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Homeopathy: from Greek hómoios- ὅμοιος- "like-" + páthos πάθος "suffering"
Homeopathy (also spelled Homoeopathy or Homœopathy) is a form of alternative medicine, first proposed by German physician Samuel Hahnemann in 1796, that attempts to treat patients with heavily diluted preparations which are thought to cause effects similar to the symptoms presented. Homeopathic remedies are prepared by serial dilution with shaking by forceful striking, which homeopaths term "succussion," after each dilution under the assumption that this increases the effect of the treatment. Homeopaths call this process "potentization". Dilution often continues until none of the original substance remains.
Apart from the symptoms of the disease, homeopaths use aspects of the patient's physical and psychological state in recommending remedies. Homeopathic reference books known as repertories are then consulted, and a remedy is selected based on the totality of symptoms. Homeopathic remedies are considered safe, with rare exceptions. Some homeopaths have, however, been criticized for putting patients at risk with advice to avoid conventional medicine such as vaccinations, anti-malarial drugs, and antibiotics.
The Regulation and prevalence of homeopathy is highly variable from country to country. There are no specific legal regulations concerning its use in some countries, while in others, licenses or degrees in conventional medicine from accredited universities are required. Some homeopathic treatment is covered by the national insurance coverage of several countries; in others it is fully integrated into the national health care system. In many countries, the laws that govern the regulation and testing of conventional drugs do not apply to homeopathic remedies.
Claims of homeopathy's efficacy beyond the placebo effect have until recently been more or less unsupported by the collective weight of scientific and clinical evidence. While some studies have positive results, systematic reviews of all the published trials fail to conclusively demonstrate efficacy.  Furthermore, higher quality trials tend to report less positive results,  and most positive studies have not been replicated or show methodological problems that prevent them from being considered unambiguous evidence of homeopathy's efficacy.
As Homeopathic remedies generally contain few or no pharmacologically active molecules, and for such remedies to have pharmacological effect would appear to violate current thought in what is perceived to be the fundamental principles of science. Still some studies have recently shown that these remedies CAN have significant effects on certain conditions, leading some to look to quantum science for explanations. Modern homeopaths have proposed that water has some kind of memory for the energy from the original molecules, that allows homeopathic preparations to work without any of the original substance; however, the physics of water are generally thought to be well understood, and no currently understood mechanism permits such a memory. The lack of convincing scientific evidence supporting homeopathy's efficacy  and its use of remedies lacking active ingredients have caused homeopathy to be described as pseudoscience, or quackery, like certain people label anything they do not understand, in a similar way that those same people criticize those of the biblical times for their blaming everything on magic and Gods.   . HOWEVER, it appears that there are two rather distinct schools of thought in this field. The classicists, who adhere to the Hannemanian school and claim there is no really good means of running a double blind study, because each remedy must be made up specifically for each patient. And the modernists, who feel that since even the classicists would have several backup remedies when the first and second do not work, should merely combine them to allow for a study to be conducted. In the period since 2005, several studies HAVE been done which appear to show an effect greater than placebo in treatment of certain conditions, like allergic rhinitis, coryza, and others.
Homeopathy has been also labeled a vitalist philosophy, in that it interprets diseases and sickness as caused by disturbances in a hypothetical vital force or life force. It sees these disturbances as manifesting themselves as unique symptoms. Homeopathy maintains that the vital force has the ability to react and adapt to internal and external causes, which homeopaths refer to as the "law of susceptibility". The law of susceptibility implies that a negative state of mind can attract hypothetical disease entities called "miasms" to invade the body and produce symptoms of diseases. However, Hahnemann rejected the notion of a disease as a separate thing or invading entity and insisted that it was always part of the "living whole".
Risks / Side effects
Although the side effects and risks of homeopathic treatments are not well researched outside of observational studies, some general points can be made about the safety of these treatments:
- A systematic review found that homeopathic remedies in high dilution, taken under the supervision of trained professionals, are generally considered safe and unlikely to cause severe adverse reactions.
- Liquid homeopathic remedies may contain alcohol. The FDA allows higher levels of alcohol in these remedies than it allows in conventional drugs. However, no adverse effects from alcohol levels have been reported to the FDA.
- Homeopaths expect some of their patients to experience homeopathic aggravation (a temporary worsening of existing symptoms after taking a homeopathic prescription). Researchers have not found much evidence of this reaction in clinical studies; however, research on homeopathic aggravations is scarce.
- Homeopathic remedies are not known to interfere with conventional drugs; however, if you are considering using homeopathic remedies, you should discuss this with your health care provider first.
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- NCCAM Website
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