Sure, you’ve probably heard of homeopathy. But perhaps—even if holistic remedies are a part of your everyday life—you don’t quite understand what it is. Exactly how homeopathy works retains an air of mystery, yet the alternative-treatment modality is widely used around the world (especially in Europe and India), has a growing body of scientific evidence that supports these remedies for various purposes and continues to gain popularity in the United States.
Here is a quick cheat sheet for understanding the facts and potential benefits of this alternative remedy.
1. Homeopathy is based on the idea of “like cures like.”
Developed by 18th-century German physician Samuel Hahnemann, homeopathy uses miniscule concentrations of natural plant, animal, or mineral substances to stimulate the body to heal itself. It triggers your body’s natural response to relieve symptoms, restore itself, and improve health, according to the National Center of Homeopathy.
Homeopathy is defined as microdosed remedies, often derived from natural substances, that work on the principle of “like cures like,” or the Law of Similars. In other words, substances that can cause symptoms in a healthy person cure the same or similar symptoms in an ill person, similar to how a flu shot works. Homeopathic remedies are aimed at treating the whole person and correcting imbalances that allow a problem to happen. For instance, a minute dose of coffee (Coffea cruda) may be given to remedy insomnia, or poison nut (Nux vomica) to relieve nausea. One thing to keep in mind is that this means sometimes symptoms will get worse as the body becomes aware of the remedy and works to correct itself.
2. There are no known side effects.
Homeopathic medicines are often derived from herbs, but the plant material gets altered during potenization, a process by which a substance—either herbal, mineral, or animal—gets consecutively diluted and vigorously shaken to bring out the medicinal properties. The more a substance goes through this process, the longer and more deeply the resulting medicine acts and the fewer doses you'll need to successfully treat an ailment. The original substance becomes so highly diluted, that homeopathic remedies contain only slight amounts of the original substances from which they are made—therefore, they have no known side effects and no interactions with other medications. This also means that many homeopathic remedies can be used as often as needed.
3. Those numbers and letters mean something.
When you look at the label on a homeopathic remedy, you’ll see numbers and letters following the Latin name, such as Nux vomica 6X. 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 a water and alcohol solution then 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). Lower potency (6X–30X) doses are best for home use, especially with acute, short-lived symptoms such as coughs, colds, dry eyes, earaches, and bruises. Higher potency doses are generally prescribed by homeopaths. They are believed to work at a deeper level and be more appropriate for general conditions such as chronic allergies, continued stress, and constant sleeplessness.
4. Delivery systems vary.
Homeopathic remedies come in a wide variety of forms, including pellets, tablets, liquid, ointments, sprays, and drops. With any type of delivery system, the remedy becomes systemic to alleviate symptoms, so the results are the same no matter the method you choose to use. For all types of products, it is important to remember that they should enter directly into the body to avoid contamination. When it comes to options for children, sprays, creams, and syrups can often be easier to use and the measurement is simple. Such deliveries also can make homeopathy more accessible to first-time users.
5. Choose a brand you trust.
As with any product you buy for yourself and your family, choosing a brand that you can trust for long-term health support is key.
About our sponsor:
Similasan Original Swiss Formulas are made with natural active ingredients and for over 30 years have been providing families with remedies they can trust. Its gentle remedies help provide natural temporary symptomatic relief from ailments of the eyes, ears, nose, head and chest. All products are made with the highest standard of ingredients in a state-of-the-art facility that has measured beyond the requirements of Good Manufacturing Practices. Available over-the-counter. Similasan products, like all homeopathic medicines, are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which requires that they meet certain requirement for quality, strength, and purity. The FDA also requires that product ingredients must be identified in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS).
Originating in Jonen, Switzerland in 1987, the Similasan brand became popular across Europe. Today, Similasan natural remedies are widely used and well-respected in North America. Their success is due to a commitment to provide relief of symptoms the natural way—by engaging the body's natural defenses to support the immune system. All of Similasan natural remedies contain high quality ingredients that help temporarily relieve symptoms. Similasan is a family doctor-recommended brand*.
* Based on a 2013 Similasan quantitative study of 202 primary care physicians and physicians who were open to homeopathic treatments (82% selection rate).