By Amy L. Lansky, PhD
(For more information about homeopathy, visit www.impossiblecure.com)
One of the most common things that people ask me is: what does this or that reaction to a remedy mean? Confusion about homeopathic remedy reactions is quite understandable, since they are often quite different than reactions to conventional drugs. Homeopaths also understand the meaning and significance of these reactions in a much more profound way than allopaths (conventional doctors) do.
In this short article, I’ll try to get across the main ideas about remedy reactions. For a deeper understanding of this information, I refer you to Chapters 4 and 8 of my book, Impossible Cure.
In the case of acute disease such as a virus or bacterial infection, the reaction to a good remedy is usually fairly swift and clear. An aggravation of symptoms (discussed below) rarely occurs. Instead, within a few hours (but often within minutes or even seconds), a curative response is heralded by signs such as:
- falling asleep (the body is demanding rest in order to heal)
- purging or exteriorization of some kind — often vomiting, but sometimes the development of a rash
After a rest or vomiting, the person usually feels better in spirit and body. Sometimes, however, the patient simply feels much better without needing to sleep or without any other kind of reaction. They will somehow just feel an energetic lift and the physical symptoms will start to lessen.
In acute cases (and actually, most chronic cases too), another dose of a remedy should not be taken until a relapse of symptoms begins to occur. In general, the same potency is used until it ceases to get a reaction. Then a higher potency might be used.
If a remedy fails to get a reaction after a few hours and you are fairly certain of your remedy choice, a higher potency might be tried. If this too fails, the search for another remedy is warranted.
The responses to treatment of a chronic complaint are much more varied and difficult to understand. That is why treatment by a certified homeopath is recommended. (For a list of certified homeopaths, see the referrals lists on www.impossiblecure.com.)
Probably one of the key ideas to understand about homeopathic reactions is that a good remedy triggers a curative response by the body itself — it does not force a suppression of the symptoms of a disease. Homeopaths understand that real healing takes place when the body heals itself, and they have observed that this innate form of healing tends to take on a certain pattern, described by something called Hering’s Law of Cure. This pattern is also proof of the inherent wisdom of the body. There are two main principles:
- The most important symptoms are cured first. That is, the symptoms that are most central to the health of an organism are cured before symptoms that are less important to overall health and survival. Hering described this pattern as a healing “from internal organs to external organs” and from “the top of the body toward the extremities.” Remember, too, that disease is not just physical. Mental and emotional symptoms are also part of the picture. In many cases, these mental and emotional symptoms are even more central to the health of the patient and are the first to heal.
- A cure of a current state of disease is often followed by the patient entering into a previous state. This is called a “return of symptoms.” In essence, the body unwinds. Since people usually progress into deeper and deeper states of disease as they become sicker, a cure moves them back through previous states of lesser and lesser disease. For example, if asthma is cured, the patient may move into a previous state of allergies or eczema (which are less serious diseases that often precede asthma). These can then also be treated.
Another important principle behind a curative response is that the body usually maintains a state of balance through the principle of action and reaction. For example, it warms itself in response to a cold wind. Remedies work by supplying a “similar” disease state (that’s what “homeopathy” means — “homeo” (similar) “pathy” (suffering)), that the body reacts against. For this reason, the correct remedy can sometimes cause an aggravation — a temporary worsening of the usual disease symptoms. This is then followed by the body’s curative response. If a remedy is given in too high a potency, sometimes this aggravation can be troublesome. However, it usually wears off within a few days. If it does not, please do contact your homeopath because there are many ways to deal with this problem.
Given this context, here are key principles of remedy reactions and their meanings.
An excellent response
After a brief period of aggravation (which may or may not occur), the chronic complaint begins to improve. This might be gradual and there may be ups and downs (especially if a day is particularly stressful), but there is a general path toward recovery. Another important sign is that general symptoms of health improve as well — sleep improves, appetite improves, menstrual pattern normalizes, mood improves, digestion improves, etc. The body is beginning to operate better! Some old complaints from the past may return, especially if they were suppressed by allopathic treatment. Try not to suppress them again. They may simply “pass through” after a few days or a week, or they may warrant further treatment.
A strong aggravation of an existing complaint
This may be fine and will pass, but if it is unbearable or lasts for more than a week, it may be a sign that the potency given was too high. Often it is difficult for a homeopath to predict the sensitivity of a particular patient to a remedy or potency, so the homeopath must simply adjust based on this information. However, even a strong aggravation is often accompanied by a increased feeling of well-being — a sensation that some kind of healing is taking place despite the symptoms — as well as other more general signs of improved health.
There is a general improvement in health and the chronic complaint is improving, but you also develop a few strange new symptoms.
If these symptoms only last a few days, there is nothing to worry about. The remedy is helping, but you are “proving” it — that is, you are developing additional symptoms that the remedy can produce. However, if the symptoms persist and become worse, the remedy was incorrect. Contact your homeopath who will prescribe a new one.
A general decline in health or all new and severe symptoms
This is a sign that a wrong remedy has been given. Discontinue the remedy. Usually the symptoms will abate after a few days. If not, a new and better remedy will end this pattern. The homeopath may also choose to antidote the remedy — for example, by asking you to apply a camphor rub.
Finally, always remember to contact your homeopath with any questions you might have. That is part of their their job! Homeopathic treatment is not a once off panacea. It is a process that involves working closely with your homeopath, adjusting remedy and dosage as necessary, based on your remedy reactions. That’s another reason why understanding these reactions is so very important.
About Amy Lansky
Amy L. Lansky, PhD was a Silicon Valley computer scientist when her life was transformed by the miraculous homeopathic cure of her son’s autism. In April 2003 she published Impossible Cure: The Promise of Homeopathy, one of the best-selling introductory books on homeopathy worldwide (www.impossiblecure.com). Amy speaks and writes internationally about homeopathy, hosts a monthly radio show on Autism One Radio (autismone.org), and was an executive board member of the National Center for Homeopathy from 2004-2011. Her second book, on meditation and developing one's innate ability to evolve and transform the world, was published in September 2011 -- Active Consciousness: Awakening the Power Within (www.activeconsciousness.com).