The definition of homeopathy can be etymologically observed as a compound word based on two Greek words, homois and pathos. Homois means “same” or “like”, whereas pathos means “suffering”. Therefore homeopathy is a form of medicine that comes in as an alternative of the clinical medicine that brings in the concept of curing symptoms in people using the same substance that is believed to have caused the disease or ailment. It is simply based on the principle of using a small dose of the substance that caused the symptoms to trigger the body’s natural immune system for healing. It is based on the principle of similia similibus curentur meaning” like cures like” (Day 2000).
The History of Homeopathy
The origin of homeopathy dates back to the 18th century specifically in 1796 by a scientist named Samuel Hahnemann, who propagated the form of medicine to universal acceptance. He also introduced the concept of like curing like (Stokes 1999). Homeopathic remedies according to Hahnemann cured the root cause of the symptoms and it is administered repetitively for the sick individuals to fully recover.
The homeopathic remedies were prepared in stages, the first stage being the identification of the substance that caused the symptoms in sick people through a careful analysis and evaluation of the symptoms. This was to prevent a misconception of the symptoms since this would lead to the use of the wrong substance to administer the treatment. The fragile nature of this practice is founded on the very same driving ideology behind it of like cures like. It therefore follows that like must be identified to be administered for treatment (Herring, Mary, Molly 2002).
Upon the identification of the substance that caused the symptoms, the cure is prepared by repeatedly diluting it in distilled water or alcohol under controlled conditions so as to attain the precise concentration required. After the process of dilution, the substance is forcefully stroked on an elastic body, a process that Hahnemann referred to as succusion. He also said that every step of dilution followed by succession gave the cure a greater ability to heal the sick person. In the modern times, homeopathy is mainly administered using tablet form. A good example of how homeopathy works is by taking a substance that produces certain symptoms and working with it. For example, coffee when drunk in large quantities may lead to agitation and also sleeplessness. According to this form of medicine, the symptoms of sleeplessness and agitation would be cured by taking the coffee, diluting it in distilled water or alcohol, followed by a specific form of very vigorous shaking referred to as succession and finally you have the end product as the homeopathic medicine.
In practice it is important to observe that this concept has been widely used in conventional medicine despite it having its fair share of criticisms. For example, patients with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder are being treated using a stimulant known as Ritalin which is produced from the substance that produces the symptoms of ADHD (Jonas, Wayne, Jennifer 1996). Another good example is where patients who are highly allergic to pollen are treated by using small doses of allergens so as to de-sensitize the allergic patients.
Since the 1790s, the practice of Homeopathy started gaining popularity in many nations of Europe, Asia and the United States of America. After the death of Hahnemann in 1843, other practitioners can into the scene and many new provings were made and the Materia medica which is a Homeopathy workbook documenting the various provings increased in volume tremendously.
Currently there ismuch advancement in the practice of homeopathy and many modern remedies have been formulated and they come in to replace older forms of treatment and goes beyond to treat symptoms whose remedies were yet to be identified. The dynamic nature of the studies in Homeopathy has brought to the scene remedies that are still being worked on.
Despite the decline of the practice in the 1930s due to the deviation from classical Homeopathy by some practitioners who shifted to more mechanical ways of treatment rather than continuing with the philosophical Homeopathy (Jacobs, Jennifer 2000). This only served to further widen the rift between Homeopathy and conventional medicine. In the 1970s, the state of affairs changed and the practice experienced revival. Despite its decline in Europe and USA, there were still a good number of Homeopaths in India. George Vithoulkas is one such homeopath. He underscored the importance of treating the patient rather than the symptom only. He stressed on the aspect of understanding the state of mind of the patient. It is important to note that the new remedies were based on the studies that go beyond the physical symptoms to the more psychological aspect (Vithoulkas 1980). Dr. James Tyler Kent, an American homeopath was amongst the homeopaths who paved way for the new remedies based on understanding the remedy states as images and pictures and not just a collection of symptoms (Kent, Roger 1989).
Dr. M. L. Sehgal from Delhi, in the mid-1980s, formed the opinion that one could possibly prescribe a medicine to a patient by observing his state of mind. By conducting psychoanalysis of the patient, Dr. Sehgal found it possible to administer treatment by going beyond the “what” to the “how” a patient narrates his condition (Sehgal 2001). He found an interesting way of merging the symptoms and treatments in the Materia Medica with the observations he made of the patient’s state of mind. For example, when an individual exhibits the symptoms of the fear of darkness and a great desire for light, the remedy prescribed according to the material medica is Stratmonium. In the same way a patient may be severely anxious that he does not know the ailment that he is suffering from and may have a great desire to know and treat the condition. Dr. Sehgel would interpret this as the fear of darkness and the desire for light. Despite the great discoveries that revolutionized the field of homeopathy, he was criticized for adopting the mental aspect and ignoring the physical symptoms.
Another homeopath who has advance the practice and laid foundation for greater advancements is Jeremy Sherr who made provings that the scorpion, chocolate and hydrogen amongst other new remedies could be used to heal a great deal of ailments. Following closely the works of Jeremy Sherr was Dr. Rajan Sankaran who also emphasized the importance of studying the mind of a person and not just observing the random and seemingly unconnected symptoms in a patient. He said that the main cause of the symptoms of the patient was his general perspective of situations which may have sprung from a root of delusion which is an altered state of reality on the art of the patient. For example if a person sees himself as a helpless individual in position that is dangerous may adopt the delusion of a child in a dangerous situation and may respond by clinging and panic. The clinging and panic is in reality a state of mind that has been affected by the delusion (Sankara 2011). Dr. Rajan also observed that the individual may receive dreams that are based on his deluded state of mind. This discovery introduced another level of diagnosing the symptoms of patients. For example, by knowing the dreams of patients the homeopath will have a greater understanding of the basis of the disease and thus make it easier to give the right treatment. New remedies are also being based not just on the interrelation of dreams but also on observances of the patients likes and dislikes, the patients interests and hobbies, the books he likes reading and the movies he likes watching. All this and more acts as pointer that help to understand the inner state of patient.
Dr. Sankaran advanced another new way of curing the ailments of individuals by observing that there are three kingdoms from which a remedy can be given namely the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms. He was able to observe that if a patient had a problem to do with sensitivity the remedy would be from the plant kingdom. If a person’ssymptoms and problems revolved around his structure and maintaining stability, he needs remedy from the mineral kingdom. If a person had problems that revolved around the struggle to survive, then his remedy would come from the animal kingdom.
Dr. Sankaran gave himself to studying the periodic table to study the element s and he also studied the different plant families so as to come up with new remedies based on deeper understanding of the kingdoms. In his studies he discovered a level that is deeper than physical symptoms and also deeper than the mind set or the patient’s dilution. He discovered the sensation by studying the different plant families. He discovered that each family has its own sensation and that the difference was the degree of desperation in the different families. The degree of desperation is unique to every person and is directly connected to the remedy. While still on his study of the different degrees of sensation, Dr. Sankran further realized that there is a dimension that is greater than the sensation and that is the dimension of energy (Ullman 1995). He realized that each patient has a unique energy pattern which can be expressed through body language and hand gestures. Through this discovery, homeopaths come up with new remedies based on the patient’sdeepest level that is their sensation and their energy patterns.
Due to the fact that three kingdoms are considered when it comes to treating various ailments, Dr. Scholten chose to further explore the periodic table in an attempt to get a deeper understanding of the mineral kingdom. Through his efforts he classified the whole table from the first to the seventh period. He states that the periodic table can be related to homeopathy and that a journey from the first period to the seventh represents a scale of maturity from infancy to maturity, from the state of lack to a state of abundance or otherwise stated, from a position of dependence to a level of independence (Scholten 2001). Through his works, mineral related remedies can be more accurately identified as he made the observation that minerals on the right hand side of the periodic table represented more authoritative figures in the society who are of a higher class.
Day, Christopher. Homeopathy. Addington: Kenilworth, 2000. Print.
Herring, Mary A., and Molly Manning Roberts. Blackwell complementary and alternative medicine: fast facts for medical practice. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Science, 2002. Print.
Jacobs, Jennifer. Is Homepathy Effective for Hot Flashes and other Estrogen-Withdrawal Symptoms in Breast Cancer Survivors? A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial. Ft. Belvoir: Defense Technical Information Center, 2000. Print.
Jonas, Wayne B., and Jennifer Jacobs. Healing with homeopathy: the complete guide. New York, NY: Warner Books, 1996. Print.
Kent, J. T., and Roger Bentham Savage. Materia medica of homoeopathic remedies. London: Homoeopathic Book Service, 1989. Print.
Sankaran, Rajan. Homeopathy for today’s world: discovering your animal, mineral, or plant nature. Rochester, Vt.: Healing Arts Press, 2011. Print.
Scholten, Jan. Minerals in plants. Utrecht: Stichting Alonnissos, 2001. Print.
Sehgal, Sanjay. Dr. Sehgal’s School of Revolutionized Homoeopathy presents papers discussed in two days Seminar on the Holistic Approach on the Theory of Dr. M.L. Sehgal, 13th and 14th Oct. 2001. Delhi?: Sehgal’s School of Revolutionized Homoeopathy] ;, 2001. Print.
Stokes, Gillian. Homeopathy. London: Teach Yourself, 1999. Print.
Ullman, Dana. The consumer’s guide to homeopathy: the definitive resource for understanding homeopathic medicine and making it work for you. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995. Print.
Vithoulkas, George. The science of homeopathy. New York: Grove Press :, 1980. Print.
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