5 Timeless Principles & Modern Homeopathy
The founder of Homeopathy was a physician in Germany, Samuel Hahnemann (1755 – 1843). He practiced medicine starting at a young age, but within a short time rediscovered what was once the basis of Western medicine from ancient Greece. This was basically the use of medicines to strengthen the body as opposed to the use of interventions that would arrest the workings of the body that attempted in health and illness to regulate itself to maintain homeostasis.
Homeopathy means “using similar illness to cure illness.” Homeo is the word “similar” in Latin and Pathy is the word “illness”. Hopefully going through some of the Principles of Homeopathy, starting with the one based on our namesake, will help you get a grasp of what Homeopathy is about and its foundation or our basis of healing.
When speaking about the Principles, I will briefly mention some other concepts that are purely from Homeopathic Theory, such as Miasms, Potencization (and Dilution), Symptom Picture and the Vital Force.
“Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease.” Hippocrates
The 1st Principle of Homeopathy
“Similia similibus curentur” Hahnemann rediscovered the early roots of Western medicine as mentioned above. He is the founder of Homeopathy in that he re-introduced the concept or Principle of “Like Cures Like” from early healing traditions at the root of Western Medicine. In his lifetime he expanded the usage of medicines, Homeopathic Materia Medica, and categorized these “remedies” with Constitutional types that he often based on his observation of ancestral diseases that he saw in people. These are referred to as “Miasmatic Loads”. This concept is a premise that many practitioners look for in patients to this day. It aligns with what we call “susceptibility of the individual” in modern times.
His work was based on working with the body to heal or bring about cure as opposed to remove, mask, or go against what the body or whole organism was trying to do: to correct itself or bring about balance/get back to homeostasis, again also mentioned above. He saw that symptoms were signs that the body and mind were trying to use to direct more serious illness away from the core or centre of the person. Therefore, he used the symptoms produced to base his diagnosis of what was wrong with a person – so as to prescribe medicines that produced the same set of symptoms in a healthy person.
So, for instance if a fever was induced by a person to kill off a virus he worked with that and administrated a medicine that produced fever and had that further the work that the body was doing to get better or throw off the illness.
The 2nd Principle of Homeopathy
“Proving (clinical trials) on Healthy People” The use of our remedies has a long history of being proven. Literally doing a “Proving” or trial to see what a substance does when ingested by a healthy person. So, symptoms produced on the whole organism – the mental, emotional and physical plane of someone – are recorded and then with the recorded data from as many “Provers” as possible we can get the fullest symptom picture of a medicine, our remedies. This makes up the “Material Medica” or information about the remedy. The premise is that knowing what a medicine does on a healthy person is a Principle to adhere to and so we do not a) “Prove” on the sick or animals, and b) we do not use medicines when the effects produced on a sick person are not known or in our “Material Medica”. Clinical evidence based information is what we use to prescribe on.
The 3rd Principle of Homeopathy
“Potencization of Substances and Minimum Dose” are concepts that Hahnemann “discovered” in that he was a chemist/scientist and with experimentation he worked out that substances, the basis of medicines, were more powerful curatively if they were diluted and then energized. A lot of the substances in use during his time were given to people in crude (often toxic) form. He administrated them so to be safe (dilute then “potencize” or energize with what we call “succession” so as to have some curative power). From there he began experimenting with other substances, adding to our medicine chest so that today we have thousands of remedies from the number that he started off with, about 100 proven remedies.
Basically what he was doing was similar to what other traditions from Chinese Medicine and Shamanism and much folk medicine did and does to this day. That is to treat the energetic body, so, like the Qi in TCM he was treating what he equated to the animating force within humans, what he called the Vital Force.
“The ultimate cause of illness is a weakness of spirit.” Paracelsus
The 4th Principle of Homeopathy
“One Remedy at a Time” This ties in to the above in that the known effects of a remedy can not be known if you just “prove” it, but also, upon giving a remedy to a sick person you must see the response clearly. In order to know if it was the action of the medicine (or not) you can not administer more than one remedy at a time. This is often called “Constitutional Prescribing” by Homeopaths.
The 5th Principle of Homeopathy
“Individualization of Treatment” Each patient despite having a similarly named disease – like diabetes or heart disease or even a flu that is going around – will get a remedy that covers all of their symptoms, the ones that they exhibit and in their unique combination. This is called the “symptom picture” and it’s going to be different for one person and we see this even with other family members that may have the same hereditary disease or even the same flu bug that is out there.
Sometimes, with the last example, there may be a few epidemic remedies that are in use for the flu season, but it can be the case that even a household gets two different remedies as opposed to all having only one of the few in use. The premise being that people have their life force, what we call the Vital Force, not only as what animates them, but also where disease starts from (i.e. – when it’s imbalanced then we see disease). The Vital Force is what is being treated…and further to that, it is exactly the unique way that an individual will be susceptible to illness.
People’s individual history, of their family and their ancestors history – as it relates to the diseases that have left an energetic imprint on them – will all come into play in looking at what their current problems are. Recall the concept of Miasms or susceptibility. Of course, immediate presenting symptoms in the “symptom picture” are what a prescription is based on. But the susceptibility of an individual was likely based on traumas and imprints that occurred historically from the current life time through to the past history of the person.
“The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician. Therefore the physician must start from nature, with an open mind.” Paracelsus
Homeopathy in Modern Times
Now as it has been over two hundred years since Dr. Hahnemann brought the Homeopathic system of healing into existence. It has been practiced now world wide in an expanded version and, for many of us, with modern upgrades. The foundation or above principles are still in use no doubt but schools, practitioners, and settings of all kinds and all kinds of people in the millions benefit from Homeopathy so much more than was the case during Hahnemann’s time. I count myself as a patient as well as a practitioner. Also I count myself as a Modern Prescriber along with several colleagues in North America and countless others internationally. The updating and expansion of the Materia Medica and our methods are in a renaissance and I, for one, am a keen supporter and student of the improvements made to our profession to match the cases we are seeing in modern times.
On being a Regulated Homeopath in Ontario, Canada
Although practicing for a number of years I am now a newly licensed Homeopath in Ontario, Canada. I am in the first cohort of regulated Homeopaths under the provincial Health Act of 1991 (amended 2007). Homeopaths in 2015 recently joined alongside 27 other professions that came on board at various points in time with most, not unlike Homeopathy, already having professional associations that each have long histories serving the public. When I started learning and later practicing Homeopathy in Toronto there was no government regulation of our profession and it was seen even amongst Homeopaths that it was our lot to be on the sidelines in our work with people addressing their health concerns. And this despite seeing many turn to us for a huge variety of matters limiting their well being in sometimes very serious ways. When something works the word gets out and this is and has been by far the way that we have people turn to us, simply by word of mouth…referrals from people that we have seen that send their friends and family members our way.
It is great that with growing public awareness the choice for more people is on offer alongside nurses, physicians, psychologists as well as Naturopaths, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners, midwives and psychotherapists for instance. As we are recently regulated lets see how this comes to fruition for everyone. Hopefully standards serve as guidelines that don’t impinge on the art and individualization of what we do with each patient. But, rather, helps with the promotion of our unique health practice so that as many people from all walks of life can access and benefit from having a Homeopath. I hope to work with our associations to get marginalized groups of people access to Homeopathy. So, we will move forward and just like with one’s health, Homeopathy will have a future of creative growth that will be about balance and a response to what is needed and desired by the whole system.
“Homeopathy cures a larger percentage of cases than any other form of treatment and is beyond doubt safer and more economical.” Mahatma Gandhi