Homeopathy is a 200 year-old medical science that uses tiny doses of specially prepared substances which stimulate the body to heal itself. It is gentle enough to use on infants, the elderly and pets, yet potent enough to create quick, lasting relief from literally every aliment known to mankind. In 1796, Samuel Hahnemann published Essay on New Curative Principle, a treatise in which he established the foundational principles of homeopathy. Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755 – 1843) was a German physician who was well known for his work in chemistry, pharmacology and toxicology. In 1789, he began a series of experiments. He discovered that, by ingesting Peruvian bark (cinchona), a healthy individual would develop a fever, nausea, diarrhea, limb pain, numbness and ringing in the ears – all symptoms of malaria. When the subject would stop ingesting the bark, the symptoms would disappear. Since Peruvian bark was commonly used to treat malaria, Hahnemann theorized that a substance which can create symptoms in a healthy person can be used in smaller doses to cure those same symptoms in illness. This proved to be true and became one of the fundamental tenants of homeopathy: the Law of Similars (similia similibus curantur, or ‘likes are cured by likes’). The word homeopathy is derived from the Greek words ‘homoios,’ which means like or similar, and ‘pathos,’ which means suffering or disease. Homeopathy is then a medical therapy based on similar suffering or disease. This isn’t the first time in history that this philosophy of similars has been used. As early as 400 B.C. Hippocrates was prescribing hot spring baths for his patients with fever. Theoretical parallels also exist between the work of pioneers like Salk and Jenner as they expose the body to the very disease that they were trying to protect against (i.e. immunization). Even modern allergy treatments introduce small amounts of an allergen into the body to desensitize the patient to that same allergen. Dr Hahnemann was disillusioned by the barbaric state of medicine of his time and the dangerous medicines that were commonly used. As he sought to honor his physician’s oath to ‘do no harm,’ he began to experiment with increasingly diluted solutions. He discovered that, through a process of dilution and succussion (vigorous agitation), the therapeutic strength (potency) of a homeopathic medicine could be increased while virtually eliminating toxic side effects. This became a unique and often confusing principle of homeopathy: the Law of Infinitesimal Dose, or minimal dose. This created an apparent paradox - the more a solution is diluted, the less active ingredient it contains; how could a dilute solution be a more potent healing agent than the concentrate? The chemical model of pharmacological therapeutics was inadequate to explain this phenomenon. It turns out that physics is best suited to explain the mechanics of homeopathy and the energetics behind its activity. Highly processed homeopathics undergo a molecular change, and these subtle changes can be observed with highly sensitive tests such as
NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance), Raman-laser spectroscopy and Infrared spectrophotometry which analyze molecular and submolecular geometry. It is now known that homeopathic remedies emit distinct, measurable electromagnetic signals, and that manufacturing alters the physical geometry of the water and alcohol solute. This is relevant because science is finally in a position to objectively measure the mechanisms of homeopathic therapeutics. Samuel Hahnemann continued his experiments with different substances. After administering the material to be tested, he and his associates would meticulously record every sign and symptom that the subjects experienced. These tests came to be known as ‘provings,’ and the collection of symptoms for each substance formed the basis for the Materia Medica (materials of medicine). Materia Medicas continue to be compiled, expanded and edited to this day by various physicians and organizations, and remain a vital component of homeopathic practices. A Repertory is another often-used book that cross references symptoms with their commonly prescribed remedies. Hahnemann’s first complete text on homeopathy was published under the title, Organon of Rational Medical Science, in 1810. The 6th and final edition was published posthumously in 1920. Despite opposition and persecution from peers and the medical community, homeopathy spread rapidly. When Dr. Hahnemann died in 1843 homeopathy had spread throughout Europe, the United States, Mexico, Cuba and Russia. The first US homeopathic medical school was established in Allentown, PA in 1835 by Constantine Hering, a student of Hahnemann’s. In 1844, the American Institute of Homeopathy was formed, and enjoyed the distinction of being the first medical association in the US. Shortly thereafter (1846), the American Medical Association (AMA) was founded. Because of fundamental differences in their therapeutic approach to medicine, the AMA forbid their members to practice homeopathy, consult with or even consort with homeopathic physicians for any reason, under threat of license suspension. Despite intense pressure from the AMA, the popularity of homeopathy continued to grow. This was due, at least in part, to the efficacy displayed during the cholera and yellow fever epidemics of the 1800’s. In Ohio during the 1849 outbreak of cholera, only 3% of patients treated homeopathically died. The mortality rate for those treated with conventional medicine was in excess of 60%. In London in 1854, cholera claimed 53% of its victims in conventional hospitals, whereas only 16% of those treated in homeopathic hospitals died. In 1879, yellow fever patients in New Orleans experienced a 5.6% mortality rate when treated by homeopathy; standard medical treatment lost 16% of their patients. Insurance companies even offered discounted rates for their customers who had homeopathic physicians, because their treatment was proven so much more effective and inexpensive. The first official homeopathic compendium, the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States, was published in 1897. By the turn of the century, 15% of the physicians in the US were homeopathic physicians, there were 29 homeopathic medical journals, 22 homeopathic medical schools and 100 homeopathic hospitals in the US. Then in 1910, American homeopathy was dealt an almost lethal blow with the issuance of the Flexnor report. Commissioned and issued by the Carnegie Foundation, the Flexnor report reviewed medical schools and established guidelines for schools that were to receive funding from charitable sources, such as the Carnegie Foundation. The evaluations and ratings were specifically designed to exclude homeopathic medical schools. As a result, all but 2 homeopathic medical schools were either closed or converted to allopathic medicine by 1923. Disagreements within the homeopathic community began to arise, and by 1950, no homeopathic schools remained open in the US. Fortunately homeopathy is now enjoying resurgence on a global scale. There is a growing consensus that the expense of medical care and research has not returned any significant improvement in the general level of health. Health care is becoming a consumer-driven commodity, and the consumer is demanding more natural, less harmful alternatives. COMBINATION VS CLASSICAL HOMEOPATHY There are two different schools of thought in homeopathic circles; one is classical homeopathy, the other is combination or complex homeopathy. After 200 years, advocates for both approaches are beginning to agree that there is a time for each. Classical homeopathy is a painstaking approach that takes years to learn and master. It involves a lengthy interview process in which the homeopath determines every sign and symptom that the patient is experiencing. This includes physical, mental, emotional, fears, changes, times and conditions that make the symptoms worse or better, and a host of other factors. After ascertaining the complete symptom picture, the homeopath then endeavors to match it to the exact remedy, called the simillimum. Combination or complex homeopathy uses a combination of ingredients and potencies to get the same result. If classical homeopathy can be described as a single bullet aimed at a target, then combination homeopathy might best be likened to a shotgun blast. This is a broader approach and better suited for the busy healthcare professional. Combination homeopathy combines the most commonly prescribed remedies for a particular symptom picture into a single formula. The body, which possesses an innate biological intelligence, then selects the exact frequency that it needs to begin its healing. Much like a radio tuner tunes in to a specific frequency and ignores the rest. As an example, J.T. Kent’s Repertory of Homoeopathic Materia Medica lists 87 pages of remedies for the different types of headache pain. A classical homeopath might take two hours to complete an intake interview, and then spend additional time locating the exact remedy match. Combination homeopathy combines the most common headache remedies into a single formula (which might simply be called ‘Headache’), it is efficacious and much more time efficient than the classical approach. Combination remedies may also be used preventively. The physical manifestation of an illness is one of the last steps in the disease process. For example, by the time you actually come down with a head cold, your body has been battling it for several days. A few drops of a combination remedy taken every so often (or after exposure) can work preemptively and keep your body healthy and fine-tuned.