German physician, Samuel Hahnemann began his practice in 1779 during an era when superstitious beliefs outranked scientific study when it came to medical practices. Purgatives, blood letting and enemas were still popular medical remedies in the eighteenth century and Hahnemann was highly critical of the harm “modern” medicine was inflicting on its patients. Personal academic interest led Hahnemann to experiment with cinchona bark, a quinine-rich malaria remedy. After taking the bark for several days, Hahnemann developed malaria-like symptoms and concluded that the reason cinchona bark worked as a cure was because it actually created symptoms similar to the disease it was curing. This idea sparked a philosophy that would later be known as the “Law of Similars,” which is the basis for homeopathic medicine. In fact, the Latin word “homeopathy” translates to “similar suffering.”
The Law of Similars led Hahnemann and his colleagues to test a number of substances. Eventually, the process of reducing the potency of medicinal compounds became the standard for homeopathic medicine. Explained simply it was believed that if a normal dose of cinchona bark would produce symptoms similar to malaria, then an infinitesimal amount would heal the disease, somewhat like a vaccine.
Hahnemann’s theories found a great amount of support in Europe. Homeopathic medical schools were started throughout the continent and in 1832, the first homeopathic hospital was opened. According to the Creighton University School of Medicine, interest in homeopathy declined severely in the beginning of the twentieth century. In the U.S., the last true homeopathic medical school was closed in the 1920s. Since the 1970s there has been a resurgence of interest in natural and holistic healing and homeopathy, along with herbal medicine and other mind/body/spirit philosophies have become more popular.
Homeopathy is a holistic approach to health and well being, one that considers the whole person, and so the approach to finding the right remedy may seem odd for those accustomed to traditional, allopathic medicine. A homeopathic physician may ask you many questions that don’t seem at all related to your complaint, such as your mental or emotional condition. In fact, she is attempting to gather all the necessary information for prescribing the best dilution for your specific situation. While there are around 30 commonly used homeopathic remedies, there are many more than that to choose from.
Homeopathic remedies are made from a variety of natural sources including plants, trees, metals, insects and minerals. After the substance has been properly dissolved, diluted and formulated it is applied to a lactose tablet and bottled in air-tight, light-deflecting containers. These remedies should be kept dry and out of bright light. Some are taken in liquid form, but tablets are the most common type of medication. When taking homeopathic remedies, the patient’s mouth should be clean of strong-tasting substances such as coffee, mint or garlic. Neither tablets nor liquid should be touched by hands, which might cause contamination, but should be dropped directly from the container into the patient’s mouth where the remedy is held under the tongue to dissolve.
Is Homeopathy Right for You?
Finding the best homeopathic remedy for your illness can be challenging and may take more than one attempt. Once the correct remedy has been identified, improvement in the condition often happens quickly. Homeopathic remedies are natural and work with the body’s immune system. The National Institute for Health states that while critics may find the concepts of homeopathy “implausible,” supporters of the philosophy have faith in the strong history of anecdotal evidence that homeopathy works to cure disease and improve health.
Homeopathic remedies are considered generally safe, according to the National Institute for Health, but you should consult with your health care professional before using a homeopathic remedy if you are also taking conventional prescription medication. Homeopathic doctors report that some patients undergo “homeopathic aggravation” after taking a prescribed remedy, meaning the symptoms of illness get worse before they start to improve, but research in clinical studies have not found the evidence to support this claim.
Because it is a holistic approach, a homeopathic doctor may suggest you make lifestyle and dietary changes along with taking a prescribed remedy. If you are not interested in complying will all of your homeopathic doctor’s recommendations you may not experience benefits from homeopathic treatments.
National Center for Homeopathy: https://homeopathic.org/content/what-is-homeopathy
Creighton University School of Medicine: https://altmed.creighton.edu/Homeopathy/history.htm
ABC Homeopathy: https://www.abchomeopathy.com/homeopathy.htm
Medical Clinic: https://www.medical-clinic.org/homeopathy/index.html
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