Homeopathy is based on the observation that substances that are capable of causing disorders of the mind and body in healthy people can be used in dilute form as medicines to treat similar disorders in someone who is ill, whatever the cause of the illness.
This is the homeopathic law of similars, sometimes expressed as ‘let like be cured by like’. The word ‘homeopathy’ is derived from the Greek words for ‘like’ and ‘suffering’.
The key to successful homeopathic treatment is identifying the similarity between the effects of the original substance in healthy people and the pattern of the illness in the individual who is ill. It is this similarity that is essential. The fact that the medicines are extremely, often infinitely, dilute preparations of the original substance, is not the characteristic that makes them ‘homeopathic’.
The word ‘individual’ is emphasised because any particular disease or illness, although it may have a particular form of pathology, actually manifests itself differently in individual patients. The pattern of clinical symptoms and signs will differ in some details from person to person. This is true of the actual condition itself, but even more so if incidental factors like changes in mood, thirst, appetite, reaction to temperature, and other body functions are taken into account. The characteristic actions of the homeopathic medicine must match these individual characteristics of the illness if it is to have a therapeutic effect.
Although it does not always take a lot of time to identify these characteristics, it may require a longer and more detailed enquiry than you are used to, involving characteristics of the person who is ill as well as of the illness itself. It is not always possible to complete this at the first consultation, and follow-up consultations are important for building up a fuller ‘picture’ of the person and the problem, as well as looking for changes in the picture after treatment. It is important to note that in certain circumstances it may be necessary to refer you to a medically qualified homeopathic doctor.
We know, however, that their action cannot be pharmacological. They cannot control or manipulate biological function in the way that conventional drugs do. Their action is, evidently, to enable the natural self-regulating mechanisms in the mind and body to function more efficiently, and to mobilise and reinforce the healing resources, which already naturally exist. Choosing the right prescription is like choosing the precise key needed to switch on this process.
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