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What is Homeopathy?
by Dr. André Saine
D.C., N.D., F.C.A.H.
The Canadian Academy of Homeopathy


Homeopathy is the essence of the art of healing. When homeopathy is well practiced, it is the medicine of choice to recover one's health from the great majority of acute and chronic problems.

Homeopathy is a scientific method of treatment that is based on the application of the law of similars. For thousands of years, man searched for a method to promote healing which is efficient, gentle and permanent. Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician who lived between 1755-1843, pursued this philosophical and scientific quest by developing an ideal system of therapeutics which brought together a number of discoveries and reflections found throughout the history of medicine. After years of perfecting this therapeutic method, he called it homeopathy, by uniting two Greek roots, homoios meaning "similar," and pathos meaning, "what one feels." Homeopathy consists of treating sick people with remedies that, in crude doses, would produce in healthy people symptoms similar (homoios) to those of the disease needing to be overcome.

Remedies used by homeopathic physicians come from natural sources and are prepared in such a way that they are devoid of all chemical toxicity. In conventional medicine, drugs are generally given for their effects on the organism, while in homeopathy, the unique remedy is given to provoke a reaction of the organism. Since only the living organism can heal itself, the homeopathic remedy is merely an influence used to provoke a reaction to bring about recovery. The greater the degree of similarity between the symptoms that are provoked by the remedy on a healthy person and the symptoms displayed by the person who is sick, the greater will be the recovery reaction.

With few exceptions, people affected with chronic diseases do not expect their level of health to improve with the years when treated with conventional medicine. This is not the case with homeopathy because homeopathic treatment, in the majority of cases, directly targets the fundamental cause of the disease.

This fundamental cause is the basic susceptibility of the individual to be sick. In general, one can assert that disease is a state of imbalance resulting from the combination of several factors. To simplify, we can summarize these factors or causes into three main groups to: first, the general predisposition of the individual to be sick, determined on the one hand by heredity and on the other hand by a susceptibility acquired during life; second, the environment and all factors of stress; and third, the general hygiene or lifestyle of the person, including, of course, mental hygiene.

Years of experience have enabled homeopathic physicians to confirm that in the great majority of cases, the fundamental cause of disease is the general predisposition of the individual to be sick. The imbalance, or diseased state, is in fact only the expression of this predisposition to be sick once the conjuncture of other factors has become favorable to its expression. With the most similar remedy (or in other words, the most homeopathic), the organism rebalances itself globally so that the tendency to be sick is greatly decreased. This explains the extraordinary results achieved by homeopathy!

The person, who suffers, afflicted by an acute disease (due to an infection, a poisoning, an accident, an emotional shock, etc.) or by a chronic disease (of a psychological, emotional or physical nature), is in a state of imbalance, which is unique to him. The role of the homeopathic physician, following a complete examination of all the symptoms and aspects of the patient, will be to seek the remedy that will be the most specific for the individual in that state.

How does a visit to a homeopathic physician take place? You will be asked to describe all your problems in detail as well as a complete description of everything that characterizes you, especially your feelings, sensations, sensitivity, psyche, and all that concerns your organism in terms of energy, sleep, hunger, digestion, etc. The homeopathic physician will complete this study with a physical examination. This initial general examination is thorough and requires approximately two to three hours. The better the homeopathic physician understands his patient and his problems, the better he can individualize and find the specific and most similar remedy for this patient's disease state.

This remedy will often be administered in a single dose, once, until the next follow-up visit. During the follow-up visit, which generally takes place two to six weeks after the original consultation for people afflicted with chronic diseases and earlier in more urgent cases, the homeopathic physician will review all the changes which have occurred since the initial homeopathic remedy was taken. A follow-up visit lasts between 20 or 30 minutes on the average. If the patient reacted favorably to the remedy, the homeopathic physician will choose the ideal moment for the second dose to rekindle the healing reaction. A well-prescribed homeopathic remedy is like a spark that triggers the furnace to go on. When the furnace goes off, it is time to respark it. As long as the patient improves, there is no need to redose. Similarly, there is no need to restart the furnace that in on.

Which diseases can be treated with homeopathy? Strange but true, in homeopathy we do not treat diseases, but the person who is sick. Whether a person has a chronic or an acute disease, all of their symptoms, whether physical, mental or emotional, form a whole representing a state of imbalance very specific to the individual. The goal of the physician is to recognize through the unique expression of symptoms of a patient the pattern of disturbed energy and identify among a great number of remedies available the one most homeopathic, or most similar to the patient's disease. Homeopathy is “medicine of the individual” per excellence.

Can a pregnant woman or a newborn baby benefit from homeopathy? Since homeopathic remedies are devoid of all chemical toxicity, homeopathy is the ideal medicine for people of all ages, even the most sensitive like a newborn baby. Difficulties during pregnancy and the delivery or its aftermath as well as all the problems experienced by the newborn can be dealt with very effectively and without side effects with homeopathy.
How does homeopathy deal with mental or emotional problems, resulting from trauma, deep grief, or the consequence of mood disorders such as anger, depression or anxiety? As incredible as it may be, the majority of such problems normalize with the application of the homeopathic remedy that is the most similar to the state of the patient. Patients who are under psychotherapy will recover as a rule far more rapidly after they begin homeopathic treatment.

How does homeopathy address patients with infectious diseases? Homeopathic treatment is ideal to optimize the body's natural defenses against microbes. With the appropriate homeopathic treatment, people recover from infectious diseases, even the most serious ones, gently and rapidly. During great past epidemics such as those of diphtheria, scarlet fever, typhoid, cholera, yellow fever, malaria, etc., homeopathy decreased mortality 10 to 30 times versus conventional medicine. During the infamous Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-19, it has been estimated that between 25 to 50 million people died worldwide. In the United States alone, 550,000 died, approximately 10% of the people afflicted. Homeopathic physicians have documented more than 62,000 patients treated with homeopathy resulting in a mortality rate of 0.7%. Speaking just of people who were sick enough to be hospitalized, conventional medicine had a mortality rate of 30%, while with 27,000 documented hospitalized cases, homeopathy was reporting a mortality of 1.05% (Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy 1921; 13:1028-43).

Which conditions are outside the scope of homeopathy? If the person has a problem that necessitates a surgical intervention, the homeopathic physician will be the first to refer this patient to a surgeon. But as surgical interventions are a shock to the organism, homeopathic treatment will be ideal to prepare patients for surgery and to help them recover from the operation. Similarly, cases of dislocation and fracture will be dealt with by an orthopedic doctor but homeopathy will be of great assistance to diminish pain and enhance healing. For less serious mechanical physical problems, patients will be referred to chiropractors, osteopaths, massotherapists or other appropriate therapists. Generally, people afflicted with genetic, congenital, or metabolic diseases or with very advanced degenerative diseases cannot always expect full recovery, but more often palliative relief following the homeopathic treatment, free of the side effects usually associated with modern drugs.

With increasingly elaborate research, homeopathic medicine continues to evolve and yesterday’s limits are continually pushed back further. Homeopathy makes the most of the organism's capacity to heal itself. The limits of homeopathy are in fact only those of the organism to heal itself, which are extraordinary when put to work. With credible scientific approach, homeopathy continues to fully explore the greatly underestimated organism's capacity for self-healing (Incidentally, it was reported in an editorial of the British Medical Journal that only 1% of articles published in the 30,000 biomedical journals in existence is scientifically sound. (British Medical Journal, 1991; 303:798-9)).

To achieve the greatest success, the homeopathic physician must undertake a long and rigorous course of study to understand the subtleties of the human being, whether healthy or sick, to be able to give a precise diagnosis before choosing the remedy that will restore the healing process. The better the physician’s skill as a diagnostician, the greater will be his success.

What has been the position of conventional medicine towards homeopathic medicine? Since the beginning, conventional medicine has tried to halt the progress of homeopathy. At best, homeopatyhs are accused of giving "placebos" despite double blind studies demonstrating the absolutely undeniable efficacy of homeopathic treatments. If homeopathy is so extraordinary, why is it not recognized universally? Although homeopathy has been practiced for more than two hundred years, it is still in its early period of growth. It is probably the most difficult medical discipline to master because it is based on the pure observation of nature, and the strict application of a natural law. Until very recently, of all the physicians who studied homeopathy, only a very small minority succeeded in mastering the discipline. Today, with the general disillusionment with conventional medicine, homeopathy is beginning to bloom again and spread throughout the world. People find in homeopathy a medicine that not only displays more common sense by its respect for the whole person, but which is also more efficient in restoring health to the sick since it optimizes the extraordinary innate self-healing powers of the organism. With the advent of modern communications, the teaching of homeopathy has improved and better comprehension and practice of homeopathy has been observed in certain circles.

Homeopathic remedies are to be found in almost all pharmacies in Europe. At least 40% of the British population receives a homeopathic prescription every year and more than one third of the French are treated with homeopathy. Famous people that have used homeopathy include John D. Rockefeller (who lived 99 years), three American presidents, James Garfield, Chester A. Arthur and Warren Harding, Henry W. Longfellow, Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Twain, Samuel Morse, Sir Yehudi Mehuhin, a great part of the aristocracy and European royalty (i.e.: members of the British royal family such as the Queen mother, the present Queen Elizabeth II, her son Prince Charles) and a number of popes including Pius X and the current pope, John Paul II.

In some countries, homeopathy is taught at universities and is recognized as official medicine. In Germany, by a mandate of the government, all medical students must now learn the basics of homeopathy. In other countries such as Canada, homeopathy has until now been reserved for the elite. In Montreal, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital was formerly called the Montreal Homeopathic Hospital. In Toronto, the Princess Margaret Hospital was once a homeopathic hospital. In almost all pharmacies of Europe and Quebec, one can find a homeopathic department. Hopefully, one day, high quality homeopathic care will be accessible to all. Choosing homeopathy for ourselves or our families should not be a question of belief, but a decision based on knowledge acquired through experience. One does not believe in homeopathy, one experiences it.