Homeopathy


Interesting Historical Anecdotes

In 1831 Cholera swept through Europe. Homeopaths treating the disease achieved a mortality rate (number of people who died) of less than 4% compared to conventional medical treatments, where the mortality rate was 59%. In 1854 during the cholera outbreak in London, deaths at the London Homeopathic Hospital were a mere 16.4% compared with the 50% average for other hospitals.  [Source: Julian Winston – Some History of the Treatment of Epidemics with Homeopathy.]



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Homeopathy has been used for over 200 years and is a holistic therapy which aims to encourage and stimulate the body’s natural capacity to heal itself. Homeopathic remedies are taken by mouth and are chosen on the principle of ‘like cures like’. Minute doses of a wide range of substances, including herbs, minerals and chemical compounds, are used in these remedies. The homeopaths working at Ripon Natural Health Centre have undergone an extensive training and are all members of the Society of Homeopaths which has a code of ethical conduct. At Ripon Natural Health Centre we place great emphasis on the relationship between homeopath and patient. Good communication, trust and confidentiality are at the heart of that relationship.



First Appointment

When you first arrive at the clinic, you will be asked for your contact details and the name of your GP and surgery. Your first appointment will take about an hour and your homeopath will ask you about your presenting problem and also take a full history, including medical history. We need to know about past and present health problems and what treatment you are currently receiving. Homeopathy places great emphasis on a detailed history and your particular physical and emotional responses to a wide variety of situations including diet, weather and stressful life situations. Your homeopath will want to get to know you as an individual and how the symptoms of your condition affect you. Every illness has symptoms which are common to most sufferers and symptoms which are unusual or unique to a particular person.



Examination

After the history your practitioner may want to examine you or take your blood pressure. You are welcome to bring a relative or friend into the treatment room and children under 16 must be accompanied by a parent or carer. After the history and examination a treatment plan will be discussed with you and, if you are happy to go ahead and no further tests or referrals are needed, a prescription and any lifestyle advice will be given. Your homeopath may want to think about your case history, in which case your prescription will be posted or available for collection within 2 or 3 days.



Treatment

Homoeopathic remedies are taken by mouth. They should be mouth absorbed rather than swallowed so we generally recommend taking nothing by mouth for 10 minutes before and after having a remedy. In some cases you will be prescribed a course of treatment, taking your remedy several times a day. In other situations you will be prescribed only one or two doses. The aim is to stimulate your body’s response with the smallest dose possible. The general principle is to stop or reduce the remedy as soon as an improvement or change is noticed. This can sometimes be very obvious but may be quite subtle. An ideal response is where symptoms gently fade away almost imperceptibly and the patient starts to feel more like their old self.

It is possible that the remedy might produce an aggravation or exaggeration of your symptoms before you start to feel better. This needs to be distinguished from the natural course of your illness which may be worsening, so if you are unsure it is always a good idea to contact your practitioner for advice on whether to continue the remedy. A helpful indication that you are having a remedy aggravation is that your symptoms may change or get worse but you feel better in yourself. If you are at all worried it is always best to contact your homeopath or GP rather than do nothing. The follow up appointment is very important to see whether you have reacted to the remedy and whether another prescription is needed.

The length of time that you may need treatment is also quite individual and this will be discussed with you. Some situations resolve very quickly whilst in other cases you may require a longer time to gain benefit. In some situations patients find check ups or maintenance treatment helpful. Patients and practitioners can usually tell within two or three visits whether treatment is beneficial.



Safety and Consent

Homeopaths, like all health practitioners, are required to provide information on safety and risks associated with particular treatments and to obtain informed consent before giving treatment. Homeopathy is a safe therapy and there are no known harmful effects of homeopathic remedies. It is quite safe to have homeopathic treatment alongside medicine prescribed by your doctor, in pregnancy or together with other forms of treatment.

The main concerns that have been raised about homeopathic treatment are that some medical conditions may go undiagnosed if a patient does not consult their GP. Your homeopath will encourage you to be educated and responsible for your health and we recommend that you discuss treatment options and diagnosis with your GP if you are unsure. If your practitioner suspects serious illness they will refer you to your GP.

The other main concern that has been raised is that there is little or no scientific evidence that homeopathy works and that any benefits noted are due to the placebo effect. We would encourage you to do your own reading on this question as there is wide-ranging debate about the research that has been done. A good starting point is the Society of Homeopaths website, www.homeopathy-soh.org. Their research page will direct you to a range of trials and studies. It is also important to understand the power of placebo. All medicine and therapy is affected in this way. The attention, time and care provided, the skill and knowledge of your practitioner, the trust and confidence you have in them and, most importantly, your own body’s capacity to heal are all part of improving your health.

You can discuss any of these questions with your practitioner and if you have any concerns please do not hesitate to ask. We have books and articles that you can borrow or be directed to for further information. Please ask at reception.