Homeopathy or homoeopathy is a pseudoscientific system of alternative medicine. Its practitioners, called homeopaths, believe that a substance that causes symptoms of a disease in healthy people can cure similar symptoms in sick people; this doctrine is called similia similibus curentur, or “like cures like”. All relevant scientific knowledge about physics, chemistry, biochemistry and biology contradicts homeopathy.
Homeopathy therefore is a medical system based on the belief that the body can cure itself. Those who practice it use tiny amounts of natural substances, like plants and minerals. They believe these stimulate the healing process.
How does it work
A basic belief behind homeopathy is “like cures like.” In other words, something that brings on symptoms in a healthy person can — in a very small dose — treat an illness with similar symptoms. This trigger the body’s natural defenses.
For example, red onion makes your eyes water. So it’s use for treating allergies. Treatments for other ailments are from poison ivy, white arsenic, crushed whole bees, and an herb called arnica.
Homeopathic doctors weaken these ingredients by adding water or alcohol. Then they shake the mixture as part of a process called “potentization.” They believe this step transfers the healing essence. Homeopaths also believe that the lower the dose, the more powerful the medicine. In fact, many of these remedies no longer contain any molecules of the original substance. They come in a variety of forms, like sugar pellets, liquid drops, creams, gels, and tablets.
During your appointment, a homeopath will ask a number of questions about your mental, emotional, and physical health. They’ll prescribe the remedy that best matches all of your symptoms. Then they’ll tailor the treatment for you.
Homeopathy is use for an extremely wide range of health conditions. Many practitioners believe it can help with any condition.
Among the most common conditions that people seek homeopathic treatment for are:
- ear infections
- hay fever
- mental health conditions, such as depression, stress and anxiety
- allergies, such as food allergies
- dermatitis (an allergic skin condition)
- high blood pressure
There’s no good-quality evidence that homeopathy is an effective treatment for these or any other health conditions.
Some practitioners also claim homeopathy can prevent malaria or other diseases. There’s no evidence to support this, and no scientifically plausible way that homeopathy can prevent diseases.
Is homeopathy safe?
Homeopathic remedy generally are safe, and the risk of a serious adverse side effect rising from taking the remedies is thought to be small.
Some homeopathic remedies may contain substances that aren’t safe or interfere with the action of other medicines.
You should talk to your General Physician before stopping any treatment prescribed by a doctor, or avoiding procedures such as vaccination, in favor of homeopathy.
Research is mixed. Some studies show that homeopathic remedies are helpful, while others don’t. Critics chalk up the benefits to the placebo effect. That’s when symptoms improve because you believe the treatment is working not because it really is. This can trigger the brain to release chemicals that briefly relieve the pain or other symptoms.
Doctors are divided because some of the theories behind homeopathy don’t line up with the principles of chemistry and physics. Scientists argue that a medicine with no active ingredient shouldn’t have an effect on the body.