Homeopathy, also known as homeopathic medicine, is considered by some to be a controversial alternative medicine system. The system was founded by a German physician, Dr. Samuel Christian Hahnemann, in the early 19th century. It is based on the theory that “like cures like” — a disease can be cured by the use of ingredients that produce similar reactions in healthy individuals; and “law of minimum dose” — the use of the lowest dose of the substance will produce positive cures. In fact, in many preparations, there are no traces of any molecules from the original substance.
One of the main philosophies of homeopathic medicine is that the body has the ability to heal itself. A homeopath, or a homeopathic health practitioner uses pills or liquid mixtures containing a very small amount of the active ingredient. These remedies are derived from animals, minerals, plants, or some medications. Treatments vary between individuals, even in those with the same medical problem. Regimens are tailored by the homeopath for each individual after thoroughly reviewing the patient’s symptoms.
Homeopathy has historically been used for maintaining health and cures for long-standing illnesses, such as teething, allergies, arthritis, migraines, dermatitis and irritable bowel syndrome. This therapy is also used to treat minor injuries, such as bruises, cuts and muscle cramping. It is not recommended for major illnesses, such as cancer or for any medical emergency. Although many homeopaths may discourage the use of standard immunizations, it is still vital to consult with your physician about vaccinations and their benefits and risks.
The majority of the homeopathic remedies are generally considered safe, as they have been regulated in the U.S. since the late 1930s. However, as with any drug or dietary supplement, side effects or adverse reactions can be experienced from these homeopathic remedies. It is always best to consult with a reputable and trained homeopathic practitioner before beginning any regimen, as well as to consult with your medical doctor when seeking out this or any other alternative health practice. It is also recommended that you do not discontinue the use of any prescribed medications and that you review with your physician which homeopathic remedies would be safe to use. Some of the remedies might interact with the efficacy of the prescribed medications.
Critics believe that homeopathic remedies merely create a placebo effect in individuals and that there is no real medicinal benefit experienced. Studies have been done to show how the homeopathic remedies work. These studies were not conclusive; however, many patients did experience benefits from the remedies that were different from the reactions of those who were given placebos.
Homeopathic remedies can be beneficial, whether or not healing is experienced from the medication or induced by a placebo effect. Just be sure that you discuss with your health-care provider any alternative therapies you might be considering.