In essence, homeopathy is a medical system that is based on the idea that the body can cure itself. Practitioners of homeopathy use tiny amounts of natural substances like minerals and plants as they believe it can stimulate the whole healing process. The practice of homeopathy was first developed in Germany in the 17000s.
How Homeopathy Works
If there is one key belief behind homeopathy, it is this: like cures like. In other words, homeopathy banks on the idea that the thing that brings on symptoms in a healthy individual can (in very small doses) treat an illness with similar symptoms. This is believed to trigger the natural defenses of the body.
Case in point: red onion can make the eyes water. In homeopathic remedies, red onion is used for allergies. Treatments for other ailments are made from white arsenic, crushed whole bees, poison ivy, and an herb called arnica.
Homeopaths (terms used to refer to homeopathic doctors) “weaken” the ingredients by adding alcohol or water. The mixture is then shaken as part of the process known as “potentization.” It is believed that this step strengthens the healing essence more.
Homeopaths also believe in the idea that the lower the dose, the more powerful the medicine. Many of the remedies used in homeopathy often no longer contain any of the molecules of the original substance. Homeopathy remedies come in diverse forms including liquid drops, gels, tablets, creams, and sugar pellets.
During an appointment, homeopaths will likely ask questions regarding the patient’s emotional, mental, and physical health. The remedy prescribed will be based on what best matches all of the symptoms present. Homeopathy treatments are tailored to the unique needs of the patients.
Homeopathic remedies can also be bought over the counter at health food stores and drugstores. The quality and dosage of the products will depend on the product manufacturers.
Conditions that Can Be Treated by Homeopathy
Homeopathy is widely used for various health issues, including chronic conditions such as:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Premenstrual Syndrome
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Homeopathy is also used for minor conditions like toothaches, headaches, scrapes, bruises, nausea, colds, and coughs. However, using homeopathic medicine for life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, asthma, and cancer is not recommended.
Homeopathic medicines are also not ideal for use during emergencies. In addition, homeopathic medicines should not be used in lieu of vaccines. While some homeopathic products known as “nosodes” are marketed as great alternatives for vaccines, no research has proven its effectiveness yet.
The Effectiveness of Homeopathy
While certain studies show the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies, some critics chalk up its benefits to the placebo effect. In other words, some homeopathy critics believe the symptoms improve because the patient believes it’s working, not because it really works.
The belief triggers the brain to release chemicals that relieve the pain and other symptoms temporarily.
Doctors are divided when it comes to the effectiveness of homeopathy as some of the theories behind the practice don’t align with the principles of physics and chemistry. Some also argue that any medicine with no active ingredients will have an effect on the body.
Homeopathic Medicine Risks
While the FDA oversees homeopathic remedies, they don’t check if they are effective or safe. Generally, most homeopathic remedies are watered down that they don’t really cause any side effects. However, there are certain exceptions.
For instance, homeopathic medicines that contact a massive amount of active ingredients like heavy metal can be dangerous to the body. For instance, in 2016, a warning was issued by the FDA against the use of homeopathic teething gels and tablets because of possible health risks to children and infants.