Homeopathic Healthcare: What is it Exactly?
Homeopathy is a safe alternative to many medicines, especially for use in pregnancy, the treatment of newborn-related disease or when a patient cannot use conventional medicines due to the side effects or the therapeutic action of some medicines. It is an immune-stimulating system of medicine that reminds the body how to heal itself. Homeopathic practitioner Dr Audrey Jansen van Vuuren explores this form of medicine for the whole family.
Homeopathic medicines for everyone
From conception, the health of the baby is governed by the health of the mommy, so it’s vitally important for moms to keep healthy and avoid all chemical substances that may harm their baby. It is not safe to use some over-the-counter medicines (like painkillers) during pregnancy, and the use of antibiotics is also limited to only those that are proven safe. And once baby is born, some medicines are not safe for mom to take if she is breastfeeding, as they will be passed on to baby and could have adverse effects. Other medicines simply aren’t good for babies and small children.
Fortunately, homeopathic medicines offer a safe, effective and healthy medical alternative – both for the pregnant mom and her unborn baby, the breastfeeding mom, or the family with young children.
Not all natural medicines are homeopathic
Natural medicines are available at retail pharmacies and health shops, from your registered homeopath or integrative doctor, but not everything under the ‘natural’ label is homeopathic, or safe for pregnancy or young children. Therefore, it’s important that you make sure that you use only prescribed homeopathic medicines from a registered homeopath during your pregnancy, for infants, and the rest of your family.
Natural medicines include, but are not limited to the following:
- Homeopathic medicines are diluted substances (normally plant or mineral) prescribed based on the principles developed by Dr Samuel Hahnemann in the late 1700s. Dr Hahnemann was especially concerned about the ill effects of some conventional medicines that were used during that time, so he developed a safe alternative. His theory was that illness is a progression of ‘dis-ease’ in the body. The body has a natural process of healing, so he pursued the notion that medicine should stimulate the body to fight on its own – rather than attack the virus, bacteria or fungus of the disease and its symptoms. Therefore, homeopathy is based on the minimum dosage prescribed to effect a cure, and is specifically prepared and diluted for the individual treatment of each person. Homeopathic medicines are normally dispensed in distilled water for babies or in small pillules with a pleasant taste – for when you need to get your little one to take them.
- Herbal medicine is a tincture made in alcohol or in the form of tea. Herbal medicines are made from the whole plant or a part of a plant, such as the leaves, flowers or bark. These medicines are not proven safe for use in pregnancy because specific herbs can cause contraction of the uterus or womb, which can have an abortive effect or put the foetus in danger. Herbs diluted in a homeopathic manner may be safer to use, but always check with your doctor about safe herbal use.
- Over-the-counter supplements, nutraceuticals and certain vitamins are also considered natural medicines, but it is important to note that they may be harmful during pregnancy. South Africa is changing the regulation of these substances so that there is more control over their ingredients. An example is vitamin A, which may cause problems in the development of the foetus and should be avoided during pregnancy. There are specifically formulated vitamin complexes for pregnancy, which do not contain vitamin A.
Homeopathy is not iridology, reflexology, vibrational medicine or using a machine to treat or diagnose disease, although these alternative methods can be used as diagnostic tools to complement the homeopath’s own assessment and examination of the patient.
The regulation of homeopathy in South Africa
It’s best to avoid taking any medicine that is not specifically prescribed by your gynaecologist or primary healthcare provider, such as your GP or homeopath. The professional council that regulates alternative and complementary practitioners with a full qualification as decreed by the government, is the Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa (AHPCSA). You can check the registration of a homeopath with the relevant qualification on this website: www.ahpcsa.co.za. You can also search for a homeopath in your area on www.hsa.org.za, the official website of the Homeopathic Association of South Africa.
Prevention and cure
There are two ways of utilising homeopathy in your healthcare for your family. Homeopathy can be used to build up the immune system before disease strikes. This should be done before the child starts to go to a day mother or crèche, and in the build-up to the winter months. Secondly, homeopathy can be used as a first line treatment for infection, allergies, hypersensitivities as well as other serious diseases. But a good homeopath will also refer you to a specialist if required.
What will a homeopath do?
The homeopath is qualified and trained to diagnose disease. Should further tests be needed, these will be requested by the homeopath and may include blood tests, x-rays, CT scans and sonars. The homeopath then compounds and dispenses the required medicine at their practice. You generally do not get a prescription to collect at a pharmacy.
There are thousands of different homeopathic remedies. These remedies are prescribed based on your whole constitution, considering the emotional, mental and physical health at the time of the consultation. Your homeopath will be able to prescribe the correct remedy or combination of remedies that will fight off viruses, bacteria or other infections of the respiratory tract.
Many different companies have a range of homeopathic complex remedies to treat minor ailments. These are, however, not prescribed specifically for each individual and are only a generalised treatment, so they are not always effective. Some may say that homeopathy has not worked for them, when they’ve only ever used over-the-counter remedies. The best prescription is from a trained homeopath who has seen you for a full consultation.
Natural immunity over curative medicine, any day
It helps to treat your whole constitution when staying healthy during winter, which means setting up a good line of defence. Eating in-season fruits and vegetables is a good place to start, and should include oranges, carrots and fresh ginger root. When freshly juiced, these can protect against and substantially mitigate viral infection because juicing introduces a whole load of micronutrients to your body in one small glass. Many fresh winter fruits and vegetables provide a natural source of vitamin C to boost the immune system. Green vegetables are also a source of magnesium and calcium, and these vitamins and minerals in their natural form are easier to digest and absorb than buying synthetically generated forms of the substance.
It’s better to ingest vitamins and minerals and get them into your system naturally in order to boost your immunity, than to take a handful of daily supplements. For the best combination of vitamins and minerals for you and your family – taking into consideration your family’s lifestyle, diet and circumstances – make an appointment with a registered homeopath. Increasing your immunity will assist you in using less prescribed medicine during the colder seasons.