What is it?
Homeopathy is an alternative therapy and a natural form of medicine that has been used for over 200 years to treat both acute and chronic conditions in the old and young, including babies and pregnant women. It was born in Europe in the latter part of the eighteenth century and is now used worldwide. In India, homeopathy is one of the most popular forms of medicine.
As Mani Norland, homeopath and Founder of The School of Homeopathy explained, ‘it’s based on a principle of “like cures like” - a substance taken in small amounts can cure the same symptoms it causes when taken in large amounts’.
This concept is used in conventional, allopathic medicine too: a stimulant called Ritalin is used to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and small doses of allergens are used in desensitisation treatment.
Why do some people oppose homeopathy?
There is a constant debate about the efficacy of homeopathy between those who have experienced positive effects from homeopathic therapy and believe in it, and those who believe it is contrary to modern pharmacology. Similar debates are also centred on other alternative therapies too.
Others oppose homeopathy because they believe remedies are ineffective, and that any benefits reported by patients are because of placebo effect: in some cases, the dilution is so high that it is almost impossible to find one molecule of the original raw material.
What happens during appointments?
Just like during when you visit your GP, consideration of medical history, examination and investigation form important stages in your appointment. As well as exploring your symptoms and how they affect you, your homeopath will be interested in you as an individual, and will ask questions about your lifestyle, mood, dietary preferences and habits, personality and sleep patterns for example. Mani explains that these insights will enable the homeopath to choose ‘the most appropriate medicine based on the individual’s specific symptoms and personal level of health’. Not only is a specific remedy chosen based on your appointment, but a specific strength, or dilution of the remedy too.
Appointments last around 60 minutes, and you’ll probably be asked to fill in a consultation form. It’s useful to think through issues affecting your health and makes notes beforehand so that you get the most out of your consultation.
What is a homeopathic remedy?
Remedies mainly come in tablet form and are from mineral, herbal and animal products and substances, and are prepared following a well-defined procedure.
Where do I get remedies from?
Remedies will be given or sent to you by your homeopathic practitioner following your consultation. It's always best to see a homeopathic doctor for a thorough consultation and prescription so that you get the right remedy for you.
However, you can buy some of the most widely used homeopathic remedies from high street retailers like Boots and Holland and Barrett to treat conditions like motion sickness or bruising, although obviously there won't be an expert to advise you on what to buy.
What else should I know before booking?
It can ‘be safely used alongside conventional medicine’, says Mani, although it’s always a good idea to speak with your doctor if you have any queries.
It’s important to visit a trusted, qualified homeopath. The Society of Homeopaths and the Federation of Holistic Therapists both have registers of homeopathic doctors accredited by the Professional Standards Authority which you can search to find a practitioner near you.