The term homeopathy comes from Greek and translated literally it means- “similar suffering”. Generally, it represents an act of alternative medicine that attempts to treat "like with like.
Homeopathy holds the belief that treating the sick with extremely diluted agents that, in undiluted doses, produce similar symptoms in the healthy is the most effective practice. Practitioners assert that the therapeutic potency of a remedy can be increased by serial dilution of the drug, combined with succussion, or vigorous shaking.
Homeopathy also states that instances of disease in different people differ fundamentally. It defines a sick person as “having a dynamic disturbance in their vital force”. According to them, this vital force underlies standard medical diagnoses of named diseases.
Homeopathy and other natural sciences
Homeopathy is completely inconsistent with the acknowledged laws of chemistry and physics. It is based one theories such as one that states that extreme dilution makes drugs more powerful which is, according to all natural sciences, completely illogical. There is also one thing that every person planning to practice homeopathy should know – there have been reported cases of life-threatening complications resulting from attempts to treat serious conditions just with homeopathic remedies.
Regions in which homeopathy is popular
Experts are saying that homeopathy is particularly popular in Europe and India, although less so in the USA. This is because in the States, such therapies have been subject to tighter regulation.
Percentage of population
The principle of medical “similars”
Homeopathy is based on the 'Principle of Similars'. These principles are first expressed by Hahnemann in the Latin exhortation “similia similibus curentur” or 'let like cure likes'.
Homeopathic practitioners rely on two types of reference in prescribing.
- The Homeopathic Materia Medicae, an alphabetical indexes of drugs, organized by remedy, describing the symptom patterns associated with individual remedies.
- The Homeopathic Repertory, an index of sickness symptoms consisting of all remedies associated with specific symptoms.
Homeopathic remedies are medicines based on three principles:
Like cures like: If the symptoms of patient’s cold are similar to poisoning by mercury, then mercury would be a homeopathic remedy for cold.
Minimal Dose: The remedy is taken in an extremely diluted form; normally one part of the remedy to around 1,000,000,000,000 parts of water.
Single Remedy: No matter how many symptoms are experienced, only one remedy is taken
Number of remedies and substances
Today about 3,000 remedies are used in homeopathy, about 300 of them based on comprehensive Materia Medica information, about 1500 on relatively fragmentary knowledge, and the rest used experimentally in difficult cases based on the law of similars.
Recently, homeopathy has accepted substances based on their elemental classification. All these substances are classified in the periodic table or biological taxonomy. This approach may create some pretty good systems for grouping remedies and classifying the ever-burgeoning Materia Medica.
Choosing the right remedy
The most frequently posed question is – how to choose the right remedy? There are many methods for determining the most effective remedy, and homeopaths sometimes disagree. This is partly due to the complexity of the 'totality of symptoms' concept. Homeopaths do not use all symptoms, but decide which are the most characteristic. This subjective evaluation of case analysis rests crucially on knowledge and experience.
Alternative modes of selecting remedies include medical dowsing or the use of psychic powers. However, most of these methods are controversial and not accepted by most homeopathic practitioners.
People who use homeopathy point out that it is the second most widely used system of medicine in the world. Its growth in popularity in the United States has been around 25 to 50 percent per year throughout the last decade. Homeopaths believe it could be due to several factors such as:
According to practitioners, homeopathy is extremely effective because when the correct remedy is taken results can be rapid, complete, and permanent.
Homeopathy is completely safe; the proof of that is the fact that even babies and pregnant women can use it with no fear of danger and possible side effects. Homeopathic remedies can also be taken alongside other medication without producing unwanted side effects.
Homeopathy is natural because all homeopathic remedies are based on natural ingredients
Homeopathic remedies are not addictive. In order to get the same effectiveness again- once relief is felt, a patient should stop taking them.
* Holistic approach
Homeopathy is holistic, which means it treats all the symptoms as one – it addresses the cause, not the symptoms.
Experts say that there are two main barriers to effective use of homeopathy. For one, prescribing the right homeopathic remedy takes a little more time and patience than conventional medicine, although no one really talks about it. This is because exactly the right remedy needs to be taken for the patient’s symptoms. There is no such thing as a standard homeopathic headache remedy, or toothache remedy. Not only every patient, but, every occurrence of a symptom or a disease is considered unique.
What are the factors that decide which remedy should be taken for a specific disease? The remedy a patient takes has to be matched to that particular headache - where it occurs, what brings it on, what type of pain it is, what aggravates it, what makes it feel worse, the what the patient’s state of mind is, and what other symptoms are experienced.
Because there are so many different homeopathic remedies- sometimes they can be difficult to obtain.
Safety of homeopathic treatment
An important issue is also the safety of these homeopathic remedies, The United States Food & Drug Administration considers that there is no real concern over the safety of most homeopathic products, since these remedies have little or no pharmacologically active ingredients. There have been few reports of illness associated with the use of homeopathic products, but medical literature contains a few case reports of poisoning by heavy metals found in homeopathic remedies.
In most of these cases, the FDA concluded the homeopathic product was not the cause of adverse reactions. Probably the main concern about the safety of homeopathy arises not from the products themselves, but from the possible beliefs and hopes of more efficacious treatment.
FDA regulates homeopathic drugs in several significantly different ways from other drugs; all possible manufacturers of homeopathic drugs are deferred from submitting new drug applications to FDA. Their products are checked for several requirements related to expiration dating and from finished product testing for identity and strength. If something isn’t correctly done, they are exempt from good manufacturing practice. The imprint on conventional products, unless specifically exempt, must identify the active ingredient and dosage strength as well as the manufacturer.
Homeopathy - real medicine or wishful thinking?
Many non-believers claim that all the positive therapy effects could be due to the power of suggestion – positive thinking or the placebo effect. However, homeopathy's supporters counter that their medicine works in groups including infants, which can't be influenced by simple talking or positive thinking.
The American Medical Association does not accept homeopathy, but it doesn't reject it either. The AMA encourages doctors to become aware of alternative therapies and use them when and where appropriate.