Homeopathic remedies work to help the body heal itself naturally. The purpose is to reach a state of health such that further treatment is minimized. Patients often take multiple medications at the same time. Therefore, side effects and interactions are frequent and often devastating.
I'll never forget the first time I experienced the power of homeopathic medicine. While rehearsing for a performance as a snowflake in the Nutcracker Ballet, I slipped and broke my wrist. I rushed to the emergency room to have it x-rayed and splinted. There was a lot of bruising and swelling. And I had trouble with my physician because he wouldn't adjust the splint to accommodate the swelling. So I went to a naturopathic doctor, who prescribed homeopathic Symphytum. The swelling and pain went down immediately, and the fracture healed in two weeks instead of the four weeks the physician had predicted.
I was impressed. I wanted to know how this new (to me) medicine worked so that I could use it to help my veterinary patients. It sounded so strange, I could hardly believe it. Yet over the years, I have seen homeopathic medicine heal me and my animal patients with remarkable effectiveness, often when conventional treatments have failed. Dr Samuel Hahneman is the father of homeopathy. In the late 1700's, he recognized a similarity between symptoms produced by certain diseases, and by the drugs most useful in their treatment. He believed that a disease can be cured by careful use of medicines that causes similar symptoms. This is the Law of Similars.
Homeopathic remedies are ultra-dilute preparations of common substances; herbs, mineral or animal. They are so dilute that there is little or none of the original substance present. They retain the imprint of the original substance in a more energetic form and work on a deep energy level. Each step of the dilution process is accompanied by succession (shaking) so it gains energetic strength at each dilution. Therefore, a more dilute level or higher potency has much less substance, but stronger action.
The homeopathic practitioner takes a detailed history of all the physical, mental and emotional symptoms exhibited by the patient and chooses the one remedy, the similimum, that fits the entire picture.
The Vital Force is that which is responsible for maintaining the state of health. The symptoms exhibited by the patient are a reflection of the imbalance present, and represent the body's best attempt to return to balance. If the Vital Force is strong, the symptom will exhibit on the surface, for example, as itchy skin. The conventional medical response would be to prescribe an anti-inflammatory drug such as corticosteroids to suppress the itch. As the Vital Force finds its best attempt to express the imbalance is suppressed, it then creates a symptom on a deeper level, such as diabetes or Cushings disease. As more suppressive drugs are used to manage these symptoms, the Vital Force concedes more ground in its battle to achieve balance. If the Vital Force is weakened by chronic disease and continued suppression, it may then be forced to express on the mental level and create symptoms like depression, fears or aggression. Likewise, in the process of homeopathic healing, disease moves from deeper levels to the surface. This is known as Herring's Law of Cure.
Homeopaths have developed Materia Medica, reference catalogs of hundreds of substances and their symptom pictures. Groups of human volunteers take a substance in a diluted form over a period of days and keep a detailed diary of their personal response on physical, mental and emotional levels. There are over 2,500 homeopathic remedies cataloged. The practitioner must find the one remedy, the similum, that best fits the symptoms exhibited by the patient.
Here is an example of homeopathic prescribing. Purrcy, an eight month old Siamese cat, has a high fever. Her pupils are dilated. Her breathing is heavy and her heart rate is elevated. She is in a state of heightened alert and does not want to be touched. Her physical exam and lab workup show no evidence of an infection or any other cause of these symptoms. The conventional diagnosis for this condition is "fever of unknown origin" and the treatment is suppression with corticosteroids. These symptoms resemble belladonna poisoning, but this is a housecat with no exposure to poison. The homeopath analyses these symptoms and prescribes a homeopathic dilution of Belladonna. Improvement with the correct remedy is rapid and complete. When you administer the remedy that most exactly fits the pattern of disease, it displaces the real disease, and stimulates the body to heal itself.
There are many remedies available to be used for first aid. For example, Arnica (Leopard's Bane) is useful for injuries such as cuts, bruises and blows. Nux Vomica (poison nut) is a great first aid remedy for garbage eating dogs and hung-over humans.
However, for conditions that are chronic or deep-seated, and for patients who are weak, it is necessary to seek the services of a trained homeopath. It is important in such cases to follow the pattern of progressive change in the patient's symptoms and to prescribe a series of related remedies in the right order to address each layer of disease in a curative manner. If the remedies are improperly prescribed, these patients can be harmed.
It is important to find a homeopath who is trained in the anatomy, physiology and behavior of the species to be treated. For example, a human homeopath recently spent a month prescribing remedies for constipation for a dog. When the patient came to my office, I discovered that the dog had not been experiencing constipation at all, but his anal glands were impacted. The case was resolved by expressing the dog's anal glands, and prescribing for the real disease picture.
This article is a brief introduction to homeopathy. It is a wonderful system of medicine which can heal you and your pets on every level, physical, mental and emotional.
1.Larry A. Bernstein, Our Expanded Homeopathic Primer, www.naturalholistic.com, 1999.
2.Richard H. Pitcairn and Susan Pitcairn, Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, Roadale Press, Emmanus, PA 1995.