Homeopathy is a holistic form of treatment that has been integrated into naturopathic medicine. Virtually all homeopathic medicines are produced from natural sources-plants, animals and minerals. The success of homeopathic treatment has been recognized in many countries around the world including France, Germany, India, Latin America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and North America. Traditional Chinese and herbal medicine are often confused with homeopathy, but in fact, they are all different systems of holistic medicine.
Homeopathy was standardized in 18th century Germany by Samuel Hahnemann, MD. This chemist and physician discovered that when quinine, an effective treatment for malaria, was taken by a healthy individual, it produced symptoms similar to those found in people stricken with malaria. This was noticed with other medicines, too. That is to say, he noticed that:
“Substances that are specific for certain illnesses, cure or aid the body because they actually cause similar symptoms to the disease process they are being employed to treat.”
This in turn stimulates the patient’s vital force to help resolve the disease. The true mechanism behind this phenomenon is as unknown today as it was then. This process is referred to as the Principle of Similars.
It is important to note that homeopathy is not based on the same principle as immunization, which uses substances that cause the same disease, not similar symptoms. Immunization is based on isopathy — giving a substance known to cause the exact disease in question. Also, immunization has an immunological bases to it; that is, the production of T-memory cells. The mechanism of action of homeopathy is unknown at this time. There are several models that try to explain it, but none are sufficient. In short, homeopathic medicines have no relationship to the disease in question, but rather the symptoms in question.
The skilled practitioner finds a substance that causes similar symptoms to that of the patient’s, physical or emotional. This therapy is nontoxic and can be safely be used with pregnant women, infants, and children.
Hahnemann also noted that after treatment, many of his patients’ conditions worsened for a short period of time before improving. He termed this phenomenon aggravation. Through systematic experimentation, Hahnemann learned that this process could be avoided by diluting the medicines. When used in a homeopathic context; that is, when the substance in high doses causes similar symptoms to that of the disease in question, the diluted medicines were surprisingly more effective than full-strength medicines. This led Hahnemann to further experiment with dilutions until he learned that surprisingly small amounts of the active ingredient in a remedy resulted in treatments free from side effects but also increased their effect. This phenomenon he called the Principle of Infinitesimal Dose.
What is the difference between a Naturopath and a Homeopath?
In brief, homeopaths use only the homeopathic approach, whereas Naturopaths train in several forms of diagnosis and treatment, one of which is homeopathy. Training in homeopathy varies from a several-hundred-hour correspondence course to a three-year course for which candidates need not be university graduates. In contrast, Naturopaths must complete a minimum of three years of university training prior to beginning their four-year residential medical school training in Naturopathic Medicine.