An Overview of Homeopathy

Homeopathy is a complete system of medicine developed in Germany and has been practiced since the early 1800s. It is based on the belief that every person has a vital force that can be disrupted or thrown out of balance, and when it is, the result is dis-ease. Homeopathic treatment is aimed at stimulating that vital force in order to restore balance and health.

At the foundation of homeopathy is the concept that "like cures like." Based on this theory, one would treat fever by giving a small dose of a substance known to cause fever, or heart palpitations by giving a small, diluted dose of a substance known to cause heart palpitations in larger doses. The theory is this: symptoms of illness result from the body’s attempts to heal itself – a cough is the body’s attempt to rid itself of germs and impurities in the lungs and respiratory tract, for instance – so giving a substance that would produce a cough in a healthy person helps the body to stimulate its own healing mechanism.

Homeopathy is a holistic alternative medical discipline in that it takes into account the whole body and not just the symptoms of a disease. It makes use of herbal and traditional remedies in dealing with illness, though the intent is not to eradicate the illness, but to stimulate the body’s own immune system to deal with it.

Homeopathic remedies are made by diluting natural substances that come from plants, animals and minerals in a series of prescribed steps. These remedies are regulated in the same manner as non-prescription, over the counter drugs. However, homeopathic remedies are treated similar to nutritional supplements. They do not need to undergo the testing that's required for over the counter pharmaceutical drugs.

The Evidence In Favor
There are now many published clinical studies demonstrating the ability of a range of herbs to support natural immunity as well as the normal and healthy functioning of the immune system.

The Criticisms
There are some potential risks associated with homeopathic remedies:

  • Patients may feel worse for a time after beginning a homeopathic remedy. This is seen by homeopaths as a normal response by the body as it attempts to restore health.
  • Some liquid remedies contain higher levels of alcohol than is permitted for conventional drugs.
  • The minute amounts of active ingredients that are contained in many homeopathic medicines raise the question of how there could be any effect, helpful or otherwise, in taking them.

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