(BlackDoctor.org) — Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine dating back to the 18th century, and was invented by a German physician named Samuel Hahnemann. Homeopathy is quite popular in Europe, with homeopathic medicines widely available in most pharmacies. Homeopathic treatment is also covered by the national health insurance in many European countries.
Here in the United States, homeopathy has grown in acceptance over the last several decades, however it is still denounced as quackery by the American Medical Association. Be that as it may, millions of Americans use homeopathic remedies or seek treatment from homeopaths each year, and homeopathic medicines can now be found in many mainstream American pharmacies.
How Does It Work?
Homeopathy employs minute dilutions of various naturally occurring plant-based substances for the treatment of a wide range of conditions. Based on the Greek word meaning “similar suffering”, homeopathy employs a substance that might, in larger quantities, actually worsen or cause the symptoms that are being treated. A simple example might be the use of a remedy containing an extremely dilute amount of caffeine in order to treat insomnia. However counterintuitive this might seem (and difficult to prove scientifically), homeopaths believe that such a highly diluted dose of “what ails you” can actually stimulate the body’s natural abilities to heal itself, especially for acute conditions. (Some people relate this phenomenon to vaccines, wherein proteins from actual diseases are injected into the body in order to promote an immune response.)
That said, when a homeopath prescribes what might be called a “constitutional remedy” for a client, the example above does not fully apply, since a constitutional homeopathic remedy is meant to treat multiple chronic symptoms and conditions simultaneously.
While modern science has found it difficult to quantify the effects of homeopathy in controlled scientific studies, homeopaths maintain that it is an effective and harmless form of alternative medicine that can be safely used with adults, children, pregnant women and the elderly, and some studies do show beneficial outcomes.
What Can I Expect at a Homeopathic Consultation?
When seeing a homeopath for the first time, the client can usually expect to complete an extensive and thorough health history. The homeopathic physician will then discuss this history with the client in great detail, including physical, emotional and psychological concerns. An initial consultation may last from one hour to two hours, and subsequent appointments will generally last about an hour.
Homeopaths view health as multidimensional and multifactorial, and consultations will sometimes review aspects of the client’s health that may not seem immediately connected to the original complaint for which the client sought treatment, but this information is very important in order for the homeopath to fully assess the patient in a holistic manner.
What Are Homeopathic Remedies Like?
Homeopathic remedies are commonly small pills with a sugar base that dissolve easily under the tongue, and most can be safely taken along with regular prescription medicines, however this should be decided between your homeopath and primary physician. Homeopathic remedies can also be prescribed or purchased in liquid formulations. Most remedies should not be taken within 15 minutes of eating or drinking, and some homeopaths will recommend not using mint toothpaste or other mint-based products while under treatment.
Can I Treat Myself With Homeopathy?
Homeopathic remedies are available in health food stores, food co-ops and many pharmacies and some supermarkets. There are many reputable books available to guide the consumer in self-treatment, however it may be advisable to consult a homeopathic physician for complicated chronic medical issues or multiple symptoms. It is also recommended to notify your primary physician when you begin using homeopathic medicine.
How Are Homeopaths Trained and Certified?
In the United States, there are a number of schools of homeopathy that offer extensive education in homeopathic medicine, pathology, anatomy and physiology, and related training. Most students of homeopathy undergo a rigorous course of study involving hundreds of hours of classroom time and supervised clinical training.
Certification varies from state the state, but many homeopaths in the United States are certified by the American Institute of Homeopathy or the North American Society of Homeopathy, which also offer special certification for physicians or osteopaths who complete training in homeopathic medicine. Some veterinarians are also becoming certified in homeopathic treatment for large and small animals.
Is Homeopathy For Me?
If you are considering homeopathic treatment, you can find a practitioner of homeopathic medicine through the websites of the organizations mentioned above. There are also a number of excellent books about homeopathy that can assist individuals and families in safely using homeopathic remedies at home for minor acute complaints and conditions. Many health food stores and natural pharmacies have knowledgeable staff who can also address your concerns.
If you have questions about whether homeopathy is safe for you to use with your prescription medications, consult your primary physician or a homeopath prior to treatment.