Arsenic for your gripe tummy? Mercury for your mouth ulcer? Belladonna for your headache? Alas, we are not slumbering. Our ailments are becoming more and more sophisticated and complex as we move into the 21st century and our cures are evolving to match them. This is the bad news.
Based on the premise that Like cures Like, homeopathy was conceived about 200 years ago in the mind of German physician Samuel Hahnemann. Homeopaths prescribe remedies not because of their ‘active ingredients’ but because the symptoms these remedies can cause in a healthy person are the same symptoms that may be cured in one who is ill. Rather than just taking an isolated body part or disease diagnosis upon which to base a prescription, the ‘symptom’ picture is a carefully collected amalgam of the WHOLE of the person’s state – a snapshot of the person at that point in time. It is with this picture in mind that the homeopath then sets to work to discover the remedy that matches the symptoms of the person in front of them. Known as the “similimum,” this remedy serves to cancel out the original symptoms in the person.
Now, this is where the controversy really heats up! Arsenic? Belladonna? Mercury? When is a poison not a poison? The answer lies not in the question of substance but rather, in the quantity of the substance. Conventional wisdom–or at least our consumer culture–would have us believe that more is better. Not so with homeopathy, where less is often enough. In fact, through trial and error Hahnemann and subsequent generations of homeopaths have discovered that not only have its remedies been repeatedly proved and cures effected, but the tenets upon which the science and art were founded have also been proven to hold true.
The ‘twist’ in terms of homoeopathic application is partly found in the preparation of the remedies. Hahnemann was all too aware of the dangers of giving crude mercury or arsenic to people (though it was a usual practice of the day). Through rigorous methodology, he contrived to experiment and see just how dilute a substance might be in order to retain its efficacy and annul the potential for poisoning. He observed unexpected and yet reliably repeatable outcomes. Not only was the efficacy and value of the remedy maintained when the raw material was diluted and shaken repeatedly (succussed) but the depth and action of the remedy was exponentially enhanced. He deduced over time and much practice that the relative strength or “potency” and value of the remedy are not based on the amount, but on matching the frequency or resonant field of the substance with the individual. The issue of medication thus became one more of quality than quantity. Homeopathy is a relational therapy based on matching the remedy with the patient rather than assuming that the medicine has an independent action of its own. This was, and to some extent is still today, a radical departure from what we like to think of as pure ‘objective science.’
Two hundred years of history and empirical evidence have not diminished the validity of the concept of Like cures like. Environmental toxicity, electro-magnetic pollution, hormones recycled into our water systems and microwave radiation emitted by the ubiquitous cell phone are all features of the new normal. The pace of life and the stress of meeting all the appetites of our modern world within tight schedules and tighter budgets are increasing. Is homoeopathy still a relevant therapeutic modality?
Ill health may be characterized by burn-out, sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, disconnection from self, auto-immune disorders, ever increasing rates of heart disease, cancers and chronic non-specific yet debilitating illnesses. There is a growing disparity between our picture perfect world and just feeling as though we can survive. People in communities, most particularly large urban centres, are suffering from a loss of sense of purpose and lack of connection to nature and natural cycles. The media and internet give us access to a wider world, beckoning us into an age of information overload and over stimulation that often alienates us from the here and now. This is the bad news.
Before we fold up our shop fronts and withdraw from all that our evolution has led us to, it’s important to remember that, within the vast expanse of our material, emotional, mental and spiritual realities, remedies already exist for our dis-eases. The last 20 years in particular have seen a remarkable resurgence in homeopathic provings–the process by which the healing potential or ‘symptom picture’ of a substance is derived. Today there are more than 6000 remedies in the homoeopathic pharmacopeia (and more are being proved or ‘discovered’ every day) made from all manner of substances. The frontiers of imagination are visited and homoeopaths are returning from these explorations with whole new tool kits to match our new reality. Not only found in the animal, mineral and vegetable kingdoms of the past; today we also have remedies garnered from more and less intangible sources including Berlin Wall, the colour Purple, and even elements such as Plutonium! Recitations of poems have been made into remedies found to ‘match’ and ‘cure’ a range of symptoms as abstract and diverse as a sense of schism or fracturing in the personality to more concrete circumstances such as infertility, ovarian problems and symptoms associated with menopause. Plutonium, normally associated with bombs and nuclear power production, finds its curative profile met in conditions such as learning disabilities, dyspraxia, leukemia, lymphomas, skin lesions and burning pains often associated in conventional terms with radiation sickness. The proving of the colour Purple yields symptoms such as heart disease and suicidal tendencies to specific ailments such as glandular dysfunctions affecting the thyroid.
The evidence of cured cases suggests that we are provided with all that we require to recognise and meet the demands of our evolving world. Homoeopathy is essentially a relational based discipline; it mediates the person with the substance in order to affect a cure. Homoeopathy, which moves us towards a more conscious engagement with our relationships to ourselves and the world around us, provides a potential stepping stone when we get stuck or blocked on our course. This is the good news.