A History of Homeopathy and Explanation of its Principles

A History of Homeopathy

What I am hoping to do in this website is teach about a few homeopathic first aid remedies and creams. The wise place to start would be to give you a history of homeopathy and  explanation of its principles. The founder of homeopathy, and the man who coined its name, is Samuel Hahnemann. He was a physician, chemist, linguist, translator and father of ten children who was born in Leipzig, Germany in 1755. The famous story is told of how he was translating a book called the Treatise on Materia Medica, by William Cullen, a professor of medicine at the University of Edinburgh in Germany, in which the author stated that the reason China or Cinchona Bark cured malaria was that it was a tonic to the stomach. This explanation seemed rather simplistic to the brilliant Hahnemann, so he decided to find out the real truth for himself by gaining first hand experience of the properties of this substance.

He proceeded to ingest the China himself, and he became promptly sick with symptoms that were similar to malaria. Once he discontinued taking it the symptoms subsided. From this he concluded that the reason China cures malaria was that it caused symptoms that were similar to the disease malaria. He then formulated the concept of like cures like. Medicines heal when the symptoms they produce on healthy people are similar to the symptoms of the sick person who takes them. The symptoms of the medicines or their healing properties are determined by conducting provings in which healthy people ingest minute quantities of the substance and note the alterations in health on the mental, emotional and physical planes that they experience. When the sick person takes the medicine he comes under the influence of the medicinal substance, which is more powerful than his own disease and displaces it. The medicinal disease is short-lived, and when the medicinal symptoms pass the patient no longer experiences the symptoms for which he sought treatment. He is restored to health.

Homeopathic Potencies and Methods of Taking the Remedy

Hahnemann also found that natural substances ingested in their crude form could have toxic side effects, so he developed a method whereby he could reduce the toxic effects and augment the power of the medicine to heal. This method is known as potentization. In potentization a substance is diluted from a few to many thousands of times and succussed or vigorously banged between dilutions to release the electromagnetic energy of the substance. The more times the substance has been put through this process the greater its strength, duration of action and depth of action.

The most common potencies prescribed are the 6C, 12C, 30C, 200C, 1M, 10M, LM and CM strengths. These are known as centesimal scale remedies. In the 6C dilution, for example, the substance has been diluted according to the ratio of one part substance to 100 parts water six times. By the time a substance has been potentized to the 12C dilution, the Avogadro number has been passed. This is the number beyond which any trace of the original substance will no longer be visible under an electron microscope.

Decimal scale remedies are also available in the same sequence listed above. In this scale one part of the original substance is diluted in ten parts of water. The decimal scale remedies are not as strong as the corresponding centesimal scale remedy.

As you move into the higher potencies on the centesimal and decimal scale, the remedies have to be repeated with caution, as the doses can hold for many months to many years, and it is not advisable to interrupt a dose that is actively working. For example I had an eleven-year-old boy in my office last year to whom I had prescribed Sulphur 1M on December 12, 2004. He came to see me exactly three years to the day since he took the one and only dose of that remedy. He came for the visit, because he developed a rash in the armpit area and his mother wanted him to be treated for that. All his other health complaints, such as headaches, stomachaches, and attention deficit disorder had disappeared on the first dose. I received a call from his mother a week after we repeated the Sulphur 1M, and she told me that she took her son to a dermatologist on the same day that she saw me and he prescribed antibiotic cream and hydrocortisone to put on his skin as it was a staph infection. She tried to apply what the dermatologist had prescribed, but the boy refused it as it burned his skin, so instead she gave him the dose of Sulphur 1M and applied Calendula cream topically. She was very excited to let me know that everything cleared within two days. I am mentioning this case so you see the great power and duration of action of homeopathic remedies. That first dose held the boy three years. Homeopathic remedies need to be treated with respect and repeated only when symptoms that have improved begin to relapse for a while.

So far we have learned these facts about homeopathy:

1) Like cures like. Remedies are chosen for their similarity to the symptoms of the patient as determined by the provings.

2) Homeopathic remedies are given in potentized or highly dilute and dynamized form.

A third way the remedies can be administered and prepared is in the LM potency form, sometimes known as Sixth Edition Prescribing, as this was the method Hahnemann recommended in the Sixth Edition of the Organon of the Medicinal Art, newly translated by Wenda Brewster O’Reilly, Ph.D. This is a form of the remedy that can be taken in water on a daily, every other day, or as needed basis. In this method a tiny amount of a natural substance is triturated, which means ground in a mortar and pestle, for three hours and then further diluted and succussed till it has been raised to a dilution of one part substance to 50,000 parts dilutant. This will be the LM1 strength. This is then applied to poppy seed granules impregnated with the remedy, and is also available in liquid form. If in granules the homeopath will dissolve one or two granules in a 110 ml. or 4 oz. bottle. The patient will then succuss the bottle a specified number of times, such as 5, 8 or 10 times. After that he will take a teaspoon from the stock bottle, add it to 4 oz. of water in a cup, stir and drink a teaspoon, or specified quantitiy from the liquid in the cup.

By taking the remedy in water and adding succussions to the stock bottle the strength of the remedy is gradually increased or plussed. In this way the stimulus given to the patient is slightly different each time he takes it. The patient can take frequent doses of the remedy, which Hahnemann believed hastened the healing process along. My own experience with clients using the LM potencies is that in sensitive individuals one needs to be cautious with frequency of repetition, and only repeat when there is evidence that the last dose is wearing out, apparent by a return or worsening of symptoms that had been better.

I usually prescribe LM potencies to people who are taking many supplements, or are on prescription medications. It is also useful for people with deep pathology, or weakened vital forces. For people who are not taking any other medications, and have strong vital forces, I prefer to use the centesimal scale remedies as they are easier to use, and patients usually experience fewer day to day fluctuations in their symptoms than with the LM potencies. Centesimal scale remedies set up a healing process where you may have a brief intensification of symptoms in the beginning followed by long-term amelioration, and the time-line for when changes can be expected is more predictable. To learn more about LM potencies, please refer to Aphorism 270 in the Organon of the Medical Art by Samuel Hahnemann.

One Remedy at a Time

Hahnemann stressed the importance of giving only one remedy at a time to the patient. The reason for this is that the remedies are proven one at a time, and our knowledge of the remedies is based on the provings. Since the remedies are not proven in combination, we would not be able to predict what a combination remedy would do. Many homeopaths believe that the job of the homeopath is to find the single substance in nature that is expressing itself in the symptoms of the patient. Sankaran says that disease is the non-human element, or the non-human song, which is playing itself in the instrument of the patient, but is out of place there. The patient’s symptoms, sensations, attitudes, and delusions point the way to that single substance in nature. When the perfect fit has been found, there will be a resonance, which will silence that non-human element, which is out of place and free the patient to be the healthy person he or she is meant to be. What distinguishes a classical homeopath from a non-classical homeopath is adherence to the rule of one remedy at a time.

Where Remedies Come From

Now I want to talk about where remedies come from. Hahnemann and his colleagues proved over one hundred remedies on themselves. Since then thousands of remedies have been added to the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia. The Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States is the official compendium for homeopathic remedies in the U.S. Provings of new remedies are being conducted all over the world, making homeopathy a very dynamic and endlessly evolving science. As I have said before, the remedies come from the animal, mineral, and plant kingdoms. Some people recognize five or six kingdoms rather than the traditional three, and count algae, bacteria, and fungi as kingdoms in their own right, rather than including them with the plant or animal kingdoms. The nosodes would be classed with the bacterial kingdom. Nosodes are remedies that are made from disease substances, such as Tuberculinum, Carcinosin and Medorrhinum.

Homeopaths since Hahnemann’s time have attempted to make the study of remedies easier by grouping the remedies according to their botanical classification and comparing them to see if they have similar properties. This has been a very popular trend in the last twenty years, and Sankaran and others have gone a long way toward mapping plant sensations to help make the selection of remedies derived from plants more scientific.

Other homeopathic researchers have been doing the same thing with the mineral kingdom. Jan Scholten, Rajan Sankaran, Roger Morrison, Louis Klein and others have pioneered this work with the mineral kingdom, showing us that minerals on the same row on the periodic table of the elements share fundamental qualities, as do those on the same column. Homeopaths are exploring the idea that the periodic table of the elements is a map of human development from conception through the highest states of human development.

Much research has been done by homeopaths, such as Jonathan Shore, who wrote a book called, “Birds Homeopathic Remedies from the Avian Realm,” and Nancy Herrick, who wrote “Animal Minds, Human Voices,” to increase our knowledge of the remedies from the animal kingdom. All of this research on the various kingdoms has extremely practical application in clinical practice, as it helps homeopaths determine what kingdom the patient falls into–animal, plant, mineral, and then to make appropriate selections within the kingdom, so that they can make accurate prescriptions for their patients.

Thanks to the efforts of the homeopathic light-bearers, the work of all homeopaths is becoming more scientifically based, and the practice of prescribing more accurate. The other marvelous thing about this is that the remedy names that we see in our repertories and materia medicas are now coming to life for us, as we begin to connect them in our minds to the substances from which they come. To be a great homeopath, one must understand botany, chemistry, physics, psychology, the nature of consciousness, human disease, the therapeutic action of homeopathic remedies and so much more. It is truly a very rewarding lifetime study.

Please remember that for constitutional homeopathic prescribing you should consult a professional homeopath or a doctor who is knowledgeable in homeopathy. Also remember that homeopathic remedies should be repeated with care and caution. It is very important to have a homeopath working with you who understands the power of homeopathic remedies, how to select them, and how and when to administer them, so that you have a safe and enjoyable experience with homeopathy,

Homeopathy is truly beautiful medicine, because its basis is scientific, the rules for its safe application are known, the guide for selecting remedies is given, and the remedies come from natural substances which are prepared in ways that make them safe to administer to sick people. Ultimately the best thing about it is that it works and it is reliable. You have taken the first step in making miracles happen for you and your family, you have discovered homeopathy.