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 Homeopathic Medicine and the Immune System 
 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Understanding Homeopathy by . View all columns in series

Louis Pasteur's realization at the end of his life has, however, gone unnoticed by most conventional physicians and by the public at large. When a person experiences an infection, most people think that it is best to take an antibiotic for bacterial infection and an anti-viral drug for viral infection. There are, however, problems with such drugs. Besides the various side effects they cause and the various instances in which they are not effective, even when they are effective, their usage tends to increase the chances of infective agents to adapt to the drugs, thereby reducing the chance that the drugs will be effective in the future.

As Jonas Salk noted, instead of trying to attack a specific problem, another strategy to re-establish health is to attempt to stimulate a person's own immune and defense system, which is ultimately the approach commonly used with homeopathic medicines.

Most people today do not know that homeopathy actually gained its greatest popularity in Europe and America during the mid- and late-1800s primarily due to the significant successes it achieved in treating people suffering from the often fatal infectious disease epidemics that raged during that time.3 Cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, and scarlet fever were but some of the infectious diseases that homeopathic medicines were exceptionally effective in treating.

These natural medicines were not effective because they "attacked" the infective agent but because they stimulated the body's own immune and defense system to defend and heal itself.

Ideal Medicines?
There are no specific homeopathic medicines which are thought to be more effective than others in augmenting a person's own immune and defense system. Each homeopathic medicine is thought to be effective when it is properly prescribed. The trick is to find the correct homeopathic medicine that fits the person's unique pattern of symptoms.

For instance, Arsenicum album (white arsenic) is a very common homeopathic medicine. There are numerous acute and chronic conditions for which it is effective in treating, ranging from food poisoning and digestive disorders, to fatigue and various anxiety states, and to asthma and insomnia. Arsenicum album is not effective because it has antibiotic properties or stimulating or sedative effects. It is effective according to basic homeopathic principles because it has the capacity to heal those specific patterns of symptoms it is known to cause if taken in large dose. Arsenicum album will not be effective in treating a person whose symptoms do not match the symptoms that arsenic is known to cause.

There are various books that help people to find the correct single homeopathic medicine. This individualization of medicine is sometimes easy and sometimes hard. If a person does not know how to find the correct remedy or if this medicine is not readily available, it is often useful to use one of the various homeopathic formulas available to the general public.

Although some authors, including myself, have accidently described homeopathic medicines as immunostimulating drugs, it may be more accurate to refer to them as immunomodulating drugs (drugs that stimulate a depressed immune system and that tone down an overactive immune system).
Immunomodulating effects from drugs may be the ideal effect that drug companies and physicians have longed for. Ironically, these drugs have been with us for a long time. Indeed, it is time to further investigate homeopathic medicines.

References
1E. Davenas, B. Poitevin, and J. Benveniste, "Effect of Mouse Peritoneal Macrophages of Orally Administered Very High Dilutions of Silica," European Journal of Pharmacology, 135 (April, 1987): 313-319.
2R.G. Gibson, S.L.M. Gibson, A.D. MacNeil, et al., "Homoeopathic Therapy in Rheumatoid Arthritis: Evaluation by Double-Blind Controlled Trial," British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 9(1980):453-459.
3D. Ullman, Discovering Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21st Century, Berkeley: North Atlantic, 1991, 39-40.



How do I Learn More About Homeopathy?
The best source of homeopathic books, tapes, home medicine kits, and software is:
Homeopathic Educational Services
2124B Kittredge St.
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 649-0294
(510) 649-1955 (fax)

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 About The Author
DANA ULLMAN, MPH, is one of America's leading advocates for homeopathy. He has authored 10 books, including ...moreDana Ullman, MPH
 
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