The term homeopathy was coined by the Saxon physician Samuel Hahnemann (1755–1843) and first published in 1796. Homeopathy is a system of medicine that is based on the Law of Similars. The truth of this law has been verified experimentally and clinically for the last 200 years.
Homeopathy is derived from the Greek words hómoios (similar). It is a system of alternative medicine that treats like with like, using remedies that it is claimed would, in healthy individuals, produce similar symptoms to those it would treat in an ill patient.
Classical homeopathy originated in the 19th century with Samuel Christian Friedrich Hahnemann as an alternative to the standard medical practices of the day, such as phlebotomy or bloodletting. Opening veins to bleed patients, force disease out of the body, and restore the humors to a proper balance was a popular medical practice until the late19th century.
Practitioners believe that the potency of a remedy can be increased by systematically diluting the dosage, along with succession or shaking, to a point where it is unlikely that even a molecule of the original ingredient is present.
Homeopathy is reported to be growing in popularity, growing in popularity in the United States faster than any other method of alternative healing, and as increasingly being endorsed by doctors.
Homeopathy is founded on the Law of Similars, first expressed by Hahnemann in the exhortation similia similibus curentur or let likes cure likes. The law of similars is based on Hahnemanns conclusion that a given constellation of symptoms ellicited by a given homeopathic remedy in a group of healthy individuals will cure an ill individual exhibiting a similar constellations of symptoms. Symptom patterns associated with various remedies are determined by provings, in which healthy volunteers are given remedies in homeopathic form, and the physical, mental and spiritual symptoms they develop are recorded and compiled by observers. Homeopathic practitioners rely on two types of reference in prescribing.
Homeopathic remedies are prepared by dilution of a substence with succussion, or shaking, between dilutions. The remedies in homeopathy are often so dilute that they are statistically unlikely to contain any molecules of the original substance. At first, Hahnemann tested substances commonly used as medicines in his time and poisions in homeopathic provings.
He recorded his findings in his Materia Medica Pura. Kents Lectures on Homoeopathic Materia Medica lists 217 remedies, and new substances are being added continually to contemporary versions. Homeopathy uses many animal, plant, mineral, and chemical substances of natural or synthetic origin. Examples include Natrum muriaticum (sodium chloride or table salt), lachesis muta (the venom of the bushmaster snake), Opium, and Thyroidinum (thyroid hormone). Other homeopathic remedies, (isopathic remedies) involve dilutions of the agent or the product of the disease. Rabies nosode, for example, is made by potentizing the saliva of a rabid dog.