Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann—a physician from Germany—developed the alternative approach to medicine called homeopathy. He graduated with his medical doctor degree in 1779 and became increasingly disappointed with the medical procedures available to patients. While working in writing and translation, he studied the effects of a specific tree bark in treating malaria. His research led to his theory that “like cures like,” which developed into the alternative medicine homeopathy.
Dr. Hahnemann believed that “like cures like” based on self-tests performed to cure malaria. He used cinchona—a general name for roughly 38 species of trees indigenous to South America—to disprove the plant’s medicinal properties and discovered it caused him to experience symptoms similar to those caused by malaria. Consequently, Hahnemann hypothesized that substances that cause symptoms in healthy people will heal sick people experiencing the same set of symptoms.
Today, homeopathy is a medicinal philosophy that dictates the use of substances in balance with the body’s ability to heal itself. Homeopaths—individuals who study and utilize homeopathy—use reference materials, such as homeopathic books, to identify cures. Furthermore, modern homeopaths consider a patient’s full medical and life history, physical condition and personal attributes when developing a cure.
Homeopaths create remedies by consulting a repertory or the materia medica. The repertory lists remedies by disease and symptom. The materia medica delivers an alphabetical listing of remedies and the symptoms associated with them.
Practitioners create remedies using multiple substances. For example, plants, animal matter and minerals are common components. In addition, homeopaths use “nosodes,” such as blood, human tissue and fecal matter that contain the offending disease.
Once the symptoms or disease is identified, the materials used to create remedies undergo the “dynamisation” process. This process involves diluting substances with distilled water. The dilution process reduces the potency of the solution. Practitioners execute the process using the “centesimal” or C-scale.
Homeopaths believe that the higher the dilution, the more potent the remedy; many remedies are so diluted they cannot be distinguished from the substance, such as alcohol or distilled water, used to dilute them. Some examples of remedies include lac caninum (dog’s milk), tuberculinum (human tubercle bacilli) and belladonna atropa (deadly nightshade).
How Are Homeopathic Remedies Used?
People who turn to homeopathic remedies use the method for a number of ailments, sum as receding gums and the underlying condition of periodontal disease. Furthermore, people use homeopathy to treat long-term illnesses and minor conditions, such as arthritis, muscle strains, allergies and minor cuts. Medical practitioners and homeopaths do not recommend this method for serious illnesses or medical emergencies.
In the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates homeopathic remedies. Recent statistics collected by the National Health Interview Survey indicate that roughly 4 million children and adults use homeopathic remedies in the U.S. Furthermore, statistics show that homeopathy is a lucrative business; adults spent $2.9 billion on medicines and $170 million on visits with homeopaths.
Are Homeopathic Remedies Safe?
Many people in the medical community and public debate the safety behind homeopathic remedies. While some cures for conditions show promise, the bulk of research behind the philosophy reveals inconsistencies and disagreement with basic science, including physics. Some believe the practice, with its high-level dilutions, is nothing more than a placebo.
Essentially, highly diluted remedies—excluding nosodes—are largely safe. Despite this, any individual interested in this form of treatment should consult with their doctor prior to undergoing a regimen.
Overall, it appears that many homeopathic remedies are safe because they are diluted to the extent the original substance’s molecules are no longer detectable. Despite this, there have been reports of adverse reactions to these remedies. Low dilutions contribute to adverse effects. Medical professionals advise patients to avoid these remedies for serious conditions in which other methods have proven effective. There are those who diagree.
One important point of contention is that many homeopathic practitioners advise against the use of human immunizations to protect against disease. According to E. Ernst’s 1997 paper “The attitude against immunisation within some branches of complementary medicine,” surveys revealed that homeopaths demonstrate opposition against modern immunization programs. Consequently, patients who follow this guidance may place themselves, their children and the public in danger of contracting infectious diseases that can be avoided altogether. However, many people do not agree and are convinced that there are dangers.
Dangers of Vaccines – a Critical Review
While certain vaccines may be valuable and safe, one should never accept the opinion of others without critical analysis and getting other professional opinions.
The Ethics behind Homeopathy
Many debate the ethics that drives homeopathic practices. For example, some critics imply that pharmacists in the industry do not always disclose the truth about the medicines they distribute. The harm caused by choosing homeopathy depends on several factors including the following:
* Underlying cause of the condition
* The practioner’s attitude toward mainstream medicine
* The patient’s willingness to consult a traditional medical professional
Patients who visit practitioners with serious medical conditions might suffer tremendously if the practitioner is in opposition to mainstream medical practices. For example, some evidence suggests that some homeopaths advise patients against malaria vaccinations and those patients wound up contracting the disease. Furthermore, patients who are unwilling to seek a second opinion from a mainstream medical professional might find themselves with a worsening condition that can be treated using proven methods.
Homeopathic treatment was developed in the 18th century to address the barbaric methods of medical practices, including bloodletting and substance-laden medicines. The theory behind the practice stated that like treats like, or that diluted substances could treat specific symptoms. Practitioners use a wide range of substances from plants, minerals and animals to develop remedies. In additions, nosodes are used to create “immunizations” against specific diseases.
The dilution process is so extreme for some remedies that the original substance’s molecules do not exist in the final product. Consequently, many highly diluted homeopathic remedies are deemed safe. Low dilutions might cause illness. The use of homeopathic medications creates debate regarding ethical practices. Critics often cite adverse reactions, patients contracting diseases and the ingestion of medications that lack proof.
Essentially, homeopathy is an alternative medical philosophy that seeks to cure or remedy diseases and conditions using non-pharmaceutical substances. The method works for minor conditions, such as dermatitis or scrapes and cuts. People who choose this treatment method should perform in-depth research and consider evidence-based medicine for serious conditions.
There are many natural options available today that have been used by thousands of people. It is always your responsibility to consult your doctor regarding the diagnosis and treatment of disease, including the use of natural remedies. You yourself have the responsibility also to do your homework and consider the natural options together with a foundation of good nutrition.