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Homeopathy

What is homeopathy?

Homeopathy, or homeopathic medicine, is based on the use of natural substances, regulated by the FDA, to treat acute and chronic illnesses. In addition, homeopathic medicine is also used to prevent diseases.

Homeopathic drugs are made of plant, animal, or mineral substances. This therapy treats ailments with very small amounts of the same substance that causes the patient's symptoms.

The idea behind homeopathy is that if a large dosage of a certain substance produces certain symptoms, a small dosage of the same substance may cause the opposite effect. In other words, if a person suffers from throbbing headaches, he or she might be treated with a very diluted dosage of belladonna, a poisonous herb that causes throbbing headaches.

The available research on homeopathy has been studied and most analyses have concluded that there is little evidence to support homeopathy as an effective treatment for any specific condition, although some studies have reported positive findings. The dilutions used in homeopathy leave very little active ingredient in the medicines that patients receive, but recent research suggests that they may introduce changes that may have an observable effect on such patients.  

Explanations for how homeopathy may work range from the idea that homeopathic medicine stimulates the body's own natural defenses to the idea that homeopathic medicine retains a memory of the original substance. However, there is no factual explanation for why homeopathy works and more research is needed. The key concepts of homeopathy are not consistent with the current understanding of science, particularly chemistry and physics. 

Homeopathic medicine is most often used to treat:

  • Arthritis

  • Asthma

  • Colds

  • Flu

  • Allergies

Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of all you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Fincannon, Joy, RN, MN
Online Medical Reviewer: Marcellin, Lindsey, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 2/2/2013
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