Homeopathy is a system of alternative medicine developed in the late 18th century by Samuel Hahnemann. Hahnemann based his system on older ideas about “like cures like”.
One of the main ideas in homeopathy is that a substance that would cause certain symptoms in a healthy person can cure similar symptoms caused by disease in a sick person.
In homeopathy, homeopathic medicine is created using a process known as homeopathic dilution (also called potentisation or dynamisation). The active ingredient is repeatedly diluted in distilled water or alcohol and the vessel struck against an elastic material, such as a leather-bound book. The process of vigorously shaking the solution is known as succussion. Samuel Hahnemann believed that the process of succussion “activated the vital energy” of the diluted ingredient, and that this increased the potency of the preparation.
Certain active ingredients, e.g. quartz, are grinded with lactose before the dilution process.
No molecules left
In most homeopathic medicines, the dilution is so severe that no molecules of the active substance remains in the finished product.
Examples of commonly used homeopathic preparations
|Homeopathic name(s)||Substance origin||Homeopathic use against|
|Aesculus hippocastanum||Aesculus hippocastanum
|Anthrax poison extracted from the spleen of infected animals||All types of furuncles, from acne to septic wounds and gangrene furuncles|
|Allium cepa||Allium cepa
|Antimonium tartaricum||Antimony potassium tartrate||Impetigo|
|Argentum nitricum||Silver nitrate||Fear
|Arsenicum album||Arsenic trioxide
|High fever with redness and delirium|
|Bellis perennis||Bellis perennis
|Calcarea carbonica||Calcium carbonate from an oyster shell||Indigestion|
|Ferrum phosphoricum||Iron phosphate||Nosebleed
|Graphites||Graphite||Itching cracked skin
|Hepar sulfuris calcareum||Calcium sulfide||Boils,
|Ignatia amara||Strychnos ignatii
St. Ignatius bean
The beans of the plant contain the alkaloids strychnine and brucine.
|Kalium bichromicum||Potassium dichromate||Thick secretions from the mucous membranes of the sinuses and respiratory tract|
Bushmaster snake, a venomous pit viper species found in South America
Sensation of tension in parts of the body
Marsh Labrador tea
|Mercurius vivus||Mercury||Sore throat
|Natrum muriaticum||Sodium chloride
|Natrum sulphuricum||Sodium sulphate||Asthma
|Nux vomica||Strychnos nux-vomica
|Oscillococcinum||Cairina moschata liver
Muscovy duck liver
Other skin problems
Cough that gets worse in cold air
Cough that gets worse when laying on the left side
Small wounds that bleed profusely
Fear of the dark
Fear of thunderstorms
Anxiety when alone
Cravings for cold things such as ice water and ice cream
|Picricum acidum||Picric acid||Water retention
|Pulsatilla||Pasque flower||Menstrual problems
Being sad and despondent
Dryness of the mouth, but without thirst
|Rhus toxicodendron||Toxicodendron radicans
|Fever and joint pain|
Conditions involving tendons
Conditions involving fibrous tissue
|Silicea||Flint||Sensitivity to cold|
|Leaves of Camellia sinensis
Tea plant leaves
|Urtica urens||Urtica dioica
Homeopathy was developed by Samuel Hahnemann in the late 18th century and rose to popularity in the 19th century, especially in Europe and the United States.
In 1825, one of Hahnemann’s students named Hans Birch Gram introduced homeopathy to the United States, where the first homeopathic school opened in 1835. It would take until 1944 before the American Institute of Homeopathy was formed in the country. In the year 1900, there were over 20 homeopathic colleges in the United States, and an estimated 15,000 practitioners. By the 1950s, less than 80 known pure homeopathic practitioners remained.
In the midst of the counter-culture movement of the 1970s, homeopathy made a comeback in the United States, especially within New Age circles.
Data from the year 2007 show that over-the-counter homeopathic medicines for $2.7 million were sold in the United States.