Homeopathy has been continuously in use since its founding by Samuel Hahnmann in the late 1700s. Just think about that. This safe, gentle, inexpensive and very powerful medicine has been used all around the world for 225 years and in many circles, this amazing modality is virtually unknown.
Perhaps some of its obscurity lies in the fact that the term “homeopathy” contains the word “home.” In my opinion, this linguistic trickery plays a significant role in the confusion surrounding homeopathy. People assume “homeopathy” is the same thing as a home remedy. Nope. Not the same. Not even close.
“Hom” from Greek homoeos, meaning “one and the same.” As in…Homophone: same pronunciation, different meaning. Homonym: same spelling, different meaning. Homogenous: of the same kind, alike. Homeomorphism: an instance of topological equivalence. Homocentric: having the same center. Not home*, as in home-based or home-made.
Perhaps we should switch to the British spelling, homoeopathy. That may help clear up this little problem.
Homoeopathy broken down is Homoeo: “the same” and pathy: “suffering." Various pathys… Hydropathy: the treatment of illness through the use of water. Naturopathy: a system of medicine that avoids drugs and surgery and relies on natural remedies. Osteopathy: a system of medicine traditionally based on manual therapeutic techniques aimed at restoring physical function through the body’s ability to heal itself.
Homoeopathy is based on the premise of “like cures like.” If nausea is your ailment, a remedy based on a substance which causes nausea in its crude form is the cure. Tobacco when consumed raw causes nausea, vomiting and malaise (Hulzebos et al. 1998 and Trapé-Cardoso et al. 2003). Homoeopathic tobacco known as Tabacum, is one homoeopathic answer to nausea, vomiting and malaise.
Another easy example of like cures like is Allium cepa, red onion. When you chop an onion, what happens? Your eyes burn and water and your nose runs. Thus, Allium cepa is one homoeopathic answer to colds and allergies when you experience these symptoms.
The counterpart to homoeopathy is allopathy. Greek allos, “other” and pathy, “suffering.” Allopathy: treatment of disease by remedies that produce effects opposite to the symptoms. If fever is your ailment, an antipyretic (anti, “against” and pyretic, “feverish”) is the allopathic answer. Antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, beta blockers, proton pump inhibitors.
The point of this article is not to knock home remedies. There is a lot to be said for gargling with salt water for a sore throat; eating probiotic yogurt for tummy issues; sipping homemade chicken soup for a cold. These are all amazingly helpful ways to address symptoms. However, they are NOT homoeopathic medicines.
Homoeopathy works with your body, not against it. Homoeopathy treats the person, not the disease. Homoeopathy uses the symptoms your body provides as a guide to find the correct homoeopathic remedy to gently stimulate your body. Homoeopathy does not force the symptoms away by using something to stop or block a symptom (anti-medications as listed above); homoeopathy uses similar medicines or remedies to nudge your symptoms a little further in the same direction that it is already headed in order to stimulate your immune system to kick in and correct itself.
As Dr. Robin Murphy said recently in one of his last lectures, (and, I paraphrase), “The body knows how to repair itself. Homoeopathy is the vital force repair man.”
Julia Coyte, CHom
Classically Practical homeopath
*If you’re interested, here’s a link to in an in-depth discussion of the etymology of the word “home” by the author of Word Origins and How We Know Them.
Etymonline.com, 2021. homophone | Etymology, origin and meaning of homophone by etymonline [online]. www.etymonline.com.
European Committee for Homeopathy, n.d. Benefits of Homeopathy [online]. The European Committee for Homeopathy.
Hulzebos, C. V., Walhof, C., and de Vries, T. W., 1998. Accidental ingestion of cigarettes by children. Nederlands Tijdschrift Voor Geneeskunde [online], 142 (47), 2569–2571.
Liberman, A., 2015. Our habitat: the etymology of “home” [online]. OUPblog.
Trapé-Cardoso, M., Bracker, A., Grey, M., Kaliszewski, M., Oncken, C., Ohannessian, C., Barrera, L. V., and Gould, B., 2003. Shade Tobacco and Green Tobacco Sickness in Connecticut. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine [online], 45 (6), 656–661.
Venes, D., 2017. Taber’s cyclopedic medical dictionary. Philadelphia: F.A. Davis Company.
Julia Coyte, CHom
I am passionate about homeopathy and I love sharing this passion. Having a working knowledge of homeopathy shouldn't be kept a secret. If people have the ability to help themselves, their children and their friends when they have minor ailments, life just gets better for everyone. That is the purpose behind Ruminating on Remedies.