Homeopathic medicine was first discovered in the late 1700's by a German doctor/chemist, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) who was dismayed by the lack of success of the medicines of his day. Homeopathy has at its foundation a principle of healing based on the Law of Similars. According to this law, a substance that produces certain symptoms in a healthy person can be used to treat the same symptoms in a sick person. Medicines are derived from vegetable, animal and mineral sources. A process called potentization, whereby the original substance undergoes a series of dilutions and succussion, reduces the side-effects of crude medicines and paradoxically increases the strength of the resulting product. Homeopathy has been developed by over 200 years of clinical experience and is used worldwide.
Herbal preparations are made from plants which are ground to a fine state and made into capsules for consumption. These crude herbs can have untoward side-effects and should be prescribed by a qualified herbalist, naturopath or homeopath. Homeopathic medicines are made from plants, minerals, metals, salts and animal products. They are very deep-acting and are prepared systematically to reduce side-effects, yet treat at the deepest levels. A temporary aggravation of symptoms may occur on taking homeopathics. As the medicines boost the body’s own ability to heal itself, these aggravations are only very temporary and are followed by relief of the ailments and can indicate a good "similimum" choice by the homeopath.
Homeopathic medicines act on the immune system and generally can be safely taken along with conventional medicines. However, there arises a problem for the homeopath in the assessment of symptoms in a heavily medicated patient. For an example, are the headaches a patient may experience a side-effect of the conventional medicine or are they natural to the patient? Homeopaths generally like to treat patients who are giving them clean symptom pictures. It can be problematic to distinguish these symptoms in a heavily medicated patient. Having said that, if a patient is being treated with both forms of medicines, as the homeopathic improves the state of the patient, conventional medicines can be reduced. Many conventional doctors will work hand-in-hand with alternative practitioners and will often recommend homeopathy when faced with patients who don’t seem to improve using conventional approaches.
This entirely depends on the vitality of the patient and the chronicity of complaints. A patient who is generally very weak and exhausted with a complaint of many years duration will take longer to heal than a person with a recent complaint and with generally a very high vitality. The medicines are taken in small quantity and over limited periods of time, usually at most a week or two. Then the homeopath will like to wait and see the effects of the medicine before increasing the dosage or perhaps changing the medicine as new symptom pictures arise. The goal is to treat the patient in as short a time and with as little medicine as possible to affect a cure. There is no such thing as taking homeopathy indefinitely, as there is with conventional medicine treatment. If the homeopathic medicine is not working, then the homeopath may have not chosen the best one for the patient, or the pathology is too far advanced for complete recovery.
When a patient’s pathology has become too deep for complete return to health, there are many homeopathic medicines for palliation of symptoms. Medicines can be used to reduce anxiety, fears, depression, gastro-intestinal upsets and even the pain of the more advanced illnesses. It is always better to try than not, in the treatment of deep pathology. There are always the cases of remarkable recoveries in any form of medicine and these cases continue to perplex and delight us all. Moreover, it seems that patients who do have these remarkable recoveries have one thing in common. They make a quantum shift in their view of the world and their approach to health. For further reading see Remarkable Recovery by Caryle Hirshberg & Marc Ian Barasch.
Homeopathy is particularly successful in the treatment of children’s conditions. With their high vitality, they respond quickly to medicines and in acute illnesses, even epidemics, homeopathy is used worldwide. The elderly, while having a lifetime of insults to the body, can be successfully treated within the limitations of their vitality and conditions. There are medicines especially good for building up weak bodies, improving digestion, aiding with sleep problems and relieving the depression so often seen in the elderly. As always, improvement depends on the level of fight in the body both on the mental and physical levels.
Generally speaking, Homeopaths do not prescribe mixtures. Their basic tenant is to use only one medicine at a time. This makes sense in light of the confusion which can arise. If several are used, which medicine is working? The mixtures sold in health food stores and pharmacies for example for the treatment of bronchitis, eczema etc., use combinations of several medicines known to clinically treat such conditions. If patients wish to try these, it may be a good way to experience homeopathy. However, if they do not improve, they should not take these indefinitely, nor should they discount homeopathy. There are several explanations in this case. Either the best medicine for them is not included in the mixture, or the pathology is too far advanced, or the low dose of the mixtures is not sufficient to address the problem. If they do improve, it means that one of the medicines in the mixture is having an effect, but long term taking of these mixtures can result in aggravations. No medicine should be taken for long periods of time. If there is no improvement, consult a professional.
Many insurance companies cover alternative forms of medicine both through workplace coverage and as a part of personal coverage. Homeopathic practitioners have request forms which can be submitted to workplace or personal insurance companies. The more people who request coverage, the better it is for everyone. It is a crime that not everyone cannot afford to seek out alternative forms of medicine treatment. The right to treat ourselves with any available form of medicine should not be limited by the cost of such, but that is a reality with our form of medical coverage.
Average fees range anywhere from $90.00 to $200.00 for the first 11/2 to 2-hour consultation. Follow-up visits usually are monthly for about _ to one hour long and range from $55.00 to $85.00. With the pharmaceutical cost of conventional prescription medicines being extraordinarily high, the $10.00 or so cost of homeopathic medicines will seem a great relief. It all balances out.
The Ontario Homeopathic Association has a Directory of qualified Homeopaths all over Toronto and environs. To phone them, call 416-657-4000.
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