How Does Homeopathy Work?

Homeopathy is based on three principles:

1. The Idea 'Like Cures Like'

This means that a substance which can cause symptoms in large doses can be used to cure it when given in smaller doses.

The easiest example of this idea is the onion. When we chop an onion, it causes our eyes to stream, and the homeopathic remedy made from onion – Allium cepa – can thus help people with hayfever where this involves streaming eyes. Similarly coffee drunk late at night will keep many people awake, and the homeopathic remedy Coffea can help those who cannot get to sleep because their mind is buzzing with thoughts. (Please note there are other homeopathic remedies for hayfever and sleeping problems where the symptoms aren’t exactly the same as these.)

2. The Minimum Dose

Homeopathic remedies use only tiny doses of the active ingredient in a specially prepared form, meaning that there is no risk of addiction or toxicity.

Many people will accept that the principle of treating like with like can be an effective method of healing. In fact some substances that are used by homeopaths are also used in modern medicine, such as gold in the treatment of arthritis, or the herb Ipecacuanha in cough medicine. The real stumbling block to a larger acceptance of homeopathy is the disbelief that such small doses can be effective.

The answer to this is all to do with sensitivity (or susceptibility) to the remedy and can be compared to the allergies. When someone is allergic to something, such as house dust, shellfish, nuts or animal hair, it only requires a very small amount of the allergen in order to provoke an exaggerated and violent response. The response is out of proportion to the quantity of the substance and is due to the fact that this particular individual is extremely sensitive to this substance.

In a similar way, we are extremely sensitive to our individual healing agent or homeopathic remedy. If, for example, we have the symptom picture of Belladonna (high fever, hot dry skin, dilated pupils, throbbing headache, sensitivity to light, etc) then we only require the smallest dose of Belladonna to stimulate self-healing. The remedy provides just enough impetus to stimulate a healing response.

“If you think you're too small to make a difference, you've obviously never been in bed with a mosquito.” – Michelle Walker, artist

3. Holistic Treatment

A homeopath does not treat diseases as such, but instead views all the symptoms as an expression of a central disturbance or a disharmony in the whole person. These symptoms can be labelled as certain conditions such as ‘asthma’ or ‘migraine‘, but with homeopathy each patient will require a remedy based on a much larger totality than simply the name of the disease. This means that ten people with migraine, for example, may well all need a different homeopathic remedy.

Next: Research Into Homeopathy