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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.1
(Sources and documentation for information included in this database
will be found in “References” below.)
The Law of Similars and
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
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
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
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
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
Using Homeopathy with Professional
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
- 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.1
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.
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
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
Hulman D. The Consumer’s Guide to Homeopathy. New York: Tarcher/Putnam,
References and Resources: Professional
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
Schroyens F. Synthesis/Repertorium
Homeopathicum Syntheticum. London: Homeopathic Book Publishers,
Tyler M. Drug Pictures. Saffron Walden,
Essex: CW Daniel, 1982.
Vithoulkas G. Materia Medica Viva. London:
Homeopathic Book Publishers, 1992, 1995.
References and Resources: General
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
Coulter HL. Divided Legacy: A History of
the Schism in Medical Thought. Berkeley: North Atlantic, 1975; 1977;
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.
Select the remedy that
most closely matches the symptoms. In conditions where
self-treatment is appropriate, unless otherwise directed by a
physician, a lower potency (6X, 6C, 12X, 12C, 30X, or 30C)
should be used. In addition, instructions for use are usually
printed on the label.
physicians suggest that remedies be used as follows: Take one
dose and wait for a response. If improvement is seen, continue
to wait and let the remedy work. If improvement lags
significantly or has clearly stopped, another dose may be
taken. The frequency of dosage varies with the condition and
the individual. Sometimes a dose may be required several times
an hour; other times a dose may be indicated several times a
day; and in some situations, one dose per day (or less) can be
If no response is seen
within a reasonable amount of time, select a different remedy.
For more information, including references, see What
is Homeopathy? and Understanding
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The information presented in Healthnotes
Online is for informational purposes only. It is based on
scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical
experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article.
The results reported may not necessarily occur in all
individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment
with prescription or over-the-counter medication is also
available. Consult your physician, nutritionally oriented
healthcare practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health
problem and before using any supplements or before making
any changes in prescribed medications.
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