Homeopathy, also known as homeopathic medicine, is an alternative medical philosophy founded in Germany over 200 years ago. It is based on the principle that “like cures like”, according to which a substance that causes a symptom of a disease in a healthy person can be used to cure similar symptoms in a sick person when taken in small doses. These doses, which are highly diluted, are meant to trigger and enhance the body’s natural healing processes. Remedies are usually derived from substances that come from plants, minerals, or animals, such as red onion, crushed whole bees, white arsenic, poison ivy, and stinging nettle, to name a few.
Historically, people have used homeopathy to maintain health and treat a wide range of long-term illnesses. They have also used it to treat minor injuries, such as cuts, scrapes, and muscle strains. Treatments are individualized or tailored to each person and it is common for people with the same condition to receive different treatments. A homeopathic practitioner will match the most appropriate medicine to each patient based on their specific symptoms.
There is some limited evidence to show that homeopathic medicines may have helpful effects, however rigorous studies have not been conducted to unequivocally validate these effects.
All treatment decisions should be discussed with a healthcare professional. Patients must be cautious about substituting less well-studied treatments for those that have been proven to work. An additive approach may be considered.