory.
The first thing I did was go to Wikipedia. It’s long winded and, well, Wikipedia. Nevertheless, I found that in the first paragraph it says “The collective weight of scientific evidence has found homeopathy to be no more effective than a placebo.” Yikes.
Moving on, I went to the American Institute of Homeopathy. It is a trade association for medical practitioners and has a comprehensive set of Standards of Practice meant to clarify the principles of homeopathic care. In summary: “Homeopathy views the state of being unwell as being a holistic disturbance in the homeostasis of the total being. The physician who employs Homeotherapeutics should be cognizant of the total or holistic nature of physiological disorder or disease and the necessity of a holistic approach to diagnosis and treatment.” Getting closer.
The Society of Homeopaths is a little more clear: “Homeopathy is a system of medicine which involves treating the individual with highly diluted substances, given mainly in tablet form, with the aim of triggering the body’s natural system of healing… Homeopathy is based on the principle that you can treat ‘like with like,’ that is, a substance which causes symptoms when taken in large doses, can be used in small amounts to treat those same symptom.” For example, prescribing small doses of caffeine, which might naturally have side effects of restlessness and agitation, to reduce symptoms of a different illness that causes restlessness and agitation. Substances that cause symptoms in healthy people (onions make our eyes irritated and our sinuses suffer) can be used in extreme dilution to treat symptoms of an illness that causes the same symptoms (i.e. using onion extract when we have a cold or a sinus infection). Smaller doses have less toxicity, and actually trigger the body to do most of the healing.
So what’s with the efficacy of homeopathic medicine? The body of scientific studies and clinical trials is vast, but “As yet, science has not been able to explain the mechanism of action of ultra high dilutions in the body, but laboratory experiments have repeatedly demonstrated that homeopathically prepared substances cause biological effects.” We have seen it working but we’re not sure why.
On another note, what does holistic mean? I’ll get to that post later…