The alternative medicine movement began in the 1980’s as people began to acknowledge the importance of the mind and spirit on health and wellbeing. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) defines complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as "a group of diverse medical and health care systems, therapies and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine. (Perez, 2005) Practices include the use of plants, special diets, or vitamins as medicines, manipulation of energy fields and body parts, and techniques which use the mind to unlock the body’s healing mechanisms. Examples include acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic care, and homeopathy.
Holistic medicine, part of CAM, integrates body, mind, spirit, and environment. The philosophy behind this branch of alternative medicine states that the body heals via internal mechanisms and that all we need to do is give it time, rest, and a little help. (Perez, 2005) This method of healing is gaining popularity due to dissatisfaction with conventional medicine and because people want to be part of their own recovery. In fact many hospitals and cancer centers now contain special branches which employ some sort of alternative medicine, Yoga and meditation being two (or really one) such practice. More and more medical professionals are educating themselves in these alternative ways due to popularity and promising research. Furthermore, it is now widely accepted that healing requires an integration of the physical, mental, emotional, and yes, even spiritual.
Homeopathy is a holistic method of healing which is re-gaining popularity after a hiatus. The main component of this practice is the use of like-cures-like methodology. The homeopath administers highly diluted and shaken (succussed) substances to a sick individual which in a healthy person would produce these very same symptoms. Instead of suppressing the symptom, the substance encourages them slightly, triggering the immune system which then heals the body. Substances are obtained from plants, animals, and minerals and can be as mundane as chamomile and as exotic as gold or belladonna.
The process of succussion is repeated tens to hundreds (and above) times. Paradoxically, the more diluted the remedy, the more potent it is considered. This is one of the more controversial aspects of homeopathy since really high potencies are unlikely to contain any of the original substance. This leads to the opinion that the healing is due to the placebo effect, as if that is somehow less impressive. While the power of the mind to heal is even more appealing, the fact that homeopathy works on animals and babies contradicts the placebo effect.
Another very important aspect of homeopathy is the mental and emotional state of the sick person. Obtaining information about all facets of the individual includes not only the most obscure physical symptoms, but also all emotional and mental ones. This means that two people suffering from a cold would receive a different medicine due to highly personal symptoms, personalities, and emotional reactions.
The environment is also very important in determining the remedy. Modalities of a sickness include whether cold, heat, dry, or wet conditions improve or worsen a symptom. Environmental substances are also taken into consideration when applicable.
Homeopathy is one of many branches of holistic medicine which seems to stay strong despite the availability of conventional medicine or how much we are being told that it doesn't work.
Pinzon-Perez, Helda. Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Holistic Health, and Integrative
Healing. Applications in Health Education. American Journal of Health Education.
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Document URL: http://search.proquest.com.ezp-01.lirn.net/docview/212638476?accountid=107221
Sinacola, Chris. Homeopathy: Alternative medicine is holistic. Telegram & Gazette. (1996,
January) Retrieved 1/23/14 from www.evergladesuniversity.org.
Document URL: http://search.proquest.com.ezp-01.lirn.net/docview/268607988?accountid=107221