If yes, then you are not alone! If not, well, read on anyway - you never know what you might find out!
In 1690, John Locke the English philosopher and influential Enlightenment thinker wrote
"New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common".
These words are over 300 years old, but I think many people will agree with me that they stand the test of time. As an adult it is instinctive, and probably quite sensible, to be suspicious of something you know nothing about.
As a homeopath I come across many people for whom homeopathy is a new concept which is to be expected in a country where conventional medicine has become the norm. So, in an effort to allay the suspicions of anyone to whom homeopathy is something new I will give you a potted history of the origins of homeopathy in my own attempt at some enlightenment on the subject!
In the 4th century BC Hippocrates, widely considered as the Father of Modern Medicine, highlighted two ways of healing: the way of Similars - that 'like treats like' as used by homeopathy; and the way of Opposites - as used by conventional medicine (e.g. if you have a high temperature you are given something to lower it).
After Hippocrates death it was the way of Opposites which achieved greater popularity in Europe, and the way of Similars went underground as 'folk-medicine'. It made a brief appearance at the time of Paracelsus (1493-1541) when he recognised that poisons could have a positive medicinal benefit if the dose was reduced.
Two centuries later, it was discovered again by Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) a German physicist and translator.
Unhappy with the harsh medical practices of the day Hahnemann looked for a way to reduce the damaging side-effects associated with medical treatment. Hahnemann's breakthrough came while translating an article about the action of quinine in the treatment of malaria.
He was dissatisfied with the explanation given in the article and took matters into his own hands by conducting some self-experimentation. He discovered that by taking regular doses of the source of quinine - Peruvian bark - he developed the symptoms of malaria.
When he stopped taking the doses the symptoms disappeared proving that he did not actually have malaria. He deduced that the reason why this substance was successful in curing malaria was that, in a healthy person, it produced the symptoms of malaria.
This was the beginning of Hahnemann's discovery of homeopathy.
Over time and with much experimentation on himself and other willing healthy individuals he discovered that (as Paracelsus had realised centuries before) by reducing the size of the dose, the healing benefits of a substance were maintained while the side-effects were diminished.
On one occasion, a vial of medicine was dropped on the floor of his carriage. It remained there for some time being shaken by the unmade roads of the time. When he found it and used the medicine again he realised it was now even more effective. It is from this chance happening that he came across the notion of energising his medicines by shaking them - now known as succussion.
Hahnemann took the long known principle of the way of Similars and organised it into a workable, methodical system of medicine. It is these methods of dilution and succession that are still used today over 200 years later.
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