For being one of the most popular alternative medicine in the world, Homeopathy is also quite a controversial medicine discipline. While the people who believe in it, swear by its magical healing powers, on the other hand, opposing thoughts criticize it relentlessly. It works on the principle of “like cures like”, which means that a disease can be cured by administering the ingredients in a patient that induces similar symptoms in healthy individuals. It is an eyebrow-raising concept, which is often dismissed by modern science, still, it is preached by millions around the world. The second principle is that the body can heal itself, which is also heavily criticized, and here are some interesting facts about Homeopathy:
1. The Origins
While most people are under the impression that Homeopathy was developed in Asia, it originated in Germany in 1796 by a physician named Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann. He believed that while modern medicine did work, these also induced unwanted side effects that couldn’t be overlooked. As Hahnemann was translating a medical publication into German from English, written by William Cullen, a Scottish chemist, he became skeptical and wanted to test his theory on Malaria. Cullen suggested that Cinchona, a plant, can cure Malaria, and Hahnemann ingested a bark of the same plant, only to experience fever, shivering, and joint pain. This led him to believe that all plants induce the same ill-effects in healthy individuals as the disease. Hahnemann coined the term, Homeopathy, which is translated from Greek, and it means similar suffering.
2. The Term “Allopathy”
Interestingly, the term Allopathy was also coined by Hahnemann. As in the 19th century, he was having difficulties trying to explain his methods to medical journals and the general public, therefore, he decided to call every other medicine Allopathy, which roughly translates to “other than the disease”. Hahnemann did so to point out that physicians were not treating the disease but were doing whatever they thought was best; however, this term, went on to describe modern medicine. To Hahnemann’s credit, the early 19th century was a difficult time for medicine in general, as procedures like bloodletting were common.
3. A Bizzare Concept
One of the most bizarre concepts of Homeopathy is Potentization, by which the dose of medicine is decided. According to Hahnemann, once an ingredient is broken down into its basic form, the healing properties are increased, which is achieved by diluting it. The ingredients are dissolved in an alcohol solution for a set limit of time, and then, it is mixed with distilled water with a ratio of 1:10. Moreover, the Potentization doesn’t stop there because as per the theory, the more an ingredient is diluted, the more its healing strength; however, realistically, with each succession of dilution, the primary ingredient is lost, which is why it has been banished by other medical disciplines.
4. Strict Rules That are Broken
Whether or not the Homeopathic approach to a disease works is very subjective, Hahnemann imposed some very strict rules during his treatment, which interestingly are the same lifestyle choices promoted today that can lead to a healthy life. According to his texts, stimulants like coffee, tea, and alcohol are prohibited during the treatment, and also to remove both sweet and spicy foods from the diet, including meat and dairy products. Additionally, sheep’s wool, which is known to cause an allergic reaction in some patients, was also banned in homeopathic hospitals. Lastly, sitting idle, napping, horse-riding, and even mental stimulation like playing chess were restricted. While these rules can improve the lives of patients, when implemented, patients, even homeopaths, are notorious for breaking these rules.
5. Just a Placebo?
Because of the rules and dilution, it is easy to see why most people just dismiss Homeopathy as a placebo; however, many studies have been conducted that state otherwise. In 2005, in a study published by The World Health Organization, Homeopathy was deemed highly effective, although The Lancet, a medical journal, tried to tarnish it by publishing an editorial called The End of Homeopathy, it was ultimately dismissed under fraudulent. Moreover, homeopathic medicines were tested on infants and animals, which further proves that it simply isn’t just a placebo.
6. The End
While Homeopathy gained unparalleled popularity in the early 19th century that spread like wildfire, by the mid-1900s people were losing trust in this alternative medicine, and it was being criticized by some famous people, such as Queen Victoria, Sir John Forbes, Sir James Young Simpson, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. With such big names opposing Homeopathy, even the believers started to question its effectiveness, and slowly, homeopathic hospitals around the world shut down, and finally, in 1920, the last hospital in the United States was closed.
7. The Rebirth
After all the facilities of Homeopathy were shut down, only private practitioners were the ones carrying out this practice, and in the United States, merely 75 homeopaths remained in 1950. Finally, it was reborn in the 1970s thanks to the efforts of George Vithoulkas, a Greek homeopath. George conducted thorough studies on the workings of the medicine, and refined the practice of Homeopathy; however, some critiques claimed that revival of Homeopathy can be credited to a general shift of the public towards natural products.
8. Excellent Consultation
Despite all the criticism that Homeopathy faced, the excellent and personalized consultation of this discipline is loved and even praised by other disciplines. Unlike modern medicine, where a consultation usually lasts roughly 5 to 10 minutes, homeopaths sit with patients for hours to learn about their patient’s conditions. Apart from the general medical history of the patient, questions regarding mood, mental state, and lifestyle are a part of the counseling, not even the tiniest detail is left out during these consultations.
9. Homeopathic Medicines
The workings of potentiation are still a topic of debate; however, homeopathic medicines continue to grow in number and popularity. One of the main reasons is that even if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t cause any harm, which cannot be said for Allopathy. It can be consumed by anyone, from infants to the elderly to pregnant women. Presently, there are over 2,000 substances, mostly plants, that are used in the preparation of over 4,000 homeopathic medicines.
10. With, Not Against
While the world is torn between the effectiveness and placebo of Homeopathy, most fail to realize that it is still a form of treatment with its positives. Nearly 90% of the patients that visit Homeopathy clinics are already on some kind of medicine, and homeopaths often suggest to them that they shouldn’t simply stop their current medication. Moreover, Homeopathy is known to work with other forms of medicine as well, so it is a win-win situation for all.