Homeopathy is a quack theory of alternative medicine which tries to treat illnesses with infinitesimal doses of the drugs that cause the same symptom as the illness. Homeopathy is based on the ideas of Samuel Hahnemann, a 19th century physician who observed that some contemporary medicines evoked symptoms similar to those of the illnesses for which they were prescribed.
Homeopathic beliefs have no standard theory; practitioners vary widely in their prescriptions. No known scientific pathway for the medicines exists, and the theory defies all known physics, biology, and chemistry, particularly as the medicines consist of arbitrary substances diluted to the point where the mixture is entirely water.
Homeopathic remedies involve treating an illness with an infinitesimally small dose of a substance that, at bigger doses, can cause symptoms that are like those of the illness (treating 'like with like'). Homeopaths believe that the 'potency' of a remedy can be increased by serial dilutions (repetitively adding water or alcohol) combined with vigorous shaking, to the point where little or none of the original solution remains as part of the final prepared remedy.
The word 'homeopathy' was first used by the German physician Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). Hahnemann was an eminent physician and a prominent public health reformer. He believed that his new system was more humane and effective than the conventional medicine of his time, but it was greeted by the establishment with derision and contempt. Today, homeopathy is not an accepted part of conventional medicine, and its theories are not generally regarded as scientifically credible, but nevertheless it has more than 100,000 practitioners worldwide, and 500 million users.
Homeopathy (from the Greek hómoios (similar) and páthos (suffering)) regards diseases as 'morbid derangements of the organism', that involve some disturbance in a 'vital force.' Today, most homeopaths still believe that the fundamental causes of disease are internal and constitutional and that it is contrary to good health to suppress symptoms. They also accept the concept of 'latent Psora', the early signs of an organism’s imbalance which indicate that treatment is needed.
- Hahnemann S (1796) translated into English as "Essay on a New Principle". Hahnemann's Organon der Heilkunst in English translation
- Dean ME (2001) Homeopathy and the progress of science Hist Scixxxix