Developed by 18th-century German physician Samuel Hahnemann, homeopathy (which means “similar suffering”) uses miniscule concentrations of natural plant, animal, or mineral substances to stimulate the body to heal itself. Homeopathy is based on the same ”similar” principles as conventional allergy treatment and vaccines, where a small dose of an allergic substance or inert form of a virus is given to bolster the immune system against a particular offender. In homeopathy, for instance, a minute dose of coffee (Coffea cruda) may be given to remedy insomnia, or poison nut (Nux vomica) to relieve nausea. Read more.
Children’s health: Chamomilla vulgaris (teething with irritability), Colocynthis (colic), Aloe socotrina, podophyllin (diarrhea)
Colds and flu: Allium cepa (runny nose, sneezing), Antimonium tartaricum (rattling cough), Belladonna (fever, congestion), Kali bichromicum (thick, sticky mucus), Pulsatilla (thick, bland mucus), Oscillococcinum (flu, proprietary remedy)
Injuries and pain: Arnica montana (bruises, swelling), Calendula officinalis (burns, scrapes, skin irritations)
Respiratory allergies: Allium cepa (allergies with runny nose), Euphrasia officinalis (burning, irritated eyes), Galphimia glauca (hay fever), Histaminum hydrochloricum (allergies), Sabadilla (allergic sneezing)
* Check with a health care provider first for diagnosis; then consult a homeopathic practitioner to determine the right remedy and dose.
Don’t eat or drink anything before or after taking remedies, to avoid interfering with absorption. Traditional recommendations are to wait at least 5, and as long as 30 minutes.
Don’t keep taking a remedy if you don’t feel better. “When you take a remedy, you should first have a sense of well-being,” says Jody Shevins, ND. Then symptoms should start to go away. If you don’t get results after one or two doses, stop taking it, she says.
Do some research. Shevins recommends the Online Remedy Finder at abchomeopathy.com to help select a remedy that best fits your condition. Or sign up for a homeopathy class.
Do consult a trained homeopath, especially for chronic conditions, or if you’re not getting results with self-prescribing.
What's better: combination or single homeopathic remedies?
Combination remedies—a mixture of homeopathic remedies aimed at a specific condition, such as colds or allergies—are gaining popularity because they can eliminate some of the trial and error associated with single formulas. Take the common cold, for example. Researching and buying single remedies for each symptom can add up, both in time and money. Combination formulas made by major homeopathic manufacturers now target a range of symptoms associated with various conditions, including menopause, allergies, and insomnia.
If you try a combination remedy and it’s not working, stop taking it and do some research into single remedies in order to learn which best fits all the changes that have accompanied your symptoms,” says Jody Shevins, ND, of Boulder, Colorado. Or consult a qualified homeopath.
What are homeopathic potencies?
When you look at the label on a homeopathic remedy, you’ll see numbers and letters following the Latin name, such as Nux vomica 6C. What do those mean? Homeopathic medicines are made by a process of successive dilutions that reportedly transform the original substance into a therapeutically active remedy. With each dilution, the original substance is diluted with an alcohol solution and vigorously shaken, or succussed. A 6X potency, for instance, has been diluted in a 1:10 ratio six times (“X” stands for the Roman numeral for 10). “C” stands for the Roman numeral for 100 and means the solution has been diluted in a 1:100 ratio, and so on. Lower potency (6X–30C) doses are best for home use, especially with acute, short-lived symptoms. Higher potency doses (200C and higher) are generally prescribed by homeopaths. They are believed to work at a deeper level and be more appropriate for general conditions such as allergies, stress, and sleeplessness.