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Homeopathy -- More Than Just a Home Remedy

By Andrea Estrada
Arnica for Bruises? Belladonna for Fevers?

The next time you sprain an ankle and you're reaching for an ice pack, you might want to grab some Arnica montana (also known as Leopard's Bane) while you're at it. This homeopathic is a common remedy for pain, bruising, and muscle soreness.

And if you're running a fever, try dissolving some belladonna under your tongue to be absorbed by your energy body.

These are two examples of homeopathy, an alternative approach to medical treatment quickly gaining popularity in the United States. It has been used commonly in England, Germany and other parts of Europe for hundreds of years. In France, for example, every pharmacy employs at least one specialist in homeopathic treatment.

Homeopathics Work Much Like Immunizations Do

Homeopathics are natural substances derived from plant, animal, and mineral products that when taken in minute doses stimulate the body's appropriate response to a particular symptom.

They work much like immunizations do to prevent diseases, but instead of producing antibodies that ward off illness, homeopathics stimulate the body's natural means of relieving symptoms.

One example is rhustoxicondron, which comes from the poison ivy plant and will, when taken as a homeopathic, relieve the itch of poison oak and poison ivy. When taken in a large dose, however, it will actually exacerbate it.

"Homeopathy is bio-energy medicine," said Laurie Counihan-Childs, a practitioner in Santa Barbara, California. "It stimulates the life force and works with symptoms that already exist."

Another example is ipecacuanha, a plant derivative, which relieves indigestion when taken in small doses. It is also the main component in syrup of ipecac, and when taken in large amounts, will induce the body to purge itself.

Business Booms for Providers of Homeopathic Products

A product of the booming homeopathy industry are pharmacies that specializes in natural and homeopathic remedies and emphasize natural healing and holistic health. Most of these pharmacies carry herbs, vitamins, and nutritional supplements in addition to a cadre of homeopathic remedies containing such derivatives as belladonna, echinacea, goldenseal, calendula, and baptisia.

As homeopathy becomes more popular, the business of providing homeopathic products is growing by leaps and bounds. Once dispensed only by homeopathy practitioners, they are now available in any number of retail outlets and a large number of homeopathic pharmacies are springing up throughout California and other States.

Longs Drugs, a chain with more than 300 stores in the western United States, carries homeopathic products at nearly all its locations, according to Jared Kolemaimen, manager of a Longs Drugs in Southern California. "Homeopathics are one of the hot things right now and we do a pretty good business," he says.

Shelves are stocked twice weekly with products from homeopathic wholesalers. The most popular products are those that relieve flu and arthritis symptoms. "Instead of taking over-the-counter medicines people are interested in taking these," Kolemaimen says.

An Option When Traditional Prescriptions Don't Work

And where do the pharmacists stand on the issue of homeopathics? "Some recommend them and some don't. It depends on whether they support them and believe they work."

According to manager Jill Bamford, the Homeopathic Pharmacy in Santa Barbara, California, brings in a lot of people who are looking for information about homeopathy and want to learn about it. Many have chronic illnesses or conditions which haven't been relieved through traditional medical prescriptions. Digestive problems, sleep disorders, colds, and skin conditions like eczema are common complaints, she says.

To determine which remedy does what, Bamford and her colleagues consult their Materia Medica, a Physicians' Desk Reference for homeopaths. It contains information on virtually every homeopathic that is legal in the United States and how it should be used," Bramford says.

Some are prescription only, which means a medical doctor must prescribe them. Sometimes the recommendation is a single remedy, and sometimes a combination of two or more. In either case, the cost for relief is much less than what you might pay for a prescription filled at your local drug store.

"Homeopathics are very affordable. Most single remedies last about two weeks when taken as directed and cost less than $5. The combination remedies are a little more, but still very affordable," Bamford says.

Andrea Estrada is a freelance writer who lives and learns in Santa Barbara, California.
This article was reposted with permission from the author. It is also available at ULiveandLearn.com.
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