The name, ‘Homeopathy’, is formed from two Greek words that define its mode of action: homeos, meaning similar and pathos, meaning suffering. Thus, Homeopathy treats with substances that produce effects similar to the suffering. Homeopaths generally refer to this as “like cures like”.
Homeopathy is a complete system of medicine developed by the German physician and scientist, Dr Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). Homeopathic medicines are prescribed according to a natural law known as the Law of Similars, also expressed as “like cures like” as mentioned above. This law allows Homeopaths to correct symptoms of ill-health with substances that produce similar symptoms when tested on a healthy person. Listed below are a few examples of how this Law works and how it is applied.
Eg 1: Who wants to cut the Onions?
The Law of Similars can be explained through the reactions a lot of people experience when cutting up a humble onion. When slicing up an onion, its vapours ensure most people struggle with watery eyes and a running nose. These are some of the symptoms a dose of homeopathically prepared red onion (known as Allium cepa) can relieve if experiencing an episode of hay fever wherein the symptoms mimic the exposure to onion.
The symptoms of Allium cepa, confirmed by homeopathic trials on the healthy, consist of: burning watery eyes irritated by bright light; watery nasal discharge that scalds the skin, frequent sneezing; symptoms worse in stuffy environments and improve in the open air. The expression of Hay fever varies from person to person thereby Hay fevers with different symptoms will need other remedies.
Eg 2: The Coffee Effect…
As most of us know, coffee can have a strong effect on the body. This is particularly noticeable if we overindulge and we may experience symptoms such as racing thoughts, palpitations, increased urine production; shaking hands, excitability, and restlessness. Difficulty in getting to sleep is another possible symptom should we drink a cup later in the evening or before bed.
While coffee produces these symptoms in a healthy person, the Law of Similars dictates that it should be able to relieve similar symptoms in the unwell – and this is exactly what it can do. A homeopathic preparation of coffee (Coffea Cruda) could relieve symptoms for a person experiencing hyperactivity, agitated thoughts, and sweaty, trembling hands. Another person may be experiencing insomnia caused by racing thoughts and the frequent need to urinate. Coffea cruda could also be prescribed to relieve these symptoms, allowing them to easily fall asleep. Once again, coffee can relieve in the unwell the very symptoms it produces in the healthy. As indicated in the above two coffee examples, homeopathic treatment can begin with just some of the symptoms associated with this substance being present. However should symptoms be re-occurring or long standing, a full constitutional approach would be necessary whereby a remedy is chosen most closely matching the totality of all expressions of the person.
Eg 3: Treating the Over-stimulated.
Some of the drugs used in Conventional medicine use the Law of Similars without even realising it. One well known drug Ritalin is made from Methylphenidate, which is a stimulant, and is one of the main treatments used for hyperactivity disorder. Conventional medicine has never been able to explain why stimulants should calm an already over-stimulated person, but this is exactly what happens. Homeopaths simply acknowledge that it is another case of ‘like treating like’. Ritalin is a useful treatment for hyperactivity as it produces the very symptoms that it treats. Unfortunately though, Ritalin and other conventional medicine used according to the Law of Similars produce toxic side effects, whereby Homeopathic remedies are free of this problem (and a topic I will cover at another time)