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Homeopathy

Homeopathy has been around for 200 years and is based on the principle of 'like treats like', Yet, surprisingly, very little is known about it and misconceptions about how treatments work abound.

Homoepathy is a detailed and complex system of medicine, The founder, Dr Samuel Hahnemann (below), was a German physician of the late 18th century who was concerned by the medical practices of his day and the poisonous side-effects of many of the medicines then in use.

THE PRINCIPLES
While orthodox medicine (which Dr. Hahnemann called 'allopathy') was based on aiming to suppress symptoms, he believed that the symptoms were actually part of the cure. By using medicines which stimulated symptoms similar to those of the illness, therefore, the illness itself would be cured.

Homeopathy literally means 'like suffering' whereas allopathy means 'other suffering'. The fundamental principle that lies behind homeopathy is that 'liketreats like'.

The simplest example is the treatment of the common cold, the symptoms of which include a runny nose and watery eyes. A similar response comes from peeling an onion and one of the homeopathic treatments for a cold is made from red onion (Allium cepa). The body, stimulated by the Allium, fights off the cold.

This is the opposite of the orthodox medical view, which suppresses the symptoms and tries to dry up the cold. Homeopathy regards symptoms as signs of the body's attempt to stabilize itself.

The other apparent paradox of homeopathic treatment is that an original preparation taken from a plant, animal or mineral source is diluted repeatedly, with succussion (violent shaking) at each stage - and yet the weaker the solution of the original preparation, the more powerful it seems to become.

For this reason, practitioners of orthodox medicine used to dismiss homeopathy as being 'all in the mind', claiming that patients got better simply because they believe that they will.

Although no one knows for sure how homeopathy works, it is now highly regarded and many doctors trained in orthodox medicine use homeopathy as well. Modern science has brought new insights into its effectiveness and extensive research continues.

Your first consultation with a homeopath will usually take about an hour. This is because he will not only want to know about your particular ailment but also about your medical and family history, diet, lifestyle, moods, emotions and relationships.

The homeopath will try to build up a total picture of the individual patient, not just the ailment. The ailment itself, however, will also be reviewed in detail and the practitioner may ask questions about any pain - for example, whether it is aching, cutting or burning. He will also want to know what sort of person you are as different personality types will be given different treatment for what is, apparently, the same ailment. Homeopaths who are also qualified medical physicians will often use other diagnostic tests, such as X-rays and blood tests.

ACHIEVING A CURE
The homeopath will provide remedies and may also advise on other areas, such as foods to avoid or changes in lifestyle. Achieving a cure may be a matter of weeks or years, depending on the problem, but many people are surprised by the speed with which homeopathy can overcome what has often been a long-term ailment.

In some cases, the symptoms become temporarily stronger. This does not necessarily mean that the disease has got worse - it is what is known as a 'healing crisis' during which the body is responding to the stimulus of the medicine.

A MINUSCULE DOSE
Homeopathy is essentially a complementary medicine which aims to heal and strengthen the whole individual, both physically and emotionally.

Homeopathy is often successful in treating diseases such as mild bronchitis and cystitis, emotional or psychological problems, skin problems, rheumatism and as an aid to convalescence after serious illness or surgery.

     
     

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