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What is Homeopathy?

Updated on January 3, 2010
Photo used with permission.
Photo used with permission.

Homeopathy is a system of treating disease. Homeopathy is based on two principles. The first principle states that like cures like. This means that a disease can be cured when the patient is treated with the substance that produces symptoms of the disease in a healthy person. For example, burns can be cured by application of a hot compress. The second principle of homeopathy is called the doctrine of potency. According to this doctrine the more dilute the substance used to treat a disease, the more effective or potent it will be.

Homeopathy was founded in about 1796 by the German physician Samuel Hahnemann. Although it was opposed by leading physicians of the time, several clinics and medical schools of homeopathy were established in Europe and the United States during the 1800's. Some of the institutions still exist, but those in the United States no longer practice homeopathy as defined by Hahnemann.

Hahnemann founded homeopathy in opposition to the system of medicine that was accepted in his time and that he called allopathy. In allopathy a disease is treated with substances that produce effects different from or opposite to the symptoms produced by the disease. This system is still used, but it is not so important as other methods of treatment. An example of allopathy is the use of aspirin to lower the temperature of the body during fever. However, aspirin does not attack the infection itself, and the modern physician is more likely to use drugs that would kill the infection causing the fever, rather than merely lower the temperature.

Do natural medicines work?

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    • BobLloyd profile image

      BobLloyd 8 years ago

      Unfortunately homeopathy is not a system for treating anything. There are no known clinical trials that show the efficacy of homeopathy and in fact very many that show that homeopathy is completely ineffective.

      It is heavily marketed based on unsubstantiated claims and there is a prize available of $1 million for anyone who can demonstrating it working - it hasn't been claimed despite being available for almost ten years.

      And the word "allopathic" was defined by Hahnemann to mean "any treatment that isn't based on homeopathy".

      You might like to have a look at a hub I wrote a little while ago giving a little more detail: