What is homeopathic medicine?
Homeopathy is a 200-year-old system of medicine used successfully by tens of millions worldwide, and the second most utilized complementary health discipline in the world (according to the World Health Organization 2005). It has a laudable 200-year clinical record. There are literally hundreds of high quality basic science, pre-clinical and clinical studies showing it works. After carefully monitoring homeopathic treatment in Switzerland and also taking an extensive overview of all scientific studies of homeopathy, a government panel of medical experts and researchers concluded that “taking internal and external validity criteria into account, effectiveness of homeopathy can be supported by clinical evidence and professional and adequate application be regarded as safe.”
Overview of Homeopathy
Over thirty million people in Europe alone already benefit from homeopathic treatment. In India, over 100 million benefit. Homeopathy could help you too. Homeopathy is a gentle, holistic system of healing, suitable for everyone, young and old. Homeopathy focuses on you as an individual, concentrating on treating your specific physical and emotional symptoms, to give long lasting benefits. Homeopathic treatment works with your body’s own healing powers to bring health and well being. Patients are treated as individuals, not as a collection of disease labels. Homeopathy treats all your symptoms – mental, emotional and physical. Homeopathic remedies are gentle, subtle and powerful.
Definition & Origins of Homeopathy
Homeopathy or homoeopathy is a system of alternative medicine. The term derives from the Greek hómoios (similar) and páthos (suffering). The underlying concept of homeopathy is “like cures like” and is based on “the principle of similars”, which asserts that substances known to cause particular symptoms can also, in low and specially prepared doses, help to cure diseases that cause similar symptoms. Some principles of homeopathy have been utilized in various forms in various medical systems for thousands of years in many diverse cultures, but they were first methodically set out by a German physician, Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843), who observed that a medicine sometimes evoked symptoms similar to those of the illness for which it was prescribed. He subsequently found a way of “potentizing” these substances which reduced the side effects whilst increasing their healing powers. He not only practiced this dramatically effective new medical and alternative approach, he also in a very scholarly way wrote about it.
In homeopathic theory, written about in a book called the Organon by Samuel Hahnemann, every person and living creature is said to have a “vital force”, which promotes healing and maintains good health (the term “vital force” is akin to qi in traditional Chinese medicine). In Hahnemann’s and homeopaths’ approach, the symptoms of a disease reflect efforts of the vital force to counter infection, or to resist damage from environmental toxins or from various stresses.
Homeopathic treatment attempts to strengthen this “vital force” with the help of remedies, which are extremely small doses of drugs diluted and vigorously shaken (“succussed”) in water or ethanol and dispensed in pills or liquid form. They are chosen for their ability (in large doses) to provoke the very symptoms that the remedy is intended to heal (and thereby for their presumed ability to stimulate natural healing). Homeopaths believe that this “vital force” is akin to what physiologists would call the body’s “defense systems”.
Homeopathy is practiced by some medical doctors, as well as by other health professionals in virtually every country in the world. In addition to those homeopathic remedies prescribed in the professions practicing homeopathy, remedies are used by consumers all over the world for self-treatment of common self-limiting ailments and injuries.
“Classical homeopathy” or “Hahnemannian homeopathy” refers to the original principles of this medical system in which a single remedy is chosen according to the physical, emotional, and mental symptoms that the sick individual is experiencing rather than only the diagnosis of a disease. “Commercial” or “user-friendly” homeopathy refers to the use of a mixture of remedies in a single formula containing individual ingredients that are generally chosen by the manufacturer for treating specific ailments.
The Professional Homeopath
There are no universal standards for homeopathic education, so licensing and regulation varies from country to country and from state to state within the U.S. In some countries, all (or virtually all) professionals that use homeopathic treatments are MDs (such as France, Spain, Argentina, Colombia). Some countries have exclusively homeopathic medical schools (India, Pakistan, Mexico etc.), some have naturopathic medicine colleges in which students are taught homeopathy as part of their curriculum (Germany has its “heilpraktica”/health practitioners; the U.S., Canada, and Australia have naturopathic medicine schools that include homeopathy), and some countries certify “professional homeopaths” who have attended homeopathic schools and who then pass independent examinations that grant certification as homeopaths.