Nine Things I Wish My Patients Knew About Homeopathy

Homeopathy (ho-me-op-a-thy) is an individualized system of medicine that I use frequently with patients due to its efficacy, low-cost, and lack of drug interactions or side effects. Even though this medicine has been around long before penicillin, and was actually quite popular among doctors in the early 1900s, it is so different from our current conventional approach, that I often find patients confused about some key differences with receiving homeopathic care.  Dr. Timothy Dooley wrote a wonderful book explaining homeopathy but in our modern world of information overload, no one seems to have time to read a book anymore.

DSC_0080 copySo let’s briefly answer the most frequent questions that people have surrounding homeopathy in the time it would take you to make a cup of tea.

  1. You cannot overdose on homeopathic medication.  Unlike conventional drugs,  accidentally ingesting half a vial of homeopathic pellets will not cause an overdose.  Yes, you may have symptoms from taking a remedy but no one has died or ended up in the hospital from taking too much of a homeopathic medication.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for conventional pharmaceuticals.  In fact, prescription drugs account for 128,000 deaths in the US each year.¹  The safety of using homeopathy is one of the reasons it’s a top tool in my natural toolkit.
  2. I cannot control what gets better first.  With any natural treatments, we’re supporting your body in healing itself so your body decides what it wants to heal first.  While it’d be great if your 20 years of headaches resolved first, your body might decide to deal with the 6 month bout of ringing in your ears first.  That being said, we generally see improvement in you as a whole person, so most symptoms will show some signs of improvement.  As much as I’d love to be prophetic and tell you exactly how your body will heal, I unfortunately have no control over that.
  3. More isn’t better.  No, you cannot speed up the healing process by taking more of the remedy. Similar to number two, since your body is doing the healing, your body decides not only what gets better first but also the pace at which it heals. Just like constantly hitting an elevator button won’t make the elevator arrive any faster, the remedy is just stimulating that internal healing process so taking more  won’t speed things up.
  4. It’s ok if you don’t take it exactly as prescribed.  If you miss a dose, it’s not the end of the world.  It’s not like birth control, where a certain amount has to remain circulating in your blood stream for it to work.  Again, broken record here but it’s your body doing the healing so missing a dose won’t greatly detour your body on it’s healing path.
  5. I want to hear your stories.  Since homeopathy is individualized medicine, it’s not helpful for you to tell me that you have anxiety.  There are hundreds of remedies that I can prescribe for anxiety so I need to understand  what anxiety is like for you.  Tell me a story about what situations cause you get anxiety, what make your symptoms worse, and what your anxiety feels like physically and mentally.  I want to hear about how your anxiety started soon after you and your significant other broke up and that any time you’re out in the open air, your anxiety is better and it feels like a tightness around your ribcage.  Walk me through what you experience so we can find the best individualized remedy that covers you as a whole person.
  6. Don’t be afraid to tell me something you wouldn’t tell your regular doctor.  Related to number five, with hundreds and hundreds of remedies to choose from, sometimes the symptoms for those remedies are vast, diverse, and sometimes just strange.  So would you tell your normal primary care provider that during your anxiety you get really cold and crave ice cream or any time you walk over a bridge you get this strong urge to jump off? Probably not.  But you better tell your homeopathic doctor because sometimes those symptoms are key in finding the best remedy for you in that moment.
  7. You will not be on the same remedy indefinitely.  Unlike the conventional pharmaceutical approach, remedies are not managing symptoms, they are healing them, so your symptom picture can change over time. The easiest way to explain this is that treating someone with homeopathy is like peeling back the layers of an onion.  The first layer you come in for might be for eczema that just started a few months ago, for which we’d start with X remedy.  Since homeopathy is holistic and treats you as an entire individual, your insomnia and anxiety may show some improvement as well.  Once the eczema onion layer has cleared up, now your biggest issue is the anxiety, which is contributing to your insomnia.  This new onion layer may require a completely different remedy.   If you’ve had chronic disease(s) for years, you may go through several remedies over the course of your treatment.  With homeopathy, it’s not effective to refill your prescription every 6 months because we need to make sure the remedy you’re on is helping to peel back that outermost onion layer.
  8. We are always looking for improvement. Unlike pharmaceuticals that manage symptoms, we are always looking for some level of improvement while on a homeopathic remedy.  I say “some level” because again, as discussed in number three, I cannot control the pace of healing so sometimes we see massive improvements in your health and other times we get baby steps.  As long as we’re moving up the hill towards better health, we’re on the right track.  If your improvement starts to plateau or backslides, it means that we either need to change the strength of the remedy or as in number seven, prescribe a different remedy all-together.
  9. It’s ok if you don’t understand how it works.  Do you understand how aspirin works?  Probably not.  Does it help with your head pain? Absolutely. Contrary to what you might see in slanderous editorials on the internet, homeopathy is not due to a placebo effect so it works whether you think it will or not. For example, during my very first experience with homeopathy for a migraine, all I could think about after I took it was how it wouldn’t work and why did I even bother taking this silly pellets.  But guess what?  My normally debilitating migraine that required large doses of Imitrex to keep at bay, went away completely within a few hours.  After one dose of a homeopathic remedy.

I’ve seen some AMAZING things happen thanks homeopathy and am so grateful that we have safe and effective tools like this in our naturopathic toolbox.  What has your experience been with homeopathy?

Stay radiant,

Dr. Russell




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