Homeopathy is a system of medicine that was developed by a German physician, Samuel Hahnemann 200 years ago. It is based primarily on the “law of similars”. The concept involves like treating like. For example, using coffee to treat insomnia. How could that work? It involves the idea that when a substance is given in large doses to a healthy individual, it will produce specific symptoms. When it is reduced in size and given in minute amounts, it will relieve these same symptoms by working with the body’s reactive process or vital force.
In homeopathy, as in many Eastern forms of medicine, each living animal has it’s own “vital force” or energy. This is unique to each individual and is influenced by genetics as well as other factors such as environment and nutrition.
When the vital force is disturbed by an injury, stress or disease, the animal or human shows symptoms of the disturbance. With each individual’s vital force being unique, the prescribing is based on the individual with the symptoms, disease or injury rather than the disease, symptom or injury alone. Homeopathic remedies are prescribed to get the vital force back into balance and alleviate the symptoms. If the vital force is strong, the body recuperates quickly and health is maintained. If the vital force is weakened due to factors such as poor nutrition and stress, the illness can set in and further weaken the vital force.
A simple example is when everyone in the family is exposed to the same cold virus. Those who don’t get symptoms at all have strong vital force. They have been eating well, resting and exercising. Those that do get sick may be working long hours, stressed about a deadline and eating fats-foods. Even out of the ones that do get sick, they all may show similar symptoms but have one or two that are unique to that individual. For example, one person may get most of the cold symptoms affecting their nose with frequent sneezing. Another may have a deep cough in their chest. In homeopathic prescribing, a remedy is then selected based on the symptoms that individual is showing as well as their vital force evaluation. So although it is the same cold virus that everyone has, they are each getting a different remedy. In some cases, it is very simple to prescribe based on dramatic or distinguishing signs and symptoms. In other cases, it may be very difficult to clearly identify those factors.
The remedies are made from plant, mineral or animal extracts and are then diluted or potentized. The more dilute a remedy is, the stronger the effect. At this time, there is no scientific proof as to how something that dilute can cause an effect but it does work! It is difficult to understand how this can work but it is a phenomenon that will hopefully be some day understood.
The remedies are given orally in either a pill or liquid form.
Holistic medicine peaked my interest shortly after my internship at Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston. It was clear that traditional medicine or surgery did not have all the answers. I chose to study homeopathy because it could be used for so many cases; both chronic and acute as well as for almost every problem. I studied with Dr. Richard Pitcairn through the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy and became certified in 1997. At the Beverly Animal Natural Health Center, many of the patients are introduced to homeopathy (as well as their owners) during an acute crisis or injury. Others are seeking relief of cancer symptoms and chronic disease. Homeopathy is different than traditional medicine in that there are often several different remedies to treat the same disease. In homeopathy, you treat the individual that has the disease not just the disease. It tends not to be a quick acting type medicine so it may not be appropriate for every patient and owner. Homoepathy involves looking at both health and disease from a more holistic perspective.
If you are interested in learning more about homeopathy, we recommend
- The Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, by Dr. Richard Pitcairn
- The Complete Guide to Homeopathy, by Drs. Lockie and Geddes
- Homeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs, by Don Hamilton, DVM
For a consultation, please call our office for more information.