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What is homeopathy?

Homeopathy is a system of medicine which is based on treating the individual with highly diluted substances given in mainly tablet form, which triggers the body’s natural system of healing. Based on their experience of their symptoms, a homeopath will match the most appropriate medicine to the patient.

It works on the principle of “like cures like” - that is, a substance that would cause symptoms in a healthy person is used to cure those same symptoms in illness. For example, one remedy which might be used in a person suffering from insomnia is coffee, a remedy made from coffea.
It stimulates the healing by activating what Dr. Hahnemann (Founder of Homeopathy) called the Vital force. Vital force is the healing power or energy that exists within us all. It is called by the name Chi by Chinese and Prana by Indian Ayurveda. The vital force fuels the mind, body, emotions and mind. It keeps us healthy and balanced. When the balance of the vital force is disturbed by factors such as stress, pollution, improper diet and lack of exercise, it becomes weakened resulting in the person getting sick.

Homeopathy has been widely used throughout the world for more than 200 years.Homeopathy can be safely used alongside conventional medicines and will not interfere with the action of medicines prescribed by your doctor. Because homeopathic medicines (often referred to as remedies) are non-toxic, there are no side effects and they are safe even for pregnant women and babies.

How does homeopathy work?

Homeopathic remedies are derived from plants, animals, minerals, metals, acids, alkalis, venoms and diseased human tissue. The bulk of remedies in everyday use are derived from plants. These substances are first crushed and dissolved in a liquid -- usually grain alcohol or lactose -- mechanically shaken, then stored. This is the "mother tincture." Homeopaths then dilute tinctures more with alcohol or lactose, either 1 part to 10 (written as "x") or 1 part to 100 (written as "c"). These tinctures are shaken, yielding a 1x or 1c dilution. Homeopaths can further dilute these tinctures two times (2x or 2c), three times (3x or 3c), and so forth. Many times professional homeopaths will use much higher dilutions, because the more diluted the substance, the more potent its healing powers are thought to be.

Homeopathic remedies aim to stimulate the body's own healing mechanisms. Homeopaths believe that any physical disease has a mental and emotional component. So a homeopathic diagnosis includes physical symptoms, current emotional and psychological state (such as anxiety and restlessness), and the person' s constitution. A person' s constitution includes qualities related to creativity, initiative, persistence, concentration, physical sensitivities, and stamina). The right remedy for a condition will take all of these aspects into account, so each diagnosis and remedy is individualized. That means three people with hay fever could need three very different prescriptions.

Health-food stores and some pharmacies sell homeopathic remedies for a variety of problems. Remedies are usually taken for no more than 2 - 3 days, although some people may need only 1 - 2 doses before starting to feel better. In some cases daily dosing may be prescribed.

What happens during a visit to the homeopath?

Your first visit to the homeopath can take from 1 - 2½ hours. Because homeopaths treat the person rather than the illness, the homeopath will interview you at length, asking many questions and observing personality traits as well as unusual behavioral and physical symptoms. A physical examination and possibly laboratory work is also done.

What illnesses and conditions respond well?

Homeopathy treats the person rather than the named “disease” so potentially it can help patients with a wide range of conditions, both acute and chronic. Illnesses commonly seen by homeopaths in the clinic include recurrent infections (such as colds, tonsillitis, cystitis), skin conditions, menstrual problems, chronic fatigue, migraine, and stress related symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia. Preliminary evidence shows that homeopathy may be helpful in treating childhood diarrhea, otitis media (ear infection), asthma, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, pain, allergies and sore muscles. Some professional homeopaths specialize in treating serious illnesses, such as cancer, mental illness, and autoimmune diseases. You should not treat a life-threatening illness with homeopathy alone. Always make sure that all your health care providers know about all the different therapies you are using.

Homeopathic medicines, because they are diluted, generally don' t have side effects. However, some people report feeling worse briefly after starting homeopathic remedies. Homeopaths interpret this as the body temporarily stimulating symptoms while it makes an effort to restore health. Homeopathic medicines are not known to interfere with conventional drugs.

What will happen once treatment starts?

After taking your homeopathic medicine, you may notice some changes. Some patients experience a period of exceptional well being and optimism. Sometimes your symptoms can appear to get worse for a short time. This is often a good sign that the remedy is taking effect. Sometimes a cold, rash or some form of discharge may appear as a 'spring cleaning' effect which means your system is going through a clearing out stage. Similarly, old symptoms can reappear, usually for a short period.These symptoms are an important part of the healing process but, if any response to your treatment concerns you, do contact your homeopath as soon as you can. You might also want to make notes of any changes and take them with you to discuss at your next appointment.

Does my medical insurance usually cover homeopathy?

Insurance companies are more likely to cover homeopathy when the person providing the service is a qualified health care professional