What is homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a whole system of medicine. Other whole systems of medicine include Ayurvedic medicine, Traditional Chinese medicine, and Western medicine. Homeopathy is an alternative to Western medicine. Homeopathy employs very, very dilute amounts of natural substances from plants, animals, and minerals, to stimulate the sick person's body to overcome his or her own illness. In contrast, Western medicine employs very, very concentrated amounts of either natural or synthetic substances to counteract a sick person's illness.
How did homeopathy get started?
Homeopathy was discovered by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician, chemist, linguist, and translator of medical works. He was born in 1755 and died in 1843. Most homeopathic physicians consider him to be a genius. He rejected the medical therapies of his day, such as bloodletting (using leeches) and purging, believing them to cause the sick person to become even sicker, either in the short or long run.
Today, we know that he was right.
Instead, he developed the revolutionary idea that:
If a healthy person takes an undiluted full-strength substance into his body, that substance can cause a whole complex of symptoms.
If a sick person takes that same substance into his body in very, very, very dilute amounts, then that form of the substance can cure those same symptoms.
The diluted form of a substance cures the same symptoms that the undiluted form causes.
The Law of Similars
That is what is called the Law of Similars. It is the first and foremost principle upon which homeopathy is based. The principle is sometimes called Like Cures Like, or in Latin, Similia Similibus Curantur.
It's a good idea to go back to the definition of the first principle of homeopathy, the Law of Similars, and read it again and again, until you understand it. The idea may sound so peculiar to people steeped in Western medicine, that it may be difficult to grasp at first.
If the Law of Similars is starting to sound to you like the principle of immunization, then you've caught on. The principle of Like Cures Like is a difficult concept to absorb, but once you see its similarities to immunization, you'll be able to better understand homeopathy's guiding principle. Although homeopathy and immunization are not exactly the same, they are similar, and you can understand homeopathy if you keep in mind what you know about immunization.
An illustration of the principle of Like Cures Like
What does your baby's pediatrician tell you to do when you suspect your baby swallowed something toxic that she shouldn't have eaten?
Your pediatrician may tell you to give your baby a dose of full strength Ipecac, a natural plant called Ipecacuanha that causes vomiting. Within about twenty minutes of taking Ipecac, your baby will vomit, probably several times, thereby emptying her stomach almost completely, which can save her life.
Homeopaths often prescribe homeopathic Ipecac in extremely dilute amounts to treat vomiting. In homeopathy, what causes vomiting can be used to treat vomiting. Homeopaths use Ipecac to treat vomiting from many causes: morning sickness, motion sickness, vertigo, and others.
Here's another example of the principle of Like Cures Like
If you are a gardener, chances are that you've had the experience of surprising a family of bees, and very likely, you've been stung more than once or twice. What does the homeopath give you as a remedy for bee sting? If you've been able to follow the principle of Like Cures Like, you've probably guessed that the remedy for bee sting is the homeopathic preparation of the bee! The homeopathic remedy is called Apis mellifica. No first aid kit is complete without Apis mellifica (please buy the 30C potency). If you or your family member has been stung by a bee, give Apis mellifica 30C, let 5 granules dissolve on or under the tongue, as soon as possible. You may repeat the dosage every 5-15 minutes until the pain, swelling, and itching is relieved.
The Law of Potency
Another principle upon which homeopathy is based is the Law of Potency. This states that the more a substance is diluted, the greater is the potency. In different words, the remedy actually becomes stronger the more dilute it is. Yes, less is more in homeopathy. This is counterintuitive to people whose frame of reference is Western medicine where more is more.
[Excerpted from Dr. Feingold's book, The Complete Self-Care Guide to Homeopathy, Herbal Remedies and Nutritional Supplements.]