What is homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a sub-system
of natural health care in which extreme dilutions of substances
from nature are used to stimulate a healing response. The basic
principle of homeopathy is that substances that elicit a particular
symptom picture in their physical form (for example onion causing
itchy watery eyes and a runny nose with discharge that burns) can
be used in a diluted form to stimulate the healing of the same set
Using this principle, a homeopath working
with an individual that suffers from allergies (with the specific
symptoms of watery itchy eyes and a runny nose with discharge that
burns) might select homeopathic onion.
pharmaceutical companies prepare homeopathic dilutions according
to FDA guidelines. Once completed, the diluted substances are called
Most remedies are derived from plants
(such as Belladonna or Pulsatilla), and minerals (such as Phosphorous
and Silica). A smaller portion are derived from animal substances
(such as dog’s milk or dolphin’s milk). Remedy symptom pictures
are derived from research studies called “provings”. Once completed,
proving information is recorded in homeopathic materia medicas (large
reference books), and homeopathic material medica software.
The role of a professional homeopath
is to understand the symptom pictures of a large number of remedies,
and then to be able to select the remedy that most closely matches
the symptom picture of the patient. (This is called the similimum.)
When this match is achieved – that is, the symptom picture of the
remedy matches the symptom picture of the individual suffering from
a disease pattern – the individual’s innate healing ability is activated
and healing occurs.
Are there research studies in homeopathy?
Yes, there are a significant number
of studies completed in the US and Europe on various aspects of
homeopathy. The web-site for the National Center for Homeopathy
gives an excellent overview of a sampling of these studies. For
details, see www.homeopathic.org/research.htm.
How does a homeopathic remedy stimulate
There is a lot of research directed
at answering this question from a technical perspective. The book
Homeopathy, Frontiers in Medical Science gives a wonderful overview
of theories that are being considered and investigated. It includes
a discussion of research on the ability of water molecules to hold
memory, and an overview of principles in quantum physics, information
systems theory and chaos theory and how these areas apply to the
energy medicine paradigm.
Homeopathic professionals generally
answer this question by explaining that homeopathic remedies cause
an action-reaction response within the "Vital Force" which might be loosely thought of as "the innate internal self-healing mechanism." The remedy
pushes the disease process in one direction and the Vital Force rebounds back in the opposite direction, stimulating the healing
process. People sometimes try to use simple analogies which include "immune system" -which is basically a made-up name for a large collection of the various functionalities of the body.. some of which the Vital Force may be working through to displace dis-ease or NOT -it makes no sense to try to superimpose this way of thinking onto homeopathy. Think more of Quantum physics... no immune system is involved in quantum physics <smile>.
In my practice, my experience has been
that well selected homeopathic remedies assist the body wisdom of
the individual in focusing on the root cause of the disease pattern.
Often this means a retrace to the original insult (mental, emotional,
and/or physical) which caused the individual to lock into a stress/defense
pattern. When this happens, we often see the individual reconnect
with old thoughts, emotions and physical symptoms that were somehow
related to the origin of the chronic symptoms. This may take the
form of strong memories and emotions coming out during the dream
state or waking state, a rethinking of long held beliefs about the
individual’s life, and/or acute physical symptoms such as the flaring
up of a chronic rash or digestive upset.
Holistic health professionals call
this phase of the healing process a “healing crises” or a “retrace”.
Homeopaths call this type of response an “aggravation” of the disease
pattern. Aggravations may be of several categories; the experienced and artful professional will have READ THE LITERATURE of homeopathy and WILL BE AWARE that a "similar aggravation" is not a "dissimilar aggravation" and will be able to use any significant aggravation as ABSOLUTE indication that s/he has NOT managed the case in perfect artfulness.
Through ignorance or sloth, different viewpoints have been propogated in the homeopathic community about the necessity of patients going through
an aggravation. Unenlightened homeopathic professionals believe this is a
necessary step in the resolution of any chronic illness and expect
it as part of the remedy response. When these homeopaths see an
aggravation, their assumption is that the individual’s body wisdom
has responded to the remedy and is doing the necessary restructuring
to bring about a permanent resolution of the symptoms. The REALITY is that in their non-artful treatment, they have CAUSED too strong of a response; hopefully not impeding the quickest path to healing (but POSSIBLE) and hopefully not causing too much suffering to those persons whom they are treating(!) The REASON for aggravation in the midst of otherwise successful treatment can ONLY BE that too much force was input into the equation: too high of a potency, or too many repetitions within too short a time, or too much of the medicinal substance (homeopathic remedy.)
The more enlightened (often more experienced) argue that aggravations
are not necessary – but that instead they’re a sign that the incorrect
remedy was selected, or that it was selected in the wrong potency
This concept is REALITY as opposed to apologist, and MUST be "taken on board" for the homeopath to continue h/ir path toward excellence in the field.
When the similimum (remedy that
best matches the symptom picture of the patient) is selected, and an appropriate dosing strategy is implemented..
any aggravation is moderate and temporary (e.g.
often just an hour or two).
When a remedy is selected that is close
to the similimum (but not the optimal match; a "partial simillimum" or worse: a dissimilar aggravation) and/or when the dosage
and potency is not optimal, aggravation is more vivid and lasts longer.
do homeopathic professionals use homeopathy treat cancer?
There are several different treatment
philosophies and approaches for using homeopathy to treat individuals
with cancer. Often times practitioners that use homeopathy in the
treatment of cancer use a combination of these approaches.
One approach is to use homeopathic
remedies to target the tumors themselves. In this case, the homeopath
selects remedies which match the symptom picture of the tumor itself
(e.g. Conium Maculatum for hard immovable tumors that develop slowly).
Homeopaths using this approach might also consider other symptoms
(such as the individual’s food cravings, disposition, etc), but
their primary focus is to target the tumor and reverse its growth.
Some physician homeopaths also give remedies at the tumor site itself
(in the form of an injection) to more aggressively stimulate a response.
Another approach is to use homeopathic
remedies to assist in healing the patient’s eliminative channels
(kidneys, urinary tract, lymphatic system, liver, etc), and strengthen
cell detoxification. In this case, the homeopath may use drainage
remedies. These are low potency combination remedies that are used
to target specific systems, or detoxify particular substances (e.g.
heavy metals, etc). Homeopaths using this approach select the drainage
remedy based on an analysis of the case – or they may use an electro-dermal
diagnostic tool, such as the Quantum machine.
Still another approach is to use homeopathy
to address the overall constitution of the patient. In this case
(called the classical approach), the homeopath does a complete interview
of the patient’s mental, emotional, and physical symptoms and then
selects the best match accordingly. Often the best selected constitutional
remedy will directly affect the tumor. By assisting the body in
addressing and resolving the energy that underlies the tumor, it
can result in complete elimination of the tumor. The best selected
constitutional remedy can also support drainage and detoxification,
although this is not the primary focus of a classical prescriber.
How effective is homeopathy in the
treatment of cancer?
In the US, most alternative health
care professionals use homeopathy in combination with other approaches
(nutritional and immune system support, diet and detoxification
programs, etc), so it’s not typically considered as a primary or
stand-alone therapy for cancer. However, when used correctly, and
in combination with necessary therapies, it can be an amazingly
powerful tool for empowering someone to heal themselves of cancer. There are many cases in homeopathic literature (from other
countries where homeopathy is more commonly used for cancer) in
which the correct homeopathic recommendation resulted in the resolution
of tumors, reversal of the cancer process, and recovery by the patient.
Also, homeopathy has an excellent track
record in the treatment of animals with cancer and there is much
anecdotal evidence that certain remedies (when correctly selected)
are effective in reversing the cancer process.
Much of the success with homeopathy,
however, depends on the skill level of the practitioner and the
resources of the patient to heal on all levels.
Specific Homeopathic Remedies for
One of the most frequently. recommended
homeopathic remedies for cancer is Arsenicum
Arsenicum Album is a primary remedy for cancer
and is often recommended for individuals with terminal cancer
that are entering into the death process.
It helps the individual confront and deal with their fear
of death – feelings of being stuck in limbo, not knowing what
lies ahead, not knowing what to expect, feeling terrified of the
transition, afraid to let go of their life.
When used appropriately, it can be a powerful tool for
assisting individuals in coming to greater peace about the death
process, enabling them to embrace the transition with greater
Arsenicum Album is also of great value to individuals
that have just been diagnosed with cancer and are gripped with
profound fear – fear of cancer, fear that they will never get
better, fear of death, fear of not having enough money to sustain
the treatment, fear of not getting the needed medical care.
In this state, the individual sees the cancer as being
bigger than themselves and bigger than their own ability to heal
feel powerless over the cancer, seeing it as being 100 feet tall
and seeing themselves as being very small.
This is not to say that the fears that come
with a cancer diagnosis are not justified, but that these fears
in an of themselves severely weaken the immune system of the cancer
individual. By taking
Arsenicum Album (when indicated), it can help the individual reconnect
with a greater spiritual center, such that they see themselves
and their immune system as being bigger than the cancer.
Arsenicum album may also be indicated for family
members and friends that are gripped with these same types of
fears – terror that their family member will die, that there are
no therapies available, that the situation is out of control,
that a new or different doctor is needed, that people are not
taking the situation seriously enough.
In these cases, Arsenicum Album can help the individual
let go of some of these fears, making it easier for them to affirm
the ability of their friend or family member to heal themselves.
On a physical level, Arsenicum Album helps
the body release fear and tension held in the kidneys, adrenals,
and nervous system. This
sometimes correlates with the detoxification of the heavy metal
arsenic from these areas as well.
In some cases, Arsenicum Album can be instrumental
in actually turning the cancer around, arresting tumor growth
and empowering the individual’s immune system to turn the disease
Some of the physical symptoms that are included
in the profile of an individual needing Arsenicum Album are:
pains, better with heat (this is specific to arsenicum
album – for the majority of other homeopathic remedies indicated
for burning pains, the pain is better with cold application.
is one of the few remedies in which the pain is better
pains, felt deep within the body, burning pain in the bones,
the nervous system, the digestive tract, etc
sour foods and drinks
hands and feet, ice cold feeling, lack of body heat
especially on the hands and on the scalp
Key mental/emotional symptoms associated with
Arsenicum Album include:
of death, disease, cancer
of poverty, that there is not enough money to support oneself,
that the insurance company is being stingy, that everywhere
one goes there is not enough
fear of making a mistake which will be severely detrimental
to one’s health and/or financial situation
rigid behavior, ritualistic, the tremendous fear drives the
individual to a strict adherence to a protocol or routine, the
feeling is that if they divert from this routine, they will
not survive physically and/or financially
Are there in risks in using homeopathy?
Homeopathic remedies, in and of themselves,
are extremely safe and have no harmful side-effects. The real risk
in using homeopathy is when you use it at the exclusion of other
needed therapies, and/or diagnostic tests. As with any therapy or approach, its best to use a synergistic
approach so that therapies can work together. Also, if you have
a cancer diagnosis, be sure that you’re working with a practitioner
who is using homeopathy aggressively enough for your situation.
Another thing to consider is that sometimes
the healing response caused by a homeopathic remedy can be strong
enough to bring on a “healing crises”. This might mean a fever,
the release of strong emotions (e.g. fear, anger, anxiousness),
or possibly detoxification symptoms (diarrhea, mild headache, rash,
etc). These types of reactions are temporary and not harmful in
and of themselves – but, it’s wise to be under the care of a licensed
physician to evaluate what’s going on – just in case the symptoms
are related to something else. One danger is ignoring noteworthy
symptoms because you think they’re just part of a healing crises.
Another danger is overreacting to symptoms, seeking medical care,
and then receiving medications which further complicate your situation
(e.g. pain killers, anti-depressants, etc).
To avoid confusion, make sure you’re
working with a homeopathic practitioner that has experience in managing
remedy reactions and can discern if merging symptoms are related
to your healing process, or if you need to pursue further medical
testing and treatment.
In my own private practice, my experience
has been that the healing crises that people go through with homeopathy
are usually related to the hysteria that comes from the “unknown”,
and not so much the remedy itself. With good communication and education,
people are more able to relax and walk through the healing process
Essential Homeopathy: What Is It and
What it Can Do For You, by Dana Ullman, MPH
Emotional Healing with Homeopathy, by Peter Chappell, BSc
The Consumer’s Guide to Homeopathy, by Dana Ullman, MPH
The Desktop Guide to Keynote
and Confirmatory Symptoms, By Roger Morrison, MD (For Professionals)
A Homeopathic Approach to Cancer,
by Dr. A.U. Ramakrishnan MD and Catherine R. Coulter (For Professionals)
Introduction to Homeopathic Medicine
in Primary Care, by Sidney Skinner, FNP(For Professionals)
The Emerging Science of Homeopathy:
Complexity, Biodynamics and Nonpharmacology, by Paolo Bellavite,
MD, and Adnrea Signorini, MD (For Homeopathic Science Enthusiasts)