What is Homeopathy and How Does it Work?
Homeopathy is a Harvard Medical School and Mayo Clinic approved therapeutic system of medicine, that states that the healing processes within a person can be best activated through the introductions of micro-stimulants, restoring the organism to optimum health and performance.
Homeopathists universally believe that holistic stimulation the bodies' energy and restorative systems offers the individual a "whole system healing process" as opposed to an incident driven -- chemical, radiological or surgical interventions.
Though the "mechanism of activity" or "How" of how Homeopathy works is as yet unclear -- several compelling theories are presented by the American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists (AAHP). In their continuing education program, the course "An Introduction to Modern Concepts of Homeopathic Pharmacy3 presents the following "possible mechanisms of action" of homeopathic drugs: ... Hormesis
Edward J. Calabrese, Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst has written extensively on this subject in conventional medical journals.
The hormesis hypothesis states that "most, if not all, chemical and physical agents, such as radiation, and magnetic therapy -- have the capacity to stimulate biological effects" at low level doses".1 This concept is validated by the Arndt-Schulz Law of Pharmacology which essentially says the same thing and is often used to explain the beneficial effects of micro doses of potentially toxic substances that are often used in homeopathy.
This may explain the effects of homeopathic drugs well beyond Avogadro's number (12C or 24X). This concept is also being researched with modern analytical procedures but there is much unknown about something so apparently simple as water. Other possible mechanisms of action
The human body is wonderfully adaptive and is constantly maintaining its equilibrium and harmony. This process of adjustment is continuous. For example, on a hot day we sweat and in the cold we shiver.
These simple examples are good illustrations of the constant adjustments being made due to the environment or specific stimuli.
The endocrine and nervous systems are involved in mediating these adjustments, though all of the body's systems are involved in a complex process designed to maintain homeostatic equilibrium.
When the stimuli is weak, the body's response is modest; the resulting changes are minimal and may go unnoticed. When the stimuli is great, then the body's response must be equally strong or the body will be overwhelmed and the changes which occur to our body can be equally dramatic.
These adjustments are the "signs or symptoms." We may not think of perspiration as a "sign", but it is the body's response to mild heating and the main mechanism of cooling itself. When we fall and bruise ourselves, the discoloration and tenderness are signs of the healing processes on damaged tissues. Inflammation occurs, damaged cells collect, the lymphatic system and lymphocytes mobilize to phagocytize dead cells and debris and remove it from the area.
In the case of a viral infection, the same process of inflammation occurs, the immune system is activated, antibodies are formed and systems develop. The symptoms may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, headache, body aches. All of these symptoms represent the body's efforts to overcome and eliminate the viral infection. Many of the concentrations used in homeopathic drugs may at first glance seem to be so minor, so dilute as to have no possible physiological effect. But it is important to put these concentrations in perspective by comparing them with the normal concentrations at work in our bodies.
Our body typically deals with ion concentrations in lymphatic fluid and serum of 10-3 g/ml.
Hormone concentrations range from 10-6 to 10-18 g/ml depending upon the hormone and the tissue where it is being measured.
From this it is apparent that most of the lower homeopathic potencies correspond with the natural physiological concentrations found in the body. Higher homeopathic potencies, which correspond to extremely low concentrations, utilize mechanisms for their actions that are not understood. Should I be concerned that the "mechanism of activity" is unknown?
Not in the least! The "mechanism of activity" for most drugs, both prescription and non-prescription as well as radiation, and magnetic therapies are not known either.
Pharmaceutical companies produce and sell drugs and doctors prescribe those same drugs all based on anecdotal evidence (observable change) rather than a comprehension of how the drug works on the organism. Here's how the development of most drugs works: A paleo-botanist or chemist discovers an herb or mineral that has some efficacy with regard to a particular illness. They drug company analyzes the herb or mineral which yields its chemical secrets. Further research discovers which chemical compounds have an effect (speed up, slow down, stop, alter) the course of illness or effect on a particular organ or organism.
In the testing process they also discover -- kind of a "serendipity effect" thing -- that one or several compounds generated are also efficacious for other applications like growing hair, killing bacteria, reducing fever, etc. etc.
Taking this "anecdotal evidence", this "observable information" of how the drug appears to work on any given organism they pursue licensing through the FDA and bring forth a new drug -- not based on what they know about how it actually works in the body, the cell or against some bug or bacteria -- but only what it does symptomatically in an observational way. It's the same with Homeopathy.
Homeopathists research and discover chemical and herbal compounds that seem to have an efficacious effect on a particular illness. Like the paleo-botanist or chemist, they analyze, test and re-test homeopathic "remedies" (drugs) until they find the most efficacious combinations. They then submit them to FDA approval and production through approved pharmaceutical laboratories.
In parting, you'll be delighted to know that hundreds-of-thousands of MD's and D.O.'s around the world (including over one-hunded thousand in the U.S.) recommend and prescribe homeopathic remedies to hundreds of millions of patients.
Why even Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic -- both recognized as among the medical institutions in the world recognize and approve of homeopathy as complimentary therapies. References
1. Developing insights on the nature of the dose-response relationship in the low dose zone: Hormesis as a biological hypothesis, Biomedical Therapy. 1998; 3: pp. 235-240.
2. The plausibility of homeopathy: The systemic memory mechanism, Integrative Medicine. 1998; 1: pp. 53-59.
3. Possible mechanisms of action for homeopathic medicines, Introduction to Modern Concepts of Homeopathic Pharmacy. 1999; pp.23-24.
4. Physiological and physical results of the effects of diluted entities, 1923-1959. Abstracted as: A Physiological Proof of the Activity of Smallest Entities, Spring Valley, Mercury 11, Journal of the Anthroposophical Therapy and Hygiene Association. 1991.