Classical homeopathy rests on a rich philosophical foundation first established by Hahnemann in his Organon of the Healing Art at the turn of the nineteenth century and refined over the past two centuries since.
Homeopathy is rare among systems of medicine in possessing a clear and thorough view of the dynamics of health and disease. In homeopathy disease is regarded as an affection of the spiritual core of the person, and the treatment of disease is guided by specific laws of healing.
The Law of Similars
First, the law of similars calls for the application of remedies made from substances whose pattern of illness best matches that of the person. This is the fundamental law of homeopathy, and the term homeopathy (“homeo” + “pathy”, from the Greek homoios [similar] and pathos [suffering]) derives from this idea. The pattern of illness is determined through a combination of sources including formal experiment and collected clinical data (as will be explored in future posts).
The Single Remedy
Second, the disease pattern encompasses the whole being of a person, so classical homeopathic treatment usually consists of prescribing one remedy at a time even when multiple symptoms are present, in order to address the (singular) spiritual cause of illness. A homeopathic remedy is a specially prepared formulation originating in some natural or synthetic substance and used in homeopathic treatment.
Individualization of Treatment
Because the single remedy depends on many factors and not just on the presenting complaint or medical diagnosis, the remedy is necessarily custom-fit to each and every patient. Thus homeopathy is said to offer an individualized prescription that cannot be predicted in advance of case analysis.
Fourth, classical homeopaths are very attentive to the phenomenon of suppression, and carefully distinguish between it and true curative action. Suppression happens when symptoms disappear under some treatment but the person as a whole feels worse (more tired, depressed, or otherwise lacking in vitality). Many conventional and alternative therapeutic approaches rely on suppressive treatment (and sometimes suppression is necessary and even life-saving), but it is a harmful approach in the long term.
Order of Healing
Fifth, homeopaths note that usually healing under homeopathic treatment (or any other treatment that respects the natural laws of healing) takes place in a certain order of healing. During homeopathic treatment the following are positive indicators of correct (non-suppressive) healing:
- Past symptoms or sensations will frequently reappear (in weaker form and for a shorter period) before disappearing for good.
- In cases of deep pathology, symptoms relating to vital organs will improve first while superficial tissues (such as the skin) will improve later on.
- The head and upper body will tend to improve before the lower body and legs
Throughout treatment, it is essential for both the homeopath and the patient to respect this natural hierarchy of healing and not interfere with it.
The Minimum Dose
Finally, the ideal of minimum dose was the main reason that compelled Samuel Hahnemann (the founder of homeopathy) to establish a new system of medicine in the first place. Working as a conventional physician in late-eighteenth-century Germany, he was looking for a way of reducing the side-effects from the aggressive medical approaches of the time (which included the frequent use of mercury and bloodletting). Through this he was led to the serendipitous discovery that whenever there is a correspondence between remedy and disease state (following the law of similars), a medicinal effect will persist even if the original substance is diluted so much that it is no longer present in chemical form.
In summary, classical homeopathy rests on (1) the law of similars, (2) prescribing one remedy at a time in (3) individualized form, (4) avoiding suppression by (5) respecting the natural order of healing, and (6) prescribing the minimum possible dose required to achieve a therapeutic effect. This means that whenever a practitioner claiming to be practicing homeopathy does not respect one or more of these principles, he cannot be said to be practicing classical homeopathy, the original and still most-effective form of homeopathy.