What is homeopathy?
Homeopathy is form of alternative medicine that uses very small concentrations of organic substances to cure disease. It is a pseudoscience (a belief that is incorrectly presented as scientific), based on outdated or flawed concepts about how disease works that are not backed up by modern medical and scientific knowledge.
It was created in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann, based on the doctrine of “like cures like" – a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people will cure similar symptoms in sick people.
However, various medical groups have shown that homeopathic remedies are not effective at treating disease, but yield results similar to those of a placebo. In addition, some consider it unethical, as it discourages the use of real medicine. The World Health Organisation (WHO) discourages its use, and the NHS refuses to fund homeopathic medicine.
Why is it done?
Homeopathy is used to relieve ailments. According to the proponents of the therapy, it is indicated for any disease: chronic, acute, infectious, emotional or psychological. The goal of homeopathy is to achieve the global healing of the patient and not just the disease. For this homeopaths assure that it must be achieved with the natural stimulation of each patient.
What does homeopathy consist of?
Homeopathy involves diluting a substance in water or alcohol again and again, shaking the mixture in the belief that this transfers the healing essence.
The substance chosen is one that would cause the symptoms of the disease in a healthy person, with the idea being that it triggers the body’s natural defences. For example, red onion may be used to treat allergies, as it makes a healthy person’s eyes water. Homeopaths believe that the more dilute the solution, the more powerful it becomes as medicine. Often the solutions are so diluted that no molecule of the original substance remains.
Other examples of substances used include poison ivy, arsenic, and crushed bees.
Does homeopathy work?
There have been many investigations into the efficacy and none have yielded any good-quality evidence that homeopathy is more effective as a treatment than a placebo. Occasionally, clinical trials have been conducted that produced positive results, but have invariably been discredited by reviews as being the result of reporting bias, flawed research methods, or simple chance.