Homeopathy (homeopathic medicine) is a form of health care that developed in Germany. Homeopathic practitioners are commonly called homeopaths. The term homeopathy comes from the Greek words homeo, meaning similar, and pathos, meaning suffering or disease. Homeopathy is an alternative medical system. Alternative medical systems are built upon complete systems of theory and practice. Homeopathy seeks to stimulate the body’s defense mechanisms and processes so as to prevent or treat illness.
History of Homeopathy:
In the late 1700s, Samuel Hahnemann, a physician, chemist, and linguist in Germany, proposed a new approach to treating illness. This was at a time when the most common medical treatments were harsh, such as bloodletting, purging, blistering, and the use of sulfur and mercury. At the time, there were few effective medications for treating patients, and knowledge about their effects was limited. Hahnemann was interested in developing a less-threatening approach to medicine. The first major step reportedly was when he was translating an herbal text and read about a treatment (cinchona bark) used to cure malaria. He took some cinchona bark and observed that, as a healthy person, he developed symptoms that were very similar to malaria symptoms. This led Hahnemann to consider that a substance may create symptoms that it can also relieve. This concept is called the “similia principle” or “like cures like.” The similia principle had a prior history in medicine, from Hippocrates in Ancient Greece–who noted, for example, that recurrent vomiting could be treated with an emetic (such as ipecacuanha) that would be expected to make it worse–to folk medicine. Another way to view “like cures like” is that symptoms are part of the body’s attempt to heal itself–for example, a fever can develop as a result of an immune response to an infection, and a cough may help to eliminate mucus–and medication may be given to support this self-healing response. Hans Burch Gram, a Boston-born doctor, studied homeopathy in Europe and introduced it into the United States in 1825. European immigrants trained in homeopathy also made the treatment increasingly available in America. In 1835, the first homeopathic medical college was established in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Homeopathy is particularly popular in Europe and India, although less so in the USA, where such therapies have been subject to tighter regulation. Stricter European regulations have also been implemented recently by the EDQM.
Treatment involves giving very small doses of substances called remedies that, according to homeopathy, would produce the same or similar symptoms of illness in healthy people if they were given in larger doses. Treatment in homeopathy is individualized (tailored to each person). Homeopathic practitioners select remedies according to a total picture of the patient, including not only symptoms but lifestyle, emotional and mental states, and other factors. Most homeopathic remedies are derived from natural substances that come from plants, minerals, or animals. A remedy is prepared by diluting the substance in a series of steps. Homeopathy asserts that this process can maintain a substance’s healing properties regardless of how many times it has been diluted. Many homeopathic remedies are so highly diluted that not one molecule of the original natural substance remains. Remedies are sold in liquid, pellet, and tablet forms.
Homeopathy and side effects:
Homeopathic medicines in high dilutions, taken under the supervision of trained professionals, are considered safe and unlikely to cause severe adverse reactions.
Homeopathy Scientific controversies: Research studies on homeopathy have been contradictory in their findings. Some analyses have concluded that there is no strong evidence supporting homeopathy as effective for any clinical condition. However, others have found positive effects from homeopathy. The positive effects are not readily explained in scientific terms. Homeopathic formulas are based on the theory that even when a remedy is diluted with water to the point where no starting material remains, the water will retain a “memory” of what it was once in contact with. Homeopaths assert that the therapeutic potency of a remedy can be increased by serial dilution combined with succussion, or vigorous shaking. This dilution is often repeated such that there is no active molecule present in the solution. Because of this, homeopathy is often characterised as a mystical belief system that depends on faith from practitioners and patients, and therefore distinct from conventional medicine which is generally supported by scientific evidence.