Nor can it be held against the combination remedies that they don't always work. Single remedies don't work all the time either, even in hands far more skilled than mine. Like worsening, healing is always possible, never certain: it is a property of individuals, not disease categories. So let me repeat: there is nothing wrong with the acute care combinations, as long as a few simple and obvious precautions are observed, and temporary symptomatic relief is all that is required. But homeopathy is capable of vastly more than that.
Combination remedies palliate because of a crude correspondence between a common symptom or illness category (colds, flu, cough, etc.) and its various ingredients. But homeopathy teaches that each single remedy produces a characteristic totality of responses that is different from that of every other substance. When a remedy can be found that approximates the picture of the illness as a whole, genuinely and profoundly curative responses are often possible, even in obstinate chronic diseases.
Experiences of this kind suggest that falling ill and recovering from illness are concerted responses of the organism as a whole, and cannot simply be programmed or manipulated through temporary relief of a symptom or technological control of an abnormality. This is the best reason for studying and using single remedies, which are distinctive and recognizable totalities that can match and therefore help us understand and work with the unique individuality of living patients.
When patients are truly cured of an illness, they take with them the immunological "memory" of the healing process: their bodies recognize (and their minds often remember) which groups of symptoms traveled together, which separately, what causal factors were operating, and the like. The proof of course is that next time the picture is clearer and the response more rapid and effective. Using remedies effectively for self-healing is essentially a methodology for training this kind of psychophysical awareness, and homeopathy does so chiefly through the discipline of studying and using single remedies.
This study is by no means a simple one. I have been immersed in lt for fifteen years, and have only just begun. Yet the method is wonderfully accessible to lay people, who may study and use remedies at their own pace, as a guide to their experience, not infrequently with results at least as good as mine. The remedies are archetypes of falling ill and getting well again that are profoundly satisfying and worthy of study for their own sake, because they exist in real life -- a most improbable coincidence that partly explains the art and skill and excitement that are given to those who are willing to make the effort.
I know of no other way to explain the equally improbable revival of homeopathic self-care in our recent history, which is almost
wholly attributable to the single remedy method. By the 1960's,
homeopathic medicine had almost died out as a profession in this country, and survived only because of the dedication of the lay public and a few dozen physicians who clung to the old ways, i.e., to the single remedy. Now it is rising again, thanks largely to the impetus of the self-care movement: groups of interested lay people are springing up everywhere, and are studying and using single remedies with an intensity that leaves the principal manufacturers scrambling to overtake the demand.
So I have no quarrel with the combination remedies They're quite safe, and they work well enough for what they're designed to do. But they are as far from what homeopathy is capable of as is applying a band-aid, or taking a drug to control an abnormality, from learning how to heal ourselves.