First, we must accept that all symptoms, no matter how uncomfortable they are, represent the body's attempt to restore itself to health. Instead of looking upon the symptoms as something wrong which must be set right, we see them as a sign of the way the body is attempting to help itself. Instead of trying to stop a cough with suppressants, as conventional medicine does, a homeopath will give a remedy that will cause a similar cough in a healthy person, and thus stimulate the ILL body to restore itself in a similar way.
Second, we must look at the totality of the symptoms presented. We each experience a cough in our unique way. Yet conventional medicine acts as if all coughs were alike. It, therefore, offers a series of suppressive drugs - something to suppress a cough, something to dry the mucus, something to lower the histamine level, something to ease falling asleep. Homeopathy, on the other hand, looks for the one substance that will cause similar symptoms in a healthy person. The person with a cough characterized by being worse when breathing cold air, and sounding like a deep bark, will need a quite different remedy than the person whose a cough is loose in the morning, dry in the evening, and better when sitting up in bed. We characterize both as "a cough" but they are different illnesses in the individuals, and therefore require different homeopathic treatment.
In conventional medical thought, health is seen simply as the absence of disease. You assume that you are healthy if there is nothing wrong with you. To a person versed in homeopathy, health is much more than that. A healthy person is a person who is free on all levels: physical, emotional, and mental. Obviously, a person with a broken leg is not free, on the physical level, to move around. But on a more subtle level, a person who can not eat certain foods or is allergic to certain materials is also experiencing a lack of freedom. It is a good emotional release to cry at a "tear jerker" movie, but someone who continues to cry for several weeks afterward is experiencing a lack of freedom on the emotional level. Likewise, a person who can not absorb what he has read or cannot remember day to day appointments is experiencing a restriction on the mental level. The homeopath recognizes such limitations and attempts, through the use of the properly selected remedies, to restore the person to health and freedom. An important basic difference exists between conventional medical therapy and homeopathy. In conventional therapy, the aim often is to control the illness through the regular use of medical substances, even if the medication is nothing more than vitamins. If the medication is withdrawn, however, the person returns to illness. There has been no cure. A person who takes a pill for high blood pressure every day is not undergoing a cure but is only controlling the symptoms. Homeopathy's aim is the cure: "The complete restoration of perfect health", Samuel Hahnemann said.