Some Basic Definitions of Terms used in Homeopathy
he language of homeopathy can cause confusion, if not properly used. These definitions of basic expressions should help to avoid misunderstandings:
Aggravation: In homeopathy, this is taken to mean a ‘therapeutic aggravation‘. It is a term used to describe the well-known ‘worse before better’ effect, of homeopathic (and other) interventions. If it occurs, it can usually be taken to indicate a correct remedy. It is important to distinguish a therapeutic aggravation from simple worsening of the case (i.e. worse despite the remedy). In a therapeutic aggravation, external signs and symptoms worsen, with simultaneous improvement in well-being.
Allopathy: Allopathy is the treatment of disease by a substance that bears no relationship to the signs and symptoms of the disease. This term is sometimes erroneously used to describe many modern conventional drugs (see ‘antiopathy’). The body’s reaction to allopathic medicines is to show new signs or symptoms quite unrelated to the disease.
Antiopathy (Palliation): Antiopathy is the treatment of disease with a substance that opposes, counteracts or suppresses the signs/symptoms (treatment by opposites). Many modern conventional drugs come under this heading. Temporary relief of the signs and symptoms of chronic disease is achievable (palliation), via the direct metabolic effect of the drug. However, reactive worsening may occur, once the drug suppression is lifted. The body’s (inevitable) reaction (usually unwanted) to these medicines is termed ‘side effect’.
Hering’s Law: This so-called ‘law’ refers to the oft-observed ‘order of cure’ undertaken by the body, during a healing process. While the phenomenon is observed during homeopathically-induced healing, it is not peculiar to homeopathy (Hering’s Law).
Holistic Medicine: The medical approach that takes into account all factors that impinge upon a patient, the patient’s whole body, mind and spirit and the effect of the patient upon its environment. Homeopathy is extremely holistic, when properly applied. Describing a vet as an holistic vet implies that he or swe use this type of methodology, whatever therapy is used.
Homeopathy (Homoeopathy): Homeopathy is the treatment of disease with a substance that is able to provoke similar signs and symptoms in a healthy body (treatment by similars). The usual dilution and succussion method of preparation, used for homeopathic medicines, is not an essential part of this definition (see ‘potentisation’ below), since substances can be used in molecular concentrations and still come under the heading of homeopathy. The body’s reaction to these medicines is what brings about the curative process (Homeopathy).
Homeoprophylaxis: Homeoprophylaxis is the use of homeopathic medicines (mainly ‘nosodes‘), for the prevention of infectious diseases (prevention by similars). This is not a fully proven technique but a large number of users in the UK are using this as the sole method of prevention of infectious diseases such as (e.g.) Parvovirus, Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Kennel Cough, FeLV, FIV, Feline Enteritis, Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR), Feline Calicivirus, Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), Myxomatosis, Equine Influenza, Strangles, Herpes, Chlamydia and Bovine Mastitis and appear confident in its efficacy. Some bee keepers (apiarists) believe that the Varroa nosode has helped their bees.
Isopathy: Isopathy is the treatment of disease with the supposed disease agent itself (i.e. the same as the disease). The dilution and succussion process is not an essential part of the definition (see ‘potentisation’ below).
Nosode: A nosode is a medicine derived from disease material (e.g. discharges, tissues, secretions, excretions). These medicines have undergone the potentisation process (q.v.) commonly used in homeopathy. It is these medicines that are often used in the prevention of infectious diseases (homeoprophylaxis – q.v.).
Potency: Potency is an expression of the number of dilution and succussion stages undergone by the medicine and the degree of dilution at each stage.
Potentisation: Potentisation applies to the dilution and succussion process that is usually employed for homeopathic medicines. Homeopathic medicines do not, however, have to undergo this process, but it is the common method of preparation.
Sarcode: A sarcode is a medicine derived from healthy tissue. These medicines have undergone the potentisation process (q.v.) commonly used in homeopathy.
Succussion: Succussion is the vigorous and thorough ‘mixing’ process, applied to the medicine at each dilution stage.
Symptom: (referred to as a ‘sign’ if only visible to the prescriber, as opposed to a sensation or feeling being described by the patient) This is the term used to describe the product of the patient’s reaction or changes in response to disease influence.
See also: Idiopathic disease