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Homeopathy, or homeopathic medicine, is a holistic system of treatment that originated in the late eighteenth century. The name homeopathy is derived from two Greek words that mean "like disease." The system is based on the idea that substances that produce symptoms of sickness in healthy people will have a curative effect when given in very dilute quantities to sick people who exhibit those same symptoms. Homeopathic remedies are believed to stimulate the body's own healing processes. Homeopaths use the term "allopathy," or "different

Name Description
Aconite Commonly known as monkshood, aconite is highly toxic. A nontoxic, diluted extract of aconite is used in homeopathy to treat symptoms similar to that of poison.
Allium cepa Commonly known as red onion, homeopathic physicians use a dilute extract of red onion to treat symptoms similar to that of red onionwatery eyes, burning, etc.
Apis Commonly known as the honeybee, apis as a homeopathic remedy is made from the body of the bee. It is used to treat symptoms similar to that of a bee stingredness, swelling, etc.
Arnica Commonly known as the mountain daisy, arnica is used by homeopathic physicians to treat bruises, sprains, and strains.
Arsenicum album Also known as ars alb, arsenicum album is a diluted form of arsenic, a metallic poison. It is used by homeopathic physicians to treat symptoms similar to the effects of arsenic poisoningdehydration, burning pain, etc.
Belladonna Commonly known as deadly nightshade, belladonna is used in homeopathy to treat symptoms of dry mouth, nausea, delirium, etc.
Bryonia Commonly known as wild hops, bryonia is used in homeopathy to treat vomiting, diarrhea, inflammation, etc.
Calcarea carbonica Also known as calcium carbonate or calc carb, it is used in homeopathy to treat symptoms of exhaustion, depression, and anxiety.
Cantharis Commonly known as Spanish fly, cantharis is used in homeopathy to treat conditions with symptoms of abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, etc.
Chamomilla Derived from German chamomile, it is used in homeopathy to treat irritability, impatience, etc. It is most often prescribed to children.
Ferrum phosphoricum Also known as ferrum phos or iron phosphate, it is used to treat symptoms of low energy and anemia.
Gelsemium Also known as yellow jasmine, it is used to treat conditions that affect vision, balance, thought, and locomotion.
Hepar sulphuris Derived from the inner layer of oyster shells, hepar sulphuris is used to treat infection.

disease," to describe the use of drugs used in conventional medicine to oppose or counteract the symptom being treated.


Homeopathy was founded by the German physician Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), who was much disturbed by the medical system of his time, believing that its cures were crude and some of its strong drugs and treatments did more harm than good to patients. Hahnemann performed experiments on himself using Peruvian bark, which contains quinine, a malaria remedy. He concluded that in a healthy person, quinine creates the same symptoms as malaria, including fevers and chills , which is the reason why it is effective as a remedy. He then began to analyze the remedies available in nature by what he called provings. Provings of homeopathic remedies are still compiled by dosing healthy adults with various substances and documenting the results, in terms of the dose needed to produce the symptoms and the length of the dose's effectiveness. The provings are collected in large homeopathic references called materia medica or materials of medicine.

Hahnemann formulated these principles of homeopathy:

  • Law of Similars (like cures like)
  • Law of the Infinitesimal Dose (The more diluted a remedy is, the more potent it is.)
  • Illness is specific to the individual.

Hahnemann's Law of Similars was based on thinking that dated back to Hippocrates in the fourth century

Name Description
Hypericum Commonly known as St. John's wort, hypericum is used to treat nerve damage.
Ignatia Derived from seeds of a plant, this homeopathic remedy is prescribed to treat conditions with symptoms such as headache, cramping, and tremors.
Ipecac Ipecac induces vomiting and causes gastrointestinal distress. Homeopaths prescribe it to treat similar symptoms.
Kali bichromicum Commonly known as potassium bichromate, kali bichromicum is a poison used also in textile dyes, wood stain, etc. Homeopaths use it to treat localized pain.
Lachesis Derived from the venom of the bushmaster snake, this homeopathic remedy is used to treat conditions that cause the same symptoms as the venom itself.
Ledum Also known as marsh tea, ledum is used to treat infections, most often from animal bites, stings, cuts, etc.
Lycopodium Commonly known as club moss, lycopodium is used to treat diarrhea, digestive upset, etc.
Mercurius vivus Also known as quicksilver, it is used to treat symptoms of sweats, shaking, nausea, etc.
Natrum muriaticum Commonly known as salt, it is used to treat conditions that cause excessive thirst and salt cravings.
Nux vomica It is used to treat symptoms caused by overeating and too much caffeine or alcohol.
Phosphorus It is used to treat symptoms of excessive thirst, fatigue, and nervousness.
Pulsatilla It is used to treat conditions that are accompanied by discharge, such as bedwetting, sinusitis, etc.
Rhus toxicodendron Commonly known as poison ivy, homeopaths use it to treat conditions with symptoms of fever, swollen glands, and restlessness.
Ruta It is used to treat conditions with bruising, such as tennis elbow, sciatica, etc.
Sepia Sepia is the discharge used by the cuttlefish to disappear from a predator. Homeopaths use sepia to treat symptoms of apathy and weakness.
Silica Also called flint, silica is used by homeopaths to treat conditions that cause weakness, sweating, and sensitivity to cold.
Sulphur It is used to treat conditions with symptoms of itching, burning pains, and odor.

b.c. It is the same thinking that provided the basis for the vaccines discovered by Edward Jenner and Louis Pasteur. These vaccines provoke a reaction in the individual that protects against the actual disease. Allergy treatments work the same way. By exposing a person to minute quantities of the allergen, the person's tolerance levels are elevated.

The Law of the Infinitesimal Dose has always caused controversy among those outside the field of homeopathy. Hahnemann contended that as he diluted his remedies with water and alcohol and succussed, or shook, them, the remedies actually worked more effectively. In fact, diluted homeopathic remedies may have no chemical trace of the original substance. Practitioners believe that the electromagnetic energy of the original substance is retained in the dilution, but the toxic side effects of the remedy are not. It is this electrochemical "message" that stimulates the body to heal itself.

Homeopathic practitioners believe that illness is specific to an individual. In other words, two people with severe headaches may not receive the same remedies. The practitioner will ask the patient questions about lifestyle, dietary habits, and personality traits, as well as specific questions about the nature of the headache and when it occurs. This information gathering is called profiling or case-taking.

In the early 1900s, homeopathy was popular in America, with over 15 percent of all doctors being homeopaths. There were 22 major homeopathic medical schools, including Boston University and the University of Michigan. However, with the formation of the American Medical Association, which restricted and closed down alternative practices, homeopathy declined for half a century. When the 1960s revived back-to-nature trends and distrust of artificial drugs and treatments, homeopathy began to grow again dramatically through the next decades. In 1993, The New England Journal of Medicine reported that 2.5 million Americans used homeopathic remedies and 800,000 patients visited homeopaths in 1990, and homeopathy has continued to grow. Homeopathy is much more popular in Europe than in the United States. French pharmacies are required to make homeopathic remedies available along with conventional medications. Homeopathic hospitals and clinics are part of the national health system in Britain. Homeopathy is also practiced in India and Israel, among other countries.


Homeopathic physicians seek to cure their patients on the physical, mental and emotional levels, and each treatment is tailored to a patient's individual needs. Homeopathy is generally a safe treatment, as it uses medicines in extremely diluted quantities, and there are usually minimal side effects. Its nontoxicity makes some consider it a good choice for the treatment of children. Another benefit of homeopathy is the cost of treatments; homeopathic remedies are inexpensive, often a fraction of the cost of conventional drugs.


Samuel Christian Hahnemann created and developed the system called homeopathy. It is also known as similia similibus curentor or "let like be cured by like.". Although his new methods initially met with ridicule and criticism, by the time of his death they were accepted the world over as a result of the great success he had with his new cure.

Hahnemann was born in Meissen, Saxony (now part of Germany) into a financially challenged middle class family. His parents initially educated him at home, where his father taught him never to accept anything he learned without first questioning it. He graduated as a physician from the University of Erlangen in 1779 after studying at Leipzig and Vienna. He was also fluent in English, German, Italian, French, Greek, Arabic, Latin and Hebrew.

At age 27 he married his first wife, Johanna Henriette Kuchler, the daughter of an apothecary, with whom he had 11 children.

Living in poverty, Hahnemann began practicing medicine in 1781 and translating scientific texts to supplement his income. However, disillusioned with medicine, he eventually gave it up entirely.

He discovered the concept of homeopathy when he considered the effect of quinine on malaria , and went on to cure soldiers and then sufferers of a typhus epidemic with astounding success. He documented his discoveries in the Organon, a treatise on his work. Homeopathy also proved its worth in 1831 when there was an outbreak of cholera. Hahnemann used homeopathic treatment with a 96% success rate, compared to the 41% of allopathic medicine. He also wrote his Materia Medica Pura.

In 1834, Hahnemann met his second wife, Marie Melanie d'Hervilly. Despite a great difference in age, they were happily married until his death in Paris on July 2, 1843, at the age of 88.

Patricia Skinner

Homeopathic treatment has been shown to be effective in treating many conditions. Colds and flu may be effectively treated with aconite and bryonia. Influenza sufferers in a double-blind study found that they were twice as likely to recover in 48 hours when they took homeopathic remedies. Studies have been published in British medical journals confirming the efficacy of homeopathic treatment for rheumatoid arthritis . Homeopathic remedies are considered effective in treating infections, circulatory problems, respiratory problems, heart disease, depression and nervous disorders, migraine headaches, allergies , arthritis, and diabetes. Homeopathy is a treatment to explore for acute and chronic illnesses, particularly if these are found in the early stages and where there is not severe damage. Homeopathy can be used to assist the healing process after surgery or chemotherapy.


A visit to a homeopath is usually a different experience from a visit to a regular physician. Surveys have shown that homeopathic doctors spend much more time during initial consultations than conventional doctors spend. This is because a homeopath does a thorough case-taking to get a complete picture of a person's general health and lifestyle, as well as particular symptoms, on the physical, mental and emotional levels. Some symptoms can be so subtle that the patient is not always completely aware of them, and the doctor must spend time getting to know the patient.

The initial visit often includes a long questionnaire about a patient's medical and family history, and then a long interview with the doctor, who prompts the patient with many questions. Sometimes a homeopathic doctor will use lab tests to establish a patient's general level of health. The initial interview usually lasts between one and two hours.

The purpose of homeopathy is the restoration of the body to homeostasis, or healthy balance, which is its natural state. The symptoms of a disease are regarded as the body's own defensive attempts to correct its imbalance, rather than as enemies to be defeated. Because a homeopath regards symptoms as positive evidence of the body's inner intelligence, he or she will prescribe a remedy designed to stimulate this internal curative process, rather than suppress the symptoms.

In homeopathy, the curative process extends beyond the relief of immediate symptoms of illness. Healing may come in many stages, as the practitioner treats layers of symptoms that are remnants of traumas or chronic disease in the patient's past. The stages are related to Hering's Laws of Cure, named for Constantine Hering, the father of homeopathy in America. Hering believed that healing starts from the deepest parts of the body to the extremities, and from the upper parts of the body to the lower parts. Hering's Laws also state that homeopaths should treat disease symptoms in reverse chronological order, from the most recent to the oldest, restoring health in stages. Sometimes, the patient may feel worse before feeling better. This temporary worsening is called a healing crisis.

When prescribing a remedy, homeopaths will match a patient's symptoms with the proper remedy in a repertory or materia medica that has been compiled throughout the history of homeopathy. Classical homeopaths prescribe only one remedy at a time. However, it is becoming more common, especially in Europe, to use combination formulas of several remedies for the treatment of some combinations of symptoms.

The cost of homeopathic care can vary. The cost of visits will be comparable to conventional medicine, with initial visits ranging from $50 to $300. Non-M.D. homeopaths can charge from $50 to $250. Follow-up visits are less, at about $35 to $100. Homeopathic medicine is significantly cheaper than pharmaceuticals, and most remedies cost between $2 and $10. Some doctors provide remedies without charge. Homeopaths rarely use lab tests, which reduces the cost of treatment further. In general, homeopathy is much more economical than conventional medicine. In 1991, the French government did a study on the cost of homeopathic medicine, and found that it costs half as much to treat patients, considering all treatment costs involved.

When homeopaths are licensed professionals, most insurance companies will pay for their fees. Consumers should consult their insurance policies to determine individual regulations. Insurance usually will not cover homeopathic medicine, because it is sold over the counter.


Although homeopathic remedies sometimes use substances that are toxic, they are diluted and prescribed in non toxic doses. Remedies should be prescribed by a homeopathic practitioner. Those preparing to take homeopathic remedies should also avoid taking antidotes, which are substances that homeopathic doctors believe cancel the effects of their remedies. These substances include alcohol, coffee, prescription drugs, peppermint (in toothpaste and mouthwash), camphor (in salves and lotions), and very spicy foods. Homeopathic medicine should also be handled with care, and should not be touched with the hands or fingers, which may contaminate it.

Side effects

A homeopathic aggravation sometimes occurs during initial treatment with homeopathic remedies. This means that symptoms can temporarily worsen during the process of healing. Although this is usually mild, the aggravation can sometimes be severe. Homeopaths see aggravation as a positive sign that the remedy is a good match for the patient's symptoms. The healing crisis, which happens when the patient is undergoing treatment for layers of symptoms, may also cause the patient to feel worse before feeling better. Some patients can experience emotional disturbances like weeping or depression, if suppressed emotional problems led to the illness in the first place.

Research & general acceptance

Since the early 1900s, when the American Medical Association and pharmacists waged a battle against it, homeopathy has been neglected and sometimes ridiculed by mainstream medicine. Aside from politics, part of the reason for this hostility is that there are some aspects of homeopathy that have not been completely explained scientifically. For instance, homeopaths have found that the more they dilute and succuss a remedy, the greater effect it seems to have on the body. Some homeopathic remedies are so diluted that not even a single molecule of the active agent remains in a solution, yet it still works; studies have demonstrated this paradox, yet can't explain it. Also, homeopathy puts an emphasis on analyzing symptoms and then applying remedies to these symptoms, rather than working by classifying diseases. Thus, some people with the same disease may require different homeopathic medicines and treatments. Furthermore, conventional medicine strives to find out how medicines work in the body before they use them; homeopathy is less concerned with the intricate biochemistry involved than with whether a remedy ultimately works and heals holistically. For all these reasons, conventional medicine claims that homeopathy is not scientific, but homeopaths are quick to reply that homeopathy has been scientifically developed and studied for centuries, with much documentation and success.

There continue to be many studies that affirm the effectiveness of homeopathic treatments. Among the most celebrated, the British Medical Journal in 1991 published a large analysis of homeopathic treatments that were given over the course of 25 years. This project involved more than 100 studies of patients with problems ranging from vascular diseases, respiratory problems, infections, stomach problems, allergies, recovery from surgeries, arthritis, trauma, psychological problems, diabetes, and others. The study found improvement with homeopathic treatment in most categories of problems, and concluded that the evidence was "sufficient for establishing homeopathy as a regular treatment for certain indications."

For example, a study in early 2002 was reported on in a pediatric journal that showed symptom improvement for children with uncomplicated acute otitis media (ear infection ) who received individualized homeopathic remedies. Although the authors concluded that more research was needed, results were positive enough to justify a larger study.

Training & certification

The Council on Homeopathic Education is the only organization that accredits training programs in classical homeopathy. To date, it has accredited five institutions: Bastyr University of Natural Health Sciences in Seattle; Ontario College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto; Hahnemann Medical Clinic in Albany, California; the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, and the International Foundation for Homeopathy, also in Seattle. Other well-known training programs include the Pacific Academy of Homeopathic Medicine in Berkeley, California, and the New England School of Homeopathy in Amherst, Massachusetts.

There are several organizations that certify homeopathic practitioners:

  • The National Center for Homeopathy is the largest homeopathic organization, with more than 7,000 members. It also runs the Council on Homeopathic Education, and provides a listing of all its members and their credentials. Address: 801 N. Fairfax St., #306, Alexandria, VA 22314, phone (703) 548-7790.
  • The American Institute of Homeopathy is the oldest national medical body. It provides a list of D.Ht.s (Diplomates in Homeopathy) certified by the American Board of Homeotherapeutics. Address: 1585 Glencoe, Denver, CO 80220, phone (303) 898-5477.
  • The Council for Homeopathic Certification was created in 1992 to establish a certification exam and a code of ethics. It confers upon qualified practitioners a C.C.H. (Certification in Classical Homeopathy). Address: P.O. Box 157, Corte Madera, CA 94976.
  • The Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians offers a certification based on a competency exam, the "Diplomate in the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians" (D.H.A.N.P.).
  • The North American Society of Homeopaths certifies non-physician homeopaths. Address: 10700 Old County Rd. 15, #350, Minneapolis, MN 55441, phone (612) 593-9458.



Castro, Miranda. The Complete Homeopathy Handbook. New York: St. Martin's, 1990.

Jonas, Wayne B., M.D., and Jennifer Jacobs, M.D. Healing With Homeopathy. New York: Warner, 1996.

Ullman, Dana, M.P.H. The Consumer's Guide to Homeopathy. New York: Putnam, 1996.

Weiner, Dr. Michael. The Complete Book of Homeopathy. New York: Avery, 1996.


Homeopathy Today. 801 N. Fairfax St. #306, Alexandria, VA 22314, phone (703) 548-7790.

Simillimum. P.O. Box 69565, Portland, OR 97201, phone (503) 795-0579.

Walsh, Nancy. "Homeopathy Shows Some Promise in AOM (Obstacles to Study this Therapy Remain)." Pediatric News (January 2002): 16.


Ayurvedic Institute. <">.

National Center for Homeopathy. <>.

North American Society for Homeopaths. <>.

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HOMEOPATHY, a system of medicine developed by the German physician Samuel Hahnemann in the 1790s, was introduced in the United States in the 1820s by Hahnemann's colleagues and students. One of these, Constantine Hering, founded the world's first homeopathic medical school in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 1835. With Hering and his students in the vanguard, American homeopathy became the world leader in the field for the rest of the nineteenth century. After falling into relative obscurity after the 1910s, homeopathy has enjoyed a significant revival among consumers and medical professionals since the 1970s.

Homeopathy is based on an ancient medical principle, the law of similars, from the observation that a sub-stance that causes a particular set of symptoms in a healthy person can cure those symptoms when they arise in the process of an illness. Homeopathic medicines are investigated in provings, standardized trials in healthy human subjects; information from accidental overdoses and poisonings and from verified clinical cures is also included in the profile of a medicine's sphere of action. A second fundamental principle is the minimum dose: homeopaths have found that the most effective medicinal dose is the smallest one capable of causing a curative response. Homeopathic medicines are manufactured by potentization, a process of serial dilution and agitation that produces microdoses of the natural substances from which the medicines are derived. A final principle is holism and individualization: the medicine is selected on the basis of the total symptom picture of the particular case.

Professionalizing early through the establishment of schools and hospitals, homeopaths formed the first national medical organization in North America, the American Institute of Homeopathy, in 1844. Throughout the rest of the nineteenth century, homeopathic medical schools in Philadelphia, New York, Cleveland, Chicago, and cities as far west as San Francisco produced a steady stream of practitioners, with a high of almost 500 graduates in 1897; on average, 12 percent of graduates were women. Resistance from orthodox physicians continued throughout the century in the form of professional ostracism, although by 1902 it was estimated that 15,000 licensed American physicians included homeopathy in their practices.

Homeopathy's success in the nineteenth century can be attributed to several factors. Its efficacy in epidemics of cholera, yellow fever, and influenza as well as in the treatment of chronic and intractable diseases was striking and converted many physicians; its adaptability for home care attracted mothers, who carried it into their communities; and its perceived affinities with Swedenborgianism, a mystical Christian philosophy, made it popular among the intellectual and social elite. Many prominent figures used homeopathy, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, James Garfield, and the family of William and Henry James.

Historians have argued that ideas derived from homeopathy influenced the direction of conventional medicine in the second half of the nineteenth century, with the concept of the minimum dose encouraging the turn away from the drastic treatments of conventional medicine and the law of similars leading, in a creative misreading, to the development of vaccination. The assimilation of certain aspects of homeopathy by orthodox physicians is one factor cited for its decline, others being controversy among homeopaths about therapeutic techniques, the growing acceptance of empiricist laboratory science and especially bacteriology as medical authority, and the economic dominance of the orthodox medical-pharmaceutical industry. The 1910 Flexner Report on American medical education may have hastened the closing of some homeopathic colleges. It seems clear that the homeopathic medical schools, employing orthodox practitioners among their faculty, produced a hybrid profession that could not maintain a separate identity in the face of an increasingly powerful orthodox medical system.

Homeopathy's eclipse during the twentieth century is measured by a steep decline in its number of practitioners and by the homeopathic colleges' closing or conversion to conventional training. Still, professional organizations provided education for practitioners and consumers, and a handful of physicians kept the discipline alive. In the 1970s, disenchantment with the conventional medical system led consumers and practitioners to explore homeopathy among other forms of alternative and complementary medicine. Since then the shift from crisis intervention to preventive medicine, the concern over increasingly prevalent chronic disease, the search for cost-effective treatments, and the rejection of materialist philosophies in health care have fueled homeopathy's swift growth in popularity.

Developments since the 1980s include the establishment of postgraduate and comprehensive training programs throughout the United States; the 1991 founding of the Council for Homeopathic Certification, a profession-wide board that sets standards and conducts testing of practitioners; and the steady growth of membership in the National Center for Homeopathy, an educational organization for consumers and professionals. An increase in the amount of legal action against practitioners has paralleled the rebirth of the profession, as some licensing boards consider homeopathy to be outside their licensees' scope of practice. However, leading medical journals have published articles on clinical and scientific research in homeopathy; the number of medical schools offering some exposure to homeopathy is increasing; and many states have moved to license naturopathic physicians, making homeopathy more widely available. Its cost effectiveness has attracted some insurance companies' attention, but homeopathy's ultimate position in relation to the conventional medical system remains to be seen.


Coulter, Harris. Divided Legacy: A History of the Schism in Medical Thought. 4 vols. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1994. See especially vols. 3 and 4 for treatment of homeopathy in the United States.

Rogers, Naomi. An Alternative Path: The Making and Remaking of Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital of Philadelphia. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1998.

Winston, Julian. The Faces of Homeopathy: An Illustrated History of the First 200 Years. Tawa, N.Z.: Great Auk Publishing, 1999.

Ann JeromeCroce

See alsoMedicine, Alternative ; Swedenborgian Churches .

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homeopathy is a system of treatment evolved by a German physician, Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843). Hahnemann carried out tests on himself with extracts of cinchona bark, which contains quinine, and found it caused fever. From experiments of this kind he formulated the major principle of homeopathy, ‘similia similibus curantur’ (like cures like) — that is, agents which cause symptoms in a healthy person will cure the same symptoms in a sick person. It is worth considering how such an unlikely hypothesis came to be made, especially when something as essential as a simple clinical thermometer was not available to measure body temperature. Hahnemann's idea is actually very old, with ‘the hair of the dog that bit you’ hypothesis for treatment going back to the time of Hippocrates. Also, Jenner, who was contemporary with Hahnemann, had shown that cowpox could provide immunity against smallpox, and Hahnemann may have misinterpreted this finding, by failing to realize that vaccination recruits the immune system to achieve its effects.

Hahnemann found that some of the remedies when given in large doses may aggravate the symptoms they were designed to eliminate, and formulated a further principle, that of reducing the doses to minute proportions. It has been suggested that the reason for this was to reduce the likelihood of adverse effects, following litigation by dispensing chemists who feared for their livelihoods. Whatever the reasons, the use of dilute preparations has become part of the methodology of homeopathy. To prepare homeopathic remedies, the medicament is diluted with an excipient — usually lactose (milk sugar) for solids, or water for liquids — and triturated in a mortar (solids), or decussed (shaken) (liquids). Usually 1 part of drug is used to 100 parts of diluent. The resulting mixture is then diluted again as before, the whole process being repeated up to 30 times. It is claimed that the more dilute the preparation the more potent it is.

These unsual claims need further comment. Simple calculations, making use of Avogadro's number, confirm that in the more dilute preparations there is likely to be only one molecule of the medicament in a sphere the size of Saturn. The standard reply of homeopaths to this criticism is either that, in the process of preparation, special energies are released, and retained in the diluent, or that the molecules of the active principle leave their imprints on the diluents. These imprints, which are complementary in shape to the medicament molecules, may be the active moiety, as they counteract the effects caused by the medicament itself. These improbable mechanisms are not supported by any evidence, but if true would mean that most of what is known about the chemistry of molecules would have to be rejected. Homeopathic remedies often have fancy names going back to Hahnemann's time, when much of medicine was obscured by use of dog Latin. For example, some enormous dilution of Nat. mur. is a common remedy for a variety of simple complaints even today. Nat. mur. is short for natrium muriate, the sodium salt of muriatic acid, commonly known as ordinary salt. Body fluids contain around 150 mM salt, and most foodstuffs contain some salt, so the administration of an odd salt molecule as a form of treatment is surely nonsense.

Homeopaths claim to treat the whole person, so the prescribed treatment will depend on the totality of the person as well as the disease condition. For this reason there have been very few properly constructed clinical trials of homeopathic remedies. There is no scientific basis whatsoever to support homeopathy as a useful form of treatment. Most people get better from most things most of the time, and merely the belief that one is being treated can, through the placebo effect, at least cause the sense of feeling better. But if recovery is coincident with taking a homeopathic remedy then a causative relationship may be claimed, and knowledge of the magical properties passed on to others. Homeopathic remedies continue to be popular, as a result of concerns about side-effects of conventional, allopathic drugs, and patronage from prominent persons. While allopathic remedies require licensing by regulatory bodies, showing both safety and effectiveness, there is no such legislation for homeopathic preparations. The safety of these latter, because of their dilution, is not an issue, but their effectiveness is questionable.

Alan W. Cuthbert

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homeopathy (hōmēŏp´əthē), system of medicine whose fundamental principle is the law of similars—that like is cured by like. It was first given practical application by Samuel Hahnemann of Leipzig, Germany, in the early 19th cent. and was designated homeopathy to distinguish it from the established school of medicine which he called allopathy. The American Institute of Homeopathy was founded in 1844, and the practice of homeopathy was popularized in the United States by the physician and senator Royal S. Copeland (1868–1938). It had been observed that quinine given to a healthy person causes the same symptoms that malaria does in a person suffering from that disease; therefore quinine became the preferred treatment in malaria. When a drug was found to produce the same symptoms as did a certain disease, it was then used in very small doses in the treatment of that disease. U.S. medical schools do not presently emphasize the homeopathic approach, although it has become popular among some physicians in European and Asian nations and is widely used by the public in over-the-counter medications.

See N. Robins, Copeland's Cure: Homeopathy and the War between Conventional and Alternative Medicine (2005).

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ho·me·op·a·thy / ˌhōmēˈäpə[unvoicedth]ē/ (Brit. ho·moe·op·a·thy) • n. the treatment of disease by minute doses of natural substances that in a healthy person would produce symptoms of disease. Often contrasted with allopathy. DERIVATIVES: ho·me·o·path·ic / ˌhōmēəˈpa[unvoicedth]ik/ adj. ho·me·o·path·i·cal·ly / ˌhōmēəˈpa[unvoicedth]ik(ə)lē/ adv.

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homeopathy (homoeopathy) (hoh-mi-op-ă-thi) n. a complementary therapy based on the theory that `like cures like'. It involves treating a condition with a tiny dose of a substance that in larger doses would normally cause or aggravate that condition. The substance is diluted in purified water, then activated by shaking in an exact way. Homeopathy was developed by a German doctor, Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843), in 1796.
homeopathic adj. —homeopathist n. Website of the Society of Homeopaths

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homeopathy Unorthodox medical treatment that involves administering minute doses of a drug or remedy which causes effects or symptoms similar to those that are being treated. German physician Christian Hahnemann popularized homeopathy in the 18th century.

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"homeopathy." World Encyclopedia. . (October 20, 2016).

"homeopathy." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from


homeopathy •Cathy •Iolanthe, Xanthe •McCarthy • breathy •healthy, stealthy, wealthy •lengthy •heathy, Lethe •pithy • filthy •bothy, frothy, mothy, wrathy •toothy •polymathy, timothy •apathy • telepathy • empathy •antipathy • sympathy •encephalopathy, homeopathy, osteopathy •Dorothy • earthy

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"homeopathy." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . 20 Oct. 2016 <>.

"homeopathy." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . (October 20, 2016).

"homeopathy." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved October 20, 2016 from