is a Greek word that means ‘similar suffering’. It is a system of medicine based on a natural law that “Like cures Like”. This means if a substance can make a healthy person ill it can also be used to make a person who is ill, in a similar way, get better.
Examples of ‘similars’ Apis (made from bee sting) helps angry red, hot swellings. Lachesis (snake venom) helps blood poisoning.
Coffea (coffee) helps over-excitement and sleeplessness. Alium Cepa (onion) helps hay fever.
2000 years ago Hippocrates identifies that there were two distinct approaches to medicine:
The use of ‘contraries’ or ‘similars’.
‘Contraries’ use the opposite suffering (the Greek word for this is ‘antipathy’) to restore well being.
Examples of ‘contraries’:
– An antacid makes stomach acid more alkaline.
– An anti-inflammatory combats inflammation.
– A sleeping pill overcomes insomnia.
– A laxative eases constipation.
The use of ‘similars’ has always had a long and successful history in traditional, herbal medicine.
Statue honoring Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of Homeopathy, in Washington DC
About 200 years ago a German doctor named Samuel Hahnemann further developed the use of ‘similars’ and founded Homeopathy. Hahnemann was curious to know why quinine protected people against malaria. He took some quinine himself and found that he got all the symptoms of malaria. He realized that quinine was able to cure malaria because it was capable of producing malaria-like symptoms, similar suffering, in a healthy person. Incidentally, Quinine is also often used in Homeopathy to treat weakness caused by dehydration. It is known by a different name, China. Hahnemann was thrilled by this “Eureka” moment and spent his life testing substances on volunteers, carefully recording their effects.
He diluted the substances he tested to avoid the risk of side effects and found that by a process of both diluting and succussing (a fancy name for shaking and bashing) he was able to make substances deeper acting and more potent. He called this remedy preparation method potentization. The work of discovering which symptoms different substances can produce continues to this day. Thousands of substances have already been tested and new ones being introduced all the time. In fact, Jeremy Sherr the founder of Homeopathy for Health in Africa ( ‘HHA’) has published 35 full ‘provings’, testing new remedies on volunteers.
Homeopathy has its roots in traditional herbal medicine, but with some major improvements:
1. The original substance is only used in a potentized form so it’s completely non-toxic and there are no side effects
2. All substances are tested on human volunteers to see what symptoms they produce and the results recorded (often on searchable homeopathic software programmes)
3. Any substance, whether animal, vegetable or mineral can be used to make a remedy
4. The remedies are not subject to patents and use only a tiny amount of the original substance, so they are very inexpensive
Homeopathy in Epidemics
During epidemics homeopaths observe symptom patterns and remedies they have found effective in helping their clients. The homeopathic literature of old describes this being done very effectively during a major cholera epidemic, a scarlet fever epidemic and the Spanish flu epidemic. The concept of “genus epidemicus,” has the potential to greatly reduce suffering and save lives.
The idea is to build up a picture of a particular epidemic, as it is being expressed in a large number of different cases. By drawing all of these cases together “as if they were one person,” it is possible to identify a group of homeopathic medicines that will help most people if they contract a particular illness. Over the past 7 years HHA has indentified a core group of remedies that are frequently needed to relieve the suffering of those living with HIV/AIDS.
HHA works alongside doctors and nurses in hopitals. In other settings HHA practitioners always encourage patients to take their anti retroviral medications. In fact, by reducing their side effects homeopathic remedies can greatly increase patient compliance. Homeopathy is easily integrated with conventional medicine. Its focus is on enhancing the overall well being and natural immunity of each individual patient.