Naturopathy and Homeopathy often get confused. The similarity of their names doesn’t help. The fact that Naturopathic doctors use Homeopathy as part of their practice doesn’t help, either. So how is Homeopathy different from Naturopathy?
Homeopathy uses tiny amounts of natural substances to stimulate the body’s natural self-healing abilities. It is a unique system of medicine that was developed in the 1700’s.
Why was Homeopathy Developed?
Homeopathy was developed mainly in response to the ineffectiveness of conventional medicine at that time. Its creator, Samuel Hahnemann, believed that people were dying from their treatment more often than they were from their illnesses. He criticized doctors for drugging their patients to death.
It is true that medicine at the time would be considered barbaric by our standards. Bloodletting, which Hahnemann particularly despised, was common practice. Sanitation was horrible. Surgery was very likely a death sentence. Even botanical medicines were being used in dangerously high doses.
What are Homeopathic Medicines Made of?
Homeopathic medicines are made from natural elements – minerals, plants, and materials derived from animals, such as milk and eggshells. These materials are ground up if needed and mixed in water. Then it is diluted – many, many times. A drop of the original mixture is put in another container of water and mixed. Then a drop of that is put in more water and mixed again. And so on, and so on… until by the end, there may not be any of the original substance left.
Why are such tiny amounts used?
Hahnemann diluted his remedies for 2 main reasons.
- Smaller amounts were safer: He believed doctors were using doses of medicine that were far too high. By using less, he could avoid causing dangerous side effects.
- Smaller amounts were stronger: He also believed that diluting remedies helped their medicinal qualities actually became stronger, not weaker.
If there’s nothing left, how do they work?
Hahnemann believed that when you dilute natural substances, you are stripping away the physical properties, while leaving only the ‘vital force’. This vital force is what actually makes you well. It does this by interacting with your vital force, which is your body’s natural ability to heal. He saw his medicines as simply helping your body heal itself.
These days, there are all sorts of ideas about how homeopathy works. A lot of them involve really complicated physics that is not my area of expertise. There’s also something about the alignment of the water molecules being changed by the process. There is some research, and a lot of interesting theories. But as of right now, we really don’t know homeopathy works. And that’s ok. Sometimes, the science takes a while to catch up. Some surgeons were washing their hands between patients before the science of germs was established. They were laughed at, but they saved lives.
What we do know is that homeopathy is one of the safest and gentlest treatments available. It is also inexpensive, and by many accounts, can be dramatically effective.
How Naturopathy uses Homeopathy
Naturopathic doctors use homeopathy as part of their practice because it works very well within the naturopathic framework. It is natural and safe. It is individualized to each patient. And it supports the body’s own natural healing ability.
If your Naturopathic doctor is thinking of prescribing a homeopathic medicine for you, she may ask you some strange questions. Choosing just the right homeopathic medicine can be difficult. It requires some very specific information.
Some homeopathic remedies can be used without gathering so much detail. These are often used as 1st aid treatments with very little information. In countries where homeopathy is more well known, common remedies are a normal part of a family’s medicine cabinet.
How Should I Take my Homeopathic Medicine?
Take your homeopathic medicine as your Naturopathic doctor prescribes. It usually comes in small round pellets that are placed in water or under your tongue to dissolve. It may need to be taken often, or only once.
For more information, you can visit the British Homeopathic Association.