Homeopathic medicine has been in dispute since it’s inception but it’s origination was to help treat sickness, not cause sickness,by stimulating the immune system in it’s natural responses. Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician, was a non-believer of medical treatment methods such as bloodletting, leeches and encouraging vomiting and bowel release in the late 1700s. He felt there had to be a better way to cure illness.
At that time one of the more serious diseases was malaria, which was treated with quinine, but Hahnemann was not convinced of the rationale behind why quinine worked when it did. Samuel Hahnemann started what would later be called “provings” by administering quinine to himself, even though he was not suffering from malaria. What he found were the symptoms of taking quinine were remarkably similar to the same symptoms one had with malaria. Those similar symptoms were fever, headaches, extreme thirst, chills etc. From those observations on himself he postulated that certain substances worked because they duplicated the body’s defense mechanisms used to rid oneself of the disease.
Hahnemann started investigating certain substances, later to be known as homeopathic remedies, by giving the substances to healthy people and observing the symptomatic responses of healthy people to these substances. He used herbs, minerals and other substances including small doses of arsenic. His rationale was the body reacted to certain substances with observable physical symptoms such as hand sweating, flush of the face, rashes, etc. and he began to record the observations in what would become the homeopathic’s PDR ( Physician Desk Reference ), the Materia Medica. This became a compilation of symptoms produced by the administration of these substances to healthy people.
Over time the practice of homeopathy became observing how the sick patient presented him/her self and prescribing substances that would produce similar symptoms in healthy patients. The logic was these substances were actually stimulating the patient’s immune system to overcome naturally the pathogen that had caused the illness. Often after beginning treatment the patient actually would feel worse since the enhanced symptomatic response made the patient more uncomfortable. This was viewed as assistance to the immune system in responding and enhanced the lethal effect of the immune system to rid the body of the pathogen. The actual medicine itself was the result of putting in the substance, tritating ( slow shake ) , and then putting the small residual liquid with the substance in it into a small pill ( pillule).
The basic principal was to use the smallest amount of a substance necessary to effect the response. This became known as the “law of minimals” and it resulted in some of the treating substances being so minimal that the original substance showed no trace amounts in the pillules. It was argued that the efficacious use of the homeopathic substance was it’s “essence of energy” and it was not necessary that traceable amounts of the original physical ingredient had to be present. It is that explanation that has led many to say homeopathy is only a placebo effect and has no long lasting therapeutic benefit.
There have been double blind studies (22) showing homeopathy working better than a placebo treatment. Many of the double blind studies were performed by epidemiologists.
Today there are many people who believe homeopathic principles and treatments do effect therapeutic relief and are in favor of the use of homeopathy when appropriate.
Bob Johnson is owner/founder of MedFaxx, Inc. and has multiple patents for non pharmacological treatment of chronic pain, decubitus ulcers, using electrotherapy and ultraviolet F.D.A. approved medical devices.