WHAT IS HOMEOPATHY? Homeopathy is a natural system of medicine based on the "Law of Similars" or the principle that "like cures like". The name itself relects this basic principle; "homeo" is Greek for "similar" and "pathos" means "suffering". The great Greek physician Hippocrates recognized that "The same things which cause the disease can cure it". It was not until the early 1800's that a German doctor, Samuel Hanneman, concretely recognized this same principle and began to use it therapeutically in his medical practice; "It would appear that certain medicines are able to cure symptoms which are similar to those which they themselves can cause". He observed that this was true only when very small or infinitesimal doses were used. For example, when used in large quantities ipecac produces nausea and vomiting in the healthy individual; in small doses, it cures nausea in the dyspeptic patient. In homeopathy we stimulate the organism's own healing processes in order to accomplish a cure.
Symptoms of acute and chronic illness are seen as the living being's response to the total composit of stresses acting on the individual at any given time. In it's attempt to maintain homeostasis or balance, one's VITAL FORCE (life energy) manifests what we see as symptoms on several levels; mental, emotional, and physical. Each of us responds as an integrated whole with our own characteristic totality of symptoms. These symptoms are a sign of our vital force striving to heal. The task of the homeopath, then, is to gather as much information as possible about the totality of the symptoms (mental, emotional and physical) in order to understand the way in which the vital force is already acting in it's attempt to re-establish homeostasis or heal. A homeopathic remedy is sought which, ideally, will stimulate the vital force through similar action in precisely the ways in which it is already acting. We seek to strengthen the vital force (and therefore the immune system) by stimulating the organism's own healing processes in order to accomplish cure. Homeopathic therapeutics acts in the same way as the organism's reactions, stimulating these reactions in order to make them more effective. It works together with them, acting to gently support and encourage the already existing healing action. For this reason only very weak or infinitesimal (i.e. homeopathic) doses are needed. An overly strong dose could aggravate the patient's reactions in an unpleasnat way.
Having established the Law of Similars, Hahneman worked to reach the smallest effective therapeutic dose, for he realized that this was the best way to avoid unwanted side-effects. To his surprise he found that, using a special method of serial dilution, the more the similar remedy was diluted the more active it became, while dissimilar remedies were ineffective. He called this method "potentization", and his various dilutions "potencies", to indicate the level of homeopathic action which was achieved. This paradox, that less of a substance can be more effective, allows curative action to take place without any possibility of toxicity.
There are over 2000 homeopathic remedies, derived from animal, vegetable, and mineral sources. The original material substance is made into a mother tincture in alcohol, which is then serially diluted by 1/l0th, l/OOt.h or 1/000th a desired number of times. Each deconcentration undergoes energetic shaking called "succussion". This process of dilution plus succussion is called "potentization", and is an important aspect of the uniqueness of homeopathic medicines. As a result of their extremely infinitesimal amounts, these remedies do not act quantitatively, but rather qualitatively. Each remedy carries the reactional and therapeutic potential of the original substance diluted in accordance with homeopathic pharmaceutical procedures. Substances which in their natural state have little or no medicinal effect develop powerful healing properties when administered in this potentized form.