Homeopathy (from the Greek words meaning ‘similar suffering’) is a gentle therapy that works by stimulating the body’s own healing power to clear itself of any imbalance. It is holistic and so treats the whole person, not just the illness.
Modern homeopathy, as established by Dr Samuel Hahnemann in 1796, is based on the theory of treating ‘like with like’, also known as ‘the way of similars’ (as opposed to ‘the way of opposites’, i.e. conventional medicine).
When practicing the way of similars, homeopaths prescribe highly diluted natural substances that if given in stronger doses to a healthy person, would produce the symptoms the medicine aims to treat.
Confused? Take insomnia as an example: the way of opposites will treat insomnia by using a medication to bring on an artificial sleep, which may cause side effects or addiction. However by treating insomnia in the way of similars (homeopathy), a patient is given a minute dose of a substance, such as coffee, which in large doses causes insomnia in a healthy person. Surprisingly, this minute dose can enable the person to sleep naturally.
You should always tell your doctor if you plan to take any homeopathic medicines as these could interact with Parkinson’s medications.
How can it help in Parkinson's?
There is no clinical evidence to prove that homeopathy is effective in Parkinson’s. Some medical practitioners are concerned that this is little more than the placebo effect, but if this works then understanding why it works may not be important to those who use it.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that it can improve some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s in some people, for example:
- argentum nitricum – for ataxia (loss of muscle co-ordination), trembling, awkwardness
- causticum – for restless legs
- cuprum – for muscle cramps
- mercurius vivus – for easing Parkinson’s that is worse at night, and for panic attacks
- zincum metallicum – for restlessness and depression.
These are just some examples; a qualified homeopath will advise you according to your own situation and symptoms. There are many different homeopathic remedies available to treat the same symptoms, and as each person responds to an illness in a different way, a homeopath will take care to match particular symptoms and remedies to your own needs. Unlike conventional medicine, one remedy does not fit all.
Homeopathy can be also be helpful for carers’ complaints, for example in relieving stress.
What should I expect at an appointment?
Homeopathy is not regulated in all countries. It is therefore a good idea to ask your doctor or other healthcare professional for recommendations. Friends, family, other people with Parkinson’s or your national Parkinson’s association may also be able to advise based on personal experience.
It is advisable to see a therapist who has experience of Parkinson’s so do ask about their experience of the condition as well as their qualifications.
The initial consultation will usually take around an hour as the homeopath must take your medical history. They may also ask about your eating habits, personality and lifestyle. The homeopath would then consider the various available remedies and select one or more to match your ‘picture’.
Remedies are usually given in the form of a small tablet or pillule (or sometimes powders or drops to add to water) which should be allowed to dissolve in your mouth. It is important to not then put anything else in the mouth for at least 15-20 minutes as this may interfere with the effectiveness of the remedy.
Handling homeopathic remedies can inactivate them. It is best to tip one pillule into the lid of the container and then drop the medicine into your mouth. Try not to touch the remedy with your fingers.
The length of a course of treatment will depend entirely on each individual and the type of illness. Homeopathy cures from the inside out and, often, outer symptoms, such as a skin complaint, are the last to clear. But homeopaths believe that it is better to be cured of the cause of an illness and its symptoms, rather than to merely relieve or suppress the symptoms.
Whilst many people experience a sense of wellbeing and optimism immediately after taking the remedy, in some cases symptoms may appear to get worse for a short time, or a cold, rash or other discharge may appear as a ‘spring cleaning’ effect. This simply means the body is clearing itself in order to restore equilibrium.