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An Introduction to
Classical Homeopathic Medicine

In this practice, Rachelle. S. Bradley, ND specializes in homeopathy (pronounced: ho"me-opíah-the) and often uses nutritional and herbal supplementation to augment the deep healing action of the correct homeopathic remedy. Contrary to some peopleís impressions, homeopathy is not a generic term for holistic, alternative or natural medicine. And homeopathic remedies have no similarity to herbal or nutritional supplements - homeopathy is a distinctly different system of healing with its own rules of application and its own specially prepared natural medicines.

In addition, many people mix-up the terms "naturopathy" and "homeopathy." Dr. Bradley is both a naturopath and a homeopath. This is because of training as a naturopathic physician and a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine (N.D.). Dr. Bradley also has board certification in homeopathy by the Council for Homeopathic Certification (CCH).

As a naturopathic physician, Dr. Bradley went through a pre-medical undergraduate education and then four years of graduate-level, in-residence medical training at an accredited naturopathic medical college. This training included the full spectrum of conventional basic and clinical medical sciences. But more importantly, it included training in the many natural therapies such as nutrition, herbal medicine, counseling, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, manipulation, physical medicine and acupuncture. Therefore, homeopathy is one of many types of natural therapy a naturopath may use to help someone recover their health. In addition to the basic training in homeopathy that all naturopathic medical students receive, Dr Bradley specialized in homeopathy and did the residency in homeopathy, and thus, is a naturopath who specializes in homeopathy.

Any type of health care practitioner that specialized in homeopathy would also be called a homeopath (i.e. a M.D., D.O., D.C., P.A., R.N., etc.). However, they could not also be a naturopath unless they had also graduated from a naturopathic medical college. In addition, in some communities there are also "lay" homeopaths. These are people who practice homeopathy but do not have training in one of the various recognized medical professions. A lay homeopath could also be called a "professional homeopath" if they had taken extensive training in homeopathic medicine from a serious training program.

Homeopathy is not new or "new age." The medical physician and chemist Samuel Hahnemann discovered it over 200 years ago. This was during the "heroic" age of medicine, in which the heroism was entirely on the part of the patient. The sick were bled, blistered, and purged with toxic doses of mercury and other dangerous minerals and plants, and Hahnemann became convinced that instead of curing people physicians were killing them.

Hahnemann gave up medicine to become a translator of medical texts and wrote on pharmacological subjects. It was while he was translating an English materia medica (book of medicines) into German that Hahnemann became interested in the authorís description of cinchona bark, a natural source of quinine that comes from a South American tree and used to treat malaria.

To discover the effects of the cinchona bark Hahnemann took the medicine over a period of weeks. To his surprise he developed symptoms that were identical to those of malaria. He concluded that the cure for malaria produced the same symptoms as the disease. He went on to test dozens of substances on himself, his large family, and his fellow physicians. These earliest examples of clinical trials on human subjects (called "provings") became the founding information on which homeopathic remedies are still prescribed. In 1810, he published the results of his experiments announcing his new theories of treatment and diagnosis. He also created two new medical terms: homeopathy, which means cure by similars, and allopathy, treatment by opposites (i.e. conventional medicine).

Homeopathy was introduced into the United States in 1825 and rapidly became widely accepted by well-educated and wealthy Americans. Its initial acceptance was due to its success in the treatment of the cholera and yellow fever epidemics of the 19th century. Homeopathy expanded so quickly that in 1844 homeopathic medical doctors organized the first national medical society, the American Institute of Homeopathy. In large part due to homeopathyís success, a rival medical society was formed in 1846 called the American Medical Association (AMA). One of its expressed purposes was to stop homeopathy.

By the beginning of this century 15-20% of all M.D.s in America were homeopaths. However, the political successes of the AMA, the progress of conventional medicine, and sectarian divisions among homeopaths themselves were all weakening the movement. Homeopathic medical schools began to close; of the 22 colleges operating in 1900, only six remained in 1918. In 1940 the last homeopathic medical school in America, Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia, converted completely to allopathic/conventional medicine. Even to this day in America, the only medical schools that offer homeopathic training are the naturopathic medical colleges.

It is only in America that homeopathy seems like a new idea. In other parts of the world homeopathy never suffered the same decline as here. In fact, homeopathy enjoys extensive popularity in Europe and many other parts of the world. In addition, considerable favorable research has been published in European conventional medical journals.  

Three important principles of homeopathy were formulated by Samuel Hahnemann:

  • The Law of Similars. A homeopathic remedy is given which is capable of causing, in a healthy person, symptoms similar to those of the individual who is ill. Thus the homeopathic interview is the best way to learn about the patient, and the patientís subjective experience of his or her illness is the most important guide to the choice of the correct remedy.
  • The Minimum Dose. Homeopathic remedies are most commonly made from simple natural substances such as a plant or mineral. A special dilution and succussion (i.e. shaking) process prepares these so that as little of the original material as possible is employed. This is called the minimum dose. Because of the very low material doses used and since the remedy is chosen to fit a specific individual, they are completely non-toxic and accidental poisonings are impossible.
  • The Single Remedy. The homeopath views a personís health status as a condition of the entire individual rather than in terms of the presence or absence of isolated symptoms. Therefore, one homeopathic remedy needs to be selected that matches the whole individual and best corresponds to that personís total state at that particular point in time (i.e. the "totality of symptoms"). Each homeopathic remedy is made from an unique natural substance and each has its own individual characteristics on which it is prescribed.
Homeopathy, like all truly natural approaches to health care, seeks to stimulate the innate healing power of the individual so that all physiological and healing systems function at their best. As the body/mindís healing mechanisms are stimulated and strengthened, the whole person moves toward an optimal level of general health, he or she begins to feel better, and the localized symptoms improve.

"Classical" homeopathy is one of the most effective health care systems for achieving this. Classical homeopathy is the traditional way homeopathy has been practiced for 200 years. While it requires the most training, the best understanding of the patient, and is the most time-intensive, it is also the most successful at helping people fully recover their health. This is because the whole person is treated instead of just the different component parts. Therefore, the homeopathic remedy does not directly treat a symptom or condition. Instead, it initiates the process by which the personís whole system (body and mind) heals itself.

Essential to effective homeopathic care is the interview and history. Selection of the correct homeopathic remedy depends entirely on the very thorough understanding of the whole person gained through this interview process. The homeopath takes into account all of the patientís specific symptoms, as well as his or her mental/emotional well-being and personality.

Some practitioners use homeopathic remedies without the training required to practice it classically.  These people are well intended but use shortcuts to make up for this lack of training (i.e. ďmuscle testingĒ or machines/computers). While there are many antidotal claims made for these new alternatives to traditional homeopathy, it does not appear that they are capable of leading to a permanent or complete cure of the whole person. This is probably because the whole person is not being treated with the one homeopathic remedy he or she needs, but instead many homeopathic remedies are give at a time, frequently changing them with each visit.

Since homeopathy is used to simulate the whole organism to heal itself, not just treat the disease, most people, whatever their diagnosis, can benefit from homeopathic care. Homeopathy helps people who have a wide variety of acute and chronic problems including infectious disease, allergies, gynecological difficulties, digestive problems, and so on. It is important to realize that there are no specific remedies for specific problems. Everybody experiences their disease differently and therefore needs different remedies. For example, if ten people diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis were treated, each is likely to receive a different homeopathic remedy. 

Homeopathy also helps to prevent future health problems by increasing the individualís strength and resistance. While well prescribed homeopathy can sometimes appear miraculous; it must not be seen as a substitute for good health habits. In the long run health depends in good measure on eating well and exercising adequately, getting enough rest, dealing effectively with stress and enjoying oneís endeavors.

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Copyright 2017 R. S. Bradley, N.D. All rights reserved. 

Heartland Naturopathic Clinic
5003 Burt Street
Omaha, NE 68132
(402) 391-6714