Updated: Jun 9
Not long after qualifying, a mother brought her 6 month old baby with severe eczema to me. Every night she would slather her in cream, put mittens on and swaddle her. Every morning she would have wriggled out of everything and scratched her skin till it bled. I prescribed a remedy in an LM potency which is a gentle potency you take daily and can adjust to suit the individual - I use it for skin issues because as these are near the surface, often only the slightest of nudges is needed to start the healing process.
This baby was otherwise healthy with lots of energy so I confidently prescribed 2 drops daily in a little water. 24 hours after the first dose the mother rang me screaming. In the morning when she had gone to change her nappy, her skin was lying in shreds around her. I admit I was a little rattled - but on further questioning, the baby seemed calm and happy - which admission calmed the mother slightly (and me!). I asked her not to repeat the dose but to wait and see what happened. Over the next 24 hours the little girl re-grew her entire skin and her mum said for the first time since she was born it was perfect.
This is what homeopaths call an aggravation and although these are rare they can happen when there is a strong resonance between the patient and the remedy and, as in this case, are usually followed quickly by the symptoms completely clearing. That case was particularly graphic because it was the skin and a very vital baby. It is more likely for there to be a slight increase of one aspect of your symptoms for a few hours before the improvement starts.
Homeopathic remedies don’t suppress symptoms - as with conventional medicine. Instead they stimulate what we call the “vital force” - the energy that animates us - to initiate the healing response. An experienced practitioner can never fully know how someone will respond to a remedy but we take a lot of things into consideration when choosing which potency to give. If I had given a C potency to this baby it is likely the reaction would have continued for many days causing considerable distress. That LM potency dose generally wears off in 24 hours minimising any reaction. It is also possible to give fewer drops, dilute it more and give less frequently to get the exact minimum dose needed to stimulate the healing response.
The other time we see aggravations is when somebody “proves” a remedy. Homeopathy deliberately does this to find out what a remedy might affect in the body so we know how to use it to heal. It can also happen inadvertently when someone has had too much of a remedy. This is why it is advisable to see a practitioner for chronic conditions because they can look objectively at how you are today and compare that to how you are when they see you in a month. Because we know what our remedies are capable of, we are alert to spotting symptoms of too much remedy apart from your own body’s symptoms.
One of the most common arguments against homeopathy is that people “waste” time taking homeopathic remedies when they need to get to hospital. It takes a couple of seconds to take a remedy and can easily be done whilst putting your shoes on and finding the car keys or someone else is phoning the ambulance. And what I have found in 15 years of using homeopathy is that one dose often abates the symptoms, a second a minute or two later and you see them recede and by the third there are no symptoms. If you’re not seeing that keep getting in the car and go!
With chronic issues - it is the same principle. If you take a remedy and the symptom is not going away, there could be something deeper going on which may require medical examination and I would advise you to seek this out. Generally it is the other way round, when people have been down this route and still have no idea what is causing their pain, a holistic medical practitioner looks at them from their birth till now, their head to their toes and looks for a remedy which matches their symptoms in order gently to remove them.
Therefore, in answer to the question is Homeopathy Safe? If you have an acute symptom which came on recently - and you take a dose of the appropriate remedy, the symptom should improve and if it comes back, repeat the dose. In a short amount of time, you should find you are not needing so many doses and reduce accordingly.
There are no side effects, which is why it is helpful in pregnancy and young babies. The remedies do not have toxic elements to be broken down in the liver and kidneys, therefore you cannot take too much - as long as you have the symptoms. Unlike for example ibuprofen, it can be taken as frequently as you need to relieve your pain. Do watch out for new symptoms caused by over-stimulating the vital force and if this happens stop taking it until they go away. Homeopathy is very safe - but it is best to enlist the services of a trained and accredited homeopath if you are dealing with complicated health issues.
This blog first appeared on the Scottish Association of Professional Homeopaths Website.