When patients ask questions about how homeopathy works and whether it is safe, I start by explaining that it's a system of natural medicine that prompts their body's own healing response.
Homeopaths view symptoms as meaningful messages from the body rather than irritants to suppress. By giving you a medicine that resembles the symptoms, a principle known as "like curing like," homeopathic medicines are thought to assist your body in its natural direction toward healing.
For example, a homeopathic form of red onion, allium cepa, can be used to treat allergic symptoms of burning and teary eyes.
Homeopathic medicines remain controversial even though the substances within them are highly diluted, and because no biochemical mechanism of action has been established for how they work in the body.
Still, when combined with healthy diet and lifestyle, homeopathic medicines can be useful in resolving a wide variety of illnesses for patients of all ages. They are particularly effective in treating children, and the commonly available potencies are recognized as nontoxic because of their dilution.
Visits with a homeopathic doctor last longer than most doctors' visits because of the need to understand you as an individual — not just your diagnosis — before choosing a medicine.
Homeopathic medicines usually come in the form of lactose pellets that are dissolved under the tongue. Although many are available over the counter, as with any medicine it’s a good idea to consult with a homeopath or naturopath before taking them.
— Ryan Robbins, ND, naturopathic physician and resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, the teaching clinic of Bastyr University.