I get that question a lot. And Wikipedia isn’t helping, so here’s my answer:
In a nutshell, homeopathy is a natural, holistic medicine, in fact a complete and unique system of medicine that revitalizes the body’s natural ability to heal. In many ways it’s like acupuncture or chiropractic in that it’s highly individualized form of medicine working with the whole person rather than just body parts but instead of using needles or physical treatments, it typically comes in the form of pills called remedies.
What makes homeopathy different?
The most important characteristic that differentiates homeopathy from other holistic therapies is spelled out in its name: homeo – pathos which means similar suffering or simply, what can cause illness can also heal it. As a result, homeopathy must be tailored to the individual. There is no blanket approach so you can’t give a remedy according to a conventional medical diagnosis. For example, do you or someone you know have arthritis? In conventional medicine, you’d give an anti-inflammatory and a pain killer. In homeopathy you have to find more clues, asking what makes the pain better or worse? Is the pain aggravated on first moving and does it improve with continued motion? Then the best remedy choice is likely Rhus toxicodendron. Or is it painful with every movement, having started after an injury? Then Arnica montana is the better choice. If someone tells me homeopathy didn’t work for them, then it’s likely they didn’t find a good match to their symptom picture. Homeopathic remedies treat people not diseases.
One of the main reasons people turn to homeopathy is its safety record and this is another differentiating factor. Homeopathic remedies are prepared in such a way that only very small particles, nano-particles, are left in the preparation, so there are no toxic impurities in the remedies, making it exceptionally safe, even for babies and young children—and yet still powerful enough for elite athletes without the doping side effects of many conventional pharmaceuticals. Scientific research proves that these particles exist and that they have biological and healing effects on the body. For more information about the extensive research on homeopathy, see my page on evidence.
A great many people don’t know that homeopathy is actually evidence based. It’s based on a Law of Provings, which is unique to homeopathy and means that healthy homeopaths volunteer to take the remedies for a period of time, long enough for the remedies to produce symptoms, which are then diligently gathered and written down in Materia Medica. Along with the clinical experience gathered in using these remedies successfully, this Material Medica then provides the basis for a homeopath’s choice for any given homeopathic medicine.
People often think homeopathy works slowly because it works with the body’s natural healing ability but not always! in cases where an inflammatory process, say a fever or a pain, comes up suddenly, then homeopathy can work quickly, even within minutes to hours. For instance, if you give Arnica early on after an injury or surgery, studies show it minimizes bruising—however if you wait until the next day when the bruising has already started you won’t experience minimal bruising though it may still manage pain and inflammation. Have you had the problem for months or years? Then expect that the body will need time to heal and revitalize itself. Is it a problem that requires surgery or is life threatening? This is where conventional medicine shines. Best to use homeopathy only as an adjunct to conventional medicine in these instances, leaving homeopathy to what it does best, revitalize the body in chronic disease.
I hope this has clarified what homeopathy is—it’s quite simple, right? It’s a natural system of medicine that is non-toxic, stimulates the body to heal itself and must be tailored to your symptoms for it to work well—the better the remedies match, the faster it’ll work.
Want to learn more? Come and join me at 4 Homeopathy Canada’s online book club where we’ll be discussing more about what homeopathy is and how it may benefit you.