homeopathic medicine

What is Homeopathic Medicine?

Homeopathic medicine, or homeopathy (home-ee-awp-?thy), is a form of alternative medicine founded by a German doctor. This nearly 200-year-old branch of medicine is based on using non-pharmacological treatments that encourage the body to heal itself. Although many people are strongly devoted to homeopathic medicine, the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) claims there is little empirical evidence regarding homeopathy’s efficacy. It is often taken as a sort of nature-based, holistic sort of healing, and while homeopathy does embrace these characteristics, it is based on very singular tenets all its own.

Regarding the Basis of Cures

Different sources tend to vary regarding the main principles of homeopathy. In any case, the central guiding principle of homeopathic medicine is based on a Greek medicinal concept that “like cures like.” After many years of research, Dr. Samuel Christian Hahnemann, homeopathy’s founder, based his treatments upon the idea that utilizing plants, animals, and minerals that cause the same symptoms as those present would be the best components to treat illnesses. 

For example, if you were experiencing a skin rash, you might be given a small amount of poison ivy in a sugar cube, which you should allow to melt under your tongue; your medicine might come as a cream, pill, or other common form of medical treatment, as well. In this way, homeopaths believe the relevant chemicals essentially encourage the human body to heal itself, by stimulating the necessary systems. Unfortunately, this reason is ultimately scientifically, physically, and medicinally flawed. A key example of this includes the practice of using caffeine, which stimulates the human body, as a means of curing insomnia. 

Regarding the Formation of Remedies

Two additional principles involved in the formation of homeopathic medicine include that of infinitesimals and succussion. Through these, you can understand much of how homeopathic treatments are intended to work. The principle of infinitesimals revolves around the formation of “cures.” Dr. Hahnemann formed the notion that the more diluted the chemical was, the more effective it would become. Current homeopathic medicine still practices this method of utilizing say, one drop of chemical to 99 drops of water. From a scientific and mathematical standpoint, rather than enhancing the strength of the cure, there would be such a small amount of chemical left as to be negligible. However, this also means that homeopathy is relatively safe -- or at least not dangerous. While you should never mix branches of medicine without ensuring all your attending physicians are aware of your different treatments, in most cases the ratio of chemical is so low that it is highly unlikely to either interfere with other treatments or cause any undue damage. 

From this arose the law of succussion. Homeopaths (homeopathic healers) routinely involve a series of intensive shakings in the formation of their medicinal compounds. This method of shaking is intended to allow the water to retain a “memory” of the original chemical -- so that even though it is extremely diluted, all the molecules of the base “remember” the single molecule of the necessary chemical, which keeps the final drought potent. 

Regarding Dosages

Homeopathy is indeed a form of holistic medicine -- meaning the entire person must be treated, not just physically, but psychologically and even spiritually. When visiting a homeopathic practitioner, the patient is given a very extensive interview, inquiring into all symptoms they may be experiencing -- from how well you’re sleeping to how often you’re going to the bathroom to how you’ve been feeling emotionally. Medication should then be given for one issue at a time. This is the principle of the single remedy, and prevents any treatment from interfering with the potential of any other remedy. Conversely, other sources take this principle as meaning that a single remedy should be “prescribed” for all symptoms, although this, it seems, would be exceedingly difficult to achieve. 

The law of minimal dosing is the final of the commonly observed tenets of homeopathic medicine. Practitioners should recommend only the smallest of doses starting out. Based upon the patient’s response, this can be altered to achieve a more suitable reaction. But initially, it is extremely important to begin with the absolute minimum amount of the remedy as possible. Based on the law of infinitesimals, this law of homeopathy is perhaps unsurprising. Indeed, they are two sides of the same coin -- the remedy must be made using an infinitesimal amount of chemical, and given to the patient in minute quantities. While minimal dosing would seem to be another way of ensuring there is an insufficient amount of chemical to provide any help for any disorder, injury, or disease ever discovered, it turns out that these remedies may at the very least appear to have a placebo effect. In any case, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates these homeopathic remedies. It does not, however, make any claims as far as how well they work. 

Last Updated: December 07, 2016