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History of Homeopathy

 

            Homeopathy emerged from the teachings and writings of Dr. Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843), a German physician. Dr. Hahnemann became disillusioned with the common medical practices of his day. This was a very primitive time for medicine and practices included the use of leaches, blood letting, purges and the use of toxic chemicals. In articles written in the 1780s and 1790s, Dr. Hahnemann was critical of these extreme medical practices. Here is a quote from Dr. Hahnemann:

 

For several centuries, a whole range of causes, which I could not begin to enumerate, have led to the downgrading of that divine science, clinical medicine, to the level of a wretched, money-grubbing exercise in the whitewashing of symptoms and a demeaning traffic in prescriptions, in fact, God forgive us, to a more mechanical trade in which Hippocrates is lost to sight amidst a rabble of charlatans.

 

Dr. Hahnemann advocated good hygiene, better nutrition, better housing conditions, fresh air and exercise as the way to achieve health. In 1790 he began translating A Treatise on Materia Medica, by Scottish physician and chemist, Dr. William Cullen (1710-1790). Dr. Cullen was a famous scientist and lecturer, and was also critical of the primitive medical practices of his day.

Hahnemann translated Cullen?s work, but also looked at it with a critical eye. In his work, Dr. Cullen recommended quinine for malaria because it was a good astringent. Hahnemann reasoned that there were better astringents that did not work on malaria. He also found that when he took the quinine, he developed the symptoms of malaria. From this he began to develop the concept of ?Similars??one of the basic principles of homeopathy. The principle of ?Similars? can be simply stated as, ?Like cures like?. In homeopathy, a substance that can produce the symptoms in a healthy person is likely to be the substance that cures a sick person. Homeopathy is a word coined by Hahnemann; it is from two Greek words: homeo, meaning ?similar? andpathos, meaning ?suffering?.

Hahnemann wrote his ideas in two books, A New Principle for Ascertaining the Curative Powers of Drugs and Some Examinations of Previous Principles (1796) and The Organon of Rationale Medicine (1810). In 1812 he began to teach homeopathy at the University of Leipzig.

Homeopathy was introduced to the United Statesby students of Hahnemann in the late 19th century. By the end of that century, homeopathy was fairly popular; about 15% of American physicians were practicing homeopathy. By the early 1900s there were 22 homeopathic medical schools, 100 homeopathic hospitals and over 1,000 homeopathic pharmacies. Schools that taught homeopathy during this period included New YorkMedicalCollege, BostonUniversity, and StanfordUniversity.

As the 20th century progressed, homeopathy began to decline. This decline paralleled the rise of the modern pharmaceutical industry and the American Medical Association. The late 20thcentury saw a resurgence of homeopathy that continues today. The resurgence of homeopathy is due, in part, to public disenchantment with the pharmaceutical industry and conventional medicine.

           

Homeopathic Principles

 

Like cures like: This is also known as the Law of Similars. A substance that can create the symptoms in a healthy body is also the substance that will effectively treat the condition in a sick body. The word ?homeopathy? has its roots in two Greek words: homeo, meaning the same and pathos, meaning suffering. Belladonna, for example, is used to treat scarlet fever because the symptoms of scarlet fever resemble the symptoms of belladonna poisoning. The toxicity of some of the remedies is not of concern, because they are given in very dilute form (see below).

Dilution:Homeopathic remedies work in very dilute solutions. They are highly active or even poisonous substances. Diluting them helps prevent side-effects. This process is called "potentization" or serial dilution. One part of a remedy is diluted with 99 parts distilled water or ethyl alcohol and then vigorously shaken. One part of this solution is diluted further with 99 parts distilled water or ethyl alcohol and then shaken again, and so forth.  

The letter ?C? on the label of a homeopathic remedy means that the medicine was diluted 1:99. When a remedy is labeled "X" or "D", it was diluted 1:9. When a medicine is described as a "30x," this means it will diluted 1:9 and vigorously shaken; then that solution is diluted again 1:9 and shaken; this procedure is repeated 30 times. If a remedy is labeled ?6c?, it was diluted 1:99 and vigorously shaken, then that solution was diluted 1:99 again?repeating the process six times. When a medicine is labeled "LM", it was diluted approximately 1:50,000. If it is labeled ?m?, it was diluted 1:1,000.

The more diluted a remedy is, the stronger it is. The higher the number (20x vs 10x, for example), the more dilute the remedy is and the stronger it is.

 

Laws of cure: These three laws were developed by Dr. Constantine Hering, a 19th century American homeopath. They are as follows:

 

  1. Symptoms move from the inner organs to the outer organs as a patient progress towards a cure.
  2. Cure usually progresses from the top of the body to the bottom.
  3. Old symptoms often recur during treatment. They usually appear in the opposite order from when they originally appeared.