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  • Homeopathy: The Difficulty in Self-Prescribing

    John T. Hannon, Homeopath
    Concentric Homeopathy
    Sebastopol, CA

    As a homeopath I have conflicting feelings about homeopathic remedies being sold as over the counter drugs in grocery stores, pharmacies, and apothecaries. A portion of me is glad that the remedies are visible and available to the public. I believe that the public should have access to anything that might make them healthier. The other portion of me is concerned that uninformed use of homeopathic medicine and other forms of alternative medicine, for that matter, is more detrimental to the healing arts, than we might realize.

    While western herbalism is reemerging and various Asian health practices are gaining in popularity, homeopathy can also benefit from the opening of the American mind to alternative medicine. It seems that alternatives are what this country needs to over come our health care crisis, but the marketing of these alternative treatments must be balanced with prudent application. Consumers should inform themselves about the risks of unguided use of alternative medicines and self-prescribing. Fortunately, of all the alternative medicines that could be safely, yet incorrectly prescribed, homeopathic remedies are among the safest.

    Since homeopathic remedies are completely non-toxic, the most common detriment of an incorrect prescription of a homeopathic remedy is simply the failure of the remedy to relieve the patient. This is unfortunate in two ways. First, the failure of relief means that the suffering of the patient continues. Second, the failure causes the patient to regard homeopathy as ineffective either for them as individuals or as a healing modality in general.

    It is curious, when given a choice of taking a remedy to no effect, or to uncomfortable side effect, most individuals would choose the former. However, in practice it seems that people would rather have some effect (even if it is negative) than no effect at all. This is a strange paradox to contend with, and it is the greatest challenge to homeopathy.

    So if you have tried self-prescribing homeopathic remedies for your ailments to no or to little success, before you give up on it consider the following regarding the way homeopathic treatment is prescribed effectively:


    In homeopathy a single symptom is not enough to base a prescription on:


    Homeopathy requires the understanding the totality of a patient’s unique and individual suffering in order to prescribe effectively. There is no specific, or even group of remedies that can be prescribed for headache. The only way that headache can be treated homeopathically is by understanding how a headache fits into the entire symptom picture of the patient. Over-the-counter homeopathic remedies, because of FDA law, require that there is a symptom printed on the packaging to guide the consumer regarding its use. Unfortunately, while this is a very appropriate law for most medicines, in the context of homeopathy this is very misleading to the public.

    In fact it sets up homeopathy to fail many consumers by both limiting the potential uses of the remedy and by oversimplifying the symptom. A headache, for instance, is a very personal experience. One person may experience a dull ache, another a stabbing or shooting pain. These subtle differences of headache point toward different remedies, including some that do not list headache on their label.

    An individual attempting to self-prescribe for a specific ailment is likely to miss many important symptoms and aspects of their health because they seem unrelated to their chief complaint. To a homeopath there are no unrelated symptoms. For instance; a craving for salt, a fear of being alone at night, and the headache a person suffers all point to the same origin. It is the excavation of the disease origin via exploration of these various symptoms that takes place during a homeopathic consultation and increases the likelihood of precise prescribing.


    Homeopathy works when prescribed with precision:


    The benefit of taking allopathic medicine for headache is that it suppresses the symptom for a high percentage of the population. The consumer and allopathic physician use this data to decide a course of action. In some ways this is sort of like betting half of your money on black and half your money on red during a game of roulette. The medicine, if taken according to specific guidelines insures good odds for some suppressive effect on the headache, and low odds for serious detrimental effects to the patient, but there is also little to no chance of curing the cause of the headache, for this the root cause must be treated.

    Homeopathy requires more precision because it is based on individualization instead of percentage. Headache is seen as an aspect of the totality of a patients suffering. The more precise an understanding of the patient’s suffering the more precise the prescription can be and the greater its efficacy. Not only does individualization lower the odds of detrimental effects on the patient, but there is also a greater potential for bennificial “side-effects.” Since the headache was not isolated but combined with the totality of symptoms the patient is more likely to feel relief in a number of different ways. Perhaps sleep improves and depression lifts as headaches become less frequent. This is one of the most appealing aspects of homeopathic treatment.


    A precise homeopathic prescription is more likely with professional assistance:


    There are plenty of books on the market that consumers can use to self-prescribe homeopathic remedies. In some cases these books can increase the odds of success, but still it is very difficult to see oneself as clearly and wholly as is necessary to prescribe correctly. Similarly to the way an acupuncturist observes a patient’s suffering and applies the needles in an appropriate pattern as learned through years of training and practice, the homeopath observes the patient’s suffering and applies the correct individualized remedy to stimulate the balancing of the patient’s vitality.

    I am all for openness and for access to all forms of alternative medicine. I encourage everyone to seek out the modality of healing to which they feel the most relief from. If you have had success with homeopathy, you know the value of this alternative healing modality. In fact, it was what I now call a lucky self-prescription that convinced me of the healing potential of homeopathy, so in the end, I encourage everybody to get to know homeopathy in anyway they feel comfortable, even if that means self-prescribing.

    John T. Hannon is a graduate of the California Center For Homeopathic Education’s class of 2011. The CCHE’s world-class program trains homeopaths in classical homeopathy with a concentration on developing the perceptive skills necessary to understand a patients suffering at every level of experience and a concise knowledge of the curative properties of homeopathic remedies. John also has experience with herbal medicine and shamanic healing practices. He is a certified aikido instructor and the owner of Shugyo Center, a co-operative martial arts and healing center in Sebastopol, CA.
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Amanda Bryant's Avatar
      Amanda Bryant -
      Thank you for the article. :-)
    1. thedrain's Avatar
      thedrain -
      Quote Amanda Bryant wrote: View Post
      Thank you for the article. :-)
      Your welcome, Amanda. I hope it helped!
      Be Well,
      John