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Homeopathy: May the Force be within you

Aug 17, 2007
Homeopathy is an alternative system of medicine, which was founded in 1789 by German physician Dr. Samuel Hahnemann. It was very popular at this time, but with the dawn of modern medicine, its popularity declined. However, the 1980's produced its revival. It is now the second most widely used medicine in the world.

Homeopathic remedies are popular due to a variety of reasons. First of all, they are considered safe and contain natural ingredients. They are not addictive and work in harmony with your immune system. The remedies treat all the symptoms as one. Many believe it is a very effective form of treatment.

Practitioners of homeopathic medicine think that a disease can be cured by a medicine that produces the same symptoms in a healthy person that the sick patient is experiencing. For example, Ipeca is known to induce vomiting, but in a diluted version it controls nausea and vomiting. Homeopathic remedy believers advocate a single remedy, in minimal doses, for all symptoms.

The downside to this medicine is the interview process that a practitioner must do with the patient. It is very lengthy, as the symptoms need to be established. The patient will be asked many questions. The remedies are selected based on the whole person, including symptoms, lifestyle, and mental and emotional state. Prescribing remedies is a slow and tedious process that requires time and patience.

Critics of this medicine believe most of its remedies are so diluted, that they couldn't possibly have any effect on ailments. They liken it to a placebo effect. The homeopathic community believes the more diluted the medicine, the more effective it will be. They refer to the phenomenon of hormesis, where diluted substances have quantifiable and intense effects. They think the remedies work more on a spiritual plane than a physical one. They believe it is the energy from the remedy that stimulates the healing process, and think that people have a "vital force" or self-healing response within themselves. Health problems occur when this power is disrupted. The idea is to activate the body's own healing forces. These remedies are known to stimulate the body's natural defenses.

Homeopathic remedies are made from plant, animal, or mineral extracts and are named from the ingredients from which they are derived. The patient gets the remedy and dilutes it in water by shaking it forcefully. It is believed the person will experience relief not only from temporary disorders, but will also experience a long term healing effect on their whole body.

Research studies on homeopathic remedies have proved to be contradictory. There is no scientific verification explaining how these remedies might work. According to the FDA, these remedies must meet certain legal standards. Practitioners must list the indications for the medicine's use as well as the ingredients, dilutions, and instructions for safe use. However, these medicines are not required to undergo the vigorous testing and review of the FDA, as are new prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
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