This article on homeopathy is part of a new series on alternative medicines used as a treatment (In French called a ‘cure’) or as preventive measures against illness and emotional stress. These soft medicines (supplements or remedies) are available in Europe in pharmacies or by ordering online and available in America, Canada and probably where you live too. There are links at the end of the article on where to buy these homeopathic remedies. For most of these products, I have no commercial ties to these soft medicines and receive no benefit from my suggestions. While I back my health advice with my professional and personal experience, please do not accept my health advice as a substitute for seeking traditional medical treatment.
Homeopathy Is One Of the Most Controversial Alternative Medicines
I have regularly used homeopathy: 1. Arnica Montana for falls and bruises. 2. Thuja Occidentalis after vaccines. 3. Belladonna for a fever. 4. Chamomilla for teething pain in babies.
And much more.
Over the last 15 years I have used homeopathic remedies on myself and my children for many health problems. Sometimes I think these medicines have worked, sometimes I am less sure. But I feel comfortable exploring homeopathy medicine to treat illness or other health symptoms because it is an alternative option to typical allopathic medicines and is considered medicine douce (soft medicine).
Homeopathy has been available for over 200 years and widely popular in India, England and throughout Europe. So why isn’t it used more in other countries, such as in the United States? Why doesn’t it get more merit as a viable alternative medicine?
Is it because the medicinal and curing effects of homeopathic remedies are difficult to clarify through scientific experiments and clinical studies?
Is it because if homeopathy was clearly judged as having medicinal curing effects it should be used as a substitute (or in conjunction with) for allopathic medicinal practices? (And this would mean that qualified medical doctors and pharmaceutical companies would need to recognize this alternative medicine as part of their patient’s treatment).
And since homeopathy remedies are less expensive to use and have less side effects than synthetic chemical allopathic medicines, this means less business and income to the health and pharmaceutical industry.
My personal stories on how homeopathy has worked
I think the true turning point on my attitude towards homeopathic medicines came from the suprisingly positive result with my (then) 4 month-old son’s growing problem with atopic dermatitis (eczema).
My 4 month-old son was at low risk for eczema. I couldn’t understand how he ‘caught this’ (my words). He was being exclusively breastfed, he had no genetic history of eczema, and he wasn’t in a daycare setting. A lengthy consultation with a GP homeopath in France concluded that my son’s atopic dermatitis was linked to the 4 vaccines he had been given at his 2 month doctor visit. In fact, I do remember that the eczema problems started right after this first set of vaccines. (As a note, from this situation we waited until my son was two years-old to restart his vaccine schedule).
At the time, I was desperate to try anything. I did not want to treat my son with steroid creams and really wanted to find out the root of the problem.
During the consultation, the homeopath doctor looked at my son’s vaccine schedule and prescribed doses of homeopathic medicines that corresponded to the different vaccines he received. The doctor also added Thuja as a homeopath prescription, which the doctor told me “cleans out the leftovers” from the vaccines.
I was a bit nervous, but we gave my baby the treatment. The next day I was disappointed. Rather than his eczema getting better it was getting visibly worse. Horribly worse. I called the homeopath doctor and he reassured me this was a good sign and that the medicine was working. (Yeah, right) I thought. (I later learned that my son’s first worsening symptoms is called “homeopathic aggravation” which means there was a temporary worsening of existing symptoms after taking a homeopathic prescription.)
The doctor was right. The next day, a mere 48 hours after starting the remedies, his skin was clear, clean, no redness, no itchy. Just beautiful. I was shocked!
And that experience starting my path towards exploring homeopathy to use in other areas.
For using it to calm teething pain in my babies (I have four kids), to frequent uses of Arnica (as a cream, gel, or pellets) for bumps and falls, to help prevent and calm symptoms of Influenza using Oscillococcinum, or as a way to destress for exams (Sedatif PC). There are many more examples, these are just a few.
(Do you use homeopathy and how?)
But for more complex health issues, we consult with our family doctor here in France who is a general practitioner and specializes in homeopathy. And we use homeopathy as a complement for allopathic (typical) medical treatment. For each situation, I ask advice from my doctor. As an example, one of my kids when she was young had incredibly cravings for salt and would lick the ocean water (yes, it is true!). She used the homeopathic remedy called Natrum Muriaticum (salt) and I really saw a difference in her cravings.
(Note-seeking advice from a trained professional in homeopathy is the recognized way to use homeopathic medicines. I don’t believe in complex cases to try to use homeopathic remedies without a professional’s advice.)
In France, homeopathic therapy is widely recognized as a real alternative medical treatment.
Even if I started using homeopathy as an adult living in France, most Europeans are at least familiar with homeopathy from childhood and have more than likely used homeopathy to treat a health issue.
In France, General Practitioners (GPs) can qualify as a homeopathic doctor and can address, treat, and prescribe homeopathy remedies to patients with side by side treatments with allopathic medicine. Consultations with French homeopathic doctors are financially reimbursed at the same level as consultations with general practitioners within the realms of the social healthcare system. Homeopathic medicines are also partly reimbursed and if you have a mutuelle (or a supplementary health insurance) that complements the government health plan. Your homeopathic doctor and medicines may be 100% reimbursed for out-of-pocket costs.
The support given in Europe, and especially in France helps to keep homeopathy as a popular well-used alternative medicine.
How does homeopathy work?
Homeopathy is a medical philosophy and practice based on the notion that “like cures like” and that illness is a normal physical response of the body which attempts to heal itself. For homeopathic medicines, if a substance causes a symptom in a healthy person, giving the patient who is ill a very small amount of the same substance may cure the sickness. In theory, homeopathic doses and dilutions of a substance can enhance a person’s normal physical response when ill.
Homeopathy is based on dilutions in water
Homeopathic medicines are made from various plants, animals, insects and minerals. Some of the remedies come from poisonous origins, such as arsenic. But when you take homeopathy medicines, very little of the original substance remains in the medicine. The substance has been diluted in water so many times that it seems almost physically impossible that some of the healing properties stay in the medicine. Yet, in theory, the substances give healing properties thru the use of water dilutions and water memory. Homeopathic professionals believe that the healing powers of this alternative medicine rely on the transmission of the healing powers into the water. And the more you continue to dilute the remedy, the stronger the power of the healing becomes.
How to take homeopathic medicines
If you are not familiar with homeopathic remedies this is how the tablets look:
But homeopathy treatments can also come in creams, drops, gels and ointments. Here is a picture of Arnigel a gel made from Arnica Montana that I carry with me and use on my kids when they fall or have muscle pain.
For minor health problems such as a sore muscle from a long hike, you can use a basic (Arnica) homeopathic cream on the soreness. There are other minor health situations that homeopathy can with too: such as motion sickness on car rides or with a minor cold. You can ask advice at the pharmacy.
For prescribed homeopathic medicines that are liquid drops, you should place these drops under the tongue. With hard small pellets (that you find in small colored vials that you see in the picture) these pellets should also be placed under the tongue, and sucked slowly until they are dissolved. The pellets are sterile and should not be touched with fingers. You twist the top of the vial, holding it upside down and out drops the recommended number of pellets into the vial top. You open your mouth and drop the pellets in. Preferably, drops and pellets are taken at least 15 minutes before or after food and drink.(Typically a homeopath will prescribe a dilution and number of pellets to take).
Note: the dilution labeled on the vials (ex:7 ch) or is different depending on what method is used and what country the medicine is purchased in. For more information read here, “Homeopathy,What Do the Letters and Numbers Mean”.
Should you use homeopathy medicines?
I believe that homeopathic medicines are a viable alternative medicine source. My experience with my son’s vaccines (see story above) confirms this to me. But as with any medical issue, it is wise to explore different therapies, especially if the situation is complex. A respected homeopath can offer advice in your country to use homeopathy for your health issues. Also know that in some countries, such as the United States, homeopathy medicine has been suppressed as a alternative source because of pressure from traditional medicine, ” Nourished and Nutured: Why Homeopathy Isn’t Widespread in the United States.”
And with minor problems (falls and bruises or a minor cold) there are a variety of homeopathic remedies available. You can ask for suggestions at your local pharmacy, or order some basic products online and have them available in your home pharmacy.
Final thoughts on whether homeopathy is a valid alternative medicine
From a scientific point does homeopathy work? Study conclusions have mixed results on the efficacy of homeopathy. Research that show benefits of homeopathy cannot conclude on the real science on how homeopathy works. But there have been celebrated stories: In 2002, the BBC published an article on a famous experiment. The results are published here in this BBC article Homeopathy: The Test.
My views are that homeopathy has merit and it should be explored as an alternative medicinal therapy along side allopathic (or Western) medicine.
What are your thoughts?
If you have a story to tell, please share it with us. Or got to the end and want to read more? I would love to share my professional and personal stories as a nutritionist and mom living in France, just ‘next door’ to Italy, my second heart home. You can follow me on Twitter, or sign up for article updates and newsletter by clicking the button below. Your email will always remain private and by subscribing you can download your free E-report on “10 Simple Ways to Eat Like the French Without Having a Food Snob Attitude.”
Where to get more information and products
And here are some links and products that may help: