In what forms are homeopathic remedies available?
Most people buy their remedies either as lactose (milk sugar) tablets or round pilules, which have been impregnated with a solution of the named remedy. Impregnated lactose is also given in powder form and - particularly convenient for babies and small children - there are tiny granules. Please also read ‘How to choose a remedy’ and ‘Constitutional types’ under the Information bottle.
Remedies are also available in solution form for people who are allergic to lactose.
A few remedies are available as ointments (for topical application only) and finally some are available as ‘mother’ tinctures, for mixing with water to make lotions for bathing, gargling, etc. Generally speaking, 10 drops of mother tincture to 0.25 litre (1/2 pint) of boiled, cooled water are sufficient.
How and when should I take homeopathic remedies?
These are very subtle medicines that affect the controlling mechanisms of the body rather than the physical body itself. They are very delicate and can be damaged by being touched by the fingertips, in fact they should not be handled at all if possible.
For both children and adults, a dose is one tablet or drop or two pilules or enough granules to cover the base of the container lid or the nail of the little finger. Powders are normally dispensed in individual doses. However - quite unlike orthodox medicines - in fact it is the potency of the remedy (the number which is shown after its name) and the frequency with which it is taken that determine the strength of its action; the amount taken at each dose is not critical.
Some remedies are sold in clicker packs, which make it easy to drop pilules straight into the mouth. Otherwise, you may need to tip the dose into the lid of the remedy bottle or the palm of your hand first. Drop the remedy directly onto or underneath your tongue without otherwise touching the mouth. Then just let it dissolve - don’t swallow it straight away - so it can be absorbed by the mucous membranes in the mouth. Solutions are supplied in dropper bottles so one or two drops can easily be put directly on the tongue, without touching the mouth. The dropper should be sterilised between uses.
Remedies are best taken in between meals, at least half an hour after eating when your mouth doesn’t taste of anything else, such as food, drink, tobacco, toothpaste etc. After taking a remedy, try to allow at least 15 minutes before putting anything else in your mouth so they can be fully utilised by the body. In emergencies, try to make sure the mouth is at least rinsed before giving a remedy.
What should I do in the case of an overdose?
As the dosage is influenced by frequency rather than quantity, homeopathic remedies are quite safe however much is taken at once; it still constitutes one dose. If the remedy is taken by someone other than the patient for whom it was intended, it will have no effect anyway as it will not match their symptom picture. One of the delights of homeopathy is its safety, however keep your remedies away from small children or you may find your collection is wiped out in one go!
If small children do swallow a large quantity at once, the sugar content of the remedy may cause transient diarrhoea.
The homeopathic equivalent of an overdose is when a remedy is "proved" or begins to cause the symptoms that it is intended to cure. This can happen when a remedy is taken for very prolonged periods, so don’t continue with a remedy once it has worked in order to prevent a relapse, it’s quite unnecessary and actually counter-productive.
Are homeopathic remedies safe for pregnant women, babies and toddlers?
Homeopathy is safe for people at all stages of life but with babies, you may find it easier to give granules rather than tablets or pilules because granules dissolve more quickly and are more difficult to spit out! If you do not have granules, you can always crush a pilule between two clean spoons.
Is there anything I should avoid when taking homeopathic remedies?
Yes. Aromatic substances such as coffee (including decaffeinated), tobacco, highly perfumed cosmetics and toiletries, strong smelling household cleaners, and things such as Olbas Oil or aromatherapy oils that contain aromatic oils - particularly peppermint, camphor, eucalyptus, rosemary, thyme and lavender - all have the ability to antidote homeopathic remedies and should be avoided completely when treating acute ailments with homeopathy. If you have a chronic complaint and your symptoms are steadily improving with homeopathic treatment, you could gradually reintroduce them but not within half an hour of taking the remedy.
Can I combine homeopathy with conventional medicine?
Homeopathic medicines will not interfere with any drugs you are taking. However a number of orthodox drugs such as steroids, major and minor tranquillisers, oral contraceptives, sleeping pills and anti-histamines can make the choosing of the correct homeopathic medicine difficult and may modify or block the effects of homeopathic medicines. If you want to come off orthodox drugs, discuss the matter with your medical practitioner or homeopathic physician first. DO NOT ON ANY ACCOUNT STOP TAKING A PRESCRIBED MEDICATION WITHOUT FIRST CONSULTING YOUR MEDICAL PRACTITIONER OR HOMEOPATHIC PHYSICIAN.
If you have occasion to consult a homeopath, be sure to say what drugs you are taking.
If your symptoms improve
If you feel that your condition is improving before you come to the end of the pack, stop taking the remedy; THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO POINT IN CONTINUING TO TAKE A REMEDY ONCE THE SYMPTOMS HAVE STARTED TO DISAPPEAR. Remember, the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies depends on matching the symptom picture to the remedy picture as precisely as you can, and then taking the smallest possible dose for the least possible time. Once the remedy has delivered its message, your body’s own drive towards health, known in homeopathy as the ‘Vital Force’ will do the rest.
If the condition returns, re-start the remedy, repeat as necessary.
Homeopathy does not work in the same way as many orthodox treatments, where the course must be completed.
What should I do if the symptoms get worse?
Remedies are very safe and don’t have any known side effects. However, an ‘aggravation’, or a temporary worsening of symptoms, is not unusual when taking homeopathic remedies. In fact it’s usually a good sign; it shows that a remedy has been recognised by the body whereas the wrong remedy will have no effect either way. In acute conditions, discomfort may increase for a few minutes, seldom more. In chronic conditions, an aggravation may last longer but rarely for more than a day or two.
The correct thing to do in such circumstances is to stop taking the remedy and wait until your symptoms improve, as they almost certainly will. If improvement continues, there is no need to take the remedy again. If improvement stops, restart the remedy. Where improvement continues for a while, then stops, leaving you with nagging symptoms, take the remedy in a higher potency; if you are taking 6c, take up to 10 doses of 30c.
If an aggravation has not subsided within three days, contact a homeopathic physician and if worsening symptoms are accompanied by a general deterioration in health or you have been diagnosed with a condition which is potentially serious, contact your medical practitioner or a homeopathic physician at once.
If worsening symptoms are accompanied by any of the following - a persistent temperature of 39 °C (102 °F) or over, spitting blood or passing blood in stools or urine, a rigid and painful abdomen, increasing breathlessness and chest pain, confusion or abnormal drowsiness; dial the emergency services.
What should I do if some symptoms improve but others don’t?
If you feel better in yourself, gradually cut down the remedy dose - the physical symptoms should improve in time. If you get 'stuck', you may need another remedy, probably one that complements the previous one; consult a homeopathic physician.
Similarly, if you experience relief from physical symptoms but find that mental symptoms remain troublesome, you are definitely advised to contact a homeopathic physician.
What should I do if new symptoms appear?
First, stop the remedy; you may be proving it. The symptoms should quickly disappear. If they do not, you may have the wrong diagnosis or remedy. Recheck and call your medical practitioner or homeopath if unsure.
What should I do if symptoms get neither better nor worse?
Review your symptoms, being as specific as you can and consult the general remedy finder to see if you can find a more appropriate remedy.
How should I store my remedies?
Store them in their original containers, taking care to keep the lids well screwed on. Put them in a cupboard or box at normal room temperature and away from heat sources. Store them separately to strong smelling substances such as aromatherapy oils, mothballs, perfumes, Olbas Oil, etc. Stored like this, homeopathic remedies remain potent for up to 100 years!
You may also find 'Constitutional Types & Prescribing' interesting.