Despite the delisting that applied in 2021, homeopathy remains a well-established reflex in health practices in Europe: nearly one in two French people use it daily. Placed at the forefront of natural medicines, it is based on the idea that we can treat and prevent a pathology by administering to the patient diluted doses of the substance which triggers it. How exactly does this therapeutic solution work, what are its applications and its limits? Dr Antoine Demonceaux, homeopathic doctor and author, answers us.
What is homeopathy?
Homeopathy has its origins in the Greek word “homoios” which means “like” and “pathos” which means “disease”. Founded in 1796 by the German doctor Samuel Hahnemann (who gave his name to the CH dilution principle: Centesimal Hahnemannian), it consists of administering, in very low or infinitesimal doses, diluted substances (of plant, animal, mineral origin , chemical, etc.) likely to cause, at different concentrations, in healthy humans, manifestations similar to the symptoms presented by the patient. Objective: to stimulate the body’s defenses and activate its self-healing capacity, so that it is able to fight its illness itself.
This holistic medicine focuses on the individual as a whole: based on the principle that illnesses and symptoms are due to an imbalance in the body, homeopathic treatment is not content to simply treat the symptoms, but attempts to restore its initial balance.
The homeopathic doctor therefore chooses the appropriate treatment after carefully listening to the patient’s symptoms and feelings, and determining his profile or “terrain”. A general treatment, applicable to everyone, does not exist in homeopathy: two patients presenting the same symptoms will not necessarily have the same homeopathic treatment, quite simply because they do not have the same “field”.
“Homeopathy is not a medicine, but a therapy, which consists of helping the body to heal when the disease is reversible (that is to say it applies to all benign pathologies of everyday life ). It rebalances the body in depth. On the other hand, it does not constitute a direct treatment for pathologies as serious as cancer or myocardial infarction for example. In these cases, it is rather a complementary treatment, which comes improve quality of life and relieve all side effects linked to the treatment of these diseases”summarizes Dr Antoine Demonceaux, homeopathic doctor and psychoanalyst, coordinator of the DIU of Homeopathic Therapeutics (Universities of Reims and Marseille) and author of the Guide to family homeopathy (ed. Mango).
Practiced all over the world (by doctors and other health professionals), this alternative medicine is today used by nearly 200 million individuals around the world. In Europe, it has been officially recognized in Europe since 1965, when it appeared in the French Pharmacopoeia. Popular with the French (more than 79% of whom use it*), homeopathy has nevertheless been subject to delisting since January 1, 2021; the High Authority of Health (HAS) having in fact concluded that there is no proven effectiveness.
What are its principles?
Homeopathy is based on three fundamental principles:
- The principle of similarity : established by Samuel Hahnemann from experimental and clinical observations, it establishes that a substance which can make one sick in large doses can also cure if administered in small quantities;
- The principle of infinitesimal dilution : the remedies are prepared from successive dilutions of the active substance called “strain” and designated by its Latin name (example: Arnica montana, Mercurius dulcis, Nux vomica, Allium cepa, etc.). This dilution is essential since it allows, while maintaining an effective action, to guarantee the safety of the homeopathic medicine;
- The principle of individualization (or overall): homeopathy starts from the principle that each individual is different and therefore reacts differently to a substance, depending on their constitution. The whole challenge of this therapy is therefore to take into account the sick individual and his particularities, and not the disease itself and its symptoms.
More simply, for homeopathic treatment to work, three principles must be met:
- The lesion must be reversible. “That is to say that the symptoms encountered must be functional”specifies the specialist.
- The homeopathic medicine must be adapted to the patient. “Depending on the person’s history, their medical history, their diet, their sleep, their emotions, we can define a “field” and therefore prescribe a homeopathic treatment that corresponds to them, and to them alone. “.
- The patient must be able to react. “On the elderly, more fragile people, and poly-toxic people (due to tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, psychotropic drugs, etc.), it works less well because the body is weakened and its capacity to react is smaller. Conversely, homeopathy proves very effective on children’s organisms.
In its principles, homeopathy is opposed to allopathy, or classical medicine, which is based on opposites. Thus: homeopathy will tend to treat fever with sweating with belladonna (a plant whose fruits ingestion in their natural state causes symptoms similar to those of fever), to stimulate the body’s defense capabilities. body. “Armed with this information, the body mobilizes its capacity to produce anti-inflammatory substances itself., specifies the homeopathic doctor. Whereas classical medicine will instead choose to apply a substance whose property is to lower the temperature, for example paracetamol. “In this case, the patient is given an anti-inflammatory medication: that is, we block the body’s natural reactions to inflammation to try to suppress a symptom.
How do the different homeopathic dilutions work?
Homeopathic treatments are made from a dilution of the active substances of medicines, so as to obtain a concentration of this substance lower than the original one. The active substance has the same characteristics as the disease against which it will fight, but it is reduced in homeopathic treatment: the body can thus confront it and fight it more easily.
To produce a homeopathic medicine from an active substance, this strain is diluted in 99 times its volume of liquid (alcohol at 30°C for example) or powder (sucrose/lactose mixture for example). The dilution obtained is called 1 CH. By repeating the operation, we obtain a dilution of 2 CH and so on. “Dilution is used to reduce the toxicity of the substance”, specifies Dr Antoine Demonceaux. “Furthermore, the more sensitive the person is and develops symptoms, the more it is beneficial to use a high dilution.”
The homeopathic dilution thus goes up to 30CH. Depending on the type of symptoms encountered and the person’s condition, the homeopathic doctor will prescribe different dilutions.
- Low dilutions (4 or 5 CH) are used to treat local symptoms (eg: Arnica for minor localized shock);
- Medium dilutions (7 – 9 CH) are administered in the event of general symptoms (eg: Arnica for shock with a small general trauma such as an ordinary fall);
- As for high dilutions (15 CH – 30 CH), they are rather reserved for chronic, long-standing symptoms, as well as psychological disorders. (e.g. Arnica following brutal emotional trauma with exhaustion, sleep problems and feelings of aches)
What are the different types of homeopathic medicines?
Most of the time, homeopathic remedies come in the form of granules soaked in the diluted solution, to melt under the tongue. These are of plant (70%), animal (20%), mineral or chemical (10%) origin.
There are also “homeopathic specialties” developed by pharmaceutical laboratories specializing in homeopathy: these specific preparations, which often combine several active ingredients, are accompanied by instructions and intended for a specific use (preparation to treat sinusitis, syrup for cough etc.). “This given indication facilitates self-medicationobserves the homeopathic doctor. But if you are very sensitive, these low dilution preparations may not be effective enough. They do not replace a consultation and personalized treatment.
What are the benefits of homeopathy and what can it cure?
Homeopathy has an interest in all acute pathologies such as: colds, sinusitis, flu, fever, diarrhea, bumps and bumps, dental pain, headaches and migraines. “In reality, it takes care of practically all the common pathologies found in general medicine.”
But also on various chronic pathologies such as: ENT infections, allergies, eczema, rheumatism, sleep disorders, disorders linked to the menstrual cycle or menopause (hot flashes in particular), gastroesophageal reflux , osteoarthritis, asthma, fibromyalgia…
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