By Victor Cirone
One of the fundamental distinguishing and characteristic features of the homeopathic medical paradigm is its focus on rehabilitating and enhancing the individual’s natural, and inherent capacity for self-healing. This capacity is something that all living beings possess. The word ‘healing’ is etymologically related to the word ‘whole.’ To heal means to restore to a state of wholeness. Put differently, the integrity of the organism is what must be given pride of place in a genuinely holistic system of healthcare. Those who practice homeopathic medicine strive to find the health in their patients through the art of careful attention and detailed, direct, and unprejudiced perception of the totality of an individual’s symptoms. Homeopathy employs a non-linear approach to understanding health and disease that is able to respect the complex interdependence of body, mind, soul, and spirit.
Orthodox medicine hones in on morbid pathology, seeking to eradicate disease through extrinsic means. This approach is necessarily impersonal, and sometimes toxic insofar as chemical agents that compromise an organism’s capacity for feeling and function are involved. Such a mode of treatment can often serve to suppress or distort the patient’s self-healing capacity, temporarily ameliorating symptoms at the expense of long-term bodily integrity. Orthodox medicine tends to lose sight of a patient’s own natural patterns of equilibrium/disequilibrium. All too often, there is little to no attention given to a patient’s individual life history and the unique conditions of their embeddedness in a particular social and cultural context, r their direct, personal embodiment and expression of nature’s laws of healing. Homeopathy, in shifting the focus beyond the narrow and exclusive frame of pathology towards the understanding of disease as a dynamic continuum, is able to find and mobilize the state of health, directly engaging the self-healing capacity that is intrinsic to life itself.
Our 21st century world is increasingly characterized by growing rates of chronic, debilitating diseases that are being fueled by increasing stress levels and social pressures across global populations. It is a world that is facing exponentially worsening patterns of income inequality, declining food quality and soil depletion, and an environmental crisis that is spiraling asymptotically towards uncertainty and precarity. Our current global environmental predicament is also serving to give rise to a growing number of acute epidemic diseases throughout the world’s populations.
Homeopathy, in perceiving the relations of an individual’s state of health to the larger social, cultural and ecological matrices in which it is being expressed, has the potential to offer unparalleled support in times of mounting crisis, on both the individual and collective levels. Homeopathic methodology contains a sophisticated ability to understand the context and continuum of health and disease. As such, it is a system of healing that can, if its principles were to be more widely adopted, contribute immensely to understanding the factors that predispose not only individuals, but also larger cultural groups, to specific patterns of imbalance, disequilibrium, unrest, and dis-ease. It is only from a place of such genuine understanding (one that embraces rather than shies away from complexity) that significant and lasting positive social, cultural and environmental changes can begin to be undertaken.
Homeopathic medicine is one of the most sustainable systems of medicine in existence. Given that homeopathy works with ultra-high dilutions of substances taken from the natural world, it requires very minimal physical resources to produce its remedies. These remedies, moreover, can be produced anywhere in the world at an extremely low cost and with a minimum of human effort. Homeopathy thus lends itself to be utilized in parts of the world that have faced economic hardship, and where access to pharmaceutical drugs is limited. The humanitarian potentials of homeopathy are further supported by the fact that the principles and practices of homeopathic medicine are truly universal in scope and can be understood and applied irrespective of an individual’s cultural background (as is clearly attested by homeopathy having been taken up with great success and enthusiasm around the world).
Homeopathy can be described as a medicine of peace and compassion. As noted above, homeopathy does not declare war on disease, but works along with and supports the process of the individual’s vital energy through understanding its patterns and modes of expression. Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, taught that the vital energy (or that which governs and maintains life in the individual) is the fundamental basis of health, and that disease can only be understood by observing the dysfunction of the vital energy. By working with, rather than against, the body’s processes homeopathy is rightly considered a medicine of applied compassion. It is precisely such a medicine that can offer real solutions to the worsening and increasingly complex ailments of the modern world.
 The totality of symptoms does not suggest a narrow focus on pathological manifestations. It is a notion that embraces the concept of health and disease as a continuum: for health and disease to be properly understood, what needs to be taken into account includes an individual’s character, personality, constitution and disposition. How does an individual think about themselves and their place in the world? How do they relate to others? What are their genetic predispositions? How do they react, think about, and respond to the different circumstances and events that they have faced in life? All of this and more, understood alongside and as inextricably bound up with morbid pathology, is what is meant by the totality of symptoms.
 Pharmaceutical drugs, while undoubtedly life saving in many situations, are also contributing to the spread of disease through their over-prescription and misuse. Consider how the routine use of antibiotics, for example, has resulted in dangerous, and increasingly treatment resistant, forms of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) present us with another pressing example: countless millions of pounds of over 50 pharmaceutical forms of SSRIs have made their way into all of the wastewater systems of every industrial nation in the world. From the perspective of planetary ecology, when introduced into a given ecosystem these inhibitors have been shown to alter the function of every biological system
that serotonin affects (impacting e.g. sexual maturation, reproduction, germination, root and brain development in plant an animal species) (Buhner: 2012; Terwavas: 2014). Were homeopathic medicine to be more widely adopted and accepted, this would significantly offset the over-prescription of pharmaceutical drugs and help to remediate the dire ecological and public health consequences of their misuse.
Buhner, Stephen Harrod. Herbal Antibiotics, 2nd Edition: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-resistant Bacteria. Massachusetts: Storey Publishing, 2012.
Terwavas, Anthony. Plant Intelligence and Behaviour. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.