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Homeopathy Mailing List FAQ
By Christian Kurz (ckurz@bnet.co.at)

This file is meant to trap the most common questions newcomers to homeopathy might have. To reduce the wear and tear on the homeopathy mailing list, please take the time to read through the following paragraphs and check if you can't find the answer to your question here.

You will find brief answers to the following questions in this file:

What is homeopathy?
What are homeopathic remedies?
How do I find the right remedy for me?
Where is there a homeopathic practitioner in my area?
How much does homeopathic treatment cost?
What should I be aware of when taking homeopathic medication?
How fast do homeopathic remedies work?
How can I learn more about homeopathy?

WHAT IS HOMEOPATHY?

Homeopathy is an alternative system of medicine that was founded in the early 19th century by a German physician, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann. It had its greatest popularity in the late 19th century, during which time about 15% of all medical doctors were homeopaths. In many other European countries this percentage was similar. However, with the advent of modern medicine, homeopathy was touted as "old and stodgy" by practitioners of conventional medicine and its popularity took a nosedive. This trend has reversed recently and since 1980 homeopathy is experiencing a strong resurgence of interest in the U.S., the U.K., as well as many other countries.

Homeopathy rests on the principle "Like Cures Like." This means that a disease can be cured by a medicine that is capable of producing symptoms similar to those experienced by the patient in a healthy person. Therefore the most important part of homeopathic treatment lies in the lengthy interview which the homeopath conducts with the patient in order to determine all the symptoms which the patient is experiencing. The homeopath then decides which medicine to prescribe based on the closest match between the patient's symptoms and the known symptoms elicited by the medicine in a healthy body.

WHAT ARE HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES?

A homeopathic remedy is normally a single substance usually derived from a plant, an animal, or a mineral which is then subjected to a special procedure which brings out the medicinal properties of the original substance. There are currently about 2000 substances whose specific effects on the body have been recorded. Examples are charcoal, salt, poison ivy, snake poisons, etc.

Homeopaths have discovered by experience that the effect of homeopathic medicines is strengthened dramatically upon successive dilutions and vigorous shaking between each dilution. The final dilution is very high (ranging from 1 part in 1000 to 1 part in 10^60 and above). It is this use of high dilutions that has given rise to controversy. Many conventional doctors claim that homeopathy functions only as a placebo. However, several controlled clinical studies have been performed by medical researchers, showing that homeopathy is an effective method of treatment for many diseases. The best summary of research can be found in a study published in the British Medical Journal. Its authors are not homeopaths but medical school professors asked by the Dutch government to review existing research: "Clinical Trials of Homeopathy.", Kleijnen, Jos, Knipschild, Paul, et al., British Medical Journal, Feb 9, 1991, v302, n6772, p516(8). Another, more recent, study showed that homeopathy is decidedly different in its action from a placebo and can be found in the Dec 20, 1994 issue of the British medical journal Lancet.

The degree of dilution is referred to as the "potency" of the remedy, with higher dilutions corresponding to higher potencies. The potency is denoted by a number and a letter on the label, such as "C6", "C12", "12X", etc. (higher numbers denote higher potencies). Homeopathic remedies are available in different preparations: tablets, liquids, and globuli (small white pellets). Tablets and globuli are made of impregnated milk sugar, whereas liquid preparations are solutions of the medication in water with some amount of alcohol added as a preservative.

HOW DO I FIND THE RIGHT REMEDY FOR ME?

The key to finding the right homeopathic remedy is individualisation. This means that the totality of all symptoms experienced by the patient (including those apparently unrelated to the main complaint) has to be known in order to prescribe the medicine. The mere name of a disease, like flu, cold, arthritis, fibromyalgia, etc. is not enough. For this reason, please refrain from asking the tempting question: "I have disease X -- which homeopathic remedy should I take?" In the course of a thorough interview (normally between 60 and 90 minutes, initially), the homeopath tries to form a complete picture of your current state. This includes your emotional, mental, and physical symptoms.

Many health food stores now offer prescription-free homeopathic remedies. They are frequently labelled with a disease name like "Diarrhoea", "Head Ache", "Allergies", etc.. Since careful individualised matching of symptoms is necessary to find the correct remedy, these products rarely cure. Sometimes a temporary amelioration of symptoms can be achieved but in general you should not expect too much from these preparations.

WHERE IS THERE A HOMEOPATHIC PRACTITIONER IN MY AREA?

In every country there usually exists an organisation which maintains a directory of licensed homeopathic practitioners. In the absence of any personal recommendation, contacting them will give you the desired information.

United States
United Kingdom
Rest of World

HOW MUCH DOES HOMEOPATHIC TREATMENT COST?

Unfortunately, in many countries alternative medicine is not covered by the health insurance system. Homeopathic remedies are comparatively inexpensive (a month's supply will cost you only a couple of US dollars or UK pounds) and the only major cost is to the practitioner. The first visit will be the most expensive one since much time (60 to 90 minutes) is devoted to the initial interview. Follow-up visits are shorter and comparatively infrequent, and are therefore also less expensive.

United States: 1st visit: $150-250+, follow-up: $50-$100 Australia: $30-50 United Kingdom: 30-60 15-30 New Zealand: $50-90 $25-45

WHAT SHOULD I BE AWARE OF WHEN TAKING HOMEOPATHIC MEDICATION?

Homeopathic preparations are extremely safe to take because of their highly diluted form. Nonetheless, frequent repetition of a dose without the advice of a professional is not recommended. Remedies should not be taken together with food because this might interfere with their absorption. Take them at least 30 minutes before or after eating or drinking and let them dissolve in the mouth. Your homeopath will give you more specific instructions if necessary.

Sometimes an initial worsening of your symptoms can occur. This initial aggravation is usually a good sign and signifies that your body is responding to the remedy. Although the physical symptoms might get worse for a short period of time, you as a whole will start to feel better almost immediately. The aggravation will subside quickly, followed by the recovery.

HOW FAST DO HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES WORK?

This is a difficult question to answer in a general way. It depends on the nature of your illness (acute or chronic, long standing or recent, etc.), your constitution, and the specific remedy given. In acute cases often times relief can be felt a few minutes after taking the remedy and the first dose can cure the illness completely. Chronic cases take longer to respond and a full course of treatment may take many months.

HOW CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT HOMEOPATHY?

Books about homeopathy are available in many health food stores and book stores. A list of some of the most common ones is given below:

Miranda Castro, The Complete Homeopathy Handbook
Brief introduction to the history and philosophy of homeopathy. The main part of the book focuses on treating common acute conditions. Very readable for the beginner - buy from  USA  UK

Steven Cummings and Dana Ullman, Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicine
This book covers homeopathic history, principles, and practical methodology along with home care measures and appropriate homeopathic medicines for a wide variety of acute conditions. Similar to Miranda Castro's book (see above) - buy from  USA  UK

Dana Ullman, Homeopathic Medicine for the 21st Century
Very thorough and exact. Well worth reading. If you want one book to have by you -- this might be the one - buy from  USA  UK

George Vithoulkas, Homeopathy: Medicine of the New Man
A good introduction to the homeopathic philosophy - buy from UK

Richard Moskowitz, Homeopathic Medicine for Pregnancy And Childbirth - buy from  USA  UK

Gerhard Koehler, The Handbook of Homeopathy - It's Principle And Practice
This is for the more serious student; it covers the breadth and depth of homeopathy with exceptional thoroughness. Not so much a practical guide but a well presented layout of the homeopathic principles - buy from  USA  UK

Samuel Hahnemann, The Organon of Medicine, 6th Ed.
This is the latest edition of the "bible" of homeopathy. It contains the principles of homeopathy as its founder, Samuel Hahnemann, saw them in his time (around 1810). Gives a good historic picture of the medical knowledge of Hahnemann's times. A bit difficult to read, but a must for a serious student - buy from  USA  UK

If you want to get involved more deeply, then homeopathic study groups are a good way to go. These meet regularly (about every two to four weeks) and usually aim at becoming knowledgeable in treating simple common complaints by self-prescribing. Being local centres of homeopathically interested people you may use them as a gateway to specialised seminars, further reading, and other resources. To find out whether there are any near you, call the national organisations (see above). Your practitioner might also be able to give you some information.





 
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