Practiced for more than 200 years, homeopathic medicine was founded on the principle of “like treats like”—meaning a substance that would cause symptoms in greater doses can actually be used to treat those same symptoms in much lower quantities. In fact, the practice holds the belief in the law of the minimum dose: The lower the treatment dose, the greater the efficacy it will have treating the symptom.
Because of these low doses, low toxicity, and low chance for interaction with other medication, homeopathic remedies can be an ideal complementary medicine for certain women’s health concerns.
We talked to naturopaths and homeopathic experts to find out exactly how homeopathy works, what conditions it can help, and how to find the right practitioner.
So, How Exactly Does Homeopathy Work?
Because of the principle of “like treats like,” a homeopath would prescribe an ingredient similar in nature that mimics a patient’s disease or ailment. Think of how cutting an onion causes watery eyes—according to homeopathy, the same substance (allium cepa, which is derived from onions) could be used to treat watery hay fever eyes in microscopic doses.
“The homeopathic remedy creates an immune response to bring the body back to balance,” says Heidi Weinhold, ND, a naturopathic doctor specializing in homeopathy, nutritional supplements, and customized botanicals. “The closer a person’s symptoms match the homeopathic medicine, the better the outcome.”
Homeopathic remedies contain compounds from plants, animals, or minerals, and are often delivered via small sugar pellets to be dissolved under the tongue, though they can also be delivered via ointment, creams, gels, or tablets, depending on the remedy.
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Treatments are typically only prescribed after a thorough intake from a naturopath or homeopath, since an accurate understanding of symptoms is essential to the right remedy. For example, someone experiencing the same symptom might not be prescribed the same exact remedy, as treatments are tailored to each individual.
The Women’s Health Conditions Homeopathy Can Help
Homeopathy is suited to help a number of different women’s health concerns. Even better, these homeopathic remedies don’t come with a host of side effects. “Homeopathy is one of the most ideal therapies for conditions relating to women because it can help alleviate discomfort without any hormones, toxicity, or danger of interference with other drugs or medical conditions,” says Weinhold. “It works to alleviate symptoms, but not at the expense of going against a woman’s normal physiology.”
Weinhold often recommends homeopathic remedies for these common conditions:
- UTIs or burning during urination:
“As women age, they experience a decrease in estrogen which can cause the urethra to shrink,” says Weinhold. “This makes a shorter tract for bacteria to travel and can lead to an increase in urinary tract infections in women especially after sex.” For relieving the symptoms of burning and pain associated with urination, she recommends Homeopathic Staphysagria 30C, made from a Mediterranean Shrub.
- Everyday aches and pain:
Weinhold loves the remedy Rhus Toxicodendron as a homeopathic pain reliever to alleviate morning stiffness. “It’s perfect when you wake up in the morning and feel like the Tin Man,” she says.
- Hot flashes.
The ideal remedy depends on the type of hot flashes you experience. Amyl Nitrosum might be a good fit if you have a hot flash followed by cold sweats, while Asterias Rubens might be better fit if your hot flashes tend to come with headaches.
- General menopause symptoms.
While many classical homeopaths prefer a single formulation, some over-the-counter remedies combine a number of different ingredients to treat multiple symptoms like those associated with menopause. Cyclease Menopause Tablets contains Arnica montana for healing the red blotchiness associated with hot flashes, Cimicifuga racemosa for mood swings, Lachesis mutus for night sweating and irritability, Glonoinum for sweating and hot flashes, and Sanguinaria canadensis for face flushing.
- Computer headaches and eye strain.
Homeopathic Ruta graveolens, made from the plant of the same name, helps relieve the strain or pain that can come from working virtually or long stretches at the computer.
- Menstrual Cramps.
Magnesia Phosphorica 30C is a homeopathic medicine made from magnesium and can be helpful in relieving menstrual cramps, especially if you have the type improved by a hot bath or heating pad.
- Stress relief and grief.
Stress can present very differently depending on the individual, so a homeopath will prescribe different remedies based on your individual situation. For everyday stress, nervousness, and hypersensitivity, Weinhold recommends Ignatia amara, made from the St. Ignatius bean. This is also used often by professionals to treat longer term, deeper emotional issues related to grief and loss.
How Can I Find a Reputable Homeopathic Doctor?
When looking for a reputable homeopathic doctor, ask where they received their training, how long they have been practicing, what health specialties they have, and any references you can contact.
It’s also a good idea to ask how they work with conventional doctors, as it can be very important for everyone on your healthcare team to communicate with each other about prescription medications or other treatments, to prevent negative drug interactions. Your homeopathic practitioner should be amenable to changes as needed based on any other treatments you may be undergoing, says Weinhold. And always tell your general practitioner if you are taking homeopathic remedies, so he or she can note this in your chart.
What to Expect During a Visit With a Homeopathic Doctor
Expect to undergo a lengthy question and answer session, which will include queries about your physical, mental, and emotional health. This is because homeopaths are trained to treat the entire person—not just the symptoms. Depending on your symptoms, you may undergo a physical examination or require further lab work.
What to Keep in Mind When Shopping for Homeopathic Remedies
Homeopathic remedies should be relatively affordable, even those prescribed by your practitioner. Typical prices range from $8 to $12, depending on the strength and formulation. Also, keep in mind that homeopathic remedies often don’t need to be taken every day. In fact, you should “stop taking the homeopathic medicine once your symptoms resolve,” says Weinhold.
When buying homeopathic remedies, always look for the acronym HPUS. “That means the homeopathic medicine was manufactured according to the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States,” says Weinhold. It’s the standard-setting organization for these types of drugs, and it ensures good manufacturing processes and approved formulations for specific treatments.