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Exploring the Concept of the Minimum Dose: 

Wildlife Rehabilitators Consider Homeopathy



Rachel Blackmer, DVM, Indigo Quill Healing Arts

Janice Facinelli, DVM, Holistic Care for Animals

Shirley J. Casey and Allan M. Casey, III, WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation


This article was previously published in Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation , Spring 1998, Vol. 21, No.1, pgs 14-21. Used with permission from the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council.  





It is important to remember that this article is an extremely brief introduction to a complex and unique healing modality. This article provides only an extremely limited description of a modality which incorporates thousands of published resources and professional practitioners as well as full medical schools. Readers are strongly encouraged to seek out further information from the resources listed, in order to more fully learn about homeopathy.


What is Homeopathy?


Homeopathy is a system of medicine that treats symptoms, imbalances and disease by giving very minute doses of a substance.  The administration of this homeopathic medicine, or remedy, has been found to serve as a catalyst to the body's own healing mechanisms.  As such, the homeopathic remedy is not given to eliminate the disease or condition, but rather to stimulate the body's own healing process.  This approach is also based on the belief that health is a natural state and that all beings have the ability to heal themselves.   Homeopathy thus focuses on the body, whereas allopathic medicine focuses on the disease or injury. A brief discussion of the scientific theory behind homeopathy is provided in the next section, followed by a brief discussion of the principles of homeopathy.


Scientific Foundation for Homeopathy


There are many excellent books that discuss the scientific basis for homeopathy.  The following description is summarized primarily from George Vithoulkas in his work The Science of Homeopathy, with additional information from Homeopathy - A Frontier in Medical Science by Paolo Bellavite, M.D., and Andrea Signorini, M.D., and from Homoeopathic Science and Modern Medicine by Harris Coulter.


The primary foundation for homeopathy is based on recent work in quantum physics that holds that all matter in the Universe, from a simple atom, to a complex structure such as the human body, has electromagnetic properties.  A corollary is that all matter must possess electromagnetic energy and emit electromagnetic waves.  These waves have measurable properties of wavelength (or frequency) and amplitude (or force). 


As complex as the human body is, it has its own unique and characteristic energy when it is in a healthy state.  Alternatively, the body's energy will undergo a change when it becomes diseased or injured.  From the homeopathic perspective, this change in energy in the body is manifested by the presence of symptoms (physical, mental, or emotional), such as swelling or inflammation, or grief or sadness, or mental confusion or sudden forgetfulness.  As the body undergoes healing, the energy "signature" becomes that of a healthy state with an absence of symptoms.


Homeopathy accepts the notion of the existence of a naturally occurring life force in all living beings that constantly strives for a state of wellness, or a balance in the state of health and disease, known as homeostasis. This notion of a "Vital Force" can be traced back in time through the philosophy of Vitalism.  This philosophy holds that the vital force animates the body and possesses the "intelligence" to govern all facets of the body's existence, the balance of health and disease.  Another way to describe this Vital Force or life force is as having ". . . a dynamic self-regulatory capability which all living creatures are undeniably endowed with  in order to give them a better chance of survival" (Bellavite and Signorini).


In the homeopathic view, it is the Vital Force that causes the change in the vibrational energy of the body in response to a stimulus or insult, such as a virus or injury.  This change in energy prompts symptoms to occur as the way for the body to heal itself.  The goal of the homeopath is to assist the Vital Force in the healing process.  This is done through a careful observation of symptoms in a sick patient, and selection and administration of the homeopathic medicine.


Homeopathic medicines or remedies are developed from various substances such as plants, minerals, tissue and toxins.  First, these substances are placed in a solvent such as water or alcohol.  Then they are diluted to extremely small or even ultramolecular microdilutions to reduce the toxicity of the original substance.  During the serial dilutions, the remedies are also vigorously shaken, or succussed, a process that has been found to impart higher levels of energy into the resultant solution.  This "potentization" (Vithoulkas) or "dynamization" (Bellavite and Signorini) is what gives the remedies of higher dilution (or lower chemical concentration) their higher levels of energy, or potency.


These remedies, once made, are then studied on healthy people.  In controlled study conditions, healthy people are given a single remedy and asked to record any resultant physical, mental or emotional symptoms that may occur.  Those symptoms that occur in these people form the "picture" of that remedy. This "remedy picture" represents the collection of symptoms and signs that may then be treated by the remedy. This process is called a "proving", taken from the German word, Pruefuhg, meaning "test".


Finally, it is through the physical property of wave mechanics known as resonance that the homeopath is able to assist the body's Vital Force in healing itself.  Resonance is the property of waves that explains why two identically pitched tuning forks (same frequency) in close proximity will vibrate at the same force (amplitude) when one fork is struck and begins vibrating.  It also explains why they will both vibrate at a higher force when one is struck even harder.  A homeopath will draw upon this property of resonance by choosing a remedy that has the same symptom "picture" (or energy) as is being observed from the patient's set of symptoms (same energy).  And, the homeopath will choose a potency (or energy force) of the remedy that will give a boost to the energy of the Vital Force.  The additional energy provided by this remedy (through resonance) may actually amplify or temporarily aggravate the symptoms, as the body responds in its own natural healing process.  This aggravation may well be a confirmatory sign that the remedy and potency have been correctly selected.


As with any field of science, there exist believers and non-believers.  Homeopathy is no different, with many vocal critics, including many from the more established, conventional medical community, who decry lack of scientific basis.   Interestingly, one of the primary tenets of the scientific approach is application of a precise, repeatable and regimented set of procedures and techniques.  The very precise homeopathic approach described by Hahnemann involving the Law of Similars, the detailed case-taking, the single medicine, and the minimum dose has not changed in over 180 years.


Several of the homeopathic medicines that were originally proven in the early 1800's, have been reproven recently in double blind controlled conditions with identical results (Coulter).  Critics will also denounce the notion of a Vital Force, as being too religious or metaphysical.  Others are quick to attack the concept of potentization of remedies, and the use of ultramolecular dilutions, citing lack of scientific foundation.  Many of these critics are the same that accept certain "givens" in physics, such as inertia, gravity, magnetism, the Laws of Thermodynamics, etc.  All of  these physical "Laws" are accepted not because of their scientific explanation, since none exists, but are accepted merely because they are repeatable, observable phenomena. 


So it seems to be that, with many homeopaths, certain aspects of homeopathy are "givens", because they have been seen to work successfully and repeatably, time and time again.  Most homeopaths seem to embrace homeopathy for what it can do, and do not seem to be too concerned about the scientific nuances of its workings.   Its critics seem to remain mystified.  Perhaps as advances continue in the realm of quantum physics, some of the less understood aspects of homeopathy will be afforded a more conventional scientific basis and understanding, and then perhaps more widespread acceptance.  In the interim, the books listed above are excellent sources covering the current understanding of the science behind homeopathy.


Principles of Homeopathy


The Law of Similars. The concept of stimulating the body's healing response through the concept of "like cures like" is called the Law of Similars.  The homeopathic practitioner conducts a thorough "case-taking" in order to get a complete picture of the patient's condition and thus find the remedy that is most similar to  or closely matches the patient's symptoms. Homeopaths also emphasize the importance of considering the whole being in case-taking.  That is, the all the physical symptoms are not viewed as isolated functions, but must be addressed together in their totality as part of the complete being. Thus, a homeopathic practitioner would not just focus on a single complaint or symptom, but would consider everything about the patient.  Clearly this is much easier to do with human patients, but the homeopathic concept of considering the whole being also applies to animals. 


Selecting a Homeopathic Medicine. The homeopathic practitioner then strives to find and select a single homeopathic remedy which most closely matches the patient's totality of symptoms.  Detailed descriptions of the homeopathic remedies found in homeopathic "materia medicas" are an important tool for understanding the remedies and what they do.  These descriptions are often extensive and address many different body functions as well as special symptoms, general etiologies (or causative situations), and modalities that make the condition better or worse (e.g., movement, heat) which most closely match the symptoms. In order to provide a cross reference between symptoms and remedies, books known as "repertories" have been developed to help guide the homeopath from symptoms to the proper remedies.  The materia medicas and repertories are basic tools of homeopathy.


Should the symptoms change, another remedy might be selected; but again, it is dependent on the patient's symptoms. Thus homeopaths do not attempt to address the healing of a patient based solely on the name of a general condition or disease. Rather, the homeopathic treatment is based on the individual's symptoms.  For example, rather than a blanket treatment for diarrhea, the classical homeopath would consider various descriptive and distinguishing details, such as the consistency, color, and smell of the stool; if there was accompanying bloat; if the abdomen was tender; whether the patient sought heat or cool; how the stool was expelled; if it was caused by overeating, the wrong diet, or decayed food; and so forth.  Such thorough case-taking helps the homeopath select the homeopathic remedy that is the closest match.


The Role of Symptoms. It should also be noted that homeopaths consider symptoms to be the body's attempt to activate its defensive forces to heal itself.  Thus, homeopathic theory views symptoms as positive and indicative of which direction the healing should take place rather than something which should be suppressed.  This view is somewhat different than that of allopathic medicine using drugs to remove or oppose symptoms.


The Minimum Dose. Since the purpose of the homeopathic remedy is to stimulate or "jump start" the healing, only minimum amounts of a homeopathic medicine are used.  The minimum dose also refers to giving only one dose or a few doses and observing the response. The use of the homeopathic medicine on a preset schedule is generally considered unnecessary and inappropriate. An analogy would be that once a key is turned in the car ignition and the engine is running, the driver does not need to keep turning the key.  This use of a minimum dose of a homeopathic medicine is also one of the key principles of classical homeopathy.  


This section on principles provides an extremely limited overview on some of the basic concepts of homeopathy.  Those interested in homeopathy are strongly urged to study the principles by reading some of the more complete materials available (see resource list).


Why are Rehabilitators Interested in Homeopathy?


There are a variety of reasons that homeopathy, specifically, has attracted the interest of wildlife rehabilitators.  That is not to suggest that they are discarding all allopathic treatments, but are looking to expand the options available for treating wildlife in order to help animals safely, effectively, and quickly regain health and return to live independently in the wild.


Homeopathy has a long history of successful use with humans and (other) animals in both acute and chronic cases around the world (Ullman, Coulter). There has been extensive documentation of the safe and effective use of homeopathy with a wide range of captive animal species (livestock, poultry, companion animals).  The health of these animals has been in some cases for an entire lifetime, and in other cases of herd or flock situations, over generations. (Day, McLeod).


Increasing research, published documentation, and easy availability of information about the effectiveness of homeopathy has raised overall awareness of the modality (Ullman, Jonas).  It has also made it easier for people to learn about homeopathy and decide if they want to consider using it.  

There are increasing concerns about the use of allopathic medications such as antibiotics and corticosteriods, including allergic reactions, side effects, and depression of immune functions (Day, Blackmer). There are also a variety of conditions where allopathic medicines may be unsafe or not work effectively on animals (Day).  In addition, homeopathic treatments tend to be less invasive and to be relatively free of unwanted side effects of some allopathic treatments.


There are also a variety of conditions that allopathic medications have been unable to treat.  Viral disease is one such condition (Coulter, Ullman), emotional state is another.  While some people say it is inappropriate to attribute feelings or emotion to animals, rehabilitators commonly discuss the consequences of extreme fear and stress on wildlife in captivity, and work to reduce them and the consequences.  Rehabilitators have also commented that some animals seem to grieve and lose their appetite when separated from flock or family.  Homeopathy has remedies that address the full range of physical, emotional, and mental symptoms (Kent, Clarke, Ullman).


Homeopathy works to treat the whole creature.  The focus on detailed casetaking, observation and the selection of specific remedies to match the whole creature result in very individualized treatment (Kent, Vithoulkas).  


Homeopaths believe in giving a minimum amount of medicine — this means per dose and number of repetitions (Hahnemann, Kent, Vithoulkas). This appeals to rehabilitators for many reasons. Helping support the animal's defense system to heal itself seems to be a positive approach and more likely to result in the animal being stronger when returned to the wild.  Secondly, it seems to be good for the animal to not have to take so much medication. Thirdly, each time a wild animal is handled, there is increased stress and risk to both animal and rehabilitator (e.g., injury, disease, imprinting). Lastly, it is less expensive to use less medication.  


Homeopathic medicines are relatively easy to administer (Day, Ullman).  Generally they are placed in the animal's mouth dry, or in water; if the animal can not be handled, the homeopathic medicine can be placed in food or a water bowl.  Again, less capturing and handling generally reduces stress and risk to both the animal and rehabilitator.


Homeopathic medicines are relatively easy to obtain and are cost effective.  While homeopathic medicines can be very powerful catalysts for healing, most are available without a prescription. In addition, the cost of each homeopathic tablet is extremely low compared to other medications.  Plus, the theory of the minimum dose often results in using very little medication per animal; so a container of homeopathic medicine can last a long time if handled appropriately. In addition, rehabilitators using homeopathy have mentioned that their use of allopathic medications has also decreased, which also helps to reduce costs. However, since homeopathic remedies are not available at every pharmacy or veterinarian's office, it may be necessary to plan ahead in order to have some of the first aid remedies used on hand at the rehabilitation facility.


Homeopathic medicines can be and often are used in conjunction with other health care modalities (Morgan, Subotnick, Ullman, Panos). For example, a dehydrated animal would be placed on heat in a quiet place, given hydrating fluids — and possibly given a homeopathic remedy (orally) to accelerate the reabsorption of fluids.  A broken leg would still be immobilized and set, and then a homeopathic remedy might be given to help speed fracture healing.  Homeopathy can be highly complementary to other modalities.


There have been examples where homeopathy has helped to strengthen and accelerate the animal's healing (Day, Chapman, McLeod).  Faster recovery means reduction in the animal's time in rehabilitation and reduction of the associated stresses.  The average cost of caging, food, and treatment can thus be decreased.  Less time in rehabilitation also means that the rehabilitator spends less time and energy on that animal — and that there is less risk of injury to the rehabilitator.  



Why do Some People Not Want to Consider Homeopathy?


It is not exactly clear how homeopathy works (Ullman, Vithoulkas).  Some people prefer more complete information on and understanding of how a modality works before using it (Coulter).   


Research studies on homeopathy are still relatively limited. There have been fewer studies than some opponents believe would be necessary to prove homeopathy's effectiveness.  In addition, because homeopathy works on very specific, individualized symptoms, it is quite difficult to do comparisons in control groups (Coulter, Ullman, Jonas). 


Homeopathic provings, that is tests of the remedies, were done on humans.  As a result, it may be more difficult to know how some of the remedies work on animals. However, experience has demonstrated that at least some of the remedies seem to work similarly on humans and animals (Day, Chapman, McLeod); this needs to be explored further.  In addition, published repertories and materia medicas refer to human physiology.  This means that some of the information is not directly transferable to wildlife and must be interpreted (e.g., birds and reptiles do not have a rectum or urethra; normal stool color and shape for many wild creatures is very different from humans).    


There is a limited database on the use of homeopathy with wildlife.   Most of the research and documentation has been done on humans and a limited amount has been done on captive animals.  While the use of homeopathy by knowledgeable and skilled homeopathic veterinarians and practitioners has been found safe and effective, there has been less experience with its use with wildlife.  This is a concern for some rehabilitators.


Homeopathy is extremely different from other modalities (Vithoulkas, Ullman, Coulter).  Some people will be uncomfortable with the concepts and principles, many of which may seem counter-intuitive.  


Homeopathy requires some different resources, approaches, and techniques. This can mean significant changes in how one approaches rehabilitation and the practices in a rehabilitation facility.  It means finding and acquiring different resources, such as repertories, materia medicas, homeopathic remedies, and homeopathic veterinarians.  It also means seeking out training and studying resources in order to become proficient. This takes time, money and planning.  Homeopathy is not something that can be done effectively at the last minute and without adequate knowledge.


Homeopathy can be time-consuming as it demands more thorough observation and documentation on individual animals during casetaking and watching for results of treatment. Repertorizing and finding the most effective remedy to match the symptoms can also take time; however, with practice, the time involved with repertorizing decreases.  While the initial time with each wildlife patient may be greater than previous rehabilitation practices, some rehabilitators have found that the animal's recovery from acute trauma accelerated, which resulted in decreasing the overall time committed to caring for each animal.


There are a limited number of homeopathic veterinarians (Hanks).  While the number of veterinarians attending training and becoming certified is growing, there are still very limited numbers of homeopathic veterinarians.  This makes it more difficult to find a homeopathic veterinarian.  It also means that the rehabilitator needs to be as knowledgeable and skilled as possible, and to do a thorough and effective casetaking so that time with the veterinarian can be optimized.


Some allopathic medical professionals oppose homeopathy.  As mentioned earlier, homeopathy is very different from some allopathic medical practices.  Some allopathic veterinarians are unfamiliar with it since it was not part of their training but might consider learning about it and how it works.  Others may oppose it all together.  Rehabilitators need to consider if and how their studying and using homeopathy might affect their relationship with their veterinarian. Previous articles in the Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation, Winter, 1997, may be useful in this regard.


Work with a Homeopathic Veterinarian


The effectiveness of homeopathy is significantly influenced by the knowledge and skill of the homeopathic practitioner. While homeopathic remedies are increasingly available in stores and by mail, it is their careful selection and use that makes them effective.  This takes knowledge and skill beyond just reading a short news article or the suggestion of a homeopathic remedy based on informal comments in a pharmacy.  While the authors have found homeopathy can be very safe and effective in some situations, there are some risks, especially if the person using it has limited knowledge of or skill with the practice of homeopathy.  For example, selecting the wrong remedy can delay treatment or risk deterioration of the animal; repeating remedies too often can create a proving; giving too high a potency can stimulate an aggravation.  There are also considerable differences between using homeopathic first aid on acute traumas and acute flare-ups of chronic conditions.  It is important to consult with a veterinarian in many situations.


It is the responsibility of the rehabilitator choosing to use homeopathy to work closely with a veterinarian, preferably one knowledgeable about homeopathy.  While there may be situations when the veterinarian and rehabilitator decide that the rehabilitator will apply first aid treatments independently, it is still important for the rehabilitator to have that relationship and to consult with the veterinarian.    


Ways to Learn More


Books. In addition to working with and learning from a homeopathic veterinarian, there are many other ways to learn about homeopathy.  There are many popular, contemporary books as well as classic books available. The following books provide a general introduction to basic concepts and some of the scientific theory: The Science of Homeopathy, by George Vithoulkas; Healing with Homeopathy: The Complete Guide, by Wayne Jonas and Jennifer Jacobs;  Homeopathy: Beyond Flat Earth Medicine, by Dr. Timothy Dooley; and The Consumer's Guide to Homeopathy, by Dana Ullman. 


The following books discuss some of the basic principles, but also cover some basic practices and first aid information: Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicine, by Dana Ullman and Stephen Cummings; The Complete Homeopathy Handbook, by Gloria Castro; and Homeopathic Medicine:  First Aid and Emergency Care , by Lyle Morgan; and The Complete Family Guide to Homeopathy, by Christopher Hammond.


There are far fewer books on the use of homeopathy with animals than its use with humans.  Those most available focus on health concerns of companion animals and livestock.  While some of the conditions may not be common in wildlife (e.g., mastitis, milk fever), they may have helpful information about conditions that are found in wildlife, such as frostbite, lacerations, bites, collapse, and slow healing wounds.  Some useful titles include: The Homoeopathic Treatment of Small Animals, by Christopher Day; The Homoeopathic Treatment of Birds, by Beryl Chapman; and McLeod's books on the homeopathic treatment of goats, cattle, and horses.  


There are several other critical resources that people wishing to practice homeopathy must have. These include a good homeopathic materia medica and a complete repertory.   Boerike's Materia Medica with Repertory is an inexpensive materia medica and considered a reasonable basic volume. Other excellent and more complete materia medicas are The Concordant Materia Medica, by Vermeulen; Lectures on the Materia Medica by Kent;  A Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica, by Clarke;  and  The Desktop Guide to Keynotes and Confirmatory Symptoms , by Morrison.   While many of the homeopathic books include short descriptions of the remedies, it is vital to have a more complete materia medica in order to better understand the full remedy picture.


The Repertory of the Materia Medica  by Kent is considered a classic repertory and is extremely valuable, though somewhat difficult to use until one becomes familiar with the organization, style and language; it is also inexpensive.  The Synthesis Repertorium Homeopathicum Syntheticum by Schroyens and The Repertorium Generale by Kunzli are organized similarly to Kent's, but in more contemporary language and thus somewhat easier to use; they are also more expensive. The Homeopathic Medical Repertory by Murphy is somewhat less complete than Schroyen's or Kunzli's, but some people find its alphabetical organization and contemporary language easier to use.  Some books, such as Boerike's Materia Medica, might include short repertories, but the person wanting to achieve the closest match of a remedy to a suite of symptoms needs to have a more extensive repertory, such as those listed above.


Training. In addition to reading, there are several courses and workshops available that address homeopathy for animals.  The National Center for Homeopathy offers short, reasonably priced workshops in the summers on homeopathy for animals.  The British Institute of Homeopathy offers two levels of veterinary homeopathy self study courses with certificates (approximately US$1,500). The Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy offers an extensive homeopathy course for veterinarians.  


WildAgain Wildlife Rehabilitation, founded by two of the authors, has also offered one-day programs in conjunction with the annual conferences of the National Wildlife Rehabilitator's Association and the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council. Additionally, they, teamed with holistic veterinarians (such as co-authors, Dr. Facinelli and Dr. Blackmer), conduct a more in-depth two-day program in various locations, based on local rehabilitator interest and demand.  This program focuses solely on homeopathic first aid and acute trauma care for wildlife in a wildlife rehabilitation setting.  The course and the accompanying manual discuss the 50 homeopathic medicines most commonly used for wildlife trauma care.


Many of the homeopathic educational programs focus on humans and chronic conditions, but some may still have useful applications for acute wildlife situations.  These include short workshops, conferences, symposia, and several year degree programs. Some professional homeopathic associations (see resource list) have schedules available.  In addition, small homeopathy study groups are emerging in a variety of areas.  The schedules and topics vary.  Again, the National Center for Homeopathy and other professional homeopathy associations can provide information on contacting such study groups. 


Also holistic veterinarians may be able to recommend local educational programs.  Some of the homeopathic veterinarians might also be willing to share resources and provide some coaching for the rehabilitator demonstrating an effort to learn. 




Classical homeopathy is not for everyone.  For some, who have taken the time to understand it and use it correctly, it has dramatically changed the way they treat many of the wild animals that come into their care.  While continuing to use certain conventional practices, such as fluid therapy, administering heat, and setting fractures, previous therapies of antibiotics and corticosteriods have been in many situations reduced.  Many animals have healed faster; unwanted side effects have been reduced or even eliminated; animals have been handled less; and released back to the wild sooner.  Costs previously incurred for antibiotics and corticosteriods and other therapies have been reduced dramatically.


Classical homeopathy is comprised of a precise set of tools and techniques.  It is not a folk cure nor an approach to healing to be taken lightly or without proper training.  It is a modality that has proven to be successful with animals when used in the classical approach, that is using the single medicine or remedy, and, if necessary, prescribing another remedy if and when symptoms change.  It is a modality that is best pursued in conjunction with a veterinarian trained in its use, and it is viewed as a modality that can be complementary to certain conventional medical techniques.  It is not an either/or choice.


Homeopathy takes time and resources.  The casetaking described above requires more time up front with each animal.  The offset is generally less total time with the animal and a faster return to the wild.  The basic tools of homeopathy, such as the books and the homeopathic remedies, require an initial investment.  This investment can range from $150 for basic books (e.g.,repertory,  materia medica, practices and procedures), and another $100 or so for a basic selection of remedies. This does not include the costs for training. Here again, the offset is often less money spent on conventional medications. 


In summary, the objective of this and the accompanying case study article is to acquaint the reader with a complementary modality that seems to be gaining favor with wildlife rehabilitators.  In addition to the books and training listed above, the reader is encouraged to contact other rehabilitators or veterinarians who have tried homeopathy in a wildlife rehabilitation setting.  The two authors at WildAgain can be contacted and can provide a growing list of rehabilitators who have begun using homeopathy, as well as a list of some homeopathic veterinarians interested in helping with wildlife cases.  For it is largely through these testimonials of successes, and failures, that the reader can best decide if he or she wants to further pursue homeopathy as a complementary modality in treating wildlife.

How Did Homeopathy Start?


In the 1790's, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, a physician in Germany, questioned the theory proposed by another physician that Chinchona Bark eliminated the symptoms of malaria because it tasted bitter.  Dr. Hahnemann took a dose of the Cinochona Bark himself and found that he developed the symptoms of malaria.  Repeating the procedure on himself and several friends produced the same results. He used this experience to expand on the Law of Similars concept proposed by Hippocrates in fifth century BC. 


Dr. Hahnemann continued to test a variety of plants, minerals, and other substances to find out the full range of symptoms (physical, emotional, mental) they would cause in a healthy person; he called this a "proving". Since some of the substances caused severe symptoms, he wanted to test the least amount possible and see the resulting symptoms.  So he kept reducing the amount of the substance by dilutions, with vigorous succussing (shaking) between the precise dilutions.  This process was called potentization.  Dr. Hahnemann found that the more dilute and succussed the homeopathic medicines, the stronger their ability to stimulate healing. 


Dr. Hahnemann then attempted to match the symptoms of his patient with those of the homeopathic substances when given to healthy people.  When he gave the homeopathic medicine that was the closest and most complete match, he saw remarkable improvements in his patients.  While his popularity grew with patients, many of the conventional medical establishments of the time opposed what they considered heretical practices.


Others tested Dr. Hahnemann's theories and practices and found them effective in treating both chronic and acute conditions.  The successful use of homeopathy in typhoid and cholera epidemics, as well as on the battlefields of war, resulted in its expanded use and an increasing number of homeopathic practitioners. 


By the 1920's, there were major advances in allopathic medicine and the belief in its ability to cure numerous conditions with antibiotics.  At the same time, the influence of the pharmaceutical industry and allopathic medical associations increased.  Concurrently, there was growing conflict in the homeopathic community. While homeopathy continued its strength in some parts of the world, its practice declined in North America for decades.  Then, in the late 20th century, dissatisfaction with allopathic medicine, the desire to return to more natural healing methods, and growing research on the effectiveness of homeopathy has resulted in rapidly increasing interest in homeopathy.



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MORRISON, R., 1993.  A Desktop Guide to Keynotes and Confirmatory Symptoms. CA, Hahnemann Clinic Publishing.


MURPHY, R., 1996. Homeopathic Medical Repertory.  CO,  Hahnemann Academy of North America.


MURPHY, R., 1995. Lotus Materia Medica. CO, Lotus Star Academy.


PANOS, M. & Heimlich, J., 1980. Homeopathic Medicine at Home.   NY, P.G. Putnam's Sons.


SCHROYENS, Frederik, 1993.  Synthesis: Repertorium Homeopathicum Syntheticum.  London, Homeopathic Book Publishers.


SHEPPARD, Dorothy, 1953.  Homoeopathy for the First Aider.  England, C.W. Daniel Co. Ltd.


SHEPPARD, Dorothy, 1967.  Homoeopathy in Epidemic Diseases.   England, C.W. Daniel Co. Ltd.


SUBOTNICK, S., 1991.  Sports And Exercise Injuries: Conventional, Homeopathic and Alternative Treatments.  CA, North Atlantic Books.


ULLMAN, D., 1988.  Discovering Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21st Century.  CA, North Atlantic Books.


ULLMAN, D., 1995.  The Consumer's Guide to Homeopathy. NY, P.G. Putnam's Sons.


VERMEULEN, Frans, 1997.  Concordant Materia Medica.  Netherlands, Emryos bv Publishers.


VITHOULKAS, G., 1980. The Science of Homeopathy.  NY,  Grove Press.


YASGUR, Jay, 1998.  Yasgur's Homeopathic Dictionary and Holistic Health Reference.  PA,  Van Hoy Publishers.



Some Sources of Homeopathic Books


-  Natural Health Supply; Box 6033; Santa Fe, NM; 87502;  888-689-1608. Also


-  Minimum Price Homeopathic Books; P.O. Box 2187; Blaine, WA 98231; 800-663-8272.  Also


-  Homeopathic Educational Services; 2124 Kittredge St., Berkeley, CA 94704; 800-359-9051.


-  Local bookstores, natural food stores; local holistic veterinarians; libraries.



Some Holistic Health Associations


-  National Center for Homeopathy; 703-548-7790.


-  American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association; 410-569-0795.


-  Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy; 305-652-1590.


-  International Association for Veterinary Homeopathy; 770-516-7622.


-  British Institute of Homeopathy; 800-498-6323.



About the Authors


Dr. Rachel Blackmer, DVM, graduated from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1991.  While at Tufts she worked extensively at the Tufts Wildlife Clinic and left with a deeply entrenched interest in helping wildlife of all species.  After leaving Tufts, she began work in a conventional veterinary practice in Vermont.  Her growing concerns about conventional therapies lead her to study a variety of alternative health care modalities.  She was certified by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society in 1993.  She also studied veterinary chiropractic in 1996; her certification from the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association is pending.  She became a Reiki Master in 1996. She also took extensive training in classical homeopathy from 1994 through the present. Dr. Blackmer was co-owner of Indigo Quill Healing Arts, a holistic veterinary practice in Colorado and later served as the Director of the Cape Wildlife Center in West Barnstable, owned and operated by the Humane Society of the United States. She currently practices veterinary medicine in Durham, NC.


Janice Facinelli, DVM, owns and operates Holistic Care for Animals, a veterinary clinic in Denver, Colorado.  Dr. Facinelli received her veterinary degree from Colorado State University in 1972.  She practiced conventional veterinary medicine for many years before becoming interested in various holistic veterinary practices.  She received her accreditation by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society in 1988, her certification from the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy in 1991, and her certificate from the Academy of Classical Homeopathy (2 yr. program) in 1996. 


Shirley and Allan Casey are licensed wildlife rehabilitators in Evergreen, Colorado. See About Us for more info.

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