When it comes to the minor annoyances in life – headaches, runny noses, fatigue, etc. – many of us are hesitant to reach for the medicine cabinet at the first sign of discomfort. We may look to more natural remedies like heating pads, a cup of hot tea, or – for some – homeopathic medicines. Not to be confused with herbalism, homeopathy is a therapeutic method that uses highly-diluted natural substances to relieve symptoms.
What is homeopathy?
Homeopathy, derived from the Greek words for “similar suffering”, was developed in 1796 by German physician and chemist, Samuel Hahnemann. His philosophy was that “like treats like”, and so he would treat patients by administering highly diluted amounts of substances such as arsenic, sepia, or chamomile, which in larger quantities would produce symptoms like the ones from which they were suffering. It is the belief of homeopathic practitioners that minimal doses should be given to stimulate the body’s vital response, rather than large doses which might cause unwanted side effects in the body.
How is homeopathic medicine made?
The base of homeopathic medicine is that water or alcohol will retain the “vital essence” of the substance it is infused with, and that it will actually become more potent as it is repeatedly succussed (shaken). Most homeopathic medicine is prepared in this way: Soluble substances are dissolved in alcohol to form a “mother tincture”. One part of this tincture is added to 99 parts of alcohol and succussed (shaken). This yields a 1C potency; read the label on homeopathic medicine to see the potency of a given substance. This process of serial dilution and succussion is repeated many times. The dilution may be taken in water, on sugar pellets, or in tablet form. Note that some remedies, prepared from insoluble substances, may be prepared lactose, or milk sugar. The final homeopathic preparation may not contain a single molecule of the original herb or mineral.
When should I take homeopathic medicine?
In general, homeopathic medicine may work best when used for subjective symptoms such as pain, discomfort, or fatigue. Homeopathic medicines should be taken at the onset of symptoms. In situations when acute medical attention is needed, or a serious disease, condition, or infection is suspected, homeopathic medicine should not be used.
3 Homeopathic Remedies for Cold and Flu Season:
May be used to lessen the severity of flu-like symptoms such as body aches, headache, fever, chills and fatigue. The “active” ingredient in this product is Muscovy duck liver and heart.
Can be used to temporarily relieve cold symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion and minor sore throat. “Active” ingredients include honey bee, onion, and a variety of herbs and plants.
May be used to reduce the symptoms of the common cold such as nasal and chest congestion, fitful cough, sneezing, minor sore throat, and runny or stuffy nose. “Active” ingredients include goldenseal and other plants and herbs.