Alternative Medicine Homeopathy

Homeopathy treatment consists of homeopathic remedies derived from natural substances, including plants, minerals and animals, based on the specifications of the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States (HPUS).

Using the core belief that “like cures like,” homeopathic practitioners attempt to find the “simillimum,” a substance or toxin that, when given to a healthy person, reproduces the exact symptoms of a disease or medical condition. The theory is that when this substance is given to a sick person in a minuscule dose as a homeopathic remedy, it can cause the same symptoms to disappear.

For example, if a health condition causes symptoms similar to a bee sting (inflamed raised rash, for example), homeopathy may treat the condition with a highly diluted amount of bee venom. Homeopathic practitioners believe that the effectiveness of the simillimum depends on the individual; what works on one individual may not work on another.

History of Homeopathy Treatment

German doctor Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843) developed homeopathic medicine in response to the brutal health practices of his time. Hahnemann based homeopathy treatment on the belief of Hippocrates (468-377 BC) that like cures like. In other words, Hahnemann believed that if a substance duplicated a sick person’s symptoms in a healthy person, that substance in a very small dose would cure the illness.

Homeopathy was popular in the United States until the 1920s, when advances in conventional medicine and political pressure led to the closing of American homeopathy schools.

The Controversy of Homeopathic Medicine

The concepts of homeopathy are controversial. The theory of “like cures like” and the simillium differ significantly from conventional medicine and pharmacology’s views of health and healthcare. Add to that Hahnemann’s “Law of Infinitesimals” (the more diluted a homeopathic remedy, the greater its effectiveness), and you have a major conflict of philosophy.

The Law of Infinitesimals is so vital to homeopathy treatment that some homeopathic remedies are diluted to the point where not one molecule of the original agent remains. Homeopathic advocates insist that the diluted solution retains an energetic “memory” of the simillium.

Homeopathic Remedies and FDA Approval

When Congress passed the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in 1938, one of its strongest supporters was a senator who practiced homeopathy. He successfully pushed for the inclusion of homeopathic remedies in the act.

The FDA regulates homeopathic remedies as nonprescription, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. Because homeopathic products contain little or no active ingredients, however, they don’t have to go through the same safety and effectiveness testing as other new OTC drugs.

Does Homeopathy Improve Health?

The effectiveness of homeopathic medicine is a matter of intense debate. Homeopathy critics believe that health improvements related to homeopathic remedies are due to the placebo effect. Clinical trials examining the results of homeopathy have been limited in scope and homeopathic researchers are often accused of not following proper research procedures.

On the other hand, homeopathic medicine is growing in popularity and anecdotes abound about health conditions that have improved with homeopathic treatment. If you choose to use homeopathy treatment and your condition doesn’t improve, consult a professional healthcare practitioner.

Resources

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (2009). Homeopathy: An introduction. Retrieved August 19, 2010, from http://nccam.nih.gov/health/homeopathy/http://nccam.nih.gov/health/homeopathy/

National Center for Homeopathy. (n.d.). Just good medicine! Retrieved August 19, 2010, from http://www.homeopathic.org/http://www.homeopathic.org/