Homeopathy: An Overview

Homeopathy (“home-ee-AH-pah-thy”), also known as homeopathic medicine, is a whole medical system that originated in Europe. Homeopathy seeks to stimulate the body’s ability to heal itself by giving very small doses of highly diluted substances that in larger doses would produce illness or symptoms (an approach called “like cures like”). This form of health care was developed in Germany in the late 1700s and has been practiced in the United States since the early 19th century. Homeopathic practitioners are commonly called homeopaths. Some of the most popular homeopathic remedies include emetics for vomiting, or arnica for pain.

Similia similibus curantur…
Like cures like…

In homeopathy, a key premise is that every person has energy called a vital force or self-healing response. When this energy is disrupted or imbalanced, health problems develop. Homeopathy aims to stimulate the body’s own healing responses.

What is Homeopathy?

The term homeopathy comes from the Greek words homeo, meaning similar, and pathos, meaning suffering or disease. Homeopathy is an alternative medical system. Alternative medical systems are built upon complete systems of theory and practice, and often have evolved apart from and earlier than the conventional medical approach used in the United States. Homeopathy takes a different approach from conventional medicine in diagnosing, classifying, and treating medical problems.

Key concepts of homeopathy include:

  • Homeopathy seeks to stimulate the body’s defense mechanisms and processes so as to prevent or treat illness.
  • Treatment involves giving very small doses of substances called remedies that, according to homeopathy, would produce the same or similar symptoms of illness in healthy people if they were given in larger doses.
  • Treatment in homeopathy is individualized (tailored to each person). Homeopathic practitioners select remedies according to a total picture of the patient, including not only symptoms but lifestyle, emotional and mental states, and other factors.

Modern Homeopathy

black seed

Today, homeopathy is gaining popularity in the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, India, and elsewhere around the world. Many people seek homeopathic therapy and treatments when conventional Western medical methods do not work to treat their symptoms, and many people find relief with homeopathic remedies. Homeopathic methods are even spreading to the fields of dentistry and veterinary medicine.

As a result, professional societies and national centers for homeopathy have sprung up throughout the United States and the United Kingdom, among other international locales. Homeopathic therapists and therapies have become more systematized at the same time, with regulatory bodies such as Council for Homeopathic Certification endeavoring to maintain both the ethics of practitioners and the integrity of the homeopathic treatments themselves.

See also the NCCAM FAQ page on Homeopathy.


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