I sometimes get the comment - "I tried homeopathy for my health problem, but it didn't work."
Has that been your experience too?
Don't be discouraged.
Homeopathy is based on a law of nature, that what causes disease symptoms can cure them or "like cures like."
So what does “like cures like" really mean? The Greek philosopher Hippocrates was one of the first to talk about it. The phrase means that a patient suffering from a set of symptoms can be treated and cured by a dose(s) of a substance capable of producing similar symptoms when given to a healthy person.
And as an extensive amount of research shows, it works.
So why might homeopathy be failing you at this moment?
The key to choosing the correct/helpful remedy is ALWAYS the same. One must match the characteristic symptoms of the patient to a remedy capable of producing similar characteristic symptoms to have success. If you choose a remedy with characteristics most similar to the characteristic symptoms of the patient, you will have a happy outcome with great frequency. If you don't, you (or your family member) will either feel no effect, or one that is mild at best.
So just what is meant by the term “characteristic” as used above? Actually, that is the key question here.
In ordinary medicine, when you arrive at your doctor's office with something like a cough or stomach bug, your physician simply asks for basic information. In the case of a cough, they may listen to your chest for a moment and ask you a few basic questions such as "have you been running a fever and have you been bringing anything up with the cough?" In fairly short order, your doctor will then likely recommend a cough suppressant and in some cases prescribe an antibiotic which are likely the same drugs he or she gives to each patient presenting with a cough.
It's important to remember that with any named ailment, there are a set of symptoms routinely associated with it.
Homeopaths long ago recognized that each person expresses ailments in ways that are idiosyncratic, or unique, to them. Take that cough again as an example... you and your husband and a coworker may all have what is known as ‘a cough.' But in your case, the cough is worse when talking, laughing, eating, lying on your left side and going from a warm room into cold air. You are also very thirsty for cold drinks. With your husband, his cough is particularly worse in a warm room, better in cool, open air, and worse in the evening and when lying down. He is also completely thirstless. Your coworker - well, she seems to be most troubled by her cough at 3:00AM. She also complains of small stitching pains in her chest when coughing and is most comfortable when leaning forward to cough.
In homeopathy we use individualized treatments by recommending remedies that are chosen to match the unique symptoms expressed by the patient. Makes sense, right?
Looking again at the cases cited above, clearly each person is expressing their ailment uniquely and needs to be prescribed for on an individualized basis. In homeopathy, the remedy treats the sick person and not the named ailment.
To use homeopathy well, one needs to probe much deeper to better understand how each person is uniquely expressing their ailment. It is those unique expressions of an ailment, particularly those with intensity, that are considered the characteristic symptoms of a case and that light the way to a helpful remedy.
Let's look at one more example - stomach bugs.
Almost all stomach bugs come with nausea. Some may also come with vomiting and/or loss of appetite and/or diarrhea. These are symptoms considered common to this ailment.
As I stated above, characteristic symptoms are unique. Again, these are symptoms that appear that are not common to all patients with a given complaint. Again, using stomach bugs as an illustration, examples of characteristic symptoms to look for include the following (partial list):
A thirst for water, but only for small quantities at a time
A burning thirst with no desire to drink
Burning pain in the region of the stomach
Vomiting that is particularly violent and accompanied by retching
A desire to vomit, but an inability to do so
Ice cold perspiration, particularly on the head
A sudden sense of great fear and anxiety
Great weakness and prostration with a strong desire to sleep after vomiting
Nausea that is ceaseless, even after vomiting
Vomiting and diarrhea that are violent and nearly, if not in fact, simultaneous
Or any variation on the above, that seems unique or peculiar
Things or circumstances that make a person feel better or worse (particularly if they strongly impact how your loved one feels) are always good symptoms to explore and often characteristic.
Where can you learn more about the characteristic symptoms you need to see when choosing a particular remedy for your loved ones?
I have written a number of articles available to you in this section of the Washington Homeopathic Products website (Dr. Samet’s Insights) that may help. There are also many self help books in circulation (also available on the WHP website) that can assist in guiding you in remedy selection.
It's important to realize that the process of finding the helpful remedy you need is not always easy. Why? Because most self-help articles and books list some but not all remedies useful for various ailments, and for those remedies listed only a few of the characteristics are given. That makes your job more difficult.
Never get discouraged. Sometimes a well-trained homeopath, someone who works with homeopathy and patients on a daily basis, is required to help find the remedy you need.
Remember, as with any medical condition, consult with your physician if you have any concerns about the severity of your illness as it may first require medical diagnosis and/or intervention and monitoring.
About Dr. Lisa Samet
Dr. Lisa Samet N.D. provides Washington Homeopathic Products with a weekly column on using homeopathy for the family. She's a naturopathic physician who specializes in homeopathic medicine and she's a partner with Dr. Andre Saine N.D. Dr. Samet graduated from the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in 1998 and has been practicing in Montreal since then. She was born and raised in New York.
Dr. Samet has chosen to focus on homeopathy because in her experience it is the deepest healing modality available in that it does not just soothe or palliate symptoms but can actually stimulate the body to start to heal itself. Dr. Samet sees patients in her Montreal office as well as long distance using Skype. Learn more here: Dr. Lisa Samet. You can follow her on Facebook as well.