An Introduction to Homeopathy
By Dr. Judith Boice

Modern homeopathic medicine is based on the rediscovery of an ancient principle, using like to treat like. Developed by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, a late 18th century physician, this form of medicine stimulates the body’s innate healing capacity to bring about a “cure.”
The science of homeopathy grew out of Hahnemann’s years of medical-text translations. Discouraged by the medical practices of his day, Hahnemann abandoned his medical practice and translated medical texts to support his large family. He also hoped to discover universal laws of healing that were more effective than the conventional medicine of his day, which relied on bleeding, blistering, herbs, sulfur and petroleum for its cures.
While translating Cullen’s Material Medica, Hahnemann noted Cullen’s explanation for why quinine effectively treated malaria. The author hypothesized that quinine treated malaria because of its astringent properties. To test this idea, Hahnemann took four drams (one-half ounce), or about 15 doses, of quinine every morning and evening. Within four days he developed the symptoms of malaria in his formerly healthy body. When Hahnemann stopped taking the quinine, the malaria symptoms resolved.
With this experiment, Hahnemann confirmed “the Law of Similars,” using like to treat like. In other words, a substance that produced symptoms in a healthy person can be used in dilute form to treat the same symptoms in an ailing person.
Hahnemann and his students tested many substances to discover their effects on a healthy person. They would take careful notes on all of the changes the remedy would produce, e.g., new physical symptoms, food cravings, sleep position, mood changes, sleep patterns, etc. These individual notes were compiled to create a composite picture of the effects of the remedy. If a symptom or physical change commonly occurred, this symptom was called a “keynote” for the remedy. These research studies of particular substances are called “provings,” e.g., proving the effect of a substance on a healthy body.
During his years of research, Hahnemann discovered another basic truth: The more dilute the medicine, the more potent its effect. His discovery ran contrary to the practices of his day, an era when doctors prescribed large doses of mercury, sulfur, coal oil and other toxic substances to produce violent, cathartic effects in the body.
Some researchers claim homeopathy is unscientific because it is not easily tested using the current double-blind, placebo-controlled study method of testing pharmaceutical medications. Although homeopathy’s reliance on careful observation is quintessentially scientific, homeopathic research does not fit neatly into our current scientific model. Homeopathic medicines are prescribed for a particular person, not the disease he or she is suffering with. I might have 10 patients with eczema, for example, and send them home with 10 different remedies. I would be prescribing a remedy for that particular person, based on their individual symptoms.

In contrast, the double-blind, placebo-controlled study would require me to give each person the same remedy. This method completely flies in the face of how homeopathic remedies are prescribed. The measuring tool is not effective for the object or method. Imagine, for example, testing the pitch of a musical note using a ruler. The testing device simply is not appropriate to the phenomenon being measured.

Dynamic Living Magazine Issue Vol. 1  Jan/Feb 2011 continue to page 2