Homeopathy is More than an Alternative Treatment For Pet Health
Learn about the benefits of homeopathic remedies and their use in treating various conditions in both humans and animals.
Dr. Samuel Hahnemann established the Science of Homeopathy in Germany over 200 years ago, and along with many other alternatives and complementary medical practices it is becoming increasingly common in veterinary care. Homeopathy offers safe and effective treatments for common and rare illnesses without any of the sometimes life-threatening side effects of conventional medications. Its uses include first aid and acute and chronic conditions that span the complete spectrum of physical, mental, and emotional diseases.
History of Homeopathy
Through his study of sickness and healing, Dr. Hahnemann theorized a vital force that promotes the correction of imbalances that cause disease. He also desired to render the medicines of his day such as arsenic and mercury less toxic. Investigating dilutions of the medicines, he discovered that very, very minute quantities of normally toxic substances could stimulate the body’s own healing mechanism and vital force.
Homeopathy evolved since Hahnemann’s time, and through observation and experiment, certain guiding principles have been discovered.
Like Cures Like
Also called the Law of Similars, this is the cornerstone of Homeopathy. It states that minuscule doses of a substance that in large doses can cause illness will treat disease by stimulating the body’s own healing mechanisms. In general, the same symptoms that a substance will cause in a large dose are those treated by an incredibly small dose. For example, coffee is taken in a large dose before bedtime can cause insomnia, however, a homeopathic dose can induce sleep. Arsenic is an extremely toxic chemical, yet, taken homeopathically will treat food poisoning.
The Law of Potentization
This principle is sometimes hard to accept for those of us brought up with the notion more is always better. The Law of Potentization states the higher the dilution of a remedy, the more potent the remedy. A Silica 100x remedy, though more dilute (and therefore containing less silica), is more potent than a remedy of a lower dilution, for example, Silica 30x.
Hering’s Law of Cure
Dr. Constantine Hering is considered the Father of American Homeopathy. He realized, as we now understand, the body is interconnected mentally, emotionally, and physically. He made three observations, now known as Hering’s Law of Cure.
- The body seeks to externalize disease, and symptoms are the external manifestation of an underlying imbalance. For example, an allergy may be a physical manifestation of an underlying emotional disorder. Treating the symptoms of the allergy does not treat the cause of the allergy. Not addressing the underlying disorder will frequently cause the body to produce even more symptoms.
- The healing process begins at the top of the body and progresses downward, and from the most important organs to the least important. The healing of the cause of a rash will cause the rash to begin clearing at the top of the body first. If the treatment is not addressing the underlying cause, the disappearance of the rash will take a different course. For example, a steroid cream applied to the whole body will cause the rash to leave over the whole body at the same time. This is not treating the cause of the rash.
- Healing progresses in the reverse chronological order than the symptoms appeared. This means the patient may experience symptoms that they thought were gone as part of their healing. This can lead to a Healing Crisis.
What Are Homeopathic Remedies?
Remedies are the medicines of Homeopathy. They are substances diluted greatly, sometimes until none of the original substance remains in the remedy. Plants, the elements of nature, chemicals, animal secretions, or even drugs like penicillin are used to make remedies.
How does Homeopathy work?
The body naturally desires to be in a state of balance and harmony, and symptoms are an indication of a deep imbalance or disease. Homeopathic remedies gently stimulate and activate the body’s own healing mechanisms, which then act to correct the underlying imbalance causing the symptoms. (This is unlike much of conventional medicine, which suppresses the symptoms of a disease, but does not treat the cause.) Think of homeopathic remedies as a jump-start to the body’s healing engine.
What do the labels mean?
It’s easier to understand a remedy label than you think. The remedy name is the Latin word for the component. For example, Argentum Mitricum is silver nitrate, used to treat certain types of anxiety, among other conditions. Hypericum is a well-known herb, St. John’s Wort. The number after the name is the dilution, though some explanation is in order.
Hahnemann diluted remedies by taking 99 parts of a mixture of water and alcohol and adding 1 part of the original substance, then shaking the mixture 100 times. (The alcohol is used to preserve the substance and is usually about 20% of the water/alcohol mixture.) The shaking is called dynamizing or succussing and energizes the solution. This first dilution, or potency, is given the symbol 1C. Taking 1 part of a 1C dilution and mixing with 99 parts of water/alcohol, then shaking, gives a 2C potency. A remedy with a potency of 30C, Hypericum 30C for example, has had the process performed 30 times.
As the field evolved some German and American doctors began using dilutions of 1 part substance to 9 parts water/alcohol. The dynamizing remained the same. These remedies are referred to as decimal potencies and the symbol is “X” in the US and “D” in Europe. One might see Argentum Mitricum 10x or Argentum Mitricum D10. (Another method of dilution, seldom used in the US, was developed by a Russian, Dr. Korsakov, and uses the symbol K.)
Once a final dilution is arrived at, the remedy is administered as a liquid or absorbed onto small inert pellets that can be dissolved in the mouth.
Is there anything left? How good is a homeopathic remedy that is highly diluted?
The rational person will certainly wonder how this stuff works because by the time you get to a 12C or 24x dilution none of the original substance is left? Moreover, how does potency increase as the dilution increases? Though science has not shown exactly how everything works, it has proven that homeopathic remedies store electromagnetic energy from the original substance, and numerous studies have shown remedies effective in treating every disease imaginable.
Most experts believe since information is stored electromagnetically, not physically in the remedy, it makes perfect sense to work with dilutions where none of the original substance remains. In addition, choosing the correct remedy for a particular animal and condition is considered more important than the dilution used.
Benefits and Effectiveness of Homeopathic Remedies
Countless treatments have proven Homeopathy’s incredible safety and effectiveness. Other advantages include:
- No side effects (unlike most conventional medicines)
- Will not mask symptoms (if the symptoms resolve, you know you have the correct remedy and have treated the disease, if not, then you know you need a different remedy)
- Oral administration
- Strengthening the immune system
- Inexpensive compared to traditional medicines
Treatment: Using Homeopathic Remedies
Remedies come as a liquid or very small pellets. You may administer them as frequently as every 15 minutes in an emergency situation, or once a day for a chronic condition. Remedies should not be given with food and administered at least 30 minutes before or after a meal.
You should not touch the pellets. Shake the needed number into the bottle cap, and then place them in your pet’s mouth. Remedies should not be swallowed or chewed but allowed to dissolve in the mouth (which only takes a moment). Your pet will usually allow you to place the pellets between their gum and cheek, or under their tongue. If your companion is difficult and resists the pellets, dissolve them in a tiny amount of water and administer it with a dropper. Liquid remedies may be dropped on, under the tongue, or inside the cheek with a dropper (usually included with the remedy).
Classical and Combination Homeopathic Remedies
There are over 1500 known remedies traditionally given as individual treatments after a thorough evaluation of the patient. For instance, a dog with a high-strung disposition may need a particular remedy for itchy skin, and a dog with a more laid-back personality may require a different remedy. A classical homeopathist, because of their extensive knowledge of remedies and training will, after a complete evaluation, select the one or two most appropriate remedies for your animal.
As Homeopathy grew, combination remedies were developed. A combination remedy for diarrhea contains the three or four remedies for the most common causes of diarrhea. The idea is the appropriate remedy will assist in healing diarrhea, while the others will not have any effect, and not cause any harm.
Treating on your own
Educating yourself about Homeopathy and remedies and using your knowledge for treating mild to moderate, self-limiting diseases can be safe and effective. It is wise to seek the advice of a professional for severe or chronic conditions.
What a holistic veterinarian will do
Your visit to a holistic vet will involve a great deal more than asking what is wrong with your pet, and an exam. The vet will need to have a complete picture of your pet’s life, and yours. They will want to know about your pet’s environment, changes in lifestyle, diet, when symptoms occur, what seems to cause them, what associations to other events there are. You get the picture. A holistic approach tailors the treatment to the unique and individual life you and your pet.
It is not unusual for symptoms to worsen once a remedy is begun. In allopathic medicine, this may be a sign the treatment is not working, but in Homeopathy it is a sign the correct remedy was chosen and the condition is being healed. This phenomenon occurs because the remedy gives the body the power to react against the illness and begin the healing process. Higher potencies, because they are stronger, may be more likely to precipitate a healing crisis. If you are treating your pet yourself, it is wise to begin with lower potencies. (A 30C dilution is a good starting point.)
Treating the cause of disease
Homeopathic remedies jump-start the bodies healing mechanisms and assist it in returning to a state of balance, however, the lifestyle, nutritional, mental, emotional, and environmental factors that contributed to the illness in the first place must be addressed to prevent the illness from returning. The body wants to be healthy but needs the proper support to be at its peak.
As the study of Homeopathy grew it became apparent chronic conditions are the result of many underlying imbalances and the notion of a single remedy for a unique condition did not always apply. Today, you will find chronic diseases treated with combination remedies that detoxify and treat the underlying imbalances.
While an exhaustive list of remedies is beyond the scope of this article, a few samples will show you the power of Homeopathy for treating many diverse conditions.
- Arnica is a flowering herb and an important remedy. It is used to treat muscle soreness and bruises and should be the first remedy given for any type of injury.
- Chamomilla is an herb well known for its calming effect. It may be used before an anxiety-provoking event like a vet visit or long car trip.
- Silicea is a mineral used to treat problems resulting from poor nutrition, after-effects of vaccination, and many chronic diseases.
- Apis is used to reduce swelling from allergic reactions, including severe anaphylactic, and joint swelling and pain.
- Hypericum is used for excessive pain from injuries and toothaches.
- Colchicum is a plant frequently used for joint stiffness.
- Arsenicum Album, Nux Vomica, and Phosphorus are all used to treat various types of diarrhea.
In the end
We all want the best for our companion animals and homeopathy offers effective and safe treatments that along with proper nutrition, exercise, and emotional support will keep the loves of our lives strong and healthy into their senior years.
You can also check how does diet affect behavior in dogs.