Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948), the distinguished leader of the liberation movement in India, said of homeopathy that “it cures a larger percentage of cases than any other method of treatment, and it is beyond all doubt safer and more economical and the most complete medical science…”.
Homeopathy is one of the healthcare approaches referred to as complementary or alternative, as opposed to the established conventional medical system of healthcare. It was developed in the 19th century by the German doctor Christian Samuel Hahnemann (1755-1843). It strongly differs from conventional medicine in that it is a holistic treatment that views each patient as unique and takes into account his or her personal environment. Homeopathy considers the symptoms of disease of a patient on the mental, the emotional, and the physical plane. It does not just treat a given disease label, or the part of the body that appears ill. It aims to heal the root cause of disease.
The homeopathic concept presupposes that disease can only occur if the body’s own defences are compromised or weakened. The appearance of symptoms is considered a reaction of the healing forces of the body promoting recovery from illness. Homeopathic remedies are aimed at stimulating these inherent self-healing forces.
The treatment with remedies that are ultra-highly diluted is a prime tenet of homeopathy. They are produced from minute amounts of medicinally valuable substances of herb, mineral and animal origin. The ultra-high dilution establishes the homeopathically effective quality of the medicinal substances, removes their toxicity, makes their action gentle and increases their effect. This process is called potentization, or dynamisation, and involves serial dilution and succussion. Succussion describes the rhythmical shaking of the diluted substance at different stages of the production process.
The second main premise of homeopathy is the principle ‘like cures like’. This means that symptoms of illness can be treated with a remedy that would produce similar symptoms if it was taken by a healthy person. For example, when cutting onions one is likely to get runny eyes and a sniffy nose. Hence, following the homeopathic principle, a homeopathic remedy made from the onion can be used to relieve hay fever that produces such similar symptoms. Likewise, Coffee that is stimulating and can cause sleeplessness, will do the opposite in the form of a homeopathic remedy. Hence the remedy ‘Coffea cruda’ is used to treat insomnia and nervous excitement.
Homeopathy today enjoys worldwide popularity and extensive use. In Europe approximately 100 million people use homeopathy. It is practiced in 40 of 42 European countries. According to the World Health Organization, over 500 million people rely on it worldwide. Next to conventional medicine it has become the second most used system of medicine in the world.
Patients appreciate and use homeopathy because they value its holistic approach, and can relate to the concept of self-healing forces. Many praise it because it is non-toxic and practically devoid of adverse-effects, and many more people rely on it because it has helped them recover from illness.