‘Like Cures Like’ & ‘The Minimum Dose’ – What Does This All Mean??


Trying to explain how homeopathy works can invariably lead to one sounding like the purveyor of Harry Potter-esque witchcraft techniques, serving only to alienate the listener.  I would like to try and break down the two main principles very simply.. we’ll see how long before your eyes glaze over!

Homeopathy works on 2 main principles: ‘like cures like’, and ‘the minimum dose’ .  They are terms that are banded about, but lead to much confusion in the lay person who has not had the benefit of studying homeopathy in any depth.

The way I like to explain the first principle (like cures like) is to use the analogy of sound.  When you play a sound wave, it creates noise that you hear.  If you play that very same sound wave a fraction of a millisecond later than the first one, they will cancel each other out, and the result is total silence.  I feel this is what happens with homeopathic remedies.   The ‘noise’ if you will, is the disease process.  It is the body’s energy all disturbed and out of whack.  Symptoms are being produced, and all is not well.  Homeopathy looks to ‘cancel out’ this noise, by administering a remedy that in a well person, would produce the same set of ‘noise’ as we are witnessing in the sick person.

Take the example of arsenic.  If a well person takes arsenic, it will produce all manner of unpleasant effects – vomiting and diarrhoea, anxiety, headaches, confusion to name a few.  If you have a patient who has a disease process that has similar symptoms to arsenic poisoning – for example a simple case of food poisoning, or a sickness bug… we would give them the remedy arsenic, in order to ‘cancel out’ the noise of the disease.

But now we have to introduce the second principle: ‘the minimum dose’.  This idea was discovered by the great founder of Homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann.  He noticed that the more you diluted the remedy in water, the more effective it seemed to be at ‘cancelling out’ the noise of disease. This dilution happens in a very particular way. Dilute, shake, take a drop of the mixture, dilute, shake and so on, until the point where there are no actual molecules of the substance left in the dilution. The supposition is that what you are left with in the water that remains, is the energetic properties of the substance in question. Hahnemann observed that giving people this diluted substance was a much safer and effective way of treating diseases than giving them actual material quantities of drugs or herbs. You minimise the risk of side effects that one so often has with material doses of drugs.  I see it as taking only the very necessary bit of the ‘curative agent’, i.e. it’s energy, and throwing the rest away.

It is this second point that gets scientists all hot under the collar. ‘What tosh’, they cry. ‘How can it work if it is diluted to the point where it no longer exists??’.  The answer to this is…. we simply don’t know yet.  We just know it does!  I think if one accepts that science is not at the pinnacle of understanding of all things, then maybe, just maybe, there is a chance that this effect does occur, and that we simply don’t have the means of explaining it yet.  There is exciting research around the bizarre properties and ‘memory’ of water (which is used for the dilution process), which might go some way to explaining it, but I prefer to just think in terms of ‘energetics’.  I have no problem with the notion of diluting a substance to the point where all you are left with is its energetic imprint.  Using this to ‘cancel out’ the noise of disease is a safe, elegant and effective way of treating disease.  The dark art of prescribing the correct remedy and unpicking all the important layers of ‘energetic disturbance’ is another matter entirely, and can be a little hit and miss… but the basic principles, they do not trouble me at all.  I am only interested in clinical effectiveness.  When one has seen the effects work so beautifully, one can stop worrying about the ‘how?’ and simply start enjoying the ‘wow!’.

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