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Origins, benefits, efficacy, and methodology
Homeopathy was developed 200 years ago as an alternative medicine by the German doctor Samuel Hahnemann.
What is homeopathy? Where did it originate?
German in origin, homeopathy has three main foundational principles:
- Similarity law: When a healthy subject is administered substance derived from animal, vegetable, or mineral origin, certain symptoms are produced. When a sick subject with the same symptoms is administered the extracts of animal, vegetable and mineral origin in sub-molecular doses as homoeopathic remedies, they have a curative effect.
- Individualized Treatment: Homeopathic treatment is done on the basis of the description of the symptoms given by the patient. It should be kept in mind that personality of every patient is unique, and the perception of the same symptom may vary.
- Minimal Dose Law: Since undiluted doses of substances derived from animal, vegetable, or mineral origin are toxic for a patient, infinitesimal doses of these substances are used. The effectiveness and potency of the substances is directly dependent on the level of dilution.
How is homeopathy beneficial?
Here are some of the benefits of homeopathy:
- Used to treat allergic rhinitis.
- Effective for intoxications and allergies.
- Been prescribed and efficient for chronic hepatic disorders.
- Used to treat patients with low states of vitality or some severe disease.
- May have effects on relieving pain in adults due to cancer.
Studies/research on the efficacy?
Homeopathy should not be mixed up with other types of complementary therapies like herbal medicine, which is based on herbal preparations. These do contain some active principles.
Homoeopathic remedies have been tested in a very few clinical trials. However, there is no explanation as to how much of the diluted solutions, when administered orally can be effective on a molecular level. It isn’t clear as to how these diluted solutions act on human biological tissue. Since no conditions have been proven for a positive or negative effect objectively, it can be concluded that all homeopathic remedies are placebos.
There are few conflicting reports in the scientific publications on the subject. Some papers suggest that homeopathy encourages quick relief from symptoms of diseases in acute illnesses at a much lower risk than conventional medicines. The evidence-based advantages of homeopathy include:
- Lower rates of antibiotic fill during the watchful waiting period of otitis media
- Lesser side effects and less severity of side effects
- No drug interactions
How is the procedure of homeopathy carried out?
Classical allopathic medication is used for preventing, diagnosing, or treating disorders, whereas homeopathic remedies are exclusively devoted to treating symptoms without considering the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying a disease. For example, a homeopathic treatment that is offered for vomiting, regardless of its cause, could be also given for motion sickness or chemotherapy.
There are four types of homeopathic treatments:
- Classical or individualized homeopathy: A single homeopathic remedy is chosen based on the total number of symptoms exhibited by the patient. It involves extensive consultations which might have effects, at least for subjective outcomes. The apparent positive effects of classical homeopathy are difficult to distinguish from the effects of longer consultations and other “context effects.”
- Clinical homeopathy: One or many single remedies are administered to a patient for standard clinical situations or traditional diagnosis. It is delivered, in the same way; the conventional drugs are prescribed. Clinical homeopathy does not require long-drawn and comprehensive homeopathic case-taking.
- Complex homeopathy: Multiple remedies are mixed into a standard formula to encompass the patient’s symptoms and diagnoses. This homeopathy does not require long-drawn and comprehensive homeopathic case-taking.
- Isopathy: In isopathy, serial agitated dilutions are made from the causative agent in an infectious or toxicological condition.
How can you get started with homeopathy?
Clinical homeopathy, isopathy and complex homeopathy are relatively more cost-effective and are feasible in countries with limited resources. In clinical homeopathy and complex homeopathy, the intervention is associated with the disease state and is not individualized for each patient.
Any precautions, contraindications and interactions:
The basic principles of homeopathy are quite different from the scientific fundamentals of current and modern medicine. Thus, they have been considered farfetched.
- Since they lack a proven mechanism of action, homeopathic remedies have been gradually rejected due to the incredible progress in chemistry, medicine and pharmacy in the last 200 years.
- In November 2009, the Science and Technology Committee of Great Britain declared that homeopathy was “useless, unethical, and unreliable.”1
- Before being released into the market, a medicine that is intended to cure a disease requires approval from superior institutions of drug control.
- Many years of research and a lot of financial effort is required by the companies in order to meet the high homologation standards.
- If the adverse effects are found to be more than the therapeutic benefits, the certifications may be withdrawn.
However, there are no such regulations for homeopathic remedies to check their therapeutic effects. Since the substances used for treatment are highly diluted, they are thought to have no biological effects.
World Human Organization has prohibited the use of homeopathic remedies for serious diseases like HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, and severe diarrhea symptoms in children.
- Călina DC, Docea AO, Bogdan M, Bubulică MV, Chiuţu L. The pharmacists and homeopathy. Curr Health Sci J. 2014 Jan;40(1):57-9. doi: 10.12865/CHSJ.40.01.10. Epub 2013 Dec 29. PubMed PMID: 24791208; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4006339.
- Banerjee K, Costelloe C, Mathie RT, Howick J. Homeopathy for allergic rhinitis: protocol for a systematic review. Syst Rev. 2014 Jun 10;3:59. doi: 10.1186/2046-4053-3-59. PubMed PMID: 24913155; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4057901.
- Frass M, Zagorchev P, Yurukova V, Wulkersdorfer B, Thieves K, Zedtwitz-Liebenstein K, Bursch W, Kaye AD. Two Cases of Fulminant Hepatic Failure from Amanita phalloides Poisoning Treated Additively by Homeopathy. Ochsner J. 2014 Summer;14(2):252-8. PubMed PMID: 24940137; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4052594.
- Bao Y, Kong X, Yang L, Liu R, Shi Z, Li W, Hua B, Hou W. Complementary and alternative medicine for cancer pain: an overview of systematic reviews. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:170396. doi: 10.1155/2014/170396. Epub 2014 Apr 13. Review. PubMed PMID: 24817897; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4003746.
- Bell IR, Boyer NN. Homeopathic medications as clinical alternatives for symptomatic care of acute otitis media and upper respiratory infections in children. Glob Adv Health Med. 2013 Jan;2(1):32-43. doi:10.7453/gahmj.2013.2.1.007. PubMed PMID: 24381823; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3833578.