A career in natural medicine is an increasingly attractive proposition given the widespread popularity of this form of healing. This can partly be explained by the desire of patients to be more involved in their healthcare, as well as the likelihood that their treatment will be non-invasive and have a holistic approach. ntpages decided to find out more about the field of homeopathy so tracked down Alastair Gray, national Program Leader of the Homeopathy Department at Endeavour College of Natural Health, for some answers. Alastair comes from a background in general natural medicine practice, which he is still very much involved in - with a particular interest in the treatment of anxiety, depression, addiction and mental health.
How did you initially come into contact with homeopathy?
“Some 25 years ago I had terrible hay fever which did not respond to any treatment I tried, until someone recommended I try a homeopath. The results were so striking I have not looked back since.”
What are the origins of homeopathy?
“The founder of homeopathy is Dr Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician and scientist who started a homeopathic practice in 1790, although Hippocrates – widely attributed as the father of modern medicine, recognised the underlying principles of homeopathy long before this.”
In layman’s terms how does homeopathy work?
“Homeopathy is based on the Law of Similars, which is that any substance in nature has the capacity to create symptoms that activate the immune system and stimulate the body to heal itself. Simply put this is ‘like healing like’. Homeopaths use highly diluted botanical and mineral substances called remedies to treat specific ailments. Recently I was teaching a group of nurses in Asia and explaining how it worked. I asked them what sort of music they listened to when they felt sad to get out of their mood. More than half said they listened to sad music – that’s homeopathy.”
What are the primary ingredients of homeopathic remedies?
“All homeopathic remedies come from the natural world, so they could be plant animal or mineral in origin.”
In terms of composition, does a remedy consist of a number of ingredients?
“The majority of remedies are what we call single remedies, but some homeopaths may use a number of ingredients in a combined remedy.”
How does a homeopath match a remedy to an ailment?
“Homeopaths are great listeners and they focus on all the details of a person’s problem. Then we have a selection of textbooks to refer to, which detail specific remedies and their effects.”
What range of conditions can be treated with homeopathy?
“A practicing homeopath could encounter practically any ailment or condition, from a teething child to cases of anxiety, eczema or arthritis – it really is a wide range of conditions that we encounter.”
Describe a typical consultation with a homeopath?
“Consultations can last from 30 minutes to an hour and sometimes longer. This would obviously cover the specifics of your complaint, and is an in-depth conversation focusing on the how, why and when – all designed to uncover elements of a patients broader lifestyle they may not have been aware of. There may also be an appropriate physical examination, undertaken within the scope of practice of a homeopath.”
How long would a remedy typically would be prescribed for?
“This is entirely dependant on the patient and how chronic the condition they have is. Some patients respond very quickly to a specific treatment, while some conditions take time to heal.”
Are homeopathic remedies regulated in Australia?
“All homeopathic medicines are regulated by the Therapeutics Goods Act 1989, which is there to protect consumers and ensure the quality, efficacy and safety of these products.”
How does one become a homeopath?
“You need to study. Endeavour College offer the Advanced Diploma, which is completed in two and a half years full-time (or equivalent part-time), as well as a Bachelor of Health Science (Homeopathy) - three and a half year full time (or equivalent part-time). The Advanced Diploma enables one to practice as a homeopath, while the Degree course does the same but is aimed at more than providing graduates with specialist homeopathic knowledge and skills, particularly in the field of research. Both courses have significant practical and theoretical components.”
Where would a graduate in homeopathy find a job?
“Homeopathy is a great career for self-starters. Most graduates usually enter clinical practice, working for themselves or as a partner in a healthcare clinic or community health services. Other graduates gain jobs in industry, research, government agencies, pharmacy or a variety of commercial or social welfare settings and community health service agencies. Some have ended up practicing in resorts, on cruise ships and for companies specialising in areas of health care such as children with learning difficulties.”
What do you say to the homeopathy sceptics out there?
“Sceptics generally offer lazy arguments to debunk homeopathy, ignoring the growing body of empirical evidence, research and clinical trials – not to mention all the people who are healed every day by homeopathy. There is also a long tradition of medical homeopathy, particularly in the U.K and India which is firmly grounded in the medical sciences. In Australia awareness and acceptance of homeopathy is growing to the extent that most health funds cover homeopathic treatments.”