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On what principles is homeopathy actually based?

Homeopathy is based on the observation that substances that are capable of causing disorders of the mind or body in healthy people can be used in dilute form as medicines to treat similar disorders in someone who is ill, whatever the cause of the illness. Allium cepa derived from onions can be taken as an example. Contact with raw onions causes lacrimation, stinging and irritation around the eyes and nose. Allium cepa can therefore be prescribed to patients with hay fever with the same symptoms.

The key to successful homeopathic treatment is identifying the similarity between the effects of the original substance in healthy people and the pattern of the illness in the individual who is ill. This is called the similia principle. Homeopathic medicines must be customized to match the individual with that disease, a process that is called ‘individualisation’. The very same disease in another patient will most often be cured with an entirely different medicine. Thus we could have two different medicines that cure two different patients with identical conventional diagnoses.

The word ‘individualisation’ is emphasized because any particular disease or illness, although it may have a particular form of pathology, actually manifests itself differently in individual patients. The pattern of clinical symptoms and signs will differ in some details from person to person. This is true of the actual condition itself, but even more so if incidental factors like changes in mood, thirst, appetite, reaction to temperature, and other body functions are taken into account. The characteristic actions of the homeopathic medicine must match these individual characteristics of the illness if it is to have a therapeutic effect. Homeopathy is based on the philosophy that the body, mind and emotions are not really separate and distinct, but are actually fully integrated. Based on this perspective, a homeopathic doctor seeks a medicine that fits all of a patient’s physical and psychological symptoms.

The action of homeopathic medicines is to enable the natural self-regulating mechanisms in the mind and body to function more efficiently, and to mobilize and reinforce the healing resources, which already naturally exist. Actually, instead of defeating or covering up diseases, it facilitates healing. Choosing the right prescription is like choosing the precise key needed to switch on this process. Homeopathy does not seek to remove or suppress symptoms. Its goal is to recognize and remove the underlying cause of these symptoms. This is why a homeopathic doctor will work towards understanding the whole person — including their body, mind and emotional state — before prescribing a medicine. When accurately implemented, homeopathic treatment can elicit a profound healing response. Homeopathy can be extremely effective in treating chronic and long-term health problems.

Prescribing medicines of botanical origin is not identical with homeopathy. In phytotherapy the plant extracts are used in their crude form and not potentised as in homeopathy, nor is the law of similars considered. Homeopathy is also to be distinguished from anthroposophic medicine. In anthroposophic medicine homeopathic medicines can be used among other medicines, but their prescription is not based on the law of similars.

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