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What is homeopathy?

Homeopathy was founded by 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. 

Homeopathic products are derived from botanical, mineral or biological substances and are classified as either over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medicines. In contrast to conventional (allopathic) medicines, homeopathic products are believed to be more clinically useful when they are diluted, typically with purified water or an alcohol solution.

The potency of homeopathic products is expressed on the product label immediately following the product name and includes a number, followed either by an X or a C. The number refers to how many times the homeopathic medicine was diluted and the X and C indicate the ratio of the dilution (i.e., 1/10 for X and 1/100 for C). Homeopathic OTC products are available in numerous dosage forms including capsules, creams, eye drops, gels, granules, liquids, lozenges, nasal sprays, ointments, pills, tablets, suppositories, and syrups.

Homeopathy is a safe, gentle, and natural system of healing that works with your body to relieve symptoms, restore itself, and improve your overall health. It is extremely safe to use, even with very small children and pets, has none of the side effects of many traditional medications, is very affordable, is made from natural substances, and is FDA regulated. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recognized homeopathic medicines as drugs since 1938, working with the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia Convention to produce and update their reference book of homeopathic medicines. Over the years, the FDA has classified homeopathic medicines as either prescription or more commonly as non-prescription (over-the-counter), depending on their strength. In the United Kingdom, homeopathic medicine has been part of the National Health Service (NHS) since it began in 1948.

The holistic nature of homeopathy means each person is treated as a unique individual and their body, mind, spirit and emotions are all considered in the management and prevention of disease. Taking all these factors into account a homeopath will select the most appropriate medicine based on the individual’s specific symptoms and personal level of health to stimulate their own healing ability. Homeopathic medicines are safe to use as they rarely cause side-effects. This means when used appropriately under the guidance of a qualified homeopath they can be taken by people of all ages, including babies, children and pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Historically, homeopathy has been practiced by medical doctors, and has been used for self-care by the general public. The issuance of The Homeopathic Domestic Physician by Constantine Hering, M.D., (1835) opened this health care modality to the public. Homeopathy is an ideal therapeutic medium for self-medication of symptoms usually associated with self-limiting conditions since the selection of the proper remedy for the case is dependent on the symptoms that the body exhibits in its reaction to the illness. In the use of homeopathy for conditions which are other than self-limiting, the consumer is advised to use the services of a health care provider.

Homeopathy spread quickly throughout Europe and to the United States, where at the beginning of 1900’s, 15-20% of all doctors practiced homeopathy. Although the United States experienced a dwindling interest in homeopathy in the 20th century, other nations, including countries in Europe and Asia, were experiencing a steady growth of homeopathic teachings and interest. Today, homeopathy has a particularly strong following in many countries including India, Switzerland, Mexico, Germany, Italy and England. Interest in homeopathy is also rising again in the United States where sales of homeopathic remedies are increasing at a rate of about 12 – 15% each year.

Homeopathy has survived the test of time, as well as the relentless attacks from the allopathic majority. During the last 200 years, billions of patients have been successfully treated with homeopathic medicines. The last 40 years in particular, have witnessed a great resurgence in homeopathic medicine. A new generation of doctors have embraced the old masters work, and taken this time tested practice into the 21st century. One can find professional homeopathic practitioners in almost every country. The World Heath Organization now lists homeopathic medicine as the second most widely used system of medicine on earth today.

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