Homeopathic remedies have been developed, in a number of ways, over more than 220 years. The first remedy was identified when Samuel Hahnemman, a scientist, qualified medical doctor and multi-linguist, was translating a medical text and noticed that quinine poisoning produced the same symptoms as malaria, a disease that it was used to treat – like cures like. This led Hahnemman to experiment with other materials (mainly plant, animal (milk) and mineral) and to devise a method of testing on healthy people in order to identify probable symptoms that could be relieved by each substance.
Other ways of identifying the healing benefits of each substance were to look at traditional uses for herbs, note symptoms of an accidental poisoning or create hypotheses based on a material’s relationship to a remedy with known qualities (e.g. a plant or animal in the same family, a mineral on the period table). After further testing on healthy volunteers, these potentised substances were then tested clinically by homeopaths to confirm their theoretical application. Records of remedy applications are still being rigorously clarified, updated and shared by homeopaths to this day - now made easier with the help of computers and specialized software!
The aim of homeopathy is to restore health rather than to stop or suppress symptoms. The suppression of symptoms is seen as comparable to removing the bulb from a warning light in a car. One of Hahnemman’s theories is that in order to support a dis-eased body to return to health, the ideal remedy must be given in the correct potency – prompting the body to heal itself. It may help if you think of the remedy as a barcode with a specific message that needs to match the broad range and characteristics of what is currently disordered in the person.
Hahnemman believed that it is more important to focus on treating illness based on the mental and physical symptoms of distress displayed by the body, than to name or categorise the illness – or to attempt to research the exact mechanics of what had occurred in the physical manifestation of the disease. Another important aspect of care is to identify any factors that have contributed to the illness developing or that may prevent a patient from being able to heal.
Homeopathic remedies started as material doses or tinctures. However, these were sometimes experienced as ‘coarse’ and caused side-effects. Hahnemman eventually discovered potentisation: following a strict formula of dilution and succussion (banging to pass a vibration through the bottle), the remedies were not only far more gentle – they increased in potency and additional healing qualities of the substance were released. This sounds ludicrous and leaves homeopathy open to ridicule, but has been the experience of homeopaths and their clients for over 200 years and is one of the most profound and intelligent aspects of homeopathic medicine.
A huge proportion of the homeopathic remedies we use today are diluted beyond ‘Avogadro’s number’ i.e. the dilution level that has been identified as still having a material substance present. This also allows poisonous substances to be potentised and used for medicinal purposes without toxic side-effects. Recent research has indicated that the different potencies in remedies may soon be able to be scientifically confirmed using magnetic resonance, rather than being identified as plain water as in current tests.
Wenda Brewster-O’Reilly says in her translated and annotated edition of Samuel Hahnemann’s Organon: “Hahnemann’s approach to medicine had little to do with the world view described by the Newtonian physics of his day; it is much more closely aligned with modern post-quantum physics.”