The What, How, and Why of Homeopathy
What Is Homeopathy?
Homeopathy is a medical science that uses natural substances to mimic
illness and stimulate healing. It is based on the idea of "like cures like."
Any substance that can produce symptoms in a healthy person can cure
those same symptoms in a sick person.
Here are several examples of this principle:
a. An onion is a substance that makes your eyes water and your
nose burn. So if you are having an attack of hay fever with watering
eyes and a burning nose, a few doses of homeopathic onion
can relieve it.
b. Poison ivy causes redness, small blisters, intense itching, and
stiff muscles. Homeopathically it has been used for everything
from herpes and burns to eczema and arthritis.
c. Coffee can overstimulate the mind and trigger insomnia. Homeopathic
coffee can help restore sleep disturbed by an overactive
d. When you are stung by a bee you feel a burning, stinging pain,
and the tissues surrounding the area swell up. Some relief is
obtained from applying cold to the area. If you had swollen tonsils
with burning and stinging pain relieved by cold, homeopathic
bee sting could cure.
Over two thousand substances are now used as remedies to treat everything
from colds and cough to arthritis and cancer.
Why Turn to Homeopathy?
1. When antibiotics fail, homeopathic remedies will still work.
Germs can never develop a resistance to homeopathic remedies.
The remedies do not kill the germs directly, but rather,
they stimulate the immune system to do the healing. For the
last two hundred years, homeopaths have cured meningitis,
endocarditis, pneumonia, nephritis, tuberculosis, plague, and
venereal diseases using homeopathic remedies alone.
Homeopathic remedies are effective against viruses, but
antibiotics are not. In 1918, the worldwide influenza epidemic
killed over twenty million people, and over five hundred
thousand in the United States. At a time when survival rates
were 70% with conventional medicine, they were 98% with
Some other viral diseases are Ebola, hantavirus, viral pneumonia,
viral hepatitis, yellow fever, polio, rabies, viral meningitis,
viral encephalitis, dengue fever, mumps, chickenpox, measles,
herpes simplex and zoster, and mononucleosis.
2. Homeopathy is affordable-homeopathic remedies cost about
eight cents per dose. Thousands of people could be treated
during an emergency for just a few dollars. The antibiotic used
to treat sepsis infections costs $4,000 for one day's treatment.
The equivalent homeopathic remedies cost 8¢ per dose.
3. You can begin prescribing without a diagnosis. Homeopathic
remedies are prescribed based on the person's symptoms. You
don't have to know the name of the disease. This is especially
important when new or exotic diseases arise.
4. Homeopathic remedies are extremely safe and free of chemical
side effects. By following a few simple rules, any intelligent
person can use the remedies without danger. Prescription
drugs, on the other hand, are not safe for amateurs. In fact, they
are quite dangerous even when used by doctors. A recent study
published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (April
15, 1998) concluded that prescription drugs, properly prescribed
and properly taken, are between the fourth and sixth leading
cause of death in the United States (after heart attack, stroke,
and cancer). The study found that prescription drugs kill over
one hundred thousand Americans a year.
5. Homeopathic remedies can be used prophylactically, much
like vaccines. Thousands of people could be inoculated quickly
and cheaply if an epidemic threatened. A remedy made from
the chick pea (Lathyrus) has been used with great success during
6. People who are allergic to antibiotics and other drugs can
still use homeopathic remedies. Homeopathic remedies can
substitute for almost all conventional drugs.
7. You can heal faster. Conventional drugs can relieve pain or
reduce inflammation, but they don't speed healing. All homeopathic
remedies, when properly selected, speed the healing
8. You can sometimes avoid surgery. Polyps, tonsillitis, hemorrhoids,
ulcers, abscesses, gall bladder problems, and more, often
yield to homeopathic treatment. Surgery is always an option,
but when possible, why not try a less invasive method first?
9. Homeopathic remedies remove toxins from the body. Conventional
drugs increase the toxic load.
What You Can Accomplish with Homeopathy
If conventional medical care were not available, what could the average
person hope to accomplish with homeopathy? You wouldn't be an
expert, but you could still prevent illness, relieve pain, and save lives.
Just as a person can learn conventional first aid, so one can learn homeopathic
first aid. This includes treating anything from cuts and sprains
to concussions and broken bones. For first aid injuries, you simply look
up the type of injury. The book will list the appropriate remedy. For
example, bruises require Arnica and burns need Cantharis. It's quite
straightforward. You can look up the remedies for first aid in chapter
3, "Ailments A to Z."
This involves anything from colds and coughs to influenza, infected
wounds, and pneumonia. If you know the name of the ailment, you can
look it up in this book. It involves more decisions than treating first aid
problems, because you'll have more remedies to choose from. Match
the remedy to the patient's symptoms. Just do your best! You don't have
to get it right the first time, or even the second or third time. Trained
homeopaths often try several remedies before they get the right one.
You can look up the remedies for acute health problems in chapter 3,
"Ailments A to Z."
Homeopathic remedies can also help prevent illness. If there were an
epidemic and you had no vaccines available, you could use remedies to
help prevent the disease or reduce its severity. This is similar to vaccination,
but without the side effects. You can read more about this and
look up the remedies in chapter 7, "Preventing Illness."
Homeopathy's Track Record
You may be wondering what kind of track record homeopathy has for
treating serious diseases. A look at the past will establish that homeopathy
has proven itself reliable and is often much more effective than conventional
treatment. It has also saved countless lives when used preventively.
The worldwide influenza epidemic of 1918 killed over twenty
million people and more than five hundred thousand in the
United States. At a time when when survival rates were 70% with
conventional medicine, they were 98% with homeopathy. Most of
the homeopathic remedies that were used are the same ones you
will have in your kit (e.g., Gelsemium, Arsenicum, and Bryonia).
During the cholera and typhus epidemics in Europe from the
1860s to early 1900s, people using homeopathy had survival rates
50% or greater than those treated by conventional medicine.
In an epidemic of typhus in Leipzig in 1813, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann
treated 180 cases of typhus, losing only two patients. Mortality
rates for conventional treatment were over 30%.
During the cholera epidemic of 1849 in Cincinnati, with survival
rates between 40%-52%, those treated by homeopathy had a 97%
survival rate. These results were published in the local newspapers.
During the 1831-32 cholera epidemic in Europe, the mortality
rate was between 40%-80%. The mortality rate in the ten homeopathic
hospitals was 7%-10%. Homeopathy was so effective
that the law forbidding the practice of homeopathy in Austria
In 1878, the mortality rate for yellow fever in New Orleans was
50% for conventional care, but only 5.6% with homeopathic
Records from Broome County, New York (1862-64), show diphtheria
mortality at 83.6%, but only 16.4% for those treated
In the 1957 polio epidemic in Buenos Aires, the remedy Lathyrus was
given to thousands of people. Not one case of polio was reported in
In a 1974 epidemic of meningicoccal meningitis in Brazil, 18,640
children were given a homeopathic remedy for prevention. Only four
cases of meningitis occurred in these children.
In the smallpox epidemic of 1902 in Iowa, the homeopathic remedy
Variolinum was given as prophylaxis to 2,806 patients of fifteen doctors.
The protection rate was 97%.
See chapter 7, "Preventing Illness," for a more detailed discussion.
How Homeopathy Got Started
Homeopathy was developed by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), a
German physician, in the period from 1790 until his death in 1843. In
addition to being a physician, he was a pharmacist, and wrote seventy
original works on chemistry and medicine. He was also a translator, fluent
in seven languages. With his theoretical and practical discoveries in
homeopathy, he developed an entire system of medicine.
Hahnemann was ahead of his time in many respects, being one of
the first people to promote compassionate treatment for the mentally
ill. He used homeopathy to cure many individuals so afflicted. He
grasped the principles of contagion long before the germ theory, and
wrote about the need for public sanitation.
There is a monument to Hahnemann in Washington, D.C., at Scott
Circle, at the junction of Massachusetts Avenue and Sixteenth Street.
Hahnemann is buried in Père-Lachaise Cemetery in France, along with
other renowned individuals such as Molière, Sarah Bernhardt, Edith Piaf,
Marcel Proust, Balzac, Oscar Wilde, and Modigliani. He is honored in
countries throughout the world.
Homeopathy is based on the idea of "like cures like," a principle that
was understood by Aristotle, Hippocrates, and Paracelsus, and mentioned
in ancient Hindu manuscripts. It was Hahnemann, however, who
turned it into a science of healing.
Hahnemann wondered why cinchona bark, from which quinine is
derived, was effective in treating malaria. As an experiment he consumed
some cinchona bark and soon developed the symptoms of malaria. From
this experience, he reasoned that a substance can cure an ailment if it is
able to produce the symptoms of that ailment. He concluded that a true
medicine is something that can produce the symptoms it is trying to
cure. He thus hypothesized the principle of "like cures like." This principle
is also called the "law of similars."
To prove this hypothesis he experimented on himself, his family, and
friends. Initially, he used tinctures or concentrated doses. Later, in an
effort to prevent side effects, he began diluting his medicines. At each
stage of dilution, he would firmly tap the bottle of liquid. To his amazement,
this process of diluting and tapping, called "potentizing," increased
the healing power of the remedies. The more he diluted and tapped
them, the deeper and longer-acting the remedies became. From those
experiments, he confirmed two important principles of homeopathy:
Like cures like: A substance that causes symptoms of illness can
cure those same symptoms.
Minimum dose: To cure without harm, use the least amount of
Hahnemann experimented with other substances, learning what symptoms
they would produce and, therefore, what symptoms they could cure.
He taught others his new method of healing, and soon homeopathy
spread from Germany to the rest of the continent. By 1829, Hahnemann
was famous throughout Europe. He produced amazing cures in some of
the worst epidemics of the time. During a typhus epidemic in 1813, Hahnemann
cured 179 of 180 cases. Survival rates in homeopathic hospitals
during epidemics were usually 50%-75% greater than in conventional
hospitals. Because of its success in healing the most serious diseases
without harm to the patient, homeopathy was soon practiced all over
How Homeopathic Remedies Are Made
The first step in making a homeopathic remedy is to dissolve a substance
in water or grain alcohol. It then goes through a process of successive
dilutions, either one part to one hundred or one part to ten. At each
stage of dilution, the container of liquid is tapped firmly fifty to one
hundred times (called succussion). The process of dilution and succussion
may be carried out anywhere from three to one hundred thousand
times. This whole operation is called potentization. It removes the original
substance, but leaves its energy pattern.
The more dilutions and succussions, the stronger, deeper, and longeracting
the remedy is. The healing effect of a remedy that has been
diluted fifty thousand times and succussed five million times can easily
last a year.
The more diluted, the stronger it is? This may seem paradoxical. In
fact, for years no one was sure how the remedies worked. But recent
research has helped explain it. When something is dissolved in water
and then potentized, the water molecules form clusters.The character
of the clusters is specific for each substance. Further, these clusters can
carry complex information and communicate it to other water molecules.
The energy pattern of the original substance affects the water,
and this effect is transmitted through each dilution.
Homeopathic remedies cure by presenting the body with an energy
pattern that mimics the energy pattern of the disease. This triggers
exactly the correct healing response.
The remedy does not add any chemicals to your body. Rather, it contains
information about how to heal. It is similar to a floppy disc in your
computer. People who are not knowledgeable about homeopathy often
try to disparage it, saying there is nothing in the remedy. Well, there is no
"thing" or chemical in the remedy, but rather, information. It would be
as foolish to say there is nothing in a floppy disc. The remedy gives your
body instructions for healing, in the same way the floppy disc instructs
the hard drive.
How Does Homeopathy Work? Why Should an
Energy Pattern Heal Disease?
Homeopathy has some basic assumptions about disease and healing.
1. Living beings are alive because they have energy flowing through them.
Hahnemann called this energy the "Vital Force." In India it is
referred to as prana, and in China it is known as chi. Wilhelm
Reich named it the orgone. Whatever it is called, this energy is
the spark that animates us. Without it, all plant and animal life
would be a pile of inert chemicals.
2. Disease is a disturbance in the body's energy. Those things normally
thought of as disease, such as fevers, inflammations, blocked
vessels, and growths, are the result of disturbed energy flow.
They are the symptoms, signs, and results of disease, but not
the disease itself. The disease is the disrupted energy.
3. To cure disease you have to restore the body's energy flow.
4. Since disease is a disturbance of energy, you need an energy medicine
to correct it.
Homeopathic remedies are essentially energy patterns.
How Does a Particular Remedy Help Heal a Particular Disease?
The famous physicist Louis de Broglie demonstrated that all matter (living
or inert) has wavelength and frequency. That is to say, everything is vibrating.
That includes people, animals, rocks, and homeopathic remedies.
When we are healthy, we are vibrating in a particular way. This changes
during illness. A homeopathic remedy that matches the sickness vibration
will mimic your disease. This stimulates and guides the healing process.
The symptoms disappear because the remedy corrected the underlying
Each remedy represents a different vibration. Since we can't see these
vibrations, what we actually match are the symptoms of the remedy and
the symptoms of the patient.
The idea that disease is due to an energy imbalance is very different
from the conventional view. The conventional view is that disease is
caused by a chemical imbalance and needs to be fixed with chemicals.
Rather than a sign of healing, symptoms are seen as the disease itself
and are suppressed with strong chemicals, called drugs. The suppression
of symptoms is basic to that view.
Treating disease this way has serious drawbacks. Since it doesn't
address the underlying problem, symptoms frequently return. This requires
ever-stronger drugs, often with dangerous side effects. The ineffectiveness
of this approach is quite apparent in chronic disease. Most people with
chronic ailments have to take drugs the rest of their lives. It is clear that the
problem hasn't been fixed.
Further, suppressing symptoms can make one sicker. When your
body needs to rid itself of toxins, you might get a runny nose, watery
eyes, vomiting, diarrhea, perspiration, or a fever. These are signs that
your body is trying to heal itself. When a drug stops this from happening,
where do the toxins go? The body's natural expression has been
According to homeopathy, suppressing symptoms over time can create
a deeper and more serious illness. For example, homeopaths have
observed that minor skin ailments suppressed with drugs give rise to
asthma. What's more, if the asthma is then treated suppressively, it can
give rise to colitis, arthritis, heart disease, etc. The proof of this is that
the process reverses itself under homeopathic treatment. As the colitis is
cured, symptoms of asthma briefly return. When the symptoms of
asthma disappear, a skin rash erupts for a day or two. The process is
Occasionally, symptoms themselves can become life-threatening,
such as an allergic reaction to a bee sting. In such cases, it makes sense
to suppress. For the most part, however, symptoms represent a healing
The Minimum Dose
By using potentized remedies, homeopaths are able to adhere to a second
principle, the minimum dose. This principle states that the homeopath
should use the least amount of medicine (or energy) needed to
trigger healing. Thus, the remedies stimulate the body to make changes,
rather than forcing it to do so. Because they are so dilute, they produce
no chemical side effects. This is a very different approach from conventional
medicine, which uses toxic doses of chemicals that kill over one
hundred thousand Americans a year.
The potentization process allows homeopaths to make perfectly safe
remedies from substances that were toxic in their crude form. In fact,
the more toxic something is, the better a remedy it makes. That's because
whatever symptoms a substance can cause, it can cure. Arsenic produces
many serious symptoms, and therefore has a wide range of healing properties
when used homeopathically.
There are currently about two thousand homeopathic remedies.
Most are made from plants, minerals, or elements. A handful of remedies
are made from animal substances such as bee sting toxin and snake
venom. There are also some remedies made from diseased tissue, such
as tuberculosis or diphtheria. Those remedies are called nosodes. You
can't catch any disease from them, because they contain nothing but an
energy pattern. In fact, nosodes are often used to prevent those diseases
Examples of Substances Used to Make Remedies
Plants: Mountain daisy, sundew, St. Ignatius bean, wild rosemary.
Minerals: Calcium sulfate, potassium carbonate, sodium chloride, sodium
Elements: Phosphorus, sulphur, gold, silver, copper.
Animal substances: Bee sting toxin, snake venom, cuttle fish ink.
Disease substances: Tuberculosis, diphtheria, influenza.
The What, How, and Why of Homeopathy 17
Once they have been potentized, they become quite safe and are able to
stimulate healing. In this form, they act very differently from the crude
How Homeopaths Discovered Which Substances Would Cure
Over the last two hundred years, various plants, minerals, animal substances,
and disease extracts were tested on healthy volunteers to see
what symptoms they would produce. This determined what symptoms
those substances could cure.
This testing process is called a proving, from the German Pruefung,
meaning test. The volunteers are called provers. They were usually given
a homeopathic dose of something, over and over, until their bodies and
minds reacted. They reported any changes they experienced to the
homeopath, who also recorded his or her observations.
Provers experienced both physical and mental symptoms and changes.
To date, these recorded symptoms number in the thousands and cover
about every symptom known to man. Some examples of physical symptoms
are headache, sore throat, aching bones, stomach ache, difficulty
breathing, irregular menstruation, painful urination, and vision and hearing
problems. Also observed were emotional symptoms such as anxiety,
anger, fear, shame, depression, and jealousy. The provers sometimes experienced
positive changes in personality, such as going from being aloof to
being intensely sympathetic.
Each substance also produced specific feelings of "better or worse
from." For example, a prover might have had a headache that was made
better or worse from warmth, sleep, motion, eating, time of day, lying
down, fresh air, pressure, bright light, or company. These conditions of
"better or worse" are called modalities.
Some modalities of common remedies are:
Lachesis: worse after sleep.
Hepar sulph: worse from cold.
Pulsatilla: worse in a closed room and better from fresh air.
18 The What, How, and Why of Homeopathy
Bryonia: worse from any movement.
Rhus tox: better from movement.
Natrum sulph: worse from dampness.
Phosphorus: better from company.
Arsenicum: worse from midnight to 3 a.m.
Lycopodium: worse from eating oysters.
Many of the substances produced very characteristic emotional and
mental states. These turned out to be some of the best guides in choosing
the right remedy.
Here are some of the mental states produced by specific substances:
Arsenicum (Arsenic trioxide): Great anxiety, especially when alone, fear
of death, restlessness, tendency to be critical, conscientious about trifles,
despair of recovery. Fear of cancer, robbers, poverty, and ghosts.
Aurum (Gold): Exaggerated sense of duty and the delusion that one has
failed, accompanied by strong feelings of guilt, severe depression, fits
of anger, desire for death, or suicidal intention.
Lachesis (Bushmaster snake venom): Extremely talkative, sarcastic, passionate,
intense, jealous, and vindictive. Great clarity of mind or confusion.
Fear of snakes, of evil, of going to sleep. Aversion to anything
tight around the neck.
Lycopodium (Club moss): Extreme lack of confidence, anticipatory
anxiety, fear of being alone, claustrophobia, feelings of helplessness,
fear of strangers, becoming easily offended, weeping when thanked,
Sepia (Ink of the cuttlefish): Anger when contradicted, irritability, aversion
to family, aversion to company yet fear of being alone, annoyed
by consolation, fear of insanity, hysteria, overwhelming apathy.
Who Makes These Remedies and Where Do I
Homeopathic remedies are made by homeopathic pharmacies around the
world. They adhere to very strict guidelines laid down by organizations
The What, How, and Why of Homeopathy 19
like the Homeopathic Pharmacopia of the United States. In the U.S., the
remedies are all FDA approved.
Some homeopathic pharmacies sell directly to the public. Remedies
are also available at health food stores, some pharmacies, and health
food sections of supermarkets. The majority of remedies do not require
any prescription. The exceptions are the nosodes, remedies made from
diseased tissue. Some homeopathic pharmaceutical companies require a
prescription for the nosodes, others do not. Another option is to find a
friendly holistic doctor, dentist, or other health professional who can
write a prescription for the nosode.
I highly recommend purchasing a kit. First, they are a real bargain.You
can get a modest one for $85 to $200 that will contain between fifty and
one hundred remedies. If you bought the remedies individually they
would cost a third more. Secondly, the manufacturer has carefully chosen
the remedies you will most often need. They will be effective for a
wide range of ailments. If the need arises for other remedies, those can
be ordered from a health food store or homeopathic pharmacy. I suggest
buying a kit with remedies in the "30c" potency. See chapter 12,
"Remedies for Your Home Kit," for a list of recommended remedies.