The definition of homeopathic medicine is based on the Greek words homeo, meaning "similar", and pathos, meaning "feeling" or "suffering." Pathos comes from the root pathisi which means "disease". In essence, homeopathic means "similar feeling" or "like disease." Homeopathic treatments function on the idea that "like cures like", or the law of similars. In homeopathic medicine, symptoms are treated with very diluted substances which would, if used full strength, create the same symptoms in a healthy person. By treating a person in this way, that person's body is stimulated to heal the symptom in question.
Examples of Homeopathic Remedies
Homeopathy is an extremely safe and natural way of letting your body heal itself. The idea behind the practice allows that if you give a patient an extremely diluted - by as many as a millionth percent - remedy that contains a substance that would cause distress, it will tip your body toward trying to heal itself. In fact, a homeopathic treatment is diluted so much that there is none of the actual substance left, which makes it harmless and likely to do no damage as it treats.
There are numerous examples of homeopathic remedies that have been used for hundreds of years and are still being used today.
Apis is the name for honey bees and the homeopathic medicine called Apis is made from the stingers of bees.
While many people will have a bad reaction to being stung by a bee, minute quantities of Apis are actually used to treat stinging pain that feels hot and swollen, including hives.
Belladonna is a poison derived from the deadly nightshade plant. Ingesting and even handling this plant could cause symptoms including fever, heart palpitations and even death.
Prepared as a homeopathic remedy, belladonna is harmless and used to treat fevers, headache and infections that cause heat and throbbing such as tonsillitis or ear infections in children.
While homeopathy has been used for hundreds of years, there are still some misconceptions around its use. These may leave people confused or hesitant to try these methods.
Homeopathy and Vaccines
One of the biggest misconceptions of homeopathy is that it is similar to vaccination: both introduce a foreign substance into the body as a way of keeping it healthy. Vaccination, however, introduces germs into a healthy body to produce an immune response that will keep you from getting ill with that virus in its full strength form.
Homeopathy introduces substances that do not cause illness; they cause only symptoms in their full strength form. In their diluted form, they would cause no symptoms in a healthy person, but may stimulate an ill person back toward a healthy state.
Homeopathy and Herbs
Another misconception is that homeopathy is a form of herbal medicine. While homeopathy and herbal medicines may sometimes work together and even use the same substances, they are two different practices.
Herbal medicine may use full strength preparations of specific herbs, either in pill, tincture or lotion form. Homeopathy may also use those same herbs, but diluted to the point that the actual herb is gone, leaving behind only its essence.
Finding a Homeopath
While no medical training is required to effectively use homeopathics, you may feel better consulting a professional homeopath. To find a practitioner near you, visit the North American Society of Homeopaths or The Society of Homeopaths in Europe.
Treat Yourself Gently
Homeopathy is one way of treating yourself naturally that proponents say leads to no adverse effects or reactions. If you want to try a natural medicine but are nervous about reactions or side effects, consider speaking to your doctor about pursuing homeopathy as an answer to your health concerns.