The "father" of homoeopathy was a german pharmacist called Samuel Hahnemann who lived in the 18th century. Hahnemann was a very learned person and earned his living not only by tutoring but by translating medical books from f.e. greek or latin. You might know that the state of medicine at that time was not good – blood letting, mercury administrations, purgings – many people died from treatments and not from the disease. Hahnemann himself (he had medical training) refused to practice medicine that would be so harsh on the patient.
Nobody exactly knows what drove him to his conclusions, but certainly his medical knowlegde, access to medical books from all over the world and also from ancient times (paracelsus and others) and him beeing a freemason certainly all played a role. Hahnemann himself stated that he got his first inkling while translating a text about the use of Jesuit's bark against malaria and the author claiming that this would come because the jesuit's bark would affect the digesting system of the patient. Well, that is so, I have a sensitivity against Jesuit's bark (included in bitter lemon) that will make my bowels grip. But Hahnemann didn't see any connections to the symptoms that malaria produces and he decided to do a trial on himself with Jesuit's bark. He repeatedly (because he wanted to be sure) experience on himself, that jesuit's bark taken by a healthy person in large quantities would induce the same symptoms (fever, shivering) that a person infected with malaria would show.
Laws and manufacturing of remedies:
This experience is the basic of the first of the homoeopathic principles "Similia similibus curentur – Let like by cured by like", meaning that a remedy that will produce similar (not exactly the same – that would be isopathic) symptoms in a healthy person will heal the same symptoms when they are apparent in a sick person.
Nobody knows until today what drove Hahnemann to the next important basic of homoeopathy: potency rule. To potentize a remedy does not mean to simply dilute it. The process is in detail:
chose a remedy
mix one part of the remedy with 99 parts of lactose if it is a solid remedy that can be processed without further mechanical or chemical intervention. Most plant parts, certain minerals or trace elements.
put all in a mortar and work the mixture (rubbing) it for an hour, alternate between rubbing it between mortar and pestle and stirring it inside the mortar (to get the mixture away from the mortar walls. Each potency has to be rubbed/stirred for 1 hour.
you now have a potency called 1M
To get a 2M, you take 1 part of the 1M and 99 parts of lactose,put it into the mortar, rubbing and mixing for one hour.
Repeat this process one more time, to get a 3M (maybe even a 4M) and then switch to the dilution method (cave: this DOESN'T mean dilution in the common sense of the word).
used for remedies that can be solved in alcohol or distilled water and for making the higher potencies above the 3M (or 4m)
keep up the mixing of 1 part remedy with 99 parts of carrier medium.
To make a homoeopathic dilution take the well closed bottle and thump it (not only shake it) onto a hard but elastic surface. Hahnemann used the spine of a book for that. Thump 100 times for every potency.
As you can see, with either process a lot of kinetic energy and in the case of hand-made potencies also intent will be transferred to the remedy. Therefore making the higher potencies the more powerful.
There are two other differences between homoeopathic "lines": the Korsakow-potencies and the Hahnemann potencies.
As you can already imagine, making a f.e. 30M or even 100 or 200M would require a lot of bottles if you would switch bottles after every potency step, as Hahnemann did and as is required by German pharmaceutic law.
A russian homoeopath named Korsakow invented another way to make higher potencies by using only one bottle, taking only the needed one part of the lower potency, pouring out the remaining fluid and refilling the bottle with alcohol.
The difference between these two systems, aside from a cost factor is, that with the Hahnemann method you have one clearly defined potency at every step of the process (and can therefore use the lower potencies if you need them) and will now exactly what potency caused which reaction in the patient.
With the Korsakow method trace amounts of the previous in that bottle made potencies will remain, f.e. alongside the bottle walls or at the bottom and will be incorporated in every next step towards a higher potencies. Several homoeopaths say, that Korsakow potencies therefore act gentler allbeit somewhat less precise.
Many critics of homoeopathy make this their main point on content, calling potentizing diluting.
Yes, starting with the 12M there is not a single molekule of the basic remedy to be found in the lactose (or alcohol for that matter) but potentizing is don to passe the healing information of the remedy to the carrier medium. This has been proven by kirlian fotography and other methods. Quantum physics also explains it.
I've once listened to a great explanation why homoeopathic remedies (and any other remedies that work on a energetic/spiritual level) will work despite the fact that modern science can't detect any molekular ingredients:
"Take a book, open it and read it. The information on the paper will vary from book to book, topic to topic, page to page.
Take this book, burn it and analyse the ashes. Will you be able to find in the contents of the ash the information that the book contained?
Well, knowing what I do now I would say, that a fair amount of magic is involved, especially in the old style making when you work each potency step by hand. Modern homoeopathic remedies are machine made and several homoeopaths claim, less effective than hand-made remedies.
The higher the potency, the more forceful the healing information is because of the stored – kinetic, maybe magical – energy.
Application of the remedy:
The next base is that you don't give a remedy with a fixed schedule like daily 3 times or in standardised quantities. You give ONE dose of the remedy and wait what happens. If the patient reports a reaction to the good (I'll write about how to determine that later), you wait. Wait, wait, wait until the healing reaction has ceased to work.
In Hahnemann's times one dose would be ONE globuli, these are standardized, small globules made from lactose. Hahnemann would take the base globuli, spread them on a sheat of paper and transfer the chosen fluid homoeopathic remedy so that every globuli would moistened. Again, modern methods have changed that, the globulies are now moving in a large container, blown around by air while from the top of the container the fluid remedy is dripping. With this method there can be globulis that haven't been touch by the remedy therefore the modern practice would be to give 3-5 globulis as one dose.
After giving the remedy, you wait. Wait, wait, wait. Have the patient report back if there a changes in symptoms and evaluate the changes according to the rules of healing I will explain later. Wait until the changes, the healing reaction have ceased.
Not before then you repeat the remedy (this can in some cases take weeks). There are exceptions to the rule but this is the basic idea.
These points are be the first for you to determine if a practitioner works "classical" or modern homoeopathy:
– Simile-rule: he/she will find a remedy that will fit your symptoms in their entirety. Body, mind, soul, day of time, time of month, what makes it better, what aggravates it. The practitioner will spend 1-2 hours with taking your history alone and then consult his tools, called repertories (large volumes of reported symptoms and the corresponding remedies) to find the remedy that fits YOU the most. There are no remedies for illnesses, like you take antibiotics for inflammation or pain killer for headaches, only remedies for people with a certain picture of symptoms.
– Potency-rule: this is a bone on contest even between homoeopaths but a classical trained practitioner will more likely prescribe/administer a high potency of the M-variety or start with a low potency of the Q-variety. Q-potencies are made 1 part remedy, 49.999 thousand parts of carrier medium and are the gentlest potencies. Many practitioners don't use them (at least in Germany) because Hahnemann developed them shortly before he died and the notes and lectures he wrote about them have been kept from the public by his late wife and have only resurfaces about 70 years ago. So several generations of homoeopaths have been trained to use M-potencies (which are effective but harsher) and this influences homoeopathic training still.
– give one dose and wait: a classic practitioner will give you one dose of the remedy and tell you to wait and to report back to him as soon as you note changes. Unless he prescribes a Q-potency which can be given/taken more often (even daily).
A non classical educated homoeopath (or maybe a physician that has had some some homoeopathic training but still thinks within in mind set of "illness = remedy" will tend to prescribe what we in Germany call "Komplexmittel". These are remedies, all be they homoeopathic in the making by potentizing them, that are mixed together because they share an effect on a certain set of symptoms, like headaches. There are literally hundreds of remedies that will show the symptom "headache" but with variations: front of the head, side of the head, back of the head, left side, right side, gripping, drilling, ripping, clenching pain. Better in darkness, better with a warm wrapping around the head, better when dipping the head in cold water,…..- I think you get the idea.
A "Komplexmittel" combines many of these remedies and then gets labelled "against headaches". There are certain successes that can be made with Komplexmittel but they are frowned upon by classic homoeopaths because they have such a wide complex of remedies in them that one can't determine which remedy was the one that did the healing work. And, what often is the case in chronic illnesses, when the first (or second) remedy has stopped to work, one can't work from the previous prescriptions when a Komplexmittel was used. If you use single remedies, you can single out what remedy hasn't worked or which symptoms haven't been cured and choose the follow-up remedy from this knowledge.
Or he/she may look at you and label your illness: cramps and then choose a single remedy out of restricted set of remedies that he/she works with and that are often so-called polychrests. These are remedies that have such a large set of symptoms that they will fit within their main parameters many, many people "loosely". You could describe them like a big potatoe sack. This will cover you and maybe even keep you warm but it's not tailored. A polychrest may eliviate some of your symptoms but not the entirety.
How to determine if healing has begun?
There was a great homoeopath called Hering who formulated the following rule:
Healing will begin from the inside to the outside, from head to foot and in the reversed order of their appearance in the patient.
– from inside to outside: according to Hahnemann, illness will start on the outside (the skin) and, if not treated for healing but only for suppression, will move farther inside the body. A classical case would be a baby with a diaper rash, that develops asthma after the diaper rash has been "cured" with cortisone creme. Hahnemann saw more cases of this simple suppressions in his day than we are seeing today because many chronicly ill people have now a history (and family history) of suppressing symptoms with allopathic remedies. Healing will take the internal symptoms and bring them back to the outside of the body (often in form of a rash) and then back to health.
– from head to foot: the life force will try to keep away symptoms from the vital parts of living being for as long as possible. This rule corresponds with the first one. A rash or a arthritic ankle joint aren't life threatining. A heart failure is. Mental diseases or mental incapacitations will affect your life greatly. So often the first sign of a healing process is when your mind set, your mood, certain ideas or quirks that you have will get better, lighter.
– reversed order of appearance: healing will work on the latest symptoms first (like working up a list from the bottom to the top) and stop at the oldest symptoms last. There are many cases in which people reported the re-appearance of a cough, a cold, a rash, another illness that has taken place years ago and often has been the onset (after suppression) of the latest symptoms resp. the problems why they have sought homoeopathic treatment. These re-appearances often take only days and are much less severe than the original sickness (more like a memory) but can develop to be very uncomfortable in some cases.
This re-appearing of symptoms and/or the aggravation of actual symptoms (called initial worsening) have long been thought as THE most important sign that healing has actually begun. Especially the initial worsening was something that many homoeopaths would look and wait for to see if their choice of remedy was correct. It wasn't until some years ago that it was discoverd/re-discovered that a harsh initial worsening is caused by the harsh energy of the M-potencies and can mostly be avoided by using the gentler Q-potencies.
When you start to look deaper into the theory behind homoeopathy and especially when you start to read Hahnemann's book you will find a great deal of "sticking to detail" and "bashing". Don't let either deter you from learning more.
During Hahnemann's time medicine wasn't a gentle thing (and most definetively still isn't). Hahnemann himself had lost family members to regular treatments of his time and was in the strongest way opposed against the crude ways of his collegues. I think that he faced a great deal of oppositon for his ideas because they were so outlandish (and still are for so many people). Hahneman himself wasn't an easy character, proud and sometimes hot-tempered and he wouldn't sugarcoat a harsh truth for getting more acceptance.
His commanding that one should stick to the rules of healing and therefore strong detail-orientation stems from the fact that most physicians in his time would make their own remedies or pharmacists would use the most ridiculous and dangerous substances in remedies. The use of quicksilver to "cure" venereal diseases was wide-spread and surely killed many people. He tried not only to establish a new form of healing but a new code of conduct among physicians.
Extract from Hahnemann's Organon Of Medicine
The highest ideal of cure is rapid, gentle and permanent restoration of the health, or removal and annihilation of the disease in its whole extent, in the shortest, most reliable, and most harmless way, on easily comprehensible principles.
As his theories spread there were off course people who copied his work but did that sloppy and therefore didn't get the results he claimed to get. He received a lot of bashing from these people and I believe that was one of the reasons he would write in such a strict, no-nonsense manner in his later works.
This makes homoeopathy a somewhat contradictive therapy. On the one side there are Hahnemanns rules to be followed almost to the letter. But many homoeopaths have found that after several hundred years these rules still apply and will grant results and any short-cut taken will only result in not bringing on complete healing.
On the other hand there's the complete individulisation of the therapy. Starting from chosing the remedy, next the potency and at last the intervals in which to repeat the remedy. All these things will in every case be determined by the patient and the presented symptoms and his/her reaction to the first dose.