What is Homeopathy?
Many people confuse homeopathy with herbal medicine or even naturopathic medicine as a whole, but it is actually a separate and distinct system of healing. Homeopathic remedies are made from small doses of potentized plants, minerals, and/or animal products. Potentization occurs when you serially dilute and succus (shake/agitate) a substance. These remedies are then given to patients to stimulate the self-healing mechanisms of the body. While this system of medicine is sometimes described as “fringe” in America, most of Europe has been using homeopathy for decades with remarkable results. Homeopathy is based on two general theories: “like cures like”, and “the law of the minimum dose”.
“Like cures like”: This is the idea that a medicine can cure a sick person if an overdose of that same substance causes a similar sickness in a healthy subject. For example, if you peel and chop an onion, it is likely that your eyes will begin to burn, itch, and water. You might also develop a runny nose and begin to sneeze. These symptoms are also common symptoms of allergy attacks and colds. So if you came into see a homeopath with these specific symptoms during a cold or allergy attack, he or she may prescribe you homeopathic Allium Cepa (red onion).
“The minimum dose” This is the theory that the lower the dose of a medicine, the more powerful that medicine is. While this theory used to be the main area of debate for skeptics of homeopathy, new research is rapidly confirming that extremely dilute and potentized medicines have measurable active constituents that can create physiologic changes in the body. Low doses also make homeopathic remedies incredibly safe. The medicine can be used with children, animals, and even pregnant women without risk of side-effects.
Treating Chronic Disease with Homeopathy:
Although homeopathy can be very effective in the treatment of acute diseases, most patients come to the doctor’s office for the treatment of chronic conditions. One of the most important concepts for patients to understand when starting homeopathic treatment is this: all a homeopathic remedy can do is stimulate your body’s self-healing mechanisms. There is no band-aiding or suppressing of symptoms, there is no way to choose which symptoms the body begins to heal first, and there is no way to over-dose or take too much of a particular medicine. That being said, clinical experience shows us that the body usually follows a certain predictable pattern of healing. Symptoms usually begin to heal from the top down (from the head to the feet), from the most internal to the most external (starting at the most important organs like the heart and lungs and ending at the skin), and in the reverse order of when they appeared (starting with the most recent symptom to appear and ending with the symptoms that you have had the longest). Following the top-down principle, the vast majority of patients find that their mental/emotional symptoms are among the first things to improve when starting homeopathic treatment.
The last principle of healing is that the longer you have had a symptom or an illness, the longer it will take for the body to heal it. When a patient comes to a homeopathic doctor for treatment of a symptom she has had for 20 years or longer, it is important to understand that her symptoms will not be reversed overnight. Most likely it will take a period of years and a succession of one to five different homeopathic remedies to bring about maximum healing in the body. But at the same time, most patients see some level of measurable improvement in their symptoms within the first month of treatment. If there is no improvement in that period of time, then it is likely that the wrong remedy was chosen. If that happens, then the doctor will go over the patient’s symptoms again and prescribe a different remedy. Luckily, the time principle also applies in reverse. Symptoms that are relatively new (generally these are symptomsthat are present for one year or less) and symptoms in children usually respond very quickly to homeopathic treatment.
Why is homeopathy the main method of treatment in Dr. Katie Nuckoll’s naturopathic medical practice?
Homeopathy is not an easy system of medicine to learn, and it takes time and effort to practice it in a way that produces effective results. To find the right remedy for specific patient, the physician must get a very detailed description of the patient’s symptoms. She must also take a full history of what was going in the patient’s life before the symptoms occurred, what environmental and emotional conditions make the symptoms better or worse, and how the patient has changed as a whole person since becoming ill. When treating a patient with many symptoms, this initial questioning could take anywhere from one to three hours. Once the remedy is selected, the practitioner must then monitor improvement and make changes to the prescription over time in order to ensure that the patient continues to move forward in the healing process. For these reasons, most naturopathic physicians who practice homeopathy pursue additional training and receive extra observation hours in the homeopathic diagnosis and treatment of disease.