In the dawning years of the 21st century, the draw and appeal of homeopathy continues to grow as patients turn more and more to these often untried and usually non-studied remedies for every ailment that afflicts humankind. It is appealing to patients because first, they feel they are "taking control" of their condition, secondly, acting in heroic defiance of "big medicine" and an indifferent medical world and thirdly they are searching for that :magic bullet" that will cure lymphedema without any effort on their part as patients..
I have heard so many lymphedema patients announce they are endeavoring on a homeopathic treatment path because medical science has let them down. When confronted with the truth that almost all of these treatment substances have not been clinically studied or the efficacy verified, they often react swiftly with anger and resentment.
Sad, no more then sad, it is tragic. As I have spent many endless hours researching homeopathy, I remain unable to locate one independent double blind clinical study that substantiates the claim that homeopathy helps lymphedema. What happens when someone turns to this form of treatment often is a delay of seeking out solid, proven therapy such as MLD, compression bandages, and exercises. Without proper treatment, their condition worsens and more there is more damage to the lymph system.
Generally, these patients also fail to let their convention doctors know what they are doing and/or taking into their bodies. Since many of them, like myself, have serious other conditions, they put themselves at risk for serious complications and/or putting their lives in danger for toxicity as the conventional medicines react against the homeopathic medicines.
Defenders of homeopathy proclaim "it has proven the test of time" and "has been around for centuries."
Yes, that is true. it has been around for centuries and all through those centuries, people have died from diseases that were fatal then, and nothing more then a nuisance thanks to scientific evidence based medicine. Only in the age of evidence based medicine have so many diseases been conquered and life expectancies so elongated as they are today.
I remain steadfastly unconvinced on the value of homeopathy for several reasons. First, there is a serious lack of double blind independent clinical studies. Second, the studies that are out there have been done by homeopathic companies/representatives/practitioners who have a vested interest in the success of their product. Third, the studies have weak control/methods and have continually drawn criticism from the scientific community for this. Infact, a recent meta-analysis of clinical trials on the effectiveness of homeopathy has shown that earlier clinical trials showed signs of major weakness in methodology and reporting, and that homeopathy trials were less randomized and reported less on dropouts than other types of trials.
Plain and simple, homeopathy is unsupported by modern scientific research. Homeopathy may also be inherently dangerous too, because homeopaths offer a false hope that may discourage or delay proper treatment. The situation has become so serious that many countries who previously allowed homeopathic medicines to be covered under their national health plans have withdrawn that coverage. In some countries, such as the UK, there is even a rising uproar to ban homeopathy.
Before you are tempted, please take into consideration the above information, do your research and demand the very best scientifically proven treatment for your lymphedema (after-all, aren't you worth it?)
April 22, 2008
Disclaimer: This is presented for information only. Inclusion does not constitute an endorsement of the therapies and/or treatment. Individuals should consult with their physicians as to its applicability in their personal situation. Aromatherapy is often used in conjunction with manual lymphatic drainage therapy, complex decongestive therapy and reflexology therapy in lymphedema. One should always discuss this treatment option in full with their physician before they undertake any homeopathic treatment. Information provided below, except for the Abstracts and Studies section are provided by homeopathic websites.
When doing your own research on homeopathic medicine, I recommend visiting this site as part of your research:
Your Skeptical Guide
to Homeopathic History, Theories, and Current Practices
Operated by Stephen Barrett, M.D.
What is Homeopathy?
The term homeopathy comes from the Greek words homeo, meaning similar, and pathos, meaning suffering or disease. Homeopathy is an alternative medical system. Alternative medical systems are built upon complete systems of theory and practice, and often have evolved apart from and earlier than the conventional medical approach used in the United States. Homeopathy takes a different approach from conventional medicine in diagnosing, classifying, and treating medical problems.
a. Conventional medicine, as defined by NCCAM, is medicine as practiced by holders of M.D. (medical doctor) or D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) degrees and by their allied health professionals, such as physical therapists, psychologists, and registered nurses. Some conventional medical practitioners are also practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine. To find out more about these terms, see the NCCAM fact sheet
In the late 1700s, Samuel Hahnemann, a physician, chemist, and linguist in Germany, proposed a new approach to treating illness. This was at a time when the most common medical treatments were harsh, such as bloodletting, purging, blistering, and the use of sulfur and mercury. At the time, there were few effective medications for treating patients, and knowledge about their effects was limited.
Hahnemann was interested in developing a less-threatening approach to medicine. The first major step reportedly was when he was translating an herbal text and read about a treatment (cinchona bark) used to cure malaria. He took some cinchona bark and observed that, as a healthy person, he developed symptoms that were very similar to malaria symptoms. This led Hahnemann to consider that a substance may create symptoms that it can also relieve. This concept is called the "similia principle" or "like cures like." The similia principle had a prior history in medicine, from Hippocrates in Ancient Greece--who noted, for example, that recurrent vomiting could be treated with an emetic (such as ipecacuanha) that would be expected to make it worse--to folk medicine. Another way to view "like cures like" is that symptoms are part of the body's attempt to heal itself--for example, a fever can develop as a result of an immune response to an infection, and a cough may help to eliminate mucus--and medication may be given to support this self-healing response.
Hahnemann tested single, pure substances on himself and, in more dilute forms, on healthy volunteers. He kept meticulous records of his experiments and participants' responses, and he combined these observations with information from clinical practice, the known uses of herbs and other medicinal substances, and toxicology, eventually treating the sick and developing homeopathic clinical practice.
Hahnemann added two additional elements to homeopathy:
Hans Burch Gram, a Boston-born doctor, studied homeopathy in Europe and introduced it into the United States in 1825. European immigrants trained in homeopathy also made the treatment increasingly available in America. In 1835, the first homeopathic medical college was established in Allentown, Pennsylvania. By the turn of the 20th century, 8 percent of all American medical practitioners were homeopaths, and there were 20 homeopathic medical colleges and more than 100 homeopathic hospitals in the United States.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, numerous medical advances were made, such as the recognition of the mechanisms of disease; Pasteur's germ theory; the development of antiseptic techniques; and the discovery of ether anesthesia. In addition, a report (the so-called "Flexner Report") was released that triggered major changes in American medical education. Homeopathy was among the disciplines negatively affected by these developments. Most homeopathic medical schools closed down, and by the 1930s others had converted to conventional medical schools.
In the 1960s, homeopathy's popularity began to revive in the United States. According to a 1999 survey of Americans and their health, over 6 million Americans had used homeopathy in the preceding 12 months. The World Health Organization noted in 1994 that homeopathy had been integrated into the national health care systems of numerous countries, including Germany, the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Mexico. Several schools of practice exist within homeopathy.
Persons using homeopathy do so to address a range of health concerns, from wellness and prevention to treatment of injuries, diseases, and conditions. Studies have found that many people who seek homeopathic care seek it for help with a chronic medical condition. Many users of homeopathy treat themselves with homeopathic products and do not consult a professional.
Lymphedema - Healing with Herbs - Homeopathy
Lymphedema is swelling caused by the inability of lymph, the clear fluid that bathes all of the body's cells, to circulate properly. Normally, lymph collects in lymphatic vessels, which return this fluid back to the bloodstream. These vessels contain valves that allow for one-direction flow. If the lymphatic vessels are blocked, the fluid remains in the tissues, causing swelling. Infections, which stimulate the immune system to produce lymph, aggravate this condition, and lymphedema in turn creates the conditions under which infections are more likely to occur.
Most cases of lymphedema occur when parts of the lymphatic system-the lymph vessels and lymph nodes, small structures in which lymph is filtered-are removed as part of cancer surgery. Of the 161,000 women with breast cancer who have lymph nodes removed every year, 35 to 40 percent develop lymphedema. If a tumor and the adjacent lymph nodes are removed, the natural drainage of lymphatic fluid through that area is blocked. Fluid accumulates and becomes stagnant in the tissues of the limb closest to the obstruction. The limb may then swell to several times its normal size. Lymphedema is made even worse by recurrence of cancer, as tumors attract sodium and cause fluid retention.
Herbs and nutritional supplements are very helpful in managing edema but should not be used by themselves. Massage, compression garments, and prescription drugs together with herbs and supplements offer maximum relief for this disease.
Supplements and herbs
Bromelain Tablets. Take 250-500 mg 3 times daily, between meals.
Reduces swelling, breaks up immune complexes that cause inflammation.
People who are allergic to pineapple may develop a rash from bromelain. If itching develops, stop using it.
Butcher's broom Ruscogenin tablets. Take 100 mg once a day for at least 3 months.
Strengthens walls of lymph vessels; relieves swelling and inflammation.
Ginger Tea, made by adding 1/2 tsp (1 gm) powdered ginger to 1 cup water. Take 1 cup 3 times daily.
Increases circulation; reduces inflammation.
Horse chestnut Aescin cream. Apply as directed on the label; Aescin tablets. Take 150 mg daily.
Reduces swelling and strengthens lymphatic and vessel walls.
Do not take horse chestnut if you are trying to become pregnant.
Oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) Grape seed or pine bark extract tablets. Take 200 mg daily.
Reduces blood vessel inflammation.
Sweet clover Ointment such as Le Thalasso Bain Leg Health Gel from Goemar. Apply daily; and Tincture. Take as directed on the label.
Contains coumarin, which stimulates flow of lymph; speeds healing of skin wounds.
Do not use sweet clover at the same time as prescription coumarin treatments. Inform your doctor if taking this herb, especially before surgery. In rare cases, sweet clover can cause liver toxicity. See your doctor if you experience yellowing of the skin or eyes, or unexplained itching while taking this herb.
What else you can do
Reduce swelling through the following measures (discuss them in detail with your physician first):
Massage, particularly a specialized form of light-pressure massage called manual lymph drainage.
Compression garments (replaced every three to six months) that cover and apply pressure to affected limbs.
Compression pumps, which move excess fluid toward still-functioning lymph vessels.
Flexibility, aerobic exercises, and weight-training exercises.
The supplement Varicosin from Phyto Pharmica, which combines butcher's broom, gotu kola, and horse chestnut extract, may be substituted for any of its individual herbs.
Take 500 milligrams of rutin twice daily to strengthen lymph-vessel walls.
Take the enzyme preparation Wobenzym as directed on the label. In an Austrian clinical test involving women who had breast cancer surgery, a combination of Wobenzym with manual lymph drainage reduced arm size, lessened pain, and improved skin condition in less than two months' use.
Avoid long-chain triglycerides, such as those found in fats that stay solid at room temperature. Reducing this kind of fat in the diet can improve lymphedema.
Do not try to reduce swelling by drinking less water. Drink 1 ounce (20 milliliters) of water daily for every 2 pounds (1 kg) of body weight. For instance, a person weighing 128 pounds should drink 64 ounces, or 8 cups, of water daily.
Keep the affected limb clean. Make certain all fabric in contact with the skin is regularly laundered, including bandages and compression garments.
If you get a cut, scrape, or other break in the skin on an affected limb, apply a topical antibiotic and notify your physician at once.
A study reported in The New England Journal of Medicine stated that only 25 percent of those women taking oral coumarin drugs experienced significant relief of symptoms. However, using herbs or drugs containing coumarin both internally and externally at the same time increases their effectiveness in reducing swelling 150 to 300 percent over either form of application used by itself. One approach is to take a prescribed coumarin medication orally while at the same time using a horse chestnut or sweet clover cream topically.
Compression stockings are very helpful in managing leg edema. A Japanese study found that nineteen out of twenty people who used compression stockings kept their leg edema from getting worse, while only one in four who did not use compression stockings did so.
When hospitalized, people who have undergone lymph node removal should not have medications administered by IV or injection into the affected arm. The arm also should not be used for blood pressure measurements, allergy testing, or drawing blood.
Barometric pressure is reduced at high altitudes, which can make lymphedema worse. Wearing a compression garment is extremely important if you travel by air or hike at high altitudes.
Homeopathic Therapy for Lymphedema
Homeopathic Treatment for Cellulitis
French and Belgian homeopaths have been treating cellulitis with homeopathic remedies since the 1960s. Although very few studies have examined the effectiveness of specific homeopathic therapies, professional homeopaths would recommend the following remedies for the treatment of cellulitis based on their knowledge and experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account a person's constitutional type. A constitutional type is defined as a person's physical, emotional, and psychological makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate treatment for each individual.
Apis Mellifica -- for swelling with a puffy appearance that worsens with heat and pressure, especially in the afternoon and is better with cold applications, open air, movement, and sitting upright
Cantharis -- for restless and anxious individuals; may be used for children; only available under the direction of a licensed homeopath
Lachesis -- for symptoms that tend to be worse on the left side of the body and during and immediately after sleep
Mercurius -- for individuals who are bothered by both heat and cold, and are often trembling and impulsive
Rhus toxicodendron -- for individuals who are restless and anxious with itching that tends to worsen at night but is relieved by warm compresses or pressure
Sulphur -- for hot, burning skin with itching that worsens at night and with washing
Seek immediate medical attention if fever and swelling do not subside after 24 hours.
Health and Age.com *page no longer at homesite*
Homeopathic Treatment for Infections
Healing Infections Without Antibiotics
Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman N.D., M.S.W., DHANP
We bet there are many of you reading this article who think nothing of taking Vitamin C and lots of liquids for a cold or using Aloe Vera gel for a burn. But, how many of you think about using natural treatments for bladder or vaginal infections, for a strep throat, or for more serious infections such as hepatitis or pneumonia? Most of the time the proper use of natural substances such as vitamins and herbs and homeopathic remedies will help you get over these conditions.
But it's important to know what works best for each condition, evaluate whether or not it's working, and to assess the consequences of unsuccessful treatment. In the case of hepatitis, for example, orthodox medicine has no real treatment, so you've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. (We've seen Hepatitis A cases respond within a week to a combination of nutrititional supplements, herbal liver support, and homeopathy.) With pneumonia, strep throat, and bladder infections, on the other hand, we monitor our patients very carefully. We recommend natural treatment for nearly all types of infections, with the exception of gonorrhea and chlamydia, both of which are often asymptomatic in women and can result in permanent infertility if not emiminated.In such cases, there are natural interventions which are helpful following antibiotic treatment. Otherwise, we refer out only a few times a year for antibiotic treatment because natural alternatives work so well. If your infection is minor, you can try some of these suggestions yourself; otherwise be sure to consult a naturopathic physician.
Antibiotics have a number of drawbacks. They kill bacteria indiscriminately throughout the body. That's their job. So, if you have a strep throat, for example, the antibiotic you take kills the good bacteria, lactobacillus, in the gut and the vagina, which you need to crowd out Candida (yeast) if it arises. That's why vaginal and intestinal yeast infections are so common after antibiotic use. Antibiotics are often prescribed routinely, without any evidence of infection, with a "just in case, it can't hurt " mentality. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses, but are routinely prescribed anyway. When taken repeatedly, they can weaken, rather than strengthen, the immune system, and may lead to more serious problems later. This is especially true when antibiotics are given for years, as tetracycline for acne, or when, as with resistant bladder infections, one antibiotic is followed, unsuccesfully, by yet another stronger one. There are many effective natural alternatives which work with, rather than against, the body's own healing mechanisms. Why not try them first and save antibiotics for a last resort?
There are many more infections than we can mention in a short column. We include here a few of the most common and troublesome infections to inspire you to use natural remedies.
General recommendations for infections: Eliminate caffeine, alcohol, sugar, refined foods, meat, and dairy while you have an acute infection. Eat lightly. Drink lots of hot, warm, and room-temperature beverages such as herb tea. Juice fasting, or even water for a couple of days, can be very helpful during an infection. Enemas can help flush the system. We suggest vitamin C, beta carotene, and zinc to strengthen the immune system. Herbs such as Echinacea and Hydrastis (goldenseal) can help support the immune system, but more specific herbs are often more helpful. Saunas and steam baths can also be helpful in detoxifying the system during infections. Massage can speed up the elimination of toxins, particularly a garlic oil foot massage. Listen to what your body's trying to tell you and ask it what it needs. REST! Don't keep pushing yourself past your limit when you're sick. It may take you twice as long to recover.
Throat infections: Even if you have a strep throat (diagnosed by a throat culture), natu- ral therapies can be very useful, but it's important to verify through a blood test that no strep is lingering because on occasion an undetected strep throat infection can lead to kidney, joint, or heart problems. Throat infections often respond well to gargles such as salt water, Calendula, goldenseal, myrrh, or oil of bitter orange. There are lots of excellent herbal throat lozenges available. Homeopathy works great for throat infections. We often use Belladonna, Lachesis, Lycopodium, Phytolacca, and Mercurius for sore throats . We recently treated a case of strep throat with a very unusual remedy, Spigelia, with a complete relief from pain within two days.
Skin infections: A mixture of Calendula and Hypericum tincture is what we use for bacterial skin infections. Other herbs commonly used are goldenseal, comfrey, and plantain. Boils and cysts can be successfully treated with hot packs, ginger poultices, and epsom salt soaks and homeopathic remedies such as Silica and Hepar sulphuris. Fungal infections often respond well also to homeopathy or to dilute vinegar applications. Also effective are turmeric powder and Tee Tree oil applied topically.
Bladder infections: A word of caution with bladder infections-treat them immediately. The longer you wait, the more pain and the greater the chance of a kidney infection and ending up on antibiotics. We recommend lots of water, cranberry juice or capsules, herbs (commonly Hydrastis, Uva Ursi, Bucchu, Chimaphilia, Berberis, and others) and homeopathy (remedies such as Staphysagria, Cantharis, Apis, and Sarsaparilla, to name a few).
Sinus infections: Rememember, no dairy! Drink lots of hot ginger tea. We use a great Ayurvedic combination called Sitopaladi to break up mucus. Homeopathic remedies such as Kali bichromicum, Pulsatilla, Mercurius, Natrum muriaticum, and Allium cepa work well. Use a neti pot to irrigate your sinuses with warm salt water. Treat yourself to a sauna or steam bath.
We could mention ear infections, conjunctivitis, vaginal infections, and many more, but hopefully we've conveyed the idea that there are effective natural treatments for all of them.
Be sure to consult a doctor if your own efforts don't work, and to get the necessary tests such as a strep culture, chest X-ray, etc. And, regardless of which method you use for your healing, remember to check in with your inner self to understand what the purpose of the illness is for you, what you can learn from it, and what will bring the deepest healing.
Drs. Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman and Robert Ullman are naturopathic and homeopathic physicians and cofounders of the Northwest Center for Homeopathic Medicine in Edmonds, WA. They are coauthors of The Patient's Guide to Homeopathic Medicine and Beyond Ritalin: Homeopathic Treatment of ADD and Other Behavioral and Learning Problems. They can be reached at (206) 774-5599.
Health World Online
Homeopathic Treatment Immune System
While there are no scientific studies showing that herbs have a direct effect on cellulitis, the following herbs that support the immune system may be helpful:
Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) is widely used in clinics to boost the immune system in order to prevent infection. In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) supports the use of Echinacea purpurea externally for treatment of inflammatory skin conditions.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is approved in Great Britain for skin infections and inflammation; it is applied topically.
Comfrey root (Symphytum officinale) is an anti-inflammatory. Some clinicians suggest a paste can be made from comfrey root and placed on the affected area twice a day to speed healing.
Goldenseal root (Hydrastis canadensis), which has both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, and slippery elm (Ulmus fulva), an antiseptic, may be added to a comfrey paste to increase its beneficial effects.
Calendula flower (Calendula officinalis) is approved in Germany for topical application to leg ulcers (open wounds of the leg that can readily become infected).
Fenugreek seed (Trigonella foenum-graecum), which contains flavonoids, is approved in Germany for external use on skin inflammation and infections.
Health and Age - page no longer at homesite
WHAT IS HOMEOPATHY?
"Complementary not alternative"
Homeopathy is a therapeutic system. Its principles differ from those of conventional medicine, as does its approach to the patient and to the concept of ill health. However, it cannot replace all other forms of health care. It can be used as the treatment of first choice in a wide range of conditions and can be a useful addition, or "complement" in other situations, for example, to support good recovery after operations.
The concepts of disease and healing which are described in homeopathic books are quite similar to modern scientific concepts. Homeopathy emphasises the importance of treating individuals as individuals and of understanding the whole person as opposed to only understanding a single "diseased part".
The body has many complex health-maintaining defensive mechanisms. The
system is an essential part of this, but other factors also have a role
If these mechanisms fail, then we sustain damage or wounds which then
have to be
repaired. Homeopathy works by stimulating both the health-maintaining
Modern homeopathic doctors work in the same way as their conventional colleagues. History taking, examination and investigation are all important in establishing the diagnosis - in understanding just what is wrong. However, homeopathic doctors consider a wider range of aspects of the patient's condition - personality traits, physical features, the effects of a variety of environmental influences, patterns of disease within families, and family and social relationships.
Homeopathic medicine was first described by Dr Samuel Hahnemann (1755 - 1843). Hahnemann was a German physician who was dissatisfied with the medical therapies and theories of his day. As he was translating a book by the Scot, Cullen, on medicines and their uses, Hahnemann challenged the ideas about how such medicines might work. This led him to take the substance himself so he could experience and describe its effects on a healthy human being. Repeating this type of experiment with other healthy volunteers (these experiments were called "provings") led him to observe and describe the basic principles of homeopathic medicine.
"Like cures like"
The first observation was that the symptoms of an illness were identical to the symptoms experienced by a healthy individual who had been given a drug which could treat that illness.
Although this is quite the opposite of the way conventional doctors use drugs, there are some modern drugs which work on exactly this principle. Digoxin, for example, can both cause and cure heart irregularities.
Special Thanks - British Homeopathic Association
What is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a non-toxic system of medicine used to treat illness and relieve discomfort of a wide variety of health conditions. It is practiced by licensed physicians and other qualified prescribers in many regions of the world, including Europe, Asia, the U.K., and the U.S. Information on the use of several hundred remedies has been collected for nearly two centuries by homeopathic practitioners, through research studies known as “provings,” as well as documented clinical cases and recent scientific trials. (Sources and documentation are found in “References.”)
The Law of Similars and Potentization
Two important ideas on which the science of homeopathy is based are the Law of Similars and potentization. Simply expressed, the Law of Similars states that since exposure to a substance can cause specific symptoms in a healthy person, that substance—when correctly prepared as a homeopathic remedy—can stimulate the body’s curative powers to overcome similar symptoms during illness.
For example: A person who chops an onion can develop watery eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and throat irritation from exposure to the onion’s active substances. The homeopathic remedy, Allium cepa, made of potentized red onion, can help the body overcome a cold or allergy attack in which the person has similar symptoms (watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, or throat irritation.) The actual symptoms of the illness were not caused by exposure to an onion, but the remedy made from the onion can help the body overcome them, because the symptoms are similar.
Potentization is a process that involves a series of precise dilutions and succussions (succussion is a vigorous shaking action). A substance has to undergo this process to be useful as a homeopathic remedy. Potentization is very important, because the repeated process of dilution and succussion brings about an energetic change that gives the substance a deeper curative effect. Repeated dilution removes all chance of chemical toxicity, allowing the homeopathic use of many substances that would otherwise not be safe to take as medicine.
The safety and non-toxicity of homeopathic remedies is reassuring; however, they still must be chosen carefully on the basis of specific information—and used correctly—or they may affect the symptoms only superficially, or have no effect at all. Homeopathic remedies are not selected simply to treat an isolated symptom or a named disease. To work correctly, they must be chosen to match the way an individual’s system expresses its unique response to the current stress and illness. Even within the same diagnosis, different people respond to different remedies.
How to Use Homeopathic Remedies
Self-care with homeopathy for moderate, short-term illnesses and injuries can be rewarding. A correctly-chosen remedy can work gently and efficiently to relieve discomfort and help the body heal itself without toxicity or side-effects. If an illness or condition is chronic or serious, it is best to consult an experienced prescriber for a remedy that more deeply suits the person’s needs. (See “Constitutional Remedies,” below.)
Observe the person, taking special note of the strongest and most unusual symptoms, as well as the way the individual responds to the stress of illness, such as things that relieve or aggravate the symptoms (motion, temperature, light, noise) or the person’s emotional and mental state.
Choose the remedy whose description most closely matches the symptoms the person is expressing. When a remedy’s pattern of action is similar to the person’s response to the stress or illness, it can help the natural defenses more efficiently overcome the problems and return the person to a better state of health.
Take one dose of the selected remedy, then wait for a response to show. If relief of important symptoms is noted—or if the person starts to improve in general—the remedy is acting. Continue to wait and let it do its work. Do not give another dose unless improvement stops. (Unnecessary repetitions can interfere with or slow down a remedy’s action.)
Further doses of the remedy should be given according to how the person is responding, not on a pre-set schedule. Intense or painful situations may require more frequent repetitions. For instance, in severe discomfort (as with a burn or throbbing headache) a dose may be needed every few minutes to an hour. In moderate conditions, such as flu or indigestion, a dose once every few hours may be indicated. In many situations, one dose of a correctly-chosen remedy will be enough to stimulate the body to heal itself.
If no response is evident after a reasonable amount of waiting, give another dose and wait again. If no response is seen after several repetitions, review the important symptoms and choose another closely-indicated remedy.
Lower potencies (6X, 6C, 12X, 12C, 30X, 30C) are the most appropriate for non-professional self-care situations. A 30 will often act more quickly and deeply than a 6 and need fewer repetitions—but, the higher the potency, the more precise the remedy choice must be to bring results. High potencies (past 30C) should only be used by those with formal homeopathic training, as a more developed knowledge of the remedies is needed to make an accurate prescription and to monitor results. (See also Understanding Homeopathic Potencies.)
Using Homeopathy with Professional Guidance
Homeopathic remedies can also be helpful in complex or even serious conditions—although self-prescribing is not appropriate in such cases. To correctly select the remedy and monitor the healing process, an experienced physician who is trained in homeopathy should be involved, for the following reasons:
Medical knowledge is needed to assess complex or serious conditions. Professional diagnostic tests may be necessary, as well.
Using a remedy that covers isolated symptoms superficially, but does not fit the person on deeper levels, may change or suppress the symptoms, yet not be deeply curative.
Even with a correctly-chosen remedy, a temporary aggravation of symptoms may occur as part of the healing process. Training and experience are required to distinguish a helpful aggravation from an intensification of symptoms that occurs because a remedy has not acted and the illness is progressing.
An inexperienced or impatient person might be tempted to repeat the remedy unnecessarily, or change to other remedies at times when waiting is appropriate.
If an illness or condition is chronic or deep-seated, it is best to consult an experienced homeopathic practitioner, for a “constitutional” remedy that fits the characteristic symptoms of the case and considers the person’s physical condition and individual nature in a more comprehensive way. At at typical first visit, a homeopath interviews a patient for at least an hour—to take a careful history and elicit information about many aspects of the person’s state of health—before choosing a remedy.
How Does Homeopathy Work?
Within the limitations of available scientific funding, interesting research is being undertaken to understand how and why such highly-diluted remedies have profound and curative effects. Formal studies published in current medical journals show that homeopathic remedies, when used correctly, are significantly more effective than placebo. Researchers theorize that, during potentization, an energetic change occurs in the remedy substance and its medium of dilution (usually water), enabling them to stimulate a person’s system to deal with stress and illness more efficiently. Homeopathic remedies do not have chemical action in the body, and thus work differently than nutrients or drugs—which has made it difficult for some researchers accustomed to assessing drugs to adequately consider them. Since the body is clearly affected by many forces that have no chemical content (electricity, radiation, thermal energy, etc.), it is reasonable to think that research designed to observe non-chemical effects will yield more useful information.
Understanding Homeopathy Potency
Also indexed as: Dilutions, Potencies of Homeopathic Remedies
Homeopathic remedies are prepared through a process called potentization. Potentization involves a series of systematic dilutions and successions (a forceful shaking action). Potentization is important, because it removes all risk of chemical toxicity while activating a remedy substance and enabling it to affect the body therapeutically.
Homeopathic pharmacies operate according to strict guidelines, to ensure that the remedies and potencies are consistent and reliable. The first step in producing a homeopathic remedy is acquiring a pure preparation of the original substance in its natural form (a solution of a mineral salt, a “mother tincture” of a plant, etc.). The original substance is then put through a measured series of dilutions, alternating with succussions, until the desired potency is made.
Homeopathic potencies are designated by the combination of a number and a letter (for example, 6X or 30C). The number refers to the number of dilutions the tincture has undergone within a series to prepare that remedy. The letter refers to the proportions used in each dilution of the series (the Roman numeral X means 10, and the Roman numeral C means 100), as well as the number of succussions the vial of solution undergoes in each successive stage.
For example: To prepare a 6X potency of Ledum palustre, one part of the Ledum mother tincture is combined in a vial with nine parts of the carrier liquid, and succussed ten times again, making a 2X solution. The process is repeated four more times, for a total of six dilutions and succussions—and the final result is a 6X potency of Ledum. (To make a 30C, one part of the tincture would be combined with ninety-nine parts of the carrier liquid and succussed 100 times in each of thirty steps.) Pellets, tablets, or powders are then medicated with the potentized liquid, or drops of the remedy are taken in liquid form.
The more dilutions and succussions a substance undergoes, the higher the potency will be. Higher potencies of homeopathic remedies (anything higher than 12C) have been diluted past the point that molecules of the original substance would be measurable in the solution. This is a major stumbling block for skeptics when it comes to understanding and accepting the idea of homeopathy. Homeopathic remedies, when correctly chosen, clearly work—but not in the way that drugs do (through chemical actions that affect the body processes). It is not completely understood why potentized remedies can work so deeply and specifically, but many likely theories have arisen through research and observation. It appears that they function on an energetic level to stimulate the body to heal itself more efficiently.
References and Resources
The following articles published in medical journals analyze results of over 100 clinical studies assessing effects of homeopathic medicines:
1. Linde K, Clausius N, Ramirez G, et al. Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? A meta-analysis of placebo-controlled trials. Lancet 1997;250:834–43.
Analysis of 186 studies; concludes that positive results in subjects taking homeopathic medicines are 2.4 times more likely than with placebo.
2. Kleijnen J, Knipschild P, ter Riet G. Clinical trials of homeopathy. Br Med J 1991;302:316–23.
Review of 107 studies, 81 of which (77%) showed positive effects from homeopathic medicines; researchers concluded: “The evidence presented in this review would probably be sufficient for establishing homeopathy as a regular treatment for certain indications.”
3. Summary and review of other recent homeopathic research studies, and other references, may be found in the following books:
Jonas WB, Jacobs J. Healing with Homeopathy. New York: Warner Books, 1996.
Hulman D. The Consumer’s Guide to Homeopathy. New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1995.
Allen HC. Keynotes and Characteristics of the Materia Medica. New Delhi: B. Jain (reprint), 1988.
Boericke W. Materia Medica with Repertory. Santa Rosa: Boericke and Tafel (reprint) 1988.
Borland D. Homeopathy for Mother and Infant. New Delhi: World Homeopathic Links (reprint).
Boyd H. Introduction to Homeopathic Medicine. Beaconsfield, England: Beaconsfield, 1981.
Hering C. Guiding Symptoms of our Materia Medica. New Delhi: B. Jain (reprint), 1988, (Vol 1–10).
Herscu P. The Homeopathic Treatment of Children. Berkeley: North Atlantic, 1991.
Kent JT. Lectures on Homeopathic Materia Medica. New Delhi: B. Jain (reprint), 1980.
Kent, JT. Repertory of Homeopathic Materia Medica. New Delhi: B. Jain (reprint), 1988.
Nash EB. Leaders in Homeopathic Therapeutics. New Delhi: B. Jain (reprint), 1988.
Perko S. Homeopathy for the modern Pregnant Woman and Her Infant. San Antonio: Benchmark Homeopathic Publications, 1997.
Schroyens F. Synthesis/Repertorium Homeopathicum Syntheticum. London: Homeopathic Book Publishers, 1993.
Tyler M. Drug Pictures. Saffron Walden, Essex: CW Daniel, 1982.
Vithoulkas G. Materia Medica Viva. London: Homeopathic Book Publishers, 1992, 1995.
Castro M. Complete Homeopathy Handbook. New York: St. Martin’s, 1991.
Castro M. Homeopathy for Pregnancy, Birth, and Your Child’s First Year. New York: St. Martin’s, 1993.
Cummings S, Ullman D. Everybody’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicines. Los Angeles: Tarcher, 1991.
Lockie A. Family Guide to Homeopathy. New York: Fireside, 1993.
Panos M, Heimlich J. Homeopathic Medicine at Home. Los Angeles: Tarcher, 1980.
Ullman D. Consumer’s Guide to Homeopathy. New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1995.
Vithoulkas G. Homeopathy: Medicine of the New Man. New York: Avon, 1971.
Homeopathic History and Theory:
Coulter HL. Homeopathic Science and Modern Medicine: The Physics of Healing With Microdoses. Berkeley: North Atlantic, 1987.
Coulter HL. Divided Legacy: A History of the Schism in Medical Thought. Berkeley: North Atlantic, 1975; 1977; 1981; 1994.
Hahnemann S. The Organon of Medicine, 5th Edition; 6th Edition.
Kent JT. Lectures on Homeopathic Philosophy. Berkeley: North Atlantic, 1979 (reprint).
Vithoulkas G. The Science of Homeopathy. New York: Grove, 1980.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT and THANKS
The information presented in Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over-the-counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires March 2005.
Abstracts and Studies:
The role of a homoeopathic preparation compared with conventional therapy in the treatment of injuries: An observational cohort study.
The effect of adding homeopathic treatment to rehabilitation on muscle tone of children with spastic cerebral palsy.
New repertory, new considerations
Homeopathy. 2008 Jan
Why pediatric health care providers are not using homeopathic antidiarrheal agents.
Homeopathy, fundamentalism, and the memory of water
Homeopathy for cancer?
Possible dangers for patients using homeopathy: may a homeopathic medicinal product contain active substances that are not homeopathic dilutions?
A study on acceptability of Indian system of medicine and homeopathy in India: results from the State of West Bengal.
Homeopathy confronted with clinical research
Research on homeopathy: state of the art.
The Scientific Evidence on Homeopathy
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