Homeopathic products used by Dr. Johnson versus ones found in stores
The simple answer is that some of the products are similar, though the way Dr. Johnson chooses and uses them is very different compared to simply picking homeopathic remedies at a store based on their stated uses.
There are two different types of homeopathic products at health food and drug stores – combination products and single remedies.
Combination products have names like “Cold Calm” and “Chestal”. These products contain several different homeopathic substances which together are used to treat a specific condition such as cold/flu or sinus infection. They have very straightforward instructions and indications and can safely and sometimes effectively be used by consumers.
The downside to these products is that they are not as powerful as single remedies, which come in higher potencies. Therefore, although they may help with some conditions, combination products rarely do so as dramatically or powerfully as properly chosen, high potency single remedies. This is true with either acute or chronic illness. In fact, chronic conditions will almost never resolve with the use of combination products. Only the deeper-acting single remedies, properly chosen, can do so.
Single homeopathic remedies
Most health food stores and Whole Foods carry Boiron brand single remedies which are packaged in colorful (blue, green, purple) plastic tubes and presented in a display having dozens of remedies stacked upon each other. These single agent remedies are what has been used in the vast majority of homeopathic practices throughout the world and throughout history. The founder of homeopathy – Samuel Hahnemman, MD – developed homeopathy with the use of single agents in mind.
These remedies have the potential to powerfully influence the body. However, if used according to the way the products are commercially labeled, they will almost never produce this result. The reason is that they are labeled according to FDA standards which require that one or two common disease categories be listed for each remedy (e.g. the remedy Mercurius solubilis is labeled as being appropriate for “sore throat and diarrhea”). Unfortunately, this is not at all how homeopathic remedies work.
The proper selection of a homeopathic remedy is highly individualized, and not based on common disease categories. There is no such thing as a homeopathic remedy for arthritis or for headache. Using the above example, the successful treatment of sore throat may be accomplished by dozens, even hundreds of different remedies – assuming the remedy correctly matches that particular case of sore throat.
A sore throat in which the person is weak and lethargic versus one in which the person is restless and angry will require completely different remedies. The same is true for a sore throat worse at night versus one worse in the afternoon. Numerous factors are considered when choosing a remedy. This can be a difficult concept for people to grasp, since we are used to the disease-drug model (i.e. one disease is treated with one drug).
The bottom line is if you use Mercurius solubilis for sore throat, without any consideration of the characteristics of the particular case, you have probably a 1% chance of it working. In other words, about 1% of all sore throat cases are Mercurius cases.
For people who are very motivated, books are available which can help in the selection of single homeopathic remedies in self-limiting acute conditions such as cold/flu, nausea, etc. This is a somewhat difficult task, but can certainly be learned to a degree.
The treatment of chronic disease however, is very complex and takes years of proper training and practice to master. It is very difficult for untrained people to successfully self-treat for chronic illness – finding the correct remedy is difficult, managing the case is even more difficult. Indeed, this is precisely why homeopathy is not more widely practiced in the medical world – everyone who has witnessed its results knows its amazing potential, but few are willing to put in the time and energy needed to master its practice.
How homeopathy is different from other types of "natural" medicines
Many people are familiar with the word “homeopathy” but don’t really understand exactly what it means. Often people think it simply refers to all “natural” or holistic medicine – but this is incorrect.
Homeopathy is distinct from herbal medicine, nutrition, diet, massage, acupuncture, and all other forms of holistic medicine.
Homeopathy is a formal and complete system of medicine which has been in existence for 200 years. Though it is very much a holistic and non-toxic form of medicine, it was developed by medical doctors and was taught in medical schools and hospitals for much of the first 130 years.
Though homeopathic remedies are often made from plants and minerals, they are prepared in a way that is very different from herbs and nutrients (Please see question “How are homeopathic remedies prepared?”). The end result is a healing substance which is by and large much more powerful than the crude herb or nutrient, and at the same time, paradoxically, more gentle.
What homeopathic remedies are, and how they are prepared
Homeopathic remedies are made primarily from plants and minerals, and occasionally animal substances.
Whichever substance is used, it is mixed in solution - 1 part substance to 99 parts water/alcohol, in a glass container. This solution is then shaken vigorously in a very specific pattern (a process called “succussion”). The resultant product is said to be a 1C (“C” stands for centesimal - 100) homeopathic potency of the substance.
If you then take 1 part of this solution and mix it with another 99 parts water/alcohol and succuss it, you will have a 2C homeopathic potency. This process can be continued indefinitely until the desired potency is achieved, at which point the solution is either bottled and taken as drops under the tongue, or more commonly, small sugar pellets are soaked in the solution, then removed and bottled, and the person taking the remedy dissolves the pellets under the tongue.
Common potencies which are available at stores include 6C and 30C. Homeopathic practitioners can often use much higher potencies such as 1M (1,000C) and CM (100,000C).
The difference in cost between Dr. Johnson and other holistic practitioners. Additional expenses outside of the visit fees
It is important for consumers to know that the appointment fees of many holistic/natural medicine practitioners are often just the tip of the iceberg.
It is very common for holistic practitioners to encourage patients to 1) buy expensive supplements from the practitioner and 2) order expensive “alternative” tests (e.g. food allergy testing, heavy metal testing, etc). These additional expenses can easily run $100-200 per month or more for supplements and $300-500 for testing.
It behooves consumers to enquire about this up front when choosing a holistic practitioner. (Please see other FAQ’s regarding the value of “alternative” testing and expensive supplements).
With Dr. Johnson, additional expenses are minimal. For the vast majority of clients, the homeopathic remedy Dr. Johnson recommends costs about $15/month. That’s it. No testing needed, no expensive supplements, etc.
Unlike pharmaceuticals, homeopathic remedies are not patentable and therefore are very inexpensive. Unlike most other “natural” supplements, homeopathic remedies are not sold for exorbitant prices. They are the real deal – developed and created by doctors, not created by large pharmaceutical or nutriceutical companies for maximum profit.
In some cases (mostly with blood sugar issues and hypertension) Dr. Johnson will recommend a few supplements – most of which can be bought by clients at discount supplement suppliers (such as Vitamin Shoppe, iHerb, etc). Occasionally, he recommends a supplement whose quality he feels cannot be rivaled by commercially available supplements and is only available through doctors – but this is rare.
Do all naturopaths practice homeopathy?
The simple answer to this is “no” – only a very few naturopaths are adept at homeopathy.
If you visit naturopathic practitioners’ websites, you will notice that most of them use the word “homeopathy” to describe at least part of what they use in practice. Most naturopaths consider homeopathy as part of their “bag of tricks”. And it is true that all medically-trained naturopaths (that is, naturopaths who have been to 4 year, accredited naturopathic medical schools) are trained to some degree in homeopathy. (Please see FAQ on homeopathic training)
However, this is very different from naturopaths who specialize, and are truly skilled, in homeopathy.
Homeopathy is capable of stimulating very powerful healing responses in people, but the chances of this happening in treatment by practitioners who only “dabble” in homeopathy are very slim.
The reason is that homeopathy is a very difficult discipline to practice effectively and master. It takes many years of intense study and practice to do so. It simply cannot be picked up at a weekend seminar or learned casually.
The long and short of the issue is that naturopathic doctors who “dabble” in homeopathy are very unlikely to be able to effectively utilize homeopathy to anywhere near its potential. Finding the correct remedy is difficult. After finding the correct remedy, effectively managing the case is even more difficult. It takes significant training and experience to be able to do so.
There are naturopaths who use combination homeopathic products (such as Unda numbers or such). These products are limited in variation and more broad acting in nature, and so do not require as much skill/expertise to utilize. They are also, therefore, not as specific and in the experience of most homeopaths, much less likely to stimulate truly deep-acting responses in those who are ill (though, they certainly can be effective to some degree). (Please see FAQ about the difference between combination and single remedies)