Ainsworths Remedy Finder - Frequently Asked Questions

What is homeopathy?

Homeopathy is the most natural form of medicine imaginable. It is a method of treating disease in which small signals are sent to your body to help it unblock a problem. In other words the homeopathic remedy merely allows your body to heal itself more efficiently. The signals are in the form of small white tablets. Each remedy looks and tastes the same. This is because the active agent has been applied to the surface as a thin film on a standard tablet. The tablet tells the body to act with an opposite response to the signal it carries. The best example of this is Allium cepa, the red onion. If you cut up an onion you will get all the symptoms associated with this remedy; sneezing, streaming eyes etc. These symptoms normally disappear quickly, especially once you get some fresh air. But if they persisted (like when you have a cold or hayfever) you would need to get rid of them by some other means. By taking a tablet of a remedy made from red onion, which would normally cause these symptoms, you jog the correct response back and cure the problem. Homeopathy is as simple as that.

How do I know when I am sick?

This sounds like a silly question but it is not. The answer is when you are aware that you do not feel normal. When you have a sore throat or headache it preoccupies your mind and colours everything you do. This departure from normality is what homeopaths look for in order to find your remedy. The smallest nuances lead them to it. Such as a difference in your reactions to things around you like food, temperature, other people etc. The timing of your symptoms is also important. Some symptoms arise very quickly and suddenly, others more gradually. The position of symptoms is also of importance, for example is the condition localized to one side or part of your body. The character of the condition as you experience it is fundamental as well as those things that make it better or worse. The questions in the ARF programme may seem unusual but they have been carefully chosen to match your experience to a remedy that may cure it.

How was homeopathy discovered?

Dr Samuel Hahnemann discovered homeopathy in 1790. The principles are set out in his book the Organon of medicine whose first edition was published in 1810. In those days doctors used barbaric drugs and employed treatments such as bloodletting. Hahnemann objected to such a callous approach and abandoned medical practice earning his income instead by translating medical texts. In 1790, whilst translating one such work by the Scottish physician William Cullen, Hahnemann came across an unacceptable explanation for the action of a certain tree bark (which we now know contains quinine) used to treat malaria and marsh fever. The information passed by the South American Indians to the Jesuit priests and from them back to the Old World was reliable, the bark did indeed cure the condition. The reason for its action given by Cullen however was not. Cullen had suggested that its action was dependant on its bitterness and hence its astringent action on the stomach.

Hahnemann knew of other more bitter substances that did not cure malaria. In an attempt to resolve the problem Hahnemann conducted an heroic experiment which is now the cornerstone of homeopathy. He boiled up some of this Cinchona bark and imbibed the bitter liquid over a four-day period. To his amazement the previously healthy doctor succumbed to a malarial-like fever, which abated soon after he stopped the experiment. Knowing that the Cinchona bark cured malaria in a sick patient, he had now discovered that it would induce it in a healthy person. Thus the concept of Likes being cured by Likes arose. Homoios and pathos deriving from the Greek for like and curing were thus used to form the name homeopathy to describe the new therapy. Hahnemann went on to prove that this phenomenon occurred in all other materials he and his followers tested. The collected works appear in tomes called Materia Medica.

To access this vast information homeopaths use a book called a Repertory, which is a large index of all the component phrases (rubrics) found in the Materia Medica.

Why are homeopathic remedies so dilute?

Although Hahnemann had discovered a new natural law he was forced to refine homeopathy in order to make it an acceptable form of medicine. Many of the materials tested were known to be poisonous and had to be diluted in order that they could be safely taken to establish their effect. Hahnemann found that many of the initial remedies he prepared worked in material doses but resulted in side effects. Naturally he diluted these down to minimize the unwanted action. However the results were disappointing, for in doing so he also reduced the power of the remedy to cure.

The next and most remarkable point in the story resulted in the process of potentization. Potentization is the combination of dilution followed by shaking in which a remedy's strength is ironically increased with successive dilutions. Hahnemann pondered about how the body cures itself, and discovered that it too was working according to the principles of homeopathy. We are chiefly composed of water as were his solutions. The main difference being that in our body the pounding of our heart resonates through this body of water. Taking his cue from the body, Hahnemann replicated the action of the heart by succussing (pounding) his dilutions of the remedy. To his surprise the effect was to enhance his medicine whilst getting rid of it's side effects. In actual fact he was removing all but the energetic imprint left by the original substance. In short Hahnemann had discovered that we are continually medicating ourselves and that what he had discovered was the vital force or means by which we do it.

Homeopathy was then simply a means of copying what the body does and therefore rectifying problems when it gets stuck, that is when we get sick.

What is the difference between conventional medicine and homeopathy?

Drugs are used to alter the way the body works. They are effective at doing so very quickly, hence their immense value in saving life. However they do not work with the body in the same way that homeopathic remedies do. They implement their own state of change and this may not result in a cure but rather a more temporary situation known as palliation. This is more obvious in chronic disease in which drugs may only keep the symptoms at bay and therefore need to be taken continually. For example a patient with chronic eczema will rely on a steroid cream. The cream quickly takes away the skin eruption but it returns soon after. Constant repetition may be required with the side effect of thinning skin and no permanent cure. By contrast the homeopathic remedy is chosen for the individual with the condition rather than for the condition alone. Although the distinction is subtle the difference in outcome is enormous.

A remedy that is homeopathic to the complaint will cure the person in the same manner as the body cures itself.

Another fundamental distinction is in what is being treated. Conventional drugs assume an artificial divide between our mind and body. Drugs are designed to work at discrete physical sites like for example the junctions between nerves. Even those drugs that are designed for mental problems are dampening agents that suppress rather than resolve activity. The very manner in which homeopathic remedies are chosen is different. Even the most minor complaint has a mental or emotional component and this is used to facilitate selection of the remedy. To understand homeopathy you must appreciate this point. For it is as fundamental to the difference between listening (to the body) and imposing ones will on it. The direction of cure follows from this.

How do I know if I have chosen the correct remedy?

Because the remedy works by cure rather than palliation the symptoms go away with very few doses. This is the ideal towards which we strive. Unlike drugs, homeopathic remedies are intended to initiate rather than maintain the healing process. In other words they trigger the healing response and should tbe discontinued as soon as it becomes apparent that they have achieved this. As the symptoms subside it is quite common to experience a sense of wellbeing. The general health of the person can improve quite dramatically and the more chronic the complaint the more noticeable this will be.

By contrast the wrong remedy will have no positive action. Since it is not a drug the wrong remedy will initially appear to do nothing at all. If it is repeated continually without affecting the symptoms in a positive way it can and will eventually induce its own effect. This is called a proving and is represented by the manifestation of new symptoms which were not previously present but which are known to be characteristic of the remedy picture. If this should occur it is important to stop the remedy immediately and wait for the acquired symptoms to subside. The correct remedy can then be taken. If in doubt always consult a homeopath.

Will I get worse before I get better?

Very occasionally the dose of the chosen remedy can over-excite the patient. This results in a very temporary peak in the severity of their symptoms. The 'aggravation', as it is termed, is a good indication that the correct remedy has been chosen. Aggravations are short-lived events that result in a dramatic cure that follows quickly afterward. The occurrence of aggravations has been vastly over-stated. By and large a remedy will act without any such exacerbation of the symptoms it cures.

What is the direction of cure?

Traditionally associated with recovery from more chronic disease. The body cleans house in a very specific order. The best way to both understand and remember this is a simple physical exercise. Stand up and bring your arms up covering your face with both hands. Now sweep your arms down and outward. This is the direction in which symptoms are removed. From a higher position to a lower one, from an inner part to an external one. When a remedy works it may remove symptoms along this route. The other important point is last in first. In other words the last complaint in will be first one to be cured before the body can move on to cure any remnant of an earlier disease or condition. A good example might be someone who has an allergy. It may have started some years back with a skin irritation. This lasted for some time but then changed to a rhinitis with sneezing and runny eyes. This changed again to involve the lungs and the person became asthmatic.

In treatment this person may well experience a return of the skin condition as part of the cure. It would be temporary but may require further treatment. Such chronic disease is beyond the scope of the ARF programme and is clearly in the domain of a homeopathic practitioner. See below for more information as to how to contact practioners.

A word about getting better - the timeline

Another important point about the direction of cure. Over the course of our lives we are confronted with illness of one sort or another. Most are temporary some are however more insidious. Homeopathy is not just concerned with the snap-shot of the present. It is also concerned with these past events. The body has a memory not just for events but also for past troubles. We aspire to full health and in order to achieve this we sometimes need to clean house. When we are sick our whole economy is shifted. We feel different and may even act differently. Although we accept or even brush off these changes they are key to what is happening to us. Not all diseases score equally. Some diseases are more severe than others. Frequently a situation arises in which one more powerful disease supersedes a lesser one. For example you might have an occasional left-sided headache with a particular pain and onset time. Along comes a new symptom, a right-sided migraine.

The new symptom may displace the original headache or reduce the frequency at which it is experienced. When you cure the right-sided headache however the older weaker condition returns awaiting its turn to be cured. So these old diseases or conditions never really go away, they just hide in the background. The direction of cure is an ongoing event and may be missed or obscured in acute treatment. However if after treatment an old condition flares up pay particular attention to treating this.

How long should I take the remedy for?

Until you start to get better. Always stop and wait for a response if there is even the slightest doubt in your mind. Remember that you are only trying to kick-start the body because it has become stuck. Once this is achieved you should not continue further. If you need to keep taking the remedy for a long period you should definitely consult a homeopathic practitioner.

Is the A.R.F. program infallible?

No it is not. The ARF system has been designed to enable you to make a safe and sensible choice. In order to achieve this we have as of necessity made it simple. The choice is from a limited range and strength of remedy, and the self-limiting conditions are those typically consulted in a pharmacy. The ARF system is not designed in any way to replace the homeopath practitioner. Homeopathic practitioners are trained to deal with chronic disease and should be consulted as often as required.

How can I contact a qualified homeopath?

Doctors

Contact the Faculty of Homeopathy, see Links page. Medically qualified homeopaths will have conducted a certified course of study. Doctors will become members of the Faculty of Homeopathy and have the initials MFHom after their medical qualifications. Some doctors, dentists, nurses, and pharmacists may have studied a Primary Healthcare Certificate enabling them to use the initials LFHom. They will be less qualified than members but may over time have gained similar experience in practice.

Non-medically qualified homeopaths

There are a large number of professional in practice around the UK. Courses and experience do vary but a reassuring sign of experience is registration with the Society of Homeopaths or the UKHMA. Many homeopaths advertise in the Yellow pages, look for initials RSHom after any other qualifications.

How do I take my remedy?

Dosage information

Ainsworths are constrained by the terms of the EC Homeopathics Directive from giving individual dosage regimes or embellishing upon a single statement. Instead the remedy must bear a standard label instruction to take one tablet three times a day stopping with improvement.

Whereas this regime may suit many situations it may need amending in an individual situation. In practice you are at liberty to alter this dose to fit your own symptoms. Always remember the golden rule; the remedy is only there to start the process, the body does the healing. In this way common sense dictates that you give as few doses as possible to move things along. In addition it should be noted that it is the frequency of doses more than the number of tablets taken that dictates the effect. Some suggestions of dosage follow.

Acute cases

Treatment of early or acute symptoms may need more frequent doses over a shorter period. Hourly doses can be given for a short time until the condition is under control. In exceptional cases of pain or fever doses may need to be given every 10 to 15 minutes until response. The remedy should be discontinued as soon as possible.

Chronic symptoms

Conditions or symptoms, which are well established, require fewer doses. Start with the recommended dosage and stop when relief or a change in symptoms occur.

The most important thing is to stop the remedy when a change or improvement occur. There is no such thing as a course of treatment as with conventional drugs. Each regime is geared to your individual requirement at that time and therefore completely under your control. If you are in any doubt stop taking the tablets and seek advice. Stopping and waiting for a clear picture to emerge is always advisable. Do not take long courses out of habit or without clear benefit.

Administering the dose

The tablets are surface-coated with the remedy according to the traditional manufacturing process. This accelerates the rate at which the remedy works but does mean certain precautions need be taken.

Avoid handling the tablets. Tip them from the bottle into the cap and from there directly into your mouth.

One tablet is quite sufficient for any age. Additional tablets may enhance the effect of a dose.

Take the tablet at least 20 minutes away from food or anything that leaves a flavour in your mouth.

Do not brush your teeth or suck mints for at least one hour before or after a dose. Mint closes the pores and prevents the remedy being absorbed.

Coffee will antidote Gelsemium and may reduce the effect of other remedies. Although this is a moot point amongst homeopaths it is worth avoiding coffee during treatment.

How should I store my remedies?

Homeopathic remedies are destroyed by exposure to light, heat, microwaves and strong odours. Keep them in a medicine cupboard away from strong smells, especially perfumes and camphor or eucalyptus. The dark glass bottle protects them from light. Be sure to keep the bottle well sealed between doses and when storing the remedy. Keep them out of reach of children. They are medicines and should be treated as such.