Homeopathy is a system of alternative medicine created in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann, based on his doctrine of like cures like (similia similibus curentur), a claim that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people would cure similar symptoms in sick people.
Homeopathy is a system of natural health care that has been in worldwide use for over 200 years.Homeopathy treats each person as a unique individual with the aim of stimulating their own healing ability. A homeopath selects the most appropriate medicine based on the individual’s specific symptoms and personal level of health.It is recognised by the World Health Organisation as the second largest therapeutic system in use in the world. While it is most popular in India and South America, over thirty million people in Europe, and millions of others around the world, also benefit from its use.
The name homeopathy, coined by its originator, Samuel Hahnemann, is derived from the Greek words for ‘similar suffering’ referring to the ‘like cures like’ principle of healing. Hahnemann was born in Germany two hundred and fifty years ago. At this time the old world-view was being renovated and traditional beliefs, many flimsily based upon superstition, were being increasingly subjected to the rigour of experimental scrutiny and assessment. The practice of Homeopathy is based upon science while its application is an art.
Homeopathy is founded on two principles that have occurred regularly throughout the history of medicine, both in eastern and western worlds. The first principle of ‘like cures like’ can be looked at in several ways. One way is to assume that the body knows what it is doing and that symptoms are the body’s way of taking action to overcome illness. This healing response is automatic in living organisms; we term it the vital response. The similar medicine acts as a stimulus to the natural vital response, giving it the information it needs to complete its healing work. Since the initial action of the vital response plus the medicine is to increase the strength of the symptoms, this is our first indication of internal healing taking place, of diseases being cured from within – pushed outwards along the established routes of past and present symptoms.
Before the medicines are decided upon, their curative powers are discovered by testing them out on healthy human subjects and carefully noting emotional, mental and physical changes. This is termed a ‘proving’. This information constitutes the basis for ‘like cures like’, for a medicine’s unique symptom picture must match up with the individual’s unique expression of their disease, that is, the present and persisting symptoms of the disease.
The second principle, that only ‘the minimum dose’ should be employed is based upon the understanding that the stimulus of the medicine works from within the vitality and is not imposed from the outside. Only enough is administered to initiate the healing process, which then carries on, driven by its own internal healing mission. Homeopathic medicines given in minimum doses, while they do stimulate the body’s vital response, do not produce the gross side effects that are so often the pit-fall of conventional treatment.