Health and Immunity - Part 1 of a two-part series
WHAT IS HOMEOPATHY?
"The highest ideal of therapy is to restore health rapidly, gently, permanently; to remove and destroy the whole disease in the shortest, surest, least harmful way, according to clearly comprehensible principles." -- Dr. Samuel Hahnemann --
Like Cures Like
Homeopathy is a form of medicine based on the law of similars, or the principle that "like cures like". When substances are given to healthy people, they produce symptoms, and when they are given to people or animals with the same symptoms, they will stimulate the body to heal itself. For instance, an onion causes burning, watering eyes. The homeopathic remedy Allium cepa, made from the onion, relieves the burning, watering eyes of a cold, especially when accompanied by the characteristic symptom of burning nasal discharge.
Matching a remedy picture (the symptoms a substance causes) to disease symptoms is the key - the closer the match, the better the results. Therefore, all the symptoms, such as diarrhea, dry cough, excessive urination, flaky skin, anxiety, nervousness, and even the times of day when symptoms are worse, are considered when choosing a remedy. Past as well as current symptoms are considered. The goal is to find the simillimum, the exact match. If not the simillimum, a close remedy can stimulate a healing response.
The remedy pictures were determined, historically, by scientifically proving the remedies, made from plant, mineral, and animal sources, which means each remedy was tested on healthy individuals. Then, all the changes, or symptoms, caused by the remedy, were recorded in detail. The symptoms the substance causes, in a healthy body, can be cured in a sick body. This is how the Materia Medicas, which describe the effects of all the research, were developed.
While in good health, Samuel Hahnemann took, for experimental reasons, large doses of Cinchona, or Peruvian bark. Cinchona was used for treating people with malaria. He developed symptoms, such as drowsiness, cold fingertips and feet, heart palpitations, quick pulse and more - all of which were symptoms similar to malaria. The symptoms lasted for only a few hours, but recurred each time he repeated the dose. He concluded that the drug Cinchona, when taken by a healthy person, induced symptoms similar to malaria, the disease for which it was administered as treatment. Thus, Cinchona, which quinine is made from, is a remedy for intermittent fever (malaria), and acts because it can produce the symptoms similar to those of intermittent fever in a healthy person.
Hahnemann continued to conduct scientific provings, testing numerous substances on healthy people to see what symptoms each substance would produce. He recorded the results of each in his Materia Medica (materials of medicine). There are over 2,000 remedies in use today.
Homeopathy is Not Herbal Medicine
While most of the homeopathic remedies are made from plants, and while plants have powers of healing, homeopathy and herbal medicine are very different. In herbal medicine, plant substances, in their natural form, work on a physiological level to induce healing, stimulate the immune system, or provide nutrients. Homeopathic remedies work to rebalance the underlying energy field of the body, which then allows the tissues to become healthy again.
Herbs require caution, because it is possible, with some herbs, to overdose and to poison, and they may cause side effects, allergic reactions, and pharmaceutical interactions. Herbs can be poisonous, where homeopathic remedies cannot, because of the amount of substance present in each. Also, poisonous plants, like hemlock and deadly nightshade, would be lethal in the herbal form, while the homeopathically prepared (repeatedly diluted and succussed) remedies from each, Conium and Belladonna, are not toxic at all.
The manner of cure is also different - in homeopathy, remedies stimulate the body to heal and balance itself, and to strengthen its underlying weaknesses and susceptibilities, rather than chemically forcing changes in the physical body. Herbal medicine, for instance, may use garlic, a natural antifungal and antiseptic, to kill off the fungus of rain rot and scratches, allowing the body to regroup and heal. The underlying susceptibility for fungal problems, however, may not have been corrected. Herbal products generally treat one problem at a time rather than the underlying cause of all the problems.
How can you tell if a product is homeopathic or herbal? Homeopathic product labels list the ingredients immediately followed by their potencies, such as Allium sativa 30c, or Rhus tox 12x. (See SIDE BAR.) Herbal remedies are not potentized, therefore the ingredient only is listed. Most over-the-counter homeopathic remedies are available in the range of 6x through 30c, and higher potencies such as 200c or 1M are special-ordered.
Treat the Individual, Not the Disease
The emphasis of homeopathy is on treating the whole individual rather than the disease. Disease is viewed as merely an expression of the body that all is not well. The symptoms of disease are a set of clues guiding to the appropriate remedy, or simillimum.
The best remedy is determined by considering all the symptoms, and all the characteristics, of each individual.
While homeopathic remedies can be chosen merely to treat the current problem, the best approach is to find that remedy which matches all the characteristics and peculiarities, strengths and weaknesses, mentally, emotionally, and physically. When the simillimum is used, the condition goes away and the individual will be more healthy overall.
Stimulate, Not Manipulate
The body has an inborn intelligence, known, in homeopathy, as the vital force. Its amazing capacity to overcome illness and heal wounds without help proves that. The purpose of a homeopathic remedy is to support and encourage that wisdom, by stimulating a healing response in an individual.
The remedies, unlike drugs and some herbs, do not manipulate the body. A correctly chosen remedy gives a signal, triggering a response, and the body does the healing. While drugs force a response, often affecting the entire body unnecessarily and thwarting its attempts to heal itself, properly chosen homeopathic remedies work with the body and not against it. With its inner intelligence, the body knows what to do, and where to do it.
WHAT IS IMMUNITY?
Immunity is protection. More specifically, it is the quality or condition of being able to resist a particular disease, especially through preventing the establishment of a pathogenic microorganism in the body, or by counteracting the effects of its products.
Immunity is memory. Every day, we and our animals are exposed to thousands of airborne viruses and bacteria. Yet most of us stay healthy, in spite of the constant bombardment. Why? Because we have a functioning immune system. It has a memory, and has learned to fight off the "germs" we have been exposed to before, and this keeps us protected from them. The body has an amazing capacity to protect and defend itself from naturally occurring invaders. We develop immunity to them, often with subsequent immunities to similar invaders. Some of these memories last a lifetime, and some fade as exposure lessens.
Immunity is earned. What if you were to lock yourself in a sterile room for a few months, and then walk outside? It would be interesting to see what disease you would contract. Without constant exposure to some invaders, the immune system defenses gradually decrease. The more things we are exposed to, and the more we are challenged by small amounts more often, the stronger our immune system becomes, and the more we resist disease. With gentle, regular, immune-system stimulation, all the defenses will remain at their strongest.
Immunity is individual. Where one horse has a strong immunity to a particular disease, another horse may not. While one horse develops a long-lasting immunity, another's immunity may be short-lived. Immunity varies from one body to another.
CAN IMMUNITY BE DETERMINED?
The Law of Similars
To determine if humoral immunity exists, titer tests can be performed to get some idea of the horse's immune status. Blood is drawn and tested for the presence of antibodies to a particular disease. Separate tests are required for each disease.
Not many labs perform them, and few private labs are capable of doing a good titer test. The New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania, Cornell, and Kansas State are a few places that can do them.
The problem with titer testing is that while the test may be accurate, the results may not be very useful. The standards that have been established as to what is an adequate amount of antibodies for protection against each disease, are not definitive. Titer does not necessarily equal protection. Some animals may not be protected even with high titers, and others may be protected with low titers. However, some veterinarians think they are useful, just to have some idea of the number of antibodies, or if there are any at all. It may help to make a decision on whether or not an immunization is needed. According to one veterinarian, influenza, rhino, and rabies are the most frequently requested titer tests.
HOW IS IMMUNITY ACHIEVED?
Good Nutrition, Healthy Lifestyle, Optimum Vitality
Healthy animals are naturally resistant to most of life's onslaughts. It is unfortunate that many veterinarians, like many human doctors, don't impress upon owners the importance of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle for optimum wellness and natural protection.
Looking healthy, however, may not always be healthy. An underlying weakness or predisposition to a disease may be present, but not readily noticeable. Most of the time, an exposed, healthy horse will not get sick. However, some horses will.
Holistic veterinarian Dr. Kim Henneman explains, "To a homeopath, an animal, over the years, may have a specific, energetic susceptibility to a disease. He may be exposed frequently to that disease, but it makes no difference in building his defenses. Whether he seems to be in the prime of health, or in an obviously weakened state, he will still come down with the disease, if he has an underlying susceptibility to it." This is called chronic disease.
Homeopathic constitutional treatment, which recognizes weakness and takes susceptibility into consideration, is the way to approach such a problem. Through proper constitutional treatment, the underlying cause of that susceptibility would be addressed.
Immunity to disease can also be achieved through exposure to that disease, in one way or another.
"Let's go get sick," Dr. Kim Henneman happily told her healthy colt, as they prepared to go visit a barn where another horse had an active disease. That's easy for a veterinarian to say! Exposing her horse to the disease would build his immunity. Dr. Henneman, a holistic veterinarian and classical homeopath specializing in sport horses, uses homeopathy, acupuncture, herbs, and other therapies in her practice. She was ready with remedies to treat the colt if needed.
Dr. Christina Chambreau, holistic veterinarian and educator, says, "The more a horse is exposed to diseases, the more likely he is protected, more so than the horse that is never exposed." She explains, "Too often, we wish to protect against all bad things; we want to prevent, and we want to get rid of diseases quickly, all at the cost of overall health. If we were to shift our thinking and take the opposite approach instead, we would use a wide spectrum of healing modalities to help this individual animal stay healthy."
For some deadly diseases, especially those communicable to humans, good health and natural exposure are not enough to assure disease prevention in every situation. The risk, no matter how small, of getting these diseases, is not worth taking. Fortunately, for tetanus, rabies, and a few other killers, there are reliable, effective means of assuring protection.
|NHM wishes to give special thanks to Dr. Kim Henneman, Dr. Christina Chambreau, and Dr. Ronald Schultz for their help in preparing this article.|
There is never only one right way. Everybody is individual; there are different ways for different individuals.