What Do I Need to Know About Homeopathic Treatment?

There is a definite course of treatment that homeopaths follow with their patients. This includes the number and frequency of follow-up visits, when to change or repeat a homeopathic remedy,
how to deal with interfering factors, and what to do in case of an emergency. All of these depend on the symptoms, prognosis, and circumstances of the individual patient.


How Soon Will I Notice a Response to My Remedy?

You may notice an immediate response from your homeopathic remedy, as in the following case.


Jody, age 6, came in because of left sided ear pain. She was so lethargic that she remained curled up in her mother’s lap during the entire half hour interview. She was fair skinned with long blonde curly hair and blue eyes. Since she developed the ear pain, she was very weepy and wanted to be with her mom all of the time. It was a struggle to get her to drink anything. She was given Pulsatilla (wind flower) in the office. Within five minutes she was running around happily and said that her ear pain was gone. She looked like a normal, healthy child again.

In other cases, it may take several weeks or a couple months after taking your remedy before you notice a change in your symptoms. The length of your treatment depends on many factors, including the severity of your illness, the clarity of your symptoms, your past medical and family health history, the type of treatments which you have had in the past, and the overall strength of your body’s defenses. Acute diseases, such as colds, flus, pneumonia, and bladder infections respond very quickly to homeopathy and will usually be cured in a few hours or one to two days. In chronic illnesses, such as arthritis, allergies, asthma, uterine fibroids, and colitis, it may take longer to respond to the remedy. After you take your remedy, you may experience a brief worsening of your symptoms. This is called an aggravation. Most aggravations last from a few hours up to several days. If an aggravation occurs, it is probably a normal part of treatment and usually means that the correct remedy has been given.


Symptoms that you have had in the past may recur during the course of homeopathic treatment. This is called the return of old symptoms. Usually they will last for a few days, then recede. It is as though the body were remembering, then repairing, an old illness. Often these symptoms will not return again.


Homeopathic treatment is analogous to both peeling an onion and digging up weeds by the root. If you are trying to clear a blackberry patch to plant a garden, you need to eradicate the plants at the roots. Cutting back the vines is only a temporary solution. Homeopathy heals by finding and curing the roots of disease. As symptoms from the past appear, your homeopath will recognize a layer of illness as it comes to the surface to be healed, or a predisposition that needs to be eliminated. She will prescribe a remedy that matches the symptoms of the layer. This process continues until all the layers, even back to your childhood and your hereditary predispositions, have been removed. During this process, you may continue to need the same homeopathic medicine, or you may need different remedies, depending on your state of health.


Sunita, age 25, heard about homeopathy from a close friend whose hay fever had been cured. She suffered from chronic allergies and hoped that she could be helped, too. Because of her particular emotional state and allergy symptoms, she was given Nux vomica. This remedy made the allergy symptoms 80 percent better. Three months later, Sunita had a flareup of her eczema, which had been suppressed with cortisone cream since childhood. She had terrible itching and was awake all night scratching herself raw. She felt very hot in bed at night. These symptoms are characteristic of homeopathic Sulphur. After receiving Sulphur, Sunita had an aggravation of the eczema for two months. She had a strong belief in homeopathy and her homeopath assured her that the flareup of the eczema was necessary for her healing to be completed. Her eczema was 90% better and the improvement has continued.


How Do I Know If The Remedy is Working?

Four to eight weeks after you take your remedy, your homeopath will evaluate the results of the prescription at the first follow-up visit. There are specific criteria which he uses to evaluate your response to a homeopathic remedy, including how much energy you have, whether your chief complaint is better, and whether you are better mentally and emotionally. By comparing your current symptoms with how you were before the remedy, he decides what to do next. He looks for what has changed, and what has stayed the same in your case. It may be obvious to you that you have improved, but sometimes our memories are long for pleasure and short for suffering. You might be surprised when he reminds you of all of the symptoms you reported before you took the remedy.


Kristy sought treatment for her chronic headaches and anger. During the initial interview, she stated that she had suffered from headaches every single day of her life. On her return visit five weeks later, we asked how she was doing. She replied that she wasn’t sure. She had not noticed a change in her anger. Yet she had not experienced one single headache, for the first time in over forty years. Kristy had quickly forgotten how debilitating her chronic headaches had been. She had been given Nux vomica, a remedy for both headaches and anger. As her homeopath suspected, by the time of her next visit two months later, her anger had diminished considerably.

What If My Progress Seems Too Slow?

If you have a chronic illness, there may be times when you feel impatient and want more immediate results from homeopathy. It is useful to remember how long it took to develop the illness and to understand that the healing of chronic illness may take time. It is unrealistic to expect that you will be completely better in a few days when you have suffered from an illness for years. Homeopathic healing is cumulative. A patient who continues with treatment for more than a year generally finds that her overall level of health improves considerably. Her complaints become more minor. Instead of having asthma, she may only experience a mild bout of hay fever. Rather than the suicidal depression she experienced before homeopathy, she may have only an occasional day of “the blues.”

Barbara began homeopathic treatment twelve years ago. At that time, she complained of terrible headaches, premenstrual syndrome which nearly incapacitated her, and asthma. She was married to a man who constantly put her down. She wanted desperately to leave the marriage, but didn’t feel strong enough to do so. She responded very well to a succession of homeopathic remedies. Over the first few years after starting treatment, her premenstrual symptoms, asthma, and headaches improved. After four years, she left her husband and felt much happier. She found a better paying job, which she liked much more. A couple of years later she started a relationship with a man who treats her tenderly and is very supportive. She has had no problems with asthma for seven years. For the past few years, her homeopath has seen her only two or three times a year for periodic episodes of neck stiffness and pain and mild premenstrual symptoms. She has been given remedies for these symptoms and felt better within days. She is happy with her life, feels good, and has few colds or minor illnesses.


How Often Will I Need to Take a Remedy?

Your homeopath will determine when you need to take a remedy based on your progress. She will decide whether or not to repeat or to change your remedy. It is important that you return for your scheduled appointments at specified intervals, even if you are doing well, so that your practitioner can carefully evaluate your progress and see if a new remedy or potency is needed. Follow-up appointments are usually scheduled every one to six months, depending on how you are doing. If, for some reason, it is impossible for you to return for a follow-up visit, at least write to your homeopath so she knows what is happening with you and how the remedy has affected you. Many homeopaths are willing to do phone interviews if an in person visit is not possible.


Do not be surprised if your homeopath decides to wait weeks or months before prescribing another remedy. More harm is likely to be done by giving a remedy too soon than by waiting too long, or by changing the remedy before the first remedy has completed its action.


Prescription Drugs and Homeopathy

If you are taking prescription drugs when you first see a homeopath, he may prescribe the homeopathic remedy in low potency daily doses. This often involves a delicate balance of gradually decreasing the dosage of your prescription medication as your symptoms are improving, with the guidance of the prescribing physician. If you have taken thyroid medications for years or are on heart medication or insulin, you will probably need to remain on these medications, as your physician prescribes them, for the rest of your life, with or without homeopathic treatment. Another alternative is to wait to begin your remedy until the medications are stopped so that there will be no confusion between the results of starting the remedy and stopping the prescription drug. This requires coordination between the patient, the homeopath, and the prescribing physician.


Some homeopaths will not treat patients on allopathic drugs, because they think that prescription medications make the prognosis less favorable. The majority of homeopaths, however, will treat you despite the drugs you are taking. Certain drug may not be compatible with homeopathic treatment, including antibiotics, steroids and chemo-therapeutic drugs when used on an ongoing basis. Any medication that suppresses the symptoms the body is trying to express is likely to interfere with homeopathic treatment. The two treatments may work at cross purposes. One example of this is the use of birth control pills specifically to treat irregular periods and menstrual discomfort. By preventing ovulation, the real symptoms of menstruation may be masked, making the task of finding the correct homeopathic remedy difficult or impossible. The same is true if you are taking drugs to suppress a discharge or a skin eruptions. This may be the outlet that your body needs for healing and these drugs may thwart that process.


Will I Have to Take a Homeopathic Remedy Forever?

Yes and no. As long as you are well, or in the process of changing for the better, you will not need a remedy for months or even years. Homeopathy makes you more resistant to disease, but life is stressful and you may not stay well forever, even if your homeopathic treatment has been effective. If you develop new symptoms or your old symptoms return, it is important to check in with your homeopath to see if you need to be treated again. Many patients who are treated homeopathically are so satisfied that they continue to use homeopathy for the rest of their lives.


When Should I Contact My Homeopath?


  1. If you develop an acute illness that needs treatment. Call your homeopath before seeking other forms of treatment for acute illnesses. If you have a medical emergency such as a car accident, severe bleeding, heart attack, stroke, or poisoning, get emergency medical treatment immediately, then call your homeopath as soon as possible. If you have rapidly progressing acute symptoms such as an earache, pain when urinating, or an unusually bad cough, call your homeopath immediately. If you cannot reach your homeopath, seek conventional medical care for severe acute illnesses.
  2. If you think that you have been exposed to one of the substances that interfere with homeopathic treatment. Your homeopath may wait one to two weeks before re-evaluating your case and deciding whether to repeat your remedy. This waiting period is sometimes necessary to evaluate whether your previous symptoms return and to give you a chance to recover without the need for repeating the remedy.
  3. If you think nothing has happened from the remedy and you want to use another form of treatment to alleviate your symptoms. You may not have waited long enough to feel the full effect of the remedy you have been given, or the remedy may not be correct. In either case, using another treatment before the action of the remedy has been evaluated may confuse your case. Your practitioner may be able to recommend something that will alleviate your discomfort yet will not interfere with your homeopathic treatment.
  4. If you experience a severe aggravation after you take a remedy. This is unusual, but it can happen and your practitioner should know about it immediately.
  5. If you experience significant symptoms that you have never had before. These may come from the remedy you have taken or from another cause, but they need to be promptly evaluated by your homeopath.
  6. If you experience a severe return of old symptoms lasting more than two weeks. A return of old symptoms is usually mild and short lasting, but occasionally the situation needs evaluation and treatment.
  7. If you want to use prescription medications that you have not already discussed with your homeopath. This includes antibiotics, steroids, anti-inflammatories, hormones and other strong prescription drugs that may disturb your treatment.
  8. If you need to have dental work or surgery. If it is an emergency and you can not reach your homeopath, have the work done. If the dental care can wait, your homeopath may have a preference as to when the dental work is least likely to interfere with your homeopathic treatment.
  9. If you need extensive diagnostic procedures. CAT scans, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imagery), exploratory surgery or other procedures may affect your treatment. You should use these diagnostic techniques when necessary, but let your homeopath know.
  10. If you do not know when to come in for your next follow-up appointment or you are unsure whether to continue homeopathic treatment. Your homeopath can guide you to the most appropriate next step in your healing process. If homeopathy has not worked well for you, which is occasionally the case, your homeopath may refer you to another homeopath or to a different type of practitioner.
  11. If you are traveling and need medical care. Your homeopath may be able to treat you by telephone, or to recommend a homeopath nearby. In emergencies, remedies can be sent by overnight mail or taken on your trip in a traveling kit. This is far better than to risk interfering with your treatment.

Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman ND MSW Written by Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman ND MSW

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