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Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) was a German physician and chemist who, as a qualified practitioner of orthodox medicine, became disillusioned with the conventional approach to healing prevalent at the time. He wanted to find a better, safer approach to treating illness and disease.
During his research and experimentation Hahnemann discovered that when he took cinchona (a South American tree bark which contains quinine, used to treat malaria), he developed the symptoms of malaria – even though he did not, in fact, have the disease. From this initial research Hahnemann eventually developed the idea of treating illness using the law of similars – or treating like with like.
Hahnemann experimented with many natural substances – including plants, roots, leaves, fungi – and also developed the idea of potentising. Basically, this involves the dilution and succusion (or shaking) of the substance to be used for healing. In homeopathic terms, this means that the more diluted the substance, the more potent it becomes so that its healing effects are more powerful.
Even though there is little of the original substance remaining, the dilution contains the vibrational signature of the original material.
How does it work?
Homeopathy involves treating a patient who has an illness with a substance which produces the symptoms of that illness – this is Hahnemann’s premise of treating like with like.
There are many, many substances which have been researched and proved – a process whereby a perfectly well person is given the substance over a period of time and then documents the symptoms which the substance has produced. These substances are then potentised (diluted to various strengths) and made into tiny tablets, which are called remedies.
What does it involve?
An initial consultation with a homeopath will take anything from one hour to an hour and an half. During that time the practitioner will take a very detailed case study of your medical history and your family’s medical history. They will also ask questions about your preferences in relation to a range of different things.
Do you prefer hot or cold weather? What kind of food do you like? Do you prefer hot or cold drinks? Do you cry easily? What makes your symptoms better or worse? and so on. Once the homeopath has established a detailed picture of your physical, mental and emotional state they will then prescribe an appropriate remedy. This may be just one tiny, tasteless tablet that dissolves on the tongue, or it may be a dropper bottle containing a tasteless liquid. It is unlikely that just one consultation will be able to resolve a longstanding medical condition (although one appointment may be enough to deal with an acute situation such as travel sickness, jetlag or bruising caused by a fall). In most cases you should be prepared to see a homeopath for a series of up to six or ten appointments.
What are the side effects and when should it be avoided?
Providing medical history is fully disclosed to the practitioner, there is no reason why anyone should not benefit from homeopathy. Occasionally a client may experience what is called an aggravation after taking a homeopathic remedy. This may mean that the client experiences an intensification of symptoms, or perhaps a headache or feelings of lassitude.
These symptoms pass within 24 hours and are simply part of the healing process. Many homeopaths consider that both coffee and peppermint may antidote the remedies and prevent them from working. Therefore, if you’re planning to consult a homeopath, be prepared to give up coffee for a few days, hold back on the mints, and change your peppermint flavoured toothpaste for a fruit flavoured version (available from most health stores).
For people who are unable to tolerate alcohol it’s worth noting that sometimes the liquid remedies (the dropper-bottle version) are made with a small amount of alcohol to preserve the ingredients. Be sure to mention to your homeopath that you need a remedy prepared without alcohol.
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