The old days are over. This is the “in” thing now. And it won’t cost a cent.
It’s what the few people called homeopathy, or an alternative system of medicine developed in the early 19th century by Samuel Hahnemann (1753-1843), a German physician and chemist who had become disillusioned with the conventional practice of medicine. Hahnemann based his innovative medical treatment on the healing power of a good diet, exercise, fresh air, and minimum doses of natural medications.
Homeopathy is based on three principles: the law of similars, the single medicine, and the law of infinitesimals. According to the law of similars--frequently referred to as the phenomenon of “like cures like”--a disease is cured by a medicine that creates symptoms in a healthy person similar to what the patient is experiencing. Hahnemann established this principle when he investigated cinchona, the bark of a tropical evergreen tree and a natural source of quinine used to treat malaria. He observed that a healthy person who took cinchona developed symptoms of malaria, and decided that the effectiveness of the drug came from its ability to cause symptoms similar to those of the actual disease. Using this approach, a homeopathic physician prescribes medication that matches most closely the symptoms presented by an individual patient. Hahnemann used the Greek words homoios and pathos, which mean “similar sickness,” to name the new approach to medical treatment.
The principle of the single medicine is based on a belief that one remedy should cover all physical, mental, and emotional symptoms experienced by a patient to cure the whole person. This practice contrasts with conventional medicine, which usually uses separate medications for the treatment of each symptom.
The law of infinitesimals was established by Hahnemann when he observed that large amounts of substances prescribed for treatments caused a wide range of negative side effects in patients. He determined through experiments that taking minute levels of a medication strengthens its potency and increases the length of its effectiveness. Homeopathic physicians use this principle as a guideline in prescribing ultra-minute levels of nontoxic medications, which are prepared from vegetable and animal tissues as well as from minerals and chemicals, to promote safe and reliable cures. The use of minimal doses is one of conventional medicine’s primary objections to homeopathy. Critics note that trace amounts of ingredients used in minimal doses are so small that medications are exempt from United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements for scientific proof of a drug’s effectiveness against disease.
Practitioners claim that homeopathy offers an effective substitute for antibiotics, is often the best treatment for viral infections, and reduces or eliminates the need for some surgical procedures. However, homeopathy also recommends the use of conventional medical treatment and surgery in cases of severe infections and serious illness.