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the HOMEOPATHIC WIKI

Welcome to Homeopathic Wiki

The Free Encyclopedia of Homeopathy - Striving for excellence

Homeopathy is a valid scientific system of medicine. One of the major purposes of this wiki is to provide a serious forum for the spread of information about Homeopathy and also provide education to the citizens of the world without the taint of skepticism that is so prevalent in other wikis and information sources.

We will present information on Classical Homeopathy as well as other forms of Homeopathy used today. Not all materials presented are accepted by all homeopathic practitioners nor do the authors presenting the materials necessarily endorsing all information presented.

Homeopathy

Homeopathy or homeopathy—from the Greek hómoios (similar) and páthos (suffering)—is a system of Complementary medicine based on the observation that substances known to cause particular combinations of symptoms in healthy people can also, in low and specially prepared doses, help to cure people whose disease has similar symptoms.

Homeopathy is used by people worldwide to treat common acute and chronic conditions, by a number of licensed homeopaths, and by many medical doctors (Especially in India where MD programs can include Homeopathy) and other licensed health practitioners as an alternative or a complement to conventional treatment. Homeopathic medicines (referred to in this article as "remedies" to avoid confusion with conventional medicines) are widely available without a doctor's prescription in USA and many other countries as Over the Counter (OTC) medicines. Some health insurers cover homeopathic treatment if it is provided by a medical doctor. Click on Homeopathy for more Information.

Principles, and historical origins

History

The history of homeopathy begins with the discoveries of its founder Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), a German physician. Hahnemann first coined the word "homeopathy" ("homoios" in Greek means similar, "pathos" means suffering) to refer to the pharmacological principle, the law of similars, that is its basis. Actually, the law of similars was previously described by Hippocrates and Paracelsus and was utilized by many cultures, including the Mayans, Chinese, Greeks, Native American Indians, and Asian Indians (1), but it was Hahnemann who codified the law of similars into a systematic medical science.

Hahnemann's first comments about the general applicability of the law of similars were in 1789 when he translated a book by William Cullen, one of the leading physicians of the era. At one point in the book Cullen ascribed the usefulness of Peruvian bark (Cinchona) in treating malaria due to its bitter and astringent properties. Hahnemann wrote a bold footnote in his translation, disputing Cullen's explanation. Hahnemann asserted that the efficacy of Peruvian bark must be for other factor, since he noted that there were other substances and mixtures of substances decidedly more bitter and more astringent than Peruvian bark that were not effective in treating malaria. He then described his own taking repeated doses of this herb until his body responded to its toxic dose with fever, chills, and other symptoms similar to malaria. Hahnemann concluded that the reason this herb was beneficial was because it caused symptoms similar to those of the disease it was treating.

This account epitomizes Hahnemann. First, he was translating Cullen's work, which indicates that he was one of the more respected translators of his day. By the time he was only 24, Hahnemann could read and write in at least seven languages. He ultimately translated over 20 major medical and scientific texts. This story reveals Hahnemann as both an avid experimenter and a respected chemist. He had authored a four volume set of books called The Pharmaceutical Lexicon, which was considered one of the standard reference texts for apothecaries/pharmacists of his day. (3) And this account also reveals Hahnemann as an audacious rebel. He was unafraid to speak his mind, even if it meant correcting the analysis of a very respected physician. He was unafraid to question commonly accepted truths. And he had enough initiative to seek his own alternative explanations.

After translating Cullen's work, Hahnemann spent the next six years actively experimenting on himself, his family, and a small but growing group of followers. In 1796 he wrote about his experiences with the law of similars in Hufeland's Journal, a respected medical journal in Germany. (4) Coincidentally, in 1798 Edward Jenner discovered the value of giving small doses of cowpox to people in an effort to immunize them against smallpox. Whereas Jenner's work was generally accepted into orthodox medicine, Hahnemann's work was not. In fact, there was so much antagonism to Hahnemann and the new school of medical thought he called homeopathy that entire medical journals were called Anti-Homoeopathic Archives or Anti-Organon (the Organon refers to the book that Hahnemann wrote as the primary text on the homeopathic art and science). For More Information Click here Homeopathy

Homeopathy in the U.S.A.

The first homeopathic school in the U.S.A. opened in 1835, and in 1844 the first U.S. national medical association, the American Institute of Homeopathy, was established.[1] By the end of the 19th century, 8% of American medical practitioners were homeopaths, with 20 homeopathic colleges and more than 100 homeopathic hospitals. One reason for the popularity of homeopathy was its relative success in combating the epidemics of the time. Cholera, scarlet fever, typhoid fever, and yellow fever killed many, but death rates in hospitals that used heroic medicine were two- to eight-fold higher than in homeopathic hospitals.[2][3]

In the early 20th century, the "Flexner Report" triggered major changes in American medical education. Many medical schools, including those teaching homeopathy, were closed, while others turned to a new vision of a biochemical understanding of medicine to replace heroic medicine. The popularity of homeopathy revived after the 1960's, and a 1999 survey reported that over 6 million Americans had used homeopathy in the previous 12 months. The number of homeopathic practitioners in the U.S.A. increased from fewer than 200 in the 1970's to about 3,000 in 1996.

Homeoprophylaxis

Some homeopaths believe that their remedies can prevent disease, a notion known as "'Homeoprophylaxis".

Homeopathy in practice

"Provings"

In homeopathic remedy provings, volunteers are given repeated doses of substances (usually in single-blind or double-blind protocols), and keep a diary of symptoms. These are later recorded in textbooks, called Materia Medica or nowadays in expert system software. These 'provings' provide, for homeopaths, evidence of what a substance causes in overdose and thence what it might cure. The symptom complexes from provings are compared with a patient's symptoms in order to select, for the appropriate remedy, the substance whose effects are closest to the patient's symptoms — the "simillimum". Homeopaths prescribe a remedy (in potentized doses) when a sick person has a syndrome of symptoms that resembles the symptoms that crude doses of the remedy cause in a proving.

In 2006, the U.K. Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency altered their regulations to allow evidence from provings to support advertising claims for remedies (justifying phrasing such as “For the relief of...”).

"Remedies"

In the U.S.A., the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (1938) sponsored by Senator Royal Copeland (a former homeopathic medical school dean) gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to regulate drugs, and gave legal recognition to the Homœopathic Pharmacopœia of the United States This describes how remedies (defined as "homeopathic drugs") are manufactured. They are subject to regulations like that of conventional drugs. Remedies are exempt from some good manufacturing practice requirements related to expiration dating (which is not necessary since Remedies that are sealed do not expire), but must follow stringent protocols.

See FDA regulation at FDA website [1]. Note that this regulation says:

 A guide to the use of homeopathic drugs (including potencies, dosing, and other parameters) may be found by referring to the following texts: A Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica by John Henry Clarke, M.D., (3 volumes; Health Science Press) and A Clinical Repertory to the Dictionary of Materia Medica by John Henry Clarke, M.D. (Health Science Press). These references must be reviewed in conjunction with other available literature on these drug substances. 

Homeopaths use about 3,000 remedies, made from plants, trees, and fungi and from many mineral and animal sources. Some unusual substances, called imponderables, are also used, including electricity, X-ray, and magnetic poles. By convention, the first letter of the Latin-derived name of a remedy is capitalized, and the traditional name is preferred to the chemical or biological name - Natrum muriaticum rather than sodium chloride. Remedies for internal consumption come either as pills or as liquid, and most do not need a doctor's prescription, unless (in the U.S.A.) they are claimed to be for a serious disease such as cancer. Remedies for self-limiting conditions (minor health problems that are expected to go away on their own) can be sold without a prescription.

A principle of homeopathy is that the efficacy of a remedy can be enhanced by "dynamization" or "potentization". Liquids are diluted (with water or ethanol) and shaken by ten hard strikes against an elastic body ("succussion"), to get the next, higher, potency. Insoluble solids such as oyster shell are diluted by grinding with lactose ("trituration"). Hahnemann used dilutions of 1 part in 100 (centesimal; C potencies), or 1 in 50,000 (quintamillesimal; LM or L potencies); Constantine Hering later introduced Decimal (D or X) potencies, 1 part in 10. Hahnemann advocated 30C dilutions for most purposes; these are diluted by a factor of 10030 = 1060. Liquid remedies of high "potency"' contain just water (but according to homeopaths, the structure of the water has been altered); remedies in pill form contain just sugar.

In many countries, remedies are sold over-the-counter (OTC) in pharmacies and other retail outlets; many of these are "low potencies" which may contain at least some of the original substance. OTC remedies account for 0.3% of a global self-medication market estimated at 48.2 billion dollars. The American Homeopathic Pharmaceutical Association estimated the 1995 retail sales of remedies in the U.S.A. at $201 million and growing at 20% per year. Almost 70% of OTC remedies are sold in Europe; France is the largest market, worth over 300 million euros in 2003, followed by Germany (200 million euros). In 2007, the U.K market was around £40 million.

In Europe, remedies are prescribed by many MDs, including by 30-40% of French and 20% of German doctors. In France, 35% of the costs of remedies prescribed by an MD are reimbursed from health insurance.

A typical homeopathic visit

  • "Homeopathy is designed to treat the whole person and can therefore be considered in almost any situation where a person's health is depleted" (British Homeopathic Association)[4]
  • "The physician must remember that he is treating a patient who has some disorder; he is not prescribing for a disease entity" (American Institute of Homeopathy "Standards of Practice")[5]

When patients consult homeopaths, it is usually because of a chronic problem that has not responded to conventional treatment; these include common ailments such as eczema, asthma, migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, anxiety and depression, but sometimes they have serious diseases, including cancer.[6] and AIDS[7] Homeopaths view illness as a disturbance in the 'overall homeostasis of the total being', and believe that almost any sick person can benefit from homeopathic treatment. Most homeopaths are not medically qualified; those who are, after diagnosing a chronic condition that does not seem to require urgent medical attention, might prescribe a remedy rather than a conventional medicine (which they feel may be ineffective and/or likely to have side effects). Homeopaths recognize that trauma might require conventional medical attention, but may complement that with homeopathy.

When a homeopath interviews a patient to characterize his or her syndrome of symptoms, some "categories of change" are identified as important:
  1. emotion
  2. mentation
  3. specific physical functioning
  4. general physical changes
  5. perception of self
  6. relationships
  7. spirituality
  8. lifestyle
  9. energy
  10. dream content and tone
  11. well-being
  12. perceptions by others
  13. life relationships
  14. a sense of freedom or feeling less "stuck"
  15. sleep
  16. coping
  17. ability to adapt
  18. creativity
  19. recall of past experiences

In "Classical ("Hahnemannian") homeopathy, a single remedy is chosen according to the physical, emotional, and mental symptoms that the sick individual is experiencing, rather than the diagnosis of a disease ("commercial" homeopathy uses a mixture of remedies containing various ingredients chosen by the manufacturer for treating specific ailments). Homeopaths gather this information from an interview, typically lasting from 15 minutes to two hours, with one or more follow-up consultations of 15 to 45 minutes. They assess how the patient experiences their disease—i.e. they give priority to the overall syndrome of symptoms and the unique symptoms, unlike the conventional medical approach of trying to identify the causes of the disease. Their goal is to determine factors that might predispose the patient to disease, and find a treatment that will strengthen that patient's "overall constitution". After the interview, the homeopath consults the references described on the right. Some homeopaths make quick prescriptions based on "keynotes" — the best known characteristics of a remedy. The real challenge of homeopathic practice is to find the remedy that best matches the patient's "syndrome of symptoms" — the "similimum".

The homeopathic treatment of acute problems does not need the same depth or breadth of interview as chronic conditions. According to homeopaths, because the symptoms of a common cold or a headache or an allergy vary from person to person, each may need a different remedy. However, they believe that people who experience an injury generally have similar symptoms, so they think that some remedies might be routinely useful in such cases. For some disease conditions, such as asthma, remedies are often prescribed not only to treat chronic symptoms, but also to treat acute attacks. Remedies might also be used after an asthmatic episode with the intent to prevent recurrences.

"Classical" homeopaths prescribe one remedy at a time — one that best fits the overall syndrome of the patient. The same remedy might thus be prescribed for patients with different diseases; conversely, patients suffering from the same disease may be prescribed different remedies. For example, hay fever might be treated with any of several remedies, based either on the specific symptoms or on the etiology of the allergy. Some common remedies are: Allium cepa (onion, which causes tears to flow and a clear burning nasal discharge that irritates the nostrils), Euphrasia (eyebright, which causes a clear and bland nasal discharge along with tears that burn and irritate), Ambrosia (ragweed) and Solidago (goldenrod); ragweed and goldenrod are herbs whose pollen is aggravating to some hay fever sufferers. These are commonly given during the acute symptoms of hay fever. At other times, a homeopath might prescribe a constitutional remedy based on the patient’s family history, health history and overall physical and/or psychological state.[8]

Study Refences

Materia Medica,in homeopathy, are references to the list of remedies. as opposed to repertories giving the indication for using remedies. NLM defines nosodes as specific types of homeopathic remedies prepared from causal agents or disease products.

Some of the Great Classics are:

Clarke's Dictionary of Materia Medica
EA Farrington's Lectures on Clinical Materia Medica
William Boericke's Homeopathic Materia Medica
TIMOTHY F. ALLEN's Encylopedia of Pure Materia Medica
JAMES TYLER KENT's Lectures on Homeopathic Materia Medica

Safety

"The highest ideal of cure is the speedy, gentle, and enduring restoration of health by the most trustworthy and least harmful way" (Samuel Hahnemann)

Regulation

There are no universal standards for homeopathic education. Some countries allow homeopaths to describe themselves in equivalent ways to doctors, with a system of qualification and oversight; in others (including France, Spain and Argentina) most professionals that prescribe remedies are MDs Some countries (including India and Pakistan) have exclusively homeopathic medical schools, some (including Germany) have naturopathic colleges with homeopathy as part of the curriculum, and some certify "professional homeopaths" who have attended homeopathic schools and then pass examinations that grant "certification".

In the U.S.A., there is also a separate certification process available only to MDs and DOs, and naturopathic physicians also have a homeopathic certifying agency. To join the American Institute of Homeopathy today, a mainstream medical license (MD, DO, DDS) is required as well as homeopathic training.

In India, homeopathy has more than 200,000 registered practitioners and is one of the "National Systems of Medicine" under the Department of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy); it is illegal to practice as a homeopath without a license and professional qualifications. Every primary health care centre has one or more conventional doctors and a doctor from the Department of AYUSH. About 10% of the population, over 100 million people, depend solely on homeopathy for their health care needs.


In the UK, the Faculty of Homeopathy regulates medical professionals who practice homeopathy. It publishes the journal Homeopathy, and is a founding member of the 'European Committee for Homeopathy' which has developed a code of professional conduct. Of 248,000 registered practitioners of medicine in the U.K.
  1. American Institute of Homeopathy:Winston J (2006) "Homeopathy Timeline" The Faces of Homoeopathy. Whole Health Now.
  2. Coulter HL (1973) Divided Legacy, Volume III: The Conflict Between Homeopathy and the American Medical Association Berkeley: North Atlantic, ISBN 0938190571
  3. Bradford TL (1900) The logic of figures: The comparative results of homeopathic and other treatments Philadelphia: Boericke and Tafel
  4. British Homeopathic Association
  5. Standards of Practice American Institute of Homeopathy
  6. Homeopathy Cancer Research UK
  7. Amish Hospital and Research Center
  8. Chernin D (2006) The Complete Homeopathic Resource for Common Illnesses Berkeley: North Atlantic. Cummings S, Ullman D (2004) Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicines New York: Jeremy Tarcher/Putnam