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 Homeopathy and Naturopathy

Homeopathy and naturopathy are examples of Western alternative medical systems. Homeopathy uses small doses (dilutions) of specially prepared plant extracts, herbs, minerals, and other materials to stimulate the body’s defense mechanisms and healing processes. Infinitesimally small doses of diluted preparations that produce symptoms mimicking those of an illness are used to help the body heal itself. Homeopathy is based on the Law of Similars (“like cures like”), and dilutions are prescribed to match the client’s illness/symptom and personality profile. Healing occurs from the inside out, and symptoms disappear in the reverse order they appeared.

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Homeopathy has been used in the treatment of short-term acute illnesses, migraine pain, allergies, chronic fatigue, otitis media, immune dysfunction, digestive disorders, and colic. It has also been used in the treatment of emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety. It is contraindicated as a treatment for advanced diseases, cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, conditions involving irreparable damage (e.g., defective heart valves), or brain damage due to stroke (Freeman & Lawlis, 2008).

Homeopathic remedies are available over the counter, but consumers should have a full evaluation by a homeopathic practitioner before using any treatments. Consumers who are given what is called a “constitutional remedy” to treat a specific symptom should be informed that occasionally the symptom will worsen before it gets better (e.g., a client with anxiety should be warned not to fear a panic attack if anxiety worsens).

Naturopathy emphasizes health restoration rather than disease treatment and combines nutrition, homeopathy, herbal medicine, hydrotherapy, light therapy, therapeutic counseling, and other therapies. The underlying belief is that the individual assumes responsibility for his or her recovery. While few PMH-APRNs practice in these traditions, knowledge of the basic premises can be useful when assessing, treating, and referring clients. Such holistic concepts are also useful in considering the body-mind-spirit nature of mental health and illness.

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