<h4>by Hannah Albert, N.D.</h4>
4464 Fremont Ave N Suite 104
Seattle, WA 98103
Origins of Homeopathy
Samuel Hahnemann was a German physician, linguist and scholar living in the early 1800’s who was frustrated with the medicine of his time. He noticed that medicine often had the effect of making patients sicker, whether immediately or at a later time. While studying the writings of a British scientist, he rediscovered the principle “like cures like.” Intrigued by what he read, Hahnemann gave himself heavy doses of quinine (used to treat malaria), finding to his amazement that he came down with malarial symptoms.
He experimented with nearly 100 substances throughout his life, “proving” their capacity to cure the same symptoms that they produced in healthy human subjects. He found that when the energy of these particular substances had been “captured,” they were able to cure the same symptoms (not necessarily the same illness) that were produced by ingesting the crude form. By a process of dilution of the “mother tincture” – the original extract – followed by potentization (energizing through shaking called succussion), homeopathic remedies were created. Many American MDs added to our understanding of remedy “states” (non-optimum mental or physical states) such as Kent, Herring, and Clarke, and then the Greek George Vithoulkas produced a scientific explanation of homeopathy.
The Science of Healing
Through many years of study and experimentation, Hahnemann discovered that true healing is possible only by allowing the body’s innate wisdom to direct the course of recovery. He found this was best achieved by medicine which produced a cure from the inside out. This concept contrasted directly with the allopathic view (standard medicine) which aimed to suppress or control symptoms and declare it a cure. It was Hahnemann’s observation that allopathic medicines drove the physiological condition towards a deeper pathology because the body’s own intelligence had been “turned off.” We might name that intelligence vital force; in it’s physical form it is immunity, cerebrospinal fluid flow, glandular secretion, oxygenation, etc.
Children given creams for rashes later developed allergies, which when suppressed became asthma. Adults treated for sexually transmitted diseases became mentally and emotionally disturbed. And so on and so forth; the more suppressive treatment, the more serious the health condition of the individual became. Descendents of people treated with suppressive medicines inherited the “miasm” of their progenitors, i.e., genetic information altered by trauma.
What is a remedy exactly?
Remedies are prepared from plant, animal, metal, and mineral substances. A mother tincture is made by macerating (soaking) the substance with alcohol and water; one drop of this product is combined with 99 drops of water and then “potentized” (energized) by succussion, or shaking. Various potencies are produced by further dilution and succussion. Remedies today are potentized by machine, but originally they were done by hand. Certain remedies are prepared by grinding with a mortar and pestle (“trituration”). Dr. Hahnemann discovered in clinical practice that, curiously, the more dilute the medicine, the deeper and more lasting the cure that was produced. Thus the concept of “potentization” was born; the higher the potency, the less gross medicine existed in the remedy. Homeopathy is a form of energetic medicine in that it captures the “wavelength” of the substance; in native traditions this might be referred to as the spirit of the medicine.
What is the effect of taking a remedy?
When a remedy acts, it may initially amplify symptoms; it may cause old symptoms that were treated with suppressive medicines to recur; it may produce a sensation of relief from suffering, or it may promote a simple sense of well-being that was all but forgotten. Remedies can act immediately, or they may take weeks to show an effect. It is important to remember with all dis-ease it often takes years to arrive in such a state, and after taking a remedy it takes time to “unwind” patterns of mental, emotional, and/or physical limitations. The mechanism of action is not well understood. Some hypothesize that the expression of DNA may be altered through an electro-magnetic shift.
Choosing a remedy according to “Classical Homeopathy”
This style aims to address a constitutional state, i.e. the entire mental, emotional, and physical picture of a person. The process of choosing a remedy involves “taking the case,” or listening to the patient’s history. It is not only the words that paint a picture for the doctor; it is the emotions that are brought up, the response to questions, etc. When the doctor is able to see the most prominent limitation in the patient (i.e., what prevents him or her from freely living life and experiencing what it is to be fully human) it is time to choose a remedy. Knowing the materia medica of remedies (the full list of homeopathic remedies) takes a lifetime of study; intuition plays a role as well. Since there are many hundreds of proven remedies available, it is common for practitioners to be familiar with 50-150 common or “polycrest” remedies; smaller or lesser-known remedies are chosen by further study and investigation.
Choosing remedies according to “Drainage”
Drainage is a model for healing which seeks to alter organ and glandular function through the improvement of cellular respiration. This school takes a particular viewpoint that organ systems may be blocked due to malfunctioning enzyme systems, viruses, bacterial imbalance in the digestive tract, or emotional trauma. In order for mental and emotional healing to occur, the physical plane may need to be addressed first. (Healing tends to occur in the order of most important system to least, e.g., heart before skin.) Since the physical plane is a manifestation of where the mind and feelings are (see Candice Pert’s Molecules of Emotion or John Sarno’s Healing Back Pain) it is semantics to discuss where healing occurs “first.” These potentized remedies may be made from single or multiple substances in a formula.
Can homeopathy cure mental illness?
This is a question that can’t really be answered. It probably can be said that with a well-chosen remedy, tendencies can be diminished, a new permanent perspective may be gained, and choices that were invisible may now become prominent; in essence a remedy can increase our experience of freedom. But perhaps homeopathy may have the potential to change the expression of our DNA; to change the very cellular mechanisms of the nervous system. This can have a particularly significant impact on children and on adults who plan to have children in terms of preventing the genetic expression of undesirable behaviors and pathology.
What are the applications of homeopathy?
Hangnails to flus, ear infections to cancer, eczema to depression, anger to muscle strains, diabetes to menopause, phobias to sexual dysfunction, and everything in between. Remedies are particularly valuable for people who have a great understanding of why they are “the way they are” but can’t seem to change behavior permanently. Remedies can be used for acute situations or for patterns that have been around for years.
Bailey, Philip M. M.D., Homeopathic Psychology
Garrett, Raymond and Stone, Taressa, Catching Good Health with Homeopathic Medicine, CRCS Publications.
Herscue, Paul N.D., The Homeopathic Treatment of Children, North Atlantic Books.
Pert, Candice, Molecules of Emotion, Touchstone.
Vithoulkas, George M.D., The Science of Homeopathy, Grove Weidenfeld.
Whitmont, Edward M.D., The Alchemy of Healing: Psyche and Soma, North Atlantic Books.
Hannah Albert, N.D., is a naturopathic physician who received her degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. She has a family practice in Northwest Portland with an emphasis on the treatment of children with learning and behavioral problems, women who have trouble conceiving or maintaining pregnancy, women with pelvic pain, and women at menopause. She is particularly interested in working with people who have emotional issues that limit their sense of creativity and freedom to be fully alive. Dr. Albert’s purpose in life is to inspire people to transform themselves. She can be reached at:
The Institute for Human Potential
1920 Northwest Johnson St., Suite 110
Portland, Oregon 97209