In 1790 German Physician Samuel Hahnemann discovered that when a healthy person ingested a derivative of quinine bark used to treat Malaria, they surprisingly began to exhibit the symptoms of the disease.
This observation — that a substance that induces specific symptoms in a healthy person — also alleviates those same symptoms in a sick person, has become the basic principle of the science of “homeopathy.” The word homeopathy comes from the Greek homeos meaning similar, pathy meaning suffering. So Homeopathy basically means treating people with medicines that induce “similar suffering” as the pathogens that are causing the disease. But, in the case of homeopathic medicine, those “disease” or symptom causing agents, are introduced in such miniscule amounts, that they heal, rather than harm.
This concept of “like curing like” may seem difficult to grasp, and may best be illustrated by a practical example. Belladonna, a poison extracted from the plant Deadly Nightshade, causes high fever and a burning sensation in the skin and throat. Yet when diluted many fold, as it is in a homeopathic solution, it can cure these very symptoms.
As homeopathic practitioners explain, “The production of these homeopathic medicines is actually quite interesting and different then you would think. In normal pharmacology the idea is to give as much medicine as you can get away with before you have side effects, the idea in homeopathy since the time of Samuel Hannemann is to give as little medicine as you can get away with.”
How Are Homeopathic Drugs Made?
Today these proven methods of centuries ago are combined with state of the art manufacturing techniques to produce many effective homeopathic medications. Derived mainly from botanical sources, thousands of such remedies have been developed in laboratories worldwide, and are manufactured in the United States under strict guidelines imposed by the Food and Drug Administration. In fact in 1938 the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act was passed and this act basically stipulated that homeopathic medications were just that — medications under the provisions of this law and subject to the same guidelines and manufacturing practices as allopathic (standard) medications. In this regard that means the homeopathic solutions are recognized by the FDA as “drugs,” and are not to be confused with “dietary supplements,” which make many unsubstantiated claims about effectiveness, and are not subject to the same standards and practices.
Are There Any Studies That Prove Homeopathy Works?
Clinical research studies have shown that these homeopathic medications can be effective in treating many of today’s most debilitating and life threatening diseases. One of the most important of which was published in 1997 in the Lancet by Klaus Linday. That study looked at over 100 other homeopathic studies and put them together as if they were one study and analyzed the total results. Homeopathy came out to be over twice as effective as placebos in that important medical analysis. This is critical, because most opponents of homeopathy have said that the effect of Homeopathic remedies is only that of a placebo.
Terry Pfau, an osteopathic physician uses homeopathy in his practice. “There’s definitely been an increase in the acceptance of homeopathy and other alternative medicines, in the medical schools today many of them, you are finding that they are introducing their students to these alternative type therapies, ideally I’d hope that in the future physicians coming out of medical school would be trained in a lot of these alternative therapies so that they have the option if they feel their patient would best benefit from say homeopathy they could administer that themselves.”
Taking this kind of an integrative medical approach, that can combine the use of unconventional treatments, with more traditional therapies, may provide a healthy alternative to sickness and disease.