Many of you may not know this, but I am a classical homeopath as well as flower remedy practitioner. Homeopathy has fascinated me since I was a teenager, when it cured me of a three-month bout of bronchitis and stubborn skin rash in only three days. (This was after I had been on antibiotics for months, with no improvement). As an adult, it cured me of five years of chronic fevers dating from a trip to Egypt. (It was suspected I had malaria).
Those who have been cured with homeopathy think it nothing less than a miracle. This has been my experience and why I became such a passionate student.
The beauty of it is that it is harmless, inexpensive and can work very quickly if you get the right remedy. For chronic conditions, it’s best to go see a professional homeopath, but for acutes like colds and flus, it is easy to treat yourself and your family. I have included my chart for the remedies I use most during the winter months for colds, flus and stomach upset.
HOW IT WORKS
The conventional medical model we are all used to is called allopathy. "Allos" from the Greek meaning “other” or “different."
Allopathy uses drugs to counteract or create the opposite symptom of your illness by suppressing the body’s natural process. So if you have acid reflux, they give you “antacid” to stop the body from producing acid.
Homeopathy is from the Latin word, “homeo,” which means “same.” In homeopathy, we use very dilute amounts of a substance which would, if given in a larger amount, cause the same symptoms as your illness. For example, a commonly used remedy for allergies is allium cepa, which is made from onion. We all know the streaming and burning eyes that come when chopping onions. When your allergy symptoms are characterised by streaming, burning eyes and nose, allium cepa will fix you in no time.
By giving a minute dose of this substance, it stimulates your immune system just enough to begin a curative response, while being so dilute as to not cause side effects. (Homeopathy believes firmly in the Hippocratic oath tenet “first do no harm”).
Homeopathic remedies are made from things like minerals (silica, sulphur, gold), plants, animal matter (snake venoms, bee venom) and even poisons (arsenic and belladonna).
Homeopathy is the closest thing I know to alchemy…to take something inert or even harmful, and turn it into a healing agent that can affect the mind, body and emotions!
To benefit from homeopathy, one must take a remedy that is an exact match to your symptoms. We choose the remedy for you based on a series of questions about everything from mood to food cravings, dreams and any “strange, rare and peculiar” things we see in the body or the mind. It is not a one size fits all medicine and that is why it’s remained a mystery and why it can’t be commodified by large drug companies.
The law of similars was first discussed in theory by Hippocrates (460-377 BC) but was not put into practice truly until Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician, discovered homeopathy in 1796. How he knew to dilute a substance to a point where it would no longer be discernible as “physical matter” in order to take away its toxicity, but leaving behind its curative action, is the stuff of true scientific inspiration.
This is heading into the territory of quantum physics (atomic science/things you can’t see) and nanoparticles, which was certainly way ahead of its time in the late 1700’s, when we believed only in Newtonian physics (physical things you can see). The doctors of the day were treating fevers by bleeding the patient (sometimes to death, unfortunately), using leaches, giving dangerously high doses of mercury to treat syphilis, prescribing heroin and opium and following unsanitary surgery practices. Hahnemann said you were lucky to escape with your life if you saw one of these “doctors.”
By the late 1800’s, homeopathy had reached its golden age. There were no less than twenty-two homeopathic medical schools and countless homeopathic hospitals and clinics throughout the United States. By the turn of the century there were about 15,000 homeopathic physicians in the U.S. Many doctors of the day practiced homeopathy and it was not considered “new age” or “quackery.” Homeopathy was commonly used for outbreaks of typhoid fever, cholera and was even used with success during the flu epidemic of 1918.
It’s a much longer story, but when the industrial revolution came, it was discovered that the byproducts of oil could be used to make chemicals. The pharmaceutical industry was born. It was largely controlled by Rockefeller and Carnegie, the two richest men in America. Because natural medicine was not patentable, it was considered a threat to the burgeoning industry. The AMA was then formed and they began by excluding homeopaths, resulting in the loss of their medical licence and ability to practice medicine. They then excluded doctors who even consulted with homeopaths. And that is how homeopathy had practically died in the United States, until my teacher George Vithoulkas began visiting in the 1970’s and training medical doctors in the science of homeopathy.
This individual, tailor-made and nuanced medicine may seem a bit fussy. Perhaps that is why homeopathy first gained its popularity in the royal courts of Europe and England. Aside from its incredible healing power, I suspect the personal attention to the patient and all of his idiosyncrasies was appealing to the eccentric upper classes.
Homeopathy has been favoured by the Royal family of England for generations and the Queen herself (aged 94), credits homeopathy for her strong constitution. More impressive yet, The Queen mother lived to be 101.
Just like myself, when on overseas engagements, the Queen travels with a small leather case with a supply of homeopathic remedies. The case would include arsenicum album for food poisoning, cocculus for travel sickness, nux vomica for indigestion and arnica for accidents and jet lag.
Prince Charles was named the patron of the Faculty of Homeopathy and has been a big advocate for the preservation of homoeopathy in the U.K.
A nerd hobby of mine is watching “the Crown” and taking the cases of all the Royals (and Thatcher). I got excited recently when Camilla instructs Diana that “Charles loves a soft boiled egg on everything” (perhaps an indication that he needs the homeopathic remedy Calcarea Carbonica!).
FOR COLD AND FLU SEASON
Here is a handy chart with the most common remedies I’ve been using during cold and flu season. Please do not use homeopathy in the place of medical care. The correct homeopathic remedy can definitely lessen the intensity and duration of your symptoms, but if you have something serious, please see your doctor.
NOTE: Bryonia, Gelsemium & Cocculus are the homeopathic remedies I’m seeing the most in my practice right now.
For food poisoning: Arsenicum is the first remedy I think of
For overindulgence in alcohol / hangover: Nux Vomica
For stomachache from rich foods and fats: Pulsatilla
It’s great to keep a kit in the house with the most needed remedies. There is nothing worse than having to run to the market or wait for the postman when you feel bad.
These two I always have in my purse for accidents and emergencies:
Arnica (in 200C potency. Arnica should be used in higher potencies if possible. 30C is fine for overdoing it at the gym, but if I had a real fall or accident, I would take a dose of 200C).
Aconite (for shock and fright following a trauma)
These are some you may want to have in your medicine chest through the winter:
POTENCY AND DOSAGE
Most Whole Foods have homeopathic remedies in the 30C potency from Boiron, but I also love this kit from Helios, which has many of the common remedies in 30C. They also have a kit with remedies in the stronger potency (200C). The rule of thumb is if you take 200C, you don’t have to take it as often. Usually one dose will do the trick. With 30C, you have to take the remedy more frequently. You may also use the 200C if you have had partial improvement with the 30C, but the effects were not lasting. Following with a dose of 200C will usually bring lasting benefits. Do not take two potencies at once. Best to start with a 30C and then move on to 200C. It is also best to not mix homeopathic remedies. Start with the one that seems most applicable. It is common for your symptoms to sometimes change during an acute illness. If this happens, you can reassess and change your remedy as needed.
TAKING THE REMEDY
Twist the cap and dispense 3 pills into the cap. Put the pills directly under your tongue. Make sure your mouth is clean (no food/drink/toothpaste for 15 minutes before or after remedy).
AVOID DURING HOMEOPATHIC TREATMENT
During homeopathic treatment, you must avoid certain substances that can antidote your remedy. This rule applies for a period of time, not just on the day you take your remedy. The number one antidote is COFFEE. Please avoid this, even decaf. You may have tea or other caffeine substances. You should also avoid mint. You can get a non-mint toothpaste (I like Auromere “mint free”). Once you are feeling better you can go back on coffee and mint.
The cough we are seeing this season is characterized by dryness and an unproductive (no mucous) cough. Keeping the lungs moist will really help.
You can keep a humidifier on to put moisture back in the air lost by heaters.
Doing an old fashioned steam will soothe and open your airways. Boil a big kettle of water (preferably filtered) and pour into a large bowl. Sit over the bowl and put a towel over your head so you can breathe in the steam. Ten minutes is usually enough.
For herbal steam, boil a big pot of water on the stove. Once boiled, add a handful of Mullein to your hot water and let it simmer on low for ten minutes with the lid on. Then follow the steam directions. It’s a wonderful old folk remedy that will bring extra soothing. Mullein and Marshmallow herbs are known for their lung support and moistening qualities.
Vitamin D3 (or old fashioned sunshine!)
Irish moss tea (an old remedy from my Irish great grandmother)
Infrared sauna or regular sauna
Dr Singha’s Mustard Bath or Epsom Salt bath
Gargle with warm saltwater
Essential oil of thyme rubbed on external throat and swollen glands
Sage tea was a miracle worker for me when I had recurrent strep. I drank it and gargled with it.
Avoid dairy and sugar
Avoid emotional stress (I am giving you permission to avoid certain people haha)
Don’t look at things that make you feel anxious or fearful
Watch funny stuff that makes you laugh!
Take care of yourselves!