Homeopathy

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Homeopathy is more than 200 years old and uses small doses of substances to simulate self-healing and autoregulatory processes. Homeopaths prepare medicines by dilution and shaking, which practitioners believe imprints information into water.

Contents

Homeopathy in history

After its discovery in the 18th century, homeopathy spread across Europe to other countries. Especially the United States. By the turn of the century, 8 percent of all practitioners in the U.S. were homeopaths. In 1852, the predecessor journal of The New England Journal of Medicine referred to homeopathy as a “cheat” with little advantage. By the end of the century homeopaths and conventional physicians were taking place in exchanges and borrowing treatments from each other.

Homeopathy held a prominent place in 19th-century health care. Recently, it has experienced a revival worldwide. Homeopathic remedies are today available over the counter thanks to the 1939 Pure Food and Drug Act.

In the United States, homeopathy saw a new revival in the 1960s and 1970s. This resurgence continues today.

Who seeks homeopathic care?

In the United States, patients who seek homeopathic remedies are often more affluent and younger. These patients also often seek treatment for more subjective symptoms. Evidence from random, controlled trials shows that it may be effective when treating influenza, allergies, childhood diarrhea and more. However, there is lack of evidence on its effectiveness for most conditions.

Principles of homeopathy

  • Principle of Similars. This theory was established by the German physician who developed homeopathy, Samuel Christian Hahnemann. He hypothesized that therapies can be selected based on how closely symptoms matched the symptoms of a disease.
  • The minimum dose and Avagadro’s number. This is the most controversial tenet in homeopathy; it states that remedies retain activity if they are diluted in a series and agitated between dilutions. Hahnemann claimed this process extracted the spirit like nature of substances. Avagadro’s number, the limit of molecular dilution, wasn’t discovered until later.
  • Holism and the totality of symptoms. This principle states that remedies are most effective if selection is based on the total set of symptoms, not the disease.

Does homeopathy work?

Despite skepticism, some controlled trials and research report unexpected benefits of homeopathic medicines. Until modern medicine can better understand homeopathy, it is important for physicians to remain open minded about its possible value.


Source

http://www.annals.org/cgi/content/full/138/5/393/