Varieties of Homeopathy
Just as practices in conventional medicine vary, so does the practice of homeopathic medicine.
The variety can be a bit bewildering.
Below is a list of different homeopathic practices, practitioners and medicines that one is likely to find in North America for treating chronic conditions.
In the US, Homeopathic remedies are classified as over the counter medications by the FDA, but higher potencies(>30C) and some specific remedies may have professionally restricted distribution.
What is it? This is homeopathy practiced more or less the way that Samuel Hahnemann (the founder of homeopathy) did. One remedy is given at a time, on an individualized basis, based on the Law of Similars. The patient's individual responses to the medicine drive the direction of treatment at each step. The results are observed and analyzed before changes are made.
This is the most common form of chronic homeopathic practice in North America. In their practices, Classical Homeopaths exclusively use "single remedies," i.e. remedies derived from a single source.
Pros: Over 225 years, Classical Homeopathy has accumulated a tremendous body of evidence for its effectiveness, both in the field, in laboratory research and in the clinical setting. It's a very safe, very consistent, and very effective form of medicine.
Cons: Because classical homeopathy is based on different principles, it is hard to learn, and time consuming to practice. One can't just dispense medications and expect them to work. Homeopathic medicines need to be very specifically applied to be effective.
Modern or Compound Homeoapthy
What is it? In Modern Homeopathy a number of remedies may be combined into "formulas" that are typically given on a therapeutic basis, i.e. for specific conditions. Classical homeopaths will say modern homeopathy is not homeopathy, but is instead conventional medicine (allopathy) using homeopathic medicines instead of drugs. This is the predominant form of homeopathy in Europe, and some naturopathic physicians in the United States use homeopathic medicines in their practice in this way.
Pros: The choice of medicines is vastly simplified by giving a bunch of remedies at once for a single condition. Baby has colic? Give the colic formula! This may be a good approach for some acute situations. Many Hyland's products and other homeopathic therapeutic (condition based remedies) are compound remedies.
Cons: After dosing, neither the practitioner, nor the homeopath can know which remedy in the formula acted. Likewise it is difficult to know if the formula actually cured the condition or just suppressed the symptoms. For long term illness the effect of this approach is less well understood.
Who Practices it? In the US, a number of naturopathic physicians and conventional medical professionals use this methodology because it is quick and easy to make appropriate recommendations, and the dispensing approach is similar to dispensing conventional pharmaceuticals.
What is it? Similar to compound homeopathy, Protocol-Based Homeopathy employs single homeopathic medicines, but administers them therapeutically -- i.e. to treat specific conditions. This form of homeopathy is most common in India but is by no means the only form practiced there.
A few practitioners in the US have adopted these practices, where they are, by and large, considered "nonstandard." Because this form of remedy administration violates so many rules of Classical Homeopathy, protocols are considered highly controversial among Classical Homeopaths.
Pros: Protocols are quick and easy to apply.
Cons: Outside of India there is very little evidence to show that protocols are a safe and effective way to administer homeopathic medicines.
Additionally, the administration of repeated, dry, high-potency doses of remedies, contradicts a number of fundamental, guiding principles of classical homeopathy that ensure safety. Protocols are by definition, not individualized, and are therefore not applied using the Law of Similars, which is the basis for Classical Homeopathy.
Who Practices it? A handful of homeopaths in the US, have moved over to this approach, including Joette Calabrese.
Naturopaths & Homeopathy
What is it? Over the last 20 plus years, Homeopathy has fallen out of favor with many schools of Naturopathic Medicine in North America, such that many schools have eliminated it from their curriculum.
Nonetheless, a significant number of Naturopathic physicians (ND's) still employ homeopathic medicines in their practice, most commonly in compound formulas (see above) used n conjunction with other approaches such as herbalism. There are still a number of Naturopathic physicians who out of choice and training, practice Classical Homeopathy with great skill.
Pros: Naturopathic training extends to multiple healing modalities, of which homeopathy is one, so naturopathic physicians can "mix and match" different treatment modalities with homeopathy on a case by case basis.
Cons: Different Naturopathic physicians may employ different forms of homeopathy in their practice -- modern or classical. Few are currently trained in Classical Homeopathy.
Physicians of Conventional Medicine and Homeopathy
Homeopathic training and certifications are beginning to be offered to and accepted by conventional medical professionals.
The American Institute of Homeopathy (AIH), the oldest medical association in the United States, has offered board certification in homeopathic therapeutics, through the American Board of Homeotherapeutics since 1960 (D. Ht.).
Other Homeopathically-Related Medicines
Worldwide, homeopathy has diversified into branches of practice which, while they may use homeopathic medicines, have quite different approaches and philosophies about health. There are also other kinds of medicines produced on some homeopathic principles. Bach Flower Remedies and Scheussler Cell Salts are two classes of medicines that are not considered Classical Homeopathy but which are widely adopted and used as adjuncts by most Classical Homeopaths in North America.
Gemmotherapy, a third class of medicines created in the mid 20th Century, based on homeopathic principles, is an offshoot derived from plant bud extracts. Gemmotherapy is mostly practiced by naturopathic physicians and a few homeopaths.
Compound remedies for acute conditions are also widely available in North America and are often the first contact that people have with homeopathic medicine.
The Dynamic Field of Homeopathy
Homeopathy is a growing and changing field.
I have done my best to ensure the accuracy of statements on this page. If you find, or are aware of any programs or practices that I have missed, or that you feel I am in error about, please contact me.