While homeopathy is just budding in Canada, it is trusted by more than 200 million people worldwide, happens to be the number one alternative medicine recommended by doctors in Europe and has a 200 year old history. Many celebrities—including Queen Elizabeth, Paul McCartney, Martina Navratilova and David Beckham—use homeopathy for injuries, nagging chronic problems, and to boost health overall. So what is homeopathy exactly?

Homeopathy is a unique natural medicine

Homeopathy is a system of medicine that uses small doses of natural substances to stimulate the body to heal itself. Prepared in a unique way, homeopathic remedies are very different: they are inexpensive, without toxic side effects and remarkably safe—even for babies and pregnant women. This is why 95% of pharmacists in France recommend homeopathic medicine to women during pregnancy. Many people turn to homeopathy for chronic conditions because it offers hope, helping the body recover its health rather than just managing symptoms. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2005, showed that over 70% of patients treated with homeopathy for a variety of chronic diseases experienced improvement. It seems to me that homeopathy is growing as many people realize the limitations of the “wonder drugs” of the 20th Century.

Treating each person individually

Unlike conventional medicine or even herbal medicine, homeopathic remedies are not prescribed by disease diagnosis, but rather according to the unique symptoms a person experiences. For example, one person with hay fever experiences symptoms of an itchy, sneezy runny nose that burns the upper lip while another suffers with itchy, red, burning eyes that won’t stop tearing. The choice of remedy for the former, Allium cep 30ch, is different from the latter, Euphrasia 30ch. How can people need different remedies when they both have allergies? This is because homeopathy works with the body’s constitution. 

Treating the constitution instead of the disease

The body’s constitution is the strength of the body’s health and its susceptibility to certain illnesses. Who doesn’t know someone who never gets sick and another who seems to be susceptible to every cold or sore throat going around? Each person has a unique constitution and when we become ill, we need a remedy tailored to our unique set of symptoms. In homeopathy when the allergy symptoms improve or the fever subsides, it’s because the body is truly recovering—so when you feel better, you really are better. Homeopathy works with the individual biochemistry of a person, to boost the immune system, balance hormones and manage chemicals in the body. In a nutshell, homeopathy works with the body’s remarkable ability to heal and balance itself.

Classical homeopathy and combination remedies

Because working with the constitution is an unfamiliar process and one that requires some simple sleuthing (taking note of symptoms and then finding a remedy to match those symptoms), homeopathic pharmacies have attempted to simplify the process by designing a formulation that includes a combination of the most common remedies for an illness. For a cough, the most typical homeopathic cough remedies are put into a formulation as a syrup and sold as a “homeopathic cough syrup.” Combination remedies are popular because they are easy to use and nontoxic—and they do work reasonably well for short lived conditions. However, for chronic conditions or any symptoms that recur or linger, combination remedies do not work well, and at best, are temporary band aid solutions. When health problems linger, the expert advice of a homeopathic practitioner is recommended. A classical homeopath is skilled in selecting remedies tailored specifically to your unique constitution. With just a few sessions, homeopathy can raise the level of health of a person and relieve chronic symptoms.

Working with a homeopath or naturopath

Homeopathy is not regulated in Canada except in the province of Ontario. As a result, choosing a homeopathic practitioner outside of Ontario means checking the level of education and affiliation with a professional society. This is also true for naturopaths, who may or may not have enough training in classical homeopathy specifically in order to work in the process of individually selecting a constitutional remedy for a chronic, recurring problem. Classical homeopaths, whether they have had naturopathic education or any other medical education, must undergo rigorous training to be able to accurately choose remedies unique to a person’s constitution, and should have a minimum of 3-4 years of study in homeopathy itself. This is because homeopathy is a unique system of medicine, just like herbalism or acupuncture and midwifery requires in depth education. It is just not possible to learn homeopathy in a weekend workshop. When visiting a homeopathic practitioner, a classical homeopath must take the time to learn about the patient and take careful note of the symptoms, ensuring that the remedy is tailored to the person and the illness. Additional devices or machines are unnecessary and usually hinder this selection process.

Homeopathy works alongside conventional medicine

Homeopaths who are not medical doctors continue to rely on physicians for their patients’ regular check ups, diagnoses, emergencies and severe physical illness. For a great many health problems however, the toxic side effects of conventional medications on our bodies and our planet suggest that these medications be used sparingly, and only when necessary. This calls for homeopathy and simple lifestyle changes as solutions for most health problems. Prince Charles is a leader in this respect: concerned about environmental toxins and antibiotic resistance, he switched to organic farming and homeopathy for his dairy cattle many years ago. Switzerland is also leading the way. In 2011, the Swiss government commissioned a review of all the research that had been carried out on homeopathic medicines and concluded that homeopathy is not only effective but cost effective. In Switzerland, homeopathic medicine is covered alongside conventional medicine under the National Health Care service.

Why choose homeopathy?

Homeopathy is an excellent choice for the medicine cabinet, alongside bandaids and antiseptic, as your first line of defence when someone in the family gets sick or injured. Not only is it nontoxic, but it works quickly for simple health complaints. For chronic, recurring problems, homeopathy offers hope to millions of people who want to become healthier rather than just managing symptoms. Actress Cindy Crawford sums it up beautifully: “homeopathy offers a safe, natural alternative that causes no side effects or drug interactions.”