Homeopathy is a system of medicine which involves treating the whole individual with highly diluted substances that stimulate the body’s natural system of healing. Based on an individual's specific symptoms, a homeopath will match the most appropriate medicine to each patient.
Homeopathy is based on the principle that you can treat ‘like with like’, that is, a substance which causes symptoms when taken in large doses in a healthy person, can be used in small amounts to treat those same symptoms in a sick person. For example, drinking too much coffee can cause sleeplessness and agitation, so according to this principle, when made into a homeopathic medicine, it could be used to treat people with these symptoms. This concept is sometimes used in conventional medicine, for example, the stimulant Ritalin is used to treat patients with ADHD, or small doses of allergens such as pollen are sometimes used to de-sensitize allergic patients. However, one major difference with homeopathic medicines is that substances are used in ultra high dilutions, which makes them non-toxic.
Homeopathic remedies are prepared by specialist pharmacies using a careful process of dilution and succussion (a specific form of vigorous shaking).
The principle of treating “like with like” dates back to Hippocrates (460-377BC) but in its current form, homeopathy has been widely used worldwide for more than 200 years.
It was discovered by a German doctor, Samuel Hahnemann, who became disillusioned with the harsh medical practices of the day (which included blood-letting, purging and the use of poisons such as arsenic), looked for a way to reduce the damaging side-effects associated with medical treatment.
What sets homeopathic remedies apart from conventional pharmacology is that all homeopathic remedies are tested or "proved" on humans. Hahnemann began experimenting on himself and a group of healthy volunteers, giving smaller and smaller medicinal doses, and found that as well as reducing toxicity, the medicines actually appeared to be more effective when more diluted. He also observed that symptoms caused by toxic ‘medicines’ such as mercury, were similar to those of the diseases they were being used to treat e.g. syphilis, which lead to the principle he described as ‘like cures like’.
The medical system of homeopathy takes into account all of an individuals symptoms on the mental, emotional and physical levels. It is very difficult to treat a person based on one symptom alone. This is why homeopathy is so individualized and is considered to be one of the most holistic of all medical systems.
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