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'Encyclopedia of Homeopathy'    Send a link to a friend

[NOV. 22, 2006]  "Encyclopedia of Homeopathy: The Definitive Home Reference Guide to Homeopathic Remedies and Treatments for Common Ailments." Andrew Lockie, M.D., DK Publishing, 2006, 336 pages.

Review by
Richard Sumrall

In his revised edition of the "Encyclopedia of Homeopathy," Dr. Andrew Lockie defines homeopathy as "a holistic form of complementary medicine, aiming to treat the whole person rather than just the physical symptoms." Formerly referred to as "alternative medicine," homeopathy continues to gain widespread acceptance and popularity, in part because of public dissatisfaction with certain aspects of conventional medicine. According to Lockie, the key to the practice of homeopathy is "the ability to understand and interpret the patient's symptoms … both before and after a remedy is given." He says, "This continuing relationship helps to make homeopaths particularly effective at discovering the underlying causes of frequently recurring ailments."

"Theory and Practice"

Although the origins of homeopathy date back to ancient Greece and Rome, its true form as we understand it today emerged from the work of the 18th-century German doctor Samuel Christian Hahnemann. Its guiding principle is the belief that good health "derives from an equilibrium between the mind and body, which is maintained by a ‘vital force' that regulates the body's self-healing capabilities." Homeopathy's materia medica (medical material or medical matters) contains over 2,000 remedies (based on the testing of over 4,000 substances).

"Materia Medica"

This section of the book explains how certain remedies became a part of the materia medica (their origins, selection, properties and testing). They are derived from plant, mineral, or animal and insect materials and are generally made through the process of dilution and succession. The remedies are used "only when they are prescribed according to the principle of ‘like cures like.'" According to this concept, "substances that are capable of provoking certain symptoms in an otherwise healthy body can also act curatively on similar symptoms in a sick person."

The remainder of this section is devoted to the major and minor remedies extracted from the aforementioned natural sources. Examples include dulcamara, a plant remedy for people affected by rapid weather changes or sensitivity to the cold and damp, and tarentula, an insect remedy for those who exhibit signs of hyperactivity, overstimulation or extreme sensitivity to music.

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"Serious Ailments"

Once you become familiar with the different homeopathic remedies, the next step is a consultation with a homeopathic practitioner. According to Lockie, "An interview with a homeopathic practitioner will be likely longer than a conventional medical consultation. … This allows the progress of an ailment to be carefully monitored and subtle changes noted." This patient assessment will focus on the body (its physical well-being, medical history, environment) and the mind (personality, life events, life management). A description of this assessment process is found in the chapter on the respiratory system (14 other systems are also addressed). Using pneumonia as an example, the passage begins by describing the symptoms and causes, then compares the care options offered by conventional medicine and homeopathic medicine, and concludes with an analysis of lifestyle through homeopathy. A case study (there are many throughout the book) of a 38-year-old dental technician and her recovery from pneumonia through homeopathic treatments is recounted.

"Homeopathic Self-Help"

The self-help portion of the book is for the interested layperson considering homeopathy as a treatment option for a particular ailment. While Lockie cautions that homeopathic remedies may not provide an instant cure, he says that a homeopathic remedy is believed to "encourage the body's self-healing mechanisms and nurture a sense of well-being, good energy levels and a resistance to ill health."

When considering a self-prescription you should always identify the symptoms of the condition in order to build a "symptoms picture." Once you build this picture, you can select your remedy by consulting the book's 60-page directory.

In addition to these remedies, the homeopathic tradition stresses a lifestyle that supports and complements good health. This supportive lifestyle includes eating for health, improving your surroundings, managing stress, staying in shape and incorporating certain treatments for the body and mind (such as massage and meditation).

The "Encyclopedia of Homeopathy" is an informative and easy-to-use reference source on the practice of homeopathic medicine. One especially helpful feature in the book is the "A-Z Quick Reference" containing the 322 remedies contained in the book's materia medica. In the introduction to this updated edition, Dr. David Owen and Dr. Patricia Ridsdale write, "Andrew Lockie has provided an excellent and straightforward introduction and overview of this broad subject. We believe that many more people can access both the benefits of homeopathy and the wonders of the remedies through this book." This book is recommended to anyone interested in the subject of homeopathic medicine.

[Richard Sumrall, Lincoln Public Library District]


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