This is an article I wrote for the Maine Association of Homeopaths so I thought I’d share it here:

Introduction to Homeopathy

Dr. Sarah Kotzur, ND ©

What is homeopathy?

Homeopathy is a safe and effective medicine system which uses preparations of natural substances from minerals, plants, and animal products to stimulate the body’s self-healing response. Homeopathy has been practiced for over 200 years and is widely employed throughout Europe and India.

How does it work?

The power of homeopathy lies in its ability to stimulate the body’s innate self-healing response. Remedies are prescribed based on the Law of Similars, whereby a substance that causes symptoms in a healthy person will cure those same symptoms in a sick person. Homeopathy is unique in its specificity for the individual. Homeopathic care involves “taking the case” during an initial interview, where your symptoms are described in detail to the homeopath.  This process aims to understand the individual’s experience. For example, information collected about a patient’s headache would include time of day or night it occurs, any symptoms that occur during or alternate with the headache, what makes it better or worse, and what the pain feels like. This is done for all the patients’ complaints and a remedy, that most closely matches the whole picture, is selected.

What are homeopathic remedies?

Homeopathic remedies are not the same as herbs or vitamins. Homeopathic remedies are made from minerals, plants, animals, biological products, and imponderables such as magnetic forces, light, and electricity. There are more than 4,000 homeopathic remedies in use today. Remedies are prepared in FDA-licensed homeopathic pharmacies, according to rules that were established in 1897 by the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States. Available in a variety of potencies (6C, 12C, 30C, 200C, 1M), many common homeopathic remedies are available to the public at health food stores and online, while some higher potencies and select remedies must be ordered by a health care professional.

What conditions does homeopathy treat?

Remedies can treat both acute and chronic problems and can be used as first aid. As a result of stimulating the body’s own self-healing mechanisms, there are very few conditions that don’t respond positively to this manner of treatment. Even chronic and familial conditions can be helped in this manner. Homeopathy is effective for metabolic problems, endocrine diseases, cardiovascular and neurological illness, as well as infectious diseases. Additionally, mental and emotional problems such as anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, and post-traumatic stress syndrome respond well to homeopathic treatment. This medical system offers truly miraculous results even for many conditions for which conventional medicine deems incurable or irreversible.

How are remedies produced?

Remedies come in two forms: sugar pellets and liquid drops. Both types are produced by a process of serial dilution and succussion, whereby a single substance is potentized into a medicated liquid. Sugar pellets are coated in this liquid, and the remedy is dissolved under the tongue. For liquid drops, a small amount of alcohol is added to the medicated liquid as a preservative, which gives them an almost infinite shelf life.

How do you take a remedy?

Remedies are taken orally.  The frequency of dosing is based on the individual, ranging from a single dose taken only once to daily dosing over a long period. Typically, remedies are taken singly, using only one substance at a time. The use of combination remedies, which contain more than one substance, tend to palliate symptoms rather than act curatively.

Are homeopathic remedies safe?

Yes, homeopathic remedies are safe, even for children. Homeopathic remedies are safe to take with pharmaceutical medications and can be taken at the same time. If you are taking prescription medication, it may be necessary to take a homeopathic remedy daily, in addition to the initial two doses.

How much do they cost?

Remedies can be purchased from a homeopath directly or a homeopathic pharmacy and are inexpensive, costing less than $10 for a bottle which lasts several months.

What should you avoid while taking a homeopathic remedy?

Certain substances used on the body or ingested can antidote the remedy and stop it from working. While under treatment, it is best to avoid coffee (regular and decaf), mint in any form, mouthwash, and strong smelling topical ointments containing camphor or tea tree oil such as Carmex, Blistex, Tiger Balm, or Vick’s Vaporub.

How do you take homeopathic remedies?

Remedies are pleasant to take as either medicated sugar pellets or water-based drops dissolved under the tongue. Remedies should be stored in a dark place away from heat.

What to expect in the course of homeopathic treatment?

Following the initial interview, a patient comes back in 4-6 weeks to see what changes have occurred as a result of taking the remedy. People often report improvements in their main problem as well as feeling a greater sense of well-being overall. Homeopathic remedies can profoundly change a person’s level of health, though this change is not violent. Often on a remedy a person will report their symptoms just gradually got better, often disappearing for good. Because of the deep but slow action of homeopathic remedies, we expect the process to continue steadily toward improvement over time. When this process is stalled, the homeopath will increase the potency of the remedy or select a different remedy.

Patients should expect the curative effects of homeopathic remedies to remain even after they stop taking the remedy. The body returns to a state of health in a predictable manner. After stimulating this to happen, it can be expected to see a few tell-tale signs of positive change such as a short term worsening of symptoms at the beginning or a return of an old ailment, also for a short time. Sometimes however, it can take trying several remedies before the patient reaches full recovery, so the process requires patience and knowing what symptoms indicate. When a person takes a remedy and their body produces a symptom, like a return of knee pain from an old injury they had, the patient would be instructed not to take a suppressive medication like Tylenol to reduce inflammation. From the homeopathic perspective the body is endeavoring to heal itself by reactivating the inflammation that occurred back at the time of injury. If we stop its ability to do so, the body’s healing mechanism can be stalled. In the worse case scenario, suppressing the body’s symptoms frustrates the body’s healing mechanism and forces the body to express its disease at a deeper level, usually in a more vital organ. The healing process is engaged and encouraged when the symptoms produced by the body are respected for what they are, a road back to health.

Homeopathic remedy instructions

Remedies should be stored in a cool dark place, away from sunlight and electromagnetic radiation sources such as computers, cell phones, and clock radios. Remedies will be inactivated by high temperatures over 120 degrees, so never leave them in your car on a hot day. When traveling, it’s best to avoid having your remedy x-rayed, as it can reduce its effectiveness. If you must, wrap the remedy in aluminum foil to reduce the remedy’s exposure.

Remedies come in high potency sugar pellets and lower-potency liquid drops. Do not eat or drink for a few minutes before or after taking your remedy.