Noreen Ziegler, DVM, CNC
By Susan Gayle Wynn, DVM

Homeopathy is a system of medical treatment brought to light almost 200
years ago by a German physician named Samuel Hahnemann. The basic
tenets of homeopathy, however, have been in use since ancient times and
are best summarized by the basic homeopathic law of similars: "like cures
like." Hahnemann was revolted by the medical treatments of the day, including
arsenic and mercury treatments and bloodletting, and did not believe the
prevailing theory that quinine cured malaria because it was a bitter substance,
since other bitter substances had no effect on the disease. In his first
experiments, he discovered that quinine actually caused signs of malaria in
higher than therapeutic doses. He developed the theory of "similibus similia
curentur," which states that like cures like, and over the next six years set out
to test this hypothesis using other substances to "cause disease." Then he
used the diluted, potentised substance to treat people with symptoms that
matched the "symptom picture" of the drug. He published his findings in 1796,
and the science of homeopathy has grown into world wide use since that time.
His system of treatment, as it stands today, utilizes very low doses of
substances to resolve syndromes which they might actually cause, in higher
doses. A very simple example is in the use of homeopathic ipecac to treat
(yes, treat!) vomiting.

Homeopathic "remedies", as they are called, are prepared in a very specific
manner. The original substance is usually from a natural source, such as
plants or minerals, and is progressively diluted and potentized by violent
shaking at each step, until the final remedy often theoretically contains none
of the original substance! Theories for the mechanism of action include some
form of electromagnetic "memory" on the water used to dilute the substance.
Homeopathic researchers have discussed everything from fractal geometrics
involving molecules of water and magnetite, to stress responses to the
remedy, where heat shock proteins are used as an example. Although
homeopathic research is in its infancy regarding mechanism of action, clinical
trials have indicated that the remedies do work, despite the fact that the
mechanism is unclear.

Because homeopathy seems to work at the subatomic and, potentially,
molecular genetic levels, rather than the pharmacologic level, the methods for
diagnosing and treating disease are entirely foreign to traditional medical
thought. Homeopaths view disease as a manifestation of a disturbance in the
"vital force," and symptoms of the disease are absolutely unique to each
patient.  The homeopath views these different manifestations as individual
differences in the state of the patients' vital force; therefore, they would
receive different prescriptions. Homeopathy is said to treat the patient, not the
disease. Since the remedies work to assist the vital force in healing the body,
one Indian homeopath described the system as "teaching the body to heal
itself". There are between one and two thousand homeopathic remedies from
which to choose when a prescription is made, and the trained homeopath
must be familiar with them to find the one that best matches a patient's
symptoms. This is the reason that the initial visit for the first-time patient may
take some time, and why a homeopathic consultation may be expensive. A
homeopath may spend hours on one animal after the patient has left the

Homeopathic remedies are very inexpensive and virtually free of side effects.
The biggest advantage of homeopathic treatment, though, is that the
remedies stimulate the vital force; in other words, treating a disease actually
increases the health of the person or animal and increases the capacity of the
body to fight insults to health. In conventional medicine, the medications often
suppress signs of the disease without actually ridding the body of the
susceptibility that caused the problem in the first place. Perhaps this is one of
the reasons for the increasing popularity of homeopathy.

Homeopathy is a well accepted and popular form of therapy in most parts of
the world, for all species.  People are beginning to look for nontoxic, tonifying
medications because they have seen the failure of conventional medicine in
treating chronic, crippling diseases such as allergies, migraines, back pain,
and depression. In using homeopathic and other holistic treatment options in
addition to any required conventional therapies for a sick people and pets,
you are providing additional, complementary aids that will help a patient
become strong again.