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Homeopathy is primarily a nonphysical or energetic healing modality, one of the most basic forms of energetic medicine in use today. Homeopathic medicine is a vibrational system that uses microdoses of substances derived from plants, minerals or animals for the purposes of stimulating the natural healing response. The action of a homeopathic remedy does not occur through the same physiological pathways activated by the administrations of conventional medications. Homeopathy is a system for treating individuals that induces body and mind to heal themselves. One way of conceptualizing homeopathy's mode of action is to consider human beings from the multidimensional, vibrational perspective. We are unique energy systems with many complex energy-control systems helping to regulate and maintain the health of the physical body. Human bodies, being energy systems, have a predominant or resonant frequency of energy. Everything in the world--a plant, an animal, or even a rock--oscillates and vibrates to some degree. The key frequency of vibration of an object or animal is its resonant frequency. Oscillating systems maximally absorb energy if it is delivered in the resonant frequency of the system.
Imagine that the human body has its own inherent resonant frequency. The frequency of energy at which the body is vibrating or resonating is also a reflection of its current state of health or illness. When a person is sick, that person's resonant frequency might change to a higher or lower one, depending upon the nature of the illness. When an individual is sick, the body is doing everything in its power to reestablish a state of equilibrium and balance. If a person can get more energy in the frequency at which he or she is resonating it might provide the activation energy needed to purge the toxicity of the illness completely from the body. The homeopathic practitioner attempts to match the vibrational frequency of a homeopathic remedy with the vibrational frequency of the patient. According to this "resonance theory" of homeopathy, a vibrating system will maximally absorb energy in its resonant frequency. Therefore, only a perfect match between the frequency of the sick patient and the frequency of the homeopathic remedy will provide a resonant-energy transfer to the patient and thus induce a healing response.
Because homeopathic remedies are so extremely dilute, there are no side effects experienced from taking an "incorrect" remedy; there is merely no effect at all. If the correct remedy is selected and the illness is healed, it may be because the homeopathic remedy is providing a form of subtle energy to the body in the exact frequency of vital energy needed to bring about a healing of the specific illness. The homeopathic preparation process of progressive dilution and potentization is able to "extract" the higher vibrational qualities or vital life-energy patterns from the herb's plant substance directly into the water. As the dilutions become higher and higher, the remedies become less physical in nature and more ethereal and subtly energetic in their actions. In fact, homeopathic remedies work primarily by energetically healing illness at the level of the etheric body, which then goes on to rebalance the physical body.
Another theory of how homeopathy works also has to do with the remedies providing a form of coded energetic biological information or bioinformation that may provide instructions to the body to help in the healing process. The bioinformational theory of homeopathy views the body not just as a biological-energy network but also as a complex information-processing system, a kind of biocomputer that uses coded information to regulate its many component subsystems. Most people think about information processing in the human body in terms of electrical impulses rapidly moving throughout the nerve cells of the brain, and along nerve pathways connecting the brain and bodily systems. Nerve cells transmit a form of electrical bioinformation that communicates messages between the brain and body. Our bloodstream also carries other types of coded bioinformational signals in the form of hormones, peptides, and other biochemcials that carry chemical messages back and forth between the brain and the organs and glands of the body.
Scientists have discovered that the biological information used to regulate the activity of the body's various systems exists in the form of physical codes, such as the biomolecules of hormones and neurotransmitters, but also in the form of energetic codes. These energetic codes of information may trigger the same cellular reactions that the molecular codes of information activate. The body can input and use different kinds of bioinformational languages to trigger the same cellular healing reactions. Whether that signal is transmitted in chemical, electrical, or electromagnetic forms of coding seems to make no difference to the body. The end result appears to be the same. In the case of potentized homeopathic remedies may be carrying a kind of subtle-energetic bioinformational message that may stimulate certain aspects of the physical body's energetic healing systems. Either theory of homeopathy may be applicable to explaining how homeopathy works. It is not always critical to understand exactly how something works for it to be a valuable therapeutic modality. Physicians used aspirin for more than a hundred years before scientists began to establish its true mechanism of action.
The homeopathic system assumes that all psychological, physiological, and cellular processes are interconnected and are involved in an illness. Homeopathy originated with the seminal publication Essay on New curative Principle, written by the German physician Dr. Samuel Hahnemann in 1796. It was he who first coined the term homeopathy from the Greek homoios (similar) and pathos (suffering), referring to the law of similars, which is its basis. The "law" of similars (or similarity) constitutes the main acquisition of homeopathy and the basis for its understanding, though today it is no longer regarded as a universal "law" valid in all cases. Accordingly, a disease can be cured by administering a substance that, in healthy human subjects, causes symptoms similar to those of the disease (similia similibus currentur).
The use of medicines on the basis of similarity was not new, and can be traced much earlier in the history of medicine (Hippocrates, St. Augustine, Paracelsus), but Hahnemann was the first to systematize it and to introduce the very high dilutions or homeopathic potencies, which are the source of most of the controversy that surrounds homeopathy. The administration even of only a minimum dose of the remedy triggers a reaction in the patient that leads, often after an initial aggravation of the disease, to healing. The healing, then, would appear not to be a direct suppressive effect of the substance administered, but to the action of the so-called vital force, or life force. Life force or innate intelligence is a metaphor indicating a dynamic self-regulatory capability, which all creatures are endowed with, offering a better chance of survival. Hahnemann believed that every agent that acts upon the vitality, every medicine, deranges more or less the vital force, and causes a certain alteration in the health of the individual for a longer or a shorter period. This he termed primary action. He taught that this action of our vital force endeavors to oppose its own energy. This resistant action is a property, is indeed an automatic action of our life-preserving power, which he called secondary action or counteraction.
He gave many examples including: "Excessive vivacity follows the use of strong coffee (primary action), but sluggishness and drowsiness remain for a long time afterwards (reaction, secondary action), if this be not always again removed for a short time by imbibing fresh supplies of coffee (palliative). After the profound stupefied sleep caused by opium (primary action), the following night will be all the more sleepless (reaction, secondary action). After the constipation produced by opium (primary action), diarrhea ensues (secondary action); and after purgation with medicines that irritate the bowels, constipation of several days' duration ensues (secondary action). And in like manner it always happens, after the primary action of a medicine that produces in large doses a great change in the health of a healthy person, that its exact opposite, when, as has been observed, there is actually such a thing, is produced in the secondary action by our vital force. All the curative power of medicines lies in this power they possess of changing the state of man's health, and is revealed by observation of the latter."
As a result of this principle, by experimentation in healthy human subjects we can know the primary and secondary effects of a large number of remedies, which is precisely what Hahnemann did. There is, therefore, no other possible way in which the peculiar effects of medicines on the health of individuals can be accurately ascertained. Since homeopathy is directed at stimulating self-healing, it only proceeds at the pace the body can naturally change. At times, this can be rapid and complete, and at other times it may be slow or not happen at all. Homeopathy affects the dynamic process of illness rather than its structural or anatomical manifestations. Hahnemann's first real insight into the law of similars came in 1789, when he was translating a book by W. Cullen, one of the most eminent physicians of the era. At a certain point, Cullen attributed the efficacy of Peruvian bark (cinchona) in the treatment of malaria to its bitter and astringent properties. Hahnemann, who was also an expert chemist and keen experimenter, was not happy with this explanation, since he was well aware that there were many other more bitter and astringent substances than Peruvian bark, which, however, were devoid of efficacy in antimalarial treatment. He therefore began to experiment on himself by taking repeated doses of Peruvian bark extract until he reached a stage where he started to manifest fever, chills, and other symptoms similar to those of malaria. Hahnemann thought that the reason for the efficacy of Peruvian bark in patients suffering from malaria had in some way to be related to the fact that this substance caused symptoms similar to those of the disease it was used to treat. He then tested other drugs in use at the time on himself as well as on friends and relatives, and, using his vast knowledge of botany, chemistry and toxicology, he studied the effects of many plants and medicinal substances.
Over the next 20 years, on the basis of patient and meticulous provings, he laid the foundations for the material medica. As early as 1796, he published an article in which he indicated the existence of three types of approach to the treatment of disease; the first (which her defined as the most "sublime") consisted in removal of the cause, if known; the second type consisted in treatment by means of opposites, in other words treatment which he defined as "palliative," such as, for instance, the use of laxatives for constipation; the third type was treatment by means of similars, which he regarded as the only valid approach, apart from prevention. He also suggested the importance of diet, physical exercise, and hygiene, factors, which at that time were practically ignored by medical science. Hahnemann was certainly perfectly aware of the existence of pathogens and was fully familiar with the work of his contemporaries, incuding Sydenham, Jenner, and others, but strongly emphasized factors related to the medium, host, and subject.
Homeopathic medicine has undergone substantial ups and downs in its historical development: the rapid early boom throughout the world in the nineteenth century was followed by a head-on clash with orthodox medicine, which stopped homeopathy in its tracks and then led to its progressive decline, particularly in Western countries, where in some cases it all but disappeared altogether. Over the past few decades, however, we have been witnessing a steady recovery of homeopathic practice, even in very technologically advanced countries such as France, Germany, and Italy. Hahnemann himself, right from the outset, found himself faced with stern opposition from colleagues and even more so from the apothecaries, who felt that he was undermining the foundations of their profession: since he was recommending the use of small doses and was against multiple prescriptions, this new medicine was perceived as a serious threat to their profits. Moreover, he was accused of dispensing his own medicines and administering them to his patients, which was illegal at the time. He was thus arrested in Leipzig in 1820, convicted, and forced to leave the city. He then obtained special permission from Grand Duke Ferdinand to practice homeopathy in the town of Köthen, where he continued to work, write, and instruct his followers who were swiftly increasing in numbers and spreading their wings further afield. At his death in 1843, homeopathy was known in all European countries (except Norway and Sweden), as well as in the United states, Mexico, Cuba, and Russia, and not long after his death it was soon to reach India and South America.
In the 1854 London cholera epidemic, the mortality rate was 53.2 percent for patients treated in conventional hospitals as against only 16.4 percent in those treated in the homeopathic hospital. During the yellow fever epidemic, which spread throughout the southern states of America in 1878, the statistics show that the mortality rate in patients receiving homeopathic treatment was one-third of that in patients on conventional treatment. In the nineteenth century homeopathy was immensely popular in the United States, where major figures such as Hering, Kent, and Farrington were practicing. Homeopathy was taught at Boston University and at the Universities of Michigan, Minnesota, and Iowa. By the turn of the century as many as 29 homeopathic journals were being published. 1844 marked the founding of the American Institute of Homeopathy, which thus became the first American national medical society. Despite this, strong organized opposition soon came from "orthodox" medicine, which viewed the growth of homeopathy as a major threat: homeopathy was calling into question the very philosophical basis, clinical methodology and official pharmacology of orthodox medicine. From the very beginning the new approach embodied a strong critical attitude towards the use of conventional medicines, which were judged to be harmful, toxic and counterproductive for the practice of homeopathy, in that they were all based on suppression of symptoms. Also, homeopathic practice called for a long apprenticeship and individualization of treatments, both of which demanded more time than physicians were prepared to give their patients.
1846 marked the foundation of the American Medial Association (AMA), one of the first objectives of which was to combat homeopathy: homeopaths could not be members of the AMA, and AMA members were not allowed even to consult a homeopath, the penalty for this being expulsion from the Association; legal recognition was denied to graduates with diplomas from universities with full professors of homeopathy on their academic boards. In 1910, a classification of American medial schools was drawn up (the Flexner Report) on the basis of criteria that assigned high ratings to schools, which placed the emphasis on a physicochemical and pathological approach to the human body and strongly penalized the homeopathic approach. The homeopathic colleges obviously obtained poor ratings, and as only the graduates of schools with high ratings had their qualifications recognized, this was a mortal blow to the teaching of homeopathy. Of 22 homeopathic colleges operating in 1900 only two were still teaching homeopathy in 1923. By 1950 there was not a single school in the United States teaching homeopathy and it was estimated that there were only about a hundred practicing homeopaths, almost all over 50 years of age, throughout the US. For similar reasons, there was also a parallel decline in homeopathic practice in Europe in the early decades of the twentieth century. A severe blow to homeopathic theory was delivered by the chemical sciences and in particular by Avogadro's law, published initially as a hypothesis in 1811 and then tested experimentally by Millikan in 1909. This law establishes that one mole of any substance contains 6.02254 x 1023 molecular or atomic units.
As a result, a simple calculation demonstrated that dilutions of any substance beyond 10:24 (24x or 12c in homeopathic terms) presented an increasingly remote chance of containing even a single molecule or atom of the original compound. From this it was obviously but a short step to ridiculing the use of homeopathic medicines, and homeopaths were branded as being on a par with some kind of esoteric sect. Such opinions have continued to be voiced virtually unaltered up to the present day and can still be encountered in certain authoritative texts. Healing invariably involves a mixture of logical, rational, and scientific thinking, and intuitive, experiential, and personal exploration. Real life calls us to engage in both processes. Illness often forces us to accelerate the integration of these two radically different ways of knowing. By moving between modern medical materialism and the energetic medical approach, the reader will understand ways in which life's as yet unanswered questions are bouncing up against the boundaries of reality in these two vast movements.
Not only the clinical methodology, but also the preparation of the substances used in homeopathy is quite unique. They are produced by means of a process of serial dilution and succussion aimed at endowing the solutions with a greater therapeutic effect (dynamization). In practice, the raw materials are extracted by solubilization in alcohol containing various percentages of water, or, if insoluble, they are initially pulverized and triturated with lactose and then diluted in a water-alcohol solution. The initial solutions, containing the maximum concentrations of active ingredients, are called mother tinctures (MY). Successive dilutions are then operated, followed by vigorous shaking. The most commonly used dilutions/potencies are: 1:9 (labeled "D," "DH," "X," or "x"), when 1 part of the most concentrated solution is diluted in 9 parts of solvent: or 1:99 (labeled "C," "CH," or "c"), when one part of the most concentrated solution is diluted with 99 parts of solvent. There are also dilutions labeled "LM," based on 1:50,000 serial dilutions, and even Korsakovian dilutions (labeled "K"), based on dilutions produced by emptying the recipient containing the most concentrated solution, leaving a few droplets in the bottom, and filling it with solvent. Lastly, mechanized continuous-flow procedures are also used today.
It is well known that often--though not as a rule--extremely high dilutions are used, with the result that theoretically there is no longer so much as a single molecule of the original substance remaining. This constitutes one of the cornerstones of homeopathy, and at the same time, is perhaps the main problem which research is called upon to confirm and possibly explain. Another very important point has to do with the so-called dynamization. In the procedure for the preparation of homeopathic remedies, the rule is that, after each dilution, the resulting solution be subjected to vigorous shaking. Classic standard practice prescribes 100 downward shakes, but other succussion procedures have been developed, including automated techniques. Lastly, there are also preparations in granule or globule form, consisting in small spheres of sucrose or lactose impregnated with the Hahnemann dilution, from which they take their name. For example, Arnica montana (mountain daisy) 9c granules are granules that have been impregnated with the 9c dilution of Arnica montana.