Homeopathy is a system of medicine formulated over 200 years ago with roots dating back over 2000 years. Now practiced by thousands of doctors and medical professionals in over 80 countries, it is a non-narcotic and gentle system employing, in may cases, very dilute substances to treat the root causes of disease, not just the symptoms. Many times homeopathy can be used alongside conventional medical practices in a complementary manner. Many practicing homeopaths use the homeopathic system to better understand their patients. For example, psychologists, MDs, NDs and RNs use homeopathy to discover a treatment path and helps to inform their conventional medical insights.
We invite you to discover homeopathy in this introductory article authored by Ronald Boyer, M.D. and President for Center for Education and Development of Clinical Homeopathy (CEDH).
Homeopathy: What You Should Know
From its very beginning at the end of 18th Century, Homeopathy was a therapeutic method based on experimentation. Its discoverer, Samuel Hahnemann, a physician versed in chemistry and toxicology, experimented on himself and his healthy colleagues to define precisely the action of drugs, given alone and in sub-toxic doses.
Hahnemann’s working hypothesis was based on observations, some of them having been made by Hippocrates around 400 BCE. To treat the patient’s symptoms, Hahnemann chose to administer minute quantities of a drug known to produce similar symptoms when given in high doses. The body’s reaction, stimulated by the drug, would relieve the patient’s symptoms.
To reduce the side effects of the drugs, Hahnemann decreased their concentration and designed a precise, easily reproducible way to dilute the drugs. Although he was perfectly aware that his homeopathic preparations were indeed much diluted, he noticed that many of them could be successfully used to improve his patient’s health, along with sensible lifestyle recommendations.
The method quickly gained success, thanks to Hahnemann’s Organon of the Art of Healing (1810)1, to an increasing number of physicians disappointed with dogmatic methods and to patients happy to find relief without dreaded side effects. The first physician practicing homeopathy in the US opened his office as early as 1825 2.
As medicine progressed, the place of homeopathic therapeutics evolved. First, the manufacturing of homeopathic medicines became standardized by pharmacopoeias and laboratories. Then the benefits and limits of homeopathy became clearer. Today, homeopathy is a therapeutic method like others3: it is used first in situations where no other therapy is available, in viral upper respiratory infections for instance, or to relieve anxiety without affecting sleep. It can be used along conventional methods, for instance to reduce pain in bladder infections once the antibiotic treatment is started. It can be used in palliative care, for instance to reduce mucositis, radio-dermatitis or nausea in cancer patients4.
One very specific aspect of homeopathic treatments is their individualization: the treatment is established not only on the diagnosis, but also on signs peculiar to the patient: what will improve or aggravate symptoms. Due to the many individual treatments possible by homeopathy, comparative studies are more difficult.
An estimated 400,000 practitioners use homeopathy worldwide, in more than 80 countries. Recently, it has regained interest in the United States, as the limits of conventional treatments and the public demands for safer and more compassionate methods of treatment increased. The Food and Drug Administration recognizes the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States as the official compendium for homeopathic drugs5.
Homeopathy commonly (but not always) uses diluted substances, and this has been an object of controversy from the start. Research on ultra-low doses is challenging, but possible. Studies on the thermos-luminescence of homeopathic solutions show that they are structurally different from water6.
Studies on the biological action of homeopathic solutions, especially made from histamine7 and Gelsemium sempervirens8 (yellow jasmine) suggest that each medicine has a specific target and mode of action. Arnica montana dilutions seem to interfere with the regulation of genes coding for inflammation mediators, at very low concentrations9, 10.
Clinical research shows that several homeopathic treatment outcomes can be different from placebo in defined conditions. Focusing on clinical studies of high methodological quality, meta-analysis also finds positive results11, 12, 13, where we could have expected no difference with the placebo effect due to the drug’s high levels of dilution.
Of course, more research is needed to determine the nature and the conditions of action of homeopathic drugs. Integrated to modern medicine, they often provide a safe, cost-efficient therapeutic solution14, especially in pathologies where no other treatment could be used with comparable benefits, and in functional diseases.
More information about homeopathic medicines:
National Center for Homeopathy: www.nationalcenterforhomeopathy.org
Center for Education and Development of Clinical homeopathy: www.cedhusa.org
Author: Dr. Ronald Boyer
Dr. Ronald Boyer is an internationally recognized authority in the education and practice of homeopathy. He is the president of the Center for Education and Development of Clinical Homeopathy (CEDH), a subsidiary of the International Foundation for Clinical Homeopathy (IFCH), which trains as many as 3,000 doctors in clinical homeopathy in more than 20 countries throughout the world each year.
Dr. Boyer holds a doctorate in medicine from the University of Montpellier (France) and two homeopathic specialty degrees from both of France’s premier accrediting homeopathic educational institutions. Dr. Boyer maintained a private practice specializing in family medicine for more than 30 years, during which time he lectured extensively on the subject of homeopathy throughout France and the United States.
Dr. Boyer is the co-author with Dr. Alain Horvilleur of four books: Homeopathy During Pregnancy, Homeopathy and Headaches, Homeopathy and Stress, and Homeopathy and Rheumatism. Dr Boyer is co-author of 150 diseases – 600 medicines.
- Hahnemann: The Organon of Medicine. Tarcher Inc. Los Angeles 1982
- Winston: The Faces of Homeopathy. Great Auk Publishing. Wellington 1999
- Jouanny et al. Homeopathic Therapeutics: Possibilities in Chronic Pathology. Boiron Editions. 1994
- Boulet et al. Homeopathic Therapeutics: Framework and Protocols. Center for Education and Development of Clinical Homeopathy (CEDH) Paris 2007
- S Food and Drug Administration. Section 400.400. Conditions Under Which Homeopathic Drugs May Be Marketed. CPG1732.15
- Rey. Thermoluminescence of ultra-high dilutions of lithium chloride and sodium chloride. Physica A (323) 2003 67-74
- P. Belon et al. Histamine dilutions modulate basophil activation. Inflamm. res. 53 (2004) 181-188
- Venard Comparative Analysis of Gelsemine and Gelsemium sempervirens Activity on Neurosteroid Allopregnanolone Formation in the Spinal Cord and Limbic System. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011; 2011: 407617.
- Lyss et al. Helenalin: an anti-inflammatory sesquiterpene lactone from Arnica selectively inhibits transcription factor NF-kappaB. Boil. Chem; 378:951-61, 1997.
- Merfort. Arnica: New Insights on the Molecular Mode of Action of a Traditional Medicinal Plant (Translated from German). Forsch Komplementärmed Klass Naturheilkd 2003; 10 (suppl. 1): 45-48.
- Kleijinen et al. Clinical trials of homeopathy. British medical journal 1191; 302: 3015-23
- Linde et al. Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials. The Lancet 1997; 350: 834-43
- Shang et al. Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy and allopathy. The Lancet 2005; 366: 726-32
- Bornhoft et al. Homeopathy in Healthcare – Effectiveness, Appropriateness, Safety, Costs. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011.
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