Homeopathy Definition

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A homeopathy definition goes something like this. If you take someone fit and healthy and give them a poison, they'll produce symptoms.

If the poison is dangerous, they might die, of course, but lots of lesser poisons are encountered every day. We don't die from them! We just produce symptoms, from which we later recover.

Poisons? Homoeopathic? Examples?

Coffee shows how it works

After a strong coffee on an empty stomach, what happens to most people who aren't used to it?

Here's what happens to me, at any rate, and in one form or another, to many others like me. But you might not get ALL the symptoms.

  • Nerves become excitable;
  • You feel extra aware - your senses become more acute;
  • You feel 'wired': lively, awake, reactive, jittery, a bit hyper;
  • You become more sensitive to noise, touch, odours;
  • You feel more powerful; able to do anything - Superman! The primary action in Chinese medicine is often to move Qi. Qi stagnation is a major problem, about which I've written a book ('Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress'). Coffee seems to increase Yang energy (though there's a price to pay for this, see coffee) but can make symptoms of Qi stagnation worse.
  • You feel hungrier. Often you want to eat foods that you know don't suit you or even those that are bad for you.
  • You may find your bowels move more easily, and you may even get diarrhoea
  • Your sleep is disturbed, sometimes for several nights. Often you feel restless and cannot get to sleep from the rush of ideas. Or you wake often, from minor sounds.
  • You may get a mild headache, or notice noises in your ears.
  • As the symptoms wear off, you feel tired, mildly irritable and want another coffee!

Those are just a few of the symptoms you might get!

By the way, you may not agree that coffee is a poison! But apart from its stimulating effect, it carries no nutrition. Of course, we often take it with milk in which case the nutrition comes from the milk, not from the coffee. On its own, it just stimulates, forcing your adrenal glands to pump out adrenalin, making you hyper.

What happened?

The primary action of the coffee was stimulating. Its secondary action was deflating. But it's the primary action that we're interested in.

Now suppose that someone who had never taken coffee came for homoeopathic treatment for symptoms like those listed above.

According to the homeopathy definition, the symptoms produced by coffee would match the symptoms reported by the patient.

If so, coffee would be the homeopathic 'remedy'. (The word 'remedy' is used to denote the homoeopathic medicine. It seems, somehow, a friendlier word.)

So what's the homeopathy definition?

A homeopathy definition

The basic homeopathy definition is called the 'law of similars'.

That means, to cure your symptoms, take something that would produce something like them.

Note the word 'similars'. This means 'like', not exactly the same. Otherwise, if you got the above coffee symptoms from taking a strong coffee, you'd expect to get rid of them by taking more coffee!

A second part to the definition

Less important than the law of similars, but still important as part of the homeopathy definition, is what is called the minimum dose.

The Minimum Dose

This means that you should only give enough to stimulate change in the right direction. In other words, don't keep taking the medicine until you are sure you need it again.

We aren't used to this in Western medicine. For a pain, you'd continue to take the painkiller until the pain went away.

But in homoeopathy, with the minimum dose and the law of similars, you'd take only just enough to start your body mending itself, so that it got rid of the symptoms itself.


This can mean that some patients sometimes need to take just one dose of the homeopathic remedy, once. Just one dose: if that is enough to get your body to make whatever changes are necessary to get better why take more?

It sometimes also means, that if you've taken many medicines for your symptoms over the years, or had surgery for them, you may get what is called an 'aggravation' after taking the correct remedy.

An aggravation happens after you take the remedy, when you get a flare-up of your symptoms, inexplicable in any way except as having been caused by taking the remedy.

Not everyone gets aggravations.

If you do get one, it usually means the remedy was correct. Aggravations don't last long, usually just a few minutes or hours. If you can, put up with them, and try not to take anything to antidote them.

Of course, if to make your living you have to perform and the aggravation is preventing that, then you must take whatever medicine you've been prescribed by your doctor. But keep a note of what happened.

If the aggravation is bad, ring your homoeopath.

So that is the second part of the homeopathy definition.

The Minimum Dose is the Problem!

Why is the minimum dose a problem?

Because in an effort to reduce the physical effects of taking a poison, Hahnemann (see picture) and his successors diluted the remedy.

Samuel Hahnemann 1755-1843

They found that by diluting the remedy again and again, between very solidly shaking it (in a glass vial, of course, and the shaking was actually hitting it firmly on a big book, like a bible, a process known as 'succussing'), although it reduced its purely poisonous chemical effects, the ability of the remedy to heal was enhanced.

They did this so much that they ran out of any traces of the original medicine from which the remedy was derived!

Because of such high dilutions in water, to the point where no trace of the original remained, most modern scientists can't believe the remedy has any beneficial qualities.

Why, they argue, should water have any effect?

It's a good point, and until recently homeopaths didn't know. There may now be perhaps a glimmer of an answer.


However, many homeopaths use dilutions which, whilst safe, DO include some traces of the original material.

Like people, homoeopaths vary. Speaking for myself, I have had remarkable results using both high and low dilutions. If people suggest that my results are due to the action of placebo, I merely say that when I give homoeopathic 'placebos' - ie remedies - I seem to get better results than when the 'placebo' is not homoeopathic.


But, and it's a big BUT, the remedy must be individualised to the patient:

  • according to the law of similars
  • at the right potency ie succussed level of dilution
  • in the right dose - ie frequency

Just giving a remedy to lots of people with a given illness won't work. Each of them must be carefully assessed, their case history taken and considered, and the appropriate homoeopathic remedy given in the right potency and dose.

And sometimes I'm wrong in one of those three variables and need to think again. That it doesn't get a patient right immediately doesn't mean homoeopathy doesn't work!

After all, apparently only about 15% of modern prescribed drugs given by doctors actually work, according to the exhaustive tests done on them. Presumably the rest are placebos, an alarming thought for pharmacists.

So, summarising the homeopathy definition there are

  • the law of similars
  • the minimum dose

That's about it. Of course, reams of paper have been covered explaining the whole question of the homeopathy definition, how to practise homeopathy, how to interpret results and what to do next!

In fact the second remedy, (the one you give after the one that worked) is almost a bigger subject than learning how to prescribe the first remedy!

More information on Homoeopathy

Jonathan is a member of the Scottish Association of Professional Homoeopaths - RSAPH.

If you have enjoyed reading this, or other, pages on this site, you might enjoy a book by its author, Jonathan Clogstoun-Willmott.

Jonathan Clogstoun-Willmott Books

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Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress

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Western Astrology and Chinese Medicine

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