The underlying principle of homeopathy is also at the heart of modern physiology. It is commonly understood in medicine today that symptoms are not just something “wrong” with the body but, rather, they represent the efforts of the body to defend and heal itself from a variety of infective agents and/or stresses.
The body creates fever, inflammation, pain, cough, discharge, or whatever is necessary in order to defend and heal self. While those symptoms represent the body’s best efforts to heal, they are not always successful in doing so.
The word symptom is defined as “any phenomenon or circumstance accompanying something and serving as evidence of it”. Symptoms can be a sign or signal of something else, and treating them doesn’t necessarily change that something else. Just because a drug gets rid of a symptom does not mean that the person is cured. In fact, drugs that suppress or inhibit a symptom tend to provide only a guise of success and sometimes can drive the disease deeper into the body, leading to a more serious disease.
Many homeopaths believe that this observation about symptom and disease suppression may explain why people today are experiencing more serious chronic illnesses at earlier and earlier ages and why there is such an epidemic of mental illness (physical disease is suppressed deeply enough that the disease is pushed into the pysche).
Because symptoms represent the best efforts of our body in its defense against infection or stress, it makes sense to utilize medicines that help mimic these defense processes rather than inhibit or suppress them. The beauty of the homeopathic principle of similars is that a respect for the body’s wisdom is inherent within it, thereby utilizing and optimizing the significant self-healing and self-regulating powers of the body.
Once one recognizes that symptoms are important and useful defenses of the body, it makes less sense to use drugs that inhibit or suppress this wisdom of the body. Instead of using drugs to suppress symptoms, it makes sense to use medicines to strengthen the body’s own defense system so that the body can more effectively heal itself. Homeopaths seek to find a medicine that will mimic the wisdom of the body to initiate real healing, not just symptom suppression.
There is a common tendency for physicians to diagnose specific disease states, and there is a similar desire among patients for this determination. However, conventional medical diagnosis tends to assume that most disease is localized to a specific part of the body. Heart disease is considered to be a heart problem, headaches are of the head, skin disease is of the skin, and so on. For instance, a chronic skin disease is rarely treated topically by homeopaths in looking for a cure. The bottom line is that the vast majority of medical treatments tend to be directed at a specific symptom, a localized condition, or a single physiological process.
The homeopaths’ appreciation for understanding and treating the more complex syndrome (group of symptoms) of the person explains why homeopaths assert that there is rarely a single medicine that can cure everyone with a specific disease. Thus, when one asks a homeopath what treatment is for this or that disease, the usual answer is neither simple nor direct. Of course, there are commonly indicated homeopathic remedies for people with specific syndromes that include certain diseased states but individualization distinguishes between them. Instead, homeopaths emphasize that treatment is individualized according to the person’s overall syndrome.
When homeopaths see patients they obtain the unique and detailed health history of each patient, and they seek to find a remedy (usually plant, mineral or animal based) that would cause a similar syndrome of symptoms that the patient is experiencing.