A Beginner’s Guide to Homeopathy

Elizabeth Marglin

by | Updated: February 2nd, 2018 | Read time: 3 minutes

Have you heard of homeopathy but never really understood how homeopathic remedies work? While it may come across as intimidatingly complex, this natural health practice is in fact based on a simple healing principle: “like cures like.” In other words, if a substance causes a symptom in a healthy person, a very small amount of the same substance given to the person may cure the illness. A “homeopathic” dose suggests that an infinitesimal amount of what ails you actually enhances the body’s normal healing and self-regulatory processes.

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As radical as it sounds, homeopathy is a very safe. Over 200 million people use this popular natural form of medicine worldwide to address both acute and chronic conditions. According to the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which included a comprehensive survey on what complementary health approaches are favored by Americans, an estimated 5 million adults and 1 million children used homeopathy in the previous year. Here are the answers to a few of the most common questions regarding homeopathy.

What are homeopathic remedies made from?

Homeopathic remedies are sourced from substances that come from plants, flowers, minerals, or animals. Some of the most common remedies utilize plants such as arnica and chamomile, minerals such as sulfur and phosphorus, or insects such as bees and ants. These substances are repeatedly diluted and prepared in a special, methodical process. Homeopathic remedies are often formulated as sugar pellets to be placed under the tongue but other forms, such as ointments, gels, drops, creams, and tablets are widespread too.

What conditions does it treat?

Homeopathy can treat a wide variety of conditions such as pain related to teething, bumps and bruises due to injury, and minor skin irritations. Self-limiting conditions like sprains, coughs, colds and flu are a great fit for homeopathy as well. Critics of homeopathy assert that the body’s natural healing mechanisms are what are responsible for cures, but homeopathy proponents argue that the medicine speeds up and strengthens the body inherent immune response. There are other uses of homeopathy for various chronic illnesses and diseases—but if the condition is not self-limiting, one should seek medical advice from a physician. There is no one-size fits all answer as symptoms vary from person to person. The holistic nature of homeopathy means each person is treated as a unique individual. In general, women who are pregnant or nursing, or people who are thinking of using homeopathy to treat a child, should consult their (or their child’s) health care providers.

Is it safe?

Homeopathic remedies have been regulated in the United States since 1938 and are generally considered to be innocuous. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) stated, “A systematic review has found that homeopathic remedies in high dilution, taken under the supervision of trained professionals, are generally considered safe and unlikely to cause severe adverse reactions.” Another huge plus for homeopathy: Unlike many other alternative medicines, there are no known interactions between conventional drugs and homeopathic medications.

Because homeopathic remedies have such a safe reputation, you can explore them—and check out for their effectiveness—yourself. Here are three basic homeopathic remedies worth trying.

How can it work for arthritis?

Let’s take a look at Boiron’s Arnicare Arthritis formula. The active ingredient in this homeopathic remedy is Arnica Montana, a plant native to mountainous areas of Europe and North America, which has been used for centuries to treat a variety of pain. The tablets are designed for those suffering from arthritis pain, specifically from stiff and swollen joints and flare-ups caused by changes in weather. Quick-dissolving, the tablets do not cause drowsiness or interact with other medications. A 2007 study published in Rheumatology International looked at 204 people with osteoarthritis in their hands and found that an arnica gel preparation worked just as well as daily ibuprofen, and with minimal side effects.

Oscillo 6 Dose

Oscillo helps your body reduce the duration and severity of flu- like symptoms with this non-invasive remedy. This popular preparation can temporarily relieve symptoms such as body aches, headache, fever, chills and fatigue without causing drowsiness.

Calendula cream

Calendula, renown for its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, can promote the healing of cuts, scrapes, chafing, rashes, insect bites, minor burns and sunburn. This multitasking homeopathic remedy makes for a great addition to your alternative first aid kit.