Homeopathy: Like Cures Like
Lyn W. Freeman
Worldwide, more than 500 million people use homeopathic remedies. More than 2.5 million Americans took homeopathic medicines in 1990. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that homeopathy be integrated with conventional medicine by the year 2000. Yet, in the scientific community, homeopathy is highly controversial and its mechanisms unexplainable by modern-day science. This chapter allows the reader to assess the available information and research on homeopathy. The mechanisms and outcomes of homeopathy are paradoxical and fascinating and will provide the discerning reader with much "food for thought."
Homeopathy teaches that a disease is cured by introducing a miniscule amount of a substance into the body that, in larger doses, induces symptoms similar to the disease in a healthy person. This effect is referred to as "like cures like."
Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician, founded homeopathy. Hahnemann tested the concept of "like cures like" by ingesting a substance containing quinine and observing its effects on himself and then on others.
Hahnemann developed three essential principles of homeopathy: (1) the Principle of Similars, (2) the Principle of Infinitesimal Dose, and (3) the Principle of Specificity of the Individual. The Principle of Similars teaches that "like cures like." The Principle of Infinitesimal Dose teaches that, the more diluted the dose, the more potent its curative effects. The Principle of Specificity of the Individual teaches that, if the remedy is to cure, it must match the symptom profile of the patient.
Homeopathic remedies are often diluted until not a molecule of the original substance remains. Homeopaths believe that continued dilution and shaking can imprint the electromagnetic signal of a substance in the water. The selected remedy matches the signal of the sick person's electromagnetic field, resulting in a stimulation of the body's healing force.
Individual clinical controlled trials, some double-blinded and placebo-controlled, have found homeopathic remedies to be effective in the treatment of migraine pain, allergy, asthma, fibromyalgia, influenza, hepatitis B carriers, diarrhea, arthritis, and dental pain. More research that replicates these findings is needed.