The Ultimate Immune Booster

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How to Use Homeopathy
Homeopathy can be used to treat common, nonchronic illnesses such as allergies, a sore throat, sprained ankle, or the flu. It can also be applied in a broader sense to treat long-term afflictions. “For a chronic problem such as arthritis or depression, a professional homeopath will look at your overall constitution, of which your disease is only one part,” says Ullman.

Healing Home Remedies
Alyce Barry, 56, a therapist in Longmont, Colo., has used homeopathy for self-treatment for 12 years. She was introduced to the practice as a child, using arnica pills whenever she scraped her knee. “We had a homeopathic doctor in our family, so we kids would get arnica for injuries, Nux vomica (homeopathic strychnine) for nausea, or coffea (homeopathic coffee) when we had trouble sleeping,” she says. “We took them to humor Mom. I don’t remember ever realizing, ‘Hey, this stuff really works.’” That is, not until 30 years later, when Barry found a mixed homeopathic remedy that she claims cleared up a chest cold in 15 minutes. She now uses homeopathic formulas by Boiron (an over-thecounter product maker) for acute ailments. Barry’s standard picks: Gasalia for indigestion, Roxalia for laryngitis, and Oscillococcinum at the first signs of the flu.

Buying Guide to Homeopathy
Health food stores, natural pharmacies, and some grocery chains carry homeopathic remedies, which are usually indicated for non-life-threatening, shortterm ailments such as bruises, coughs, the flu, and temporary stress. The recommended dosages are often written on the bottle. Look for established brands such as Boiron, Hyland’s, Nelsons, and Washington Homeopathic Products. Many people find over-the-counter remedies effective, though seeing a professional is still considered the best way to find a suitable remedy, even for minor complaints.

When to See a Professional
If you have chronic or serious conditions like panic attacks or diabetes, see a professional homeopath— and don’t attempt to treat the problem yourself. (To find a practitioner, go to In fact, self-treatment for emotional issues or disease can be dangerous. “If you take the wrong medicine and you’re sensitive, you’ll get symptoms connected to that medicine,” says Shevins. “It has to be used carefully, because you don’t want to aggravate any existing condition such as a heart problem or severe asthma.”

What Homeopaths Do
Homeopaths require a one- to two-hour introductory meeting to get a comprehensive list of your symptoms. “In homeopathy,” says Stevenson, “we’re trying to find the strange, rare, and peculiar symptoms. If you have a pain in your right knee, we want to know what sets it off; whether it’s worse in the morning or when you eat or run.” Homeopaths match the symptoms to remedies listed in the classic homeopathic texts Organon of Medicine and Materia Medicas, narrow down the options (practitioners have identified more than 2,000 remedies), and choose a potency based on their impressions of the patient. Getting the right dose may require experimentation.

Seven common cures
CONDITION Common cold and hay fever
REMEDY Allium cepa (onion)
CONDITION Shock and trauma from injury
REMEDY Arnica montana (mountain daisy)
CONDITION Colicky or teething infant
REMEDY Chamomilla (chamomille)
CONDITION Acute grief, anxiety, or depression
REMEDY Ignatia (St. Ignatius bean)
CONDITION Cramps (including menstrual cramps)
REMEDY Magnesia phosphorica (magnesium phosphate)
CONDITION Discomfort from overeating or drinking too much alcohol
REMEDY Nux vomica (poison nut)
CONDITION Sprains and strains; flu or arthritis
REMEDY Rhus tox (poison ivy)
(Compiled by Dana Ullman, M.P.H.; consult a homeopathic guidebook for details.)