Derived from the Greek words homoios, meaning similar, and pathos, meaning suffering, the word homeopathy literally means "similar suffering". Originally, the word was spelled homœopathy, since the "œ" digraph was the Latin way of writing the Greek "oi". Because of typeset limitations, the digraph was changed resulting in the form most commonly seen today, homeopathy. An unfortunate consequence of this is the popular misconception that the word signifies "home remedies", when of course homeopathy is much more. It is an entire system of medicine which has treated an estimated hundreds of millions of people worldwide over the last two centuries. Describing it is more complex than the linguistics of its name, but it does begin with the name. There are three primary principles in homeopathy, which are described in the following paragraphs. When describing homeopathy, a comparison with conventional medicine is unavoidable because of the fundamental differences between the two, and because conventional medicine provides a commonly known frame of reference. This comparison will also provide information about conventional medicine which most people will not have been told.
The first principle, "similar suffering", comes from the Law of Similars, which states that in order to cure a disease, it must be displaced with a similar but more powerful disease. This disease is induced safely and artificially using homeopathic remedies, leading to a state of homeostasis, or health. In the process, the body naturally removes the existing disease through the body's excretory organs in a process called drainage. This principle contrasts to allopathic, or conventional, medicine, which treats disease with something dissimilar. The result is usually a palliative, or symptom suppressor. Take inflammation, as a simple example. The pain induced by inflammation is due to the stimulation of nerve endings by chemicals like histamine. These chemicals increase blood flow and accumulation of white blood cells to the area. These white blood cells in turn attack invading germs and aid in repairing tissue damage. Thus, taking an antihistamine relieves the inflammation, but also interferes with the body's own natural healing process! By treating the symptoms as the disease, palliatives often end up being harmful in the long run. Hence, homeopathy works with the body to heal a disease, while allopathy works against the body to provide short-term relief.
The second principle of homeopathy is the Minimum Dose Principle, which makes the artificial disease produced by homeopathic remedies safe. One of the problems with most systems of medicine is that they introduce large quantities of medicine which are often harmful to the patient. This idea is supported by the Arndt-Schultz Law, named after the two men who did the experiments which proved the following:
i) Small doses of drugs encourage life activity,
ii) Large doses of drugs impede life activity,
iii) Very large doses of drugs destroy life activity.
These ideas are opposite to typical allopathic thinking, where more medicine is pumped into a person to match the severity of the disease. Hence, the more ill you are, the more you will be treated and harmed with drugs!
The third principle of homeopathy is the treatment of the whole person. This is sometimes called holistic medicine. Because of the ridiculous misconceptions often perpetuated in mainstream society about the word holistic, I often use the word comprehensive to describe this homeopathic principle. Every physical, mental, and emotional characteristic of a patient must be carefully considered in order to select the proper homeopathic remedy. Implicit to this is the idea that treatment is customized to match a person's reaction to a disease. In other words, treat the person rather than the disease. As a simple example, not everyone reacts identically to a given epidemic. In holistic treatment, only one remedy is given at a time to stimulate a clear and uninhibited path to permanent healing of the body as a whole. Giving multiple medicines at a time is actually a throwback to the days of alchemy10:81-2! Compare this with the "one drug for each symptom" mentality of allopaths, who typically look at symptoms as separate entities to be suppressed. They give a group of medicines to be taken together, setting up both drug-drug and drug-disease interactions, as well as wide-scale and permanent drug dependence.
A common criticism of homeopathy is that it takes a long time to provide relief, which warrants two replies. First, homeopathy does not necessarily take a long time. As a general rule, healing time is directly proportional to the amount of time the disease has been allowed to develop. Hence, acute illnesses can be relieved as quickly as with anything else. Furthermore, even for chronic illnesses relief can begin quickly when the correct remedy is applied, even if total recovery takes more time. Second, treatments which claim to be a "quick fix" for ailments are rarely fixes, but merely suppressives designed to make people think that they are being healed, or to give what is often temporary relief which will stop working after a time. This comes at the price of not actually curing the problem, thus leaving the disease to develop and return with renewed strength with the same or even different symptoms. The result is to have the suffering return repeatedly, sometimes worse than before. All the while, being drugged or sewn will not increase the person's quality of life despite the temporary relief provided, thus pointing the the difference between surviving and living. It is living that these three homeopathic principles can provide, by giving the means to achieve the fastest, safest, deepest, most reliable, least disadvantageous and permanent cure to disease. Despite the their successes, these homeopathic principles are almost unknown or simply unaccepted in mainstream medicine, at least in the U.S.A. You may ask yourself why this would be the case. The answer to such a question will answered in a later section of the website. The remainder of this section provides more details on how the above is accomplished, beginning with the evaluation of the healing properties of medicines, and preparation of homeopathic remedies.
Most medicines and treatments are usually tested on sick people in what are called clinical trials, a method which has several drawbacks. Success is mostly determined by whether or not a given symptom is suppressed, a procedure which is at best of short term benefit. Because the testing is done on the ill, little distinction can be made between the side-effects produced by the medicine itself versus new disease symptoms resulting from the suppression. Furthermore, long-term testing is rarely done because of the expense involved. This makes it impossible to know what long-term complications result, or to follow up on treatment which is meant to be "permanent". Therefore, it is nearly impossible to determine if the medicine actually helps or hinders the net healing process. Despite the muddled picture this situation provides, it is often used to determine if a given treatment is safe and effective. It is interesting to note that the use of this process is influenced by the fact that many allopathic medicines are so toxic or intrusive on the body's natural processes that they wouldn't dream of giving them to healthy people, but they will give them to sick people as a desperation tactic! By contrast, the healing properties of homeopathic remedies are determined in a process called a proving. This involves testing a remedy on a completely healthy person in order to provide a clear picture of the symptoms it produces. The more people that are tested, the clearer the remedy picture becomes. Testing is often done for long periods to match the action time of the remedy, and ideally is done on sensitive individuals who will feel the effects more keenly. The physical, mental, and emotional changes are carefully recorded. The remedy information is subsequently compared holistically against the symptoms of a patient in order to find the best match by the Law of Similars.
In accordance with the Minimum Dose Principle, once the symptom causing properties of a larger dose of a remedy are known, very minute quantities of that remedy will produce a healing effect of those symptoms. Homeopathic remedies are prepared in minute quantities by the potentization process, involving a series of dilutions and succussions which makes remedies safer and more powerful. The process is outlined below.
The most common form of delivery of the potency is a pellet, usually made from a sucrose/lactose combination. The liquid is dropped on the pellets, which absorb it. This pellet is then ready to be dropped under the tongue of the patient, to dissolve and enter the system. The above picture shows some pellets awaiting "medication". A special thanks goes out to Janick Boudazin and the Boiron Lab in Newtown Square, PA for allowing us to take these lab pictures.
As a general rule, the higher the potency and more dilute the mixing ratio, the more powerful the remedy. Though there may be general guidelines, selection of potency varies just as the remedy itself varies, depending on the case. A remedy needs to be powerful enough to displace the existing disease, and hence potency is related to how well developed the disease symptoms are in the patient, and to how close the match is. On the other hand, when a potency is chosen which is substantially more powerful than the disease, sometimes an aggravation occurs. This is a temporary increase in the severity of the symptoms associated with the disease. Ironically enough, this is often a sign that the remedy is working! An aggravation may include the appearance of a new symptom. An inexact match of the remedy to the disease would make the new symptom artificial. Alternatively, it could simply be the existing disease working its way through the patient. In any case, aggravations are not side-effects, but rather direct effects of disease stimulated by the remedy. They are usually mild and harmless thanks to both the use of potentized remedies, and to the reasonably low potency selection by a homeopath. In certain rare cases, an aggravation could be more serious. For example, if a remedy is given to a patient who has kidney stones, the body may be stimulated into trying to eject the stone, resulting in severe pain. In such a case, this is still not a random side-effect, but simply the body reacting too strongly to rid itself of its health problems!
There is an old Chinese proverb, "When a man points at the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger". This idea summarizes the primary criticism of homeopathy, namely that of the high dilutions. Some people will say that because the dilutions that are used in homeopathy are mostly at a concentration below that of Avogadro's Number, 6.023 x 1023 molecules/mole, there is nothing left in the solution but the base. Therefore, goes the argument, the highly diluted remedies are nothing more than placebos, and improvement reported by the patients is nothing more than the placebo effect. This is, of course, a flawed argument for several reasons. First, if the remedies were only a placebo, then they would not be successful on infants, unconscious patients, or animals. All of these have been helped with homeopathy. Second, most of the estimated hundreds of millions of people treated homeopathically worldwide over the last two centuries would have to be explained away as placebos, something which is a statistical impossibility. Third, homeopaths cannot always find the right remedy on the first try. There is no accounting for why the first "placebo" would fail, and a subsequent one would succeed. Fourth, there is an underlying assumption that only materialistic chemistry can effect an organism . This is an outdated nineteenth-century notion which reflects the relative backwardness of some people's thinking. In short, the way in which the placebo effect is used to describe the success of alternative medicine is essentially the scientific and conventional medical communities' latest version of demonology. The conflict of scientific ideology has suppressed most organized fundamental scientific research into homeopathy, at least until the 1990's, and will be explored in a later section of this website. However, the known scientific details behind how homeopathy works are outlined below.
To explore the scientific understanding of homeopathy, one must take an interdisciplinary look at such realms as physics, biology, and chemistry. Most people are familiar with classical physics, which studies macroscopic objects. Most know that quantum physics deals with objects on a very small scale. Fewer know about mesoscopic physics, which deals with the size region between these two. Between 10-8m and 10-10m, quantum and classical physics meet and interact in peculiar ways which are not wholly describable by either model, especially when dealing with condensed matter (i.e. solids and liquids). Water, in particular, is famous for having a number of atypical properties. Although it may seem like a trivial phenomenon, the ability of condensed matter to stay together is not accountable only by short-ranged nuclear forces. Similarly in biology, the relative size of cells versus that of molecules it quite large, and yet they must obviously interact across the intervening medium, which is mostly water. The implication is that there must not only be a mechanism to transmit information in condensed matter, but also to store it. This mechanism is described as the theory of Coherent Electromagnetic Domains, which I abbreviate as CED. CED would also explain why homeopathic remedies still work even when the tincture is diluted out of the solution. Information continues to be transmitted through and stored in the solution electromagnetically amongst the water molecules. Indeed, a number of transmission experiments has been done which confirm the electromagnetic properties of homeopathic solutions11:31-45. Some experiments have even been done which show that direct contact between the solution and the organism is unnecessary when there is an intervening water medium6:155-187!
There is another idea at work besides CED when it comes to the scientific mechanism of homeopathic solutions. Certain substances, such as silver nitrate, are known to be biostatic (i.e. biochemically inactive), yet are necessary in trace amounts to act as a chemical catalyst inside an organism. They might also be called cybernetic, or a control mechanism. Because highly diluted solutions do not contain the original substance, but only CED, they must also be biostatic. However, they obviously exert a cybernetic influence, causing the organism to react by achieving a state of homeostasis. CED treatment can therefore be considered a form of reactive cybernetics. Another consequence of CED treatment is that no additional chemicals are introduced into the organism, thus avoiding the potentially harmful effects of excessive medication as observed by the Arndt-Schultz Law. This is therefore implicit proof of the safety and efficacy of homeopathic medicines made through the potentization process based upon the Minimum Dose Principle!
Now that you have an idea of what homeopathy is and how it works, you will want to know more details about what it can do. The next section of this website deals with this topic.