Before there were flu shots, vaccines, and Viagra, there was Homeopathic medicine and its age-old wisdom of using the body to heal itself is gaining in popularity. Homeopathic medicines are free of the dangerous side effects that are common with pharmaceutical drugs, and do not react negatively with other medications; they also cost a fraction of over-the-counter and prescription meds. How exactly, then, do they work?
The process is similar to how a vaccine works, but instead of using a virus to create an antibody response, homeopathic remedies use a miniscule amount of a substance to trigger a healing response in the body. The substance is normally something that causes the symptoms a person is experiencing already, but in a microscopic amount. An example of this would the use of allium (onion) to cure a runny nose and watery eyes – symptoms that happen when you chop an onion.
The concepts “less is more” and “like cures like” are the foundation of homeopathy, and were canonized by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann in his writings in the early 1800s. Homeopathic medications are FDA approved, and safe for children, pregnant women, and animals.
Although the “like cures like” idea may sound like quackery, homeopathy has proved itself worthy of being called medicine. Spanish flu victims treated with homeopathy during the 1918 flu epidemic only had a mortality rate of 1%; those treated with the conventional medicine of the day had a mortality rate of 30%. That’s quite a track record for any medication, and a fact not lost on those who care about their health. Homeopathic medicine is embraced in Europe; in fact, the British Royal family’s doctor is a homeopathic physician.
America, whose medical model is geared more to favor pharmaceuticals, has not yet fully accepted the value of homeopathy, but it is slowly making inroads where pharmaceuticals used to be the only game in town. For example, medications such as oscillococcinum are proving to be effective against flu and colds when flu shots fail.
The list of homeopathic remedies is long, covering everything from depression to joint pain and arthritis, so you may want to consult a homeopathic practitioner first. For the do-it-yourselfer, most health food stores have a manual available so you can self-diagnose your symptoms, and purchase the correct remedy. Learning about homeopathy and how it can help you is a great tool to have in your medicine bag of tricks – so the next time flu season comes, you and your family can rest easy.
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