What is a “homeopathic remedy”? This term is often used incorrectly, even sometimes by trained homeopaths. For those who have no experience with homeopathy, they may assume that it is just another way of saying “herbal remedy” or even “natural remedy”, but it has a much more specific meaning than this.
The other huge misconception which people have about the term ‘homeopathic’ is that it is a reference to the method of potentization used in homeopathic prescribing (ie a substance which has been diluted and succussed to radically diminish its material component). When people have debates about whether or not “homeopathic remedies” work, they often are using the term in this sense of a diluted and potentized substance, and are questioning the possibility of a non-material remedy having any efficacy.
To understand the term ‘homeopathic remedy’ correctly, we need to understand both the words “homeopathic” and “remedy” accurately. In its literal sense, the word homeopathic means “similar suffering”, and is referring to the law of nature known as “the law of similars”. In this sense, then, it refers to a relationship between a disease and a medicinal substance which are very closely similar (and therefore there is a curative relationship between them). Whether the medicine was potentized, or not, does not define a homeopathic relationship. This is why the use of some herbs, for example, may sometimes have a homeopathic relationship to the disease being treated, or even some pharmaceutical drugs, for that matter. It is not the safest way to apply a homeopathic remedy, but nevertheless, it can still be homeopathic.
The term “remedy” is another one which can tend to be used too loosely. Again the so-called ‘homeopathic remedy’ which you buy at the health food store may be neither ‘homeopathic’ or a ‘remedy’ in any given case. It may be called ‘homeopathic’ only if it has the relationship of similarity to the disease being treated, and it may only be called a ‘remedy’ if it actually remedies something. A ‘remedy’, also, isn’t always necessarily a medicinal substance, but may be a lifestyle modification, or even an idea which catalyzes a changes in someone’s perception or psychological state. It is the result of a ‘remedy’, upon which we can judge whether it actually was one, or not.