Homeopaths share with doctors who practice nutritional medicine the point of view that merely suppressing symptoms with drugs in no way goes to the heart of a health problem and that until one deals with the actual imbalance which produced the symptom in the first place, the disease process will continue to press for expression. Health problems may seem to disappear after drug administration, but the imbalance may appear in a new form.
Homeopathy as it is practised today was established in the late 18th and early 19th century by Dr Samuel Hahnemann, founded on three principles: 1) A substance that causes symptoms in a healthy person can be used to treat these symptoms when they occur in an ill person. 2) Diluting the homeopathic medicine increases its curative powers and avoids unwanted side-effects. 3) Health is a dynamic process; homeopathy treats the whole person and not just the illness.
The homeopath attempts to best match the patient's symptoms to a remedy "symptom picture". A "symptom picture" is different than a disease state as defined by conventional medicine; patients with the same disease state but different symptom pictures will be prescribed different remedies. Such individualized treatment of specific symptoms is fundamental in the practice of "classical" homeopathy. Homeopathic remedies are made from plants, minerals and other natural substances. They are prepared by a process of step by step repeated dilution and shaking, which makes them capable of stimulating the body's own immune system. The remedy is usually given one time only, and then allowed to work for a long time. Homeopaths believe that the patient is best served by the least amount of intervention necessary to achieve health.
The word "homeopathy" means "similar suffering". Homeopathy is based on the principle that a substance which in large doses will caused the symptoms of an illness can be used in minute doses to relieve the same symptoms. This is often termed "treating like with like". Hippocrates was aware of the homeopathic approach to illness and the role of nature as a healer as long ago as the 5th Century BC. Homeopathy became popular in the USA and in Europe during the 1800s because of its success in treating the many infectious diseases that raged during that time, including yellow fever, scarlet fever, cholera, and many others. The death rate in homeopathic hospitals was between one-half to one-eighth of those in conventional medical hospitals.
Homeopathic medicines also have been shown to work on infants and on various animals (including dogs, cats, horses and even cows) where it is highly unlikely that they are acting only as a placebo. Homeopaths also find that people who are being treated with homeopathic medicine for a chronic disease sometimes experience a temporary exacerbation in their symptoms as the body's defences are being stimulated. Homeopaths have found that a "healing crisis" is sometimes necessary to achieve healing. It is highly unlikely that this temporary worsening of symptoms is the result of a placebo response.
Homeopathy is particularly popular in India where there are over 120 four-year homeopathic medical schools. It is also popular in France, England, Germany, Greece, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and South Africa. Approximately 40% of the French public have used homeopathic medicines, and 39% of the French physicians have prescribed the medicines. About 20% of German physicians occasionally use homeopathic medicines and 45% of Dutch physicians consider them effective. According to a survey in the British Medical Journal (1986), 42% of British physicians survey refer patients to homeopathic physicians; visits to British homeopaths are growing at a rate of 39% a year.
Sales of homeopathic medicines grew at a rate of 25-50% per year during the 1980s in the USA, with similar growth in western Europe, where sales have reached over US$600 million a year.
Disease is born of like things, and by the attack of like things people are healed (Hippocrates).
Homeopathy is based on primitive and false 19th century beliefs.