In general, there are two types of homeopathic therapies: classical and complex. The difference usually centers on practitioner approach, though the condition being treated can also be a factor. Classical homeopathy typically involves the use of one treatment at a time, and usually focuses on the most dominant illness or condition. Complex therapies, on the other hand, more commonly focus on the patient as a whole person. Practitioners following this method typically treat the person first and the ailments second. The treatments used in each are usually the same. The biggest difference is the approach and the underlying philosophy.
Understanding Homeopathic Practice Generally
Homeopathy is a form of nature-based medicine that is primarily characterized by a holistic approach based on nature. The cures sought with homeopathy tend to relate directly to the Greek origins of the word “homeopathy,” which translates as "like the disease." Very simply put, the idea is that a substance that produces a certain symptom in a healthy person could cure a sick person with the same symptom. In contrast, traditional medicine is usually known as “allopathic,” which means "other than the disease." Practitioners of traditional medicine typically use chemical compounds and lab-derived synthetics to cure specific ailments. In nearly all cases, the remedies assigned in homeopathic therapies are natural substances derived from mineral, animal, or botanical sources, and come in the form of tablets, powders, or tinctures that are typically prepared with a dilution.
A key point in homeopathy is that less is more — a measured dilution is obtained by a precise and controlled process regardless of the method of therapy. Generally, homeopathic treatments focus on general remedies for people rather than on fixing a specific disease or condition. Classical homeopathic therapy works with a single remedy, while complex homeopathic therapy works with a more multi-dimensional, layered approach.
Classical therapies treat illnesses with a single remedy that is selected based on a closest possible match to the constitutional type and symptom picture of a patient. In this approach, the practitioner looks for the main or primary ailment, then looks for a singular treatment. Only one remedy is used at a time, and results may be slower as a result. The effects are very clear with this approach, though, and are easily attributed to the treatment at issue.
More common in modern times is the use of complex therapies, where several remedies are employed concurrently to treat a full suite of ailments and symptoms. In assigning the proper therapy, a patient’s constitutional type is determined by taking a whole view of the patient as a person. Typical new patient intake interviews will last in excess of one hour. The view of a person as a whole is complemented with a summary of past and present symptoms to include the order in which the symptoms appeared.
As symptoms are considered the language of a disease, they reflect the body's attempt to create balance. As such, the symptom picture is crucial in assigning the type of homeopathic treatment appropriate for the individual. For instance, independent of the specific type or location of pain, traditional medicine practitioners are often quick to administer pain killers. In homeopathy, the remedy requires determining which of the 5,000 types of headaches the patient is experiencing and, in complex approaches, assessing how the pain is rippling into other parts of the patient’s life.
When the proper type of therapy is applied, healing is said to start from the inside of the body and progress to the extremities. For instance, healing would begin with emotional and mental correction followed by the physical. Also, it follows in the chronologically reverse order of the onset of the ailment, seeking in a sense to “undo” it.
Many people use one or both forms of homeopathy as a complete alternative to more traditional medical remedies, and there’s a lot of science showing that a natural and more holistic approach can work for many different problems. A lot depends on personal philosophy and comfort level. People suffering from very serious conditions are usually wise to solicit a few different opinions, though. Different homeopathic practitioners may have different approaches, and most will acknowledge that there are limits to the practice. It’s often a good idea with diagnoses like cancer to use homeopathic remedies to do something like manage pain, while perhaps exploring more traditional approaches for actual treatment.