Healing approaches

Spring fever: Tackling hay fever the homeopathic way

By Lisa Glydon, homeopath

As we move into spring, it is time for many of us to start thinking about how to protect ourselves against allergies, such as hay fever. On a year-by-year basis, we are seeing a consistent increase in allergic responses brought about by reactions to airborne irritants and/or certain foods.

Allergens can consist of virtually anything that provokes a hypersensitive reaction. They range from pollens and pollutants, such as exhaust fumes, to foods, mobile phones and even, in certain cases, the sun. Such reactions can be mild to life threatening, and everything in between.

The three most common substances that people react to are pollen, dairy and wheat. Although there is no proven connection, interestingly all three are originally grass products. It may be that some hay fever sufferers become sensitised to proteins that are common to grains, grasses, and possibly milk.

Dairy products encourage mucus production and, in certain situations, should be avoided. Similarly, many modern strains of processed wheat are high in gluten content, which can irritate the digestive tract and likewise stimulate mucus production.

Depending on how severe it is, the reaction to such substances will determine whether you are suffering an allergic response or simply experiencing an intolerance. But when a homeopath treats hay fever, there are two aspects they are trying to achieve:

  1. To treat the acute hay fever symptoms that are presenting immediately: Here the aim is to select a remedy that is most similar to the condition itself as homeopathic medicine produces the same symptoms as those experienced by the sick person and, in doing so, provokes the body into throwing those symptoms off. In other words, like is cured by like.
  2. To provide long-term constitutional treatment in order to remove the body’s tendency to over-react to substances that it should be able to deal with: Hay fever is a more complicated condition than it first appears. As a result, it can take someone two or three seasons to get rid of completely, with each season demonstrating less severe reactions and symptoms than the last.

Here is why: An over-reactive, or allergic, response is often a sign of a weakened and stressed immune and nervous system. To achieve healing in this instance, a homeopath needs to discover why the ‘broken down’ system is reacting in this way. Careful management of lifestyle and diet will support and improve weakened organs, thereby reducing over-reactive responses.

Most people think of the immune system as simply ‘strong’ or ‘weak’. But, in fact, it consists of many sections, and each section must work well with every other one. Organising how these immune responses work together is the job of a group of white blood cells called ‘lymphocytes’. These lymphocytes organise the fine workings of the sections within the immune system.

For people with allergies, one particular type of lymphocyte seems to play an important role – the T cell. These regulatory T cells limit inflammation by turning off unwanted immune responses that are the hallmark of an allergy. So rather than fearing the allergen, which may have been in the environment for many years, it makes more sense to strengthen the immune system to deal with it.

When the body suffers a ‘stress’ of some kind, it is normal to release histamine, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. This ‘stress’ could come from the external environment or take the shape of a stressful thought or worry.

Histamine causes your capillary walls to become more permeable so that more antibodies and nutrients can reach the body to try and heal it. The result is local ‘inflammation’ and the involuntary smooth muscles (which are hollow and work unconsciously, such as the stomach, oesophagus and bronchus) contract to protect the body from invading pathogens or poisons. The result here might be either a cough or a build-up of sputum.

But in the case of an allergic reaction, the response is a lot more dramatic. The immune system goes into overdrive, causing other more severe reactions, such as extreme rhinitis, streaming eyes, sneezing and even asthmatic-type breathing issues, such as wheezing. This situation is essentially histamine gone wild and the usual medical treatment is to give the sufferer an anti-histamine tablet.

The problem is that such drugs tend to be overused, can cause nasty side effects and suppress the body’s ability to express itself. As a result, they are a nuisance to homeopaths as they mask an individual’s true allergic symptoms.

Root causes

Homeopaths are looking not only for the stresses around life circumstances that may have led to the attacks, but also the allergen concerned, and inherited traits. If a child presents with hay fever, there is often a family history of allergies and so the child could have been born with an inherited weakness.

Stress is also frequently behind the onset of many hay fever-based or allergic responses. This ‘stress’ may come in the form of fear, worry over exams or family matters, grief, anger, or even a recent illness, course of antibiotics, coming off the contraceptive pill or having a vaccine.

If there is nothing obvious, it can be helpful to explore an individual’s history to find out what has caused their constitution to behave in this way. A variety of forgotten situations could be the root cause, including negative or suppressed childhood ailments or traumas. The patient could also have an underlying infection, such as candida albicans, or a weakened digestive system, which allows pathogens to pass through and results in an inflammatory response. 

No matter how long ago these hidden situations took place, they will need to be addressed sooner or later as the body has a tissue memory. In other words, it finds ways to express these memories, and hay fever is one way of doing this.

This situation means that hay fever can take several years to tackle, with the symptoms becoming less severe each season as the remedies work through the historical causes mentioned. As part of the process, the body will reveal what needs to be treated through its symptom picture, and the homeopath matches these symptoms with the required ‘similum’ remedy.

But it is not always enough just to provide the appropriate remedy for that year’s symptoms, even if it does have the desired effect. The underlying ‘maintaining’ causes based on history and heredity also have a part to play, and it is they that make both seasonal and chronic hay-fever symptoms so complex to treat. This is why nutritional supplements are rarely sufficient on their own and why orthodox treatments simply offer relief at best and suppression at worst.

If you recognise the following symptoms during an acute hay fever episode, try taking the suggested remedy, in up to 10 doses. If they are not effective, change the remedy.

  • Allium 30c: Burning discharge from the nose and bland discharges from the eyes. Symptoms are worse indoors rather than outdoors. Light hurts the eyes, which are hot and itchy. The larynx also feels as if there are hooks sticking in it, which is made worse by warm food or drink.
  • Arsenicum albicans 30c: Your temperature is higher than normal and you feel utterly worn out but better in the warmth. Sniffing warm water up the nose gives relief from sneezing, but light hurts the eyes. There is wheezing and tightness in the lungs, a burning throat, restlessness and you are worrying a lot.
  • Arsenicum iod 30c: Thick, honey-coloured discharge from the nose, following three or four days of sneezing, sore nostrils and a burning sensation inside the nose. Warmth makes the symptoms worse. You also have a burning throat, an irritating cough, dry, scaly skin and feel worried and anxious.
  • Dulcamara 30c: Constant sneezing, stuffy or streaming nose, eyes swollen and watery. These symptoms are made worse by being outdoors or in a damp atmosphere. You may feel chilled after physical exertion.
  • Euphrasia 30c:Thick, burning discharge from the eyes, which are very swollen. There is a bland discharge from the nose, and you cough up phlegm. Symptoms are worse indoors.
  • Gelsemium 30c: Non-stop sneezing. Your eyes feel heavy and/or droopy, puffy and watery. You feel apathetic and listless and have no energy for anything. You may also feel dizzy and shaky.
  • Nux vomica 30c: Your body feels as if it is smarting, and you are very sensitive to light. Your nose is stuffy and tickly, although you sneeze less outside. You also have obstructed breathing and while your nose is blocked at night, it is runny during day. Other symptoms include itchiness inside your ears and eustatian tubes. You feel irritable and angry, want to drink coffee or alcohol, and have a headache that feels like a knife has been driven through you above the eyes.
  • Psorinum 30c: You are very sensitive to the cold and feel like you want to lie down. Your nose is streaming, but the discharge is bland or feels burning. You experience breathlessness, which is relieved by raising your arms away from the body. You also feel restless and hot at night, but in mood terms are generally low and melancholic.
  • Pulsatilla 30c: There is a bland yellow/green discharge from your nose and eyes, which gets better in the open air. You have no thirst, but feel weepy and need lots of support.
  • Sabadilla 30c: Symptoms include violent sneezing, watery eyes, red and swollen eyelids and a headache that feels as if your head is shrinking. Your thinking is slow and dull and you feel generally chilly, but your sore throat is soothed by warm drinks.
  • Silica 30c: Your nose is stuffed up, especially on waking in the morning, and your sinuses feel tender. You also feel generally chilly.

Foods that help

Eat at least nine servings of brightly coloured fruit and vegetables a day, choosing those which are high in folates, vitamin A and fibre. Folates from food are needed for cell repair and growth, immune and brain function. Brightly coloured fresh foods are high in flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system boosting qualities – parsley and green tea are particularly high in these.

Dark green leafy vegetables and legumes, such as lentils and beans, as well as strawberries and grapes are other great sources. The Western diet often results in chronic inflammatory disorders as it typically contains about 1,000mg/day of flavonoids, whereas a traditional Asian diet contains four times that amount, much of it in the shape of herbs and spices.

Lisa Glydon

Lisa Glydon has been a qualified homeopathic practitioner since 2007, but she also uses herbs, supplements and Bach/Bush Essences to boost the body’s systems and help remove emotional blockages. She initially trained as a State Registered Nurse in London, specialising in oncology and palliative care, but now treats clients of all ages and with all kinds of conditions. Lisa also runs workshops and provides talks to school children and adult groups about all aspects of health care.

OTHER ARTICLES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

Homeopathy: Awakening the vital force

A healthy heart: What’s love got to do with it?

Gut health: Twelve ways to nurture a healthy microbiome

Healing approaches

Homeopathy: The power of self-healing

nature red forest leaves
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

By Lisa Glydon, homeopath

Autumn is a time to be more mindful of our health as we prepare for the winter ahead. Because just as the leaves on the trees change colour so the cells within our bodies start to shed. This process is needed to enable renewal and ensure eternal balance at the cellular level.

Our body comprises trillions of cells that make up hair and bone, tissues, muscles and vital organs. All of them are constantly striving to keep us healthy, but thousands of old ones die off each day to make room for new ones to be created. It is how the body self-regulates and self-heals. But how we look after these cells is up to us.

Confused?

The body’s self-healing mechanism is somewhat mystifying, not least because different cultures and disciplines think about it in different ways.

In Chinese medicine, for example, the health of the “whole” system, which comprises body, mind and spirit, depends on the balance of Yin and the Yan – opposites that when brought together create wholeness. Qi, which sounds like ‘chi’ and means “vital energy”, flows through the body and takes the form of five natural elements: metal, wood, water, fire and water.

In Ayurvedic medicine, which is practised in the Indian subcontinent, an individual’s constitution consists of three basic types: Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which are also based on the elements of nature.

While these concepts may seem strange to our Western way of thinking, they are actually derived from disciplines that have withstood the test of thousands of years of practice.

In homeopathy, meanwhile, the idea of self-healing is based not so much on the balance of ‘elemental energies’, but on a patient’s individual energy – their vital force. Although it is not possible to see this vital force under a microscope, you can feel it within you when you are well. When you are not, it expresses itself via the symptoms and conditions you experience.

The subsequent ‘picture’ that a homeopath builds up of a patient is based not just on their symptoms, but also on the history of their ailment, the history of their health and a detailed description of what a ‘normal’ energy flow is for them when well.

Such observations make it possible to study how someone’s energy is expressing itself in terms of their spirit, emotions and physical body, what is causing it to become ‘stuck’ and where – because it is this ‘stuck’ energy that needs healing. It is, in fact, our body is crying out to make us listen so we can help the energy clear and allow it to flow again.

creek-forest-nature-68632 (1)

Unblocking stagnant energy

Sadly in the West though, we tend to see this expression of pain as simply an inconvenience and take drugs or other treatments to ‘suppress’ it. While doing so may help temporarily, because the body is always trying to heal itself, any problems will just express themselves elsewhere – and the symptoms may even be worse next time.

The aim of a homeopath, however, is to unblock this stagnant energy by using remedies that stimulate the body’s own means of healing itself – just as acupuncturists use needles to get it flowing again too.

This vital force is both the link, and the chain, between the physical and the subtle bodies of mind, emotions and spirit. It is programmed to work in harmony with the electrical impulses of our central nervous and endocrine systems and the glands that produce our hormones.

These hormones act like chemicals within the body, working as part of our biochemistry. If one hormone is out of balance, the others will be knocked out of balance too as they all need to work together to keep the ‘whole’ well. This harmonious teamwork maintains our equilibrium: A status quo of optimum health.

By way of contrast, allopathy (western medicine) focuses on biochemistry and the immune system as the key ways of maintaining health. The term ‘immune system’ is used to describe the lymphatic system, or waste disposal unit of the body (that is, the leucocytes and lymphocytes, which seek out and destroy invaders such as bacteria and viruses).

While the immune system is a critical element of dealing with dis-ease, it is also extremely limited in its scope. As a result, if it becomes the sole focus for healing, it becomes necessary to use treatment methods that do not rely on the body’s own resources to heal.

For instance, at this time of year, there is a big push for people to have flu vaccines, despite the fact that they contain many toxic ingredients and heavy metals. But such an approach is disrespectful to the body’s own self-healing abilities as it destroys and disrupts them – while making massive profits for the pharmaceutical companies at the same time.

A key problem here is that drugs and surgery only treat the symptoms that manifest in one part of the whole.

Yet many generations ago, the Greek philosopher Plato said: “The cure of the part should not be attempted without the treatment of the whole. No attempt should be made to cure the body without the soul. If the head and body are to be made healthy, you must begin by curing the mind for this is the greatest error of our day in the treatment of the human body, that the physicians first separate the soul from the body.”

The word ‘soul’ today may have religious connotations, but that should not distract us from the serious message in Plato’s words. It could be summarised thus: You cannot treat and cure the body without taking the emotions, mind and spirit into consideration.

women s white top and orange floral skirt
Photo by Samuel Silitonga on Pexels.com

What happens during the process of self-healing?

When a dis-ease or unpleasant symptom occurs, homeopaths observe it carefully to see how it feels and how it expresses itself within an individual. Such information is then used to help select a unique natural remedy for them. This remedy will stimulate their body’s vital force so that it can start to heal itself.

Very often the first response will be a discharge. Homeopaths love discharges as they are all about drainage, whether we are talking about mucus, smelly perspiration, skin rashes, a fever, bowel or appetite changes. Depending on what needs to be healed, emotional shifts may follow too. There are often tears or feelings of anger or sadness.

Discharges can be thoroughly messy, but they are always to an individual’s advantage – unless they are simply too profuse and weaken the system, in which case further support is needed. But ultimately whatever the body has to do to get better, it will do – and we, as practitioners, simply encourage that process to take place until things are back in balance again.

The incredible thing is that, even as the body produces these shifts – or healing responses – the individual always starts to feel better in themselves. They always say things like “I’ve got more energy” or “I can think more clearly” or “I’m feeling back to my old self again”.

It is as if the body has been lifted out of its fog and is eradicating all of the things – the shocks, the upsets, the toxicity, the drug side effects – that was holding it back. Here are some examples of how it works:

  • Headaches can be relieved by nosebleeds, having a bowel movement, urinating more or releasing pent-up emotions, especially tears or anger;
  • Cystitis may be healed by releasing anger – it is where the old expression ‘pissed off’ comes from. Holding back strong emotions can make our system more acidic, which attracts bacteria to the bladder;
  • Food poisoning can be cured when the body expunges the problem by means of vomiting and diarrhoea;
  • Most asthma/eczema sufferers indicate they can breath better if their eczema flares up and exudes matter as the skin, rather than the lungs, acts as a discharge point;
  • A fever will break following profuse sweating, copious urination or a mucus discharge.

If we were to try to ‘stop’ these natural processes, we would suppress the body’s own healing responses, which as we can see from the discharge situation, is often a powerful reaction. But doing so would push all of that powerful energy back into the body.

Suppression is not good news as it prevents the completion of drainage and contributes to a compromised vital force. But sadly it takes place all too often today when people take antibiotics, analgesics or steroids. As a result, we are seeing more chronic autoimmune diseases and conditions than ever before.

Nonetheless, once people discover their body’s own unique power to heal itself, they tend to become more empowered and aware of how it functions. They become more involved in their own health and less reliant on drugs and other treatments that may hinder their self-healing powers. In fact, they also frequently become less fearful and develop more confidence in their own abilities, even when things get rocky.

Because to truly understand health, we also have to understand the process of healing.

Lisa Glydon

Lisa Glydon has been a qualified homeopathic practitioner since 2007, but she also uses herbs, supplements and Bach/Bush Essences to boost the body’s systems and help remove emotional blockages. She initially trained as a State Registered Nurse in London, specialising in oncology and palliative care, but now treats clients of all ages and with all kinds of conditions. Lisa also runs workshops and provides talks to school children and adult groups about all aspects of healthcare.

OTHER ARTICLES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

Homeopathy: Awakening the vital force

Gut health: Twelve ways to nurture a healthy microbiome

How to benefit from natural remedies on your doorstep

 

Healing approaches

Gut health: Twelve ways to nurture a healthy microbiome

Microbes
Microbes

By Lisa Glydon, homeopath.

It is an exciting time to be a holistic health practitioner as information that the community has known about for a long time now is starting to hit the mainstream. For example, you can read about gut microbes in nearly every health and fitness magazine and they are talked about all over the TV and radio these days too.

But the idea of gut microbes and personal microbiomes is still a new and often confusing one for many people to grasp and so the aim here is to make this important aspect of day-to-day health more understandable.

The truth about bacteria

Orthodox medicine appears to take the view that bacteria, in all its forms, is harmful. As long ago as the mid-1800s, for example, Louis Pasteur, the famous French biologist, microbiologist and chemist, believed in the principles of ‘germ theory’. This theory posits that all disease comes from germs, viruses and/or bacteria. So in order to remain healthy, we must ‘fight’ them by killing them off within our bodies or avoid their influence by maintaining as sterile an environment around us as possible.

Using this concept as the basis, Pasteur developed vaccines to combat them – and this theory of medicine has been popular in the West ever since, leading over time to the formation of a multi-million pharmaceutical industry.

But interestingly, Pasteur admitted on his deathbed that he had been wrong about this theory all along. It was not the bacteria itself that was to be feared as it posed no threat to a healthy individual. It was only if their health was compromised that a bacterium could take hold.

This was, in fact, the view espoused by Pasteur’s bitter rival, the scientist Antoine Bechamp. He believed that it was the “terrain or soil” (an individual’s immune system and tissue quality) that was of the upmost importance. In his view, “the germ was nothing, but the terrain was everything”.

In his research, Bechamp noted that germs were everywhere, even within human beings, and that they were opportunistic in nature. Only when the tissue of the “host” (person) was “damaged or compromised” did they take hold and the symptoms of infection or disease manifested themselves.

To prevent illness, he understood the secret was not to kill off germs but to foster:

  • A good diet;
  • Hygiene;
  • A healthy lifestyle, which included having lots of fresh air, sleep and exercise.

Sadly though, Bechamp’s theory was mostly forgotten until recently in favour of Pasteur’s ideas, which led to the rise of the vaccinations, antibiotics and anti-microbials that are so important in Western medicine. So let’s explore the concept of the ‘microbiome’ a bit further.

Ecology
Ecology

Our body’s natural ecology

The term ‘microbiome’ means a ‘small habitat’. It is a ‘living ecology’ that starts in the first three years of life and is fully formed by a child’s fourth birthday.

Each microbiome is unique and the health of the system is based on culture, parentage and lifestyle. As a result, it makes sense to place more emphasis than is currently the case on pre-conceptual care to help support its healthy growth.

Unfortunately however, children born by Caesarean section are disadvantaged in that they do not have the opportunity to absorb essential microbes while travelling through the birth canal, which is lined with millions of them. Breast milk also contains prebiotics, which line the large intestine in the baby’s gut and provide its microbiome with the food required to develop and grow. If a child does not have access to these sources of goodness, the possible health consequences can be severe.

Hippocrates, the ‘founder of medicine’ and the greatest physician of all time, informed us as many as 2,000 years ago that “the gut is the source of all disease”. But it seems we have been slow to respond.

Instead of protecting it, we have replaced traditional farming methods with industrial approaches based on pesticides, which have depleted our soil reserves. We ingest heavy metals and too much sugar and use a range of techniques to extend the shelf life of food, all of which are toxic to our delicate digestive membrane and lead to gut putrification.

These practices have knocked our microbiome out of balance, which has resulted in many of the modern-day diseases we experience today. Just as we see our environment suffering, so our microbiomes are suffering too.

Tribal cultures have tended to benefit from healthier microbiomes – until they are introduced to modern ways of living and eating, that is, when obesity, addiction and chronic disease often develop rapidly.

Stress

Stress is a common cause of many diseases. The Vagus, or Gastric, nerve (as it used to be called) in our gut is crucial to its health. Meaning ‘the wanderer’, it is linked to a series of neuro-gastric nerves. Starting in the gut and moving upwards towards the brain, the Vagus nerve is stimulated by cortisol, a hormone produced by stress or worry.

Stress has a huge impact on our gut and brain microbiomes. The gut, which was often referred to in the old days as the ‘second brain’, manufactures 90% of our serotonin and dopamine, the hormones that makes us feel happy, as well as gaba, which makes us feel calm. The old phrase ‘gut reaction’ speaks to this connection between gut and brain. So, by nurturing our gut microbiome, we are also effectively nurturing our mental health, something that is becoming increasingly important in today’s frantic world.

Another expression, ‘our parents are the soil to the gut’, means that we inherit our microbiomes from our parents, but it is our choice of lifestyle that then takes over. As the Vagus nerve controls our heart rate, our microbiome can be damaged from an early age simply by the way we breathe.

Put another way, as the microbiome lives in symbiosis with the human body, gut health is key to maintaining positive health and a strong immune system as well as increasing our individual contentment levels.

As a homeopath, restoring and boosting the gut microbiome is crucial to treating anyone with a dis-ease. Even a simple infection or condition ending in an ‘itis’ signals lower than optimum gut bacteria as the body tries to deal with a localised inflammation. But by using homeopathic remedies, herbs and tonics and introducing dietary and lifestyle changes, the body can heal itself and regain its balance once more, leading to good health, energy and vitality.

Woman Standing By Waterfall With Her Hands Raised
Health and wellbeing

Top tips for creating a healthier microbiome

  1. Slow down in a general sense but particularly in relation to your breathing. Most of us breathe too quickly these days at roughly 12 beats per minute compared to 8-10 in the past. So use relaxing practices to calm and slow it down such as yoga, mindfulness, meditation and walks in the fresh air;
  2. ‘Rest and digest’ by eating in a more relaxed environment – your digestion slows when you are in a stressed state, which means you do not absorb nutrition as well;
  3. Chew your food rather than gulp it down;
  4. Ensure you get plenty of good quality sleep;
  5. Eat a diverse diet with lots of fruit and vegetables as they have fibre that feeds and encourages microbes. This is particularly true of prebiotic foods such as chicory, leeks, onions, raw garlic, Jerusalem artichokes and unripe bananas, which feed your microbiome;
  6. Treat yourself to fermented foods such as raw sauerkraut, kimchi or pure miso paste. Unpasteurised kefir also provides trillions of bacteria for the gut – although go easy to begin with, starting with one a day;
  7. Add organic cider vinegar, which has been linked to supporting gut bacteria, to salads, dressings or a small glass of warm water and lemon (or even honey or maple syrup);
  8. Remember that an apple a day really does keep the doctor away. Lightly stewed apple provides a readily available source of fibre in the form of pectin, which helps to feed the gut’s microbes;
  9. Increase your microbe numbers by taking a good probiotic supplement. But ask your health practitioner for advice as not all products on the market are necessarily recommended;
  10. Discuss with your health practitioner how to boost your digestive enzymes. They can help you break down foods if you have ‘gut issues’. Low levels, on the other hand, can contribute towards bloating, gas, constipation and the like;
  11. Use healthy oils such as avocado and coconut, organic butter or ghee as they all support the gut. Use cold-pressed oils for drizzling but not cooking as they do not perform well under high temperatures;
  12. Indulge in oily fish, which are a good source of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats – although most of us do not eat enough of them.

Lisa Glydon

Lisa Glydon has been a qualified homeopathic practitioner since 2007, but she also uses herbs, supplements and Bach/Bush Essences to boost the body’s systems and help remove emotional blockages. She initially trained as a State Registered Nurse in London, specialising in oncology and palliative care, but now treats clients of all ages and with all kinds of conditions. Lisa also runs workshops and provides talks to school children and adult groups about all aspects of health care.

OTHER ARTICLES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

Homeopathy: Awakening the life force

Kinesiology: The science of human movement

Counselling: Embarking on a journey of self-discovery

 

Healing approaches

Homeopathy: Awakening the vital force

Healing Herbs And Essential Oil In Bottle With Mortar - Homeopat

By Lisa Glydon, homeopath.

Even though homeopathy is becoming increasingly popular, it is a discipline that is often quite misunderstood. In fact, people often mix it up with aromatherapy, asking: “Oh, is that the use of oils, as in massage?

But homeopathy is, in fact, something very different. It is a truly ‘holistic’ form of natural medicine. Working on the principle that the body, mind and spirit are all connected, it treats the whole person, not just their physical symptoms

It also takes into account the unique physical and emotional characteristics of each patient as well as their state of mind and lifestyle, recognising the body has its own natural healing abilities and, given the right treatment, will always try to heal itself.

Possible treatment scenarios

To understand the difference between allopathy (conventional medicine) and homeopathy, it may help to share two possible treatment scenarios. A 45-year old man suffers from severe migraine headaches so:

  1. He goes to his doctor, who asks him:
  • How long have you had them and what have you taken to help?
  • Are they bilious or stress-related?
  • Do you have high blood pressure or have you suffered a head injury?
  • Do they affect your vision?

The doctor checks his blood pressure, offers dietary advice and prescribes various drugs.

  1. He goes to a homeopath who discusses his migraines in detail with him and discovers:
  • The pain comes on at 4pm each day;
  • It is in the centre of his forehead, his temples feel pressured and he feels a constant throbbing;
  • He feels light-headed and irritable and just wants to get home to eat in order to clear the giddiness and fatigue;
  • The migraines improve after eating but as he is tired and irritable, the man soon falls asleep in front of the TV;
  • The migraines began some months ago after he was given a promotion and more responsibility at work;
  • He does not feel confident in his new role and is trying to impress his new boss but is concerned he is not highly rated;
  • The man wants to support his son but is worried about how he will pay the university fees as money is tight and he is afraid of losing his job.

The homeopath knows that frontal forehead headaches usually suggest an issue with the liver and so he asks the man questions about his digestion, only to discover he experiences bloating, flatulence and tiredness especially after a meal, which he is embarrassed about.

By pulling together a three-dimensional picture of the patient’s situation and state of being, it is possible to prescribe a remedy called Lycopodium. This remedy helps to tone the liver, aids digestion and migraines, and is linked to under-confidence.

As a result of taking it, the man’s migraines improve dramatically and his digestion problems are resolved. He also grows in confidence, which enables him to cope more effectively with his new role and, in turn, with his money worries.

The point of this story is that homeopaths get to the heart of the matter by discovering the whole story. In this case, the patient was suffering from a crisis of confidence, which led to the development of a range of symptoms. A painkiller would not have addressed this underlying issue, but the homeopath found the root cause – which is always crucial to solving any case.

addiction alternative alternative medicine beads
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

How did homeopathy first come about?

Homeopathy was first discovered by Samuel Christian Hahneman. Although born to a poverty-stricken family, he was well-educated and studied chemistry and medicine, qualifying as a doctor in 1779. But while practising his profession, Hahneman protested about the harsh treatments given to patients at that time, especially bloodletting, purging and huge doses of medicine, which led to terrible side effects.

In order to support his large family, he eventually gave up medicine and, seeing as he spoke a number of languages, started translating old medical books on herbs. As a result, Hahneman came across an herb called ‘Cinchona calisaya’, which is today known as quinine. A Dr Cullen in Edinburgh had claimed the little flower was a good treatment for malaria, which was rife in Europe at the time.

So Hahneman experimented with the plant for several days, dosing himself up with quinine. Although he did not actually have malaria, he noticed that he developed all of the disease’s usual symptoms such as sweating, fever, delirium and weakness.

Fascinated, Hahneman repeated the tests, which he called “provings”, on others, using only “healthy people in body and mind”. But the outcome was the same. He then experimented with other substances, ranging from belladonna and arsenic to mercury, recording the symptoms produced in each individual.

Next Hahneman tested the results of his provings on “sick people”. Before doing so he questioned them thoroughly about their symptoms, general health, way of life and attitudes and he also physically examined them. As a result, he was able to build up a detailed “symptom picture”.

Using this picture, Hahneman then prescribed each patient with a substance whose drug picture related most closely to their symptoms, taking meticulous notes along the way. What he discovered was that the closer the match, the more successful the treatment. In other words, both the disease and the remedy produced the same symptoms and cancelled each other out.

It was the same principle that the Greek physician Hippocrates who lived in the 5th century BC had followed: Similia similibus curentur or ‘like may be cured by like’. He was the first person to consider that disease was the result of natural forces rather than divine influences. Hippocrates also believed that a patient’s own healing powers were essential in finding the right cure.

The Vital Force
The vital force

The vital force

Anyway, Hahneman continued with his experiments but noticed that some of his patients were developing severe reactions or “aggravations”, after taking a remedy. So as he believed medicine should be gentle in its healing action, he started diluting them.

Initially Hahneman made a tincture of the substance in question, leaving it to stand in a pure alcohol solvent for a month. He then strained off the “mother tincture’s” liquid, took one drop and added it to 99 drops of alcohol.

This dilution was rigorously banged or “succussed” to maximise its energy – and to Hahneman’s surprise, prevented any of the initial “aggravations” but instead acted more quickly, efficiently and effectively than before.

Unfortunately, Hahneman’s contemporaries poured scorn upon his claims that the merest trace of a diluted remedy was, paradoxically, more potent and produced stronger effects that a full-strength one. This scepticism remains in certain quarters to this day.

However, an extremely subtle reaction happens within the body, which is capable of moving it from sickness to health and vice versa. This reaction Hahneman called “the vital force”.

Homeopathy continued to grow in popularity during the 19th century, particularly due to its impact on treating malaria. This situation led to the founding of homeopathic hospitals throughout Europe, Asia and America, with France becoming a particularly important centre, which it remains to this day.

In fact, a 2004 survey of French pharmacists found that 94% regularly advised pregnant women to use homeopathic medicine, which are sold in all French pharmacies. Homeopathy is also taught in 21 of the country’s 24 pharmacy, midwifery, dental and veterinary schools.

Homeopathy today

Despite homeopathy’s popularity and acceptance in the UK, an active group of sceptics, some of whom allegedly receive funding from big pharmaceutical companies, sadly work vigorously to attack this kind of medicine. This is notwithstanding the fact that, unlike other approaches, this natural and gentle healing technique treats each person as an individual and can be used safely by everyone, from cradle to grave.

Lisa Glydon

Lisa Glydon has been a qualified homeopathic practitioner since 2007, but she also uses herbs, supplements and Bach/Bush Essences to boost the body’s systems and help remove emotional blockages. She initially trained as a State Registered Nurse in London, specialising in oncology and palliative care, but now treats clients of all ages and with all kinds of conditions. Lisa also runs workshops and provides talks to school children and adult groups about all aspects of health care.