Herbalism and Homeopathy...What is the Difference?

While I never hold it against someone when they pronounce a word wrong, or use it incorrectly...after all I have done it...this is one of those times where I do find it critical to mention the difference.

For example....we took our cat, Moonstone, to the vet for her first check up. I was asking the vet if she had heard of Juliette de Bairacli Levy, a legendary herbalist well known for her holistic veterinary medicine. I told her I was interested in taking care of Moonstone with herbs, as I was an herbalist myself. She responded "many people are using homeopathic care for their animals with great success." Then I went onto a little speech about how they are different, which was met with gazed over eyes (I do talk a lot when I am passionate about something....).

She hasn't been the only one either. Like I mentioned, I don't hold it against someone because, let's face it, the government and the Church has done a pretty good job over the last hundreds of years to get rids of plant based medicine (witch hunts anyone). Generations have passed now where no one knows how to use an herb for medicine.

ANYWAYS...see I can really get going about this.

I wanted to do a post on some the differences between herbalism and homeopathy....mainly because we are disrespecting BOTH sides when we use them interchangeably.

Herbalism is the use of plants as medicine....usually in their whole form (ie seed, leaf, flower) and made into several type of remdies.....syrups, teas, tinctures, pastilles etc.

Homeopathy will also use plants as medicine but will also use minerals...and sometime the plants they use would be quite toxic if taken in whole plant form.

Homepathic remedies are created by using vibrations or energetics (this is extremely simplified for this post). The plant matter is placed in water and then shaken so that the "life force" of the plant is extracted. That is now the mother. This will be diluted several times (indicated by the number on the bottle ie 5X, 30C, 200C), then shaken with the little tablets we know as homeopathic remedies.

Homepathic medicine heals using the "like cures like" principal which means that you take the remedy that, if you took the whole plant form, the plant/mineral would cause the same symptoms. For example...if you took Belladonna in whole plant form, you would find yourself with a splitting headache, hallucinations or even a high fever (if you didn't take enough for it to be lethal). This is what homeopathic Belladonna is great for...splitting headaches and high fevers that come on suddenly.

Traditional homeopaths work with 1 remedy at a time, where as with herbal medicine, you may find quite a few plants in the formula you need.

Homeopathic practitioners may not be as familiar with herbal medicine...and vice versa. Herbalists may have a few homeopathic remedies they are quite familiar with, but homeopathic medicine isn't necessarily taught in herbal schools.

I received a few units of homeopathy education when enrolled in the now discontinued Holistic Wellness course at Vintage Remedies. I keep a family size homeopathic apothecary in our home. It isn't my journey to be a homeopath so it isn't something I always bring to my consults (with the exception of homeopathic Arnica and homeopathic Chamomilla, when they apply).


Now, I understand that people may say "homeopathy" to cover all things natural. I get that. However, lets use terms like "natural medicine' or "alternative medicine" because that gives respect to all fields (to include aromatherapy, which I didn't discuss, because no one uses that interchangeably...). It covers massage therapy, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic care... The world of "alternative medicine", which is really the first medicine and is used more throughout the world than conventional medicine, approaches people holistically and has a far safer, more efficient, record.