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What is Homeopathy?

By Victoria Jordan
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The practice of homeopathic medicine began officially in the 1800s by Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician. The basic idea of homeopathy is that the human body's natural state is one of health and that we possess the ability to heal ourselves. It is a belief based on the idea that symptoms are not meant to be suppressed with medication but used as an indication of what the body needs in order to heal itself. The idea is that when we follow the directions provided by our symptoms, we will know to stimulate our healing processes in order to make ourselves well.

Homeopathic doctors dilute known medicines in order to make them more powerful, according to their beliefs, while minimizing toxic reactions and negative side effects. They consider the wellbeing of the whole patient - mental, emotional, and physical - when deciding upon a treatment where conventional doctors often only consider the physical manifestations of an illness and how to treat it.

According to most homeopathic beliefs, homeopathy utilizes safe preparations of natural substances, about 80 percent of which are derived from plants like wild hops (Bryonia), marigold (Calendula), and poison ivy (Rhus toxicodendron). Other remedies come from animals or animal products like honeybee (Apis mellifica) and inky fluid from cuttlefish (Sepia). Still other remedies come from minerals and mineral ores like sodium chloride, flint, and sulfur.

Homeopathic remedies are prepared by grinding the active ingredient and mixing it with alcohol and water, then allowing it to soften and steep. The mixture is then filtered to produce what is called a tincture, made more potent by dilution, which increases the healing power while decreasing the concentration.

There are many different potency ranges. The base tincture has a potency of 1x. To make a 2x potency, one part of the base is mixed with 9 parts alcohol and shaken 10 times. To make a 3x potency, one part of the 2x potency is mixed with 9 parts alcohol and shaken again. This process is continued until the desired dilution is acquired. In addition to alcohol, other mixing agents include water, glycerin, and lactose.

Homeopathic medicines come in c potencies as well as x potencies. C potencies are created by mixing bases in a ration of 99 to 1 instead of 9 to 1. There are k potencies as well. The 1000k potency is labeled as 1m, a 10,000k potency as 10m, and so on.

Homeopathic doctors prescribe their remedies in pellets, tablets, and dilutions (liquids). The mixing, or potentizing, affects the way a homeopathic medicine works. In general, the lower potencies, like 3x and 6x, have a larger affect and are used for acute illnesses and are taken once every 15 minutes to once every 4 hours. Medium potencies, like 12x and 30x, affect the senses and nervous system and are used for chronic conditions. They are taken once a day to three times a day. High potencies, like 60x and above, affect mental conditions and are taken once a month to once a year.

A typical homeopathically effective remedy is taken in the form of 3 tablets to 10 pellets for adults and 2 tablets to 5 pellets for children.

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Discussion Comments
By anon989841 — On Mar 24, 2015

Well Oldfart, you would have made a great 19th century physician. Back then bacteria didn't exist because, after all, one did not see them. Washing hands was crazy and doctors who did it were laughed at. Until a tool was developed to actually see the bacteria, no one believed they existed. Perhaps we just aren't using the right tools to understand homeopathy? Nah. Can't be, because you just made a statement with a period.

By anon255737 — On Mar 19, 2012

I am very disappointed to see this article on wisegeek. I am an engineer with a bachelors in engineering, physics, and chemistry. I can tell you that this article has no scientific backing. Quantum mechanics is the most tested and has had the most validation out of any scientific theory. The fact that we have cell phones, computers, and gps are all proof that qm is correct.

In homeopathy, a mixture beyond 6x has such low concentrations of its original substance that there could be cyanide in such a mixture and be safely ingested. A 30x mixture has only a 50 percent probability of containing one molecule of the original substance. This is beyond laughable. As far as water or alcohol having a "memory" of what it has come in contact with is simply false.

I would suggest people become educated on a subject before they blindly believe what other people have said. Now, I am not ruling out the entire concept of homeopathy, simply mixtures.

By anon170750 — On Apr 27, 2011

It always amazes me to see the hostile reactions to noninvasive, yet effective approaches to healing such as homeopathy. These from individuals that would rather choose chemically derived poisons with an arms length of risky side effects to treat the "symptoms" of their diseases.

Ten years ago I suffered a severe infection from poison ivy in my leg which became necrotic. Four doctors, I.V. antibiotics, allergic reaction to the antibiotics and two weeks later they began discussing possible flesh-eating disease and recommended surgery. I then saw a naturopathic practitioner who prescribed a remedy called lachesis. The next day dramatic healing began in my leg. Doctors couldn't explain it. No surgery, no scar, no more drugs.

Call it what you want, I am grateful for the choice to use homeopathy. And by the way a little science called quantum physics is now scientifically validating homeopathy, for all you skeptics. As for the expense, that remedy cost me $8.00 and $30.00 for the practitioner's time. Gladly paid.

By anon132705 — On Dec 08, 2010

Homeopathy is completely based on scientifically proven principles. If one cannot understand, it is them being quite loony. It is a nonsense way to feel that I am intelligent.

I am a homeopath and have treated many cases, even of major pathologies. If a fibroid in the ovary or a wart on the skin or psoriasis on the skin or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is getting treated even in laboratory reports, I don't think any placebo can do it and yet if it is placebo, it should be used as medicine because it can treat these many things. Homeopathy is safe, effective and scientific. use it and have health within.

By anon72755 — On Mar 24, 2010

I'd be prepared to bet that even chronic infections go away after awhile. It's called healing and it's something your body can do all by itself. homeopathy is bribing death with a sugar pill.

By anon52527 — On Nov 15, 2009

It's not a placebo!

My mother took me to a homeopathy clinic when I was two (I don't even remember that). I had a chronic nasal infection and nothing worked, so she took me there and a few months after being treated I got rid of the infection for 15 years.

It can't be a placebo because kids are not conscious under age four and it's impossible to make them "believe" in something.

By anon33997 — On Jun 15, 2009

Of course homeopathy works! They are expensive placebo pills issued by nice, if a bit loony, people who pretend to be doctors. And placebos, as medicine has proven, to work when given to hypochondriacs.

It's also a wonderful way to profit off people who didn't pay attention in school...

By Oldfart — On Jul 05, 2008

There is no physical, chemical or biological rationale behind homeopathy, no principles of science behind homeopathy that explain how it works. And there is no scientific studies that show any homeopathic remedy ever working at all. Period.

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