Have you ever heard of homeopathy? This natural system of healing can have profound effects on your body and mind. And if it’s good enough for the celebrities then it’s good enough for us!
Roger Daltry, lead singer of The Who attributes homeopathy to saving his son’s life when orthodox treatment methods failed. Queen Elizabeth (the Queen’s Mother) is the Royal Patron of the British Homeopathic Association and Queen Elizabeth II is said to travel with her homeopathic kit. Cindy Crawford, Tina Turner, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Cher are all reported to use homeopathic remedies with great results.
So what is it? Homeopathy uses ultra-diluted substances to trigger the body’s natural system of healing. A particular remedy is chosen that matches one’s “symptom picture” with a specific focus on identifying differentiating symptoms. This method of healing can take into consideration mental, emotional and physical aspects to one’s symptoms. And although used by celebrities and athletes, homeopathic remedies are affordable and usually cost less than herbal remedies or prescription medications.
This system of prescribing was formalized by Samuel Hahnemann who discovered that by giving smaller doses of medicines, the medicines became more effective and had less side-effects. For example think about when you are chopping an onion. You may get red stinging eyes that water and a runny nose. The homeopathic remedy allium cepa is made from onion and may assist people who get these symptoms when experiencing allergies or a cold.
Some people have spoken about the placebo affect of homeopathy, but there are scientific reports verifying its validity and more scientific research being done each day. Homeopathy is more common in Europe, especially Germany where many people consult with homeopaths as their primary treatment method.
Here are some examples of how I have seen homeopathy work:
- Emotionally: Kevin (not his real name) was very grief-stricken since his family-member was killed. Despite being so tormented he had never cried. I gave him a particular remedy for grief and his wife called me that evening to say that he had been crying and telling her how he felt, which he had never done. For him, this remedy helped with an emotional release.
- Physically: Angel, a 7 year old Staffordshire bull-terrior was in extreme discomfort seemingly from a point in her lower back. When this was touched her legs would buckle. She couldn’t sleep at night and appeared to be in pain and her legs were spontaneously jerking at times. A heat pack seemed to ease the discomfort. She would not eat her food. The vet prescribed a pain killer that cost just under $100 and said to watch her in the next few days expressing that she might need an x-ray and further investigation. Her pain appeared to ease slightly upon taking a dose of the pain killer and she ate a small amount of food. But by night time it was apparent that her symptoms had only eased very slightly. I gave her a homeopathic complex (a mixture of remedies) for strains and sprains with acute dosing (every half hour). In the morning she seemed to have improved about 80 - 85% so a few more doses were given. Her symptoms alleviated later that day and she was playing and running again by that night.
- In the garden: Homeopathic remedies can be used to treat plants and improve their resistance to disease and insect infestation. This method of treatment for the garden/farm is called agrohomeopathy. The lemonade tree in my backyard had a bad attack of leaf miner. A homeopathic remedy was given and within a week the leaf miner had cleared up by about 90%.
These are varied examples which have been chosen to convey that homeopathic remedies are more than placebo. Homeopathic remedies can be used by children, pregnant women (with only a few exceptions), people on medication (though I would recommend consulting with a qualified homeopath for specific ailments), for animals, and even for plants, trees and crops.
There is only one catch: Homeopathic remedies are not all vegan! Most homeopathic remedies come in liquid form or pills. The pills are usually made from lactose (cow’s milk). An encouraging sign is that I have found that more homeopathic pills are being made from plant sugar instead of lactose. Homeopathic remedies also come in a liquid which may have been made from dissolving lactose pills, so you will need to enquire about this. If a company is still using lactose pills, in the true vegan spirit, you can contact them and request that they stop using cow’s milk in pill bases altogether.
A quick tip here that some will appreciate – liquid homeopathic remedies are often preserved with a small amount of alcohol. For those people who wish to avoid alcohol (including recovering alcoholics) I have found that apple cidar vinegar is an excellent alternative. If you get a homeopathic remedy made up alcohol-free, ask them to leave some space in the bottle so that you can pour in some apple cidar vinegar when you get the remedy home. This will preserve the remedy splendidly.
Many homeopathic remedies are made from plants, herbs, weeds and minerals. But others are made from insects, and yet others are made from animals.
Examples of non-vegan remedies made from insects that you would want to avoid: apis mellifica, blatta Americana, cantharis, coccinella, cocus cacti, cimex acanthia, formica rufa, pulex irritans, vespa crabro (of these I have seen mainly apis used for insect stings and burns and cantharis largely used for urinary tract infection type symptoms).
Examples of remedies made from animal parts or secretions: Sepia, lachesis, crotalus horridus, bufo, naja, moschus. It is interesting to note that animal homeopathic remedies are viewed as having more base issues associated with domination, competition, jealousy and mating and can have cravings for meat, fish and milk. Although this is a generalized overview I do think that it is worthy of mention that as more people shift to a vegetarian and vegan diet and adopt more peaceable ideals then they will be more likely to require remedies made from plants and minerals. If you are prescribed a homeopathic remedy or buy one off the shelf then enquire as to what it is made of so that you can make the choice of whether it is suitably vegan. If it is not vegan then there may be a similar remedy that you can try in its place.
Here are some homeopathic remedies derived from plants that might be useful in your household:
Arnica: Especially for bruising. Works like magic! Great for accidents and especially useful for people who do martial arts or any other contact sport – keep this in your gym bag and you will be thankful! Start taking it as soon as you have been hurt and suspect that a bruise will arise.
Rhus Tox: Often used for strains, sprains and torn ligaments. Can be used when there is stiffness during initial movement that improves as you move around more. I have found this remedy to be useful for muscular pain the day after long or intense exercise workouts or the day after intense work in the garden.
Ruta Graveolens: Often used for sore or strained tendons and ligaments. It is often used in combination with rhus tox for strains and sprains. May relieve stiffness felt in muscles and joints.
Ledum: Often used for puncture wounds or splinters. This type of remedy suits those occasions when there isn’t much bleeding at the wound but quite some pain at the wound site. Ledum is indicated when such wounds feel better for cold or an ice-pack being placed on the wounded part of the body. When arnica doesn’t work as well as hoped to clear up bruising then ledum may do the trick!
Hypericum: Often used where there are injuries to the nerves or parts of the body rich in nerve endings (fingertips, toes, nose, lips) and for bites and stings that cause shooting pains. May be useful after piercings, if one has closed their finger in the door (how many times has that happened to your children?), and possibly for tailbone injuries.
You might like to look into homeopathy as a dynamic and efficacious first aid treatment, as well as for maintaining the wellbeing of yourself and loved ones. Just follow the dosing on the label – usually it is only a couple of drops or pills a few times a day. Fortunately there are so many homeopathic remedies that are suitable for vegans. Hopefully this information will empower you with a new, effective and inexpensive treatment method that can be used by the whole family from parents to pets
Eve Nguyen, ND is a degree-qualified Naturopath and CPAP therapist and stretch therapist teacher with over 10 years experience in the field of health and Nutrition. In addition to teaching nutrition and cooking classes, Eve was chosen to be a Fairfield City Green Champion in 2010. As a vegan with a particular interest in environmental impacts on our health, Eve enjoys delivering presentations to help people realise the link between the state of the environment and their own health.
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