Alternative medicine: Possibilities & limitations of homeopathy

The basic principles of homeopathy ➤ A natural form of therapy to promote health & self-healing ✓ Globules ✓ Dilutions ✓ Schuessler salts

Traditional conventional medicine is not a universal answer to everything. It can cure many diseases, relieve many ailments, and get to the bottom of many problems. But its successes are also limited. Many people therefore opt for homeopathy as a supplement or alternative to traditional forms of therapy. This is because complementary medicine starts where conventional medicine leaves off: it does not consider illness as a separate problem, but the human body as a whole. Its goal is not to fight the disease directly, but to activate the body's self-healing powers and bring the organism back into balance. This makes it much closer to the human being, less invasive and much gentler than conventional medicine. In this article, we will therefore introduce homeopathy as one of the best-known methods of alternative medicine and explain to you how it came into being, how it works and how you can use it.

What is homeopathy actually? ➤ Alternative healing methods simply explained

Alternative medicine was developed as a supplement to conventional school medicine. It looks not only at the disease, but at the human being as a whole, and thus also analyzes the interactions between body and mind. Its aim is to activate the body's own self-healing powers and thus to treat illnesses from within. The effectiveness of these healing methods is not scientifically proven, because as soon as an alternative method can be confirmed by studies, it automatically counts as scientific medicine. 

One of the best known methods of alternative medicine is homeopathy. It is based on the fundamental idea that similar things can be cured with similar things. Its name is derived from the Greek words homoion (meaning similar) and pathos (meaning suffering) and thus literally means "similar suffering".

How it all began: The 200 year history of homeopathy.

Samuel Hahnemann was a German physician, medical writer/translator and founder of homeopathy. He lived in a time when bloodletting, bloody cupping and enemas were standard practice, often doing more harm than good. With horror he turned away from these brutal forms of therapy and searched for gentler alternatives. He found them in a book on natural remedies. Here he read that cinchona bark was supposed to cure malaria and therefore underwent self-experimentation to verify this statement. However, as a healthy person, he developed malaria-like symptoms from taking it and thus drew the reverse conclusion to this phenomenon, that similar things can be cured with similar things.

The basic principles of homeopathy: natural substances for an inner balance.

From the point of view of complementary medicine, illnesses always mean that the body is in imbalance. The homeopath therefore tries to find a remedy that restores harmony and activates the self-healing powers. Thus, the disease is not to be cured by the medical practitioner, but by the practitioner's own body. Therefore, the symptoms are not treated, but rather slightly strengthened, in order to promote the regeneration efforts of the organism.
For this purpose, there are nowadays about 2,500 different homeopathic remedies, which are made from minerals, plants and animal products. In some cases, viruses or the body's own substances (such as blood or pus) are also used for these - but only in extremely diluted form. For the production of homeopathic remedies, the appropriate substances are carefully selected, ground and mixed with other substances. Water, alcohol, lactose and glycerine are often used for dilution. The ever further dilution of the mixtures is the basis of these alternative remedies and is called potentizing in homeopathy.

A drop in the ocean: potentizing for the production of homeopathic medicines 

In homeopathy, potentizing describes the ever further dilution of the active ingredient. It is assumed that the healing reaction is deeper and lasts longer the higher the degree of dilution. Higher potencies are thus considered stronger remedies and lower potencies weaker remedies, although these contain more of the original active ingredient.

The following potencies are distinguished:

- D potencies ≙ decimal potencies = 1:10.
- C-potencies ≙ centesimal potencies = 1:100
- LM potencies (lat. L050, M=1,000) = 1:50,000

The respective potency describes the degree of potentization (dilution) as well as the frequency of dynamization (shaking or rattling). This is because the active ingredient can either be shaken with a liquid carrier (such as alcohol) or triturated with a solid carrier (such as lactose). The number after the letter also indicates how many times it was potentized. "D10" thus means that the mother tincture was diluted ten times in succession with a mixing ratio of 1:10.

The respective potency describes the degree of potentization (dilution) as well as the frequency of dynamization (shaking or rattling). This is because the active ingredient can either be shaken with a liquid carrier (such as alcohol) or triturated with a solid carrier (such as lactose). The number after the letter also indicates how many times it was potentized. "D10" thus means that the mother tincture was diluted ten times in succession with a mixing ratio of 1:10.

The mother tincture in homeopathy comes from all areas of nature:

- Plants & fungi such as marigold, belladonna or fly agaric.
- Minerals like mercury, sulfur or common salt
- Animal substances like forest ants, scorpion venom or honey bees
- Disease products like syphilis secretion, tuberculosis pus or herpes viruses

To produce homeopathic medicines, this active substance is now potentized with a carrier. In the example of the D10 potency, one milliliter of active ingredient would be mixed with 9 milliliters of liquid. This mixture is then whipped onto a hard but elastic base. Both steps are now repeated nine more times until the mother tincture has been potentized ten times.

Globules, dilutions, tablets & ointments ➤ Taking homeopathic remedies correctly.

The aim of homeopathy is not to fight a specific disease, but to stimulate the body's self-healing powers. For this reason, it is used for all kinds of complaints - whether serious illnesses, chronic pain or psychological problems.

Widely used areas of application of homeopathy are:

- Headaches
- Hay fever and allergies
- Menopausal complaints and pregnancy
- joint pain
- ENT disorders
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Gastrointestinal diseases
- Kidney, liver and urinary system diseases

Globules are one of the most popular forms of administration. These are small sprinkling globules made of sucrose or the sugar substitute xylitol. To produce them, the mother tincture is sprayed over the sugar globules in a large, rotating cauldron. The globules, which are now evenly wetted with the active ingredient, are then dried, filled into small vials and sold over-the-counter in pharmacies. Globules are supposed to develop their effect via the oral mucosa, so it is recommended to let them dissolve slowly on the tongue and not to swallow them, as stomach acid is said to rob them of their power.

The same applies to homeopathic drops (dilution), which should also be kept in the mouth for some time to develop their effect through the oral mucosa. The liquid, homeopathic remedies have the advantage over globules that they are free of lactose and are therefore also suitable for lactose-intolerant people. However, they often consist of up to 62 percent alcohol and are therefore not recommended for infants or children.

Globules and dilutions represent the most popular dosage forms of homeopathic medicines. However, the active ingredients can also be added to tablets, ointments or gels. For application on the skin, the homeopathic active ingredients are particularly suitable for bruises, rheumatism or joint pain.

Schuessler Salts & Anthroposophy: Further branches of complementary medicine.

Just like homeopathy, anthroposophy is also a form of alternative medicine. Both are quite similar and use plant, animal and mineral ingredients for their natural medicines. However, anthroposophy developed in the early 1920s and can be traced back to the Austrian Rudolf Steiner. While homeopathy is based on the principle of similarity in order to strengthen the self-healing powers, anthroposophy aims to compensate for deficiencies on the four organizational levels of body, life, soul and spirit. In contrast to classical orthodox medicine, it thus approaches each person individually, pays equal attention to psyche and physique, and knows no standard treatments, but always takes into account the patient's current life situation and personality.

Another very well-known branch of alternative medicine is Schuessler therapy. It goes back to the homeopathic physician Wilhelm Schüßler and also reflects anthroposophical views. The basic idea here, however, is that all diseases are due to a disturbance of the mineral balance in one's own body. Through the supply of the Schüssler salts, this deficit can supposedly be balanced. Therapy with Schuessler salts originated from classical homeopathy, but differs in its active substances: In their treatment, only substances are used that are also found in the body itself, but these are dosed weakly in a similar way as in homeopathic remedies.

Twelve minerals form the basis of the Schüssler salts:
- Calcium fluoride
- calcium phosphate
- ferric phosphate
- potassium chloride
- potassium phosphate
- potassium sulfate
- magnesium hydrogen phosphate
- sodium chloride
- sodium phosphate
- sodium sulfate
- Silicic acid
- Calcium sulfate

Conclusion: Homeopathy and conventional medicine as a holistic medical approach.

Complementary homeopathic medicine offers many advantages over conventional medicine: it causes hardly any side effects, costs considerably less, and in many cases improves patients' symptoms and quality of life. The reason for this can be the effectiveness of the remedies, a placebo effect or the comprehensive anamnesis discussion, in which each patient is dealt with personally. In contrast to conventional medicine, which hardly allows time for detailed discussions with the doctor, the patient leaves here with a positive basic feeling, which can have a positive effect on the further course of treatment.
The disadvantages of homeopathy, however, are that its effectiveness cannot be confirmed despite numerous studies, and it cannot do much in the case of more serious illnesses. Since homeopathy is based on the principle of self-healing, its limits are reached when the body is no longer able to heal itself. This can be the case, for example, with organ damage, heart valve disease or liver cirrhosis.

Regardless of this, a great many people rely on alternative forms of therapy: In Germany, according to a Forsa survey, every second person has already had experience with homeopathy, and German pharmacies polarize homeopathic remedies. Reason for the hype are usually bad experiences, lack of success or strong side effects of conventional medicine. As long as homeopathy is seen here not as an alternative but as a supplement, this development towards a holistic approach to treatment can only be seen as positive. For as long as it helps people, homeopathy makes sense. However, if the homeopathic medicine does not bring any improvement, worsens the complaints or dramatically intensifies the symptoms, a visit to the doctor is essential. A successful homeopathic consultation should therefore not exclude medical treatment, but should only complement it.

 

 

 

OPIUM D 12 Globuli
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