Baltimore Homeopathic Study Group

Q: What is homeopathy?

A: Homeopathy is an alternative system of medicine that was founded in the early 19th century by a German physician, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann. It had its greatest popularity in the late 19th century here in the United States, when 15% of the doctors in this country were homeopaths. After the turn of the century, its popularity took a nose-dive. However, since 1980 homeopathy has seen a resurgence of interest in the United States and homeopathic books can be found in many bookstores and homeopathic physicians in most major cities.

Classical homeopathy rests on three principles: the law of similars, the single medicine, and the minimum dose. The law of similars states that a disease is cured by a medicine which creates symptoms similar to those the patient is experiencing in a healthy person. The homeopathic practitioner determines which medicine best matches the symptoms the patient is experiencing and gives it. The principle of the single remedy states that a single medicine should cover all the symptoms the patient is experiencing: mental, emotional, and physical. A good homeopath would not prescribe one medicine for a headache and another for an upset stomach, he or she would find a single medicine that covered both symptoms. The principle of the minimum states that the similar medicine should be given in an infinitesimal dose. Homeopaths have discovered that the effect of homeopathic medicines is strengthed upon successive dilutions as long as the medicine is succussed (shaken) between each dilution. Though the idea that medicines become more powerful as they are diluted goes against common sense, homeopaths have observed that the process of making homeopathic medicines liberates an intrinsic power within them that makes them deeper acting and more powerful, as well as safer than traditional medicines

Q: What are homeopathic medicines?

A: Homeopathic medicines are natural substances derived from plant, mineral, or animal sources. Most homeopathic medicines are made from alcohol tinctures which are then successively diluted. But if the substance is not soluble in alcohol, it is ground together with milk sugar in a mortar and pestle. Homeopathic dilutions are either made on the C scale, where 99 parts of water are added to one part of the medicine for each dilution, or the X scale, where 9 parts of water are added to one part of medicine for each dilution. The dilutions are then dropped onto milk sugar pellets. Typical dilutions sold in stores are 6 X, 6 C, 12 C, 30 X, and 30 C.

Q: What is the difference between homeopathy and herbalism?

A: Homeopathy typically uses medicines in high dilution. Also, herbalism prescribes herbs based on their use in traditional medicine, while homeopathy prescribes them based on the law of similars. However, the uses of herbal and homeopathic medicines sometimes overlap and a medicine is used to treat the same condition, both herbally and homeopathically. The use of Black Cohosh during labor is one example of this overlap.

Q: Where can I buy homeopathic medicines?

A: Homeopathic medicines are available is most health food stores and some drug stores and supermarkets. Homeopathic medicines are available either as single medicines or combination medicines. Combination medicines are marketed to treat a specific condition and contain several homeopathic medicines commonly used to treat that condition. Single medicines are usually labeled for a single condition, but maybe used to treat many conditions, as long a the symptoms of the illness agree with those of the medicine.

Q: Can I treat myself and my family with homeopathy?

A: Homeopathy can be used by the average person to successfully treat treat minor illnesses and injuries. A number of books are now available on self-care using homeopathy. We recommend Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicines by Stephen Cummings and Dana Ullman for an introduction to homeopathic prescribing. If you cannot find this book in a local bookstore, it is available by mail order from Homeopathic Educational Services or Minimum Price You can also join your local NCH study group to learn how to treat illness with homeopathy.

Q: How can I find a homeopathic practitioner in the United States?

A: The resources page has a search form that allows you to search for practitioners listed in the National Center for Homeopathy membership directory. However, the listing does not imply a recomendation of this practitioner. Recommending individual homeopathic practitioners is difficult because they vary widely in their knowledge and ability. The best guide is probably to ask if they have passed the certification tests of either the American Board of Homeotherapeutics (ABHt), the Council for Homeopathic Certification (CHC) or the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians (HANP). However, there are some fine homeopaths who do not have these certifications.

Q: Why should I join the National Center for Homeopathy?

A:The National Center for Homeopathy (NCH) is an organization that exists for you, the user of homeopathy. It is not an organization of professional homeopaths. Instead, it exists to educate and inform the user. It does this in three ways, First, the Affiliated Study Groups hold monthly meetings where the members learn how to use homeopathy. Second, it produces the monthly magazine, Homeopathy Today. This magazine is an excellent source of information about homeopathy and the homeopathic community and is easily worth the membership fee by itself. Third, the NCH holds an annual conference and also a summer school, where some of the best homeopaths teach you how to use homeopathy.

The NCH also educates the general public on the subject of homeopathy by answering questions from the public and news media. The critics of alternative medicine are often quoted as news sources. The NCH acts as a counter balance to give a positive message about the merits of homeopathy.