How Homeopathy Works

Homeopathy – How it Works ?

Homoeopathy is actually based on thousands of experiments in which human subjects have taken continual doses of various plant, mineral, or animal substances until specific symptoms were elicited. These experiments are called “provings”, and they are conducted on humans, not animals, because homeopaths believe that the symptoms a substance causes in an animal do not necessarily accurately parallel how the substance will act on the human body. Innumerable substances cause skin rashes, digestive problems, tumors, and various other disease processes;however, each substance causes its own unique pattern of symptoms. The trick to making a homathic medicine work is finding the medicine that matches the overall pattern of symptoms that the person is experiencing, not just a single symptom or small group of symptoms. Once it is known what a substance causes in overdoes, the specific affinity that this substance has to the human body is then understood. And because symptoms represent the best defense of the human body to fight infection and/or to adapt to stress, it makes sense to mimic and augment the body’s own defenses.

The Importance of Individualized Medicine

In homeopathy you don’t simply treat the disease; you treat the personm who will have his own manifestation of a disease, as well as many other symptoms that are a part of his unique ailment. Therefore, it is essential to individualize a homeopathic treatment to the person receiving it. A person does not simply have a heart problem when he has heart disease, and a person does not simply have a skin problem when she skin disease. Disease is rarely localized to one part of the person. The whole person is ill, not just an isolated part. Ultimately, a person’s illness is an overall syndrome, of which the disease is but a part.

For instance, people with arthritis (or with any disease) generally have many symptoms in coMmon, but each person also has many symptoms that are unique to him or her. Based on this important point of view, it is scientifically unsound to treat everyone with a similar disease with the same drug.

A video – How Homeopathy Works – NPTV 

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A Video – Why Homeopathy Works and Makes Sense
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Treat the person, not the disease

Two people may have a headache, but each will have his or her own pattern of symptoms or syndrome. It is remarkable how misinformed we have been in thinking that everyone with a headache has the same condition and should be treated similarly. A person suffering from a headache may also have digestive complaints, respiratory problems, skin symptoms, psychological problems, and many other possible symptoms. Because each person is an individual, it is inappropriate (and ineffecitve) to treat each complaint that a person experiences as a separate condition. In homeopathy, one seeks to find an individualized remedy that fits the person’s overall pattern or syndrome of symptoms. William Osler, M.D.considered the father of modern medicine, once said, “It is more important to know what type of person has a disease that what type of disease a person has.” This is the assumption behind homeopathic medicine.

The Scientific Evidence

Homeopathy is gaining increasing international attention, and this attention is in part the result of a growing body of research supporting the positive results that people commonly experience. Yet homeopathy is still widely misunderstood. In this chapter I hope to clear up some of the more common misconceptions about homeopathy.

Many people believe, for example, that because homeopathic doses are so small they couldn’t possibly work. Actually, there are many examples from nature of extremely small doses having powerful effects. Pheromones, for example, are hormones that are emitted from the bodies of many animals – including human beings – and that let them seek out and tell others of their own species that they wish to mate. Certain species of moths can smell another of their own species even if they are two miles away. Further, there are innumerable examples of various animal’s ability to smell or sense extremely low concentrations of certain things necessary for their survival. Sharks, for instance, can smell blood in the ocean, which helps them to find food, even at great distances. When one considers the volume of water in the ocean, it seems obvious that the sharks are sensing extremely small amounts of blood.

There are also numerous examples involving human beings. Some people who are allergic to cats, for instance, can devleop strong symptoms even if only one cat walked through a room several hours or days earlier.

Clinical Evidence

The results of some very good scientific research have been published in medical journals and other scientific publications. THe Lancet published a review of eighty-nine double-bline or randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials (Linde et al, 1997) in which the authors conclude that the clinical effects of homeopathic medicines are unlikely to be simply the results of a placebo effect. In fact, they found that homeopathic medicines had a 2.45 times greater effect than placebos did. The lead author of this review of homeopathic research Klaus Linde, M.D. was the same German professor who reviewed the research on St. John’s wort that received international attention.

Another survery of research published in the British Medical Journal indicated that 81 out of 107 controlled clinical trials showed that homeopathic medicines had beneficial results (Kleijnen et al, 1991). For more details about many of these studies, see my book, “The Consumer’s Guide to Homeopathy or The Emerging Science of Homeopathy (Bellavite and Signorini 2002).

Homeopathic Microdoses do work

The advantage of most good laboratory studies on homeopathy is that even skeptics cannot propose that the effects are placebo effects. This type of research does not try to verify clinical efficacy; instead, it simply seeks to verify if the small doses used in homeopathy cause any type of biological effect. In fact, there are dozens of such studies. This book simply highlights a few. One recent study that was replicated by four research institutes in Europe found that homeopathic doses of histamine had a dramatic effect on one type of white blood cell (Belon et al. 1999). In particular, the researchers found that the 15C to 19C potencies of histamine had significant effects.

A French Hematologist has repeatedly found that homeopathic doses of aspirin have significant effects on reducing bleeding time and on platelet aggregation and coagulation (Belougne-Malfatti et al. 1998). Because aspirine in normal or high doses increases bleeding time, it was predicted that homeopathic doses would reduce it, and this study verified this prediction.

A highly respected German Professor and a group of researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 105 studies in which researchers used homeopathic doses of various heavy metals or other toxic substances as a way to prevent disease or death in animals that were exposed to overdoses of these same toxic substances (Linde, Jonas, Melchart et al. 1994). When reviewing just the well-done studies, the researchers found a consistent pattern of efficacy frin the homeopathic doses, which, on average, helped the animal excrete approximately 20% more of the toxic substance through its urine, stools, or sweat.

One of the researchers in this mostly German team was Wayne Jonas, an American medical doctor who was also a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army. He and other researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute investigated the protective effects of homeopathic doses of glutamate on different types of rat cells. Glutamate is an amino acid that is an important nutrient in small doses but is toxic in highly concentrated doses (Jonas, Lin, and Tortella 2001). The researchers found significant protective effects of homeopathic doses of glutamate, including at doses that conventional scientific wisdom suggests are so small that there should be no remaining molecules of glutamate in the medical solution.

More Evidence

Homeopathy became popular in USA and in Europe during the 1800’s because of its success in treating the many infectious diseases that raged then, including yellow fever, scarlet fever, and cholera. The death rate in homeopathic hospitals was between one-half to one-eighth of that in conventional medical hospitals. It is hard to imagine that these significant results in treating serious infectious disease were due to a placebo effects.

Homeopathic medicines also have been shown to work on infants and on various animals (including dogs, cats, horses and cows), creatures seemingly incapable of experiencing the placebo effects. Homeopathis also find that people who are being treated with homeopathic medicine for a chronic disease sometimes experience a temporary exacerbation in their symptoms as the body’s defenses are being stimulated. Homeopaths have found that a “healing crisis” is sometimes necessary to achieve healing. It is highly unlikely that this temporary worsening of symptoms is the result of a placebo response.

Remember that the small doses used by homeopaths only have an effect when the person taking the remedy has a hypersensitivity to the small doses given. If the wrong medicine is given to a person, nothing happens. If the correct medicine is given, it acts as a catalyst to the person’s defenses. In any case, homeopathic medicines do not have side effects.


[1] Dana Ullman, M.P.H., essential homeopathy – What it is & What it can do for you, 2002.