Most of us have seen those little blue Boiron tubes in the health food store or pharmacy. The side of the tube may give you one characteristic clue to the remedy, but it may or may not match your symptom; as we all should know, the key to the proper remedy is to match not only the symptom, but the total symptom list. Some remedies have as many as 2000 symptoms that can be opposite in meaning, i.e., thin or obese, cheerful or morose, panicky or calm.

In choosing a remedy, the first question must be why you are looking for a remedy. Is it an acute episode, like a cold? Is it a chronic problem like hemorrhoids? Is it an 'acute of the chronic' like asthma? In case you are not familiar with these words, an acute is a rapidly moving 'dis-ease' and may have an identifiable cause, such as getting wet in cold weather, whereas a chronic dis-ease will have been with you for a while, one with which you are familiar. If you have this chronic state with some frequency (asthma, allergies, panic attacks, anxiety) and they come on periodically, this is termed 'acute of the chronic.' Usually, with chronic homeopathic treatment, they subside very quickly, or completely after the first remedy.

Say, for instance, you are unfortunate enough to get panic attacks. Maybe yours are typical, with sweaty palms, rapid shallow breathing, dry mouth, and tightness in your chest (breathe, these are just words!). You want these panic attacks to go away. You could treat them acutely, in other words, each time you get an attack you take the remedy, much like seasickness. If you were treating them acutely, you'd take them DURING the attack. If treating them chronically, you'd take the remedy only when you feel calm and secure.

There may be 50 remedies from which to chose. If you find the correct remedy, the next step to consider is the dose. Often the dose for the acute is much higher than for the chronic case. I may give a person with a serious flu a very high dose (50M) if the previous dose (10M) worked, but didn't resolve the flu completely and the symptoms remained the same. But with a chronic problem, we start low (30C usually) if there are more physical symptoms we don't want to stir up. If a person has mainly mental symptoms, say depression, I would choose a higher dose. There are many variables to consider in these cases, and this is only a baseline. Knowing when and how to give a remedy is very important.

So now we've found a remedy, given the occasionally panic-stricken person the proper dose of the remedy. How did we find the remedy from the 49 other choices? Each person that has panic attacks is very different from another. Maybe one person gets them when alone and relaxing. Another person may find they always come on when going to work on BART. Still another may get them when they're thinking of a sick loved one. This is only one symptom added to the chronic case, we must find all the particular ways this person is different from her fellow sufferers. This is called finding the totality. It means you are matching all your symptoms to the known symptoms of the remedy you are considering. We find the correct remedy, we give this person a 30C dose, and wait. If it's the correct dose, our poor sufferer won't get another attack. Maybe in a few years, the person has another; make sure the same remedy is called for (the same symptoms, no change) and give a higher dose. In this case, a 200C, or by plussing the 30C (adding water and succussing the remedy).

Next time you're in a health food store looking for a remedy, remember; if you chose one that is good for a runny nose with a cold and yours is dry as a bone but congested, it most likely won't work. You may say to yourself, homeopathy doesn't really work. But in truth, it's the homeopath that isn't working!

Author's Bio: 

I have been certified by the Council for Homeopathic Certification, a national organization dedicated to standardizing field and the standard of care, as well as a registered homeopath with the North American Society of Homeopaths. To round out the training, I have a Master's Degree in Natural Health. With two offices in Northern California, I also volunteer at a San Francisco homeless clinic.